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Winter is for fun, sledding sking and a snowball fight or two

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January is the prefect time to clean your house plants
Let's begin by checking our house plants for hitchhikers. Such insects as aphids, whitefly, mealy bug, scale, and spider mites will begin to multiply with the increase of the length of the day and the heat from the house now.
Look on the tip of the plant first, as insects love new growth to feed on rather than the tough older growth .Insects on the new growth will be easy to spot, as they will make the new growth twist and become misshapen. Now, aphids are the most common problem and their skin color will be the same as the plant--great camouflage ability. You may also find them all clustered together on the tip, especially flowering plants like hibiscus and gardenias.
If plants are on a table, feel the table for a sticky feeling on the surface, or large houseplants will have a sticky floor under the plant. If you find this, clean the surface quickly or the sticky substance on the surface called "honeydew" will grow a black sooty mold that can stain carpeting and hurt wood floors. If this is the case, look on the stems of the plant for small bumps on the stem; these are scale insects, and you can usually rub them off with a soft soapy wet cloth.
If you should notice a type of webbing on the top of the plant you have spider mites. This is the toughest insect to control, so be sure to check other plants near it for possible infection. Any plant with mites should be quarantined from your other plants! Now, wash the plant with warm soapy water and soft cloth to remove webbing and as many adults as possible from the plant.
If you brush against the plant and small white flies fly from the underside of the foliage, you have white fly, an insect that can fly from plant to plant and room to room to slowly destroy your plant collection. If the day is nice, take the plant outside or in the garage briefly and try to knock off as many of the flying insects as possible. Anything that comes off will die from the cold and will not be able to continue to lay eggs on your other plants.
If you see what looks like pieces of cotton on the leaves or stems of the plant, you have an insect called mealy bug. This insect is not as common, but thrives where plants are clustered together or when you mist plants often to increase humidity around plants. If you see some on top of the plant look under the leaves and usually they will be covered. Wash off as many as possible with a soft, wet, and soapy cloth.
There is one more I forgot to mention and this one can be a real problem also. This insect is called a fungus gnat and resembles a small fruit fly, like the ones that come when you keep bananas too long on your kitchen counter. The only product that would control this insect used to be Diazinon, but it was removed from the chemical shelf several years ago. Good news--today there is a new product, just released for indoor use, from Bonide Lawn and Garden, called Bonide Eight Houseplant Insect Spray or Bonide Systemic House Plant Spray. You will have to ask your favorite garden center to order it for you if they do not carry it yet. Tell them I, Paul Parent, want them to order it for you because it is the only product that you can use indoors safely for certain insects.
After you have washed the plant with soapy water, spray all plants with Bonide All Season Oil. All Season Oil can safely be used on herbs as well as all other house plants in your home. I love All Season Oil because there are no toxic fumes for you to breath with all the windows closed at this time of the year. This oil spray is better that all the other indoor sprays on the market today because it will kill the adults, young and eggs of the insect at the same time. Most other houseplant sprays only kill the adults; some kill the young but this product also kills the eggs of the insects before they get a chance to hatch and create new problems later.
Insects are killed by suffocation as the oil plugs up all the insect's pores and they cannot breathe--there are no chemicals in this plant spray. Because the insects are suffocated, the insects cannot build up immunity to the product like they can to chemical poisons.
The oil spray will also shine up your foliage, making your plants look bright and clean. When you apply the All Season Oil spray, apply to the underside of the foliage first and the stems of the plant. Be sure to turn the plant upside down for the best coverage as insects are more numerous on the underside of foliage and in the crotches of the leaves and stems. Spray the top of the foliage last and repeat in seven days. When spraying herbs, rinse foliage with warm water before eating and the product will wash off easily. Sunshine will destroy the oil product in just 7 to 10 days, but the bugs are now dead. It's time for a quick battle now to avoid war later. Don't wait--check your plants today!. Enjoy!
The many colors and shapes of Rex Begonias
Winter begonias are varieties with fancy leaves and some small flowers. The leaves are breathtaking to look at because the markings and colors on the leaves are marvelous. If you pick off the flowers, the leaves will get bigger and more colorful.
Most begonias are grown as houseplants; they come from tropical regions of the country. There are numerous new varieties that are grown for outdoor use, but they can grow indoors for a short time. Knowing this, you must keep these plants warm indoors, or grow them outside during the summer. Indoors during the winter, the begonia will thrive if you use grow lights on it, but they are not necessary. These fancy-leaf begonias love high humidity so place them on plastic saucers filled with small stones. Fill the tray every morning--the water will evaporate during the day, helping the plant grow better. I have found that misting of the foliage will cause spotting of the foliage and may cause powdery mildew; this detracts from their looks. If you use a humidifier in the house keep them close by.
Water plants as needed. Keep moist from May to September and on the dry side during the winter. Fertilize begonias year round with a fertilizer like Dr. Earth plant food. The stems are fleshy, so be sure to use a well drained potting soil. Heavy soils will rot the stems. Select a location in your home that has no drafts from windows or doors. Temperature-wise, begonias need to be 65 degrees plus all year long. When the plant is exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees it will be chilled and the leaves will begin to fall from the plant.
Begonias do not like to be moved often around your house. Find a spot for them, then leave them alone and let them stay put. Begonias do not need to be repotted often. They grow better in smaller pots, so be sure the pot they are in is filled with roots like a spider web before you move them. When repotting, use a man-made soil or a lightweight artificial soil. When you over-pot in large pots, the plants can suffer from overwatering and root rot more easily. Never push down hard on the newly potted soil or you will squeeze the air out of it. Think soft and fluffy when repotting and the plant will thrive.
Begonias need moderate light during the summer, so place them in a east or west window. During the winter, a south-facing window is best--or place them under grow lights. Fertilizer is necessary during the growing season May to September. The plant should usually be fertilized every 2 weeks, except during the winter fertilize only once a month. Use a balanced fertilizer like Dr. Earth Plant Food. If yellow spots develop on the leaves remove them and clean the plant. Do not crowd begonias by putting other plants around them; give them room to grow and space around them for better air circulation.
The best varieties for the winter are the 'Iron Cross' or 'Rex' begonias. Leaf color ranges from numerous shades of green to silver, pink, red and gold. The leaves can be smooth, ruffled, spotted, and almost puckered. Some of the varieties look like stained glass windows. The flowers are small and several on hanging stems, pink in color--but the foliage is why you grow the plant. With a little care, plants should last several years in your home. Moving them outside for the summer and back indoors in the fall is not good for them as they have a problem adjusting to the growing conditions.  Enjoy!  
Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts (Lyrics) HQ

Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts (Lyrics) HQ

soon the cold  will be gone and we can enjoy our gardens

A long lasting winter plant - Cineraria
The leaves are large, hairy, medium green, and heart-shaped; the veins on the leaves seem to be sunken into the foliage, making them very noticeable and interesting. The leaves also have a slight sheen to them--and when the plant needs water, they will almost look dull and have no sheen. This will tell you it is time to water. The plant does drink a lot of water, because of the number and the size of the leaves on the plant. Some leaves can get up to eight inches across. The plant looks clean and seldom has disease problems on the foliage.
The flowers come in many styles, depending on variety. Look for single, semi-double, and double daisy-like blooms. The flowers come in clusters on top of the foliage and form small flower clusters from side branches. The daisy-like flower will be one inch or less in diameter. The center of the daisy starts off the same color as the flower petals and as it ages will turn yellow with pollen dust.
The flowers come in many colors and include some varieties with two-tone blooms. Look for shades of pink, shades of blue, shades of purple and shades of red. The new hybrids have a white stripe on the individual petals, creating a band around the flower. Some of the flowers may even have more white color than the original flower color. Each individual flower will vary between white and color, even on the same plant.
Place the plants in a bright window or room with a lot of light. Because there is so much foliage on this plant, keep the plant on the cool side--50 to 60 degrees. Hot sunny windows will shorten the life of the flowers and the plant will not bloom as long. Water as needed to keep the plant moist most of the time; again, because of all the leaves on the plant. But never keep them wet or standing in a saucer filled with water, or the roots will rot and the plant will die. If you have a wood or coal stove, keep them away from the hot room. If you heat with forced hot air, keep them away from the heating vents, or the leaves will dry up here and there on the plant.
Drafty windows will also chill the plant--like all other plants. I like to keep one on the table in the middle of the room where I can enjoy it more. Cinerarias are wonderful plants for you or as a gift. At this time of the year, when we all need a sign that spring is coming, this plant is wonderful for your mind and soul. Let the snow fall, because I have a cineraria in my house and I don't care about the weather outside. Enjoy!
A hardy perennial for winter color - Primroses

If you are looking for a flowering plant for the house that can be transplanted outside later, look at the primrose. The primrose is a perennial flowering plant that is among a handful of flowers that bloom early in the spring gardens outside. Its Latin name, Primula vulgaris, implies earliness and means "early." Because it flowers early naturally, the primrose can be forced to bloom even earlier in the greenhouse for your enjoyment in your home at this time of the year.


