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Edition 10.37 Paul Parent Garden Club News September 16, 2010
Featured quote

Featured Quote:

"My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view."
~ H. Fred Ale

Cotton Day Oct. 3

Bring plants to Topsfield Fair grounds, located on Rt. 1 in Topsfield, Mass., on September 30, between 9 am and 4 PM. Put a piece of masking tape on side of pot with your name, address and phone number. Plants will be on display until October 3, after my live broadcast from the Fair at 2 PM.

Plants can be left at the Fair and will be donated to the Agriculture School. If you have pictures of your plants growing, bring them and label them with your name and address for display. Some plants will be selected for a educational display in the vegetable building.

Listen to the program from 7 AM to 8 AM on Sunday, September 19th for information on growing cotton and what to do with your plants in pots or planted in your garden. Bayer Advanced Lawn and Garden will tell you everything you need to know about harvesting cotton in New England, where the season is short.

If you know anyone who has cotton plants, please let them know of this show. If your station does not carry the program at this time, you can listen via Internet at www.paulparent.com. More information coming for you next week.


A To Do List for September in the Garden

COMPOST

September is the perfect time to start a compost pile if you do not have one yet. Just think of all the plant material you will soon have to work with and change to beautiful organic matter for your spring garden. Fall will bring us all the tired and dead vegetable plants and some vegetables that did not have time to make it to maturity. All of your faded annual flowers and foliage, the fading perennial foliage, the leaves and pine needles from your trees and the grass will still need to be cut and more. All you need for a compost pile is a sunny location and a source to get water to keep the material wet so it can break down faster--that is all.

I have a Compost Tumbler and I will be able to get two tumblers of compost from now to the spring. On the ground, if you can start now, by spring your organic matter will be almost ready when you need it in May. So this year recycle your spent plants into rich compost for a better garden next year. Mix green and brown plant material evenly for faster compost. Warning: do not put crabgrass plants into the compost pile or the seed will germinate in your gardens next spring. This is the only specific plant you must keep out of the compost pile.

Fall Lawn Care

Now is the best time to plant a new lawn from seed or help thicken an existing lawn that has thinned-out over the summer. The days of roto-tilling are over and so is the hard work of putting in a new lawn or adding seed to a thin lawn. Today all you need is a machine called a "Seed Slicer," and you can rent one at any power equipment rental agency for very little money. This is all you have to do this fall to create the perfect lawn or a lawn that is much better than what you have now.

Just follow these easy steps to a better lawn. Begin by cutting the grass as short as possible; there is no need to rake the clippings unless the grass is as tall as a hay field. Rent a Seed Slicer and be sure to reserve it a head of time as this time of the year, it is rented a lot. Your Seed Slicer will slice many grooves into the soil as it pulls you across the lawn and drops the grass seed into these grooves at the same time. This machine does all the work and all you have to do is guide it straight so the seed is applied evenly. You should be able to apply the seed to a lawn about 10,000 square feet in less than one hour, so consider renting this machine with a neighbor and splitting the cost of the rental.

Use a good seed and be sure that it is a PERENNIAL blend, as a blend with annual seed will die with the first frost. Get good quality seed like Jonathan Green 'Black Beauty,' Scotts Premium Seed or Wildflower Farm 'Eco-lawn' grass seed. If you are just thickening an existing lawn, run the Seed Slicer up and down the lawn once. If you are building a new lawn, run the Seed Slicer north to south and then east to west for double the seed, which will produce a wonderful lawn. The cost of the seed is minor, compared to your time if you have to do this again, so use plenty of seed the first time.

Once the seed is applied to the ground, use a good fertilizer for newly seeded lawns or seed starter fertilizer; it will make the grass germinate faster and build a better root system. If moss is a problem you can also add limestone or Jonathan Green Mag-I-Cal to help sweeten the soil and slow down the moss development in your lawn. If your soil is heavy with clay, apply liquid Garden Gypsum, made by Soil Logic, to break apart the clay in your soil for better drainage.

Now all you have to do is WATER--and water often. You will need to water the seed every day, unless it rains, until the ground freezes. Some varieties of seed will germinate quickly to keep you interested with this project and then the stronger grass will develop, so keep the water on the area. Some grass seed will germinate in just two weeks but some might take as long as four weeks, so be patient and stay positive for a better lawn. NO WEED KILLERS can be used when seeding!

