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Symbolic Garden

Have you ever planted a symbolic garden?

I’ve added flowers that represents special people to my garden. Chrysanthemums for my dad, of course. Orange tulips and Siberian iris for my friend Denise who passed away four years ago. Pansies to remind me of Mr. Hoffman, my next door neighbor when I was growing up.

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In Home Garden Tips

Interactive USDA Hardiness Map

picture of a bee on lavender

The following interactive USDA Hardiness Map, presented by Gilmour tools, offers a useful way to figure out your gardening zone.

What is your gardening zone? The USDA determines gardening zones by calculating the average dates of first and last frost and other factors. The resulting designation helps you  choose when to set tender plants outside, when to plant seedlings indoors and more.

Knowing the USDA hardiness map can also help you purchase plants from catalogs more easily. For example, if you know that you live in the USDA hardiness zone 7, plants suitable for zones 7 and 6 are likely to grow well where you live, but plants indicated for zones 8 and 9 may not survive the winter.

Check out the USDA hardiness map and enjoy!



2 In Home Garden Tips/ Vegetable Garden

Your First Vegetable Garden: What Should You Grow?

first vegetable garden

Congratulations on growing your first vegetable garden! It’s exciting to start a new project, and I’m all for any amount of healthy vegetables you can add to your diet as well as becoming more self-sufficient.

first vegetable garden

You probably have lots of questions about starting your first vegetable garden. Home Garden Joy is a great place to start; I’ve been writing about gardening here for over 10 years and there are well over 1,000 articles now on all aspects of growing vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs.

One question that many new gardeners ask me is, “What should I grow?” The answer, of course, varies according to what you and your family likes to eat, where you live, the amount of light and space you have available, and so on.

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In Home Garden Tips

What Is This Foam on My Plant?


What is this foam on my plant? Why does my plant look like it’s lathering up for a good wash?

I walked out into the garden this morning and saw my lavender starting to bloom, which always cheers me up.

My second thought was, “What is this foam on my plant?”

The lavender plants have foam at the stem junction…and not just one plant, but several.


what is this foam on my plant


What Is This Foam on My Plant?

A quick search later to “what is this foam on my plant” led me to the answer: spittlebugs.

Haven’t heard of spittlebugs? Don’t worry, not many people have. They are relatively harmless sucking insects, meaning they have a piercing mouthpart that punctures the plant stem and sucks out some sap.

The nymphs secrete a substance which looks like foam. Each bubble of foam actually represents several nymphs, or young, of the spittlebug family.

The good news is that spittlebugs rarely do so much damage to a plant that they hurt it. The other bit of goods news is that they are easy to control through organic methods.

The bads news? They look ugly. But that’s an easy tradeoff.


A colony of spittlebug nymphs on the lavender. They probably won’t do much harm to the plants but they are easy to remove.

Organic Remedy for Spittlebugs

The easiest organic remedy is as close as your garden hose. A blast of water from the hose will wash off spittlebug nymphs quicker than you can say “spittlebug nymphs.”

If that doesn’t work or if you have a large infestation, mix together 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap (make sure it does NOT have bleach). 6 garlic cloves peeled, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup diced hot peppers. Puree the ingredients EXCEPT the dish soap; add dish soap last. Let sit for 24 hours then strain the solids.  Use a paper towel to wipe the foam off of the plants and then spray the organic liquid onto the plant where you saw the foam.

Wiping the nymphs off removes them. The hot pepper and garlic spray repels future spittlebugs from moving in.  To prevent future infestations, it’s also good practice to clean up the garden and remove dead plants in the fall, fallen leaves, and any annuals that have died from a frost in the fall. Removing the dead plant material quickly prevents the insects from over wintering near your plants.

I hope that this helps answer the question “What is this foam on my plant?” Happy gardening!

In Home Garden Tips

Identifying Garden Weeds

Identifying garden weeds is the first step to removing noxious weeds from your lawn and garden. Like plant identification, weed identification starts by examining the weeds in question, matching them through pictures and characteristics, then determining what to do about removing them.

identifying garden weeds

Garden Weed Identification

Plant or Weed?

The first step to garden weed identification is knowing whether or not the plant in question is a weed or something you’ve planted.

I know this sounds silly. After all, who doesn’t know what they planted in the garden?

Newly emerging seedlings and perennials often look like other plants or like emerging garden weeds. One reason why I encourage readers to use plant markers or stakes to mark all of their flowers and vegetables is to prevent accidentally pulling up a wanted plant by confusing it with a weed.

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