Welcome to Empress of Dirt’s Two Minutes in the Garden—our podcast! Get bite-sized informative updates on gardening basics, gardening myths and other subjects of interest to gardeners both new and experienced.
Available wherever you find podcasts—just look for “Two Minutes in the Garden” in your podcast app or use one of the links below. You can also hear it as a flash briefing on Amazon Alexa devices. Scroll down to see a list of episode topics.
1Listen Right Here
Our podcast is hosted by my husband Gary. When we hear garden, nature, and environmental topics discussed, debated, or questioned, we look into the research and see what it has to say.
They are brief but satisfying bite-size episodes, just a few minutes in length.
If you have a topic you would like covered, send me a message ([email protected]) and we’ll see what we can do!
2Subscribe to the Podcast
Click on any button to subscribe in your favorite player:
If you’re new to podcasts, and want to listen to episodes on your phone, you can install a podcast app to subscribe. Two very popular podcast apps are:
Install the app, and use the app’s search feature to find Two Minutes in the Garden. New episodes will be shown in the app as they are released.
3Listen to the flash briefing on Amazon Echo
To hear the briefing on Amazon Alexa devices:
- Open the Alexa app on your phone.
- Tap the menu icon (the three horizontal lines in the top left).
- Select “Skills & Games”.
- Tap the magnifying glass icon to search for “Two Minutes in the Garden”.
- Tap on the show.
- Tap “ENABLE TO USE”.
Once it’s enabled, say “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?” whenever you want to hear the latest episode.
Or you can enable the briefing in the skills store for your country:
- United States | Amazon.com (US)
- Canada | Amazon.ca (Canada)
- United Kingdom | Amazon.co.uk (UK)
- Australia | Amazon.com.au (Australia)
- India | Amazon.in (India)
285 – Mimicking Changing Seasons to Break Seed Dormancy
Stratification is a technique used to give dormant seeds the experience of changing seasons even when they’ve only gone from a drawer into our fridge.
284 – Breaking Seed Dormancy with Scarification
There are things we can do with dormant seeds to prod them along and get them to germinate. One of the most important for gardeners is scarification.
Related: How to Winter Sow Seeds
283 – How Seed Dormancy Helps Plants Survive
Seed dormancy can be frustrating for gardeners—having seeds that won’t germinate—but it’s an important part of the survival of many plant species.
282 – Creative Ways to Reuse a Christmas Tree
Most places now have recycling programs for Christmas trees — or you can try one of the 25 creative projects from our list to put your tree to good use.
281 – The Benefits of Snow in the Garden
It’s no fun to shovel, and it can look lovely … but is that blanket of snow good or bad for your plants?
280 – Caring for Your Christmas Tree
Lots of reports this year that Christmas trees have been harder to find. Also lots of questionable advice out there about the best ways to care for your tree.
279 – Growing Holly Bushes
Holly is another of the popular plants of the Christmas season—although they are considered to be invasive in many areas. And maybe just a little toxic too.
278 – Poinsettia: The Christmas Plant You Can Keep Year-Round
Native to Mexico, poinsettias have been a symbol of Christmas for over 100 years. They can be kept as perennials … and, no, they aren’t actually poisonous.
277 – Mistletoe: Toxic Parasite and Popular Decoration
One of our favorite Christmas decorations is a parasitic plant that feeds off of others and is sometimes thought to be toxic, although that part is often overstated.
276 – Grafting: What You Need to Get Right
What needs to happen for a graft to be successful — and what can we do to improve our odds that it actually does happen?
275 – A First Look at Grafting
Grafting is one of the fundamental techniques of plant propagation where you create a new plant by connecting pieces of different plants.
274 – A Great Year for Gardening
Lots of year-in-review articles and surveys have started to appear, and, by all accounts, it was a fantastic year for garden centers and for gardening.
273 – Are Plastics Safe for Gardening?
We know a lot about plastic in the ocean, but we’re only beginning to understand its effect in soil. Are plastics safe for gardening and what can we do to make them safer?
272 – Is Foliar Feeding Effective?
Can you really give your plants the water and nutrients they need through their leaves from sprays instead of through their roots from the soil?
271 – Why Cuticles are Essential to Plant Health
The cuticle is where your plants interact with the world. Among many roles, they largely control how effective plant sprays are.
270 – Grow Avocado Plants from Seed
You may never get fruit from it, but it’s actually pretty easy to grow an avocado plant from seed. If you’re fairly new to plant propagation, it’s a great way to start.
