Gardener's Corner

Join us for tips, helps, questions and answers about the gardening world. Monitored by a Certified Master Gardener but wisdom is shared by ALL.

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Latest Activity: Apr 11

Gardener's Corner

Chief Walks In Shadows is a Florida State Master Gardener.
He will post information that he feels will benefit everyone as a whole. But basically this will be a question and answer group.
Chief Walks will answer all questions asked to him directly. He has over 40 years of experience. And a sizable personal research library.

We are here to meet ALL of your gardening questions and/or related subjects.



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The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 11 separate zones; each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the adjacent zone. If you see a hardiness zone in a catalog or plant description, chances are it refers to the USDA map. To find your USDA Hardiness Zone or use the map below. 



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Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:08am


How to Grow Blackberry Plants in Pots

Blackberries are usually big plants and unsuitable for pots, but the thornless varieties are less vigorous and can be successfully grown in a large container.

When to Plant: autumn
At Its Best: late summer to early fall
Time to Complete: 1 hour

Materials Needed:

  • blackberry plant
  • large pot
  • soil-based potting mix
  • broken clay pot pieces
  • stakes or trellis for support

Plant Up and Feed

Place the clay pieces in the bottom of the container to aid drainage and to prevent the holes from blocking up. Fill with soil and plant. Most soil contains enough nutrients for the first few months, but in summer in subsequent years apply a tomato feed every week to promote flowering and fruiting.

apply plant food in summer to promote berries

Tie In StemsBlackberries produce long canes that need tying in. Insert a few strong stakes into the soil or place the container up against a sturdy trellis. When tying, create a "figure-eight" so that the stem doesn't make direct contact with the support, which could lead to rubbing and the creation of wounds.

blackberries produce long stems that need support

Pruning and Caring

Blackberries always fruit on the previous year's stems, so just after you have harvested your crop, remove any stems that have fruited by cutting them at their base. Tie any new stems into the supports; these should fruit the following year. Replace the top layer of potting mix every spring.

cut stems of blackberries that have just fruited


Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:08am

14 Gardening Tips

1.To remove the salt deposits that form on clay pots, combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let the pot dry before you plant anything in it.

2. To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you'll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can't collect beneath them. Then, after you've finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.

3. To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.

4. Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you'll already have a measuring device in your hand.

5. To have garden twine handy when you need it, just stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole, and set the pot upside down in the garden. Do that, and you'll never go looking for twine again.

6. Little clay pots make great cloches for protecting young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes.

7. To turn a clay pot into a hose guide, just stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.

8. To create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants.

9. Got aphids? You can control them with a strong blast of water from the hose or with insecticidal soap. But here's another suggestion, one that's a lot more fun; get some tape! Wrap a wide strip of tape around your hand, sticky side out, and pat the leaves of plants infested with aphids. Concentrate on the undersides of leaves, because that's where the little buggers like to hide.

10. The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don't pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you'll be amazed at how the plants respond to the "vegetable soup."

11. Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries. A light sprinkling of about one-quarter of an inch applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side.

12. Use chamomile tea to control damping-off fungus, which often attacks young seedlings quite suddenly. Just add a spot of tea to the soil around the base of seedlings once a week or use it as a foliar spray.

13. If you need an instant table for tea service, look no farther than your collection of clay pots and saucers. Just flip a good-sized pot over, and top it off with a large saucer. And when you've had your share of tea, fill the saucer with water, and your "table" is now a birdbath.

14. The quickest way in the world to dry herbs: just lay a sheet of newspaper on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, then roll up the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will be quickly dried to perfection. What's more, your car will smell great.

Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:07am


How to Revive Houseplants

If your houseplants are showing signs of stress, use these tips to revive them.

Getting your houseplants to survive the winter months is not easy, especially since most homes lack the two things plants need most: high humidity and bright, indirect light.

Even if you've done everything right, such as watering properly, misting routinely and providing proper light levels, chances are your houseplants will show signs of stress as spring approaches.

To ensure your houseplants' survival and help them thrive, revive them.


