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Edition 10.31 Paul Parent Garden Club News August 5, 2010
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"Don't wear perfume in the garden--unless you want to be pollinated by bees."
~Anne Raver


Product Spotlight

Deer Scram Deer & Rabbit Repellent

Enjoy your garden again!

Keep your summer landscape lush, green, full of flowers and protected from browsing deer and foraging rabbits. You've spent hours and money building your prized gardens, nurturing your beautiful shrubs and growing your striking trees. You don't want a few hungry deer to come by and literally eat the fruits of your labor! With regular application of Deer Scram deer repellant, you'll once again enjoy sitting among your attractive flowers, gathering your delicious fruits and vegetables, strolling among the cooling shade of spreading trees. With Deer Scram, you get guaranteed plant protection 24 hours a day!

Avoid inconvenient sprays that smell bad and wash off in rain. Deer Scram deer repellant outperforms other deer repellents, is easier to use and lasts longer.

Granular
No mixing or spraying!

All Natural
It's organic!

A Perimeter Barrier
Sprinkle a protective strip around your plants and beds rather than spraying repellent on leaves,
flowers and vegetables!

Rain Resistant
Deer Scram won't wash off or dissolve in water. Deer Scram Lasts up to 45 days!

Not Offensive
Deer Scram doesn't smell terrible like many sprays. Deer Scram stops deer and rabbits with good biology, not foul odors. Deer Scram smells like a mild fertilizer, which it is!

The best deer repellant
Long-lasting spring and summer plant protection from deer browsing and rabbit munching.


Butterfly Weed

Did you know that you could plant a wildflower that is perennial in your garden and has just one job in nature? That job is to feed butterflies while it gives you weeks and weeks of beautiful star like flowers. This special plant is called the butterfly weed and will thrive in gardens from Minnesota to Maine and south to Florida.

The butterfly weed thrives in sunny gardens, meadows and butterfly gardens. The flowers and leaves are an important food source for the monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars), and other butterflies will feed on the flowers of this plant, as will bees.

Butterfly weed is in the same family as milkweed but does not have the milky white sap found in milkweed. If you find the Monarch butterfly caterpillar eating the foliage on your plant, it is O.K. to pick him up and move him to your wild milkweed plant growing around your home.

Did you know that the wild milkweed that grows around our home is poisonous to most caterpillars, except the Monarch butterfly? The eggs of the Monarch butterfly are laid on the leaves of the plant and a multicolored caterpillar will emerge during the summer, feeding on the foliage. The leaves are bitter and the caterpillar absorbs the taste into his body, keeping birds and predators away. If a bird or predator should feed on this caterpillar, it will be his last meal.

Butterfly weed produces a round cluster of small ball-shaped flower buds 2 to 3 inches wide. The flower buds will open into a small star-shaped flower with five petals and a raised center. The flowers will range from orange, to red, yellow, pink and even white. Orange is the most common color found at nurseries but yellow is now getting more popular.

When pollinated, a seedpod will develop filled with flat seeds that are attached to a silky hair. When the pod is ripe it will break open and the seed will float away with the wind and start new plants in your gardens or an open field. The leaves are lance shaped, 1/2 inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long, with a medium shiny green color. Plants grow best in slightly acid soil that is well drained all year long.

Once established in your garden, it does not transplant easily because, like the milkweed, it has a taproot. Start new plants with cuttings or seed in the spring. I would suggest that you place a label where the plant is, as it is very slow to develop in the spring and you might accidently plant something else in its place.

Plant the butterfly weed in a location where winter water and ice will not accumulate. If you have a garden on the side of the hill, a soil on the sandy side or raised flowerbeds, this is a wonderful plant for you. Butterfly weed will grow very well with Joe-pie weed, turtleheads, yarrow, daylilies and all types of ornamental grasses.

Plant new seedlings with compost and animal manure in the spring or purchase established plants during August. Water regularly like any new plant and fertilize with Osmocote fertilizer every spring. Once I see the plant has grown to 4 to 6 inches tall, I it often with with a liquid fertilizer like Miracle-Gro. I add 2 inches of compost around the plant to help keep it strong during the winter. The plants will grow 2 feet tall and just as wide. If you remove the faded flowers as they go by, the plant may have time to rebloom before the fall weather gets too cold.

