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Edition 11.41 Paul Parent Garden Club News October 13, 2011
featured quote

Featured Quote:

""In the garden, Autumn is, indeed, the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season, save perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as from August to November." "
~Rose G. Kingsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905

Product Spotlight

Kelp Meal by VitaminSea Seaweed

Kelp Meal contains over 60 trace minerals, along with important growth hormones, cytokinins, auxins, and gliberillins. It also contains amino acids, enzymes and simple and complex carbohydrates. Our seaweed is "naturally sun dried" to preserve all the nutrients. To keep it simple, the ocean is the most naturally nutrient-rich part of the earth.

All nutrients work their way back into the ocean. Seaweed acts like a sponge and absorbs all these micronutrients. Micronutrients are the catalyst in the soil; they aid in making the major nutrients available to the plant. The major nutrients cannot be absorbed without the micronutrients! Dramatic increases in overall plant health will be seen! Applied to the soil, spring and fall, a little goes a long way!

Kelp Meal should be applied in early spring and fall, when soil can be worked. Mix thoroughly with soil, seed and transplant beds and composting material.

  • Flowers, vegetables and shrubs: 1 lb. per 100 sq. ft.
  • Houseplants: 1 tbsp. mixed into soil per 6" pot
  • Bulbs: 1 tbsp. mixed into soil per bulb.
  • Trees: 1/2 lb. per inch of tree in drip line
  • Lawns/Turfs: 10 lb. per 1000 sq. ft.
  • Compost: 1/2 cup per cubic foot.

For more details on kelp meal, see the VitaminSea Seaweed site.

Special Offer for Paul Parent Newsletter Readers:

Get up to $5.00 back when you purchase Wet & Forget.

Just print out the PDF (click here) , fill it out and mail it in!

Try small bulbs

Most of us think that big is better--and sometimes that is right--but when it comes to spring-flowering bulbs, think small bulbs this year. This fall, I would love for you to plant in your garden the "little" bulbs, the miscellaneous bulbs, sometimes called the minor bulbs, along with the traditional tulips and daffodils. The smaller spring-flowering bulbs usually cost less, so you can plant more for the same money and get twice the flowers. There are dozens of varieties of inexpensive spring-flowering bulbs that will bring your garden big benefits in terms of beauty, color, scent, hardiness--and that are not eaten by animals.

The little bulbs come in every color, they spread and multiply more easily than the larger bulbs, they usually require less maintenance in the garden and they will survive and flower for more years then the larger type bulbs do. Small bulbs can be planted in rock gardens, perennial gardens, open woodlands, and some will do well when planted in open fields, meadows or even in your lawn. I like planting these "miscellaneous" bulbs at the base of shrubs, under flowering trees, with ground covers and even in a planting of low growing ground cover junipers for spring color.

Many of these so-called "minor" bulbs will make wonderful cut flowers for a small vase on your kitchen windowsill or even on your nightstand by your bed. Just think about waking up to a vase of flowers as you turn off the alarm to greet the new day. All this is possible and much more if you act now by visiting your local garden center or nursery. Fall is the time for mums, pumpkins, corn stalks and Halloween--but fall is also the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. This weekend, as you clean your gardens and put the garden to bed, ending the growing season, plan and plant the flowers that will wake you from the long winter inside and draw you back out into the garden.

This is all you have to do when planting bulbs this fall. Say to yourself: "Self, these bulbs will be in the ground for several years and the better I prepare the soil when planting, the better chance they will have to spread and survive for years to come." Condition the soil before planting with compost, animal manure, or seaweed kelp meal but stay away from the old-fashioned bone meal to prevent encouraging rodents from coming into your garden. If your soils are sandy, add some Soil Moist Granules to help retain moisture in the soil and encourage a good root system.

I always had a problem with rodents eating my bulbs in the garden, so last year I tried something different when planting and had great success. I dug my hole and as I added my bulbs, I worked into the soil a couple handfulls of crushed oyster shells under, over and around the bulbs. Crushed oyster shells are sharp to animals digging in the soil and it helped to keep them away, giving me the best results I have ever had. Oyster shells also gave the plants calcium and improved the drainage in heavy soils.

