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Wonderful tasting winter squash
Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter
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Christmas cactus a wonderful holiday plant

 

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.

Christmas Cactus 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 window sill. 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 Dr. Earth plant food 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 October, 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 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 or warmer, move plants 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 in 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 black gold 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! Enjoy!  

 

         
Jason Aldean - Big Green Tractor
Jason Aldean - Big Green Tractor
                  For my son Patrick                            
Winterizing your blueberries and strawberry plants

 

It's time to put the berry garden to bed for the season, a time to collect our thoughts of what we did to these plants and what they produced for us. Last week I drove by a "Pick your Own Strawberries" field and noticed that they were covering the berry beds with two inches of straw. I pulled in to the berry fields and talked to the workers, to find out that the fall is the best time to prepare the bed for the year.

Applying fresh straw in the fall helps to protect the berry plants from cold and snowless winter winds, as snow acts as a blanket of insulation to protect the plants. Straw, not HAY, is used to keep weeds out of the strawberry bed during the year; it helps warm the soil in the early spring to wake up the plants and get them growing. Straw also keeps the berries clean, as they are off the ground and slugs are less of a problem. When the workers finished, they were planning to apply limestone to the entire growing area to help keep the soil on the neutral side--remember neutral soils have less weeds growing in them.

In the spring, the strawberry plants will poke through the straw and begin to grow on top of the fall layer of straw, which also helps with air movement around the plant to help prevent possible rotting of the berries and speed up ripening. In the spring, just add a bit of fertilizer and the plant is ready to produce. Use a fertilizer like Garden Tone first thing in the spring and again in early summer, after picking the berries, to help the new developing plants for next year's crop. All you will have to do now is keep the birds out of the garden and enjoy the berries.

In the blueberry garden, it is time to clean all the fallen leaves from around the plant and add them to the compost pile. When the garden is clean, add a two-inch thick layer of pine needles, straw, salt marsh hay, or pine bark mulch around the plants and in between the rows of plants. This layer of organic matter will insulate the roots of the plant during the winter, keep them cooler during the hot days of summer and control weeds in the garden.

I like to fertilize these plants spring and fall with Holly-Tone fertilizer, and I add aluminum sulfate in the spring and fall to help keep the acidity level high in the soil. Aluminum sulfate will lower the pH of the soil, helping plants achieve their goal of high crop production. Also use it on blue hydrangea spring and fall to keep the flowers blue.

Once the garden is ready for the winter, I always apply All Season Oil and Copper Sulfate Fungicide to the entire garden. This will help destroy any insect eggs or disease spores left on the plant by insects and disease from this year. I also reapply both of these natural products again in April, so I will have few if any problems with the garden. In the spring, when I notice that the buds are beginning to swell, I apply my fertilizer to help the flower and leaf buds develop properly.

Strawberries are most productive the second and third year in the garden. The first season in the garden is to help establish the plants. At the end of the third, dig up the berry bed and replant for next year. Blueberries are a real long-time crop that will last 25 years or more in your garden. With proper care, the plants will continue to grow, increasing production each and every year. So be sure to condition the soil when planting with compost and animal manure, mulch yearly, feed regularly and keep the soil on the acid side.

Most insect and disease problems can be controlled with the application of a general purpose fruit tree spray; follow the recommendations on the package to develop a spray program for your garden. The flavor of fresh-picked berries is far better than store-bought--and so is the nutritional level in the berries. Enjoy!  

 

 

Fall is here and it is time to act like it!

 

The days are definitely getting shorter now, the days are a bit cooler--also the nighttime--but the days are beautiful, and this is my favorite season of the year. We all know what comes after fall, and for some of us it's not our favorite season, so let's enjoy the next 9 weeks in our yard and gardens. This cool weather is perfect to do a lot of work around the yard...you know, the things we let go by because of the heat of summer. So put on your jeans and let's get back to working in the garden.

My Dad always said that "fall is for cleaning, by preparing the gardens for winter and getting the garden ready for next spring." Here is what we did in  October to prepare for the winter and next year's garden. The first thing we did was to clean out the tool shed and the garage. A quick cleaning before you fill them with the garden equipment, with left over products like fertilizer, insect and disease control products and with all the patio furniture.

The rototiller was washed, the oil was changed, and the gas was treated with a preservative to keep it from going bad during the winter. It was put in the back of the garage to be out of the way, and the 4 snow shovels were placed in front of it. Just a reminder that they were ready for my 2 brothers and me to help him shovel the driveway; in those days, snow blowers were not necessary when you had three sons.

