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Dave's Garden Articles: By Jill M. Nicolaus

Sunday, August 10, 2014

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Get the most from your herbs I: Pinch, pinch, pinch!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Maybe you blanched at the price of fresh herbs in the produce section this spring, or you were seduced by a bright pot of basil at your local nursery, and you thought, “Hey! This year, I will grow my own herbs!” Now you’ve got leggy basil plants blooming in a big pot, and you’re eyeing the dried herbs in your spice cabinet. It’s not too late! You can still get the most out of your herbs this summer!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Not Quite Dead: Regrowing from the Root Up
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

We know about perennials going dormant in the winter. But did you know that plants can also “play dead” when stressed or neglected?

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

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Green bean soup: a summer delight that cooks in a snap
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Whether you grow bush beans or pole beans in your garden, seek out snap beans at a local farmers market, or luck into a fresh delivery of green beans at the grocery store, these slender veggies are a favorite summer treat. Read on for more about growing, harvesting, and preparing these garden-fresh delights…

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

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Pick Your Own Blueberries, Bake Your Own Muffins!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Blueberry season has wonderful opportunities for pick-your-own expeditions. Although I could buy these luscious berries at the Saturday farmer’s market, I’ll save a dollar or two per pint by picking my own. For the same money, I’ll get a lot more blueberries for eating, freezing, baking, and jam making. Plus, I’ll be spending some time in one of the prettiest fields around!

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

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Gardening with Bearded Iris: Spring Cleanup, Fertilizing Irises, and Iris Borer Control
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

You look out at your iris bed this week and see – not much! My bearded irises are looking pretty dormant. The bed’s main feature is the collection of zinc markers rising up like little headstones in a cemetery. You wouldn’t think the iris garden needs any attention this month. But now is the perfect time to get your irises set for a season of gorgeous blooms and healthy plants!

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

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Recycle Your Christmas Tree! Make a Peanut Butter Feeder from a Section of its Trunk to Attract Birds to Your Garden
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

The Twelve Days of Christmas have come and gone. For those who had a cut tree for the holidays, it’s time to haul it to the curb. It seems like there should be something more that could be done with a tree that was once so lovely… Yes! You can make a peanut butter and suet feeder for your feathered friends!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

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DIY Garden Accents: easy mushroom sculptures from hypertufa
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Whether or not gnomes are involved, concrete mushrooms look at home in any garden setting!

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

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Vanilla Sugar: DIY for an Easy and Elegant Gift
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Need a nice but use-up-able gift for teachers and grandparents? Want a project for the kids that will make the house smell wonderful? You're going to love making your own vanilla sugar.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

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Edible Landscaping: Sweet and Savory Sages
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

If the word sage brings to mind only Zane Grey novels or Thanksgiving dressing, read on!

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

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Seed Snatchin': The Art and Sport of Collecting Seeds
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

We all know gardeners who pounce on every faded flower, deadheading to keep their garden looking as fresh and colorful as possible. Other gardeners, less dedicated or more distracted, claim the spent flowers add “texture” to their gardens. And some gardeners know the value of allowing seeds to ripen for later collection. To them, those dried stems have a special beauty and excitement after the flowers fade. Seed collecting can be an obsessive hobby, and one that’s not necessarily limited to your own garden…

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

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Pocket Ponds: Water Gardening without “Real Pond” Hassle
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Enjoy the beauty and wildlife benefits of pond gardening without the work!

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Friday, September 20, 2013

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DIY Garden Accents: Easy Elegant Flowers from Old Glass Plates
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Combine plates, bowls, and other glassware of different shapes and sizes to create sparkling flower sculptures. Sold in boutiques at high prices, these flowers are an easy and inexpensive DIY project. Use odds and ends from the back of the china cabinet, or pick up promising pieces at a thrift store, then start mixing, matching, and stacking!