Butterfly weed has few problems with insects or disease. Aphids can sometimes develop on the plant--the insect will be the same color as the flower on the plant. Use the hose, and spray the aphids off the plant when you water it. A couple of sprayings a week with a strong burst of water will clean the plants in just a few days.

Planting them near early-growing perennials will help catch the heat of the day and buffer the wind early in the spring. The clear and bright yellow and orange flower color is rare to find in your perennial garden and the flowers are almost waxy looking, making them stand out.


Perennial Hibiscus/Rose Mallow

If you are looking for a tall perennial plant for your garden that will bloom during late July to September, look no further than the rose mallow plant. These plants grow 3 to 8 feet tall and spread to 3 to 4 feet wide, much bigger than any perennial plant you may have in your garden. The leaves are also large--six to twelve inches wide--and come in the shape of a heart, also with deep lobes or even lanced, lacy-shaped foliage. The stems can grow to one to two inches thick and usually are able to support the flower the plant makes. If your garden is open to the wind, the stems should be staked just in case of heavy rains or winds.

The flower is enormous--6 to 12 inches in diameter--shaped like a funnel and can be as large as a dinner plate. The flower resembles the tropical hibiscus we grow in pots on our deck or patio that has to be brought into the house for the winter months. This plant is winter hardy from Maine to Georgia, will tolerate -20 to -30 degrees. The flowers will last for a couple of days each, but the plant produces an endless supply of buds lasting well into the fall.

The rose mallow will be the talk of your garden this summer--do not be surprised if someone stops in front of your house, rings the bell and asks you the name of this plant! Plant them in front of a stone wall, on the side of a garage, at the end of your swimming pool--or plant several plants in a row for a bit of privacy. Rose mallows love the sun and heat and the more they receive the taller they will grow. They also love a moist to wet soil to grow in; they will tolerate average to dry soils but will not grow as tall. If the weather gets hot and dry, you will have to water regularly to help plants grow tall and large.

The better the soil is, the larger the plant will grow, so use plenty of compost and animal manure when you plant new seedlings. If your soil is average, the plant will grow and flower but stay smaller. If you can fertilize every other week with Miracle-Gro during the summer the plants will explode with flowers all summer long. In the early spring, I feed them with Osmocote fertilizer to get them off to a quick start and this feeding really works well.

The large flower comes in shades of red, pink, white and there are several varieties with bi-colored flowers. There is also a new hybrid with red foliage and a red flower, making the plant quite striking. If these plants are too tall for your garden, ask for the dwarf 'Disco Belle' types, as they will stay 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.

If you work in an office with several people, bring a soup bowl to work with you and when you get there place a fresh cut blossom in the bowl of water and watch the faces of people near you. Cut the flower just as you leave for work and place in a bowl of water on the floor of your car so it will not dry up. The flower will last one day in the bowl of water and bring you many comments.

In the fall, the plant will die down to the ground, and I always cut the stems to 3 to 4 inches from the ground. In the spring, feed in April with Osmocote and be patient as this plant is ALWAYS late to wake up and start growing. Most years I say to myself, the plant died and I will have to replant but once it starts growing it will grow quickly. When the plant gets large, it will spread into a large clump that can be divided in the spring to make additional plants. Use a shovel and dig out a piece of the clump to make new plants--it's not easy but is well worth the effort.

Many nurseries have well-established plants at this time of the year that you can plant directly into your garden. This is a must-have plant for the beginner or seasoned gardener. Rose mallow will give you big plants, big flowers and big comments about your perennial garden. This is the time to plant some in your sunny garden and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds go crazy for the flowers. You will not be sorry you planted the rose mallow!


Northern Bayberry/Candleberry

When the Pilgrims landed in America in 1620, their ship the Mayflower had supplies for them to live on for the first year but they had to become self-sufficient quickly or their ordeal would be for nothing. Oil lamp fluid was at a premium, beeswax was rare--but they found a native plant growing along the salt marshes that made a wax for the candles they needed so much.

