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Edition 11.06 Paul Parent Garden Club News February 10, 2011
featured quote


"An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider all the other choices in life."
~ Cora Lea Bell

Garden Journal

The perfect gift for your favorite gardener on Valentine's Day! Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy, and is autographed personally by Paul! The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a heavy-duty D-ring binder. Includes free delivery!

Also included:

  • 8 tabbed sections
  • 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags...
  • Weather records page
  • 6 three year journal pages
  • Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
  • 3 annual checklist pages
  • Plant wish list page
  • 2 large pocket pages
  • Sheet of garden labels
  • 5 garden detail sheets
  • 5 graph paper pages for layouts
  • 5 photo pages, each holding four 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Click here to order online.

Product Spotlight

Bobbex Deer Repellant

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

Bobbex is a safe and highly proven 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:

  • White Tail Deer
  • Black Tail 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.

Bobbex will also help protect your plantings from reduced moisture content during periods of water-reduced weather conditions. In the winter, cold weather, blustery winds and frozen soils reduce a plant's ability to absorb the moisture needed to maintain vitality. Bobbex provides retention of moisture in the plantings through periods of frigid winter weather, and also reduces damage from a late spring or early fall frost. And in addition, it also decreases the desiccating effects of a hot summer day.

For more details, click here.

Deer repellant


The type of flowers you select does not matter, it's the quality of the flower that does! This weekend, as you look at the flowers for your special Valentine, for her and yes for him, as men love flowers too, let me tell you about them. We all have our favorites, we all have a budget to think of, and we want them to last as long as possible. Begin by selecting a florist, garden center, or nursery you are acquainted with for quality. You may pay a bit more--but in the long run it will be worth the extra expense. Avoid flowers that will be finished blooming in just a couple of days or drooping over the day after Valentine's Day.

The number one Valentine's Day flower is, of course, the rose--and the growers of roses know this. There are only so many available for that day, so you will pay more for roses and of course more for red roses than other colored roses. Supply and demand determines the price of everything you purchase--and this is a one day holiday, not a month like Christmas. So do not always blame the higher cost of flowers on your florist. A bouquet of mixed color roses will be less expensive and will send the same message. Often the pink, white, lavender, yellow, or bi-colored roses have better fragrance than the red roses do. The longer the stems, the more expensive the roses will be--so what is the matter with shorter stems? Nothing.

When you select your roses for Valentine's Day, here is what to look for. Look at the shape of the flower buds, as they are not all alike. Some roses open by unraveling one petal at a time in a spiral fashion; this is a classic rose. I want you to gently squeeze that flower bud. It should feel firm, not soft, as soft rose buds have been kept under refrigeration for some time. If it feels hard and looks like a Hershey Kiss, it is called a "bullet," and was picked too early by the grower (not the florist) and it will not open. Look for firm roses that are unraveling on the tip of the rosebud! Foliage color and appearance is next; the better it looks, the longer the flowers will last.

Roses keep best in a cool place, so keep them away from heat sources and "out of the sun." Every morning, add a bit of ice to the vase that is kept filled with water to cool the plant down and extend the flowering time. Never allow the leaves on the rose to be under water, remove them from the stem, as they will rot and this will shorten the flowering time also. If you're transporting flowers home from the florist, be sure to keep them warm, as freezing temperatures will damage the flower buds--have them wrapped properly!

Lilies are also very beautiful, more delicate looking, and will last just as long. What you are looking for in a bouquet of lilies is more flower buds than open flowers when you receive them. The Oriental types are the most fragrant, and I like them more than roses for the fragrance.

Carnations are wonderful and will last the longest, if they are fresh. Here is what to look for when choosing carnations. Just under the flower you will see a green capsule-like growth; this is the actual flower bud, and that is where the flower petals came from. Gently squeeze it and if it feels firm, it means that there are still flower petals inside yet to come. If it feels empty or hollow, all the petals are out and it will not last as long in your home.

Gerber daisies are also a wonderful cut flower and will last a couple of weeks. Nice long stems with 3-inch wide blooms that are often multi-petal and unique looking. This is also your chance to use nice foliage as filler because this flower has no foliage. Add secondary flowers like baby's breath for contrast. Gerber daisy comes in all colors like the rainbow,

Alstroemeria is another unusual cut flower that comes in all colors and will last in your home for a long time. The flower is a cluster of small 1 inch lily-shaped blooms on a strong stem that open just a few at a time with many buds visible. This flower is a great cut flower for a warm homes or the office.