I also changed from bone meal to seaweed kelp meal as a fertilizer when planting and there was no smell to attract rodents and the neighbor's dog to the garden. Seaweed kelp meal is now available at many garden centers and provides more beneficial ingredients and fertilizers to the bulbs than bone meal ever did. I also fertilized my bulbs with seaweed kelp meal during the flowering season to help them flower longer and help them maker new flower buds for the following spring. Try it and you will like it, too--and so will your bulbs.

Chionodoxa/Glory of the Snow is an early spring-flowering bulb that has dainty starry shaped flowers that will bloom for 3 to 4 weeks in your garden. The upward-facing flowers come in groups or waves of 10 or more flowers per stem that can be cut and used is a small vase of water. The flower has 6-petals, is pale blue with a white center, and begins to flower during late February-March, depending on the snow. This bulb will spread in your garden--a real plus.

Crocus is a midseason-flowering bulb that flowers just before the tulips do in the spring. Everyone knows the crocus for its rainbow of colors--even striped varieties. The crocus also comes in a miniature type that grows 2 to 3 inches tall--and it flowers earlier than the common types, as well. The common large flowering crocus will grow to 3 to 5 inches tall and the bulb divides easily, spreading in your garden. This is the number one selling small spring-flowering bulb.

Eranthis/ Winter Aconite is an early spring-flowering bulb often flowering with snowdrops during February. The flowers often form a glossy bright yellow carpet on the bare ground. The flower has six petals and resembles buttercups but only grows 3 inches tall. When the flowers open, the foliage will develop around the flower, resembling flat, deep green needles. This plant does produce many seedlings from seed pods as the flowers fade. Great plant to naturalize.

Erythronium/Dog's Tooth Violets have wonderful wide-open, starry shaped flowers that droop on strong stems and often resemble miniature lilies. The flower petals are soft yellow on the outside and shiny golden yellow on the inside. The foliage is straplike and covered with streaks of brown, giving it much character. Purchase these bulbs early, as they may dry out in the display rack. Once planted, do not disturb the clump.

Fritillaria have bell-like flowers that will hang down on strong stems, making wonderful cut flowers. Many varieties of the small flowering Fritillaria will flower in April and May. Your color selection, flower shape, height, and size will vary a lot, giving you many choices to select from. The plants will do best with a bit of protection from the wind and weather, so plant near a building or an evergreen plant.

Galanthus/Snowdrops--these bulbs are tough and usually are the first to flower in the spring often when snow is still on the ground in February and March. The flower is a pendant white flower that hangs off a strong stem like a streetlight; a great small cut flower. You will notice a green seedpod on top of the flower and the green tips on the inner flower petals. It does reseed if the soil around the plant is not cultivated a lot. This is a must-have plant.

Muscari/ Grape Hyacinths are miniatures of the Giant Dutch hyacinths, very hardy and not eaten by rodents. Makes a great cut flower for small vases and comes in purple and white colors. They flower in late March to April and will reseed if your soil is rich and moist. Great for rock gardens and will tolerate harsh weather in open areas. The grape hyacinth is great plant for beginners to plant in the garden and for indoor forcing.

Dwarf Irises are unique spring flowers on short stems that will only grow 3 to 4 inches tall. The dwarf iris comes in many colors and has 3 to 4 flower petals that resemble the Flag iris, not the common German bearded iris. Plant bulbs in clumps or clusters and mark the area so you do not dig them up later. The flowers will last only a couple of weeks but they are beautiful. Flowers open in late April and are best suited for rock gardens, not large perennial beds.

Leucojum/ Snowflakes: the bell-shaped flowers are pure white with a green spot on the tip of each flower petal. This plant is often confused with Snowdrops but it grows much taller--up to 8 inches, and each stem will produce 3 to 5 flowers on each stem. Snowdrops make only one flower per stem. Great flowers for cutting and they flower later in the spring, usually during late April and May. The foliage is also deep green and grows very prolifically.

