"'Tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes!"
~ William Wordsworth, Lines Written in Early Spring, 1798
Come see the Private Gardens of the Kennebunks
Join us for our 17th annual "Private Gardens of the Kennebunks" Garden Tour, July 16, 2011 from 10:00 - 4:00. Tour eight lovely gardens throughout Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. All proceeds from the 2011 Garden tour will benefit the prevention programs of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of York County, Maine. Advance tickets are $15.00 before July 1st; $20.00 July 1st through day of the event. Please call (207) 985-5975 or visit http://www.kidsfreetogrow.org for more information!
New This Year:
A special reception on Friday July 15th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM.
The Cape Arundel Inn is hosting a wine and appetizer event in a special garden
for exclusive viewing the night before the garden tour. Paul will be giving
a talk and a question and answer program. Only 60 tickets are available for $50
each. Call 207-985-5975 for information.
Sluggo® Plus Insect, Slug & Snail Pellets
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- For Use around Vegetables, Fruit Trees, Citrus, Berries, Ornamentals, Shrubs, Flowers, Trees, Lawns, Gardens and in Greenhouses (non-commercial)
- Contains Spinosad - Derived from a Naturally-Occurring Soil-Dwelling Bacterium
- Iron Phosphate Occurs Naturally in Soil
- Easy-To-Use Pellet Formulation
- 1 Lb. Treats 2,000 Sq. Ft.
- Remains Effective for Up To 4 Weeks
- Available in 1 lb., 2.5 Lb., 5 lb., and 10 lb. containers
Tuesday, my son Jason spent his day off helping me clean up the gardens in
my back yard. Last year Jason spend many hours helping me prepare for the big "Gardens
of the Kennebunks" Garden Tour, which is July 17th this year, and features
eight new gardens for you to enjoy and learn from. We divided many of my hostas and
planted these divisions everywhere to help add color in those shady gardens.
As we weeded and cleaned, Jason commented on how much the divisions had grown
in just a year and was quite surprised with their progress.
Most of the hosta plants had more than doubled in size, making the gardens
even more beautiful this year. All the hard work was worth it when Jason said
to me, " You were right Dad, conditioning the soil before planting really
does make a difference, they have grown so much you would never know these plants
were all divisions last May."
Let me tell you what I know about hostas, so you too can enjoy this unique
plant in your garden. The first thing you should know is that hostas do not love
the shade, they simply tolerate it better than most plants. They will do much
better in a location with filtered shade, or even direct sun in the morning or
at the end of the day. They prefer growing on the edge of the woodland, not in
the depths of the trees. Hostas will grow best in a fertile soil that is moist
but well drained at all times. Hostas will not survive in heavy wet soil with
standing water close to a stream or pond.
Hostas need protection from the heat of the hot sun during the summer months.
They must be planted in a sheltered location away from strong winds. They
will tolerate a drought and will survive, but the foliage will lose its sheen,
some of its unique colors will change, the leaf size will be smaller and it will
affect the flower production in the summer months. So just remember that light
is the most important requirement to grow this plant but soil quality and your
preparation or conditioning is just as important.
The best time to plant hostas is from April to September in the Northeast.
Plants will do best when planted when the soil is warm or warming up; moisture
must be present for root and foliage development and the plant must have 4 to
6 weeks of growing time to get established before a killing frost. Hostas can
be planted in the middle of the summer, as long as you can provide moisture to
the plant. The best time to divide or move entire clumps of hostas is from April
to June, and again during September--but leave them alone during July and August.
Hostas love to be fertilized with organic slow-acting fertilizers, so keep
away from granular chemical fertilizers or the plant will make quick growth that
will be soft, oversized, and floppy. Foliage that sits on the ground will encourage
slugs and snails to feed on the plants, so keep your hostas happy and they will
lift their leaves off the ground and slug problems will be less. Feed hostas
in the early spring and in the fall but never in the middle of the summer!
Hostas love a light mulching in the spring or fall--about one inch thick,
no more. Thick layers of mulch will encourage voles to move into the garden and
voles will eat the hosta roots during the fall and winter months. You can use
bark mulch, compost, animal manure, pine needles, seaweed, salt marsh hay, straw,
shredded leaves, or the new Sweet Peat soil conditioner. As these products break
down and decompose, they will create a wonderful humus level in the soil, helping
the pant grow stronger. Hostas HATE stone mulches and landscape fabric placed
around them to control weeds as this prevents the hosta clump from growing larger
and the stone makes the soil too warm, so it dries out faster.
