Houseplants are quick to tell you when they need help. They display discolored leaves, drooping stems, and little or no growth. That usually gives you enough time to make things right.

Three vining vegetables have been given awards by All-America Selections, the non-profit testing organization for new vegetables and flowers. All of these new varieties are early enough to mature in our short season climate.

I love a shiny new kitchen object as much as the next cook, and at times my kitchen has resembled a kitchen specialty store. But if you have a small kitchen, counter space and cabinet storage are at a premium.

Gardeners in 2020 will veer from the beaten path, opting for unconventional varieties and eco-conscious surroundings, according to a plant trends study by horticulturalists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

You’ve probably noticed it in clothing stores: racks and shelves full of high-waisted flares, rib-knit turtlenecks, acid green sweatshirts and disco ball metallics. It’s that ‘70s — and ‘80s — show.

Four new flowers have received awards from All-America Selections, a nonprofit organization for testing new flower and vegetable varieties. Developers of new varieties send their best new varieties to be tested in trial grounds throughout North America.

If you’ve ever wondered why food made by your favorite restaurant chef tastes better than the food you make at home, chances are you are missing the crucial “finishing touch.” That’s the final seasoning that chefs sprinkle or drizzle on the food once it is cooked.

Question: Most of my indoor plants are in the dumps. Leaf color is fading and leaves are dropping at an alarming rate. Is there anything I can do to perk them up?

Years ago, I had one of those spineless cacti that once a year splash colorful flowers out the ends of their flat, arching stems. Such plants are usually named for when they are supposed to bloom: Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter cactii.

If you are searching for an easy and rewarding family dinner, then look no further than a chicken. A whole roasted chicken is a weeknight wonder, yielding a bounty of comforting food with little effort. It will fill your home with tantalizing aromas while it roasts, amply feed a family of fo…

Question: I would like to share some of my special indoor plants with friends and relatives without buying plants. I have friends who take starts from their indoor plants. Could you explain how this is done?

Speculoos (or speculaas) is a Belgian and Dutch Christmas cookie. They are simple, crisp cookies, very spiced yet not overly sweet, and similar to a gingersnap. Traditionally, they are made with a special mold, called a springerle mold, in which the dough is placed and pressed, yielding quai…

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Life becomes so hectic this time of year that we find ourselves coming and going at the same time. It sometimes helps to take a few minutes to relax and ask ourselves what is important and meaningful in life. What are some things that give joy, peace and stability in a hectic world?

Question: I don’t have a lot of time for gardening, so I use the most efficient methods possible, including power clippers. My neighbor says that trimming with hand pruners is better for the shrubs and usually more efficient over time. Can you explain how hand pruning can be more efficient t…

Question: Our landscape needs some remodeling. Our needs have changed. We want to replace some child-oriented features with facilities for entertaining our friends and grown family. We also have some overgrown shrubs which need to be replaced.

Question: I enjoyed this week’s garden column on building rich soil with organic matter in a new landscape. Are you going to write about how to add organic matter to existing landscapes?

It took me a long while to make puttanesca sauce, the feisty Italian tomato sauce packed with sharp, pungent and briny flavors. I admit it was the anchovies that gave me pause. While I don’t mind anchovies in moderation, I don’t liberally cook with them, either, foolishly reverting to a chil…

Question: I have been told by my neighbor, who is an excellent gardener, that I should add organic matter to my soil to improve it. Why is organic matter so important?

“Work with nature whenever possible” is one of the 10 basic tenets for a better garden promoted by the American Horticulture Society. This is a good time to assess your landscape to see how you can make gardening easier by working with nature instead of against it.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who admits he “is not into growing plants.” He commented, “I guess I don’t have a green thumb.” Then he almost defined what a “green thumb” is in his next remark. He said, “I guess you really need to have an interest in something to be successful at it.”

Question: I would like to prune a medium-size shade tree myself. Could you give me some suggestions and things to avoid? I need to remove some of the lower branches.

Question: I would like to find a more efficient way to clean up my leaves and also use them to improve my soil. My neighbor runs the mower over his leaves and does not pick them up. Is that healthy for the grass?

Question: I see flower bulbs for sale in stores. I have a small yard plus a deck with containers. What are some good ways to use bulbs? Is this a good time to plant?

Question: After a summer of neglect my lawn is thin and yellowish. The weeds are still green. What do I need to do to restore my lawn to a thick, dark green?

Question: I have a peach tree and a blueberry and raspberry bushes that did quite well this year, but they have some very large branches that had no fruit. Should these be cut off since they are taking energy from the branches that did?

Question: My strawberry plants are sending out numerous runners in every direction. I don’t know what to do with all these runners. My strawberry bed is already thick with plants. Should I just cut the runners off?

The rich flavor of lamb makes for an exceptional burger experience. We decided to pair delicately spiced ground lamb patties with a colorful beet tzatziki, pan-seared halloumi cheese, and a drizzle of sweet honey for a truly unique burger that could transport us to the Greek islands any nigh…

Question: Last year my container plants started to go downhill about the end of July. How can I keep them attractive until the end of summer?

Question: I have areas where my lawn does not grow well because of shade and a steep slope which is difficult to mow. Are there ground covers which grow in these areas?

Question: I have a lot more problems with weeds than my neighbor. He says that bark dust mulch is the main reason he has fewer weeds. Does bark mulch make that much difference?

Question: My apple trees have a lot of fruit this year. What do I need to do to get larger fruit size? How do I keep fruit worm free?

Question: I recently purchased a home with a neglected landscape. Most of the shrubs are overgrown. Some are blocking windows and growing over sidewalks. I have received a variety of advice. I can’t afford to remove everything and start over, although I can afford to replace some shrubs. I w…

Question: I have discolored leaves on several plants and the leaves are starting to drop. I don’t see any insects. Is there a disease affecting them?