Harvest time for Potatoes!
"Lollipops & Roses" (stereo) 
by Jack Jones
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Pack up the car and take the kids Apple picking!

Did you know that September 26 is Johnny Appleseed's birthday? Yes, Johnny Appleseed did really exist and he is a native of New England, born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1774. His real name was John Chapman and he did everything you heard about, including being a well-known gardener, pioneer nurseryman and, yes, apple tree planter. Johnny got his start at a young age working as an orchardist apprentice when only 13 years old. Apples are not native to America, and were brought here in the 1600 and 1700's by English settlers. Johnny's love for this special fruit drove him to plant seeds and trees as far west as Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, so if you live between Massachusetts and Ohio, thank Johnny for your apples.

If you love fresh apples, now is the time to begin picking them. I thought I would give you some ideas of what to look for and how to handle them. First of all, always select apples that are firm, that have a clean skin and are free from bruises. Fresh native apples come in so many colors, it hard to determine when they are ready for picking by their color while on the tree. When you go apple picking always ask the farmer what types of apples are ready for picking that day. My wife, sister in law and I went apple picking last weekend and asked the farmer for his help and he gave us several additional tips.

Pick one apple from the row of apples you select and taste the variety you want to pick to see if the taste is what you want. We picked 7 different varieties of apples so I won't have to see the doctor for at least a week now--and I did eat most of the sample apples I picked that day. Next he told us to pick the apples on the tips of the branches first, as apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards the center. Now grab the apple with one hand and twist the apple off the branch by rolling the apple upwards of the branch and give it a good twist. Don't pull down on the apple or you will break part of the branch containing next year's flower buds, so the tree will be damaged and have less fruit on it.

If two apples are growing together side by side, twist them in different directions and they will come off very easily. Do not climb on the tree, as this time of the year the branches are full of fruit and you will damage the branches with your weight. You could also fall from the tree--and that will not be fun, either. Never shake the branches of the tree, because you could damage the tree and many of the apples will fall to the ground and spoil. Nobody wants apples on the ground, right? Apples with a stem on them will keep longer when in storage so, twist--don't pull. And one last thing--place the apples in your bag; don't drop or throw them into your bag, as bruised apples will go bad faster.

When you get home, place the apples in a cool place like your basement or garage and they will keep longer. Warm rooms will make apples ripen faster and they will also spoil quicker, so keep them cool. Do not wash them until you're ready to eat or cook with them, as they have a protective coating on them that washing will remove. If you're storing your apples for winter use with squash, turnip, beets, and carrots, they will do very well together but keep potatoes away.

All vegetables give off ethylene gas while in storage but potatoes more so, and it will force the apples to go bad faster. Never keep apples near a flower arrangement because the gas they produce will put the flowers to sleep. My first year in college I took a floral design course and my college roommate put his lunch in the cooler with the flowers, unknown to my teacher. He forgot his lunch that contained an apple in the bag over the weekend, and on Monday when we went back to class most of the flowers had begun to go bad; no lunches ever went into the flower cooler again after that.

Here is a question for you: are apples apples and good for both eating and cooking? Actually, apples are broken down into 3 categories; eating, cooking and all-purpose apples. Eating apples typically have more sugar in them; they are larger in size, and the skin is thinner, softer, and easier to digest. They also do not store as well or as long in your basement.

Cooking apples have less sugar in them, they have more of a tart taste, they store well in your basement--and for a much longer time--they have a thick and strong skin to help hold moisture in them and the flesh of the apple is less likely to get soft when cooking. Nobody likes a mushy apple pie!

All-purpose apples are good for both fresh eating and cooking/baking. Use early apples for cooking while still firm or they will not hold up. Here is what I picked last week and why.

Cortland: An all-purpose apple with good red coloration. They have a crispy, juicy, sweet and tart taste to them, are a good firm apple for cooking apple pies, desserts, fresh eating, long keeping in the basement, and great in tossed salads or with mixed fruit because they do not turn brown quickly like many apples.

Crispen: An all-purpose apple with great golden yellow skin, super crispy, very juicy, very sweet and refreshing to eat when fresh picked, great for cooking, baking and roasting in the oven, long keeper in cool basement, great for salads, used for cider and the best apple for hard ciders.

Gala: An all-purpose apple with a wonderful bright rosy- red skin with many lines and shades of red on the skin, just beautiful to look at, firm, very sweet, crisp with a good snap to it, very juicy when eaten fresh--so have a napkin when eating it. The size of the apple is small--great for young children with no waste; also great for pies and pastries.