Narcissus/ Miniature Daffodils are just like the large-growing family of spring flowers but come in many unusual shapes, sizes and colors. Great cut flower, wonderful for naturalizing, not eaten by rodents and long lasting often for several years in the garden. Bulbs will divide and the clump will enlarge in size. This is a foolproof bulb that will grow just about anywhere and will bloom in the garden for several weeks. Skip the big varieties this year, and pick up the miniatures for wonderful character in your garden. Enjoy!

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October is Fall Clean-up Month

You have four weekends to finish putting the garden to bed for the year, because Daylight Saving Time kicks in on November 6. When the changes kick in, it will be dark by 5:00 PM, so let's get moving while we still have daylight to work with. It may sound like a lot of time, but let's go over the list of things that have to be done in the next four weeks.

Let's start with the vegetable garden and get all the plants pulled out and the soil raked and cleaned. This will remove some of the potential problems for next year, because all insects and diseases have left insect eggs and disease spores in the garden to continue the cycle of life in your garden. By cleaning the garden now, you should have fewer problems next season. By placing this plant material in your compost pile, you should have plenty of recycled organic matter to add back to your soil in June.

Conditioning the soil will make a big difference for next year garden if you do one of the following things. If you live near the seashore, go to the beach, collect seaweed after a big storm, and cover your garden with it. Most years I will add 3 to 6 inches of seaweed over the garden and till it under in early April. Seaweed is like adding peat moss to your garden but seaweed is full of the natural fertilizers, minerals and nutrients that will improve the quality of your soil and help your plants to grow better.

Rake your fallen leaves and pine needles into the garden and chop them up with your lawn mower. Never put them into trash bags and dispose of them, recycle them into your garden and turn them into wonderful soil conditioners. If you live far from the ocean and have no source of leaves, go to your local garden center, nursery or feed and grain store and purchase winter rye seed. Winter rye will grow a root system up to a mile long in your garden, plus provide wonderful shiny green foliage this fall.

In the spring, as soon as the ground thaws, it will continue growing--reaching 18 inches by late April. Then, mow the grass down with your weed whacker, and then rototill everything together into the soil. The foliage of the winter rye and the root system is considered a green manure crop and it will help to condition your soil. This will help sandy soil hold more moisture during the summer months and it will also help to break apart clay-type soils to provide better root growth by plants.

If you live in an area where the soil is acidic, now is the time to add limestone to the gardens to help sweeten the soil. If you see moss growing in your lawn, if you have pine, maples or oaks growing in your yard, or if your plants never seem to have real green foliage and lack vigor, it's time to add limestone to the garden soil. If you have a wood stove or fireplace and you burn wood products, save the ash and spread it over your garden when you clean it for the same results. NEVER burn pressure-treated lumber inside your home and NEVER use that wood ash either in your vegetable garden because of the wood preservatives in it. Apply limestone at the rate of 50 pounds per 500 sq. ft. of garden and wood ash at one 5-gallon bucket per 500 sq. ft. of garden.

Either of the products should be added to annual, perennial and rose gardens to help them grow and flower better. If you have flowering shrubs and trees that are not productive but mature, the acidic soil could be preventing the plant from flowering. Clematis vines and lilacs love lime and should be treated every year in the fall. Even rhododendrons, azaleas and hollies can grow better with an application every 3 to 4 years where acidic soil is common. If you're feeding them and they still won't flower in your yard, try applying lime or wood ash around them now. The only exceptions are blueberry plants and if you want to keep your blue hydrangea blue--keep these products away from them or the blueberries will have fewer berries and your blue hydrangea will turn pink.

