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Article ThumbBales of Fun

For vegetable gardeners, straw bale gardening may be the best innovation since sliced bread.

Straw bale gardening essentially turns a bale of straw into a raised bed. It requires no digging or soil preparation. Because you’re not planting in the ground, you don’t have to worry about soil-borne diseases, and weeding is minimal. It doesn’t even matter if your soil is crummy or if the sunniest place in your yard is covered in concrete. You can achieve optimal growing conditions for a vegetable garden in a humble bale of straw.


Article ThumbBasement Bounty

Decisions, decisions. What’s a devoted gardener to do with brugmansia as winter approaches?

For opulence and tropical splendor there’s nothing like angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia). Tall, elegant, with draping fragrant bells of bloom, it can dominate a patio, balcony or an entry way like little else.

But here’s the rub. It’s not hardy in Chicagoland. So this raises the sticky issue of overwintering. Should you just toss the plant when winter comes? Some do. Others would like to save it for another year. But how?


Article ThumbBeyond Violet

African violets are pushing the envelope when it comes to colors and flower forms. Ruffles, anyone?

When I was a child, I was totally mesmerized by the intense colors of the African violets that seemed to bloom continuously on my grandmother’s windowsills. I would stare in wonder at those jewel-colored blooms surrounded by collars of fuzzy leaves, fully convinced that only experienced gardeners of my grandmother’s reputation could get plants to bloom so gloriously indoors.


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Mike’s Never-Ending Holiday Hort Sing-Along

There’s Nothing Like Loam for the Gardener (Sung to “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”) Oh, there’s nothing like ...


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Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Wouldn’t life be just about perfect if roses could grow in shade? It so happens that once in a while you come across one ...


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MacGregor Redux

"Hey, where's Stinky?" "Mmmphrgbl?" "Stinky!" "Phbbmmrrggnndr." "Didn't your mama ever teach you not to talk with your mouth ...


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I Can’t Draw, Don’t Ask Me

Do you sing in the shower? Um, I know that’s kind of personal and you don’t need to tell me what kind of soap you use but ...


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Garden Tool Maintenance

In the garden, everything has its season. Fall is the season for cleaning and preparing tools for ...


questions

I have a cycas palm and am not sure how much direct sunlight or water it needs. It has light brown marks developing on the leaves. What is causing this, and how do I care for my plant?

When is the best time to cut back hydrangeas? How far do I cut them back?

Can you tell me if the African daisy Osteospermum ‘Springstar Aurora’ can be winterized here? It is a healthy plant?

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