Next, it was time to clean the vegetable and flower gardens. All plants that were finished producing were pulled up and placed into the compost pile. The garden was raked and cleaned, and the soil was prepared for next year with an application of MAG-I-CAL Calcium Fertilizer and several pickup truck loads of chicken manure from a friend's farm. It was always fun spreading chicken manure on a nice fall day and watching all the neighbors close the windows. But a quick watering did help to calm down this wonderful gardening fragrance, OH YEAH...and it still brings back wonderful memories of working in the garden with my Dad.

All the annual flowers that looked so tired were removed from the garden. The perennial garden was also cleaned and the plants were cut back to remove the yellowing and dying foliage. My Dad always believed that if we removed the tired plants and dead foliage that we were preventing problems for the following year and, yes, he was right. Insects and disease know that cooler weather means the end of their life cycle, and to continue their future they must lay eggs on that dying foliage. Diseases make spores for next year also. If you clean the garden this fall, you will have fewer problems next year. Then we limed these gardens and added chicken manure to keep those microbes well-fed during the winter.

Next, we cleaned the berry plants and my father removed the old canes of the raspberries that had produced so well that year. "Remove the old to make room for the new canes that will come next spring," he said--and he was so right, because if you do not remove the canes that produced this year, they will only make foliage for you next year, taking energy from the new ones. Clean the area around the plants, add limestone or MAG-I-CAL Calcium Fertilizer and, yes, that wonderful chicken manure. I think I still have scratches on my arms from cleaning those raspberries...but it was all worth the effort when those fresh berries were ready for picking.

Blueberries were mulched for the winter for extra protection against the cold and we added aluminum sulfate to help keep the soil around the plant more acidic, as blueberries do much better in acid soil. Pruning was done in the spring, never in the fall. The strawberries were cleaned of weeds around them and a fresh layer of straw was added for winter protection, and a bit of limestone to keep the soil sweet. Before we placed the mulch and straw around the plants, Dad always made sure we used the chicken manure around the plants. It was never a problem to get us kids into the bathtub after helping my father with his fall clean up.

We had several fruit trees in the back of the yard until a hurricane came through one year in the late Fifties and destroyed them because they were full of fruit, and the tree broke apart very easily with all the weight on the branches. But when we had when we had those trees, we made sure that fallen fruit was cleaned weekly every fall to prevent yellow jackets and wasps from stinging us kids. My mother made many pies and jams with what was left after the five of us kids ate our share from the trees.

We moved to the climbing roses and tied them up for the winter, then mulched around them for extra protection. Shrub roses were cleaned, mulched, and sprayed for overwintering insects and diseases. Remember to never prune roses in the fall, always in the spring when the Red Sox play baseball for real at Fenway Park in Boston. Maybe that is the problem with the Red Sox now; they think October is fall training and it does not count!

The lawn was last, because it was still growing and it would need several more cuttings before November got here. But we did add lots of limestone and or MAG-I-CAL Calcium Fertilizer and I can still remember looking at my shoes when the job was done because they were really white and I had to wash them and polish them before going to school on Monday.

We did use a bag lawn fertilizer from the nursery in the fall to help keep it thick until the ground froze, but in the spring I can still remember spreading chicken manure all over the lawn. My two brothers and I looked like bank robbers with our red bandanas wrapped across our mouths and noses to help keep the smell and taste of the chicken manure away. Today it's funny--but back then it was no joke.

When all the work was done we applied linseed oil to the wooden handles of the tools to keep them from drying out and keep them strong. The metal parts of the tools were scraped with a wire brush and treated with some oil used in the car to prevent rusting during the winter.

When the grass was cut for the last time, we cleaned the lawn mower and sprayed oil on the blades. Yes, I said "blades," because we had a push lawn mower and we kids supplied the power. And today kids complain about cutting the lawn with a self-propelled mower; yes, life is tough. When all the work was done everyone got cleaned up and freed of the manure fragrance. We were all treated to ice cream and fresh apple cider, then given pumpkins, corn stalks, and mums to plant and decorate the house and the garden we just cleaned.

My mother picked out spring-flowering bulbs to plant for the next weekend and my father bought a couple extra bamboo rakes so us kids could help him rake those leaves that would soon fall all over the yard. Raking leaves was always fun because us kids got to play in those massive piles of leaves for several weeks until my Dad burned them in the garden. I still remember the smell of the leaves as I lay in the large pile and played. But what I miss most is the smell of burning leaves in the fall, how about you? Get out in the garden this weekend and enjoy the fall season in your yard. 