Hostas' biggest insect problem isn't with insects but with slugs and snails,
so let me tell you about a few ways to control them. Stay away from large chunky
bark nuggets, as this type of mulch creates large spaces for slugs to hide in
while the other product I mentioned lies flat with no hiding places. Slugs and
snails have a very soft and delicate underside and produce slime-like fluids
to slide on and move around in your garden. If you can create a barrier around
the plant early in the season and keep plants happy so the foliage stays off
the ground, your foliage will stay free of holes.
When the plants are just 4 to 6 inches tall, make a ring of sharp or absorbent
surface products around the plant. You can use coarse sharp sand, cinders from
a coal burning stove, wood ashes, broken egg shells, crushed oyster or clam shells,
or diatomaceous earth from your swimming pool filter. If you have hostas in containers
and slugs are getting in, purchase some pot feet at your local garden center
to raise them off the ground, and/or smear a bit of Vaseline or "Tanglefoot" tree
grease around the bottom of the pot about an inch wide, and they will not cross
Another great method is to fill a shallow container, like an aluminum pie
plate, with beer and they will be drawn to the smell. Once they slide on the
container and enter, a chemical reaction will occur making the insect overproduce
its mucilage, resulting in desiccation. Also when the slug drinks the beer it
will drown from intoxication, a two-for-one reaction that works real well. But
the best method is do not water the plants at night and keep the ground dry when
they traditionally feed.
If all fails, you will have to use a Slug and Snail bait; the new products
available today are much safer for your pets and family. The new products now
use iron phosphate, a natural product, rather than methaldehyde. Look for Sluggo
or Sluggo Plus with Spinosad to help control earwigs and other foliage eating
insects or Slug Magic.
If you are new to hostas, then you are in for wonderful surprises as there
are several thousand varieties of this plant. The plant will come with foliage
in solid colors, and in many shades of green, blue, yellow, chartreuse, gold
and also variegated bi-colors. Hostas will have smooth, curled, wavy or wrinkled
foliage, which can be oval, round or almost grass-like in shape. You
can choose a dwarf hosta that will grow just 3 to 4 inches tall or the giant
varieties that will reach 3 feet plus in height. There is a plant for you no
matter what you are looking for, if your garden has a bit of shade.
The hosta is the easiest perennial to grow in your garden no matter where
you live, as it will tolerate winter temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees below zero
and summer heat that warms up to 100 degrees, as long as it is in the shade.
Visit your local garden center; check our specialty mail order catalog on the
internet for unique selections or if you live in New England look for the American
Hosta Society National Convention, in Marlborough, Mass., from June 23 to 25.
Click to print this article.
Six years ago, my son Patrick called me, all excited about a new shrub that
he had just received at the nursery where he works, Northeast Nursery in Peabody,
Mass. He told me that the new shrub was developed in England, called Sambucus
'Black Beauty' that was hardy to zone 4 and colder.
Living in southern Maine, it is not always possible to grow everything new
that is hybridized, as our winter temperatures do occasionally dip to
minus 20 degrees or colder. Patrick told me the plant looked like a Japanese
maple at first glance and the foliage was an intense purple-black color.
Patrick knew how I like plants that had several qualities to them; this plant
had plenty to offer, with dramatic foliage, large flower clusters made up of
small individual pink flowers during late June and purple berries in the fall.
He put the biggest plant to one side for me until I could get down to the nursery
to purchase it--and today, after six years in my garden, it is magnificent! A
real eye-catching shrub in my garden.
Let me tell you about it, because you're going to like this plant. The foliage
is unique, with a deep purple-black color to it and also has a wonderful shine.
Each leaf is made up of five individual leaflets--much like a rose leaf. Each
leaflet is 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and oval, with a rather long point. The
edge of the leaflet is lined with tiny teeth like a saw blade. The leaflets are
on a stem 3 to 5 inches long and are arranged with one on the tip of the stem
and two pairs of leaflets opposite each other on the stem.
When the leaves first develop, they are bright green but quickly darken up
as they grow and mature. The new growth stands out on the plant, as the mature
foliage is dark purple-black.
The stems of the plant are dark gray, with small 1/4" spots all over
the stems. The plant will make 2 to 3 feet of new growth each season, if not
pruned. This wonderful plant will grow 6 to 8 feet tall and just as wide, so
give it plenty of room to grow in your garden. You can prune each spring to control
the size of the plant or train it into a small tree. I tried pruning it in the
fall 2 years ago to control the size and found much winter kill when spring arrived,
so I now prune in the spring only.
The plant does grow quickly the first year in your garden, so let the new
growth develop to a couple of feet tall and then pinch off the tip of each branch
just above a leaf. This will force new growth to develop, often making two new
branches where you pinched the plant, and your plant will quickly thicken. The
flowers develop on this new growth made on last year's wood, so the pinching
will prevent flowers from forming on the plant, but it is well worth waiting
an extra year for the flowers in order to develop a thick, bushy-looking plant.
