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Edition 12.09 Paul Parent Garden Club News March 1, 2012
featured quote


"He who plants a tree loves others besides himself."
~ Thomas Fuller

Product Spotlight

Black Gold® Starter & Transplant Fertilizer

starter and transplant fertilizer

The key to a beautiful and successful plant in your garden is what's happening in the soil. Black Gold® Starter and Transplant fertilizer is designed to give your new plants exactly what they need to succeed. Black Gold® starts out with a balanced fertilizer of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; they then add specially selected mycorrhizae to the fertilizer. The addition of the mycorrhizae will work with your plants to expand their root system, which in turn will allow your plant to thrive.

Apply at time of transplanting for maximum results!

Click here for more information.


If you're a first time flower gardener and are looking for something easy to grow that will give you arms full of fresh cut flowers all summer long, look no further than the Zinnia family of annual flowers. If you're just looking to add color to your flower gardens or you want to attract butterflies to them, zinnias are unbeatable! Zinnias are so easy to grow; you can even start growing them from seed on your windowsill without much care. Zinnias are such a wonderful flower that they were chosen as the flower of the year in 2011 because of their wide selection of glorious colors, the unusual wide selection of heights that they grow and their ability to form new flower buds once you have picked their long flower stems.

The zinnia originated in Mexico--growing as a wild flower--and is still found there in sunny fields. It was not always the beautiful flower we grow in our gardens today. In fact, it was known to the Spanish as the flower of "sickness of the eye." Not a real compliment of a name, is it!? In the 18th century, collected seeds were brought to Europe, where well-known German Horticulturist Dr. Johann Gottfried Zinn worked on the new plant to improve its appearance but it took until the mid-19 th century to become a popular garden flower.

In the 1920, seed companies began to work very hard on this plant and soon their efforts paid off with introductions of new plants that grew from 6 inches to 4 feet tall. The color selection also grew to match the rainbow along with the size, shape and petal count of the flowers. In 1939, the zinnia became a household name with the development of a new variety called the dahlia-flowering zinnia developed by Ferry Morse Seed co. It was called "State Fair" and it had more resistance to disease problems, much more vigorous growing and the stems were stronger and better able to hold large flowers on the plant without falling over like past hybrids.

With all this work being done to the zinnia plant, it quickly grew to be as popular a flower to gardeners as the dahlia and the chrysanthemums were, because of the many flower forms. This flower once known as "sickness of the eye" was now one of the most popular flower in the world. The flower that had only a single row of petals in Mexico many years ago now has flowers with forms that are single, semi-double or double. But the shapes of the flowers are what gave them character from the button-types, beehive-types, the cactus-types with twisted petals, and dahlia-types with large flat flowers.

The zinnia plant has rich medium to dark green foliage that has a nice shine to it all season long. The leaf is oval with a point on its tip and, depending on the variety, will grow from 2 to 6 inches long. The leaves grow opposite each other on long stems making it perfect for cutting except for the dwarf varieties. The leaves also curl under at the edges giving them a rounded look--almost like basil foliage. The flower buds look like buttons and each bud is covered with green looking scales that are edged with black. The flower bud swells and opens slowly, exposing the flower petals in a tightly rolled ball on its top, and one by one the petals begin to emerge and create a wonderful daisy-like flower.

Plant zinnias in a garden that receives full sun all day long if possible, but they must get at least 6 hours of mid-day sunshine to bloom non-stop. Your soil should be rich and fertile so be sure to mix compost, animal manure or seaweed kelp before planting every year, the better the soil, the more flowers your plant will make for you. Your soil should also be well-drained especially when you're planting seedlings or they will develop root rot during wet and rainy periods. If your soil has clay in it, use garden gypsum when you condition the soil before planting, I recommend using Soil Logic liquid gypsum because it will break down clay in just a couple of weeks and open up the soil to improve drainage. Plants do best in a soil near neutral so lime every other spring to control acidity in the soil. You can also use your wood ash from your wood stoves or fireplace or Magic Cal from Jonathan Green to sweeten up your garden soil.

Set out your seedlings when the weather has warmed up and the threat of frost is over. They will grow best when the soil is warm, so don't rush to set out seedlings, wait! The one word of advice I have for you is not to crowd the seedlings together when planting, as they will fill in quickly, and they need good air circulation to prevent disease problems like powdery mildew. Zinnias love the heat of summer and when the warm evening temperatures arrive, you can almost see them grow. I add Plant Thrive to all my seedlings to help stimulate root development; mycorrhizal fungi makes a big difference when planting.

Water the plants regularly to keep the soil moist, especially during the heat of summer. Always water early in the morning and never at night to prevent disease problems--like all garden plants. If your garden is flat, remove the nozzle from the hose and flood the soil with the hose rather than using a sprinkler. Fertilize with Osmocote timed-release pellet fertilizer when planting and repeat in early August or use a water-soluble plant food like Miracle-Gro or Blooming and Rooting every two weeks from June to September.