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

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Get the Most from Your Herbs III: Save Some for Later!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

You’ve been pinching your herbs religiously, and your plants are bushy and beautiful. Each harvest yields more than the one before, and you have more fresh basil than a dozen people could possibly consume. How lucky!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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The Ins and Outs of Beautiful Boston Ferns
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Taking pride of place in the parlor window or hung on a breezy white-pillared porch, Boston ferns are icons of gracious living. In for the winter, out again in summer -- you can keep your fern going for years.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

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Gardening with Bearded Iris: Dividing Irises 101
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Do you have some really huge clumps of iris in your garden? Did they bloom mostly around the edges of the clump this year – or even not at all? Has it been 4 or 5 years since they were divided (if ever)? Then it’s time to divide those irises, and yes, you can do it!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

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Pass-along Perennials: Tough Plants You'll Treasure
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

“Pay it forward!” isn’t a new concept. Gardeners have known for years that their favorite pass-along perennials are meant to be shared, split, and shared again.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

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Protecting Pollinators: Encouraging Bees and Other Beneficial Insects in Your Garden
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

You can attract and protect honeybees and other important pollinators in your garden. Feed them. Shelter them. Don’t kill them. Sound simple? It really is!

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Monday, May 6, 2013

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Wildflower Walks: Enjoying the Fleeting Beauty of Native Spring Flowers
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Hooray, hooray, the first of May! Plan a Wildflower Walk Today!

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

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Planting Seven Million Bulbs: A Gardener’s Perspective on Holland’s Keukenhof
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

What does it take to plant the world’s largest display of spring blooming bulbs? Let’s peek behind the scenes at the Keukenhof and meet one of the gardeners who helps create this spectacular garden.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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Eating Lunch and Swapping Seeds: How to Host an Easy and Successful DG Gathering
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Last winter, I had planned to host a “Midwinter Tea Party & Seed Swap” at my home, but circumstances changed, and I had to simplify my arrangements. Instead, the Mid-Atlantic Gardening Forum found themselves invited to gather at a local restaurant for a “Chinese Tea Party & Seed Swap,” and it was a great success! I hope the tips and suggestions from our event will inspire you to put together a similar gathering in your area.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

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Root Vegetables Combine for a Warming Winter Stew
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

We all know potatoes (and maybe carrots) belong in stew (especially rabbit stew). But many of us are confounded when facing any of the “other” common root vegetables, such as turnips, parsnips, or rutabaga. If you’ve only eaten these vegetables mashed, then you haven’t really eaten them. They are superb roasted, and they are the foundation for fabulous winter soups and stews.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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Use the Winter Sowing Method to Grow a Rainbow of Annual Flowers
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Winter is turning to Spring, and you still have a stash of empty milk jugs you were saving for “winter sowing?” Put them to use! It’s not too late to grow plants with the winter sowing method. In fact, in temperate zones, spring is the perfect time to sow annuals. With the great germination and survival rates of this method, you’ll have gobs of seedlings to plant out for an explosion of color in your summer garden.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

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The Ultimate in Garden Art: The Chihuly Exhibit at Phipps Conservatory
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh teamed up with renowned artist Dale Chihuly to create a spectacular fantasy of glass exhibited among the conservatory's lush plantings. The popularity of the exhibit resulted in an extended run until February 24, 2008. Here's why you should go...

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Monday, December 3, 2012

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A Winter Oasis for Your Houseplants
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Cold, dry winter weather – exactly the conditions most tropical houseplants do NOT like. Create an oasis for them, and make a tranquil green space for yourself as well!

