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Dave's Garden Articles: By Jill M. Nicolaus

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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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

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Flower Show Inspiration: Bringing Home Ideas that Work in Your Garden
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

The justifiably famous Philadelphia Flower Show runs for 8 spectacular days in March. Seeing the huge landscaped exhibits and thousands upon thousands of blooms is an overwhelming experience. But, being gardeners, we don't just want to gawk; we want to know what we can learn and bring home with us to our own gardens! Revisit the 2009 show with me for some ideas, and whet your appetite for this year’s show....

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

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Recycling Fall Leaves & More as Fabulous FREE Garden Mulch
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Now is a great time to gather free mulch for your garden! Fall leaves (from your own yard or from the whole block), tree trimmings, old newspapers and cardboard boxes, and other reclaimed materials can be used to reduce weeds and enrich your soil.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

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Be a Tulip Maniac! It's Time to Shop for Spring Color
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Tulips! In the Netherlands, they're everybody's favorite flower, the definitive harbinger of Spring. The speculative bubble of Tulip Mania may have burst centuries ago, but Tulipa mania is alive and well in the hearts of gardeners everywhere! With bulbs going on sale now, this is a great time to join in the excitement.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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Some Like It Hot! Making Hot Sauce from Homegrown Chile Peppers
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Are your hot pepper plants out of control? Do you see heaps of beautiful, bright colored chiles at the local farmers’ market and wish you could make something wonderful from them? Have you made all the salsa your freezer can hold, and you’re still looking at a mound of hot peppers waiting for you to do *something* with them? Homemade hot sauce is the answer! It’s fun and easy to make, and it’ll be a big hit at your next party!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

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Pocket Beds for Fussy Plants
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Fussy Plants: plants that hate “wet feet,” plants that don’t always overwinter in your zone, plants that grow too slowly to compete with their garden neighbors. Before you give up on a fussy plant, try growing it in its own little pocket bed!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

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

After admiring them for years, I’ve started adding irises to my garden. They didn’t look like much the first year or two as they settled in, and I wondered how long I would have to be patient with them. But this spring, some of them began blooming in earnest, and I realized I wanted to grow more and more of these wonderful flowers!

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

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How to Make Great Beef Jerky at Home
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Are tomatoes out of season? Use your home dehydrator for more than drying fruits and vegetables. Make a batch of homemade beef jerky!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

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African Violets with GIRL foliage, what sweethearts!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

The first time somebody told me about girl-leafed violets, I thought they were pulling my leg. But I’ve fallen in love with the look of these ruffled, cupped, light-centered leaves. I’d like to share some of my favorites with you, along with tips for getting them to look their best.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

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Peat Moss Alternatives: Coconut Coir and Rice Hulls.
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Looking into peat moss alternatives makes sense, from both financial and environmental viewpoints. Coconut coir and rice hulls are two currently popular candidates for “greener” choices. This spring, I’m trying both as additions to my regular potting mix.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

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‘Kentucky Colonel’ Spearmint: It’s Not Just About the Juleps
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Although I’ve grown over a dozen different kinds of mint, I always come back to one variety as my very favorite. Let me introduce you to the many uses of ‘Kentucky Colonel’ spearmint…

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

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Wildlife Friendly Gardening: Certifying Your Yard as a NWF Wildlife Habitat
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Whether you’ve found the Gardening for Wildlife forum or whether you’re running out of excuses your homeowner's association will accept for your brush piles and overgrown flower beds, backyard wildlife habitat certification might be just right for you! Learn more…

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

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Holland's Keukenhof Gardens: Sixty Years of Spectacular Spring Flowers
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

My husband had a conference in Amsterdam recently, and as soon as I discovered the Keukenhof would open its season that week I knew I had to make the trip with him. I'd admired the world's most spectacular display of spring flowering bulbs for years in magazines and gardening catalogs and was overjoyed at the thought of seeing the gardens in person.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

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Choosing a Dehydrator: Make your own dried fruit, tomatoes, beef jerky, and more
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Thinking about getting a dehydrator for the bumper crop of tomatoes you hope to have this summer? But how much do you need to spend? Which dehydrator is right for you? And once you have it, what can you do with it?

