Glorious Gothic Gardens

Instead of painting the roses red, how about black?

Black flowers are among the most lovely there are, and whether you want a gothic garden or you just want to add some black floral accents to the garden you already have, there are so many more varieties to explore than you might think. Hemlock House Studio has some great ideas for dozens of black flowers to grow in your yard, many of which are quite easy to get started.

One of my favorite flowers, the morning glory, comes in a black variety. Just be sure to prune them regularly because they do spread like wildfire! I had a massive vine spring up seemingly out of nowhere this year from the one I planted last year in a totally different area. Then there are plants like Black Magic Cosmos, which look just like regular cosmos but with that beautiful black color. Check out their video for many other black flowers you can grow.

What kinds of black or dark flowers do you grow in your garden? Share your favorites in the chat.

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Fall Ground Cover

What do you like to plant?

While I'm not very knowledgeable about fall cover crops, I love the idea of them. They are planted in the fall months, but it may even be too late to sow right now, depending on where you live. I think in my zone, the best time is between August and October, but that may differ where you live.

It seems weird to plant crops late in the year, especially if it's just for cover, but when I think of all the dead things currently in my yard, I think a nice, new crop might look a lot better. But there are so many other benefits to be had from fall cover crop seed mixes, like the fact that they add nitrogen to the soil. They help keep weeds down and add organic matter to help make the soil richer for next year, too, which is a win-win.

Do you plant fall cover crops where you live? If so, which seed blends do you suggest using for the best results? Share your thoughts and experiences in the chat.

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Lowlight House Plants

What kinds do you have?

It's the time of year when we start to bring in a bunch of our outdoor plants to keep them safe through winter, but we have pretty limited lighting in the house. Most of them already have plants in all of their reachable areas. I have a lot of ivy plants, several pitcher plants and Venus flytraps, aloe, succulents, pothos... Basically, I have mostly plants that do well with plenty or limited sun.

If I were to get more lowlight plants, I know I'd want some snake plants based on how well they treat the air in our homes. Recent reports demonstrate how they are some of the best plants for air purification and I'd love those benefits in my home. I have English Ivy, which is also beneficial, but snake plants would add more dimension and texture, too.

What kinds of lowlight plants do you keep in your home? Which ones are easiest to take care of? Share your favorites and tips in the chat. 

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Working From Home in the Garden

What do you think of this idea?

For years I've wanted a little office to work out of with giant windows and lots of bird feeders so I can enjoy the many birds in our neighborhood while I'm working. While I love my office and I do have a window complete with a tree and birdhouses, it's not quite the same as being surrounded by the garden and all of the wildlife that comes to visit.

Lots of people who now work from home have been providing themselves with home offices like this--little sheds or tiny rooms built to be surrounded by nature. It's probably going to have a decent effect on their mental health, too--being in nature is said to be very nourishing for your spirit. It's a neat trend if you can do it, and I can see many benefits to be had, especially if your home is very noisy.

Do you have any special buildings, an office or a getaway in your garden? Is it all enclosed, open or somewhere in between? Tell us about it in the chat.

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Seasonal Growing And Eating

How do you manage it?

Growing seasonally is something that many of us try to do, especially if we're growing outdoors without a greenhouse or cold frames. There have been many times when I've grown something just slightly out of season, including my marigolds this year! They were just little green spikes all summer because I'd forgotten what I'd planted.

The great thing about modern living is that we have the Internet to find lots of resources to help us plant better gardens, and a favorite of mine is the Farmer's Almanac Planting Calendar. Isn't it cool that it's online? You can always buy an Almanac but the online version is free to peruse. I also love the Seasonal Food Guide. It is so easy to find out what is in season where you live so you know what to eat when, even if it's available all year.

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Halloween-ify Your Garden

How do you make it creeptastic?

It's time to make your garden a place filled with skeletons, zombies and creeptastic creatures! Each year I usually do this myself with spider webs, little eyeballs and ghoulish figures, but this year my teen took charge and has been adding things to our garden and porch for days and I love it.

