Miniature Fairy Garden

Combining drought-tolerant succulents, Cotswold cottages, and elevated beds will lend easy inspection of the wee landscaping of a miniature garden.

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The Best Drought-Tolerant Perennials

When summer heat kicks in, rely on these drought-tolerant plants to hold their own -- and still look beautiful.

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Heat-Loving Container-Garden Plants

The dog days of summer can turn your gorgeous container gardens into a crispy mess. Try these plants that take the heat for color all season long.

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Summer Garden Maintenance Checklist

Summer is a gardener¿s busiest season. If you¿re short on time or not sure what to do, follow this easy summer gardening checklist to keep your lawn and garden in great shape all season long.

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Throw a Garden Party

Greet the season with friends, flowers, and ice cream floats! Featuring pretty paper blooms and a blushing peach punch, this lovely garden gathering will have you celebrating summer in style.

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Creating Succulent Containers

Succulent gardens are low maintenance and make great container gardens -- they can withstand heat, neglect, and direct sunlight. Learn tips and tricks to create a gorgeous succulent container garden.

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Top Plants that Thrive in Clay

Clay soil makes gardening tough. It's slippery when wet, and it bakes solid when dry. Here are 25 beautiful plants that grow well in clay.

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Regional Vegetable Gardening Calendar

Use these seasonal tips to get the most from your vegetable garden.

Advice for Cool Climates

Spring

  • Start seeds for warm-season vegetables indoors under fluorescent lights about 8 to 10 weeks prior to the date you expect the last frost.
  • Build raised beds for intensive and succession planting. Cover the beds with black plastic sheeting to warm up the soil.
  • Set up a soaker-hose or drip-irrigation system for beds to supply low-maintenance watering.
  • Plant seedlings outdoors for cool-weather crops such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce spinach, radish, and peas.
  • Perform needed maintenance on permanent trellises used for growing crops vertically.
  • Harden off warm-season seedlings raised indoors to prepare them for transplanting into the garden.

Summer

  • Harvest cool-weather crops such as peas. When the harvest slows markedly, pull out the vines and plant a summer crop.
  • Cover berries and peas with netting to protect the crops from birds or animal pests.
  • Plan to extend the gardening season into fall. Start seeds for cool-weather crops indoors or in a nursery bed outside about three months prior to the expected first frost.
  • Water when rainfall is sparse. Most plants need about 1 inch of water per week.
  • Remove black plastic mulch or cover it with organic mulch. Cover soil with organic material such as compost to moderate temperature and retain moisture.
  • Monitor plants for insect problems and begin controls immediately.
  • Stimulate production of squash, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, and other by picking them when they are young.

Fall

  • Keep polyspun garden fabric (row covers) handy to cover summer crops such as beans and peppers if an early light frost threatens.
  • Harvest crops such as pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions. Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and other root crops can stay in the ground through light frosts.
  • Clean up plant debris in harvested beds. Mulch empty beds to protect the soil over winter.
  • Tend fall crops such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and onions until they're mature and ready for harvest.
  • Harvest green tomatoes and store them indoors if a frost is predicted.
  • Build more boxed raised beds. Repair trellises. Clean out cold frames.

Advice for Warm Climates

Mulches are critical to preventing moisture loss in warm climates.

Spring

  • When danger of frost is past, set out warm-weather plants such as tomatoes and peppers. Sow seeds for squash, beans, corn, and melons.
  • Mulch beds with organic matter to discourage weeds and keep the soil from warming too much and too soon.
  • Use shade cloth or polyspun row cover fabric to protect young transplants from strong sun.
  • Harvest cool-weather crops, such as lettuce and broccoli, before hot weather causes them to bolt and set seed.

Summer

  • Water when rainfall is sparse. Most plants need about 1 inch of water per week. Tomatoes like even more moisture.
  • Mulch all bare soil in the garden to prevent evaporation of moisture and to discourage weeds. Renew the layer when it decomposes.
  • Monitor plants for insect problems and begin controls immediately.
  • Plant succession crops of beans, carrots, and corn as you harvest earlier crops.
  • Erect shade cloths over plants to shield them from the afternoon sun, even if they're sun-loving varieties; most benefit from some shade in the hottest months.

Fall

  • Renew beds for fall planting by adding more organic material such as compost and rotted manure.
  • Sow carrots, beets, and other root crops as well as lettuce for fall harvest.
  • Set out cole crop transplants such as cauliflower, Chinese greens, cabbage, broccoli, and mustard. Shade them if the days are still warm.
  • Clean up plant debris in harvested beds. Mulch to protect the soil over the winter.
  • Build more boxed raised beds. Repair trellises.

Winter

  • Look through mail-order and seed catalogs in time to start cool-weather crops indoors.
  • Continue to enjoy lettuce and Chinese greens by protecting them in a cold frame or with polyspun row cover fabric, or a plastic tunnel.
  • Get out seed-starting equipment and order peat pots and other supplies.
  • Plant peas.
  • Build new compost bins or repair old ones. Turn and consolidate compost piles to prepare for the new season.
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