Archive for Summer gardening tips

Beating the Heat!

The roses love the sun — but me, not so much. Especially when the “feels like” temperatures are approaching 115 degrees outside! Doing anything we can to stay cool is important. Here are a few things that you might not have thought of, but they really do help:

Most importantly conserve, conserve, conserve! Water is precious, and so is electricity on days like this. Try to stay indoors as much as possible during the sunny hours. Draw your shades and curtains on the sunny side of your home, it adds insulation, and protects flooring and fabrics from fading as an extra bonus. We have found that the rooms are 10 degrees cooler by doing just that. If you have ceiling fans keep them running, stale air and humidity can lead to mold and mildew. Try to eat fresh and healthy salads, or no-cook meals. Just turning on the stove or oven can heat up your entire kitchen. Run your dishwasher overnight when the water usage is less. After washing, air dry your clothing, or minimize using your dryer. I find that removing clothes from the dryer and then simply hanging them to dry after 5 minutes releases wrinkles and works great. And who likes to iron anyway, right? Those are some of my best indoors tips, now on to the outdoor tips–

Watering flowers after the sun has moved off of them keeps them from getting scorched, also gives the butterflies a safe place to drink some water. Don’t forget to leave a bowl of fresh water out for pets at all times. And for extra help, a soaker hose under a blanket of mulch 2″ deep is great for retaining the soil’s moisture, and it keeps their roots cooler, too.
Trim the back of foundation plants all around your home to leave at least six to twelve inches of airspace between the plant and the exterior wall so your house can breathe. This keeps down the pests and insects as well as molds and mildew. Consider upgrading your outdoor lighting to a power-saving low voltage lighting system. Our’s here provides nice lighting to walkways at just 4 watts per fixture. Much better than a 60-100 watt bulb from old style lighting!
Another way to minimize heat in the garage is with insulated doors, and if you have garage door windows, cover them during the summer months to keep the sun out. I created my own shades by cutting simple pieces of fabric and attaching them with velcro all around the edges of the windows. The coach lighting here is energy saving diode lantern style fixtures which use the equivalent of a 15 watt bulb in energy, but provide terrific lighting for safety.
All around the back of the house, we have these great new solar powered lights. They are motion sensitive, so they are just on when needed. It’s always great to have these in case of of power outages, you will always still have light.
My most important tip is to always have some water with you if you are going to be outside. You can’t drink too much water on these brutally hot days. Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing, and try your best to stay in the shade. Please be careful everyone!

A New Start to 2019

Hello my gardening friends! I have some big news. I am now being hosted by a new company after having way too many technical difficulties with my previous host. I will open comments and questions again and improve this blog with many new ideas. I hope it will be more helpful and encouraging to my readers. So please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you. (The first time you leave a comment it will go into moderation to make sure you’re not spam, but after that it’s an open forum.) I’d love it if you want to share my posts as well — the more people in discussion, the more tips and ideas! As always, I’ll be here at and for those on Facebook at LisaEarthGirl.

As some of you already know, since my mishap last November, falling from a ladder while working on a tree, breaking my ankle and a rib, I had a bit of a slow start to this year. I was very lucky that I didn’t get hurt worse. (Coincidentally it happened on the same day and hour as our esteemed Justice R.B.G. had a mishap and broke her ribs.) I am back physically, thank goodness, and learned to be extra careful on ladders on windy days! I also would like to warn against leaning a ladder on branches that can sway in the wind! Safety first. Best tip I can give!

Learning a lesson the hard way to be more careful on ladders

The cycle of renewal has happened in a big way here. With all the rain that we had over the last year and a half, the garden is lush with new growth. Everything has sprouted with beautiful, fresh new leaves and lots of flowers everywhere. Many trees and bushes bloomed way out of their normal sequence — some early and some late — but it has been a gorgeous month and a half here in the mid-Atlantic. Vibrant colors everywhere!

Here’s a tip for one of America’s favorite plants, the flowering Azalea: When pruning and feeding, wait until after blooming, but finish before the 4th of July. This gives the plant time to set new buds and new growth before the frosts and freezes of the next winter.

The vivid new growth this spring is everywhere!

Last week I took a field trip with a friend to one of our local State Parks — Green Spring Gardens. We discovered many gardening ideas, and plants that were in full bloom a full month earlier than their usual bloom time! It was a refreshing way to spend the day, and fun to see school children so interested by what they were seeing. Fun for all ages, really! Why not pack a picnic and enjoy a hike at your local park someday soon?