For your established lawn, fertilize with a fall or winter fertilizer during September or October. If broadleaf weeds are a problem, the fall is also a great time to control them. Use Lime or Mag-I-Cal to sweeten the soil for your lawn and control moss. Use Garden Gypsum to break up clay and also apply this product on the side of the road to open up the ground so salt from the snow plows can leach out of the ground faster and minimize dead grass from the salt.

Check the lawn regularly for potential insect problems that will be noticeable with animals digging in the lawn. If problems develop in your lawn, check with your local Garden Center or Nursery for the right product to apply to the lawn.

Flowerbeds: Annuals and Perennials

In the perennial flowerbeds begin to cut back tired perennials to the ground and continue to remove weeds that develop. Once the plant begins to turn yellow, cut it back and compost the foliage. If you have open spaces in the garden between plants, place a plant label there so you can later plant spring flowering bulbs in the opening for early color. If some of your perennials have grown very large or have spread beyond where you want them to grow, this is the time to divide them or thin them out.

When everything is clean, I love to apply a thin layer of bark mulch to keep the plant roots protected during the winter months and when spring arrives, the mulch will help control weeds in the garden. Do not fertilize perennials in the fall because if the weather gets moist and warm some of the plants may begin to grow and will be killed back by colder weather.

Annual flowerbeds should always be cleaned of all plant debris as soon as the plants die back. Pull all plants up and rake the garden clean of foliage. This cleaning removes potential problems for next year that you had this year. Diseases leave spores on the plant for next year and insects leave eggs for next year, so get them out of the garden for a fresh start.

If you are using the old-fashioned limestone in your garden, apply it to the garden now as it may take up to six months to help sweeten the soil. This is also a great time to spread animal manure, compost or seaweed on the garden so it has a chance to work its way into the garden soil. Just scratch it in or turn over the soil to cover the material you are adding to the garden soil.

Rose Care

In the Rose Garden, it is important now to keep the roses well watered but "NO FERTILIZER"! At this time of the year, you want the plant to begin to "harden-off" the stems and prepare for the winter with woody and hard stems rather that soft and flexible growth. If insects visit your garden, spray them and continue to use fungicides if needed--but no food.

Cut your flowers for a vase of water but do not "cut back the plant" at all. Roses are pruned in the spring only, to control size, remove dead or disease branches and to stimulate new growth. If you prune back roses in October, you are making openings where the plant can lose moisture during the winter as the plant is going dormant for the winter and is unable to scab over the branches you cut. The results are branches that dehydrate and die.

When the rose plants are leafless, clean the garden of all foliage on the ground and remove it from the garden as these leaves carry insect eggs and disease spores for next year if left on the ground. Spray plants with a anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf or Wilt Stop to help protect them for the winter winds and build a mound of soil or mulch around the plant 12 inches tall and wide for additional protection.

Vegetables

In the vegetable garden, begin to remove the plants that have stopped producing and toss them in your compost pile. There is not much time before frost, so any productive plants should be fertilized now. Use a liquid food like Miracle-Gro to push the plants and help mature the fruit they are making. Water the garden as needed to keep plants productive and check for possible late insects. Clean the garden of all dead foliage as it could contain disease spores and insect eggs that could infect the garden next year.

If you want a better soil for next year, spread pine needles, ground up leaves or even seaweed from the beach over the garden and till into the soil. Animal manure and compost are also very good to encourage beneficial microbes to develop in your garden soil. Apply limestone to the garden if your tomatoes had black spots on the bottom of the fruit this year as this is a sign of acid soil and called "blossom end rot."

Fall is for Planting

Fall is for planting shrubs and tree around your home. It's a great time to plant, because the ground is warm, traditionally we receive more rainfall and most nurseries are having sales on their shrubs and trees. Take advantage of this and get some of your landscaping done now while the weather is nice.

