How should younger people approach gardening?
Gardening is fun, but it's even more fun if you've got someone to help you! This is true throughout the process, including planning what you want to do, picking things out, planting them, and watering them throughout the summer. I like gardening with my sister and my mom. My other piece of advice is to try plants that come in six-packs. Lots of these plants are more “old-fashioned” and maybe not recognized by younger gardeners, but they are very cool and work well in flower beds. My favorite six-pack plant is gomphrena. It's beautiful and it can take a lot of sun and heat.
I’m new to this, what should I plant?
Plant what you like or love—there's always next year to change it up again!
I want tomatoes and I also happen to own livestock...
If you like tomatoes and live by a horse farm don't be afraid to use their fertilizer. Then put your sprinkler near the tomatoes and soak them for an hour. You will have all the tomatoes you can eat, can, and give away.
How do I grow Clematis in South Dakota?
In order for clematis to come back every year in our zone four environment you need to plant it deep. Dig a hole about six to seven inches deep, throw some peat moss in the bottom, and then the clematis plant. Make sure the start of the plant is covered about two inches into the soil. Your plant will winter over well and return better each year.
How do I make my garden tools last?
To keep your garden tools in tip-top shape, keep a five-gallon bucket filled with sand mixed with oil in your garden shed (I use motor oil). When returning to your garden shed plunge tools into sand/oil mixture several times. Then pull out the clean, oiled tools. This not only cleans them, it prevents rust. To disinfect pruners, spray them with Lysol.
Is there a secret to growing potted plants?
I love growing plants and I love the beautiful flowers they produce! I fill several pots with beautiful flowers every spring. I have set up a dripper system of watering them but I also love hand-watering. That gives me a chance to dead-head those flowers that need it! My flowers do the best when I mix fertilizer in the water once a week. I don't always feel like bothering with it but my plants love it when I do and they always reward me with many more flowers! Do you have orchids? An easy way to water them is to put ice cubes in the pot once a week. Beautiful!!
What can I grow with limited sunshine?
I have a very small garden plot in my backyard--it used to be a sandbox! It gets limited sunshine, but Swiss chard grows well there. I like to eat it steamed and it adds beautiful color to my garden.
Should I just stick to what I know?
Like all avid gardeners I have trusted favorites that I plant every year. Each year I make an effort to try something new in my beds or in my pots. I always learn something and you never know when you will find a new favorite!
Is there a secret to starting carrots?
To germinate carrot seeds, wet the row and place a six inch board over the row. When white sprouts appear take the board off. Removing the board is best done towards evening or on a cloudy day.
What should I do about voles?
The women of Medary Acres have many talents. We not only plant and grow beautiful plants, but on occasion we have to hunt down plant-eating critters, such as voles. If possible, we catch them in live traps because they can go through a flat of flowers very quickly. I am one of the few who does not scream at the sight of them so I often assist in their removal!
Do you recommend a Hibiscus?
I could really go crazy with the perennial hibiscus, but they do take a lot of space. They are so showy when they are blooming and the flowers can be the size of a small dinner plate. They make me feel like I am somewhere tropical.
I’m thinking of growing a Red Banana Plant...
Last year I grew the Red Banana (Ensete Maurelii) at our lake cabin. I had many people come over to see my tropical planters. Wow, what a show-stopper! It grew to over five feet tall.
What are good shrubs for South Dakota weather?
I live on a hot, windy hill. I have found that duranta can stand those extreme elements. I prefer the white; however they also come in a blueish purple. I grow the standards, which look much like a tree. I stake them with re-bar to help against the wind. I have found that they attract beautiful butterflies and bees. They are a great specimen plant for pots! Also, I have found that plumbago can grow in these same conditions, and they are a beautiful blue.
Any final advice?
While planting Jean Mehegan's garden one year, he gave me a lot of “advice”. When I was done, he said to me, “When planting gardens, you will get lots of advice, but you should always do it the way you want!”