December 2, 2023

Thanksgiving and Fall Gardening

Thanksgiving1I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is next week!  Where has the year gone?

Carl Wilson, of Colorado State University’s Horticulture Cooperative extension, offers some good advice on end of season vegetable gardening.  Here’s my summary of his article.

In Charleston South Carolina, where a I live, gardening season hasn’t come to an end but it is certainly slowing down.  While gardeners in all other areas, have put away the gardening tools for the year, others are still thinking about putting their vegetable gardens to bed.  Still others, are planning to harvest through the end of November, and some others are planting winter crops right now.  It all depends on which part of the world you live in.

Mr. Wilson, writes “it all depends on what you like to eat”

If you grow tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and other warm season vegetables, the first hard frost means an ending for you.  In fact, tomatoes actually are best harvested and taken indoors to ripen once night- time temperatures drop to 40°Fahrenheit.

For gardeners who like cool season crops, life is just getting interesting.  Kale, planted in mid-summer is just coming into maturity.  Some believe the crops flavor improves after a few frosts.  Plants will continue to grow and produce leaves for harvest until at least this time of year.  The red Russian variety seems especially resistant to freezes.

Collards are another leafy green that seems to laugh at the cold.  They will survive temperatures down to 15° F.  Again, cold tends to improve the flavor.

Cabbage is best stored in the garden until there is room in the refrigerator or until severe winter temperatures threaten.  On heads grown almost to bursting, gardeners in the know twist plants ¼ turn to partially sever their root.  This will prevent further growth and allows for storage in the garden until you are ready to use it.

Root vegetables also will store for months in garden soil.  Once the soil has cooled, many gardeners will apply a dried grass or hey mulch to prevent carrots, beets, turnips and other underground vegetables from freezing solid.  Dig them up as needed for fresh vegetables up to the Christmas/ New Year holidays.

As for warm season vegetables, promptly harvest the debris struck down by frosts.  A thorough clearing of vegetation from the garden will help prevent the carryover of diseases into the next season.  Garden debris nicely complements dry tree leaves in the compost bin and will produce a welcome soil amendment by next spring.

Once garden space is cleared of warm season vegetables, consider one of two options to improve your garden soil for next year.  If your soil is heavy clay, turn  over all of the soil and leave a large clods on the surface.  Winter freezing and thawing will tend to break these down saving you work.

On both sandy and clay soils, Mr. Wilson recommends a second option.  “Seed a crop of winter rye”.  The seed will require several waterings to germinate and get going.  The plants will grow through the winter and attain a height of 12 to 15 inches by spring.  Their deep roots break up clay soil.  Turning under the Rye in early spring will add valuable organic matter to your garden.

Other crops to seed for winter are lettuce and spinach.  By using mulch or in old window supported around its sides by mountain soil, you can grow salad greens for the winter.  Both lettuce and spinach germinate at temperatures as low as 40° F.  Cast lettuce seed on top of the soil and keep moist.  The seed requires light to germinate.

Interested in dill for next year?  Many gardeners swear that seed is best started by broadcasting it over the soil in fall.  Germination often is more successful than spring seeding.

For some vegetable gardeners, the first frost is in ending.  For others it’s just a beginning.

As for me, I’ll be working through the winter getting my garden store ship-shape for the spring.  I’m in the process of adding lots of new categories, new manufacturers, and new products.

In the meantime, inspired by local nurseries, I’ve added a holiday shop to my store.  Check out the Holiday Shop page and the Gifts page for some inspiration on what to give the gardener this holiday season.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

The Best Technique for Keeping Your Hummingbird Feeders Clean


We are always looking for tips to help our readers make their work easier and we were please to come across the following garden tip for keeping hummingbird feeders clean.

It’s not easy cleaning hummingbird feeders and it is extremely important to do so!  Hummingbirds won’t return to dirty feeders or stale hummingbird nectar, and as a new subscriber to Garden Gate Magazine, I found this tip from reader Rose O’ Mahony of North Carolina.This will work on all hummingbird feeders and works especially well if mold takes a foothold in your hummingbird feeder.

Rose knew how important it was to keep feeders clean so she came up with a technique to make quick work of cleaning the feeders.

“After dumping any remaining nectar, she sprays a couple of squirts of a bleach cleaning solution from the store into the feeder to kill the mold.  Then she adds a tablespoon of uncooked rice (not the instant kind), replace the cover and shakes the feeder.  The rice works as an abrasive to dislodge the mold.  Once the feeder is clean, she throws the contents out and rinses it thoroughly with water.  If you are concerned that your cleaning solution is too strong for this, use the recipe recommended by the Hummingbird Society of 1 tablespoon of unscented bleach to 1 quart of water.  A clean feeder will keep your hummers happy and healthy.”

To Keeping it Clean!

Electrical Plants and Art

electrical plantsNot your regular electrical plants with transformers and surrounded by chain link fences.  These electrical plants that have actually had electrical current passed through them making them into works of art.  These may not be for IN the garden but they are certainly garden decorative items.

I found an interesting article at the Mail Online website in the Science and Tech section with some amazing plant photos like I have never seen before.

Photographer Robert Buelteman sends 80,000 volts throught his flowery subjects and then literally paints photographs of the outcome.

See more of these beautiful photographs by visiting the Mail Online site at either of the links above.