The bayberry plant makes a fruit in the fall that is covered with a naturally-occurring wax that they used to make candles and still is used today. Because the plant was native to the coastal area where they chose to live, and because the plant grew in such abundance, the Pilgrims had light during those first dark days in their new home. This plant, the bayberry, was also called the candleberry plant by the Pilgrims and was one of the first plants to make it possible for the new settlers to survive in the new world.

The bayberry plant grows from Newfoundland to North Carolina as a native plant. It prefers a coastal habitat with sandy soils. I was always amazed with this plant, as it grew in a salty soil where high tides frequently flooded the soil that it grew in. The plant was tolerant to salt water, grew in infertile soil, and tolerated the strong ocean winds of winter storms--truly an amazing plant.

The bayberry plant grows in the shape of a mount 3 to 6 feet tall--but in a good soil, it can reach up to 10 feet tall. The spread of the plant is as wide as it is tall and the plant has the ability to spread in the soil with suckering branches that grow underground from the mature plant.

Another oddity with the bayberry plant is that it is "dioecious," which means the plants are either male or female. The male plants produce a non-showy yellow-green flower that resembles a tiny pinecone. The female produces a gray waxy-coated berry called a drupe that will grow to about 1/4 inch in diameter, in clusters on the branches of the new growth. The bayberry fruit will ripen in September and can last on the plant until April, unless the birds eat the berries.

The foliage is dull green, oval in shape, growing one inch wide and 2 to 4 inches long. Most of the foliage will drop from the plant during the winter, exposing the silvery clusters of fruit. The plants will grow best in acid soils that are sandy but they will tolerate a bit of clay in the soil as long as they do not stay wet. The plants grow best in full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade in the late afternoon.

Keep the plants out of planting beds with sprinkler systems in them. When planting bayberry, prepare the soil with organic matter like compost and animal manure to get them off to a good start. Fertilize in the spring with Plant –Tone fertilizer or Dr. Earth tree and shrub plant food with Pro-biotic. Once the plants are established, feeding is not necessary unless you want them to grow faster and taller.

Plant bayberry in rows for a natural-looking hedge, in groups to hold back sandy slopes, or mix with other plants for a different combination of textures in the planting beds. One male plant will have enough pollen to fertilize five female plants and your local nursery should have plants that are labeled by the sex of the plant. If they not labeled look for the cones (male), or silver berries (female) on the new growth or the tips of the plant.

The bayberry plant will grow where nothing else will grow, such as in windy areas with poor soil, and will tolerate little to no water and neglect. Don't forget the fragrance of the plants' foliage and the berries. Plant a bit of history and grow a plant that helped establish the Pilgrims in the new world. Enjoy!


Summer to-do

It is August and the gardens are beautiful, so how do we keep them that way until the fall? Here are a few simple things to do to keep your yard beautiful. Let us concentrate on the vegetable garden this week so we can keep it productive right to the end.

If you planted peas this spring they must be finished producing at this time, but you still have time to plant a new crop if you act now. Peas will take from 60 to 90 days to mature, they are cold tolerant and should mature for you during September to mid-October, so get the new crop in the ground now. Leaf lettuce and spinach will also mature for a great fall crop of fresh greens if planted in the next week. Radishes come up quick, so keep planting as they mature--about every 30 days.

Broccoli will continue to make small 1 to 2 inch florets of flowers that will keep coming until frost if you clean the plant of yellow leaves and fertilize every 2 weeks with Miracle Gro. I pick the florets every couple of days and store in a poly storage bag in the refrigerator until I have enough to cook or use in a salad. Feed regularly, pick often and the plant will continue to produce for you.

Brussels sprouts will get bigger with the heat and moisture this month. As they grow, remove some of the lower leaves to make space for them to mature. Pick in September when the weather gets cooler for better taste--but the best tasting sprouts will come after a frost. Do not pull the plant out of the ground in the fall, as you can pick sprouts in Southern New England until Christmas--and I did when I lived on the South Shore of Boston. Fertilize them now if you have now in the last 30 days with Liquid Miracle Gro. If your plants are getting tall you may have to stake them, to keep sprouts off the ground and clean.