269 – Freezing vs Frost
We hear a lot about frost and freezing and the difference between them, but nothing suddenly happens with the first frost on the ground or with the first freezing temperatures.
268 – First Frost: How the Cold Damages Plants
In the fall, we may scramble to bring some plants indoors or cover them — while others will make it through the winter fine. What do frost and cold temperatures do to plants?
267 – What You May Not Know About Pumpkins
They’re one of the easiest plants to grow — even if they are garden hogs — and were one of the first vegetables ever cultivated.
266 – Do Leaves Rob the Soil?
Some people are still reluctant to “leave the leaves”—and one objection is that leaves will “rob the soil” of an essential nutrient.
265 – What Should We Do With Fall Leaves?
There’s lots of good nutrients in fall leaves — and we know not to send them to landfill — but can we really just “leave the leaves”?
264 – How Deep Should You Plant Bulbs?
You’ll find all sorts of conflicting advice online about planting depth, but does it really make much of a difference how deep you put your bulbs?
263 – Planting Bulbs and Keeping them Safe from Wildlife
When it comes to planting bulbs, you’ll hear a lot of old school advice — but how much of it should you follow? And how can you protect bulbs from squirrels and other wildlife?
262 – When is the Best Time to Plant Bulbs?
You’ll hear a lot of conflicting advice about when to plant bulbs in the fall. You have a range of options, and each has strengths and weaknesses.
261 – Are Green Tomatoes Safe to Eat?
Will green tomatoes make you sick? As with green potatoes, they do contain higher concentrations of a toxin, but is it anything to be concerned about?
260 – Should Tomatoes Go in the Refrigerator?
We found the usual advice not to put potatoes in the fridge was iffy, but what about their close relatives — tomatoes?
259 – Do Potatoes Belong in the Refrigerator?
The usual advice given to gardeners is not to store potatoes in the fridge. But is this good advice and what is it based on?
258 – Storing Potatoes Safely
How should you store potatoes and how long will they keep? And is it safe to eat green potatoes?
257- When to Harvest Potatoes
They’re the world’s most popular vegetable. End of the season is the time to harvest mature potatoes, but you have to be careful when you do.
256 – Growing Chard in Your Garden
It may not the world’s best known vegetable, but Swiss chard is a favorite for many gardeners all through the fall.
255 – Choosing Plants for Alternative Lawns
If not chosen carefully, plants for alternative lawns can end up being mushy or patchy and needing frequent reseeding. And you’ll probably want a mix of several different kinds.
254 – Lawn Alternatives: What Will the Neighbors Think?
Some lawn alternatives can be pretty wild — maybe too wild for your neighbours or your neighbourhood, but there are way to help manage that.
253 – The Search For Alternative Lawns
When we talk about alternative lawns, we could mean an alternative TO a lawn — such as a meadow — or an alternative FORM of something we’d still recognize as a lawn. You can take either path.
252 – Lawns: Both Loved and Loathed
We’re less obsessed today with the traditional “perfect lawn” — and the water and chemicals needed to achieve it. But lawns aren’t going away — and there’s increased interest in alternative kinds of lawns.
251 – Roots We Use to Make New Plants
We rely on adventitious roots for plant propagation — as does the horticultural industry. Sometimes we force them and with some plants they happen naturally.
250 – Healthy Shoots Need Healthy Roots
Flowers, leaves and stems need healthy roots to thrive. And how far from the trunk do a tree’s roots extend?
249 – Understanding Plant Roots
How do plant roots work? What are the different kinds of roots — and why are they important to plants?
248 – The Best Way to Store Seeds
What’s the best way to store your leftover seeds? Or is there a best way? Is the fridge better than a drawer? And what about a freezer?
247 – The Weed that Became One of the World’s Most Important Plants
If you found thale cress in your garden, you’d probably pull it out. Even insects don’t find it interesting. But much of what we’ve learned about flowering plants comes from this weed.
246 – Get Free Plants You’ll Love with Cuttings
There are different ways to make cuttings and different times of the year to make them, but they’re all pretty easy to learn.
245 – Preventing Pests Organically with Diatomaceous Earth
It’s used in all sorts of things from pool filters to kitty litter — and in gardening diatomaceous earth is touted as an effective organic pesticide.
