Mulch and you will make your plants happy as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live.

Mulch will help preserve moisture, keep the plants happy and suppress fungal diseases.
Mulching is an important part of gardening. A good layer of mulch preserves moisture, keep the soil evenly moist and cool and also can prevent fungal diseases too.
The question is, “what should you mulch with?”
It’s all about what looks good to you.
In the vegetable garden I prefer straw. It’s easy to find, cheap and looks fine in there.
But in the ornamental beds I use different things. I like bark mulch, but when I can I use something that will release nutrients like Sweet Peet or compost.
Cocoa mulch smells great and gives you a different look. Don’t worry about all the stories about dogs eating the mulch and getting sick. 98 percent of dogs won’t eat it and most of the products available now have been treated so they can’t harm pets.
Watering and mulching go hand in hand.
To do it right, get out in the morning. This gets the plants ready for the day, and allows them time for their foliage to dry off.
That’s important, we don’t water at night because if a plant’s leaves stay wet, they could be affected by fungal diseases.
When you water anything, be sure you soak the plant. That includes the lawn too. One soaking a week is all most plants need.

Tomato planting tips, Doug’s favorite tomatoes and live garden chat Thursdays at 11am as seen on KDKA’s PTL

‘Heart of Italy’ has become one of my favorite tomatoes.

I’m having so much fun doing a live garden chat Thursdays at 11am for the Post-Gazette. Just log on here to ask questions, give tips and just talk gardening.
So you’re ready to plant tomatoes, peppers and basil? Here are a few tips to make those plants thrive.
It’s still a little early, but temperatures will be fine. Heat up the soils with black landscape fabric, all three plants like it hot.
Use succession planting, meaning planting some now and every couple weeks through June.
The plants will love the warm soil. When June arrives, mulch to keep the soil evenly moist.
Here’s a list of my favorite all time tomatoes, a description and where to find them.
1. ‘Limbaugh Legacy Potato Top.’ Get free plants on June 16, 2013 at 12noon in North Park across from the Skating Rink on Pearce Mill Rd. Here are some more details.
2. ‘Brandy Boy.’ Pink, meaty hybrid version of ‘Brandywine.’ Earlier and more prolific. Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse
3. ‘Heart of Italy.’ Looks like a pink bull’s heart and is both tasty and meaty. Hahn Nursery.
“Fourth of July.’ Early, prolific and produces all season. Janoski’s.
4. ‘Eva Purple Ball.’ Pink tomatoes the size of tennis balls fall off the plant when ripe. Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery.
5. ‘Sungold.’ Orange, sweet cherry. My wife’s favorite, nuff said. Hahn Nursery.
6. ‘Juliet.’ 1999 AAS winner pumps out lots of sweet, meaty but small paste like tomatoes. Hahn Nursery.

Organic Gardening 101 as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Organic gardeners and conventional, chemical gardeners have the same problems, but just have different solutions.
Any problem in the garden can be solved with an organic product or technique.
Why organic? Hey, we all live down stream…right?
Trying to identify and solve problems by specifically dealing with a pest or disease without disrupting the balance of nature is the organic gardeners goal.
Organic products are available at all good local nurseries.
All the things I used on the show were from Hahn Nursery in Ross.
Organic fertilizers will keep your plants happy without destroying soil life.
Usually organic gardens create a balance of nature. When the bad bugs infest, things like insecticidal soap and horticultural oil can control soft bodied insects like aphids.
Chewing pests can be controlled by Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. It’s active ingredient is Spinosad. It won’t hurt us or the good bugs.
Fungus problems can be treated with Serenade and organic fungicide.
Organic gardening is easy and good for you and the family…oh yeah…and everyone downstream too.