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Edition 12.44 Paul Parent Garden Club News November 1, 2012
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"If you are not killing plants, you are not really stretching yourself as a gardener."
~J. C. Raulston


Product Spotlight

Wilt Stop Plant Protector RTU by Bonide

This natural, non-toxic product, derived from the resin of pine trees, has the unique ability to form a soft, clear flexible film on treated plants. This film protects plants from drying out, drought, wind burn, sunscald, winter kill, transplant shock and salt damage. WILT STOP also extends life of cut flowers and Christmas trees. Great for use year around on deciduous trees, evergreens, shrubs, roses, transplants, vegetables, and fruit.

For more information see the Bonide website.

How To Make Christmas Cactus Bloom for the Holidays

If you have a Christmas cactus that refuses to flower for you, then read this and it will flower for Christmas and again in February, if you follow these easy steps. Today's plants are hybrids of two types of cactus that grow on trees in the Orgel Mountains near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; they grow only at an elevation of 3,000 to 4,600 feet. The father of our Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is the true Christmas Cactus Zygocactus truncatus, and Schlumbergera russeliana is the mother.

This cross of wild-flowering cacti that grow in a tropical environment has resulted in stronger growing plants, more colorful flowers, as well as plants that can live at any altitude and can be forced to flower at any time of the year (Christmas season is preferred). The father originally came in red only, but new hybrid colors soon developed and now you can purchase the Christmas cactus with red, pink, white, purple-red, violet and even golden-yellow flowers.

Christmas cactuses grow best in a room with bright light or a little bit of sun--but not full sun. They like good air circulation, so never group these plants with other plants on a crowded table or windowsill. They love being outside in the shade during the summer, and should stay out until the end of September, but watch the frost possibilities. Cool temperatures will help to set flower buds on the plant along with the shorter length of day.

During the summer, while the plant is outside, keep it moderately moist and fertilize it every 2 weeks with Miracle-Gro until the middle of August to help the plant make new growth. After August 15, fertilize monthly until you put it outide again in May, then feed every 2 weeks again. Also cut back on the water and give it a chance to dry up a bit between watering.

When you bring the plant indoors for the winter, in September, mist the plant daily, because this is a tropical cactus. It loves humidity, so keep plants away from forced hot air vents and out of rooms with wood or coal stoves.

Keep plants on the cool side in your home. Keep at 65 to 70 degrees during the day and in a cooler space during the night; I use the basement from 6 pm to 7 am until the buds form. Once they form, keep in a bright room away from full sun, or the flower buds will quickly bloom and the fun is over; morning or late in the day sun is best.

When the plant finishes flowering, keep it in a room with north-facing windows, and cool temperatures below 70 degrees. The room must stay dark from 6 pm to morning. Your living room is not a good place, because you watch television until 11:30 PM, looking at the news, and the lights stay on--making the length of the day longer.

You need cool temperatures and a short day to change the hormones in the plant from vegetative to flowering growth. If you purchased a Christmas cactus and it begins to drop the flower buds, it is because your light situation has changed, so move it away from bright windows and if your home is warm--70 degrees or more--move the plant to a cooler spot in your home.

Repot the plant every spring when you move it outside for the summer if the root system has begun to fill the pot. Short squatty pots are better than tall pots with a lot of soil; look for azalea pots, not standard types. Use a potting soil with a lot of organic matter like Miracle-Gro Potting Soil.

You can take cuttings during the summer by breaking the branches at the joints. Allow cuttings to set out and dry for 3 to 4 hours before placing in a moist potting soil. The cuttings you take should have 2 to 3 sections or knuckles on them for the best results; keep them in a shaded area until they root properly. I put 3 to 5 cuttings in a four inch pot and 5 to 7 cuttings in a six inch pot. Try it next spring--it's very easy, you can do it!

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November Gardening tips--it's time to put the garden to bed.

The grass is all done growing now and the energy the grass needs for growth will be used to thicken the lawn, while the balance is stored for the winter to help make the grass stronger while it is dormant.

Fall fertilizer works this way: 25% is used for growth and 75% is stored in the plant for when the plant needs it during the cold days of fall and winter. Spring fertilizer is the opposite: 75% is used for growth and 25% is stored. If you have not fertilized yet this fall, now would be a good time to do so. Use a general purpose fertilizer with no weed killers, just fertilizer.

Before you put the spreader away, be sure to wash it with the hose and a bit of soap to remove any attached fertilizer. Fertilizer left on the spreader will corrode the metal and make the holes in the bottom of the spreader larger. Larger holes mean you will apply more fertilizer than needed, costing you more money next spring. When the spreader is dry, spray all metal parts with WD-40 to keep moisture away from the metal. Also, spray into the wheel wells to keep the axles lubricated.

If the grass needs to be cut, do it now and cut the grass on the short side because short grass for the next several months will have fewer problems with winter fungus. Also, any leaves that fall can easily blow away with the wind.

Now drain the mower's gas tank, and then start it so it can run and use all the gas in the fuel line; this prevents water buildup in the fuel line and problems next spring. Turn the mower on its side and clean the underside of all grass clippings that have attached themselves to the bottom. Then, remove the blade and sharpen it so you're ready for next spring. (If you have a riding mower, read the manual on how to take it apart--and remove the battery first to be safe.) Spray the blade with WD-40 to keep it rust free as well, then reattach.

Also spray all moving parts on the mower, such as wheel axles and cables. Any leftover gas should be used up, so you can start next spring with fresh fuel. If it is just plain gas, use it in your car; if the gas contains oil, treat the remaining gas with gas treatment for the winter to keep moisture out of the gas mixture.