 

Craig Morgan- International Harvester
Craig Morgan- International Harvester

 

 


"Flowers and plants are silent presences; they nourish every sense but the ears"

Mary Sarton

 

Getting your bulbs ready for winter storage

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 Bonide 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 over wintering disease and insect's problems.

Glad's 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 in containers filled with peat moss or compost standing up like it 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 should be dusted before being potted in organic matter. Keep them as far away from furnace or heat source as possible, and do not water until you are ready to start growing 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 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. This 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 and from 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 on the window sill. Flowers will form in April and May if they are potted, or you can wait and them plant in the ground in May for summer color in the garden.

Enjoy.

 

 

 
Judy's stuffed Butternut squash with sweet sausage

JUDY'S STUFFED  BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH SWEET SAUSAGE

 

                                     

 

Ingredients:

 

3 Butternut squash about 1 ½ to 2 pounds each

1 large yellow onion, 4 inch diameter

4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped depending on your taste

1 pound of sweet sausage

4 slices of bread or 2 hamburger rolls cut in ½ inch cubes

1 and a half apples skinned cored and cut into ½ inch cubes

Macintosh, Cortland or northern spy

2 extra-large or jumbo eggs well beaten

4 to 6 ounces of cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into ½ cubes

1 cup of raisins

½ cup of fresh parsley finely chopped

 

Directions:

 

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Lay your squash on its side and

with a sharp knife cut the squash in half the long way. Leave the seed

in the squash and place on a well-greased cookie sheet with corn oil,

flat side down. Cook squash for 60 minutes, or until it is easily pierced

with a fork. While the squash is cooking remove the casing around the

sweet sausage and crumble into a medium skillet. Cook on medium

heat and add the onions, and garlic and blend with the sausage, cooking

 until the onions are soft and meat is cooked. Stir in the bread, parsley,

 apples, cheese, raisins, and eggs. Remove from heat. Turn over the

 cooked squash and remove the seeds. With a fork mash up the

squash in the skin and make a depression in the center of each squash

and spoon in the sausage mixture over the squash creating a nice

mound over it. Place back in oven and cook another 15 minutes or

until golden brown and serve. Serves six people and makes a wonderful

meal for the fall or winter, great meal when you have company over

for supper. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.

Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-985-6972

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $29.95! Limited supply!! Out of stock until November 5, 2014

Fall Fertilization - The key to a great lawn next spring

 

By: Lonnie Heflin Director of Operations Pro Trust Products 

 

The arrival of cooler temperatures triggers a dramatic change in the physiology of the millions of individual grass plants that make up your lawn. As the daytime temperatures cool, the "top growth" slows, and the grass plants direct their energy to their roots. Making two applications of Turf Trust® this fall provides the energy your lawn needs to develop a deep, dense root system.

 

The Turf Trust® Lawn Program is based on four feedings per year. Four applications of Turf Trust® supplies your lawn with the 3 pounds of nitrogen fescue lawns need In order to thrive. Each application of Turf Trust® supplies ¾ of a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

 

The fall feedings are the most important. With two applications, the 1st around Labor Day, and the 2nd between Halloween and Thanksgiving, Turf Trust® supplies your lawn with the energy it needs to build a deep, dense root system. This root system will help your lawn withstand the hazy, hot, and humid days of summer.

 

Grass plants grow from their crown, which is just above the soil surface. By making two applications of Turf Trust® this fall, the expanding root system stores energy in as carbohydrates (sugar) over the winter. When soil temperatures reach 52°F, the root system starts to release the stored sugars, providing the grass plant with enough energy to produce new shoots from the crown. The result is a thicker lawn next spring.

 

The Pro Trust Products line of ultra premium fertilizers and weed controls are only available at independent garden centers and hardware stores. As a special to Paul Parent Garden Club listeners, if we do not have a stocking dealer in your area, you can purchase our products on our website: http://www.protrustproducts.com  Simply click on the "Shop" tab and place your order. Remember to mention that you heard about our products from Paul Parent, and your order ships for free!

 

If you want a beautiful lawn next spring, now is the time to start a "Grass Roots Movement:" in your lawn with Turf Trust®. Prepare to be amazed!

 

 


 
  
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