244 – How to Grow Bee Balm and Attract Pollinators
It’s a very popular garden flower from the mint family that not only adds vibrant colour to your garden, but also attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
243 – Tomatoes: The Most Popular Garden Veggie
It’s one of the most popular plants grown in gardens around the world — and one of the biggest vegetable crops worldwide. But it wasn’t always that way.
242 – Preventing Blossom End Rot (Part 1)
We’d all prefer a simple solution, but preventing blossom-end rot isn’t as easy as adding calcium to your soil—or even consistent watering.
241 – How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles
What can you do to avoid getting Japanese beetles in your garden — or at least reduce the damage they do? And do traps do more harm than good?
240 – Japanese Beetles: The Basics
They only live about 10-15% of their lives above ground, but as both larvae and adults, Japanese beetles can do a lot of damage to your garden.
239 – Is That a Bee? Or a Wasp?
As much as we love them, most of us would have a hard time reliably picking bees out of a lineup.
238- Which Bees Should We Worry About?
Gardeners love bees and what they do for our gardens. But some bees get a lot more attention than others. And that may not be good for bees in general.
237 – Identifying and Treating Plant Disease
Fungicides and other sprays. And can you really identify diseases from symptoms?
236 – Controlling Disease in Your Garden
We’re never going to stop them entirely, but what can we do to reduce our risk of losing plants to disease?
235 – Disease in Your Garden: The Challenges
One of the big challenges with plant diseases is that the symptoms plants display can be the same for a variety of diseases. And there are thousands and thousands of plant diseases.
234 – Plant Diseases: A First Look
Plant diseases take away from our enjoyment of gardening and undo our hard work. Before we can figure out how to avoid them, we need to understand what diseases are.
233 – Growing Lavender in Your Garden
It’s been a garden favorite for hundreds of years. And with about 40 species and hundreds of varieties, you can likely find one perfect for your garden.
232 – Stay Safe From the Sun While Gardening
Gardeners spend a lot of time under the hot sun — and UV rays are the main cause of skin cancer, sunburn and aging skin. What’s the best way to stay safe?
231 – Companion Planting: Why the Skepticism?
Science supports many of the principles of companion planting, but the specific companion plant recommendations you see everywhere are a different story.
230 – How Companion Planting Might Work
Current evidence may be skimpy, but there’s reason to think that there could be something to companion planting.
229 – Companion Planting: A First Look
It’s a gardening practice that has won a lot of supporters over the years—and plenty of skeptics too. What is companion planting and how might it help in the garden?
228 – Removing Weeds From Your Garden
When your prevention efforts fail — and they will — then what? It helps to know a few things about the weeds you’re trying to remove.
227 – Don’t Accidentally Add Weeds to Your Garden
Weed seeds can sneak into your garden with anything you put in or on your soil. Also: one easy way to get rid of many weeds.
226 – How to Get Fewer Weeds, Part 1
You’ll never prevent weeds from getting to your garden, but there are things you can do to reduce the number you get.
225 – Weeds in Your Garden
Botanically, there’s no such thing as weeds, but even the most upbeat gardener can get a little down in the dumps thinking about weeds they’ve done battle with.
224 – Is Biochar Right for Your Garden?
It gets very impassioned recommendations as a way to help your garden and the earth. So what is biochar and should we be using it in our garden?
223 – Do You Need to Use Fertilizer?
The two most important points for gardeners to know about plant nutrition and fertilizer.
222 – Fertilizers: Organic vs Synthetic
When we want to add nutrients to our soil we can choose between organic fertilizer and synthetic fertilizer. So, what’s the difference?
221 – Questionable Fertilizer Formulas
For growing plants in soil, you cannot know what nutrients to add—if any— without knowing what’s already there.
220 – Most Important Lesson on Nutrients
If a particular nutrient is essential to plants and delivers great benefits, it may seem like you should be adding it to your soil. But there’s a flaw in that thinking.
219 – Nutrients Your Plants Need to Thrive
There are about 20 nutrients plants need, but only a handful that gardeners have to spend much time thinking about.
218 – Soil pH: Change It or Adapt to It?
You want to know what your garden soil pH is, but—as with soil texture—it’s not because you’re going to change it.
217 – Why Ions are Critical to Plants
You can’t get far in understanding what’s happening to your plants without a rudimentary understanding of ions … which brings back some high school science.
216 – The Difference Between Annual and Perennial
Annual awards come back every year. Annual plants don’t. Gardeners soon learn the difference between annual and perennial, but it can be confusing.
