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My dad always planted Peas on St. Patrick's Day if the ground was ready--though it was sometimes not.
We have been waiting to get out into the garden all winter long and now is the time! Go down to your local Garden Center to purchase your Ferry Morse seeds and be sure to pick up some Spring Peas, such as the peas for shelling, Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas.
I like the Snow and Sugar Snap Peas because you can eat the pod and pea, no waste and a lot less labor to clean.
The taste of fresh picked peas is as different as frozen peas are to canned peas.
If you have never grown peas in your garden, this year try it and taste the difference.
Peas do not like the heat, so you should plant them now while the temperatures are cool.
Purchase double the amount of peas you need and keep the balance for a fall crop that you will plant in August and harvest in October.
My father told this story to everyone he knew who loves peas--and it is true.
On June 16, 1949 my mother was in her garden weeding and picking fresh peas for their dinner.
A few neighbors came by that morning to see her and say hello.
To their surprise when they returned home that evening a sign was attached to the front of the house: "IT"S A BOY." While my mother was picking peas, she went into labor with me and I think that is why I love peas so much.
That night, my Dad cooked the peas that my mother had picked and brought them to the hospital for her to eat because peas were her favorite vegetable also.
Now you know the rest of the story!
It is best to plant peas in a location that is sunny all day.
Before planting, work two inches of compost or manure into the soil as these plants love a rich soil and will give you more peas per plant for your extra work.
If you have a loose, well drained soil, the plants will grow better than a soil with a lot of clay.
If you have a wet spring, heavy, wet soil will rot the seeds before they have a chance to germinate.
Use Liquid Gypsum before planting to break up the clay and open up the soil.
Go to www.soillogic.com for more information on clay soil care.
A soil PH of 5.5 to 6.5 is best and for most of us, lime should be added to the garden every other year to lower the acidity.
Peas are unique because they can produce a small bump on the roots called a nodule.
This nodule, with the help of bacteria that live in the soil, has the capability of pulling nitrogen from the air and soil, storing it in these nodules for future crops in the garden.
Peas and beans can do this, so plant them in a different location every year and the plants will make free fertilizer for you, rather than taking it out.
If you are new to peas, purchase a package of nitrogen-fixing bacteria from the nursery when you buy the seeds as it will increase the yield of pods by as much as 75%.
The new Dr.
Earth Vegetable Food with Pro-Biotic or Vegetable Thrive with mycorrhizae will give you better results than the traditional 10.10.10 fertilizer and actually help build up the soil at the same time.
Plant the peas on both sides of a string-type trellis or chicken wire fence to help keep the pea plant off the ground.
Peas have tendrils that will attach to the support and hold the plant upright, keeping the peas clean, showing off the flowers so the bees can find them more easily, and produce more peas per pod.
Space the seeds three inches apart and plant them 2 inches deep.
If you like to eat peas, plant different types that ripen at different times so you can pick them for a longer time.
Look on the back of the package for the maturing time and plant at the same time.
Pick the peas when the pods are full but not bulging for the best tasting peas.
All that remains is a little butter, salt, and pepper, so enjoy!
With the arrival of spring, the garden is beginning to wake up and two of my favorite flowering evergreens are beginning to show color.
Even when the weather is cold during March and April, the Andromeda family is ready to provide your garden with hundreds of beautiful white, bell shaped flowers that will cover them for the next 6 weeks or more.
If you have a garden or house foundation that needs a new shrub in a shaded and moist soil, please consider these two plants.
The foliage is medium to dark green, 3 to 6 inches long and 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.
The leaves are oblong but come to a point with a smooth edge.
These leaves start at the ground and run to the top of the plant, making this plant a welcome sight because it is thick and full of foliage.
The Japanese Andromeda will grow 8 to 10 feet tall but with yearly pruning, you can keep it at 6 feet tall easily.
The plant will spread 6 to 8 feet wide and, again, with pruning you can control the spread of the plant.
The foliage seem to grow in a whirl of leaves as the stems grows.
The plant has a shape like an upright mound of leaves that stay attractive all year long.
When the new growth appears, the foliage color will be like a "Granny Smith Green Apple ." The new varieties like 'Mountain Fire' will have bright red foliage for several weeks before turning green.
Also available is the variegated variety with a white edge on the leaves making a unique looking plant for a shady or woodland garden.
The flowers look like a lily of the valley blossom and are pure white.