Ginger Gold: An all-purpose apple with beautiful deep gold skin, great for fresh eating, wonderful for pies and pastries, it does not keep well, so use it up and mix other types of apples in pies for wonderful flavor; it does also have a hint of spice to its taste, unusual and great with white wine and cheese during September. Keep refrigerated until you eat them. These may be hard to find.

HoneyCrisp: An all-purpose apple, the skin of the apple is filled with gold and red blotches and it looks delicious, a well-balanced sweet and tart taste to it, crisp, juicy, great for cooking all types of pastries, keeps well in a cool basement, great fresh eating apple with a glass of white wine and cheese, salads.

Macoun: Great eating apple, small to medium in size, great for children, beautiful wine red skin on the apple, nice and crispy, juicy, sweet and tart tasting at the same time, also wonderful for pies and baking, keeps well in a cool basement, great with other fruits in a fruit salad.

Northern Spy: A very large apple, crispy almost hard, beautiful red and yellow streaking skin, all-purpose apple great for fresh eating, wonderful for pies and pastries and stays firm when cooked, juicy, sweet and tart flavor, the best winter keeper apple for a cool basement, easy to peel, late to ripen

Now go apple picking this weekend while the weather is good, buy some apple cider, pumpkins, Indian corn and a bunch of corn stalks to decorate the front of your home. Celebrate Johnny Appleseed's birthday  next weekend. After all, if it was not for him, you would be eating plums instead of apples this weekend. Enjoy!!!
  
Let's organizes the tool shed and get ready for the changing seasons!


For most of us, the garden tool shed is a wooden or metal building that is always too small to put everything into that we need to garden with during the year. Here are a few ideas to make the tool shed more effective and protect your equipment until next year. The first thing I do is to empty the tool shed of all power equipment and large pieces of equipment like wheelbarrows, fertilizer spreaders, etc. Now sweep and clear the floors, benches, and walls of all unnecessary material. Next close the door and turn out the lights (if you have lights in it) and look for daylight holes coming into the shed. These holes are where the mice can enter and cause damage to your equipment--and moisture can also enter.

Last year, I ran a bead of foam caulking along the floor and walls; it did keep out all of the moisture when we had heavy rain or snow melt when the ground was frozen. I also found a spacing where the walls met the ceiling rafters. After looking closely, I noticed a bit of chewing where mice and a family of gray squirrels had moved in for the winter. So I cut pieces of 1 by 2 strapping and placed them in-between the wall supports to plug up the holes and nailed them in place; that did the trick. The rodents had gotten into the shed in past years and ate the information books for all my power equipment--they chewed them up to make a winter nest with. They also chewed up the seat on my lawn mower to make a nest in, plus all the rubber hoses and belts on the power equipment--what a mess--so my gardening got off to a slow start the following spring. Plus, it was expensive to replace all that they ate.

If you have a metal tool shed, check for holes in the roof and walls and use the new spray-on black waterproofing sealant (available at most hardware stores) to keep the rain from coming in. I used it to plug up holes in an old gutter 2 years ago with great results also. Now, when you close the door, does it close tight so nothing can get under it or over the top of it? My door closed OK--but I did notice that the top of the door had a small gap, so I now wedge a small piece of strapping between the door and roof overlap to keep it closed tightly, or use a hook and screw eye to hold it closed. Nothing is now getting in and everything is safe again, time and money well spent.

Bring in all your long handle tools, clean of soil, and spray all metal parts with WD-40 to keep the metal from rusting and steel from weakening. I also rub all wood handles with a rag and linseed oil to keep the wood handles from drying out and keep them flexible and strong. Store tools on the side walls of the tool shed or lean them against the wall out of the way in case you need to get in during the winter. I use a 5-gallon bucket that I attach to the wall and place all the hand tools in it once they have been cleaned for the winter. A second bucket is used for watering equipment like nozzles, sprinklers, hose menders, etc.

Drain your hose of all water, coil it up, and tie it up to keep it from becoming tangled, in case you need it to wash the car of road salt during the winter months ahead. Then, if there is room, attach it to a bracket on the wall of the tool shed so you are not walking on it every time you're in the shed looking for something; it will also give you more floor space for other items. I also have a third 5-gallon bucket mounted to the wall and keep all my cutting tools in it, like hand pruners, hedge shears, and loppers. Hand saws also go in if they fit or they are attached to the wall with the long-handled tools--and if you have roof rafters you have a place to put the pole saw up out of the way until you need it again. Any rope should be coiled up and hung up out of the way; if left on the floor or on a table and mice get into the shed they will eat it or use it for nesting--it happened to me.