215 – Growing Strawberries in Your Garden
Reports say the sales of strawberry seeds are way up this year — even though it takes some patience to start strawberries from seed.
214 – Get Your Seedlings Ready for Life Outdoors (Hardening Off)
The move outdoors can be rough on seedlings. You need to help ease them into the harsher conditions of their new life outside.
213 – Mulch Volcanoes: A Gardener’s Peeve
Somebody must like those mulch piles at the base of trees — you see them everywhere — but gardening experts have a different opinion.
212 – How Mulch Benefits Your Garden
From reducing weeds to keeping moisture in your soil, mulching provides a lot of advantages to your garden.
211 – Mulch in Your Garden: A First Look
Mulch can seem like the parsley of gardening — a nice garnish to add to the top. But it delivers some significant benefits.
210 – A Quick Look at Victory Gardens
Lots of mentions of victory gardens in the news lately—created in turbulent times when people in large numbers turned to vegetable gardening.
209 – How to Read Seed Packets
They’re a source of information you don’t want to overlook. Many of the questions you’ll have about growing from seeds are answered right on the packets.
208 – The Best Time to Sow Seeds Outdoors
As daytime temperatures starting getting pretty nice, we start thinking about sowing seeds outdoors. But when is the time right?
207 – Avoid Overwatering Your Plants
Many plants die every year from overwatering. It’s one of the easiest ways to harm your plants — as you’re trying to help them.
206 – Should We Worry About Walnut Trees in the Garden?
Something seems to be going on around walnut trees, but is it poison in the soil or something else?
205 – Do Walnut Trees Kill Other Plants?
It’s a question that’s been asked for millennia. So you might reasonably think that we’d have a conclusive answer by now.
204 – Getting to Know Hummingbirds
Some fun facts about our little garden friends. For one, they’re the only bird that can really hover … but they can’t walk.
203 – Hummingbirds Are On Their Way!
In much of the U.S. and Canada, we will soon be welcoming hummingbirds back to our gardens. When will they arrive and how can we prepare?
202 – Plenty to Do in the Spring Garden
Spring is going to be different this year, but plants and birds will carry on as if nothing has happened and there’s lots to keep you busy.
201- Fling Into Spring
It may be the only good news we’re getting this week, but it’s the beginning of spring and gardens will soon be blooming.
200 – What Can You Do About Soil Texture?
Once you’ve tested your soil texture, you’ll probably find out that it’s less than ideal. What do you do next?
199 – How to Know Your Soil Texture
Tiny bits of minerals in your soil are going to make a big difference in your garden — and it’s easy to find out your soil texture.
198 – What Determines Soil Texture?
So much of the success of our garden depends on our soil — a very thin layer where rocks, the atmosphere, living things and water all come together.
197 – Soil: The Foundation of a Garden
So much of the success of our garden depends on our soil — a very thin layer where rocks, the atmosphere, living things and water all come together.
196 – Garden Bulb Basics
We know that we plant bulbs in the ground to get new plants, but what are they exactly?
195 – Extending the Longevity of Seeds
There have been seeds that remained viable after more than 1,000 years, but we’re usually happy with 5 or 6. How can we extend the life of seeds?
194 – How to Avoid Damping Off
The best ways to improve your chances of avoiding damping-off — and how basic plant care and seed starting mix help.
193 – Damping Off: Causes and Appearance
It’s the biggest threat your seedlings may face — diseases caused by fungi and other pathogens in the soil.
192 – Watering Options for Seedlings
Seedlings need water, but you can give them too much of a good thing.
191 – The Right Lights for Starting Seeds
Even experienced gardeners can feel anxiety about all the choices for lighting, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
190 – Starting Seeds: Temperature and Planting Depth
Continuing our look at what you need to provide your seeds in the stages leading up to germination.
189 – Starting Seeds Indoors: What Seeds Need
Part one of a series on starting seeds indoors. We start off start off with a look at when to start seeds and what they need to germinate.
188 – Germination: Where Seeds Become Seedlings
When we start plants from seeds, our first goal is germination. And it usually happens … even though plants have developed a range of ways to block it.
187 – Seeds: The Embryo of the Plant
We know seeds are important for gardeners, but much of the world’s nutrition also comes from seeds.
186 – How a Tomato is a Fruit and a Vegetable
Some of our vegetables are fruits, most of the nuts we eat aren’t nuts and our berries aren’t berries — but a tomato is.
