Home & Garden


July/August 2020

Horticulture Magazine

United States
Active Interest Media
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6 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
editor’s note

Merriam-Webster defines pastime as “something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably.” If ever we needed a pastime, it has been this year, when the covid-19 pandemic required many of us to stay at home from March through May. (As I write this in late May, my home state of Massachusetts is just beginning phase one of reopening.) This spring we needed more than just a way to pass the time at home, though. We also needed to look for bright sides to a situation that was frightening and frustrating. Perhaps the ultimate bright side for home gardeners was the timing of the shutdown. What time in the gardening calendar passes more agreeably than spring? It’s the season of fresh growth, endless possibilities, pressing tasks and, of course, emerging…

3 min.
speed demons

MOST FOOD GARDENERS plant summer vegetables like cucumbers or bush beans after the risk of frost has passed in spring. In the case of bush beans, the plants begin to produce around two months from seeding, with the harvest continuing for about two weeks. To enjoy a much longer harvest season, I succession plant quick-growing summer vegetables like bush beans two to three times. Here are three crops that should be planted more than once: To enjoy a much longer harvest season, I succession plant quick-growing summer vegetables. As noted above, bush beans have a relatively short harvest window, and if you’re like me, you want to enjoy months of homegrown beans. Most varieties, like ‘Provider’, go from seed to harvest very quickly, in just 50 days. My first sowing takes place…

1 min.
summer checklist

Harvest! Staying on top of the harvest is one of the most important tasks of summer. Once the harvest season begins, peas and beans should be picked every day or two. Pull root crops like carrots and beets when they reach their ideal size, which is about one to one-and-a-half inches across for carrots and two to three inches across for beets. Pick cherry tomatoes as they ripen. Leaving them on the plants results in split fruits. Plant! While harvesting is one of the main jobs in a summer vegetable garden, I am also busy planting seeds and seedlings for fall and winter crops. I use my grow lights to start seedlings for broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, which I plug into empty garden spots in midsummer. In early August, carrot seeds…

4 min.
the perfect perennial

IS THERE a perfect perennial? And what would we mean by a “perfect perennial” for our ornamental gardens? Well, first of all, it would be trouble free. Its blossoms would of course be beautiful, it would flower profusely and for a long time during the growing season. And if you cut its flowers and put them in a vase in the house, they would last and last. Is there a perennial like this? Look no further than Stokesia laevis ‘Blue Danube’, which many plant experts think is indeed the perfect perennial. I sure do. Its common name is Stokes’s aster, for the late 18th- and early 19th-century botanist and physician Dr. Jonathan Stokes, who developed the use of foxglove extract (digitalis) to regulate heart rhythm, but who also found the light blue-violet daisies…

5 min.
rethinking the dandelion

ONE OF THE MOST maligned plants in the cultures of the world is our friend the dandelion. This guy is like the monsters from the movie Alien. It is about as tough, proving almost impossible to eradicate despite the best efforts of men, women and gophers. Taraxacum officinalis originally hailed from Europe. If you look closely you will notice that its leaves form a rosette lying against the ground that have a resemblance to lion’s teeth—thus the name dandelion, from the French dent-de-lion, or “teeth of the lion.” It’s believed that dandelions travelled to North America with the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower, who brought them for medicinal use. In the interim centuries in North America, the dandelion has earned a reputation as a weed. This horticultural nightmare has just about all the…

3 min.
covering up

FARMERS ACROSS the country use cover crops over the winter. Cover crops do several things, depending on what species is planted. A cover crop can help prevent erosion and the loss of topsoil. The roots, and the plants themselves, help hold the soil in place during wind, rain and other weather events over the winter months. Cover crops can provide organic matter to the soil the following spring. The residues, as the spent plants are called, can be gently tilled into the soil in the spring at planting time. The organic matter provides essential nutrients for the newly seeded vegetable crop. This addition of organic matter upon decomposition also improves soil structure. It increases the ability of soil to soak up water and make moisture available to roots. Good soil structure also…