In the perennial garden, cut back to the ground all perennials that turn yellow and brown and remove the foliage to the compost pile or Compost Tumbler. Rake the garden clean, apply lime products, and fertilize the garden at half the recommended rate with organic Flower Tone plant food. If you have the time, add one inch of compost or bark mulch on the garden to help protect the roots of the plant during the winter months, it will be one thing less to do in the springtime. If you have open areas in the perennial garden, how about planting some spring flowering bulbs for early color in your garden?

In the rose garden, all you have to do in rake it clean and pull all the weeds growing there. Removing the leaves with black spots on them from around the plant helps to prevent fungus problems next year because you are remove dormant disease spores from the old leaves that will infect next year's new foliage. You can also lime the garden but do not apply fertilizer EVER after September 1, or you could promote new growth with the nice days we will receive in the next few weeks. You want your plants to begin to harden off or become tough for the winter and go dormant, that way the branches become woody and are better able to fight off the damaging winds of winter.

In addition, DO NOT prune your rose plants at this time of the year; ALWAYS prune in the spring, NEVER in the fall. Open cuts on the stem will allow moisture to escape during the winter months and the rose stems will dry up and die. If your roses are finished flowering, it's also time to build a mound of soil or bark mulch around the base of the plant to protect the graft of the plant for the winter. Make your mound 12 to 15 inches high and just as wide and, believe me, your plants will survive the winter much better if you live in a cold climate. Around Thanksgiving, spray all exposed branches with Wilt- Pruf or Wilt Stop to help the plant retain moisture in the stems in windy areas.

If you have fruit trees or flowering crabapples trees, be sure to rake all the fallen foliage from around them to remove potential disease spores left on the foliage for next year. When all the foliage is off the trees, spray them with All Season oil and liquid Copper spray to kill overwintering insect eggs and disease spores; repeat in late March or early April. These two sprays will make a big difference in the quality of your plants for next season.

If these trees are new and young, be sure to stake them down for the winter months with a staking kit available at your local Garden Center. This will prevent damage to the roots caused by winter winds and heavy snow bending the tree over and breaking. Also, if you live near a wooded area or an area with much tall grass, be sure to wrap the trunk of the trees with hardware cloth wire to prevent mouse, rabbit and porcupine damage over the winter. Push the wire collar into the ground a couple of inches and have the wire reach the first branches.

If you have new strawberries in your garden, you will not believe the difference with the plants for next year if you spread an inch or two of garden STRAW, not hay over your plants for the winter. Great protection for the plants, it will encourage new runners to develop faster and fruit will form faster and grow larger. For blueberries use 2 inches of straw, pine needles or bark mulch for root protection and feed them at half rate with Holly Tone or Dr. Earth evergreen fertilizer. Because these plants love acid soil, add aluminum sulfate plant food to acidify the soil to help make them more productive next year. Aluminum sulfate is also used to keep or intensify the blue color on your hydrangeas, and a fall application will make those flowers deep blue for next summer.

If you have raspberries or blackberries in your garden, be sure to remove the canes or branches that made fruit this year, as they will not fruit next year, just make foliage. By removing the old canes, you will encourage much new growth for next year that will be productive. Also, add 2 inches of straw, pine needles or bark mulch to protect the roots and help keep out weeds.

Rhubarb should be cleaned of all old foliage. Add a couple inches of compost around the plant, that's all. Asparagus should be all cut down to the ground when the foliage turns yellow to brown. If the fern-like foliage has small BB-shaped fruit on it, be sure to pull them off and spread them on the ground to start new plants next spring. Asparagus loves to be fertilized in the fall with cow or chicken manure fertilizer--use 50 lbs. of composted cow manure for every 10 feet of row or 10 lbs. of dehydrated manure. If you're using chicken manure and it's fresh. Use 25 lbs. per 10 feet of row or 5 lbs. of dehydrated.

