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What's the best fall garden activity?
 
Bamboo is Blue Print E-mail
Written by Janine Warner   

Bamboo is blueAfter all the warnings that Bamboo will take over your yard if you let it, you'd think we'd have no trouble growing it, but despite buying large bamboo plants, they just don't seem to be adjusting well to our garden.

Not long after we planted them, they developed a black fungus, which we were able to cure, but they've just never taken off, and a year later, I'm wondering what else we can do. They're not too sickly looking, they're just not growing very fast.

We planted them in wine barrels, which are huge, but we got concerned at one point that they weren't draining properly. So we flipped over the barrels, gently laying our distressed bamboo on its site, drilled holes in the bottom of the wine barrels and tried to break up the soil a little. There isn't much room in the barrels for their roots to expand further, but they don't seem rootbound yet.

 A friend suggested grass fertilizer, which we added, and we water them pretty regularly.

 But, alas, our bamboo is growing slowly and with spring blossoming all over the rest of the yard, you'd think they'd be happy.

 What are we doing wrong?

 
A Mania for Tomatoes Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Tomatomania in Encino There’s something about summer and growing tomatoes. Maybe it’s because they really only grow in the summer or because they taste so much better (so much better) than anything available in the stores, but there’s something really satisfying about a summer tomato you’ve grown yourself.

There are those, of course, who take their tomato growing to the extremes, such as the guy chronicled in the Los Angeles Times last year who grew something like 10,000 tomatoes in his San Fernando Valley yard. It was in reading that article that I discovered Tomatomania – no, not this particular gentleman’s mania for tomatoes, but the Tomatomania seedling sales, listed at www.tomatomania.com.

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Spring is a Great Time to Plant Basil Print E-mail
Written by Janine Warner   

Want to get off to a great start as a newbie gardener? Try basil. Not only is it easy to grow, it adds incredible flavor to so many dishes.

Basil plants are happy as long as they have plenty of sun and water (and a little organic fertilizer now and then). You can grow basil almost anywhere -- in backyards, community gardens and even small pots. I have a big garden, but I still like to keep the basil close to the kitchen in big wooden planters on the deck.

Starting as early as March in warmer climates, you can find basil at nurseries, farmer's markets, and most places that sell gardening supplies and plants.

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Fun Facts about Watermelons Print E-mail
The fun thing about growing watermelon is that they GROW. You can feel like a very accomplished gardener when you see those vines shooting out and then the little pods that turn into (in my case) big 25-30-pound bubba watermelons.

One of the biggest questions that come up for people growing watermelons is when to harvest them. The first response I received when searching the university agriculture sites was often “it’s very difficult to know when to harvest a watermelon.” There is of course, the “thump” method, but that seems to be only for those with a very sophisticated ear who’ve had a lot of experience with thumping.

 

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