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Edition 10.42 Paul Parent Garden Club News October 21, 2010
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"Despite the gardener's best intentions, Nature will improvise."
~Michael P. Garafalo

Product Spotlight

Liquid "Gypsum" Soil Conditioner

What is Liquid "Gypsum"?

Liquid "Gypsum" is an easy-to-apply liquid soil conditioner. This product will significantly improve your turf quality and plant growth in hard or clay soils. This concentrated formula can be used on all grass types to create a healthy, lush, and green lawn. Also works on plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, and even on bare soil.

Compared to alternatives like dry gypsum, Liquid "Gypsum" is a much better choice--there are no heavy bags to lift and no tilling is required. Best of all, it works much faster and is more efficient to use. One quart (32 oz.) of Liquid "Gypsum" conditions up to 1,000 square feet (with a single application).

What does Liquid "Gypsum" do?

  • Loosens and softens sandy, hard, and clay soils from the surface down--no digging or tilling required.
  • Improves soil drainage--fertilizers and water absorb into the soil, instead of being wasted on the surface or draining away (less water wasted!).
  • With the softer soil and better drainage, the grass and plant roots grow deeper.
  • The end result--brown spots disappear, lawns become greener, plants and flowers grow better, and trees become healthier!
For more information, click here.

Three Little Spring-Flowering Bulbs with a Big Show of Spring Color

After a long winter of cold weather, snow, wind and no flowers in the gardens, I look to three small, inexpensive and very hardy spring flowering bulbs to cheer me up. This threesome, made up of the Scilla S. siberica (Siberian squill), Chionodoxia (glory-of-the-snow), and the Muscari (grape hyacinth) is your answer.

These three bulbs are guaranteed to relieve all symptoms of cabin fever at the first sighting of flowers in your garden. All you have to do is plan, like getting a flu shot for winter colds, to plant these bulbs now.

All three bulbs are left uneaten by rodents and will grow in sun or part shade. Best of all, these three types of bulbs will multiply in your flower garden, rock gardens, in wild flower gardens or even in your lawn. If you have a sloping bank, plant them near the top this fall and watch them reseed gradually all the way to the bottom of the slope, like water running down the hill--but it's flowers. Think about this, flowers growing in your yard starting in February or early March!

The first to bloom is Scilla siberica or squill, native to Russia and the mountains of Turkey. These plants grow naturally in a soil among rocks, scrub and woods, so just imagine how well they will grow in your garden that has good soil to grow. The flowers grow on spikes 4 to 6 inches tall, and each spike produces 3 to 5 bell shaped, nodding, bright blue flowers about 1/2 inch across.

The flowers face down, so you are looking at the top of the flower that develops in a cluster of deep green foliage that is one inch wide and 4 to 6 inches tall. Each flower has a deep bright blue line running down the center of the top of the petal for extra color. When the wind blows, you can almost hear them ring the arrival of spring. Larger nurseries or bulb catalogs will have white, pink, lavender or purple varieties available, but the blue is the most popular and found everywhere. Flowering time is February to April.

The second to bloom is the Chionodoxia or Glory of the Snow. Native to the open mountainside and forest of Crete, Turkey and Cyprus, it is related to the Scilla. The flowers develop on stems 4 to 6 inches tall; each stem can produce 7 to 10 star shaped, upward facing pale blue flowers. The flowers contain six petals that grow to one inch across, and the tip on the petals bends over to show off the center of the bloom and a white trumpet-like center.

Unlike the squill, which grows on stiff stems, these stems are soft and the flowers are loose, making the clump of flowers look like a bouquet in the garden. The deep green straplike foliage grows 1/2 inch wide and 4 to 6 inches tall.

The foliage will die back as soon as the flowers fade, unlike sqill, which will last for several weeks after the bloom. White, pink, and deep blue are available in bulb catalogs. Chionodoxia are more showy than the squills but the squills flower in colder and more stormy weather conditions. Flowering time February to April.

The third to flower is Muscari or grape hyacinth. It is a native plant of the Mediterranean to South Asia. This spring-flowering bulb is a miniature of the giant Dutch hyacinth that we all love for its beauty and fragrance.

The grape hyacinth gets its Latin name "Muscari" because of a slight scent of musk to the flowers. The flower stem will grow 4 to 8 inches tall, and this single strong stem will bear 30 or more small bell-like flowers 1/4 of an inch each in diameter. The tiny bells are arranged around the stem in the shape of a catalane tail or poker.

