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Edition 10.45 Paul Parent Garden Club News November 11, 2010

Featured Quote:

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
~Albert Camus

Paul Makes Wreaths

Wreaths are back for the holidays--and better than ever.
All wreaths are made in Maine to your order, to insure freshness. Wreaths are double-faced with fresh picked balsam fir, and are not machine-made.

Click here to order online.

Product Spotlight

Bobbex Deer Repellent

Bobbex Deer Repellent is the most effective long-lasting spray on the market. Bobbex is environmentally friendly, using all natural ingredients that stop deer browsing by using multiple smell and taste deterrents--and it will not wash off. Bobbex can be used on all ornamental shrubs and flowers, and around vegetables.

Bobbex Deer Repellent is an original, unique spray made from all natural and recycled ingredients. It is applied directly on the surface of foliage to repel deer. It is readily diluted in water. Bobbex is environmentally compatible and harmless to all wildlife including humans, pets, humans, birds and aquatic life.

Bobbex is a safe and highly proven natural deer repellent. It safely disrupts the foraging patterns of deer and deters them from browsing on your property. Bobbex is effective in protecting your plants from:

  • Whitetail Deer
  • Blacktail Deer
  • Mule Deer
  • Sika Deer
  • Elk
  • Moose

Bobbex can be sprayed on any ornamental or flowering shrub. Bobbex is long lasting, non-burning and...WILL NOT WASH OFF

For more information, visit the Bobbex website.

How To Make Christmas Cactus Bloom for the Holidays

If you have a Christmas cactus that refuses to flower for you, then read this and it will flower for Christmas and again in February if you follow these easy steps. Today's plants are hybrids of two types of cactus that grow on trees in the Orgel Mountains near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; they grow only at an elevation of 3,000 to 4,600 feet. The father of our Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is the true Christmas Cactus Zygocactus truncatus, and Schlumbergera russeliana is the mother.

This cross of wild-flowering cacti that grow in a tropical environment has resulted in stronger growing plants, more colorful flowers, as well as plants that can live at any altitude and can be forced to flower at any time of the year, (Christmas season is preferred. ) The father originally came in red only, but new hybrid colors soon developed and now you can purchase the Christmas Cactus with red, pink, white, purple –red, violet and even golden-yellow.

Christmas Cactus grow best in a room with bright light or a little bit of sun but not full sun. They like good air circulation so never group these plants with other plants on a crowded table or window sill. They love being outside in the shade during the summer, and should stay out until the end of September, but watch the frost possibilities. Cool temperatures will help to set flower buds on the plant along with the shorter length of day.

During the summer, while the plant is outside, keep it moderately moist and fertilize it every 2 weeks with Miracle-Gro until the middle of August to help the plant make new growth. After August 15, fertilize monthly until you put it outide again in May, then feed every 2 weeks again. Also cut back on the water and give it a chance to dry up a bit between watering.

When you bring the plant indoors for the winter, in September, mist the plant daily, because this is a tropical cactus. It loves humidity, so keep plants away from forced hot air vents and out of rooms with wood or coal stoves.

Keep plants on the cool side in your home 65 to 70 degrees during the day and in a cooler space during the night, I use the basement from 6 pm to 7 am until the buds form. Once they form keep in a bright room away from full sun, or the flower buds will quickly bloom and the fun is over; morning or late in the day sun is best.

When the plant finishes flowering, keep it in a room with north-facing windows, and cool temperatures below 70 degrees. The room must stay dark from 6 pm to morning. Your living room is not a good place because you watch television until 11:30 PM, looking at the news, and the lights stay on, making the length of the day longer.

You need cool temperatures and a short day to change the hormones in the plant from vegetative to flowering growth. If you purchased a Christmas cactus and it begins to drop the flower buds, it is because your light situation has changed, so move it away from bright windows and if your home is warm, 70 or warmer, move plants to a cooler spot in your home.

Repot the plant every spring when you move it outside for the summer if the root system has begun to fill in the pot. Short squatty pots are better than tall pots with a lot of soil; look for azalea pots, not standard types. Use a potting soil with a lot of organic matter like Miracle -Gro potting Soil.

You can take cuttings during the summer by breaking the branches at the joints. Allow cuttings to set out and dry for 3 to 4 hours before placing in a moist potting soil. The cuttings you take should have 2 to 3 sections or knuckles on them for the best results; keep them in a shaded area until they root properly. I put 3 to 5 cuttings in a four inch pot and 5 to 7 cuttings in a six inch pot. Try it next spring--it's very easy, you can do it!

Fall Is the Season for Free Organic Matter for Your Garden

Growing up, I can remember my mother saying, "Spring cleaning is for me and fall cleaning is for Dad." My mother cleaned the house every April from top to bottom and there was not a spot untouched. In October my dad did his cleaning in the yard, garden, garage, and basement, just as thoroughly as my mother did the house in April.

When everything was winterized in the garage and in the basement, my dad would sneak out the vacuum cleaner for the final touches. My mother would have killed him if she knew he used her vacuum cleaner in those places--and a quick trip for an ice cream cone kept us kids quiet about all that happened.

My dad always put organic matter back in the garden every fall to help the soil recover from a summer of hard work. My brothers and I would rake the leaves around the house and pile them in the garden for my dad to spread and turn over.

If there was not enough, we walked the street on Saturday morning looking for trash bags fill with leaves to bring home for the garden. In those days there were no rototillers--you used a pitchfork to blend the leaves with the garden soil, and that was work I will never forget.