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

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The Turkeys Are Coming! Should we welcome wild turkeys to our gardens?
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Many people know the story of how Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey and not the bald eagle to be the US national symbol. But it may surprise you to learn this “reclusive” woodland bird may soon be moving in on your suburban back yard…

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

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Planning a home orchard: Cross-pollination and spacing trees for best fruit production
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

One taste of a crisp, tree-ripened apple can make you dream of planting an orchard of your own someday. A home orchard doesn’t need as much space as you might think, but it does require some planning, especially if your space is limited. Many fruit trees need another variety for cross-pollination. Even self-fruitful varieties will bear bigger crops with another tree nearby. Proper spacing helps with pollination as well as with fitting in more trees. You may be surprised at the fruit-producing potential of your small yard!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

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Some Like It Hotter! Making Caribbean Style Hot Sauce from Heaps of Habaneros
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

In your zeal to grow the hottest pepper on the block, how many varieties of chiles did you plant this year? If you’re harvesting five alarm peppers by the basketful, with no idea of how you can possibly use so many of these blazing beauties, you need to learn to make hot sauce! Our homemade habanero hot sauce turned out so well it’s been splashed (gingerly) onto everything from tortilla chips to scrambled eggs.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

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Hypertufa 101: Mixing, Molding, and Making Your Container
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Part 2: Ready, Set… and GO! If you can make a mudpie or pack a snowball (even a lopsided one ), you can “do” hypertufa!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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Hypertufa 101: Make One Trough or Throw a Party
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Get ready, get set... These lists and tips will help, whether you’re just making a pot or two or putting together enough materials for a workshop.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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Farmers' markets celebrate the summer harvest
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Whether you grow more vegetables than you can eat and just need a little goat cheese to accompany your heirloom tomatoes or whether you’re desperate for fresh produce by the bushel, your local farmers’ market could have just what you need!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

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Magical Mushrooms: Easy Polymer Clay Creations
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Open any high-end garden catalog, and you’ll find whimsical mushrooms, crafted from stone, ceramic, poly-resin, cork, you name it. I love their look, but I’m not willing to pay the price, so my young daughter and I made some from polymer clay.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

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Scat, Cat! When cats are garden pests
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

A recent “ask a gardener” post said, “Help! Neighborhood cats are using my garden as a litter box. They’ve been apparently doing it for years. How can I stop them?”

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Monday, June 11, 2012

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Petunias go from Humble and Reliable to Frilly and Fanciful
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Petunias have long been a mainstay of window boxes and flower borders. Somewhere along the line, many gardeners began seeing them as boring and mundane. More exotic flowers demanded our attention. But with their reliable sturdiness and the new hybrid varieties now available, petunias deserve another look…

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

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Weed Wars: The Seed Stops Here
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Weeding can be an endless chore, and sometimes it just gets away from you. Bad weather and other circumstances might keep you out of the garden, but somehow weeds always seem to flourish. How can you reclaim your garden? Step one: the seed stops here!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

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The Tomato Hornworm: Friend or Foe?
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

What do hungry, tomato-chomping hornworms and fascinating, hummingbird-like sphinx moths have in common? Well, you can’t have one without the other…

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

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Crazy Colorful Coleus for Sun or Shade
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Coleus! Their colorful foliage is the shade gardener’s answer to the bright, sun-loving annuals filling sunny borders and patio containers. But coleus are no longer strictly for shady spots…

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

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The Perfect Strawberry: ‘Mara des Bois’
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

What do you want in a strawberry? Some search for sweetness, while others want “real” strawberry flavor. The perfect strawberry would be sugary sweet, bursting with flavor, juicy, red, enormous, and perfectly shaped. ‘Mara des Bois’ isn’t big, but otherwise it’s as close to perfection as I’ve ever found.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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Seven Million Spring Blooms: How is it even possible?
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Fall planting is the busy gardening season for the world’s largest display of spring blooming bulbs. But what goes on behind the scenes the rest of the year, when the gardens are not open to the public? Let’s peek behind the scenes at the Keukenhof and continue our conversation with one of the expert Dutch gardeners who helps maintain this spectacular garden.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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Searching for Chocolate Daisy
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

A love of chocolate led me to two of my all-time-favorite garden flowers…

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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Six More Weeks of Winter!? Celebrate by Winter Sowing Your Seeds!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Whether or not Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, you know spring is not quite right around the corner. But you’ve been ordering seeds and trading seeds and planning your garden all winter, and you’re eager to start sowing – what to do? Winter sowing is the answer!

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