The flower is medium blue with a white edge at the bottom of the bell. The foliage of the grape hyacinth is deep green, 1/2 inch wide, and will grow 6 to 9 inches tall. The flower clump is very stiff looking compared to its two counterparts but it will spread much faster in the garden and is perfect for wildflower gardens, rock gardens or naturalizing under tall trees. White grape hyacinths are readily available at most garden centers, but they do not spread as fast and grow shorter. Flowers time is from March to early May.

The flowers of all three of these spring-flowering bulbs can be cut for a short vase for a small-scale flower arrangement. All should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep in a soil that is well drained, and conditioned with compost. Plant 3 to 5 bulbs together for the best color and show. Use Bulb-Tone fertilizer when planting and reapply in the spring to help make viable seed and more plants.

If planting under trees, deciduous types are best because of early sunlight in the spring due to the absence of foliage. When planting under evergreens be sure the bulbs are facing south and out of heavy shade. If planted in the lawn do not mow lawn until foliage begins to turn brown--and never use a lawn weed killer in that area.

Early honeybees love these flowers for their pollen and nectar. In addition, insect and disease problems are seldom found. This fall, plant all three of these bulbs for continuous color from February until May, you will enjoy the arrival of spring more than ever!

October Garden Chores

October is a very busy month for the gardener, because there so many things to do to put the garden to bed for the year. I think the most important is to take time to smell the fresh fall air, filled with the aroma of fallen leaves and pine needles. The spring rain smells quite good, fresh-cut summer grass is wonderful, then first winter snow is fantastic--but fresh fallen leaves are the best.

This fall, let us begin our garden projects by smelling the air around us, walking through piles of leaves, enjoying the rustling sound they make--and watching those leaves dance across the yard as the wind plays with them.

Most of us have had a killing frost by now, so let us clean the annual and perennial beds of the last few flowers that remained. Fall cleaning is very important because the removal of foliage from the garden also removes any remaining insect eggs or disease spores left on the plant that could infect the garden next spring. A clean garden now will get us off to a good start next spring and a fresh start without the insect and disease problems we had this year.

All this foliage should be gathered and put into the compost pile where it will rot and become rich organic matter for the garden next year. The compost pile will kill all the insects' eggs and disease spores left on those plants naturally. When the flowerbeds are cleaned, how about spreading some limestone on them to help sweeten the soil and lower the pH so the fertilizer you apply next spring can work better.

Remember, limestone does take six months to work in the garden, because it is STONE and the microbes will need time to break it down to where it will sweeten your soils. Apply in October and get results in April. If there is moss growing on your lawn apply Limestone to the lawn also, apply at the rate of one bag of limestone per 1000 sq. ft. When using a drop spreader, which is the rectangle-shaped spreader that drops the lime not through it all over your lawn, open the spreader wide open for proper dispersion.

The ground around fruit trees and flowering trees should be raked now of fallen leaves also to remove the problems we had this year with insects and disease. Disease spores will hide on those fallen leaves until the time is right to infect the new leaves that form on the tree in the spring. What happens is the disease spores become airborne when the weather conditions are right and float upward to the new foliage infecting them.

This cleaning in the fall will decrease the problems you had this year on next year's foliage. I also like to spray all my flowering and fruit trees in October while the weather is warm with All-Season Oil and Copper Fungicide to kill and disease spores and insect eggs that are on the tree. Repeat this spraying in March or early April and you will have fewer problems next year. If you have roses in your garden, spray them also at the same time and be sure to spray the trellis or fence they grow on if they are the climbing type, as insects will lay eggs on those also.

Plan a visit to your local garden center or nursery and purchase a bale of straw or salt marsh hay to help your roses or blue hydrangeas winter over. Supply is always limited, so plan and get it while hay is available. Place the bales in your garage or tool shed to keep them dry until the ground begins to freeze and then cover the plants for the winter. If you use the straw or hay now, you will have problems with mice or moles living in it before the ground freezes, so wait until the ground freezes and the rodents have found somewhere else to live for the winter.

Pick up Wilt-Pruf or Wilt-Stop to apply to new broadleaf evergreens planted this year or those plants exposed to winter sun and wind. These products called anti-desiccants and will seal the stems, foliage and buds of the plant preventing moisture loss during the winter, a real good investment for the winter. Wait and apply them around Thanksgiving, so plants have a chance to go dormant but get it now before you forget about it.

