The newest seedling in the Paul Parent Garden Club  -  Proud Parents: Patrick, Kristen and Katherine Ruth Parent (aka Katie) born 10/11/2015

Forever Autumn - Justin Hayward
Forever Autumn - Justin Hayward
The Paul Parent Garden Club, next trip is to Cuba

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Gardening tips for the October garden

It is time to put on your favorite gardening blue jeans, work shirt and head back out to the garden after the long hot summer. Fall gardening is more relaxing than springtime in your garden, because you are not in a rush to get everything done for a deadline. After all, if the work is not all done you can do it in the spring of next year, so let us get going.

Grab your wheelbarrow and fill it with pruners, loppers, a shovel, a rake, a cup of coffee, your portable radio and then you're ready to clean the garden and put it to bed for the season. Fall is the best time to start a compost pile because of all the garden waste you acquired during the growing season. All the fertilizer and animal manure you applied to the garden this year has made wonderful plant material to be composted. Apply to the garden in the spring as rich compost to help those new plants grow better. It is now time for fall garden cleaning and winter preparation.

Start in the perennial garden, cut back most all of your perennial flowers to the ground and rake the garden clean. Cleaning the garden now removes any diseased foliage that will contain spores to cause disease problem again next spring or foliage damaged by insects, as it may also contain insect eggs for next year. This cleaning helps to eliminate potential problems for next year before they get a chance to start. Your garden will be clean so you can get started sooner.

When cleaning, if you come across any weeds that have many seeds on them toss them out with the trash, do not put them in the compost pile. A good example is crabgrass, as each plant can contain up to 500 seeds that most compost piles do not kill and those seeds will germinate in your garden next year in the new compost you made. This sorting of plants will help you weed less next spring and summer.

As soon as the annual flowers die back, remove them also and clean the garden of all plant material. This is a great time to add compost, animal manure, limestone, and garden gypsum. If you live near the seashore, collect fresh seaweed and blend it into the soil to help condition the soil for next year. If you have the time, edge the flowerbed now and it will be one less job to do next spring.

Plant some early spring-flowering bulbs when the flowerbeds are cleaned in the fall, as these will help to motivate you to get back in the garden next year when those spring flowers arrive. Always plant flower bulbs in groups, so you can plant your annuals on time in the spring by planting around them. Never plant bulbs in rows or the wind will knock them over like dominoes and it will be difficult to plant around them.

If you have blue hydrangeas or a rose garden in your yard, remove all the faded flowers from the plant to prevent heavy wet snow from collecting on them and breaking branches. Clean around the plant all faded foliage and tie up branches to resemble a "Hershey's Kiss."

When the ground freezes, build a mound 12 inches high and 12 inches wide around the base of the plant with soil or bark mulch, as this will help protect the plant during the winter cold. Pine needles, straw or salt marsh hay can also be used for winter protection of the plant, but you must wait until the ground freezes or mice will build a home in this soft material and eat the bark from the stems of the plant, killing it. If you live north and west of Cape Cod use Wilt -Pruf or Wilt Stop on the branches to prevent winter wind damage. Always remember: "NEVER" prune these plants in the fall, only in the spring as the new growth begins.

Label all non-hardy bulbs now, before the frost arrives, with a string tag that will identify them for later. You want plant name, color and height that the plant grew to, so you can store them with identification on them for next year. Always use a permanent marker or pencil but never ink--it will fade. I always store such bulbs as dahlias, begonias, cannas, callas and caladium in banana boxes from the produce department at the local supermarket. Ask them to save them for you, as they are thick and strong.

Store the bulbs in your basement on the floor where they will not freeze--never in an unheated garage or tool shed or they will freeze and die. I always shake a bit of rose and flower garden dust on them to help keep possible insect or disease off them during the winter and cover the boxes with a couple sheets of newspaper, never plastic, to keep moisture in the bulbs. Glads can be stored in a old pair of nylons in the legs and hung from the rafters in the basement; also use garden dust on these to prevent possible insect damage.

You may want to wash birdbaths or fountains and put them away for the winter, as they will fill with water, freeze and break. Clay or ceramic planters should also be cleaned of dead plants at this time and moved inside for winter protection. Soil does not have to be removed from containers as this soil can be used again next spring if conditioned with compost or animal manure.

I always bring in garden statuary, garden signs, and patio decorations to keep them safe from ice and snow. If you are not going to use your sprinkler or garden hose, it is time to drain them of water, coil them up and tie them together so if you want to wash the car during the winter, the hose will not be frozen and filled with ice.