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

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Frogs in Flower Arranging – What’s the Point?
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

At a recent craft show, I noticed a lot of pottery vendors selling “Ichi ban” vases and bowls with built in “frogs" for flower arranging. No, these frogs weren’t little green amphibians, they were sets of little metal spines to hold flower stems upright. If you love bringing in a few blooms, a frog could be your new best friend!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

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Labeling Methods for Seedlings and Garden Plants: What works, what doesn’t
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Garden labels help you keep track of seedlings under lights and in winter sowing containers. They’re also invaluable for helping you remember what you planted where when plants are dormant as well as for keeping track of special cultivars. But they are worthless if you can’t read them…

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

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Seed Starting 101: Growing Peppers from Seed
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Why start pepper plants from seed? In addition to the three colors of bell peppers and choice of jalapeno or cayenne offered at your local box store, you’ll find an enormous range of choices available from seed. Whether you love the hottest of the hotties or the biggest sweeties, you can grow an assortment perfectly tailored to your tastes and your garden.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

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Limbaugh’s Legacy: My Favorite Heirloom Tomato, ‘Potato Top’
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

How this spectacular variety ended up in my garden, and how you can grow it, too…

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

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Trailing African Violets: Grooming, Pruning and Propagating
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Trailing African violets aren’t any trickier to grow than their single-crowned counterparts, but grooming them can be a challenge. Is yours refusing to branch out? Growing into a dense tangle? I’ve got some tips on getting your trailer to shape up.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

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Trailing African Violets: Flowing Foliage and Bountiful Blooms
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

I’ll never forget the first trailing African violet I saw, cascading from its pot down over the edge of the sales counter at the Carousel of Violets in Winston-Salem. I had no clue that African violets grew in such a fashion, and I’ve been entranced by trailers ever since.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

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Decorating Houseplants: Don’t limit yourself to holiday displays, decorate your plants every day!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Many of us have decorated a Christmas tree or two or many more. And some of us have been more adventuresome, putting twinkle lights on a lemon tree or hanging small ornaments on a philodendron. But why not decorate your houseplants for every day? Your special plants deserve a little “bling!”

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

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Pass-Along Houseplants: Grow a Jungle of Hanging Baskets from Cuttings
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Hanging baskets are one of the easiest ways to have plants inside your home. They don’t take up floor space, and you can put them out of reach of kids and pets. But how do you achieve lushly planted baskets without breaking the bank? Pass-along plants! Many common varieties of houseplants root readily from cuttings and make ideal hanging basket subjects.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

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Will the Real Cinnamon Please Stand Up?
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Imagine my surprise a few years back to discover that the cinnamon I’d been sprinkling on toast and cookies for years wasn’t the real deal! Both cinnamons are derived from tree bark, but “true cinnamon” or Ceylon Cinnamon is a different species than the cinnamon most of us know in the U.S. I’m glad I found out about the real deal cinnamon, as it’s another wonderful choice for baking and cooking!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

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Coffee and conversation: the evolution of an e-community
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

As we watched houses going up in our new development, one thing that struck us was how many homes had big front porches. We took this as a good sign of neighbors who wanted to gather and talk, to enjoy a chat over a cup of coffee while the kids played together on the cul-de-sac. I was thinking about coffee the other day, and conversation, and how communities evolve. It seems to me we’ve built a community here on DG that’s every bit as vital and friendly as any geographically based neighborhood…

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

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From garden to gift basket: Using essential oils for beautiful handmade soaps
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Whether you embark on the adventure of distilling your own essential oils from your garden or purchase essential oils to use for this project, handmade scented soaps make beautiful, thoughtful gifts.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

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Lessons from a lavender farm: Growing, harvesting and using lavender blooms
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

I love lavender! The color of the blooms, the wonderful scent, the lovely silvery-green of the foliage, all combine to make it one of my very favorite plants. Recently, I had the remarkable experience of visiting a lavender farm in Washington State, where I picked up some great tips for harvesting and using lavender…

