Garden Maintenance


Learn how to build better soil, fertilize, prune, and take care of your yard and garden with these easy how-to grow instructions.

Here are articles, podcasts and videos on how to care for your edible and ornamental gardens, trees, shrubs and lawns.

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Garden Design & Care

Soils & Fertilizer


How to Grow: Climbing Roses

Learn how to grow climbing roses including information on varieties and pruning. Listen to podcast: My mom loves roses, so I recently took her to Elizabeth Park in West Hartford. This is one of the first municipal rose gardens in the country. Started in 1904, it features 15,000 rose bushes and 800 varieties. And it’s in full bloom now. One of the features of the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden is the climbing roses on the arches around the gazebo. When in full bloom, it’s stunning. No wonder brides want their […]

How to Grow: Companion Planting

Learn about companion planting, including what plants grow well next to other plants and which to avoid. Listen to Podcast: Gardening is known for its folklore. Some of these old wives tales have some truth to them and others, not so much. I often get asked about companion planting for insect control. Although many say plants such as onions, marigolds and rue can deter pests, scientifically, few of these folklore remedies have been proven. It might happen that you get fewer pests on your tomatoes if onions are growing nearby, […]

How To Grow: Composting

Learn some alternative ways to make compost beyond just building a pile. Listen to podcast:     I have a confession to make. I’m not an active composter. I’d like to think the piles of organic matter I put together in fall will heat up and break down quickly, but invariably other chores take my attention and they slowly decompose to eventually be useable. This method works, but there are other alternatives for making compost right in the garden for those of us who aren’t interested in layering, watering, and […]

How to Grow: Composting in Place

Learn about composting your garden waste in the garden instead of moving it to a compost pile. Listen to Podcast: Like many gardeners, for years I would diligently clean up the veggie and annual flower gardens this time of year, pulling out dead plants and adding them to my compost pile. But in the last few years I’ve decided to compost in place. Instead of feeding the compost pile, I feed the garden soil in the beds directly. Here’s how it works. Instead of pulling out old broccoli, cabbage, pepper […]

How to Grow: Controlling Perennial Weeds

Learn about the best organic controls for perennial weeds in the garden. Listen to podcast: While annual weeds such as chickweed, lamb’s quarters and pigweed have many control options, including eating them, perennial weeds really only have one; tenacity. Japanese knotweed, quack grass, horsetail and gout weed are some perennial weeds that plague Vermont gardens. These weeds are specially adapted to survive. They’ve the ability to form new plants along their roots, so even if you pull out 99% of the plant, what’s left behind in the soil will eventually […]

How to Grow: Cover Crops

Learn about cover crops, including how to plant and grow them. Listen to podcast: We have a new property and lots of land to farm and garden. But before I go hog wild and buy trees, shrubs, and perennials, I want to build the soil. One of the many things I’ve earned over the years in gardening is you need to take care of your soil before anything else. One of the best ways to feed your soil is by growing cover crops. Cover crops are legumes and grains that […]

How to Grow: Dealing With Drought

Learn the best ways to reduce the effects of drought on your plants. Listen to podcast: Baby it’s hot out there…. and dry. Some areas of our region have received only 50% to 75% of their normal rainfall. That combined with hot, sunny days has an impact on the garden. The first thing you’ll notice is your soil will either repel or devour the available rains and added water. In clay soils, even summer down pours won’t help for long. The soil is so dry, much of the water runs […]

How to Grow: Dividing Perennials

Learn how to divide your perennial flowers including information on which flowers to divide when and the proper way to divide common perennials such as daylilies and iris. Listen to podcast: In his book Pass Along Plants. Felder Rushing talks about passing a long or sharing special garden plants he’s had for years with friends, family, and neighbors. I love this idea. It’s like having a remembrance of your friend in your garden. One of the best ways to pass along a perennial flower is to divide it and, for […]