They are on a long, drooping tassel stem and contain 20 or more individual flowers per stem.
Each flower clusters contain five or more of these drooping tassle stems, and the flowers seem to cover the entire plant when in bloom.
With time, the flowers will fade and fall from the plant, covering the ground like snow does and leaving small, green, berry-like beads in its place.
Look for the new 'Dorothy Wyckoff' variety, as this plant has deep red flower buds.
I recommend that you remove the faded flower stems to prevent berries from forming, so that more energy is available to the plant to add additional foliage and make more flowers for next year.
The flower buds develop in July and August for next year.
Japanese Andromeda prefer a rich humus soil but will do well if you add compost at the time of planting.
The better you prepare the soil, the better the plant will grow.
Fertilize in the spring with Holly Tone or Acid Adoring fertilizers.
If the foliage is pale or yellowing, use Tree and Shrub Thrive with Mycorrhizae to green it up fast.
Keep lime and lime substitute products away from this broadleaf evergreen or they will grow slower and flower less! A covering with bark mulch or compost 2 to 3 inches deep will help with water needs during the summer and help during cold winters to keep the roots warm.
The Japanese Andromeda has one insect problem, the Lace Bug that sucks on the underside of the new growth and turns the foliage yellow.
Today, if you use Bayer Tree and Shrub as a soil drench when the flowers finish blooming, the problem will be nonexistent.
This was my only negative problem with this plant but the many qualities of the plant far outweigh the negative side.
This plant will grow anywhere and it is easy to care for, needing little maintenance.
The foliage fills the plant from top to bottom, and those flowers come at a time of the year when we most need them, in the early spring.
Best of all, every nursery has them for sale and they are not expensive.
A great plant for the shade!
When the winter season comes to its end and the spring season arrives, the pansy family of flowers is more than ready to show us their happy faces in our gardens.
Pansies hold a special place in my heart--and for most gardeners-- because of the cheerful flower faces that welcome the new season.
Some years, the weather does not cooperate and we are surprised with a blanket of snow after planting them, but the pansy family does not care; it just keeps smiling until the snow melts.
No other flower can tolerate the type of weather that they can; cold and wet growing conditions are not a problem.
For your own peace of mind plant pansies, violas and Johnnie jump ups this spring.
The pansy family comes from the mountains of New Zealand and got its start in America from a Dutch grower who brought seed to Massachusetts, where the gardeners could not get enough of them.
Before long new pansy hybrids developed to bring cheer to a cold spring gardens.
The pansy is the floral emblem of Rhode Island and the state flower of New Jersey and Wisconsin.
The Violas were named for a lover of the God Zeus, and even Shakespeare mentioned them often in his works.
Napoleon, banished to Elba, said he said he would "return with the violets." When he did return, Josephine was dead.
He picked violets for her grave before going into exile again to St.
When he died, a locket found on him contained a lock of her hair and violet flowers.
The pansy family has many names and I thought you would like to know just a few of them: Tickle-my-Fancy, Kiss-her-in-the-Pantry, Three-Faces-in-a-Hood, Love-in-Idleness and Heartsease.
This flower has five petals that are arranged on a short stem, with two petals on top, one on each side and one larger one on the bottom.
The center is most always yellow, even in solid darker colored flower types.
The foliage is medium green, the leaves are I to 3 inches long, and the shape is oval to heart shape.
The plant grows in a clump 4 to 8 inches wide and 4 to 8 inches tall.
The plants are easy to grow and are very hardy in all types of weather.
Plant pansies in partial shade where summers are hot.
Pansies will also grow in a sunny or shady spot in your garden or even in containers or hanging baskets.
Select a location with a humus-rich soil for the best results, though they will also grow well in a moist well-drained soil.
If you want to grow pansies from seed, you must plant them 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost, usually during mid January.
Once the seed germinates, keep the new seedlings in a cool room or they will grow fast, stretch and grow tall, often falling over in the garden.
All greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers have plants available now, ready to face the changing weather where you live.
The flowers will last until the heat arrives when planted in the sun, so transplant them into a shaded garden in late June for summer flowers.
If you like pansies, look for the new fall-blooming pansies available in September.
These plants will bloom until the snow covers them in November or later.
Many of them survive the winter and reappear the following spring.
When planting add a bit of "Soil-Moist" to the planting hole: it will help them save water during hot days.
Feed them every other week with "Miracle-Gro" fertilizer once planted.