The foliage is a ground-hugging rosette of shinny green leaves that are medium to dark green in color. The leaves are 4 to 6 inches long and only about an inch wide. The leaves have a rough look to them, as they seem wrinkled or puckered, with small teeth on the edges of the leaf--and a bit hairy. Once you see the rosette growth habit, you will always be able to distinguish this plant from all the rest of the perennials in your garden.


As soon as the frost is out of the ground, the leaves begin to emerge from the ground, and before you know it the flowers pop out of the center of the foliage. The plant will grow 4 to 6 inches tall and spread to about 8 to 10 inches wide. Growth will start in most gardens during March if the snow has melted and the weather has begun to warm up. The flowers come on short stems, 3 to 4 inches tall, and hold clusters of flowers. Each flower has five petals and the bloom resembles a shallow trumpet. The flower colors are BRIGHT, in shades of yellow, red, blue, purple and white. All the flowers have a bright yellow center, like a "bull's eye." The flowers will last from March to May in the garden outdoors and for 4 to 6 weeks indoors, if you can keep them cool. The best temperature indoors is 50 to 60 degrees; keep them out of south-facing windows where they get sun all day.


The primrose will grow best in a soil that is well-drained, and rich in organic matter like compost and peat moss. Grow them in your garden as a border plant up front and in groups of 3 to 5 for the best show of color. Primroses also will grow well in shaded gardens, rock gardens and wall plantings. If you have a woodland or shaded wildflower garden, this plant is a must. Remember the primrose flowers early; if you are looking for early color to motivate you to get you out in the garden early, this is the plant with all the excitement!


As a houseplant, the primrose makes a great potted plant, all by itself. You can mix it with other flowering or foliage plants. I pick the faded flowers from the stems as they fade; when the stem has no more buds I remove the entire stem right above the foliage at the base of the plant. This prevents the plant from making seeds and the energy stays in the plant, so you can transplant it into the garden in mid to late April.


No fertilizer is needed in the house, but once you plant in the garden, use compost and a product like , Bio-Tone or Dr. Earth Starter Fertilizer, as they contain microbes and mycorrhizae for a quick start to the root system. The new garden technology in fertilizer will astound you because it is a reproduction of what lives in your soil already--and plants love it. Treated with this technology, plants grow better, faster, healthier, bloom more and need less care. Enjoy indoors now and plant outside for years of enjoyment in your garden outside.. Enjoy!


"The best place to seek God is in the garden.
You can dig for him there" 
George Bernard Shaw
Calceolaria - Pocket book plant
We all know that winter is still here, and we see that spring is coming--but not fast enough for most of us. I think you should know of a winter-flowering house plant called the pocketbook plant. This is the time of the year when you will find it at your local greenhouse or garden center. It is an annual-type flowering plant that will blossom for 4 to 6 weeks in your home. Enjoy the plant and then recycle it to compost, where it will help your outside garden plants grow better.
The "pocketbook plant" is a strange name for a plant--until you look closely at the wonderful flowers. The flowers grow in clusters on short stems from the tips of the branches. The young flower buds resemble tiny balloons. As the flowers mature, they will begin to develop a unique look that resembles an old fashioned pouch like that pocketbook that your grandmother or great grandmother once carried.
The plant grows to 12 to 15 inches tall and just as wide. The foliage is heart- shaped, deep green and very soft to touch. The leaf is also a little floppy looking, and will stack on top of other leaves. Because of this, the plant will show signs of drying out quickly. Water the plant regularly and plentifully. If your home is dry with forced hot air heat, place the plant on a tray filled with stones and add water daily to the tray to increase the humidity around the plant, and it will bloom much longer.
As the tiny balloon-like flowers mature into pocketbook-like flowers, the color of the flower will also intensify. The colors will range from bright yellow to orange and red. To complement the flower colors, tiny red or brown spots will decorate them like freckles on a child's face. The flower looks almost like a half-filled balloon and matures to 1-1.5 inches wide.
The plants will do best in bright light--but not direct sunshine. The heat of the sun will make them look wilted. Keep them in a cool room and they will flower for you longer--50-60 degrees is best. Keep them away from drafts or your foliage will get spotty. When watering the plant, use warm water and keep it off the foliage. Cold water will spot the foliage, just as it spots African violets.
When you pick out this plant, select one with many small flower buds and the blooming time will last longer. If the weather is cold outside, be sure the sales person wraps the plant well before you take it from a warm greenhouse to a cold car. No fertilizer is needed as it is a gift-type plant and will not bloom a second time. This colorful plant is telling you that spring is just around the corner. Enjoy! Enjoy!
Winter Vegetable Chowder

When the weather gets cold and your looking or something special for supper this chowder makes the perfect choice. These unique root vegetables will give your family a change from what they are used to and expand their taste buds. All you will need is nice crusty bread and a bit of butter and a glass of white wine for a heartwarming supper.