A beautiful day at Green Spring Garden State Park. What a wonderful place to visit, perfect for all ages!

My biggest gardening concern so far this year is for some of my favorite mature bushes and trees to overcome the amount of rain from last year: the pink honeysuckle bush, the stellar cherry blossom tree, cardinal hollies, and the aristocrat pear. Last year’s losses were two prized cyprus bushes that drowned along the fence border garden. The change in climate and a neighbor’s poor drainage have proven deadly. The challenge continues with attempts to combat the excess water. I’ll keep you posted with some remedies to help keep the excess water away.

I always like to echo the colors I already have in the garden in my flower pots by the entrance. This year’s choices are blue salvia, lavander geraniums, and purple lobelia surrounded by variegated ivy. These all do very well in this area.

I’m back in my own garden now, preparing for the season ahead. I’ve almost finished with the mulching, weeding, and trimming back perennials. The grass has turned green again, and that alone makes a great backdrop for everything else. To celebrate the beautiful weather, I planted my annual flowers last week in flower pots and areas that are protected close to the house. In past years we have still had the odd late frost, but this year the long range forecast is showing we are much warmer. I used some of my favorites that do well in my micro climate on the banks of the Potomac — vinca, impatiens, salvia, lobelia and geraniums.

I’d like to start up a new segment on each blog from now on on plant I.D.- I’ll start with one that stumped me for years. I’ll encourage others to join in with plants from your garden.

Just for fun — here’s a plant I.D.- I used to call this the “Mystery Bush”, it looks very similar to many other plants, (wigelia and choke cherry had been previous guesses) but I’ve finally identified it as a pink honeysuckle bush. It started life as a volunteer in a friend’s yard, and she gave me a cutting. It has gorgeous flowers, which then turn to bright red berries, and in the fall gorgeous colored leaves — a true plant for all seasons! It has grown into a beautiful, mature 7 foot tall bush, with an 8 foot diameter. With too much water and rainfall last year, I’m fighting to not lose it this season.

It’s good to finally be back, and I hope that everyone is out and enjoying their corner of the world. Happy Gardening!

Mid-Summer Check-In

So very hot! Almost 100 outside-

So very hot! Almost 100° outside! Stay hydrated…

It’s summer, all right! With temperatures approaching 100° here, there is no more comfortable place to be than in my basement at the computer, blogging without feeling guilty that I should be out working the garden. We have just passed the 4th of July, and now we move on to the “3H” time of summer: Hazy, Hot and Humid. No matter how long you live in the D.C. area, you never really get used to it. Water of all kinds is your friend — whether it’s the beach, pool, sprinkler or hose! And, please make sure to drink your eight glasses a day; it’s not fun to get dehydrated.


When it gets this hot it helps to keep the moisture in by stirring  up and adding some additional mulch in thin spots. Also boost the curb appeal!

When it gets this hot, it helps to keep the weeds down and moisture in by stirring up and adding some additional mulch in thin spots. Your flowers and veggies will love it, and also boosts the curb appeal!





With the exception of a couple of weeks in early June, this has been a very rainy season for us, and that has caused not only extreme growth on established bushes and trees, but also annuals and vegetables to rot because of heat and moisture. I had to replace all of mine, but they are looking fantastic now.

I have coleus in the planters this year. I love the bright splash of color-

I have coleus in the planters this year. I love the bright splash of color, and they are very hardy in the heat-






After losing the first set of annuals at the front door due to too much rain, I put in coleus. Sometimes I see plants in the nursery that seem to be doing so much better than others, so that’s what I bought. I love the huge colorful leaves! I have more of it growing on the back deck and in the window box — love it there, too.


Please remember to set out some water in the shade for 4 footed friends- it's greatly appreciated!

Stomper would like me to request that everyone set out some water in the shade for four-pawed friends — it’s greatly appreciated!


I  want to put out a reminder in this heat to please keep your bird baths filled with fresh water and a dish or two of water ideally in a shady spot for the wildlife. It’s sometimes hard to find clean water this time of the year for them, and it’s much appreciated!

I find myself just trying to keep up with the weeds when it gets hot like this even though I use a weed preventer in the garden beds. I’ve been adding some extra mulch here and there where it’s become thin and stirred it with a rake in other spots for good airflow to soil. This is a good practice to get into this time of year, and it boosts the curb appeal, too!

Look what I found while weeding and edging!

Look what I found while weeding and edging!








