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State Fair Wrapup: Celebrating 8 Years of 'Smart Garden'

Extension Professor and Horticulturist Mary Meyer with
WCCO AM Radio 'Smart Garden' Host Denny Long
at the Minnesota State Fair.
Nothing like some cake to turn an Anniversary into a real celebration! Extension's 'Smart Garden' weekly radio show on WCCO 830 AM Radio is in its 8th year...Count 'em--that's roughly 436 hours to date of terrific gardening advice from Extension experts! 

Extension Professor and Horticulturist Mary Meyer brought some free cake to Fair-goers last weekend to mark the occasion.

Not letting an Anniversary take them off course, Denny, Mary and UMN Turf Scientist and Professor Eric Watkins quickly began to answer gardening questions from their live audience, from phone callers and text-ers.

Here are some highlights:

Q: My tomatoes have spots on the lower leaves. Should I cut them off? 

A: Yes. Remove the disease portion of the plant if it's not too much.  The caller also asked what could be eating some of the tomato blossoms.  Answer: It could be deer, chipmunks or squirrels--it's difficult to know. 

Q: When should I cut down my Siberian Iris? 

A: You don't need to cut them down at all if they are green.  You can still divide your plants now until the middle of September. 

Q: How can I overwinter geraniums? 

A: There are 3 ways to try--people have reported success with these techniques. 
  1. Shake the dirt off the roots and hang the plant upside down in a brown paper bag in a cool area like a basement. 
  2. Take cuttings and grow them through the winter.
  3. Bring your whole plant indoors and place it in a sunny window. 

Q: How soon can you use winterizer (fertilizer) after fall seeding your lawn? And how much should I use? 

A: You can do it right away. Early to mid-September is a good time to fertilize with nitrogen. If you're going to pick one time to fertilize, the time is now! 

Don't put down more than 1 pound of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.  For more information, see these Yard & Garden News articles: 

Q: How can I save seeds from my Zinnia plants? 

A: It's easy to do! Decide which flower color you'd like to save or which plants you like the best in size and color and let the flower heads/seed heads mature on the plant.  When the flower is totally brown, clip it off or harvest the seed off the head and place in a clearly marked brown bag. Keep in a low humidity dry place until next spring.

Please note: Hybrid zinnia variety lines like 'Zowie' and 'Profusion' won't produce true seeds--that is, they won't be the same color necessarily. But seeds from the heirloom varieties should be just fine.

More 'Smart Gardening'...

Tune in every Saturday from 8-9 a.m. on WCCO AM 830 Radio for more 'Smart Garden' information...OR, if you have a date with your pillow on Saturday mornings, never fear! You can listen to our podcasts any time by following this link: 

A Sneak Peek Behind-the Scenes of 'Smart Garden'

In honor of this anniversary, we've put together this behind-the-scenes video of how it all works. We hope you enjoy it!

 Anyone listening can text or call in their lawn and garden questions--and we typically answer around 25 questions every week! Do we get stumped? Yes, once in a while!  But it's always fun to hear what's on gardener's minds, no matter what time of year.


Some fast facts about the show over the past 8 years:
  • 436 shows to-date
  • 10,400 fielded questions - about 25 per show
  • 10 faculty, staff and MG volunteers have been on the show over the year!
Happy Gardening!

Author & Video Producer: Gail Hudson, Extension Communications



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