Your milk and aromatics ingredients:


2 cups of milk

4 large parsley branches

1 large thyme sprig

2 bay leaves

onion, sliced thinly

1 garlic clove, quartered

10 peppercorns crushed


The soup ingredients:


3 tablespoons of butter

4 leeks about an inch or larger across, white parts plus an inch of the greens, sliced diagonally about an inch thick

2 cups of carrots cut into 2 inch pieces

2 cups of turnips cut into 2 inch pieces

2 cups of parsnips cut into 2 inch pieces

2 cups of rutabagas cut into 2 inch pieces

2 cups of potatoes cut into 2 inch pieces

2 cups of celery cut into 1 inch pieces

2 cups of sweet potatoes cut into 2 inch piece

2 Bay leaves

2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley

A bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons of flour

5 cups of warm to hot water


1] put all the ingredients of the milk and aromatics in a saucepan, slowly bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Cover and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

2] Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the vegetables, bay leaf, and parsley and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so to warm them up, gently move them around the pan so all sides warm up in the pan.

3] Stir in the flower, then add5 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered until the vegetables are tender but still a tad firm, 15 to 20 minutes. When the vegetables are ready add the milk and aromatics mixture to the soup pot and gently mix. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste and serve with your crusty bread and a glass of wine, or milk for the kids. Enjoy!



               ONLY 4 Cabins Left - don't miss out on this wonderful trip




Monday July 27 - Boston, MA -
Depart on your overnight trans-Atlantic flight to Prague, Czech Republic.

Tuesday, July 28- Prague, Czech Republic
Settle into you hotel, Hilton Praguea,for the next two evenings. Explore Prague at your leisure.

Wednesday-July 29 -
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, and a free day to explore the city at your own pace. Perhaps visit the Communist Musem: sample the local plum dumplings and Pilsner; stroll along the Vltava River(B)

Thursday- July 30
After breakfast at the hotel, you will have time to discover Prague's treasures. You will depart your hotel in the early afternoon to embark on the Avalon Visionary in Nuremberg (approx.. 3 hour drive) Welcome Reception and Dinner onboard (B, D)

Friday - July 31 - Nuremberg
Today, choose from an included guided sightseeing tour and marvel at this 1,000-year-old city's medieval fortifications. Extraordinary gothic churches, and Kaiserburg(Imperial Castle) or join a more specialized Nuremberg Rally Grounds Tour. Enjoy a tranquil afternoon of cruising. Take in an interesting onboard lecture about the engineering marvel that is the Main Danube Canal (B,L,D)

Saturday, August 1- Regensburg
Some of today's highlights during your guided wall will include Altes Rathaus (old Time Hall), Porta Pretoria and 12th-century Steinerne Brucke (Stone Bridge). Enjoy an included snack at historische Wurskuche, one of the oldest restaurants. Before Dinner, join us for a beer tasting of some of Germany's most famous beers.(B,L,D)

Sunday, August 2 - Passau-Linz, Austria
This morning, dock in Passau uniquely located where the INN, Ilz and the Danube Rivers converge. Passau is a maze of cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. St Stephen's Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian Baroque architecture, house one of the world's largest church organs with 17, 774 pipes. Take in the highlights on the included guided walk. Then sail to Linz, Austria's 3rd largest town, which lies on both banks of the Danube (B, L, D)

Monday, August 3 - Melk-Vienna
This morning enjoy a included guided visit of Melk's magnificent 11th century Benedictine Abbey, which houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. During lunchtime, cruise through Wachau Valley a UNESCO world Heritage site. Arrive in Vienna this evening.(B, L, D)/p>

Tuesday, August 4 - Vienna

Your included city tour with your local guide includes sites such as the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace Complex, the Neo-Renaissance Vienna Opera House, and St Stephen's Cathedral. Spend some time in the delightful pedestrian Karntnerstrasse to enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel Depart for Budapest. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, August 5 - Budapest, Hungary
On your guided sightseeing tour, see Heroes' Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen's Bastion & 11th century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian menarches. Be sure to take note of the city's 8 bridges - many famous sites in and of themselves which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with pest on left bank. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridgebuilt in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. (B, L, D)

Thursday August 6 - Budapest (disembarkation)
After breakfast you will be transferred to your hotel. The day is free to explore Budapest at your leisure (b).

Friday, August 7 - Budapest to Boston
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before you prepare for your transfer to the airport and you flight home.

For more information :
Largay Travel Inc.
625 Wolcott Street
Waterbury, CT 06705


              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 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!

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  Written by Paul Parent                         Produced by Christine Parent

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