Spring is such a busy time of the year, I like to repair my equipment now so it is ready when I need it. My garden cart and wheelbarrow are cleaned, washed and all wooden parts are either oiled with linseed oil or painted in the fall. All metal parts of wheelbarrows, garden carts, spreaders are washed and treated with WD40 or painted with Rust-Oleum paint to keep it strong and prevent rusting. I also oil the wheels and tires to keep them from drying up so the rubber does not dry out. Look at your tires--you will be surprised.

If you have a "drop spreader," be sure to wire brush the holes at the base of the spreader where the fertilizer and weed killer come out of the spreader to remove all rust and fertilizer build up. Now spray-paint the holes on the spreader outside and inside of the spreader with Rust-Oleum paint to keep the holes from becoming larger. Rust over the years will make the holes larger and you end up applying more product than needed to do the job properly--and it costs you more money to do the job. If you ever had a lawn with stripes in it after fertilizing, it could be from over-applying the product because of defective equipment.

Now the power equipment is all cleaned, the oil changed, air filters are exchanged for a new one, and the blades are sharpened or replaced for next year. If sharpened make sure they are treated with WD40 to keep them rust-free. Disconnect the battery to prevent it from draining power. Now gas can be done two ways with power equipment; drain the tank completely or fill the tank to the top with gas and use a gas treatment product added to the gas to keep out water from winter condensation. I always keep gas in the tool shed during the winter just in case the car needs a quick fill, but I do treat that gas with a winter gas treatment. If you have several pieces of power equipment that use different types of gas treatments, be sure to label each container so you do not mix up and put the wrong product in the equipment. Just gas and gas and oil mixes do not work in the same equipment. If you have a chain saw, do you have a sharp blade, a spare blade, bar and chain oil and gas to run the saw? Try starting up the chain saw now and make sure that it is in working condition--remember last October's 16" snow fall; are you ready?

"WARNING" I just learned something yesterday that might interest you. Today, many gas stations are selling gasoline that contains "ethanol" in it and if you do not use a fuel stabilizer in that gas you will eventually have problems with your carburetor and engine problems. PASS this information onto your friends and neighbors.

One last thing--after you have put everything away for the year, spray inside the tool shed on the floor squirrel Stopper or Rodent Stopper from Messinas, in the red bottle. Bonide Lawn and Garden also have a wonderful product call Mouse Magic that will keep animals out of your tool shed when you close it up. I always reapply after the holidays just to be sure they are out and stay out. Both products are natural and work by creating a fear barrier and smell that is so strong the animals will not stay in the building. Made up of peppermint and spearmint plus essential oils, it will make even your eyes water if you stay in the shed with the door closed for some time.

This is a good rainy day project and you will thank me next year--or the next time you need tools to take down fallen trees or need to get into the shed without tripping over everything.
 
Neil Diamond & Barbara Streisand, You Don't Bring Me Flowers
Neil Diamond & Barbara Streisand, You Don't Bring Me Flowers
Let's prepare for the Fall Season!



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 10 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 September 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 limestone 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 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 September 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 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.

"No place on earth is more sensuous than a garden"

Jeff Cox

 

Funny Girl
Funny Girl "Second Hand Rose" Barbra Streisand

 

Split-Leaf Philodendron a great house plant even if you have a black thumb!!


The weather is changing fast now and it's time to move your gardening skills indoors for the next few months. Whether you're new to gardening indoors or an experienced gardener, let's talk a bit about an easy-to-grow foliage plant that will grow just about anywhere in your home. Are you looking for a plant that will tolerate occasional neglect, no direct sunlight, low humidity in the air due to your heating system, and will grow well, even in the corner of the room? If you are, then I want you to consider the Split-leaf Philodendron, because this was the plant that started the idea of keeping plants indoors year-round.

The Latin name of this plant is Monstera deliciosa and it means a strong, large-growing plant that is pleasing to look at. In the wild, it will produce clusters of white berries with tropical fruit flavor. In Mexico, where it is native, it is referred to as the Mexican bread fruit or fruit salad plant--I bet you did not know that about this plant as it seldom makes fruit in our homes.

If you have this plant in your home now, look at it closely and you will notice something unusual about it. All the leaves are in the shape of a heart but no two leaves look the same! Some of the leaves are solid, some have oval elongated holes in them, and some even have splits on one or both sides of the leaf. The slits that give the plant much of its character occur when there is the most amount of humidity in the air of your home. So foliage that forms during the summer months when the windows are open and the humidity level is high will have more slits and oval holes in them. When the heat is on in your home during the winter months, the air is dry and the foliage that forms will have little splitting to them, unless you mist the plant frequently, so expect normal foliage during the winter months.