If you have deer problems, be sure to also pick up a good deer repellent from Deer-Off, Bobbex or Shake-Way. Apply it also during Thanksgiving and repeat between Christmas and the New Year for the best results. If the snow gets deep, reapply in early February. Stock up now while it is on your mind and keep your plants safe during the winter.

If your soils are heavy with clay, now is also a great time to break apart the clay in your soil and improve the drainage for next year with Garden Gypsum. Your carrots will grow longer, plants can make better roots because they can move through the soil easier and disease problems will less.

Garden gypsum will help to prevent salt damage to plantings and grass on the side of the road, if you live in an area where the snowplow pushes the snow filled with salt and sand on your property. Garden gypsum will stick to clay particles preventing them from sticking together and preventing good drainage and loose soils.

Apply Liquid Gypsum from Soil Logic now and it will have time to do the job before the ground freezes. garden centers will carry it, or order on line at Be sure to apply to areas where you planted bulbs if your soils are heavy, to prevent the bulbs from rotting in the ground if we have a wet spring. Also, apply to lawns that had snow mold damage last year to prevent the problem from reoccurring again this winter. Liquid Gypsum is more effective than the powder type and works much quicker. Garden gypsum will also help to discourage moss growing in the lawn, because it removes surface moisture needed by moss plants to survive.

If you are beginning to see mole or vole activity in your garden or Lawn, NOW is the time to apply Mole Scram to the garden and lawn. Moles will move into the lawn now that the weather is cooling off. These rodents have been living in mulch beds, tall grasses and wooded areas during the summer for protection and now they are ready to take over your lawn, so apply the product now to keep them out.

If you had mounds of soil and zig-zag roadways eaten in your grass during last winter and found in your lawn as the snow melted in the spring, you have moles and you must treat the area now for the best results while the ground is not frozen. Voles will move into perennial beds and eat bulbs, fibrous roots and tubers during the winter. Such plants as lilies, daylilies, hostas, bleeding hearts, irises, peonies and all spring flowering bulbs are in danger, as voles are vegetarians and eat plants while moles eat grubs and worms.

One last garden chore for you this week--bring in any pottery type containers for the winter or the rainfall and snow will freeze in them and as the moisture expands in the containers, they will break or crack.

Clean the dead plants from them and store the containers in your tool shed or garage. If you have no room for them place them under a deck, porch or up against a fence or building upside down to prevent winter breakage.

If you have a birdbath that has a lip or edge on it to hold water bring it inside or turn it upside down also NOW. Fountains, like your bird baths, should be drained of all water now, the pumps brought inside and covered with plastic sheeting to prevent breakage, if not brought inside for the winter.

Do these little things now as winter has a way of creeping up on us--and before you know it, our decorations freeze and break. Before you put them away for the winter clean them of any green slime that has developed on them, as it will clean up easier now than in the spring when it has dried.

Ireland Tour

Join Paul Parent for a garden tour of the Emerald Isle!

Tour includes the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara National Park, Brigit's Garden, Muckross Gardens, Bantry House & Gardens, Kilravock Garden, Garnish Island, Annes Grove Garden, Lakemount Gardens, Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre, Heywood Gardens, Powerscourt Gardens, Dublin Castle, Dillon Gardens and much more.

Click here for details.


This Week's Question:

If you were decorating for Halloween with plants, why might you want a Tacca chantrieri?

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.

Last Week's Question:

What is the only mammal capable of true flight?

Last Week's Winner:
Keith Marston

Last Week's Answer:

Last Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Potting Mix

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!

Samantha's Lattice-Top Apple Pie

What You'll Need:

  • 3 pounds peeled, cored, sliced baking apples
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 (9-inch) pie crusts
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Step by Step:

Preheat oven to 350º.

Fit 1 of the pie crusts into a 9-inch pie plate.

Mix apple slices with sugar, cinnamon, flour and nutmeg. Spoon into pie crust. Dot the filling with butter.

Roll out the second pie crust on floured surface to a 13-inch round. Cut into twelve 1-inch-wide strips.

Arrange 6 strips across pie. Form a lattice by arranging 6 strips diagonally across first strips.

Gently press ends into crust edges.

Beat the egg and water. Lightly brush the top crust for a glazed appearance.

Place pie on baking sheet.

Bake for 50-55 minutes until apples are tender, juices are bubbly and top is golden brown.

Test apples with a small sharp knife and cook for an additional 5 minutes if necessary.

Cool pie to warm or room temperature. Serve with ice cream if desired.

Yield: 8 servings


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A Customized Gardening Tour of Ireland

Join us for a journey to the beautiful gardens of the Emerald Isle.

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