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

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Not-so-scary necktie snakes are a fun and educational kid craft
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Making a snake from an old necktie is a great way to get kids past the fear factor to the fun factor of learning a bit about these helpful garden companions.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

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Shake down your plants for free seed: an introduction to collecting seeds
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Collecting your own seeds is a great way to save money. If you trade seeds with others, you can end up with a great variety of seeds for only the cost of postage. If you need flats of ground covers or other plants, starting from seed is a good way to economize. Not having to buy the seed is better yet! But first you have to get out into the garden and find the seeds…

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

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Meet Dave’s Gardeners in Your Area: Throw a Plant Party!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Wish you could meet some of the people you’ve chatted with? Want a chance to swap plants, trade seeds, and “talk plants” in person with people who’ll find your begonias as fascinating as you do? You need to get together with some fellow DGers!

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

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Turn green tomatoes into “raspberry” jam that’s fun for kids to make and eat
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Raspberry jam from green tomatoes? No way! Set aside your doubts. It’s easy to make and looks just like the “real thing.” Plus, it’ll give you something entertaining to do with those last few green tomatoes…

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

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Coffee tasting on the Big Island of Hawaii
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Some folks go on wine tasting tours of Napa Valley. We’re coffee drinkers. Hawaii’s “Kona Coast” has some of the best coffee in the world!

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

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Cucumbers: Sweet, Crunchy Slices of Summer
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

During cucumber season, my mandoline becomes my favorite kitchen gadget. With it, cucumbers practically slice themselves – thinly and evenly, piling up in delectable heaps to be used in every way imaginable. Whether you use a mandoline or a trusty knife, you’ll love freshly sliced cucumbers in everything from hors d’oeuvres to refrigerator pickles!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

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Stop Pinching your Basil! Start Saving Seeds for Next Year’s Basil Plants
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

You've been harvesting a bounty of basil all summer, pinching and pinching to keep the plants from blooming so the leaves will stay sweet. By now, some of your basil plants may be out of control and blooming madly. Rather than trying to stop them, let them do their thing and harvest a bumper crop of seeds to share and trade. It’s time to let your basil bloom!

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

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Take the Plunge, It's Iris Sale Time!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Whether you're new to irises or have beds filled with hundreds of carefully labeled varieties, this is an exciting time of year! Mid to late summer is the time when growers and gardeners alike take a look at their beds and decide to divide overcrowded iris clumps for better growth and bloom. That's great news for gardeners looking for a good deal on beautiful irises!

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

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Put Your Dehydrator to Use: Make Fruit Leathers at Home for Healthy, Delicious Snacks
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Is your home orchard or local market providing a bounty of fresh fruit this summer? Are you looking for an alternative to preserving it as jam? Is your freezer getting full? It’s time to get out your dehydrator (or borrow one). You can dehydrate slices of fresh fruit, of course, but you can also make delicious fruit leathers or roll-ups in a snap!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

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Life is Just a Bowl of Cherry...Tomatoes!
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Do you like the little pint containers of grape or cherry tomatoes in the grocery store? They’re easy to grow, and they’re even tastier fresh off the vine. They come in a rainbow of colors, too!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

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Lavender Wands: Make Magical Scented Decorations for your Home
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Bring the sweet scent of lavender into your home by making decorative, magical lavender wands! Step by step photos make this simple project even easier.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

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Me and My Mantis: Adding a Mini-Tiller to Your Garden Shed
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Have you looked at those bright brochures and wondered if a mini-tiller might be right for you? Last spring, I took the “satisfaction guaranteed” plunge…

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

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Beyond Peppermint: An Introduction to the Flavors, Aromas, and Textures of “Fancy” Hybrid Mints
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Mint! Maybe you love its fresh flavor, maybe you hate the way it tries to take over every plant in its path. But did you know how busy the hybridizers have been with this common garden plant? They’ve produced some truly wonderful varieties that just might make it onto your next “must have” list.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

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My Favorite Climbing Rose, ‘Zephirine Drouhin’
By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

Sweetly scented, fluffy pink blooms, tough as nails, shade tolerant, and nearly thornless… does that sound like your average hybrid rose?

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