When the vegetable garden is cleaned this fall, it is a great idea to plant winter rye in it. Winter rye will grow until the ground freezes and again during the early spring when the frost comes out of the ground. The roots can grow one mile long on each plant during this time and when the garden is tilled in the spring, these roots become a great source of organic matter. Growing this winter grass is like growing your own peat moss to help condition the soil in your garden. In April, cut the grass down first and then till the grass and roots into the soil. Winter rye seed is available at your local garden center or nursery; five pounds will cover about 200 to 300 square feet of garden.

If you are going to decorate your house with pumpkins this fall, be sure to rub a bit of Vicks on them to keep the chipmunks and squirrels from eating them. Indian corn is loved by blue jays and they will clean the colorful kernels of corn of the cob quickly if you do not spray them with shellac or hair spray to help make the kernels stick together.

If you're decorating with bales of hay, be sure not to use it as a mulch on your gardens as hay is native grasses and weeds cut from the farmers field--and those weed seeds will quickly cover your garden. Use old hay to prevent erosion on slopes, or spread it where nothing has ever grown before and watch the weeds fill in those impossible areas. If you are decorating with bittersweet, be sure to toss the decoration in the trash when finished or the seeds will germinate where you dispose of them and become a major weed problem for you. When you decorate with corn stalks, save them and cut them up to use to protect your roses in the shape of a teepee around the plants or chop them smaller and toss them into the compost pile.

Fall is a great gardening season ,so take advantage of the cool temperatures and clean your gardens, fertilize the lawn to help make it strong for the arrival of winter, put the patio furniture away and start the snow blower-- you may need it sooner than you think. Be prepared this year.

One last thing...rake a big pile of leaves for the kids to play in just like your dad did for you. This year jump in it with the kids or by yourself, look at the sky and smell the fragrance of fall and your dad will be right there with you in the pile of leaves again. Enjoy!
Ella Fitzgerald - Lullaby of the Leaves (Verve Records 1964)
Ella Fitzgerald - Lullaby of the Leaves (Verve Records 1964)

Growing Gardenias indoors

This fall and winter, let's add an old-fashioned southern flowering plant to our collection of indoor houseplants. This tropical plant is a shrub in the southern part of the country and real easy to grow as a foundation plant around most southern homes.

The southern gardener uses this plant much like we do azaleas and rhododendrons in the northern part of the country and its beautiful foliage is as important as the flower buds the plant makes in late summer for fall and winter flowers.

Gardenias (also known as Cape jasmine) have glossy, dark green leaves that are almost leathery in appearance. The leaf is oval in shape with a pointed leaf tip often growing one and half inches to three inches long and one to one and half inches wide. When you look at the leaf you will notice a sunken vein running from end to end on the leaf. Also, sunken side veins run from this center vein to the sides of the leaf, like bones from a fish.

The newer growth is not as dark as mature leaves on the plant, but this distinctive color difference makes the foliage stand out. However, if you have a plant in your home now and it has yellow leaves on the lower part of the plant it could be the result of the plant growing in a location that is too shady for the plant. From September to May your gardenias will do best in a window with full sun--if possible--or at least bright most of the day. Outside during the summer, keep them in the shade.

The foliage is nice but the flowers are the crowning glory of this plant. The flowers are double flowers with many rows of petals and resemble rose flowers. The flowers can grow from 1.5 to 3 inches in diameter, and as they begin to open the flowers will fill the room with a powerful perfume scent. The fragrance will last until the flower falls from the plant.

The flower is a rich creamy-white color, and will last on the plant for several weeks before turning creamy-yellow and falling from the plant. The flower buds look like Soft Serve Ice-Cream Cones," pale green in color and covered with whirled flower petal covers. As the buds open, they seem to slowly turn white. Most stems will make 3 to 5 buds on the tip of the branches; these will open one at a time, lengthening the flowering time on the plant.

Keep the plant outside until September as the plant will make flower buds better if the air temperature is below 70 degrees and the days grow shorter. Now the tricky part: gardenias love humidity and moisture on the foliage. Gardenias will not grow in a house with forced hot air heat or in a room that has a wood or coal stove in it. Forced hot water heat is not a problem if it comes from oil ,but if it comes from natural gas the plant will die quickly, as any unused gas fumes are toxic to the plant.

When the plant is inside the house always keep it on a tray filled with small stones and add water to the tray of stones daily. Daily misting with warm water is very important when the flower buds get ready to open. If your flower buds are falling from the plant before opening, the air around the plant is too dry, so use a humidifier to add moisture to the air; it will help the plant, and you'll breathe better, too. One more thing, keep plants away from drafts.

Fertilize every two weeks from May to September and monthly after that with Mir-Acid fertilizer. Gardenias love acid soils, so never use limestone near this plant or it will stop growing.