Once the leaves were turned over, we spread limestone over the entire garden and then the lawn. At 50 cents a bag, it was a cheap way to help rot those leaves and keep the soil from getting too acidic. I remember that it took two of us kids to push that spreader all over the yard and garden. I think we liked coming into the house with white shoes and waiting for mom's expression before we were allowed in.

In the spring, my dad spread chicken manure from a local farm all over the yard and in the gardens. We kids were not to be found when it came time to spread fresh chicken manure--oh, the smell! I still can remember the smell, but I will tell you that it did work well.

Several years later we moved from Maine to the South Shore of Boston. In the fall, when we had a storm like the one we just had on Monday, the seaweed would wash onto the beaches. That next weekend, the kids would pile into the car and we all headed to the beach to rake up the seaweed for the garden. We filled trash bags until we had enough to cover the garden 4 to 6 inches deep, and the following weekend Dad used his rototiller (we had one by then) to blend it into the garden.

Our pay for that work was the best--a submarine sandwich from Scituate, Massachusetts' best sub shop, called "Maria's," and a can of Coke. They still have the best subs--you can find the same owner--and whenever I go back home, I always get a submarine sandwich from Maria's. I eat it on the beach like I did so many years ago, ham and cheese with pickles and tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a bit of hot peppers and oil. Can you taste it?

Seaweed is like a bale of peat moss for your garden but it also contains all the goodness found in the ocean to fertilize your garden soil. Do not worry about the sea salt in the seaweed, as it will not hurt your garden soil. If you have not conditioned your garden soil yet, head down to the beach this weekend if you live near one and collect that seaweed for your garden.

If not, use your leaves or pine needles to conditioned the garden soil. If you can find and purchase "seasoned" animal manure, you should also spread it this fall and turn it over in the spring if time gets short. The windows in the neighborhood are all closed now and the smell will not bother anyone like it does in the spring time.

Organic matter will grow better plants in your garden and improve your soil at the same time. This fall feed the microbes in your soil for a better garden next spring. Enjoy!

November Gardening Chores--it's time to put the garden to bed.

The grass is all done growing now and the energy the grass needs for growth will be used to thicken the lawn, while the balance is stored for the winter to help make the grass stronger while it is dormant.

Fall fertilizer works this way: 25% is used for growth and 75% is stored in the plant for when the plant needs it during the cold days of fall and winter. Spring fertilizer is the opposite: 75% is used for growth and 25% is stored. If you have not fertilized yet this fall, now would be a good time to do so. Use a general purpose fertilizer with no weed killers, just fertilizer.

Before you put the spreader away, be sure to wash it with the hose and a bit of soap to remove any attached fertilizer. Fertilizer left on the spreader will corrode the metal and make the holes in the bottom of the spreader larger. Larger holes mean you will apply more fertilizer than needed, costing you more money next spring. When the spreader is dry, spray all metal parts with WD-40 to keep moisture away from the metal. Also, spray into the wheel wells to keep the axles lubricated.

If the grass needs to be cut, do it now and cut the grass on the short side because short grass for the next several months will have fewer problems with winter fungus. Also, any leaves that fall can easily blow away with the wind.

Now drain the mower's gas tank and start it so it can run and use all the gas in the fuel line to prevent water build up in the fuel line and problems next spring. Turn the mower on its side and clean the underside of all grass clippings that have attached themselves to the bottom. Then, remove the blade and sharpen it so you're ready for next spring. (If you have a riding mower, read the manual on how to take it apart – and remove the battery first to be safe.) Spray the blade with WD-40 to keep it rust free as well and reattach.

Also spray all moving parts on the mower, such as wheel axles and cables. Any leftover gas should be used up, so you can start next spring with fresh fuel. If it is just plain gas, use it in your car; if the gas contains oil, treat the remaining gas with gas treatment for the winter to keep moisture out of the gas mixture.

Bring inside all hoses, sprinklers, and watering cans for storage. To help drain the hose of water throw one end of the hose over a fence or saw horse to force water out as you coil it up and tie it up. If the hose is free of water it will not freeze, and if you want to wash the car of road salt during the winter it will be ready to use.

If you have a long driveway and you plow the snow or use a snow blower, it is a good idea to put up reflective marker stakes now while the ground is frost free--snow can come anytime in the next few weeks. Mark the driveway edges now and you will have less lawn to replace next spring that the plow dug up.

This also a good time to clean out any bird houses you may have set up in your yard. A clean house means early tenants next spring and fewer insects in your garden.

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:

What Shakespearean character said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."

This Week's Prize: Healthy Garden, Healthy You, by Milo Shammas

Milo takes us through a storytelling journey of soil health, plant health, animal health and how they directly relate to human health.

BONUS: 100 easy-to-grow plants, their growing instructions, and their direct human health benefits and disease prevention properties.

Last Week's Question:

Who proposed the turkey as the official United States bird?

Last Week's Winner:
Alice Oehme

Last Week's Answer:
Benjamin Franklin

Last Week's Prize:
Healthy Garden, Healthy You, by Milo Shammas

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!

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

What You'll Need:

  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

Step by Step:

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla; gradually add the oats.

Press into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

Bake at 400F for 12-14 minutes or until edges are brown.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, for topping, melt all chips and peanut butter in a microwave or saucepan.

Stir until blended; spread over warm bar mixture.

Cool completely; refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting.

Yield: 4 dozen bars


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(800) 259-9231 (Sunday 6 AM to 10 AM)

(207) 985-6972

Paul Parent Garden Club
2 Blueberry Pines Dr
Kennebunk, ME 04043

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A Customized Gardening Tour of Ireland

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

Click here for more information.

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