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Dave's Garden Articles: By Jill M. Nicolaus

Monday, February 13, 2012

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Supreme Winter Salads
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Winter is citrus season, and fresh oranges are a great way to perk up winter salads. Citrus supremes combine with simple dressings for salads that are more pleasure than duty to eat…

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

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Winter Sowing Columbines as Iris Companions
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Groundhog’s Day marks the start of my winter sowing season, and this year columbines are again at the top of my list. A “must” in any cottage garden, columbines also make a wonderful companion plant for tall bearded irises. And they’re a snap to winter sow!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

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Beat the Winter Blahs with a Visit to Your Local Nursery
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

After a cold and flu season that seemed to just drag on longer and worse than usual, I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I needed a “garden fix!” But the recent weather had been so cold and grey, and barely a green shoot could be found anywhere in my winter-dormant garden. What to do?

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

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Go Bananas! Growing Tropical Banana Trees in Maryland
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

As the weather turns chilly, tropical gardeners keep posting photos of beautiful blooms and arching greenery. Zone envy rears its head. If only I could grow gingers, and plumerias, and citrus trees, and… and bananas! Living in temperate zone 6, I saw no way for that to happen without a major move. Then I read a Midwestern DGer’s account of growing dozens of banana plants in his yard, digging them each fall and storing them beneath his house [1]. Visions of tropical splendor started dancing in my head!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

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Amaryllis 101: Caring for Amaryllis Plants and Making Your Amaryllis Bloom Again Next Year
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

When its brilliant holiday blooms have faded, should you toss that big brown amaryllis bulb into the compost pile? No! Amaryllis, botanically known as Hippeastrum, are as easy to care for as any house plant. When they're not blooming, the strap-like leaves make an attractive, architectural backdrop for other plants. With a little fertilizer and summer sun, your amaryllis will bloom again, bigger and better than ever!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

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Warm your Winter Holidays with the Spicy Scent of Cinnamon
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Cinnamon is a scent I associate with winter, and with family holiday celebrations. Whether you sprinkle it on oatmeal or Christmas cookies, or whether you enjoy its aroma in potpourri and scented candles, there’s a spicy warmth to cinnamon that makes you feel comforted down to your toes. I’ve also learned that cinnamon and applesauce can be combined to make wonderful scented ornaments…

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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Try Your Hand at Bonsai (no expertise required)
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Instead of seeing bonsai as something only experts would dare, let’s view it as just another fun and interesting way of growing plants. No expertise required!

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

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Thankful for (Domesticated) Turkeys
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

With all the sales and “free turkey!” promotions, it probably didn’t take much to convince you to have turkey as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner. Domestic turkeys have become such a common holiday purchase that we don’t stop to consider that they weren’t always so easy to obtain…

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

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Daffodils and companions: Dig less, plant more! for a fabulous spring flower display
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

How many expanding garden projects start with the thought, “well, as long as I’m digging, I may as well…” Before you know it, a new little “corner garden” has taken over half your back yard. When it comes to planting spring-blooming daffodils, however, you can get twice the flower power without any more actual digging by planting smaller companion bulbs at the same time.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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Amaryllis 101: Planting Amaryllis Bulbs for Winter Blooms
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

From a huge, brown bulb to a tall, stunning flower – it's a magical process that might seem a little intimidating if you've never tried it. Amaryllis bulbs are easy to grow. With these top ten planting tips, you’ll have glorious blooms to chase away the most stubborn winter blahs!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

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Rainy Day Crafting: Polymer Clay Butterflies
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Tired of mosquitoes and weeds and summer garden chores? A summer-bright craft project could be just the boost you need. Make these surprisingly easy butterfly pendants, using colorful layers of polymer clay.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

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Beautiful Bubbler Bogs are Easy to Build
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

The tranquil sound of trickling water, the colorful shimmer of wet rocks, the cool green of reeds… A bubbler bog could be the perfect water feature for your garden! Read on for inspiration and step by step photos.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

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Lotus for Containers: Who knew exotic could be so EASY?
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

I was browsing online last winter, thinking of ordering some new water lilies, when a selection of lotuses caught my eye. I’d never envisioned growing these exotic beauties in my own garden, because I never imagined I could put them in containers or leave them outside over the winter. But here were phrases like “bowl lotus” and “hardy in zones 4-11.” Oh boy!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