Repot in late winter when it has finished flowering; use a soil with lots of organic matter. When you repot the plant, cut back the tips of every branch to stimulate new growth--and watch it fill in and grow thicker faster. Keep the soil moist when growing outside, but cut back the watering when it is in bloom. Also never mist the flower when misting the foliage and buds, as water applied to the opened flower will make it turn brown.

If you purchase a plant from a florist or greenhouse, look at the pot shape. If the pot has straight sides and the soil looks like all compost it is the original soil it was grown in and this plant should be repotted when you get home--or have the greenhouse repot it for you. The soil used to grow the plant is artificial and will dry up quickly. Also the plant is probably root-bound, so please repot into a larger pot with fresh soil to help hold moisture around the developing root system.

Gardenias are beautiful, fragrant and worth all the work that comes with them. Try one this fall or winter as your home may be perfect for this wonderful plant. This one is for you "Big Brother" George.

Autumn in New York - Frank Sinatra
Autumn in New York - 
Frank Sinatra
Growing citrus indoors

You do not have to live in Florida to grow good citrus plants. With today's new hybrids and grafting methods it is possible for you to grow a few oranges, lemons, limes, kumquat, and even grapefruit right in your living room no matter where you live.

They are not just citrus trees, they are decorative plants that will produce edible fruit and marvelous white flowers that are so fragrant that your entire home will smell of the great outdoors in spring time. Citrus plants are evergreen and the glossy, dark green, oval shaped leaves are even aromatic when crushed.

The flowers of the citrus are star-like and usually develop on the plant during the early spring in clusters on the tips of the branches. The flowers are about one inch in diameter and last on the plant for several weeks.

Citrus is traditionally pollinated by insects but because they are growing in an unnatural climate, your home, you will have to do the pollination by hand if you want fruit to form on the plant.

This will be fun--all you have to do is purchase a small artist's paint brush and tickle the flowers when you notice that the center of the flower has a yellow powdery substance forming on it. This is pollen; you have to move it from the pollen sacks and place it on the swollen center of the flower called the "pistil."

Move your pollen-covered brush from flower to flower every day that the flowers produce new pollen and new flowers open on the plant. I find that if you sing while you do this, it will work better! So "Buzz, Buzzz, Buzzzz." As the plant is accustomed to the romance of the buzzing bee, try this buzzing while your spouse or children are in the room and wait to hear the reaction from them.

Most years you will have new flowers and fruit at the same time on your plant as the fruit ripens slowly. If you're successful at pollinating the flowers, a small rounded fruit will form where the flowers were, and in time it will grow in size, forming a green fruit that will bend the branches it develops on. The fruit will form slowly and the color will change as it develops, from a dark green to orange or yellow depending on the fruit you are growing.

Grow Citrus in a sunny or bright lit window or in front of a sliding door, as the plant needs a lot of sunlight to make fruit indoors during the winter. When the weather changes and becomes frost-free place the plant outside in a full sun location until the fall arrives, then back indoors.

When you place the plant outside in the spring, I would like to see you repot the plant in a pot one size bigger but still small enough for you to handle. Use a good quality potting soil that contains a lot of organic matter like the new Espoma's Potting soil with mycorrhizae. Fertilize every 2 weeks, spring to fall and then monthly during the winter months.

Water the citrus plant weekly when the plant is outside and more often if the weather gets hot. During the winter, water sparingly while indoors but keep the soil moist; do not let it dry out. During the winter, it is best to keep the plant on the cool side--50 to 60 degrees if possible--and avoid temperatures above 70 degrees, as the plant is resting.

Fertilize with an acid-based fertilizer such as Mir-Acid and keep lime away from this plant. When you put the plant outside for the summer, add a little bit of Holly Tone organic fertilizer to give it a push and help the plant make new growth.

If you start to see the foliage color fading or turning yellow, use Mir-Acid fertilizer as a foliar feed. Citrus loves humidity, so keep the plant on a tray of stones that you can add water daily to. This will help provide moisture to the air around the plant. A humidifier will help keep the plant happy--and daily misting is wonderful also.

When you purchase plants, be sure that they are labeled as dwarf or grafted plants. This will insure that they will flower and fruit while still small, usually when the plant reaches 3 to 6 feet tall. Non-grafted plants will need to grow 10 feet plus to produce fruit in your home--like growing an apple tree in your house.

When you eat citrus and save the seeds for potting, they will grow, but because they are not grafted or dwarf they will not bear fruit for you unless you have real high ceilings. The plants are beautiful, the flowers smell great, and with some luck you can have "native citrus" in your living room at this time next fall, no matter where you live. Enjoy!

