Crazy Winter Weather

No complaints about the weather this winter but we do need to watch some of our plants in the garden.  Wide temperature fluctuations can be hard on plants.  Warm days followed by freezing nights can cause bark injury on trees with thin, smooth bark.  Freezing and thawing of soil can result in heaving of shallow-rooted perennials.  This repeated freezing and thawing causes the soil to expand and contract, which can lift up or heave some plants out of the soil.  Heaving may break off some of the roots and exposes the plant’s crown and remaining roots to cold temperatures and drying winds.  Perennials with shallow root systems and plants planted or divided in late fall are susceptible to heaving during their first winter.  Some perennials which heave occasionally are: Scabiosa, Heuchera, Coreopsis, Gaura, Tiarella, Gaillardia, Chrysanthemum, and Leucanthemum.

If plants are heaving in your garden, place soil around the base of the plant to cover any exposed roots. You may gently push the plant back into the ground and cover with straw.   Mulch should be applied to newly-planted perennials in the fall after several hard frosts.  Wrap young and thin-barked trees (maples, willows) to protect from fluctuating winter temperatures; use burlap or special tree wrap from your local nursery.

One last tip is to buy plants that are healthy and are well-suited to our crazy weather.  Native plants are usually well-adapted to local conditions.


by: H. Robertson


Today’s post is probably a review for many of you but it is an important topic.  Mosquitos!  There are many diseases which can be transmitted by mosquito bites with the Zika Virus as the most current one in the news.  We have recently had a lot of rain in Maryland and with it now being August the mosquito population will likely increase.  The best way to control mosquitos on your property is to be diligent on removing any standing water, such as buckets, tire swings, old planters, etc.  There is a biological control available for mosquito larvae which you shake on top of water troughs or small fish ponds.  It is safe for animals and fish.  The mosquito larvae ingest it and they die.  This larvaecide can be found in most garden centers.  Read the label carefully.

Planting insect repelling plants is another way to help reduce mosquito problems in the garden.  One thing to remember is for effective control the plants need to be disturbed to emit the aroma which is insect repelling.  The leaves need to be rubbed or the branches shaken.  Lemon grass is best as it contains citronella oils.  It is a tropical plant though so it will not survive winter.   Leaves can be crushed and rubbed on skin but always try a small area first to test for any possible irritation.  Citrosa, scented geranium, is very popular but has been proven ineffective at repelling mosquitos.

Below is a list of common herbs and flowering plants which have been effective in repelling mosquitos.  Plant them in your garden or place planters on your deck or patio. Swish them around when you are outside.  This will release the great aroma and help ward off the mosquitos.  They smell great and add great flavor to many recipes!

                                            INSECT REPELLING PLANTS




Lime Basil




Lemon Thyme


Lemon Grass




Lemon Balm







African Blue Basil


African Blue Basil

Community Gardens

For those who live in an apartment, condo, or similar housing with little place for a garden there are opportunities for you to still enjoy gardening and a flower or vegetable harvest.
First would be to plant containers on a patio, deck, or balcony. Use a phone app or compass to understand the orientation of your setting, check your available sunlight during different times of day, and choose plants according to full sun, morning or afternoon sun, or very little sun, plus how much watering you’re willing to do!

A second option is to rent or co-op a plot in a community garden, a growing trend. It is late in the season to start certain vegetables from seed, but pepper and tomato transplants are available at most garden centers. Some cool-season vegetables can be planted from seed now and harvested in the fall. Children in the household will learn lifetime lessons about the growing process.
children gardening

These links can help you locate a garden plot possibility near you.

American Community Garden Association website and locator page

University of Maryland Agriculture Extension website

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society community garden locator page

PHS community garden handbook for Philadelphia area

University of Delaware Agriculture Extension website page

District of Columbia Dept of Parks and Recreation community gardens

rehoboth vegfest