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Edition 11.25 Paul Parent Garden Club News June 23, 2011

Featured Quote:

"'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 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.

Kids Free to Grow logo
Product Spotlight

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  • Contains Spinosad - Derived from a Naturally-Occurring Soil-Dwelling Bacterium
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  • 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

How To Grow Hostas in Your Garden

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 this barrier.

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. Enjoy!

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Sambucus  Black Beauty

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 garden. Enjoy!

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Vive the Green or Yellow Bush Beans!

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 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

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!

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Garden Journal

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.

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.


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:
Julie Molloy

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!

Thai Basil Rolls with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce


  • 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.

Yield: 12 servings


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

Regular Phone Hours:
Mon.-Sat. 8 AM to 6 PM
Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM

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