Tulips are always wonderful at this time of the year, especially when the winter has been as snowy and cold as it has been. Tulips also send a message that spring is just around the corner, and if your special sweetheart has "cabin fever," this flower will help them to feel better.

The Hawaiian 'King' protea is my favorite flower and hard to come by, but it will last for 2 to 3 weeks in a vase of water. When the flower begins to fade, empty the vase and use it in a dry arrangement for the next year. The 'King' protea is a 5 to 6 inch pink bell-shaped tropical flower with an intricate looking center. It grows in only 5 places in the world, because it needs special growing conditions. Hawaii has these special conditions and many florists can get them for you if you call them now.

No matter what you choose, your special Valentine will appreciate the effort. Remember quality, colors, texture, and--most of all--presentation. For extra points, guys, remember flowers sent to her work or even his workplace will mean even more. For this to happen order NOW, not Monday during your lunch hour. Valentine's Day is the busiest time of the year for the florist to deliver flowers because its a one day holiday. The earlier the better, or they could think you forgot them and just remembered when someone reminded you!

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Growing vegetable plants indoors from seed
Vegetable Weeks from seeding to transplant outdoors Average days for seed germination Planting depth of the seed in soil Average days to maturity Average yield per 25 ft. of row
Broccoli5-75-61/4"60-8025 lbs.
Brussels sprouts5-75-61/4"90-10020 lbs.
Cabbage5-75-61/4"60-9040 lbs.
Celery10-1210-141/8"100+40 lbs.
Cucumbers2-33-51"50-7025 lbs.
Eggplant6-86-81/4"80-9025 lbs.
Leeks8-10 4-61/4"125-12525 lbs.
Lettuce3-62-31/8"70-8015 lbs.
Onion6-84-61/4"90-12530 lbs.
Peppers6-88-101/4"60-9020 lbs.
Squash-summer2-34-51"50-6030 lbs.
Squash-winter2-34-51"75-10030 lbs.
Tomatoes6-106-81/4"70-9020 lbs.

These plants should be started indoors at the times recommended by this chart, before transplant. You will have to decide when the planting time is safe where you live. Example: on Cape Cod you can plant outside, tender plants like tomatoes on May 1 to 15. In Maine, where I live, it would be May 15 to 30 and in a Northern Vermont town like St. Johnsbury, it would be May 30 to June 15.

Before you plant directly into the garden you must "harden- off" the plants to acclimate them to the outside weather and temperatures. This is done by moving plants outside into a garage or tool shed for the daytime, where they are protected from the wind and rain, for 3 to 4 days. Leave the door open so plants can get sunshine on them, but are sheltered from weather. By suppertime bring them back indoors for the evening for the first 3 to 4 days.

After this period, leave plants outside if the weather permits during the day for an additional week and back in the building at night time with no heat. This two week hardening off period will help thicken the walls of the plant and make it easier for the plant to adjust when moved outside and planted in the garden.

When you start the seeds, be sure to use a sterilized potting mix designed for seed starting like Jiffy-Mix or Espoma Seed -Starter soil. This will eliminate possible fungus problems and prevent the seeds from rotting. When you transplant the seedlings into flats or individual pots, you can use a potting soil, but always use a seeding soil to start seeds in. Starting soils are very light so that seedlings can poke thru the soil easier and are well-drained to prevent damping-off of seedlings.

To help the seed germinate faster you can provide bottom heat with heating cables placed under the seed trays. Your local garden center will have these heating cables in various sizes, depending on how large on an area you are using. If you are just going to germinate a few seeds use a heating pad on LOW setting and wrap it in a bath towel to spread out the heat more evenly. Cover the towel with a plastic bag to prevent water spillage and damage to heating pad.

Your local garden center will also sell a seed germination tray with a clear cover, like a mini greenhouse, for under $10.00. The cover will help to hold moisture around the seed for better germination and prevent drying out of the soil. Keep the seed tray warm, around 70 degrees, until plants germinate, then cool 5 degrees if possible. Once plants sprout, you can use grow-lights if you do not have a south facing window to help plants grow without stretching for the light. Run the lights for 12 hours during the day and then off at night, so the plant can rest. Plant lights should be 6 to 12 inches from plant. Try it if you have not before--it is fun!