How to Grow: Earthworms

Learn about the benefits and problems with having earthworms in your soil. Listen to podcast: We all have played with the wiggly earthworm since childhood. As gardeners we’ve been taught to revere the earthworm as a master decomposer of organic matter and savior of plants growing on clay soils. But all is not what it seems with the earthworm. There is a dark side to this creature. First a little history. There are no native earthworms in North America. All the earthworms were wiped out in the last ice age […]

How to Grow: Food Scrap Composting

Learn about the best ways to compost food scraps in a small composter in fall and winter. Listen to Podcast: Although Vermont’s new law on banning food scraps in landfills begins to take effect this fall, homeowners will still have a number of years to get their systems in place. But there’s no reason to wait until the government tells you to do it. Food scrap composting is easy and produces great compost. Here’s some tips to get started. Probably the easiest way to compost food scraps is to get […]

How to Grow: Forcing Flowering Branches

Learn how to force flowering branches into bloom indoors weeks before they bloom outdoors. Listen to podcast: I love garden chores that, as they say, kill two birds with one stone. This chore will cheer up your home in winter and get your trees and shrubs in shape for spring. It’s called forcing flowering branches. When you prune crowded, broken or damaged branches in winter, many of the tree and shrub stems you’ll be cutting are perfect for forcing indoors. Their branches are loaded with flower buds and all they […]

How to Grow: Gardening With Kids

Learn about the best ways to engage kids in gardening. Listen to podcast: One of the best gifts you can give a child, is to garden with them. Like myself, most adult gardeners started in the garden with mom, dad or a favorite grand parent. Introducing kids to gardening at a young age leads to a lifetime of healthy eating and loving plants and the environment. Yes, I believe gardeners make better people, too, as they learn life skills such as nurturing and working together. We’re blessed in Vermont with […]

How to Grow: Hugelkultur

Learn how to build mounded soil beds and grow plants with logs through Hugelkultur. Listen to podcast: Permaculture is a whole system garden design that seeks to reproduce the sustainability of a natural system. I have used some permaculture techniques over the years, such as keyhole raised beds, but not hugelkultur. What’s hueglekultur? This German word roughly means “mound beds”. It’s a technique used in Germany and Eastern Europe for hundreds of years and has newed popularity. A simple version is to take logs, old firewood, or branch prunings that […]

How to Grow: Lasagna Gardening

Learn about the simple technique to build a new garden end without having to dig up the lawn. Listen to Podcast: I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. I’m an Italian-American and if there’s one thing I know about it’s lasagna. I’ve been eating it since I was a little bambino. While lasagna is a great food, it’s also a great gardening idea. Starting a new flower or vegetable bed can be back breaking work. Many gardeners dig out sod and weeds, bring in topsoil and compost […]

How to Grow: Maintaining a Vegetable Garden

Learn how to take care of your vegetable garden in summer. This video includes information on fertilizing, thinning root crops, and watering your vegetables. For more garden videos, check out the National Gardening Association

How to Grow: Making a Raised Bed Garden

Learn how to build a raised bed garden including information on the materials to use, the size of the bed, and what to grow. For more garden videos, check out the National Gardening Association.  

How to Grow: Organic Fertilizer

Learn about organic fertilizers including the best types to supply nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to your soil. Listen to Podcast: Spring is time to get your soil ready for planting. Organic matter is key to soil health and building it with annual additions of compost is a good idea. But sometimes, especially in a vegetable or annual flower garden, there is a need to add more than compost. Annual flower and vegetable plants pull many nutrients from the soil. Based on a soil test you may find deficiencies and may […]

How to Grow: Permaculture

Learn about some simple permaculture techniques to save space and grow better plants in your vegetable garden. Listen to podcast: Winter is a great time of year for garden planning. Whether it be a trip to Italy or a new garden bed, now is the time to get ready for the coming garden season. I’ve been reading Toby Hemenway’s permaculture book, Gaia’s Garden, and I have a few new design concepts I’m going to try. Many gardeners are shrinking the size of their gardens to reduce work and save space. […]

