Gardener to Gardener

New Garden Products

Are there any gardeners on your gift list? Here are a few great, reasonably-priced items any gardener would be happy to have...

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Get the Most from Your Garden Tools for Years to Come

It's natural for garden tools to get dirty; they're made for it, in the short term. Here are some cleaning tips...

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A Few Favorite Tools

There are a few tools and pieces of garden equipment that I've really come to value. Here are some of the things that have become garden and landscape must-haves for me....

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Vegetable Gardening Q & A

Preserving Gourds
Q: I grew gourds this season to use for fall decorations. How do I preserve them?

A: Start by harvesting your gourds when they are fully mature. Check that the stems and the tendrils growing from them are both dry and the surface of the gourds is hard. Try to harvest before frost hits. Carefully cut the gourds from the vine, leaving a few inches of stem, treating them gently so as not to bruise them. Remember that uncured gourds are heavy, so don't pick them up by their stems, which might break off. Wash the shells with a disinfectant solution of 1/2 cup of white vinegar or bleach in 2 quarts of water to remove dirt and fungi. Then spread the gourds out on a raised screen in a dry, well-ventilated spot, making sure they don't touch one another. Turn them regularly as they dry. Drying time will depend on the size of the gourd, but usually takes at least 4 weeks for thin-shelled gourds, even longer for hard-shelled ones. You'll be able to hear the seeds rattle inside the gourd and it will feel lightweight when it is completely dry. After the gourd is dry, clean the surface with rubbing alcohol, let it dry, then seal with floor wax or paint, if desired.

Storing Root Crops in the Ground
Q: Can I store my root crops right in the garden until I'm ready to eat them?

A: The answer is yes! Throw about a foot of straw or hay over your unharvested root crops before the ground freezes in late fall. This will insulate the soil and you'll be able to go out into early winter -- perhaps even later -- pull back the covering, and continue your harvest of carrots, beets, rutabagas, and turnips. Extend the mulch out about a foot and a half on each side of the planting. Or you can fill large plastic trash bags with leaves or straw and cover your roots crops with them, making it easier to remove the insulating cover to harvest the roots. This method works best in Zone 5 or warmer, but even in colder zones it will usually extend the harvest into early winter. Catalog

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