Jeanne Grunert is a freelance writer, blogger and book author from south central Virginia. Her books include "Plan and Build a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden" and many others, available on Amazon and wherever fine books are sold. Learn more about Jeanne, her books and her garden at


Protecting Your Pots
by Jeanne Grunert - posted 09/29/15

As the cold weather approaches, it's time to start preparing your garden for the winter. One important task is to take all decorative pots indoors, or at least cover them securely before the first frost. 

Decorative pots and containers, including ceramic pots like this one and terra cotta pots, are very susceptible to cracking. What happens is that rainwater on the surface seeps into tiny pores in the material. As it freezes, it expands, causing stress on the container. When it thaws again and the water melts, the water contracts, and pots can craze, crack or break. 

Unless your containers are so large and heavy that you can't move them, it's best to empty them completely, wash them with your garden hose water, let them air dry, and bring them into the garage, shed or basement before the first frosts.

Don't know for sure whether or not you have a decorative container? Aren't sure what types of containers are available? I've written a short series on garden pots and containers on my gardening blog, Home Garden Joy.

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Fall Is a Great Time to Plant Trees
by Jeanne Grunert - posted 09/14/15

If you think spring is the best time to plant trees, think again. Researchers say that fall may be an even better time to plant trees and shrubs than the spring. Here's why.

  • Fall's cooler temperatures mean less stress on a tree after it is planted. There's a reduced chance of transplant shock when you can minimize a plant's stress after planting.
  • The soil is warm enough to encourage root growth, but the cooler air temperatures and fall frosts push the tree in dormancy. During its dormant state, all of its energy can be given over to root development. The strong and healthier the tree's roots, the stronger and healthier the tree.
  • While rainfall may be adequate in Virginia during the spring, summers here tend to be hot and dry. Fall planting means abundant rainfall, since our autumn days tend to include some rain or remnants of tropical storms or depressions blown in from the Atlantic. Winter, of course, brings more rain and snow, which continue to help the tree's root system develop.
  • It's easier to see places in your landscape that would benefit from the inclusion of a tree. Sure, you can look around during the winter and plan your tree purchases during the spring. But it's hard to get a clear picture of how a landscape looks when the trees are bare. Not so in the fall. The colors, textures and canopy shapes in the landscape will easily show gaps or changes that a new tree can make in the overall picture. It's easier to see what makes sense to add during the fall.

That's what the experts say about fall tree planting. I have one favorite tip that I'd like to share with you. The S-word. Yes, sales. Nurseries and garden centers seldon want to winter-over their balled and burlapped or container-grown trees. It's expensive, time consuming, and labor intensive to maintain trees in good condition throughout the winter months. Many offer end-of-year bargains to clear out the unsold nursery stock. While you probably won't find the exact species of tree that your heart desires, you can find some nice specimens at good prices. That seals the deal for me and makes fall a great time to plant a tree!

For more information on planting trees successfully, please see:


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Create Healthy Garden Soil
by Jeanne Grunert - posted 08/15/15

Healthy gardens begin with healthy garden soil. There's nothing beter than naturally improving your garden's soil through the use of compost, manures, and other natural methods.

I like using plenty of compost as well as a good layer of mulch on top. When starting a new garden, I've used cardboard and paper over a grassy area to do two things: kill the existing grass and replenish the soil.

This experiment worked really well in my garden recently when I started a new garden area. Read all about it on my website, Home Garden Joy:  Weed Barriers for Healthy Soil

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