When purchasing plant material on sale, here is what to look for before spending a lot of money. If the plant is not in a container, examine the root ball and make sure it is in good shape and firm. The overall appearance should be nice and green with little damage to the plant. If the plant is deciduous and has leaves missing, scratch the leafless branches to see if there is green under the bark that you scratch off. See if the plant looks healthy, if it made new growth this year and if the nursery cares for its plants properly.

Look at the nursery in general and see how it looks--is it clean and cared for properly? If the place is a mess, the plant might be also. This year has been hot, and many plants came into bloom very early in the season and this did shorten the selling season, especially flowering plants. Most quality nurseries have sales at this time of year to help move inventory and the plants are in great shape, so take advantage of this situation. Some nurseries also have a guarantee--ask them.

Fall is also the time to plan your spring bulb garden for after the long winter we have coming. I suggest that you plant early-flowering crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils and tulips to help get you ready for the arrival of spring.

Did you know that bulbs are graded just as eggs are by their size? When you buy tulips, you can expect them to flower for 3 to 5 years, if you buy big bulbs. The bargain bulbs at the box stores will flower but the bloom will be smaller, bloom a shorter time and last in your garden only 1 to 2 years because of their size.

If you purchase daffodils, look at the bulb carefully. Check the point on the bulb and size of the bulb. Bargain bulbs have one shoot or what bulb growers call the "nose" of the bulb--and that will make one flower. Most garden centers have double-nose bulbs for 2 to 3 flowers per bulb; these bulbs also have a better chance to divide and multiply in your garden. Spend a bit more and get the quality you want for your garden. If you have rodents, rabbits or deer, ask the sales person to help you select bulbs that are not eaten by these animals. Plant daffodils rather than tulips and grape hyacinths rather than crocus. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

When you plant bulbs use a bulb fertilizer, Soil Moist to help hold water near the bulbs--and at all costs keep away from bone meal or animals will dig up your garden the same night you planted them. Here is a final tip for you when planting bulbs, point always goes up and plant bulbs with twice the soil on top of the bulb as the bulb is high. Examples:
• The crocus is one inch tall, so you must dig a hole three inches deep to cover the bulb with two inches of soil on top of it.
• Tulips are two inches tall, so the hole must be six inches deep to cover the bulb with four inches of soil.

Water well and keep soil moist until the ground freezes so bulb has time to make roots. Get your bulbs now while the selection is best and store in your garage until you are ready to plant. One more question to ask your sales person about bulbs: which tulips are early, mid-season or late flowering? That way you can have continuous flowers for as long as 8 to 10 weeks by planting three different types. Plant now for a colorful spring, then enjoy!


trivia


This Week's Question:

Cotton is mostly grown in the south. But where was Eli Whitney, Jr. (the inventor of the the cotton gin) born?

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:

Why don't botanists consider a strawberry to be a true berry?

Last Week's Prize:
Daniel Zavisza

Last Week's Answer:
A berry is produced from one ovary. A strawberry is produced from an ovary plus tissue adjacent to the ovary, so the strawberry is an adjacent or accessory fruit. But, they're simply delicious. (Ed. note: Agreed on the delicious part! Oddly enough, both tomatoes and cucumbers are berries, botanically. )

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!


Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

Finding gluten-free--and tasty--desserts can be a challenge. Here is a no-bake chocolate almond cheesecake that is yummy and decadent (but safe for celiac disease sufferers).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 packages (24 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (or other gluten-free flour)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 8 squares baking chocolate, melted

Step by Step:

  • On a baking sheet, toast almonds at 325 degrees F for 3 minutes (or until golden brown). Remove from pan and cool completely and grind into a fine powder.
  • Combine ground almonds, dark brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon, mixing well.
  • Press mixture into a parchment lined 13x9 inch pan (you may also line pan in foil if desired). Coat parchment or foil with nonstick spray.
  • Bake crust at 325 degrees F for 14-18 minutes (or until pale golden color). Cool completely.

  • In a mixing bowl beat softened cream cheese, sugar, rice flour, vanilla and almond extracts until smooth.
  • Add slightly cooled, melted baking chocolate and fold into smooth cheesecake filling.
  • Carefully spoon cream cheese into cooled almond crust.
  • Refrigerate at least 3 hours, until set.
  • Before serving, sprinkle with slivered almonds and chocolate curls.

Yield: 4 servings.

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

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