Hydrangeas need special care also and here is what to do this fall. The white-flowering varieties should be cleaned of all their flowers as soon as they turn brown. If the flowers stay on the plant during the winter and you get an ice storm or heavy wet snow, the flower will hold the Ice and snow, causing the branch to break with the weight. I have seen many beautiful plants, especially the tree form, destroyed this way. White varieties can be pruned in the spring or fall to control size and to create a tree shape of the plant. Fertilize in the spring, not the fall. New hybrids are best pruned in the early spring before the new growth has developed and again in June to remove dead branches from the plant. Cutting back existing branches in half will help develop stronger stems with many side shoots off of them.

The blue or pinks should also be cleaned of flowers for the same reason but only remove the flower on both types, never cut back the plant during the fall. Prune only in the spring to prevent winter dieback when the winters have little to no snow cover. Keep limestone away from the plant or it will turn pink due to acidity levels in the soil. New varieties do not need winter protection, but I always spray my plants with Wilt-Pruf around Thanksgiving just in case we have a cold winter and little snow cover to protect them. If you have new plants, build a mound of bark mulch around the base of the plant 12 inches high by 12 inches wide for the first year to help give them extra time to get established in your garden.

If you have any containerized plants such as roses, needle evergreens or perennials, be sure to move them under cover for winter. An unheated garage, tool shed, or under a tall deck will do well and help prevent the container from filling with ice and killing the roots during the winter. If this is not possible, place the containers up against a solid structure like your house or garage for protection from the wind and weather. Always avoid placement where water runs off the roof and never cover the plant with plastic bags--burlap bags will work well as long as the top is open to the air and a bit of sunlight in. Spray evergreens with Wilt Pruf around Thanksgiving for added protection. Have fun!!!

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Customised Gardening Tour of England

Tour includes the Wisley Gardens, the Chelsea Flower Show, Tower of London, Roman Baths & Pump Room, Riverford Organic Farm, Garden House, Rosemoor Gardens, Lost Garden of Heligan, Village of Megavissey, Stonehenge, the Wilton House Garden Centre and more.

Click here for details.

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:

In the USA, it is estimated that this decorative plant covers a total of over 31 million acres--an area the size of New England. What do you think it is?

This Week's Prize:
Bug Beater® Stink Bug Trap by Bonide Lawn and Garden

Protects homes and gardens from the "population explosion" of stink bugs around the country.

  • Use indoors or out
  • Attracts and captures stinkbugs
  • Lasts up to 4 weeks
  • Attracts ALL stink bug species
  • Protects your home and garden
  • Comes with 3 disposable traps
  • Non-toxic
  • Odorless
trap image

Last Week's Question
Early archeologists found evidence of a vegetable in cave dwellings dating back to around 9750 BC. What vegetable was it?

Last Week's Winner:
Patricia Mederios

Last Week's Answer:

Last Week's Prize:
Bug Beater® Stink Bug Trap

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!

Rickey's Pumpkin Soup

This recipe makes an incredible presentation and is quite tasty as well! Enjoy!

What You'll Need:

  • 1 large pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, diced small
  • 1 Granny Smith apple [peeled and diced small]
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 lbs. of acorn squash seeded, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth (optional); substitute a vegetable broth if on vegan diet
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • chopped scallions for garnish

Step by Step:

  • Remove pumpkin meat from pumpkin and discard seeds (or save them to roast).
  • Put the pumpkin meat in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the butter and sauté the onions, apple and oregano with pumpkin pie spice for 7 - 10 minutes.
  • Add the acorn squash and the pumpkin meat and sauté for another 5-10 minutes to ensure squash is softened.
  • Stir in the stock (vegetable or chicken), along with the pepper and salt.
  • Place on low heat for 20 - 25 minutes.
  • When the squash begins to fall apart this is done.
  • Using an immersion stick blender or food processor, blend until smooth.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In the pumpkin shell, add the cream and the purée.
  • Bake for 30 35 minutes, covering the top of the pumpkin with foil.
  • When ready to serve, garnish with scallions and serve the soup right out of the top of the pumpkin.

Hint: for a nice twist, serve with cheddar cheese grated over it.


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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Coming information on a trip to the Chelsea England Flower Show, in the Spring of 2012.

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