"Pray for good harvest, but continue to hoe"
Old Saying


Van Morrison - Meet Me in the Indian Summer
Van Morrison - Meet Me in the Indian Summer


Composting your fall leaves will give you rich compost

Growing up, I can remember my mother saying, "Spring cleaning is for me and fall cleaning is for Dad." My mother cleaned the house every April from top to bottom and there was not a spot untouched. In October my dad did his cleaning in the yard, garden, garage, and basement, just as thoroughly as my mother did the house in April.

When everything was winterized in the garage and in the basement, my dad would sneak out the vacuum cleaner for the final touches. My mother would have killed him if she knew he used her vacuum cleaner in those places--and a quick trip for an ice cream cone kept us kids quiet about all that happened.

My dad always put organic matter back in the garden every fall to help the soil recover from a summer of hard work. My brothers and I would rake the leaves around the house and pile them in the garden for my dad to spread and turn over.

If there was not enough, we walked the street on Saturday morning looking for trash bags fill with leaves to bring home for the garden. In those days there were no rototillers--you used a pitchfork to blend the leaves with the garden soil, and that was work I will never forget.

Once the leaves were turned over, we spread limestone over the entire garden and then the lawn. At 50 cents a bag, it was a cheap way to help rot those leaves and keep the soil from getting too acidic. I remember that it took two of us kids to push that spreader all over the yard and garden. I think we liked coming into the house with white shoes and waiting for mom's expression before we were allowed in.

In the spring, my dad spread chicken manure from a local farm all over the yard and in the gardens. We kids were not to be found when it came time to spread fresh chicken manure--oh, the smell! I still can remember the smell, but I will tell you that it did work well.

Several years later we moved from Maine to the South Shore of Boston. In the fall, when we had a storm like the one we just had on Monday, the seaweed would wash onto the beaches. That next weekend, the kids would pile into the car and we all headed to the beach to rake up the seaweed for the garden. We filled trash bags until we had enough to cover the garden 4 to 6 inches deep, and the following weekend Dad used his rototiller (we had one by then) to blend it into the garden.

Our pay for that work was the best--a submarine sandwich from Scituate, Massachusetts' best sub shop, called "Maria's," and a can of Coke. They still have the best subs--you can find the same owner--and whenever I go back home, I always get a submarine sandwich from Maria's. I eat it on the beach like I did so many years ago, ham and cheese with pickles and tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a bit of hot peppers and oil. Can you taste it?

Seaweed is like a bale of peat moss for your garden but it also contains all the goodness found in the ocean to fertilize your garden soil. Do not worry about the sea salt in the seaweed, as it will not hurt your garden soil. If you have not conditioned your garden soil yet, head down to the beach this weekend if you live near one and collect that seaweed for your garden.

If not, use your leaves or pine needles to conditioned the garden soil. If you can find and purchase "seasoned" animal manure, you should also spread it this fall and turn it over in the spring if time gets short. The windows in the neighborhood are all closed now and the smell will not bother anyone like it does in the spring time.

Organic matter will grow better plants in your garden and improve your soil at the same time. This fall feed the microbes in your soil for a better garden next spring. Enjoy!

Granny Smith Apple Crème Brulee

My wife Chris "LOVES" Crème Brulee and I found this recipe in an old cook book that I bought at a flea Market this summer. I gave it a try and used some fresh picked apples that we picked last week at a local apple orchard to make the recipe and it turned out to be "Elegant." Granny Smith does not grow well in Maine so I substituted Cortland apples and it was wonderful. It is supposed to serve 6 but 4 of us ate the whole dissert after supper last week, so good, give it a try.

3 large Granny Smith Apples or another type of firm cooking apple
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup of water or fresh apple cider
6 egg yolks
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
A little extra granulated sugar for toping

1} Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2} peeled, cored, and cut up into bite size pieces your apples

3} Stir and cook your apples, cinnamon, ¼ cup of sugar and water or cider in a sauce pan over medium heat until tender but not soft and mushy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside and cool

4} Whisk your egg yolks and 6 tablespoons of white sugar, until mixture is light yellow. Add vanilla. Gradually whisk in the cream

5} Divide the apples evenly into ungreased ramekins. Top evenly with cream mixture. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and add hot water to the baking dish until it reaches half way up the sides of the ramekins.

6} Bake until it has set up, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, but keep the ramekins in water for 30 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and refrigerate and chill overnight.

7} When you're ready to serve, sprinkle ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar on top of the crème and carefully torch until golden brown. Refrigerate any leftovers, Enjoy!



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. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!        Supplies are now limited!


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