185 – How Flowering Plants Create Seeds
Starting off a look at seeds: why they’re important and how they form in most of the plants in your garden.
184 – Supporting Mycorrhizal Fungi in Your Soil
What can you do in your garden to protect and encourage the mycorrhizal fungi in your soil?
183 – Should You Buy Mycorrhizal Inoculants?
They help most of the plants in your garden, but does that mean you should buy more mycorrhizal fungi to add to your soil?
182 – How Your Garden Benefits from Mycorrhiza
Improving your plants’ access to phosphorus and other nutrients is just one of many ways mycorrhizal fungi help your garden.
181 – How Mycorrhizal Fungi Help Plants Grow
180 – The Flower That Grows Entirely Underground
179 – How to Push the Winter Blues Aside
178 – Does Wood Chip Mulch Steal Nitrogen from Your Soil?
176 – Are Gardeners Happier than Non-Gardeners?
173 – The Annual Christmas Bird Count
172 – What Makes a Tree a Tree?
170 – Hairspray on Christmas Trees? No!
168 – Tree Basics: Rings and Trunks
164 – Thanksgiving: A Hat-Tip to Veggie Growing
163 – The State of the Garden Center Industry
162 – Why Are There Many More Acorns Some Years?
153 – Why Are Some Falls More Colorful Than Others?
151 – Extend the Life of Fruit with Dehydration
143 – Rubber Mulch: Benefits and Toxicity
142 – Ripening Green Tomatoes
141 – The Controversy Around Peat in Gardening
136 – Vermicomposting Problems
132 – What’s the Best Way to Stay Safe in the Sun?
131 – Is Sunscreen Safe for Us?
129 – Why is water so important to plants and what do they do with all this water?
122 – Poison Ivy – What to do for skin contact
120 – Poison Ivy – Such a beast
119 – Do Plants Have Thoughts and Feelings?
118 – Do Garden Center Plants Attract Pollinators?
114 – Update for Amazon Echo listeners
106 – How to Attract Moths to Your Garden
105 – Moths: Pollinators with a Bad Reputation
099 – Are Tastier Tomatoes on the Way?
094 – Dubious Method for Weed Control
093 – Backyard Farming…in 1889
091 – Were Vegetables More Nutritious in the Past?
090 – Is Gardening as Good as Going to the Gym?
087 – Are People Oblivious to Plants?
086 – Should You Be Gardening by the Moon?
085 – Can Gardening Help our Memory as We Get Older?
084 – Do Pine Needles Make Soil Acidic?
079 – Our Favourite Gardening TV Show is Gardening Australia
076 – Should You Use Compost Tea in Your Garden?
075 – The Compost Tea Debate – Part 2
074 – The Compost Tea Debate – Part 1
073 – Can Plants Solve Air Pollution in the Home? – Part 3
New research shows plants can remove dangerous chemicals from the air — after being genetically modified.
072 – Plants as Air Purifiers – Part 2
Do you only need 15-20 plants to clean the air in your house … or is it more like 700?
071 – Do Plants Remove Chemicals from Our Air?
It’s been talked about for decades but are houseplants really natural air fresheners?
069 – Keeping Birds Safer from Cats in the Garden
068 – Should Cats Roam Free?
067 – How Frost Harms Gardens
062 – Do Plants Hear Water?
061 – Can Plants Hear?
058 – Which Bird Feeders Attract Birds?
054 – Benefits of Gardening: New Research
053 – Legionnaires’ Disease from Potting Mix?
051 – Planning the Year Ahead with Seed Catalogs
- The History of Seed & Nursery Catalogs for Gardeners
- United States Seed Company Directory | Online Sources
- Canadian Seed Company Directory | Online Sources
031 – Is Baking Soda Safe in the Garden?
027 – Does Vinegar Kill Weeds?
023 – Bee Hotels in the Garden
022 – Choosing Garden Seeds: Heirloom Seeds
021 – Choosing Garden Seeds: Organic Seeds
020 – Choosing Garden Seeds: Hybrid Seeds
018 – Choosing Garden Seeds: Open-Pollinated Seeds
017 – Choosing Garden Seeds: GMO Seeds
016 – Do Pot Shards and Gravel Improve Drainage?
009 – Rooftop Farms: Growing Food in Cities
007 – The No-Dig Alternative for Your Garden
001 – Understanding Garden Zones
I hope you enjoy the show!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