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Edible Landscaping – Growing Alpine Strawberries from Seed for Your Garden Beds and Containers
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Alpine Strawberries are no bigger than the end of your finger but are packed with the sweet intensity of strawberry candy. They make a wonderful edging for a bed, especially along a pathway where they can be easily picked and enjoyed. Since they’re easily grown from seed, you can plant flats of them without breaking the bank.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

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Ox-Eye Daisies: Picking Flowers for My Mom
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

There may be 703 entries for “daisy” in PlantFiles, but Ox-Eye Daisies are special…

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

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Tomatoes: Planning & Planting for an Outstanding Harvest
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Tips and techniques to get your tomato plants off to a great start...

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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What’s in a Name? The Importance of Knowing and Using Latin Names for Plants
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

What’s in a name? Does it really matter if we know the scientific names of plants? Can’t we just call them what we’ve called them for years? Sometimes, common names can create confusion. Latin names make it easier to communicate and exchange information, and using them can prevent costly mistakes.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

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What to do with 10,000 Spring Sprouts in Your Winter Sowing Containers
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

The first time you lifted the lid of one of your winter sowing containers and found a tiny green sprout, your eyes grew wide with wonder. It worked! You threw seeds in a milk jug, stuck it outside under your deck, and suddenly you have a baby plant! Amazing. Then another sprout appeared. And another. Now you have thickets of sprouts in an acre of winter sowing containers… What to do?

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

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Holly Trees: From Christmas Holly Decorations to Traditional Landscape Specimens
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

"The Holly and The Ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the woods, the Holly wears the crown!" The words of this traditional carol celebrate the elegance of the holly tree, whose bright red berries and green leaves brighten our holiday décor. Holly was significant to the ancient Druids and Romans before becoming part of the Christmas tradition, and it has a special place in my heart at this time of year.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

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Floating Jewels: tropical water lilies for container gardens
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Last spring, my friend Karen called to tell me she was going to a local pond store. I’d been wanting to set up a water garden container, so I asked her to please pick up a miniature hardy water lily for me. “Are you sure?” she said. “Hardy lilies just bloom once. You should get a tropical water lily, and it will bloom all summer!” Non-stop blooms? I had to learn more…

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Friday, November 12, 2010

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The Little Apple that Could: the story of the ‘Spencerville Red’
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Regional varieties of fruits and vegetables draw people to farmers’ markets and orchards. But who could imagine a local apple as inspiring as it is delicious?

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

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Amaryllis Adventure: Colorful Surprises Grown from Seed
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Amaryllis! Those huge bulbs that explode upward into enormous blooms bring magic to dreary winter days. Growing them from strange papery seeds can be even more of an adventure…

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

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Queen of the Night
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Some blooms are worth the wait... ?

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

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Pressure Canning Phobia – Don’t be afraid!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Pressure canning makes people nervous. The steam, the rattling noise, the fear that the whole thing will blow up and redecorate your kitchen in “marinara red,” all combine to make even experienced home canners reluctant to try their hand at pressure canning. Fear not! Pressure canners are easier and safer to use than you may think.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

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Turn Your Big Tomato Harvest into Fabulous Roasted Tomato Sauce
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Several years ago, a DG friend posted a wonderful recipe for Roasted Tomato Sauce. A lot of tomatoes go into this thick, rich tasting sauce. A little sauce goes a long way, though, and the flavor is pure ambrosia. Let me introduce you to the basic recipe, some variations, and methods of putting up extra sauce...

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

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Free Plants from Cuttings: Propagating Pelargoniums and other Woody Herbs
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Summer won’t last forever, and if you’re like me you have more containers of tender scented geraniums and other perennials than you have sunny window space inside. Do you shrug and tell yourself you’ll buy new ones next year? Do you scramble to build a greenhouse? No worries. Make room for a favorite or two, and take cuttings of everything else!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

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Super Scented Geraniums: Pelargoniums for Fabulously Fragrant Containers
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

If the only geraniums you’ve ever sniffed are the lovely but scentless Martha Washington Geraniums in your grandma’s windowbox, you are in for a treat! Welcome to the fragrant world of Pelargoniums.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

