A gardening guru’s guide: Any skill level can apply these tips


“I need an orchard to grow fruits.” Not if you integrate fruit plants into your landscape. Many fruit trees are decorative in their own right. In fact, some, such as juneberry, cornelian cherry and Nanking cherry, are mostly grown for their beauty, without people knowing that the tasty fruits hanging among the branches are edible.

Seek out reputable sources when you have a question

When I need solid information online, I include “site:edu” or “site:gov” in searches, which calls up university or government sites, respectively. Sure, they’re not always 100% correct, but 99% is good enough for me. There are other sites with reputable information, of course, but it takes finesse and knowledge to know the good from the bad.

Grow a variety of plants, especially edibles

Years ago, a confluence of conditions in the Northeast resulted in late blight disease, which devastated many gardeners’ and farmers’ tomato plants. Mine also. But that year I still picked plenty of peppers, sweet corn, kale and all sorts of other vegetables and fruits.

Don’t plant too much

Be careful not to let flashy catalogs or websites, or spring’s first warm breezes, entice you to plant too much. This is a tough suggestion to follow. I still fall prey to planting too much (although I rationalize that my plantings are also for workshops and demonstration purposes). When visitors admire my garden’s abundance, especially of vegetables and fruits, I half-jokingly admonish them, “Don’t do this at home!”

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