The following year, wait for the flower buds to form on the plant first and
then pinch the tips of all non-flowering branches to make the plant even thicker
and control the size of the plant. Stop pinching the plant by August first, so
the plant will have time to make flower buds on the plant for next year.
The flower buds begin to form in early June in large flat clusters on the
tips of the branches and quickly open up displaying a beautiful rosy pink flower.
Each individual flower is 1/4" in diameter, has 5 flower petals, 5 pollen
sacks and a swollen center that will soon develop into a dark purple fruit 1/4" in
diameter in the late summer.
The flowers last for 3 to 4 weeks on the plant and the pink flowers and purple-black
foliage make a wonderful contrast. Songbirds love this fruit, and when the it
ripens in late August, you will often hear much noise from your plant as the
birds compete to eat the fruit.
Plant 'Black Beauty' in a full sun garden for the best foliage color, although
it will grow in a bit of shade--just with less colorful foliage. The fall color
stays the same and falls from the plant as purple-black leaves.
The plant will grow best in a moist rich soil but will tolerate a dry soil
if you condition the soil when planting. When you plant always add compost, animal
manure, or peat moss to help the roots develop quickly. Use mycorrhizae fertilizer
and Soil Moist Granules to help soil retain moisture and stimulate root development,especially
if planting during the summer months.
I have had very few insect or disease problems with this plant. I know you
will like this plant for the unique foliage color, its contrasting flowers, and
its much-sought-after fruit that will attract song birds to your garden. You
can also collect the berries for homemade jellies, pies, juice...and even wine.
'Black Beauty' is a wonderful plant to use for hedges, screens, as a specimen
plant, as a background plant for a flower border, or a focal point plant in your
Click to print this article.
For the novice or seasoned gardener bush beans are a must for your vegetable
garden. Bush beans are easy to grow, they produce a nice big crop at harvest,
and they help to rebuild the quality of your soil. When most of us think of bush
beans we think of the green beans or yellow wax type.
This year, try something different in this wonderful family of beans. Think
of the purple types, the Italian flat bean, the French filet types, and the most
dreaded of all, the lima beans. Fresh beans picked right out of the garden, then
cooked and eaten the same day have a very different taste compared to what you
buy in a can--especially lima beans.
Growing beans in your garden is easy as long as you wait until the soil is
ready for planting. Cold soil will slow down germination and if the weather is
also wet, many of the seeds you plant will rot in the ground, so be patient,
and wait for the ground to warm up to at least 65 to 70 degrees. If seedlings
are damaged by the cold, they will be more likely to have disease problems and
they will never produce a good crop of beans for you. The seeds you plant will
germinate is just 4 to 7 days if the soil is ready so be patient. Beans grow
fast, and most will have beans ready to pick in just 7 to 8 weeks.
Plant beans 1 inch deep, 3 to 4 inches apart and in rows with 18 to 24 inches
of space to grow wide. Always plant seeds directly in the garden; never start
them indoors and transplant into the garden to save a bit of time! Conditioning
the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss will help retain moisture in
the soil when the weather gets hot and dry. If your soil is on the sandy side
dig your trench for the seeds 3 inches deep and lightly sprinkle a bit of Soil
Moist Granules at the bottom, cover with 2 inches of soil and plant your seeds
on top. If your soil is heavy and stays wet, build a raised mound of soil in
a row three inches high to help get the seeds out of the wet soil; as summer
approaches the ground will dry out and your crop will grow normally.
Do not soak beans in a container of water over night or they will split open,
giving you poor results. This time-saver method is for peas only--and you must keep
the garden moist at all times when you do this or the peas will falter! Keep
the soil moist while the seeds are germinating; increase the amount of water
when they begin to grow and flower; as the beans begin to form and mature, water
heavily to produce tender beans during harvest.
Beans are unique because they are able to make their own source of nitrogen
fertilizer. They have a wonderful relationship with a bacterium called rhizobia
that lives in their roots. This bacterium lives in the soil naturally; if you
want extra strong and more productive plants you can purchase rhizobia bacteria
powder in small amounts where you purchase your seeds. Just shake the powder
with your seeds until covered and plant.
When you first plant the seeds, you should add a balanced fertilizer until
the roots form and mature, to give the bacterium time to get established in the
root system. Seaweed kelp works wonderfully until the roots get growing, and
kelp will supply the plant with all the other elements needed for strong plant
growth. For more information on kelp fertilizer go to www.vitaminseaseaweed.com.