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Direct seeding in the ground for vegetables
Vegetable Average days for seed germination Average days to maturity and fruit Inches between seedlings Inches between rows Average yield per 25' of row
Bush beans6-1445-603-424-3030 lbs.
Pole beans6-1460-704-636-4840 lbs.
Beets7-1050-602-315-2440 lbs.
Corn6-1070-9012-1824-362 to 3 dozen
Collard greens4-1060-7010-1218-2412-15 heads
Leaf lettuce4-1040-502-315-1815 lbs.
Onion sets7-1480-12080-10015-2425 lbs.
Okra7-1460-7012-1524-3025 lbs.
Parsnips14-21120-1503-418-3025 lbs.
Peas7-1460-901-218-3610-20 lbs.
Potatoes7-14100-12012-1530-3625-30 lbs.
Radishes3-1030-401-212-1825 lbs.
Spinach7-1440-603-415-2410-20 lbs.
Sweet Potatoes7-14100-12012-1530-3625 lbs.
Swiss chard7-1450-603-415-2415-25 lbs.
Turnips5-1040-602-315-2425 lbs.

Placing seeds in the ground should be done when the ground has warmed up to temperatures of 60 degrees or above. Peas and spinach are the exception; they will germinate at 50 degrees. I place an old outside thermometer in the ground about 3 inches deep into the soil. When it's ready, I plant. If you use weed block over the soil, the soil will warm up much faster and it will keep weeds out all season long. Look for Evo-Organic weed block with a built in watering system for additional benefits. Go to for more information. I use it, and everything grows faster and better!

Your soil should be prepared before planting with compost, animal manure, or peat moss. If your soil is heavy, be sure to add liquid gypsum to break up the clay soil and add lime if your soil is acidic. Powered lime can be applied in the fall, but if you want a better garden and forgot to lime last fall, use Jonathan Green Mag-I-Cal because it will change the acidity in just 7 to 10 days. Most vegetables want a pH between 6 and 7 reading for better growth and to help make the fertilizer you apply work better.

If the weather is wet and air temperatures cold, hold off and plant your seeds a week later. Wet soil will rot the seeds and germination will be erratic with many misses in the row. If the weather pattern persists, plant your seeds closer together and thin the rows later as they develop. Spacing is very important with root crops and thinning the rows will help them produce more vegetables and better quality.

When planting in rows, I always cut a shallow trench with my garden hoe to plant seed into. This helps to keep the rows straight; you can see where they are planted, making it easier to water before and after they germinate and become visible. Use the soil on each side of the row to cover the seed and be sure to mark the front and back of the row so you will know what you planted there.

I always add Soil-Moist and fertilizer to this trench before planting and mix well. Blend the soil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches, as soft soil will encourage quick root development. Potatoes need to be planted in a trench 6 inches deep and just as wide to help young tubers to develop in soft soil. Fill in the trench slowly as the shoots begin to grow until the ground is level.

Water the garden daily, and keep the soil moist during the seed germination period. Side dress plants growing in the trench with a granular fertilizer; apply on both sides of the planting row 3 weeks after foliage forms in the trench. Keep notes and enjoy the season.

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Ireland Tour

Join Paul Parent for a garden tour of the Emerald Isle! Note--we are looking for a single female to share a room with a fellow female traveler, as well as a male to share with a male. Save over $400.00 as roommate.

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 is the world's largest herb plant? (Hint: It produces a popular fruit.)

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 created the first mass-produced Valentine's Day cards?

Last Week's Winner:
Richard Halvorsen

Last Week's Answer:
Esther A. Howland

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!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

What You'll Need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step by Step:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners.
  • Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs and blend well.
  • Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring and add to the butter mixture.
  • Sift flour and salt together into this mixture.
  • One at a time, add the following ingredients: buttermilk, vanilla, and water.
  • In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. Fold it into the cake batter. Make sure it's incorporated, but don't beat it.
  • Pour the batter into the cupcake cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.

    Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Blend together the following: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.

Contact Information:

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(207) 985-6972
(800) 259-9231 (Sunday 6 AM to 10 AM)

(207) 985-6972

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

Phone Hours:
Monday-Satuday 8 AM to 6 PM Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM

Where can I find Paul on Sunday mornings?

Click here to find Paul Parent Garden Club™ radio stations.

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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