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Can’t Grow Bell Peppers? Here’s a Ringing Endorsement for Some Alternative Sweet Pepper Varieties
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

I’ve struggled to grow bell peppers in my garden. Prolific varieties like ‘California Wonder’ produced small peppers for me. Other plants produced beautiful golden or red bell peppers, but only one or two per plant, per season. I tried many hybrids before realizing I had to learn to think outside the bell…

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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Tomato Plants Getting Spotty? Don't Panic! How to Prevent and Treat Tomato Blights
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Last summer’s runaway “late blight” wiped out tomato harvests for a lot of us and left us ready to panic at the first sign on disease on our plants. If you see signs of problems on your plants this summer, don’t despair. Late blight isn’t the only possibility, and most of the alternatives are far easier to both prevent and treat!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

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Making Cherry Pie from Your Own Cherry Tree
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

“Can she make a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?” You bet she can! And you can, too! From your own tree? Even better...

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

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Crocus Lawns for a Joyful Spring
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

When they heard we’d be adopting a baby girl, my wonderful DG friends wanted to throw a shower. They asked what we needed for our new daughter. I thought back to the sweeps of bright blooms we’d seen in Amsterdam last spring and said “Crocus bulbs! Let’s plant a crocus lawn for her.”

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

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Oxalis: Colorful Shamrocks Make Your Garden Lucky!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

We’ve all seen pots of green-leafed shamrocks for sale around Saint Patrick’s Day. Shamrocks have become increasingly popular as both house and garden plants, and they don’t just come in green! I got a few purple-leafed Oxalis at a DG plant swap last year. They did so well that this year I went hunting for more.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

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The Alphabetical Gardener: Organization for an informal garden
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

How do you decide what to plant where? You can research plant height, bloom time, flower and foliage color… sometimes the result matches the plan in your head, and sometimes it doesn’t. Or you can go for a random, informal look. But how can an obsessive gardener plant at random? I can’t do it. For me, the answer turned out to be as simple as A, B, C.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

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Clay Critters for Plant Pots: A great kid craft for inside days
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Too cold or wet to get outside? Kids going a little stir crazy? This simple polymer clay project is fun to do and will brighten your indoor plant pots, to boot!

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

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Big Gardening in Small Spaces: Amsterdam's Nooks and Crannies
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

The dense population of big cities means little space for yards and gardens. But Amsterdam's love of flowers will not be denied! Every tiny spot that could possibly hold a plant seems to have at least two plants in it. Take a walk through Amsterdam with me, and pay special attention to its nooks and crannies...

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

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Seed Starting 101: Grow the best TOMATOES ever from seed
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Last year’s tomato blight, possibly carried by commercial plants, has many gardeners thinking about starting from seed. Whether you’ve an experienced seed starter or are trying it for the first time, you’ll find some good tips and step by step techniques here.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

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African Violets 101: Make More Plants by Propagating African Violets from Leaf Cuttings
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Does a friend have an African violet you’ve admired for years? Would you like to swap African violet varieties with other enthusiasts? Propagating from leaf cuttings is the way to get new African violets that are just like the parent plants. There’s nothing tricky about it, but it does take patience as you wait for the leaves to root and produce little plantlets.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

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Growing and Propagating Ornamental Sweet Potatoes: Save them for next year and save $$
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

More than a Thanksgiving tradition, sweet potatoes can also be an ornamental plant, adding terrific color and texture to your containers! Ornamental sweet potato plants aren’t exactly cheap to buy, especially as annuals, but saving them from year to year makes them a very affordable luxury.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

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Seed Starting 101: Seedling Heat Mats and Inexpensive Alternatives
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Are your peppers more poky than perky? Is your basil more balky than bouncy? Do you wish your seeds would speedily sprout into sturdy seedlings? Bottom heat could be the answer. The seed catalogs piling up by your easy chair tout the wonders of seedling heat mats – and they are right! Heat mats can produce remarkable results. But are they the only answer?

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Friday, January 22, 2010

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The Petrified Forest National Park: Frozen Forever in Sparkling Stone.
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

One of the stranger things found in nature, petrified wood has all the texture of bark and splinters, and all the color and shimmer of a display at the Museum of Gems and Minerals.

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