As winter approaches, there seems nothing better than to cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie. Watching movies is a favorite hobby of mine. And when movies mix horticulture into a plot, it gets my rapt attention. Toss in a little science fiction and you had me at the opening credits.

The thing is, there are not very many movies that have horticultural themes or subthemes. My goal is to find those movies and give my very own green thumb up or thumb down. I think taking Film History 101 qualifies me for such an endeavor.

It's always a good idea to have a plan before you start digging up your yard.

Sometimes a location seems like the perfect site for a garden, until you start digging and find the soil is like concrete. Or you start growing and realize the water supply is way out of reach. Now you're hauling buckets of water!

So what are the criteria for having a fruitful vegetable garden? Let's examine four basic items that will help you have a more successful garden next season.

It sounds improbable. How can one have too many earthworms? Such is the case for a property owner in Henderson County. A recent phone call led me on my first investigation to discourage earthworms, or in this case night crawlers (or 'dew worms' from a fisherman's vernacular).

The yard in question was rife with small mounds comprised of tiny lumps of castings (worm poop). This made the terrain of the yard uneven underfoot. The homeowner has been routinely rolling the yard to reduce the lumps to no avail.

If I may steal a line from Doug Tallamy- For decades the prevailing notion of developers is that humans are here, therefore nature needs to be elsewhere. In our minds we always think of nature as elsewhere, but certainly not in our very own yards. With the expansion of housing and commercial properties into the rural hinterland and urban greenspace, nature is running out of alternative habitat.

This is where property owners can help. Whether you live in the country, in an apartment, or at the end of a cul-de-sac, you can provide much needed habitat for our wildlife.

If your HOA covenants, city codes, or neighbors disparage wildlife habitat, make the natural landscape easily recognized as a 'garden' and more intentional. Some tips for success:

When confronted with lawn weeds, typically we think of dandelion, creeping Charlie, and violet. These aforementioned plants and many others are classified as broadleaved weeds (dicots), and are easily distinguished from grasses (monocots). Scientists are able to engineer herbicides that target broadleaved plants, while the chemical remains benign to desirable turfgrass.

Today, I caught my first imported cabbage moth in the high tunnel. More importantly, the moth crossed my radar before its larva, the imported cabbage worm, has had a chance to eat all of my turnip leaves.

After a series of excessive rain events, some gardeners may find their beloved produce underwater. In this situation a key question surfaces: Are my vegetables safe to eat? Floodwaters that are runoff or overflow from streams, rivers, lakes, roadways, and agricultural fields are likely to be contaminated with human pathogens and/or industrial pollutants. Following are some tips on safely handling produce form a flooded garden.

I love parsnips. Often parsnips (large white carrot-like root vegetable) are substituted for celery in my soups and stews. The cultivated parsnip that we eat heralds from the appropriately named Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). Wild parsnip has recently been making the rounds on social media, as the plant can leave individuals with burn-like blisters on their skin. Severe cases appear somewhat gruesome, though according to some, it is still not as bad as the itch of poison ivy.

Three.

As of writing this blog on August 9, 2016, I have only seen three monarch butterflies. It seems year after year I encounter fewer and fewer monarchs. But don't take my word alone. According to Monarch Watch with the University of Kansas, the evidence is clear: Monarch overwintering populations have steadily decreased since record keeping began in 1994.

Sublime- for most of my young life my understanding of this word was misplaced. It wasn't until the pursuit of my graduate work that sublime was made clear. Sublime is a feeling experienced when encountered with unspoken beauty and possibly terror that leaves us in admiration. Think about standing on the beach looking at the ocean. The vastness of the water holds us in a trance of awe and a pang of trepidation.