The "BIG" secret is to pick off the faded flowers so the plant does not make seeds.
The more you clean them, the more they will flower.
When you pick off the faded flowers, crush the seed pods and throw them into the garden, where some of the seeds will germinate and spread.
Smile with the Happy faces of Spring.
It is spring and now time to get outside and begin to work on the fruit trees.
Start by cleaning them of any broken branches due to the snow and ice.
Make a nice clean cut with pruners or a sharp saw.
When removing branches from the tree, be sure to make the cuts at a slight angle so water will roll off the branch and not sit on it, causing rot.
If you are removing a branch attached to the main trunk, cut the branch about a foot from the trunk first.
That way if the branch should break it will not tear the bark of the tree.
Once you remove the branch from the tree, use a sharp saw and cut the spur that remains as close as possible to the main trunk.
The tree will heal itself much faster that way.
If you leave a spur 2 to 6 inches long on the trunk, it will rot and the decay will move into the main trunk, causing you problems later.
When you make a flush cut on the trunk or branch, the tree can cover it over with a ring of callus in just a year or two.
At this time of the year, the branches are full of flower buds so cut the tip branches 2 to 3 feet long and place them in a vase of water and they will flower in your home.
Remove any branches at the base of the tree, as these branches are "suckers," stealing energy from the tree.
Look for any branches that crisscross and rub together.
Remove the less important branch, or where they rub together the bark will wear off and create an entry point for insects or disease to enter the plant.
Remove any branches that grow straight up without side shoots on them.
These are "water sprouts" and will not produce fruit.
A great book for the beginner or seasoned gardener is The Back Yard Orchardist by Stella Otto.
All your questions on fruit tree care will be answered in this book.
The tree is cleaned and ready to grow, so let us work on insect and disease problems.
At this time of the year, you can eliminate many disease problems if you can spray the trees with a copper fungicide spray or lime sulfate fungicide.
When applied at this time of the year, these products will kill disease spores before they have a chance to get active--"preventive medicine."To control Insects before the eggs hatch use a horticultural oil or "all season oil." You can combine both of these products in the same sprayer and apply at the same time.
Apply when temperatures are going to be above 40 degrees that day and there is no rain in the forecast.
This spraying must be done before the flower buds open and the buds are still tightly closed.
Now you need an indicator on the tree to tell you when the bugs arrive so you can begin your bi-weekly spraying program.
When I was in college at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, my Orchard Care class was chosen to help our professor with his idea that helped earned him his doctorate.
Knowing when to start spraying the trees to control insects will make your spray program more effective and you will not have to waste pesticides applied too early.
This is what we did and you can do the same.
Buy a 3 to 4 inch red plastic apple with a stem on it.
Tie a piece of string 12 inches long to the stem of the apple and the other end to a branch at eye level on your tree.
Coat the apple with a bit of Vaseline evenly on the surface.
When the bugs arrive, they will stick to the apple and you can begin to spray the trees before they lay eggs all over the tree.
Look for Bonide, Orchard Spray or Organic Labs, Organocide Fruit Tree Spray to control both disease and insects at the same time.
Spray until 2 weeks before harvest.
Fertilize with Dr. Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer or Espoma Tree-Tone in March or April.
When the fruit tree is in bloom, be sure not to spray it! If you are not getting much fruit that develops on the tree, it could be the lack of bees around your trees.
Go to www.extremelygreen.com and purchase a Honey Bee lure to attract them to the tree; this will help.
This Week's Question:
If someone wants to slice up your tulip bulbs to cook with, what are they probably out of?
This Week's Prize:
One bottle of Vacation.
Last Week's Question: TRUE or FALSE: Garden snails have no hearing and are nearly blind.
Last Week's Prize:
One bottle of Vacation.
Last Week's Winner:
Last Week's Answer:
True. They cannot hear, although they can feel vibrations. They have eyes of a sort, but can only "see" light intensity.
One winner per question - we choose winners from the list of those who answer correctly. Winners must be newsletter subscribers. We'll ship you your prize, so be sure to put your address in the form in case you win!
What You'll Need:
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
- 7 cups diced, peeled Rome apples (about 3 pounds)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely-grated orange rind
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
Step by Step:
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with a knife.
- Combine flour, cornmeal, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.
- Combine apples and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well.
- Spoon the apple mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish or 1-1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with the crumb mixture.
- Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: 9 servings