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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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 May 10, 2019 at 7:15am


Deadheading can make a huge difference in the appearance of one's landscape without a whole lot of effort. The act of deadheading is the removal of individual blooms or flowering stalks that are past their prime.

Leafy green coneflower plant with spindly orange and pink daisylike flowers

Coneflower, after deadheading, with new growth and flowers. 

When deadheading, always trim the stem to an area above a node. The node can be determined by the presence of a leaf and its attachment to a stem. This area is known as the leaf axle.

The main benefit of deadheading flowering shrubs and perennials, particularly in the spring and summer, is that removal of spent flowers promotes new growth and more flowers. It also eliminates unsightly seed stalks and decaying petals from the landscape. If trying to save seed or promote re-seeding, do not deadhead in the fall or near the terminal side of a given season for any plant.

On the left a rose plant with a very dead flower and on the right the same plant after the dead flower has been cut off

Roses before (left) and after (right) deadheading. 

Once proper deadheading is performed, new growth will emerge from the trimmed area. Oftentimes, this new growth is another single flower or flower cluster.

While this process is generally used for repeat flowering shrubs, such as roses, it can also be used effectively on crape myrtle, salvia, coneflower, coreopsis, and many others. Promote an extended bloom season in the garden and deadhead!

On the left a poor photo of a leggy salvia plant that's practically indistinguishable from the grassy background and on the left a fuller leafy green salvia plant with shorter purple flower spikes

Salvia, before and after deadheading. 

Comment by Chief Walks on May 8, 2019 at 10:37am

Hole in One! A Creative Garden Tool Organizer
Repurpose your old golf club bag into a multi-functional toolbox capable of housing tools and gardening equipment.
Golf Club Organizer
Get creative while planning how to organize your yard and garden tools!

I needed a place to store my garden tools, including various rakes, shovels, hoes and more. My tools used to just lean against the corner of my shed, and I sometimes lost my hand tools. I needed something to hold all of my gear and keep it organized.
I found an old golf club bag at a garage sale for a dollar. The main opening in the top works great for organizing all of my large, long-handled tools, and my smaller hand tools fit well in the golf bag’s large front pocket.

Comment by Chief Walks on May 4, 2019 at 6:36am
Comment by Chief Walks on May 3, 2019 at 1:37pm
Comment by Chief Walks on April 25, 2019 at 9:12am

Comment by Chief Walks on April 25, 2019 at 7:27am

Im big on recycling, we used to do this same thing!! Fill with potting soil and a small seed like radish, lettuce, round carrots etc. OR use for sprouts in a fodder system

Comment by Chief Walks on April 25, 2019 at 7:25am

Comment by Chief Walks on April 24, 2019 at 8:50am

Comment by Chief Walks on April 24, 2019 at 7:43am

'Rollie pollies' remove heavy metals from soil, stabilizing growing conditions, protecting groundwater

Rollie pollies
Turn over a brick or a board that has been lying in the yard for a while and underneath you may find a collection of pill bugs scurrying about. Also known as "rollie pollies" or woodlice, these grey-colored creatures can be found in many dark, moist environments feeding on decaying matter. What's interesting about these critters is that they are not bugs at all. They are crustaceans and more closely resemble crabs and shrimp, not insects. They are characterized by their ability to roll up into a ball when they feel threatened. Another unique feature is that they have seven pairs of legs. They also act like kangaroos, toting their eggs around with them in a special pouch called a marsupium, located on the pill bug's underside. Even stranger, they don't urinate. Instead, they exchange gases through gill-like structures.

Pill bugs great for gardening, composting

Breeding or collecting pill bugs may be an important practice for homesteading and gardening. The guts of these pill bugs contain a number of microbes that help the critter feed on dead, organic matter. By releasing mass quantities of pill bugs into a mature garden, one can be assured that dead plant matter is being properly broken down and returned to healthy soil. Pill bugs literally speed up the process of decomposition. They circulate the soil. This can be very useful in composting. Treats for pill bugs include fungus and monocotyledonous leaves.

Pillbugs play an important role in the cycle of healthy plant life. They return organic matter to the soil so it can be digested further by fungi, protozoans and bacteria. This process produces a natural supply of nitrates, phosphates and other vital nutrients that plants need to thrive now and in future growing seasons. It is important not to introduce pill bugs into the garden too early, as they tend to munch on emerging plants. The grey soil workers often live up to three years.

Pill bugs clean up soil and protect groundwater from heavy metal contamination

One very unique quality that these crustaceans possess is their ability to safely remove heavy metals from soil. For this reason, they are an important tool for cleaning up soil contaminated with pollutants like lead, cadmium and arsenic. In coal spoils and slag heaps, pill bugs come in handy. They take in heavy metals like lead and cadmium and crystallize these ions in their guts. The heavy metal toxins are then made into spherical deposits in the midgut. With this special cleanup property, pill bugs survive where most creatures can't, in the most contaminated sites.

The magic of the pill bugs helps establish healthy soil and prevents toxic metal ions from leaching into the groundwater. This means pill bugs are also protecting well water from becoming contaminated while stabilizing soils.
Comment by Chief Walks on April 12, 2019 at 5:44am

How to Break Down Eggshells in Compost

Composting eggshells can be tricky because they often take a long time to break down. This tip will help speed up the process.
Grind eggshells into a fine powder to help them break down quickly in garden soil. 

We have a short growing season in eastern Washington, so gardening can be a challenge. We have to make efficient use of the time we do have by supplying our gardens with the best soil possible. The natural soils here tend to be sandy, and they contain a lot of decomposed granite. As a result, nutrients wash out quickly, so we have to water frequently.

To improve the soil structure and provide organic material, many gardeners in our area are avid composters. However, eggshells in compost don’t break down well, so they’re a topic of frustration. Both of our neighbors have confessed to finally just giving up on composting eggshells and they now throw their eggshells in the trash. Tired of intact eggshells in my compost, but not ready to throw such a good source of calcium away, I found a method that works for me.

I air-dry eggshells on a cookie rack for a day or two and then throw them into my Vitamix on high. In a few seconds, the shells become a fine, granular powder that’s perfect for adding to the soil around tomatoes and other plants that suffer when calcium levels are too low. This eggshell powder is the easiest and fastest way I’ve found to use eggshells’ soil-enriching properties.


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