Bring inside all hoses, sprinklers, and watering cans for storage. To help drain the hose of water, throw one end of the hose over a fence or sawhorse to force water out as you coil it up and tie it up. If the hose is free of water it will not freeze, and if you want to wash road salt off the car during the winter it will be ready to use.

If you have a long driveway and you plow the snow or use a snow blower, it is a good idea to put up reflective marker stakes now. Mark the driveway edges now and you will have less lawn to replace next spring that the plow dug up.

This also a good time to clean out any bird houses you may have set up in your yard. A clean house means early tenants next spring and fewer insects in your garden.

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Winter Care of Summer-Flowering Bulbs

What do we do with all of our summer-flowering bulbs during the winter months, if they are not hardy enough to stay in the ground? It's simple, we bring then into our basement for the winter, and this is how you will prepare them to keep them healthy.

Begin when Mother Nature produces a killing frost in your garden and your bulb plants turn BLACK. Now cut them down to the ground and dig them up. Shake as much of the soil off the bulbs as possible but do not wash them clean! Set bulbs in your garage or tool shed for a few days until the soil on them has dried completely. Once you have dug them up, do not leave them outside or any additional frost will kill the bulb by freezing it.

I want you to buy a general purpose Rose and Flower Garden Dust and dust all parts of the bulb before storage. This dusting of the bulb will help to keep it protected from any overwintering disease and insect problems.

Glads are easy; just look at the bulb closely and you will see that there are now two bulbs piggy backing together. The top bulb is the one to keep and the bulb on the bottom was the original bulb that you planted and which has now transferred all of its energy to the new bulb on the top--it must be discarded. Dust the good bulbs and store them in a pair of old panty hose that you will hang from the rafters in the basement. The panty hose will breathe well and keep the bulbs healthy until you plant them in the spring.

Dahlias: the bulbs will look like a clump of potatoes and should not be divided until you are ready to plant in the spring. Dust the bulbs and store in boxes on the floor or in a crawl space where the temperature stays around 50 degrees. Place one inch of peat moss or compost in the box and set bulbs on the material, being sure that bulb clusters do not touch each other. Cover the bulbs with 2 inches of organic material and then cover with newspaper, never with plastic--plastic will sweat and wet the covering, causing rotting of the bulbs.

Tuberous begonias and callas: Clean any parts of stems still attached to them and make sure that where they were attached has dried well, with no soft spots. Dust well and store in a box of peat moss or compost kept on the floor. The floor will stay cold and that will help keep bulbs dormant better. Separate bulbs 2 inches apart and cover with newspaper.

Canna lilies: these will store best if put them in containers filled with peat moss or compost, standing up as they grew in your garden. If the plant grew in a pot, just cut the stems at the soil line and place the pot on the floor in the basement. Garden grown cannas should be dusted before being potted in organic matter. Keep them as far away from any furnace or heat source as possible, and do not water until you are ready to start growing them in March indoors or directly in the garden in early May.

Elephant Ears: Dig bulb and clean of any leaf stems still attached to the bulb. Dust the bulb and store in a pot filled with peat or compost and place on the floor covered with newspaper. Make sure the bulb is dry before storing it for the winter, and be sure that the bulb faces up. Repot in soil during March for a jump start on the season.

Freesia, ranunculus and anemone: these should be cleaned of any stems and dried well in the basement before storage. These will take longer than the other bulbs to dry and harden. Ranunculus will look like a mini bunch of bananas--about 1 inch long. Freesia and anemone look like a bunch of dried up raisins and are hard. These three can be stored in a small box on the floor with a bit of peat or compost mixed around them to keep them apart--you don't want them touching. Dust them by placing them in a small paper bag, add the dust, and shake to cover the bulbs. These three bulbs can be forced into growing indoors right after the first of the year by potting them and growing them on the windowsill. Flowers will form in April and May if they are in a pot--or you can wait and them plant in the ground in May for summer color in the garden.

Enjoy.

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Alaska trip
Paul Parent will be hosting a tour that includes:
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Butchart Gardens--55 acres of floral display!
  • Cruising the Inside Passage:
  • Ketchikan
  • Icy Strait Point
  • Juneau
  • Skagway
  • Hubbard Glacier Cruising
  • Seward
  • Scenic Drive to Anchorage
  • Denali National Park
  • Fairbanks City Tour, a tour of the Gold Dredge # 8 and a cruise down the Chena river on the Riverboat Discovery Sternwheeler.

Click here for more information.



trivia

This Week's Question
A gardener is very fond of finches and wants to get a thistle feeder, but doesn't want thistles growing all over the garden. That's not really a problem. Why?

  1. The birds leave no whole seeds.
  2. The seed from the feeder won't germinate.
  3. The seeds are ground up.
  4. The squirrels will eat all the seeds that fall out.
  5. Thistle seed is not used in these feeders.

This Week's Prize:
Wilt-Pruf®
...The Safe Way To Reduce Moisture Loss When Plants Are Under Water Stress due to:

  • winter kill
  • windburn
  • drought
  • transplant shock

Click here for more information about Wilt-Pruf.


Last Week's Question:

Pumpkins are members of the family Cucurbitacae, which also includes:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Corn
  3. Cranberries
  4. Peas
  5. Watermelons

Last Week's Winner:
Pam Pearson

Last Week's Answer:
E. Watermelons

Last Week's Prize:
Wilt-Pruf®

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.


Autumn Fruit Dip

This is perfect for dipping freshly picked apples or pears into!

What You Need:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces vanilla yogurt
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch allspice

Step by Step:

  • Beat the cream cheese in a small bowl until very smooth and creamy.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Spoon into a serving bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for at least three hours.
  • Serve chilled.

Yield: 2 cups of dip

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

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(207) 985-6972

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

Regular Phone Hours:
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Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM


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