How to Grow: Protecting Evergreens in Winter

Learn how to protect your evergreens trees and shrubs from damaging winter winds and cold. Listen to podcast: We’ve all seen it happen. A beautiful, broad-leaved rhododendron looks great going into winter. But in spring the leaves have browned and curled, turning our beautiful specimen into a deposit for the compost pile. So how do we get our broad-leaved evergreens such as rhodis, mountain laurel and pieris shrubs to make it through winter? It’s all about protection. Broad-leaved evergreens continue to transpire moisture through their leaves in winter. If the […]

How to Grow: Protecting Roses

Learn how to protect your roses from winter’s cold and winds. Listen to Podcast: I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Fall is a time for wrapping up the garden, both figuratively and literally. It’s time to pull out frost-killed annual flowers, cut back perennial flowers, compost leaves, and protect tender shrubs. One of the most precious flowers to protect are your roses. Because there are so many different types of roses, it’s often confusing which ones to protect and how. Overwintering roses, though, is straight forward. […]

How to Grow: Pruning a Hedge

Learn how to prune an evergreen hedge such as arborvitae, cedar and yews. This video has special instructions on the tools and techniques to keep the hedge healthy. For more garden videos, check out the National Gardening Association

How to Grow: Pruning Roses

Learn about pruning roses, including when and how to prune each type. Listen to podcast: Roses can be viewed as the most desirable flower or just a pain to grow. It depends on your attitude. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.” One of the challenges of roses is pruning and now is the time to do it. In spring it’s easy to see any blackened, winter injured canes and live buds. Proper pruning invigorates the bush […]

How to Grow: Soil

Learn about getting your soil ready for planting this spring. Listen to podcast:   I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Let’s get down and dirty about soil. First we should understand that soil is alive. What makes soil more than just dirt are the millions of bacteria, fungi and microorganisms that populate our land. Their activity allows for water and nutrients to flow freely  to our plants. So we should feed the beast and organic matter is the food. This time of year we should add […]

How to Grow: Straw Bale Gardens

Learn how to grow tomatoes and other vegetables in straw bales with less work and weeds. Listen to podcast: I’ve seen vegetables planted in just about everything. Whether it be old bathtubs, broken down cars, old shoes or even a used gas grill, gardeners can get creative when it comes to space saving techniques. Well, here’s an old space saver that’s come back to life in a new book. It’s called straw bale gardening. Ruth Stout started it years ago and now Joel Karsten has got a new twist on […]

How to Grow: Trellising Tomatoes

Learn about the best ways to trellis your tomato plants to keep them off the ground. Listen to podcast: Well, my tomatoes are in the ground and enjoying the warm soil and temperatures. I grow a mix of hybrids and heirlooms and one thing they all have in common is they’re big plants. So, they need to be kept off the ground, because tomatoes flopping on the ground leads to fruit rot, more leaf diseases and a big mess by midsummer. We all know about staking and caging tomatoes so […]

How to Grow: Unusual Holiday Wreaths

Learn about creating unusual holidays wreaths made from native materials. Listen to podcast: Holiday wreaths adorn may houses this time of year. While I love the traditional evergreen wreath with pine cones, winter berries, and dried grasses, you can also get creative about what you use to make a wreath. The first type of wreath I like to call the “morning walk” wreath. This is a wreath made from natural materials you find along your morning walk in the woods or fields. Bring along your hand pruners and a bucket […]

How to Grow: Vertical Gardening

Learn about growing plants vertically to save space and maximize production of your flowers, vegetables and herbs. Listen to podcast: I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. People are growing plants in the wildest places these days. There are rooftop gardens sprouting up on top of 30 story buildings, container gardens on balconies and fire escapes, and now living green walls in cities, schools and homes. The green wall revolution coincides with the increased interest in urban gardening. Gardeners are growing everything in green walls. I saw […]


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