The split-leaf philodendron is really a vine that will climb 50 feet or more in a warm climate outside but in your home it will grow 1 to 2 feet a year while attached to a piece of bark or sturdy stake. When you purchase a plant be sure that there are several plants in the container to help give the plant some body and help it to look full and thick.

Split-leaf philodendron will grow best in a rich soil that has 50% compost and is well drained. Plants should be repotted every other year in a container that is 2 inches larger and has room to hold a sturdy wood stake to support the plant as it grows larger. Many garden centers sell a wood slab that has bark on the front of it, to make it more decorative looking in your home. If your philodendron plant is happy growing in your home, aerial roots will form on the plant, as thick as a pencil and these roots will give your plant additional character.

If some of these aerial roots reach the container, push them into the soil and they will help move moisture and food to the upper part of the plant faster. Aerial roots that develop high on the plant can be removed or tied to the stake that holds the plant up in the container. In nature these aerial roots would attach themselves to the tree they are climbing on for support.

Your plants will grow best in a room with moderate to bright light, but no direct sun on the plant. It will also do well but not thrive in a low light room as long as the walls of the room are painted a light color and reflect the light well. You can put the plant outside for the summer months to help create more splitting on the foliage as long as it is in a shady location. Put outside in May when the threat of frost is over and bring back indoors in mid to late September.

Plants will do best in a room with temperatures 65 degrees or warmer. They will tolerate temperatures as low as in the 50's but will not tolerate a drafty area with doors that open and close often during the winter months, chilling the plant. Water moderately during the growing season but allow the plant to dry on the surface 3 inches before watering again. Water less often during the winter months and always poke your finger into the soil 2 to 3 knuckles deep and feel the soil for moisture before watering again.

Yellowing of the lower foliage is a sign of overwatering. Keep the soil moist but never let the plant sit in a saucer of water; drainage is very important. Mist the plant when possible to help increase the humidity around the plant and increase the splits on the new foliage.

Fertilize the plant every other week during the spring to fall season to encourage new growth and once a month from the October to May. Use a fertilizer like Neptune's Harvest fish and seaweed fertilizer or Blooming and Rooting Fertilizer or--if you forget to feed your houseplants, as many of us do--use Dynamite time release pellet fertilizer spring and fall, and every time you water the plant it will get fed.

The foliage is beautiful, deep green in color and glossy. Use a damp cloth and wash the leaves several times a year to keep them shiny, especially if you have forced hot air heat. The dust in your home will make the foliage lose its shine just like your coffee table does. Once cleaned, you can also spray the leaves with a leaf shine for additional gloss and make them stand out even more. Clean leaves help all house plants grow better, especially during the winter months when available light is less, due to the weather and shorter days.

If your plant becomes too tall, cut the stem just below a leaf that has an aerial root and pot up the cutting in a container of fresh soil. Make sure the aerial root is in the soil; if several of these roots can reach the soil, push them in also for faster development. Keep moist and in the shade until the plant becomes established.

The split-leaf philodendron will make a wonderful floor plant for any room in your home without much care or effort from you. Insect and disease problems are few with this plant but--like most plants--it is possible, so when you water or fertilize the plant look it over and check the plant for possible problems.

If you're looking for a good gift plant for a new homeowner or first time gardener, this is the one plant to consider. This plant is in the same family as the heart-leaf philodendron used in small containers, dish gardens or hanging baskets for your home except that it grows much larger. As the name states: Monstera deliciosa. Enjoy.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Are you having a problem with your children not eating their vegetables her is the answer. As my mother in law Ruth Duncan always told the grandchildren, "your taste buds change every 3 months, so give it a try, you might just like it now." This bread is chocolatey, nutty, and sweet enough for dessert and especially if you top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Mikey likes it!

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup of white sugar
3 extra-large to jumbo eggs
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 mounded cups of grated Zucchini squash
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
3 cups of all-purpose flower
cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
teaspoon baking power
cup of chocolate chips
cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

1} Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 5 by 9 inch loaf pans.

2} combine the sugar, eggs, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Beat until well blended. Stir in the Zucchini and vanilla.

3} In another bowl, sift together the flower, cocoa powder, salt baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder.

4} Add the flower mixture to the Zucchini mixture and stir just enough to blend. Stir in the chocolate chips, and nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

5} Bake the loaves for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

6} On an wire rack, cool the bread in the pans for about 10 minutes. Invert onto the rack and cool completely.

7} This is so good you will have to have one for dessert with vanilla ice-cream and freeze the second bread of another occasion. While the Zucchini is still producing make up several and freeze them for those cold winter days when you're dying for something sweet from your garden. And the kids don't have to know. Enjoy!




The Paul Parent Garden Club, next trip is to Cuba


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Garden Journal

        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. 

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