Lifestyle Columns

Garden Variety: Now’s the time for fresh blackberries

Blackberry season is beginning in northeast Kansas. If you are already growing blackberries, you should check your plants for ripe fruit and begin harvesting. Otherwise, consider picking berries at a local farm, purchasing fresh ones at a local farmers market or planting some blackberry plants ...

Garden Variety: Wildflowers are in bloom; here’s how to identify them

Black-eyed Susans, yellow sweet clover, Queen Anne’s lace, and many other wildflowers and grasses are putting on a show on Kan- sas roadsides, in native prairie sites, and in the nearby Flint Hills. If you have the chance to go for a drive, a bike ride or a walk in one of these regions, this ...

Garden Variety: Tips for keeping weeds out of your vegetable garden

As summer-loving vegetable plants begin to thrive in the warm Kansas sun, summer-loving weeds are taking off too. They appreciate water, fertile soil, and light as much as cultivated plants, and unfortunately some of them are a challenge to control. The best approach uses a combination of ...

Garden Variety: Plant pumpkins this month for an October harvest

In Kansas, early to mid-June is the best time to plant pumpkins, squash and gourds in the garden for harvest in October. Growing them is a fun solo or family activity which yields fruit for cooking, jack-o’-lanterns, fall displays and future birdhouses. When most people think of pumpkins, ...

Garden Variety: Increase fruit, vegetable yield with the right fertilizer

Choosing the right fertilizer for the garden and applying it properly can increase yield of fruit and vegetable crops. Done incorrectly, it can be a waste of time and money. The hard part is knowing what and how much is needed, and a look at the options only makes the task more daunting. A ...

Garden Variety: Peonies, longtime garden favorites, require little care

Peonies are blooming now around the Lawrence area, and their colorful blossoms are an inspiration to add them (or more of them) to the garden. Peonies perform reliably for decades in the landscape with little care and are available in a variety of colors. They are longtime garden favorites that ...

Garden Variety: Water features can add visual interest, tranquil sound

To create the perfect backyard sanctuary, consider adding a water garden or water feature. Landscape ponds, waterfalls, water garden pots and fountains add visual interest to the garden, increase the diversity of plant species that can be grown and attract beneficial wildlife. Elements with ...

Garden Variety: Fences, repellents can protect your garden from wildlife

Rabbits, squirrels and deer are common visitors to flower and vegetable gardens throughout the year, but the lush new growth produced in spring may be especially appealing to them. If plants are eaten or dug up this spring or summer, one of these animals is likely to blame. Exclusion and ...

Garden Variety: Annual flowers can give your garden a pop of color

Annuals and perennials are nicknames given to broad classifications of plants with many different attributes. Annuals are the ones known best for providing vibrant color. They are versatile, establish quickly, typically have long bloom times (or provide season-long color with foliage) and are ...

Garden Variety: Extend the harvest season with succession planting

To make the most of garden space and extend the amount of time that vegetables are harvested from the garden, consider succession planting. Succession planting is a process that takes a little bit of planning, but most gardeners can easily incorporate it into their year-round planting routines ...

Garden Variety: Edible flowers add flavors, textures, colors to meals

Pansies, daylilies and other flowers are better known for their cherry blossoms than their delicate flavors, but they are edible and add interesting flavors, textures and colors to meals. Edible flowers are rare in the grocery store, but many species are easy to grow in landscapes and food ...

Garden Variety: How to grow vegetables, herbs in containers

Planting vegetables and herbs in containers is an easy way to start gardening on a small scale and is ideal for people who lack yards or whose yards are unfavorable for a traditional garden. A few crops can be planted now, and supplies can be gathered for later spring plantings. Selecting a ...

Garden Variety: Garden centers stay open, but with some changes

Local garden centers are working hard to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic and get necessary items to customers in the safest manner possible. Usually, shopping for plants is an experience in itself. The air smells different in a greenhouse in spring, full of the earthiness of potting soil and ...

Garden Variety: Divide your perennials for better performance

Hostas, daylilies, sedums, daisies and other perennial flowers and ornamental grasses can outgrow their space and exhibit reduced performance over time. Digging plants up, dividing them and replanting smaller portions is the best way to alleviate these problems. Fall is often touted as the best ...

Garden Variety: Tips for first-time gardeners

The idea of growing your own food and spending more time working in the yard might seem more appealing than ever — the arrival of spring in Kansas is a great time to get started. Gardening can seem daunting if you lack experience, but there are plenty of reliable resources out there to help. ...

Garden Variety: With a little care, you can grow hops in Kansas

The herbaceous, perennial hop plant is best known as a component of beer that adds a bitter flavor, but it can also be used in nonalcoholic beverages and herbal medicine, and it can be grown here in Kansas with a little special treatment. The flowers are a unique crop of special interest to ...

Garden Variety: The challenge of gardening around walnut trees

Black walnut trees have a reputation for being hard to get along with, at least to gardeners wishing to grow tomatoes and other plants in their vicinity. The trees produce a chemical called juglone, which damages other plants. The challenge is understanding which other plants are affected by ...

Garden Variety: Get a jump on these early-season gardening tasks

Warm weekend days across the Midwest coupled with the impending arrival of spring have most gardeners excited to get outside and work in their yards and gardens. There are many tasks that can be done this time of year, some that should wait until later in the spring and a few that can be saved ...

Garden Variety: What to keep in mind when planting fruit trees

If you want to plant an apple, peach, pear, cherry or other fruit tree in your yard, early spring is the best time to do so. You should keep a few factors in mind when you plant: site conditions, pollination requirements and which varieties are well suited to Kansas’ climate and pests. ...

Garden Variety: Tapping trees is easier than you might expect

Warmer temperatures and longer days mean that sap is beginning to flow in maples and other trees around the Lawrence area. The weather changes signify the ideal time to collect tree sap for syrup-making purposes. Tapping a tree for sap and making syrup is somewhat uncommon in this region, but ...