Memories of Hanging Planters of Fuchsias

fuchsiaelizabeth1 I have so many great memories of playing hide & seek or some other childhood game with my cousins in my grandmother’s back yard.  Seeing the ever present, hanging baskets of fuchsias are a  big part of those memories.  Who knew a hanging plant could have so much of an effect on a child?  To me, they are one of the best things about this time of year. They are my personal favorites.  Early this month, I added two hanging wire baskets full of red and pink Fuchsias to my front porch and raised my eyes to the heavens thinking of my grandma.

I am not alone.  While reviewing materials in preparation for this post, I found that people spell fuchsia as many ways as the colors Fuchsias come in.  Fuschias, Fuchsia, Fusha, Fuchsias, Fushia, and Fuscia were all used to describe these beautiful plants.  No matter what you call them or how you spell it, Fuchsias are a favorite flower for many.  It’s one of the best selling plants in America!

Fuchsias are named for 16th-century botanist Leonard Fuchs.  The story goes that a British sailor saw the plant in it’s native South America and brought a small plant back to his wife in England.   When a nurseryman spotted the striking flower, he convinced the couple to let him purchase the plant and today they can be seen adorning the outdoor living spaces of many homes.

Native fuchsias found growing in South America are often large shrubs or small trees with rather inconspicuous flowers.  Modern hybrids, however, are anything but inconspicuous.  Hybridizers have developed these small flowers into gigantic single or double blooms that are up to 2 1/2 inches across.  Some are so heavy, the stems can barely support them.  Plant sizes vary across the country.  The smaller plants are generally used as hanging plants or planted in planter boxes while the largest ones can be trained as trees or shaped into hedges.

While these plants are hardy in a small portion of the U.S. (zones 8-10), they thrive as annuals almost everywhere else.  Pink, white, red, purple, and orange,  these flowers come in a variety of colors!

Fuchsias showy blooms attract admirers of all sizes and Hummingbirds especially love them.

Since fuchsias prefer mild weather, they usually don’t tolerate extreme heat, drought, or humidity, but some are more heat tolerant than others.  If you live in a hot climate like I do, ask your local nursery which cultivators work best in your area and plant them in a partially shaded area.

Trailing varieties are often displayed in hanging pots.  The upright varieties are used less often in colder climates but work equally well in container gardens as well as planting beds.

Fuchsias are fast vigorous growers and the have a big appetite.  Apply diluted liquid fertilizer to contain plants throughout the season to ensure strong growth and prolific blooms.  Be sure to water regularly, fuchsias are thirsty plants.  Once the plants are growing and thriving but before they are flowering, pinch the stems back to encourage fullness.  Pinching the stems back also forces the plant to produce side branches, which you can also pinch back.  Stop pinching 8-10 weeks before you want the plant to flower.

Yes, all this feeding, watering and pinching takes time, but it’s definitely worth it.  At bloom time, you’ll have a full well shaped plant that’s the pride and joy of your porch or patio.

For continuous blooms, remove the spent flowers regularly.  Don’t panic if the flowering stops during hot spells, as the flowering will resume as soon as it cools off a bit.

To produce extra plants, try taking tip cuttings.  Snip off the last two or three joints at the tip of a growing branch, dip the cut end into rooting compound and place it in a damp rooting medium.  you can also grow fuchsia from seed which is available through specialty seed catalogs.

Fuchsias can be overwintered in a cold dark basement, garden shed, or even your garage.  This way, you won’t have to buy new plants every year.  Prune lightly before storing and leave the in their containers, watering about once a month.  Cut back to live wood when you return the plants outdoors in spring.  Northern gardeners may want to jump start the plants indoors.  You can grow fuchsias as houseplants too!  Indoor planters need to be as large as the one it was in outside or even slightly larger.

Stop by our store and take a look at the beautiful hanging planters and other garden decorative items that we offer.  Shop around, come back often.  We love serving the people who love gardening as much as we do!

Happy Gardening!

P.S. For more information about Fuchsias, visit the American Fuchsia Society.  They are one of the oldest groups and they maintain a registry of all the new hybrids developed each year.  You can visit the American Fuchsia Society at

Welcome to My Blog! I know it's not just about the garden decorative items.

Hi, I’m Leigha and I am the owner of The Decorator’s Garden Supply Store.

I am passionate about gardening and recently opened a little  store selling garden decorative items, bird feeders, and the like.  All that being wonderful,  I wanted to do more.  After all, there is much more to gardening than adding some garden decorative items here and there!  In most cases, garden decorative items are the final touches.  It’s true, some of them are functional things, things that will make your yard and garden look better and are useful, but as a rule, everything that happens before the final touches are what really matter.  I wanted to share my knowledge about gardening, teach you how to attract birds to your yard if you want them, help you with your do-it-yourself projects, and talk about whatever else happens to be on my mind.  I also wanted to have the opportunity to learn from you, my readers and fellow gardening enthusiasts, so please feel free to comment.  Dive right in, all are welcome and perhaps we will all learn something together.

My long time friend Alison Dale, has agreed to manage this store for me and she has many great ideas to bring you.    She already has a long list of topics she wants me to cover in this blog.  I am lucky to have her and it is my hope that we will become a trusted resource of great gardening information to you.  You can find Alison on Twitter @Alison_Dale.  UPDATE: Alison’s husband has been transferred and I’m now on my own.

Once again, Welcome to our blog “It’s Not Just About the Garden Decorative Items”  If you have questions, comments, or ideas on what you would like to see posted here, let us know.  We’ll do our best to find the answers and resources for you.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Decorative Items & The Empty Nest
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