Peppers love the heat so keep feeding them now, as this month is the most productive time for them. When the fruit matures, harvest it so the plant can keep making more fruit. Eggplants also love the heat so keep them well watered and feed for mature fruit now and a second crop in the fall.

Summer and zucchini squash will keep producing as long as they have enough water and are fertilized regularly. Pick the squash when small so seeds do not have a chance to mature and the plant will keep making more for you. Keep the plant clean and remove yellow leaves as they begin to go buy. Use a liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks on the foliage of the plant as well as soaking the soil at the base of the plant to keep the roots strong. If leaves begin to turn powdery white, spray foliage with Serenade organic fungicide to control powdery mildew and keep plant productive.

Vine squash like butternut, blue hubbard, acorn and other winter squashes will continue to make fruit well into September if you can water and fertilize regularly. Watch for powdery mildew and the possibility of deer or woodchucks moving into the garden for a feed. If they begin to show signs of feeding, create a barrier protection with Deer Off repellent.

Tomatoes will begin to mature this month, so you can make your famous spaghetti sauce, salsa, piccalilli and relishes. Keep the plants healthy by watering regularly in the morning when possible and fertilizing every 2 weeks with Miracle-Gro. Remove the yellow leaves, and if needed use Serenade organic fungicide to keep foliage green and productive.

In the next few days, you should cut back tomato your plants a bit. I prune the tomato plant to the last fruit made by the plant; this sends all the energy made by the plant to that fruit and helps mature the larger fruit faster. I only remove about a foot of the new growth so the plant can concentrate on maturing the existing fruit, stop getting larger and stop making new flower buds that will not have time to mature. Fertilizing them with Miracle-Gro every 2 weeks will speed maturing fruit.

If you have a large freezer, did you know that you can freeze whole red tomatoes in the fall and thaw them during the winter for great tomato soups? Freeze washed tomatoes in freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. Thaw the night before, dip in boiling water to help remove skins and you're ready for a great base for tomato or vegetable soup.

Cucumbers will stay productive if you keep feeding and watering the plants. When cucumbers start to look like a baby's bottle with a nipple on the end of the cucumber, it means your watering is not regular enough and the plants are running out of energy, so feed them every 2 weeks now with Miracle-Gro. Spray the foliage of the plant as well as the soil because Miracle Gro-can be absorbed through the foliage as well as through the roots. When your plants stop producing, it means you are back to waxed cucumbers until next June, so do not give up yet.


trivia


This Week's Question:

What color is the bougainvillea flower? (Yes, this question is a bit tricky.)

Espoma Organic Potting Mix

This Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Potting Mix

  • Contains Myco-toneŽ mycorrhizae
  • For all indoor and outdoor containers.
  • In 4, 8, 16 qt., 1 and 2 cu. ft. bags.
Myco-tone


Last Week's Question:

Wheat is grown on every continent except one. Which continent is the exception?

Last Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Potting Mix

Last Week's Winner:
Rich Deres

Last Week's Answer:
Antarctica

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!


fruits of the Forest Crumble

Fruit "crumbles" and "fools" are a New England tradition that stretches back to the 18th century. This Fruits of the Forest Crumble has a tart and satisfying taste, perfect for afternoon snacking or for finishing a hearty meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 1/2 cups sliced rhubarb
  • 3 cups sliced peaches
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar or brown sugar, optional

Step by Step:

  • In a medium size mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, and melted butter.
  • Divide flour-oatmeal-sugar mixture in two, pressing half into the bottom of an 8-9" square pan (reserving the rest).
  • In a large saucepan, combine water, rhubarb, peaches, sugar and cornstarch; cook until clear.
  • Removing pan from heat, fold in berries and vanilla.
  • Carefully cover crust in the pan with fruit filling, using a spatula to even out the surface.
  • Cover fruit filling with remaining crunch mixture, sprinkling with clean hands over the surface evenly. If desired, cover with a sprinkling of turbinado or brown sugar.
  • Bake at 325° F for 40-45 minutes, until crumble is golden brown. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 6 servings.

Recipe courtesy of "Cooking for Pleasure" by Jeanine Harsen.

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