The Teen has put a bunch of fake scary flowers out in pots, along with doll heads, skeletons, Frankenstein and hanging ghouls and creatures. He's also come up with little details I've never thought about, like adding spiders onto larger decorations, gluing on fake moss and other cool ideas! While he's not as organized as I am when it comes to decorating, he's definitely more creative. It was hard to let go at first but afterward I really enjoyed letting him take over.

What does your garden or porch look like now? What will you be doing to it all for Halloween? Share your ideas in the chat. 

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Saving Money While Gardening

Share Your Tips

The Washington Post just shared the tip to grow your plans from seeds in order to save money, and as great of a tip as that is, it should be obvious to most gardeners. The hardest part is saving seeds to grow another year--and identifying which plants can be grown again from their own seeds or not. As many gardeners know, some fruits and veggies can't be grown from their own seeds--especially some varieties you might buy from the store, and especially if you want the same type you ate. But in general using seeds is a great idea.

I save money by making my own compost. To me, that's the best way to get a good yield, especially if you have chickens or save yard waste and turn it. Honestly my chickens tend to eat a lot of my scraps so I don't make as much from fresh scraps as I used to, but the yard waste sure is helpful. Let a bunch of leaves sit a whole season and the rich soil beneath it is pure gold--and it's free, not counting your own labor. Add chicken manure and you've got some great soil there.

I also save pots, seed starting containers, etc. from previous years to reuse, and I use a lot of found items people give away or throw away--or big sticks in my yard to use to hold up vines. What are you best tips to save money in your garden? Share them in the chat.

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Growing Carrots

There's still time in some areas!

As a young hobby farmer, I had no idea how sensitive some plants can be. It's a running joke how some plants will grow in the crack of a sidewalk yet refuse to grow in someone's home! Carrots are a sensitive bunch. They don't like a lot of heat and won't grow well in the summer if it's too hot, but they do well in the cool spring and even late summer or early fall, depending on where you live.

I confess that most of my carrots have been rather pathetic, but now I realize that my error was in transplanting them. I love to grow my plant babies indoors and then transplant to the bigger garden. Carrots don't like that! They like cold soil and can even tolerate a frost, but they should still be planted a good month and a half before the first frost if possible. They also prefer their soil to be light and fluffy, which is another great tip for a good yield.

Do you have any good carrot growing tips? Share them in the chat.

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September Gardening

What's on your to-do list?

What are you doing in September for your garden? Right now we've got mums and morning glories blooming all over the place, and our strawberries are DONE. Most of my spring babies are dead and I've been doing something silly--sticking in random Halloween fake flowers here and there just for some spooky color (and eyeballs). What can I say, I can never not get excited when September gets here.

There's so much that can be done this month! Our local Extension Office has some great ideas, from dividing spring perennials to planting pansies for fall and winter bloom. I've never done that and am thinking about it but we usually do general maintenance more than anything since we get so busy in the fall. It's probably our busiest time of year. That said, I'm still thinking about cold weather crops, especially since we had some old window panes given to us that would work really well for some cold frames...

How are you preparing for the fall and winter? What's going on in your garden? Share your September garden with us in the chat!

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Getting the Most out of Fall Planting

Share your tips in the chat!

If you plant during the fall, you know two things: you're getting use out of the cooler temps for some great plants, from veggies to mums, but you're also taking the risk of them dying from an early fost. Luckily we can usually predict when these frosts will occur, but we do have to take precautions to get the most out of our fall planting in the meantime.

Seasoned growers know this means taking care to protect plants from frost. I have a small zip-up greenhouse I put some of my plants in during the frost. This is especially helpful if I get a little too eager in the springtime and plant some baskets before the final frost, as I am wont to do. But covering up plants to protect them is also great. Some people have good luck with plastic alone but a fabric blend made to protect plants works really well.

How do you protect your fall plants from a frost? Share your tips in the chat. 

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