Vermont Garden Journal

Fridays at 5:55p.m., Sunday at 9:34a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Nardozzi will focus on a topic that's relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests and more.

Hear the Vermont Garden Journal Friday afternoons at 5:55pm and Sunday mornings at 9:34am.

Subscribe to the Vermont Garden Journal Podcast and RSS

Visit the VPR Archive for Vermont Garden Journal programs before 4/19/2013.

Nahhan / ISTOCK

On my recent trip to Northern India, I noticed in farmers' fields a common Vermont shrub. There were rows and rows of yews. I found out they're the Pacific yews and farmers are growing them to extract a cancer-fighting chemical, taxol, from the plant.

p ponomare / ISTOCK

The days are getting longer and you know what that means for the veggie gardener, it's time to start thinking about tomatoes.

igaguri_1 / ISTOCK

Many people love having some houseplants blooming in winter. We're all familiar with African violets and Christmas cactus as two of the best flowering houseplants. But there are others that offer bright colorful flowers without much more work.

Selwa Baroody / ISTOCK

For years onions were one of those crops I avoided growing in the garden. They're cheap and plentiful in markets. Why take up space with such a common veggie? But then I started experimenting with unusual varieties and now I'm hooked on onions.


I'm always looking for new plants and growing techniques. That's why I'm fascinated with kokedama hanging houseplants. Kokedama is an ancient form of Japanese bonsai. It's also called "poorman's bonsai" because it is so easy to do.

Jessica Ruscello / ISTOCK

With the surge of interest in houseplants, many home owners are rethinking indoor plantings. While floor plants, such as ficus and dracena, are dramatic, a more practical approach is hanging baskets. Hanging houseplants take up less space, fit into small nooks and can have interesting growth. Here are some of the easiest to try in your home.

chengyuzhen / ISTOCK

After all the activity and eating around the holidays, it's time to stretch out on the couch and look at vegetable seed catalogs. Although I do most of my vegetable seed ordering on-line, I still like to leaf through the catalogs. They feel like an old friend that I invite over to my house once a year.

U.S. Public Domain

During this holiday week, many gardeners have some free time. After the rains melted much of our snow cover, it's a good time to think about some spring projects. Spring is only 82 days away.

MonaMakela / ISTOCK

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas! As everyone scurries for last-minute stocking stuffers, seed packets often come to mind for gardeners. There's no better sign of hope than a few packets of vegetable, herb or flower seeds slipped into someone's stocking. While the sentiment is great, and brings smiles to everyone's faces, I have a few tips based on my years of giving and receiving seed packets as gifts.

Probuxtor / ISTOCK

One symbol representing the holidays is a wreath. The word “wreath” derives from the ancient English word meaning "to twist." Ancient Greeks and Romans used wreaths as a head dress to symbolize one's status in society. Pagans used evergreen boughs in wreaths to symbolize the strength of life during the dark days of winter. Christians saw the circular wreath as a symbol of eternal life.

Brett Holmes Photography / ISTOCK

While a large holiday tree may be the tradition in many homes, more people are turning to unusual tabletop holiday plants to decorate their homes this time of year. The advantages are obvious. Tabletop plants don't take up much space, they require less maintenance, and some can be used as garden plants next summer. They also make great holiday gifts!

gilotyna / ISTOCK

Houseplants are back. When I was growing up, houseplants were considered your grandmother's plant. But demographics have put houseplants back on the map. The recent houseplant uptick is being driven by millennials. In 2016 the National Gardening Survey found that five out of six new gardeners are 18-to-34-year-olds. Millennials want to grow plants, but many don't own their own home and live in small apartments. The solution is houseplants.

Ines Carrara / ISTOCK

This Thanksgiving you might have noticed a few extra guests literally dropping in for the holiday. Asian ladybugs have become an indoor pest throughout the state. This species of ladybug was introduced in the 1900s to eat aphids and scale, but also has accidentally arrived on freighter ships since then. Their population has expanded into the North and they're now part of the fall landscape just like colorful leaves and Canada geese.

ginton / ISTOCK

It's been a great fall, but the leaves have dropped and it's “stick” season according to my neighbor. But those “sticks” don't have to be uninspiring. There are many trees that have attractive bark making them focal points in your winter landscape. Choosing a new tree based on the bark color or texture certainly should be a considered since we look at many leaf-less trees for a good six months in Vermont. Here are some choices.

dan_ray / ISTOCK

I like flowering houseplants that need little attention. We all know Christmas cactus are one of the easiest plants to grow and mine are already starting to bloom. But if you're up for a challenge, you might want to try Clivia. This native South African amaryllis-family plant was brought to England in the 1800's by plant explorer James Bowie. He cultivated plants in Lady Clive's conservatory in London. Hence the common name.

nevarpp / ISTOCK

The frosts have come and the gardens are almost finished, but that doesn't mean you have to give up the taste of fresh herbs all winter. Many herbs can be grown indoors throughout the winter. These provide not only fresh ingredients for cooking, but emotional and psychological relief from the cold temperatures, short days, gray skies and eventual snow and ice. Here's what to grow and how.

RomoloTavani / ISTOCK

It will be Halloween soon and kids, young and old, will be carving pumpkins for the big event. Halloween decorating almost rivals Christmas for the amount of money spent and the elaborate displays created.

stevanovicigor / ISTOCK

With all the excitement of fall cleanup, planting and planning, one chore that's often overlooked is soil testing. Soil testing won't solve all your soil problems and may not even give you all the information you need for healthy soil, but it will give you a snap shot of your soil's mineral health. Also, if done every three to four years, it will show you how that health is changing.

8vFanl / ISTOCK

What do aoli, pesto and a good Italian bread all have in common? Garlic. Garlic is healthful, delicious and a key ingredient in hundreds of recipes, and it's easy to grow in the garden and a container. So, let's talk garlic growing.

Antony Kemp / ISTOCK

The days are getting shorter and cooler and it's time to start protecting your tender plants. Whether it be a favorite rosemary, a houseplant you moved outdoors for summer or a tender perennial in the ground, there are different ways to protect those plants from the cold.