1. The single most important thing you can do to revive your houseplants is to repot them. Use a knife to loosen any roots that might be stuck to the sides of the pot, gently remove the plant from its existing pot, and inspect the roots, using small pruners to remove roots that appear lifeless.

2. You can repot the plant in a brand-new pot roughly 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot, or you can prune the roots and put the plant back in its original pot. Root pruning allows you to maintain the existing size of the plant while improving its overall health, much like the process of bonsai.

3. With the roots trimmed up, it's time to trim away the yellow and brown foliage, and remove roughly the same amount of top growth that you did roots. If you removed a third of the root growth, remove a third of the top growth to balance the plant's needs.

4. Then water the plant well, mist it thoroughly, add a few stones to serve as decorative mulch, and place the plant back in its spot in your home.

Tips for Reviving

When repotting a houseplant to a new, larger pot, remove the plant from its current pot and inspect the roots. Add fresh potting mix to the new pot and position the plant so that it is no deeper than it was growing in the old pot. Continue adding fresh potting mix to within an inch of the pot's rim. The space between the potting mix and top of the pot prevents water and potting mix from running off the pot's rim and ruining the carpet.

Now spray the plant with a moderate blast of water from the hose to get rid of winter dust and other airborne crud that settles on leaves and clogs leaf pores.

If you don't have time to repot each year you can still revive your houseplants by carefully removing roughly an inch or so of potting mix from the surface and adding a layer of fresh mix. This isn't as good as repotting, but it is better than doing nothing. And rinsing off the leaves is also a healthy way to let your houseplants breathe in spring.

Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:07am

Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:06am
Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:05am

A shoe organizer repurposed into a vertical herb garden. Great solution for those with less space!

Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:03am

Love to recycle and spring is just around the corner and I am ready to plant some seeds.
Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:02am

How many times have you and your family sat in the dark due to lost commercial power? The following is a short term (6-8 hours or less) solution!

Due to a thunderstorm, we lost power for about 5 hours. I was scrambling around in the darkness, looking for matches, candles, flashlights, etc. I looked outside, and noticed my solar lights shining brightly all around my patio, stairs, dock, etc. They were beautiful. I walked outside, and brought several of the solar lights inside.
I stuck the solar light pipes into plastic drink bottle containers and they made the nicest, brightest, safest, lighting you could ever imagine.
I put one in the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, etc. There was plenty of light. There are all types of solar lights available. I bought mine at Harbor Freight. I put them all around my yard. They look nice and they do not attract flying bugs like the outdoor lights around our doorway.
The lights I have fit into the small (20 oz) water bottles and they also fit into most of the larger liter bottles. If you need a weight in the plastic bottle to keep them from tipping over, you can put a few of the pretty colorful "flat marbles" that they put in aquariums, and vases. (you can also use sand, aquarium gravel, etc., whatever you have available).
The lights I have were perfect inside my home. They burn all night long if you need them.
The next day, you just take your solar lights back outside and they will instantly recharge and be ready for you to use again any time you need them.
Bring in a solar light one night and test it.
Perfect for power outages, hurricanes, etc.
I never thought of it, and now you don't have to!

Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:00am
Comment by Chief Walks on April 26, 2013 at 11:00am

Lighten up…clay soil
Take care of the Earth and she will take care of you.
Do you fight with heavy, clay soil? Well I have recently come across an organic, earth friendly way to help lighten up your soil.
One of the easiest ways to fix clay soil is to plant daikon radishes in it and leave them in the soil to grow to their maximum size. Don’t harvest at all but leave them to decompose. By the 3rd crop you can harvest if you want.
Cut the radishes off at the soil level and leave the tops laying on top of the soil where they grew. Plant inbetween with each successive crop. The third crop can be harvested, if you wish.
The radishes will break the soil a bit as they grow and with each successive crop the root does it deeper. As they decompose in the soil it becomes richer. The soil critters will mix all of that in with the existing soil giving you rich pliable soil to work with with not much work at all on your part. The hardest part is having patience to let nature work it’s magic.


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