And while I was edging the other day, I found this wonderful heart shaped rock, nature’s gift!

I have a new lawn mystery to solve. Brown spots! I think these have been caused by lawn grubs.

I have a new lawn mystery to solve. Brown spots! I think these have been caused by lawn grubs. More on this soon.





I’m noticing about 100 brown spots in the grassy areas. They can be caused by so many things: fungus from too much rain, or a dull mower blade, pet spots or grubs like fire flies. I’m not sure what is causing mine, but I’m leaning towards the grubs idea. I’ll report more on this soon, and have a remedy for you, too, when I do.




Until then, try to stay cool — Happy Summer!

This Heat Is Good for Something — Weeds!

With all the heat and rain, we are getting lots of unsightly weeds.

BEFORE: With all the heat and rain, we are getting lots of unsightly weeds.

With the temperatures in the triple digits these days, I am seeing lots of weeds coming out of the cracks in the pavement, especially along the gap where the curbing meets the asphalt.

I have a super easy, inexpensive and totally earth friendly way of getting rid of them — VINEGAR! In the heat of the day (the hotter and sunnier the better), just spray it on the weeds. The weeds will be dead the next day. (I buy a huge jug from the warehouse store — about $2.99 — which lasts the whole summer.) I prefer to scrape them out with the edge of a shovel, never to see them again. If you choose not to remove them, they will eventually disintegrate on their own.

AFTER: One day after spraying with vinegar- all weeds are dead and gone!

AFTER: One day after spraying with vinegar — all weeds are dead and gone! Much better.

Happy Weeding!

Happy Weeding!

The alternative is expensive weed killer, which is very toxic to wildlife and the waterways, so I urge everyone to give vinegar a try. It works great for me, and I hope it will for you, too.

Now if I could just find a great way to keep the wire grass from growing into my garden without having to dig it out — that would be fantastic!

My Edible Garden

Nasturshems are not only pretty, but in a salad they impart a radish flavor. Many other flowers are also edible- pansy, lavander, even squash and chive blossoms.

Nasturtiums are not only pretty, but in a salad they impart a radish flavor. Many other flowers are also edible: pansy, lavender, even squash and chive blossoms.

I love all things vintage. I was getting my daily fix online of wonderful vintage calendars and seed packages and want to share this beautiful one with edible flowers. I love to grow nasturtiums, pansy, even chive blossoms to add to salads for some flair as well as flavor.

This summer I have once again planted some veggies. I try each year, but usually they are enjoyed by my family of chipmunks before we can get to them. But, it’s still fun to watch the produce grow.

This season I have a pumpkin patch that Linus would be proud to sit in and wait for the great pumpkin to rise. It has taken over about 20 feet of garden space, with giant leaves and golden flowers that look quite magical, if I do say so myself. So far, I have only one pumpkin that has survived, but I have high hopes for many more! I have sprinkled red pepper into the soil surrounding it to act as a deterrent to my little garden buddies, and fingers crossed it will continue to work.

I also have jalapeno peppers which are looking beautiful and in the past have done exceptionally well. No need to add anything to the soil around them. I’m guessing the chipmunks aren’t fans of Mexican food — LOL!

I was saddened this spring to see my prized fig tree was not sprouting new leaves and that many of the branches had withered and died. I cut it back severely, and gave it a boost of slow release food anyway. In mid-June, just as I was on my way to dig it up, I was surprised to see that there was life! Miraculously, it has come back looking healthier than ever.  It changed my opinion on when to toss plants with winter damage. I encourage gardeners to wait a year before tossing. Hopefully, you will be pleasantly surprised like I was.

Here are some photos of what’s looking good here in my little corner. What’s growing best for you this summer? I’d love to hear!

My pumpkin- only about the size of a grapefruit right now, but hopefully will get to be giant!

My pumpkin — only about the size of a grapefruit now, but hopefully it will grow to be a giant!

If you have problems with wildlife eating your produce give jalapenos a try. I have never had a single one bothered.

If you have problems with wildlife eating your produce give jalapenos a try. I have never had a single one bothered.

Don't be too quick to toss out plants with winter kill. My fig has come back to health, although, about 2 months later than normal!

Don’t be too quick to toss out plants with winter kill. My fig has come back to health — although, about two months later than normal!

I like to bring some of my most used pots of herbs (mint and basil) up close to the kitchen door- very convenient!

I like to bring some of my most used pots of herbs (mint and basil) up close to the kitchen door — very convenient!


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