Insect problems are minimal but if you have a bad year with a lot of Japanese beetles, they will cause some damage to the foliage, so spray foliage regularly with garden Eight from Bonide Lawn and Garden. When your zinnia plant start flowering you should be picking the flowers regularly as the more you cut the plant for flowers, the more they will develop new growth and make new branches filled with flowers. Their long stems make this plant the perfect plant for cutting. Cut the flowers when the flowers bud is half way opened and watch them mature in your vase of water. Buds still tight with no flower petals open will not open when cut so give them time to mature before cutting.

Cut zinnias will last 10 days or more in a vase of water as long as you keep them out of the direct sun. I worked at a farm stand during junior high school. Every morning early, the owner and I went out into the field to cut flowers for bouquets she made. We always brought a bucket filled with about 6 inches of water to put the flowers in when we cut them--and even in the heat of summer, they never wilted. She also let the flowers sit in the buckets for an hour or two to acclimate the flowers to the cutting--and they did much better when arranged.

The seed of the zinnia is large and easy to germinate, making it easy for children to grow for your garden. As the flowers fade on your plant, remove them along with 2 sets of foliage below them to encourage new shoots to develop on the plant faster. The taller growing varieties made large flowers and the plant got heavy so by July we placed a green pencil stake near the plant base and attached the plant to it with twist ties just in case we has strong summer thunder storms to prevent damage to the plant.

Here are my favorite varieties: 'Priulla' or 'Timberlines' for your front rows; they will grow 6 to 15 inches tall. Next my favorite--and sometimes hard to find--called "Cut and Come Again" (the name fits them well, the more you cut, the more they flower). They will grow 18 to 30 inches tall with 2-inch flowers. For tall growing varieties that will grow 3 to 5 feet tall, plant the 'State Fair' or 'California Giants' for 3 to 5 inch flowers. Zinnias come in all colors, except blue and white is hard to find when buying mixed colors. Common colors are yellow, orange, red, chartreuse, purple, lavender, lilac and white. With the new hybrids today, look for the many new two-tone varieties now available.

One last thing, zinnias will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden, so plant them for additional excitement in your summer cut flower garden. You can also plant smaller growing varieties in your rock garden and be sure to plant some taller growing varieties in your perennial garden to replace the early flowering perennials and keep these gardens bright and colorful all summer long. Zinnias will also do very well in mixed plant planters of all types--as long as you water and feed regularly. Enjoy!

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Vegetable Planting Calendar
Vegetable Planting Calendar
Crop How to plant Days to Harvest

between plants

Date to set outside
Beansseed50 to 60 2 to 4" Mid May to Sept.
Beetsseed50 to 602 to 3"Mid to late May
BroccoliPlants 50 to 6018"Mid to late April
Plants80 to 10024"Mid to late April
CabbagePlants60 to 7024"Mid to late April
CantaloupesSeed70 to 8024 to 36"Mid to late May
CarrotsSeed65 to 901 to 3"Mid to late May
CauliflowerPlants55 to 6524"Mid to late April
CeleryPlants75 to 8512"Mid to late April
CollardsSeed70 to 8010"Mid to late May
CornSeed60 to 8012 to 18"Mid to late May
CucumbersSeed50 to 6024 to 36"Mid to late May
EggplantPlants75 to 9024"Mid to late May
LettuceSeed40 to 506 to 8"Mid to late April
OnionsPlants100 to 1204 to 6"Mid to late April
PeasSeeds60 to 903 to 4"Mid to late April
PeppersPlants80 to10024"Mid to late May
PotatoesTubers85 to 10036"Mid to late May
PumpkinsSeed90 to 12036"Mid to late May
RadishesSeed20 to 301 to 2"Mid to late April
SpinachSeed40 to 503 to 4"Mid to late April
Seed80 to 1236"Mid to late May
Seed40 to 5536"Mid to late May
Swiss ChardSeed55 to 604 to 6"Mid to late April
TomatoesPlants90 to 12036"Mid to late May
TurnipSeeds60 to 804 to 6"Mid to late May
WatermelonSeeds85 to 10036"Mid to late May
A general rule--if you want to start plants from seed and transplant to garden, start 30 to 45 days before you are to set them out. Vine crops are the exception--only 14 days ahead of time is required. The onion family will need 45 to 60 days before planting outside. Have Fun!!

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Fruit Tree Care

It is spring and now time to get outside and begin to work on the fruit trees. Start by cleaning them of any broken branches due to the snow and ice. Make a nice clean cut with pruners or a sharp saw. When removing branches from the tree, be sure to make the cuts at a slight angle so water will roll off the branch and not sit on it, causing rot. If you are removing a branch attached to the main trunk, cut the branch about a foot from the trunk first. That way if the branch should break it will not tear the bark of the tree. Once you remove the branch from the tree, use a sharp saw and cut the spur that remains as close as possible to the main trunk. The tree will heal itself much faster that way.