Feeding plants with Miracle-Gro or Blooming and Rooting Fertilizer every other
week will help young seedlings get off to a great start also. Compost tea is
wonderful if you want to keep your garden organic; a great website on compost
tea is www.nature-technologies.com
Beans love the sun and warm weather so plant in the front of the garden to
avoid shade from taller growing plants. Beans will get along with most other
vegetables except for the onion family--including leeks, garlic, chives, and
shallots. Basil, fennel, and kohlrabi also give beans trouble when planted nearby.
Bush beans will produce all their beans in about 2 weeks on the plant, so
if you like beans, plant a few feet of rows every other week in your garden so
you can enjoy them all summer long and right up to the fall. I will plant beans
as late as August 1 for a great late crop of beans in late September. If you
plan to do this, you must purchase the seed NOW, because the seed packets are
all returned to the grower by early July and will not be available. You can also
plant peas, leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, radishes, and spinach as a fall crop,
but you must get the seed now!
When you pick the beans from the plant use two hands, one hand to hold the
branches of the plant that contains the beans and one to pull the beans off,
or you will damage the branches that hold the beans and young beans growing on them.
Better still, cut them with shears. When the plants are all harvested, cut
the stem of the plant level to the ground and leave the roots in the ground,
as the roots are full of this bacterium that will be there for future crops of
beans or other vegetables that could use nitrogen fertilizer.
Harvest lima beans when the pods are swollen and have bumps that feel firm
but not hard, for more tender and better, tastier beans. The beans will taste
less chalky, will have moisture in them, and your kids may even like them. Traditional
beans will taste better if the pod is slim and beans have not swollen to become
visible as a bump on them. Beans also store best in your refrigerator when dry.
Wet beans will invite mold growth on them and spoil quickly. Beans freeze easily
and will keep in your freezer for up to a year, if placed in an airtight freezer
bag once they are blanched. Just bring water to a boil, place cleaned beans in
the boiling water for 3 minutes, and quickly transfer them from the pot to water
with ice cubes. Leave them in the ice water until cool and you're ready to freeze.
The only insect problems on beans are occasional cut worms--easily controlled
with Vegetable Garden Eight granules--sometimes bean beetles, if hot, and earwigs,
if the weather is wet; both are controlled with Eight Garden Spray or organically
with pyrethrum sprays. Disease problems are rare unless you water the garden
at night and the foliage and beans stay wet for long periods of time. Water plants
so they have time to dry before darkness arrives--in the morning is best.
I like beans raw with dips or I will just eat them when I work in the garden
as a snack and you should too. Enjoy!
Click to print this article.
Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden
journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed
personally by Paul,
makes a perfect gift for gardeners. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a
heavy-duty D-ring binder.
- 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.
This Week's Question:
Sunflowers get their name partly from the fact that sunflower buds track the movement of the sun throughout the day. What is this habit called?
This Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix
- Contains Myco-toneŽ mycorrhizae
- For all seedlings and cuttings.
- Promotes Root Growth.
- In 8 and 16 qt. bags.
Last Week's Question
Buddleia (also spelled buddleja), is very popular in butterfly gardens. Where did it get the name buddleia?
Last Week's Winner:
Last Week's Answer:
It was named for Rev. Adam Buddle, a botanist and rector in Essex, England.
Last Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Seed Starter 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!
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp
- 1/2 pound pork loin
- 1 (8 ounce) package rice noodles
- 12 round rice wrapper sheets
- 1 bunch fresh Thai basil--leaves picked from stems
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon water
- Chopped roasted peanuts
Step by Step:
- Bring a medium stockpot of lightly salted water to a low boil. Cook shrimp 2 to 3 minutes, or until opaque.
- Drain, allow to cool slightly, and pat dry with paper towel.
- Peel, de-vein, and slice in half.
- Bring another stockpot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- Cook pork at a low boil for approximately 10 minutes, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).
- Allow to cool, and slice into thin strips.
- Again, bring a stockpot of water to a boil.
- Cook noodles until tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
- Strain, and rinse to prevent sticking.
- Fill a medium bowl with warm water.
- Dip each wrapper in water for about 30 seconds until soft and flexible.
- Lay wrapper on a flat surface, and place 2 basil leaves in center, side by side, about 2 inches from edge of wrapper.
- Lay 4 to 5 shrimp halves on basil, followed by a small amount of pork, then a small amount of noodles.
- Sprinkle with cilantro and mint, and top with bean sprouts.
- Starting at one end, roll the wrapper over once, fold both sides in toward center, and continue rolling as tightly as possible without tearing.
- The end result should be a roll approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.
- Warm hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil, and immediately remove from heat.
- Garnish sauce with chopped peanuts, if desired, and serve with rolls for dipping.