If you leave a spur 2 to 6 inches long on the trunk, it will rot and the decay will move into the main trunk, causing you problems later. When you make a flush cut on the trunk or branch, the tree can cover it over with a ring of callus in just a year or two. At this time of the year, the branches are full of flower buds so cut the tip branches 2 to 3 feet long and place them in a vase of water and they will flower in your home.

Remove any branches at the base of the tree, as these branches are "suckers," stealing energy from the tree. Look for any branches that crisscross and rub together. Remove the less important branch, or where they rub together the bark will wear off and create an entry point for insects or disease to enter the plant. Remove any branches that grow straight up without side shoots on them. These are "water sprouts" and will not produce fruit. A great book for the beginner or seasoned gardener is The Back Yard Orchardist by Stella Otto. All your questions on fruit tree care will be answered in this book.

The tree is cleaned and ready to grow, so let us work on insect and disease problems. At this time of the year, you can eliminate many disease problems if you can spray the trees with a copper fungicide spray or lime sulfate fungicide. When applied at this time of the year, these products will kill disease spores before they have a chance to get active--"preventive medicine."To control Insects before the eggs hatch use a horticultural oil or "all season oil." You can combine both of these products in the same sprayer and apply at the same time. Apply when temperatures are going to be above 40 degrees that day and there is no rain in the forecast. This spraying must be done before the flower buds open and the buds are still tightly closed.

Now you need an indicator on the tree to tell you when the bugs arrive so you can begin your bi-weekly spraying program. When I was in college at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, my Orchard Care class was chosen to help our professor with his idea that helped earned him his doctorate. Knowing when to start spraying the trees to control insects will make your spray program more effective and you will not have to waste pesticides applied too early.

This is what we did--and you can do the same. Buy a 3 to 4 inch red plastic apple with a stem on it. Tie a piece of string 12 inches long to the stem of the apple and the other end to a branch at eye level on your tree. Coat the apple with a bit of Vaseline evenly on the surface. When the bugs arrive, they will stick to the apple and you can begin to spray the trees before they lay eggs all over the tree. Look for Bonide, Orchard Spray or Organic Labs, Organocide Fruit Tree Spray to control both disease and insects at the same time. Spray until 2 weeks before harvest. Fertilize with Dr. Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer or Espoma Tree-Tone in March or April. When the fruit tree is in bloom, be sure not to spray it! If you are not getting much fruit that develops on the tree, it could be the lack of bees around your trees. Go to and purchase a Honey Bee lure to attract them to the tree; this will help. Enjoy!

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The laboratory building at the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley Gardens, England

A Customized Gardening Tour of England and the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show

Paul Parent hosts a tour that includes the Wisley Gardens, the Chelsea Flower Show, Tower of London, Roman Baths & Pump Room, Riverford Organic Farm, Garden House, Rosemoor Gardens, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Village of Mevagissey, Stonehenge, the Wilton House Garden Centre and more.

Click here for details.


This Week's Question
If I had a gean (rhymes with green) growing in my yard, what kind of fruit tree would it be?

Biotone Starter Plus

This Week's Prize:
Bio-tone® Starter Plus
All Natural Plant Food Enhanced with Bacteria and Mycorrhizae

  • Microbe-enhanced all natural plant food
  • Includes both endo and ecto mycorrhizae
  • Grows larger root mass to help plants establish fast
  • Promotes bigger blooms
  • Reduces transplant loss
For more information, see the Espoma site.

Last Week's Question:

The Euphorbia family has almost as many succulents as the Cactus family, but also has some non-succulent plants. What popular non-succulent Christmas plant is a Euphorbia?

Last Week's Winner:
Phyllis Groen

Last Week's Answer:
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).

Last Week's Prize:
Bio-tone® Starter Plus

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!

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.

Featured Recipe:  Guinness Roast Beef

What You'll Need:

  • One 3-4 lb. beef regal rump roast
  • 3 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. garlic salt
  • 2-3 cups Guinness (or other stout)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups cut carrots
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 2-3 potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 cup COLD water
  • 1 tbsp. flour

Step by Step:

  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Rinse roast and pat dry.
  • Mix pepper and garlic salt; rub onto all sides of roast.
  • Place roast on bottom of clay or metal roasting pan; add oil, bay leaf, 2 cups Guinness and 1 cup water (or 3 cups Guinness for stronger flavor).
  • Roast covered for 90 minutes.
  • Add vegetables, roast covered for 30 minutes. Add more liquid, if necessary.
  • Remove meat and veggies to a platter.
  • Pour liquid into a small saucepan; heat to near boiling.
  • Add 1/2 cup COLD water and flour. Add flour/water mixture slowly to saucepan, stirring constantly.
  • Reduce to simmer, stir until thickened.
Yield: 4 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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