How is this for fall decorations

Beetlejuice - Day-o (Banana Boat Song)
Beetlejuice - Day-o
 (Banana Boat Song)
The Paul Parent Garden Club, next trip is to Cuba

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Creative idea for Carving your halloween pumpkin!

The ancient Greeks and early Europeans call the early pumpkin "pepon," which means large melon. They were not like the rounded orange pumpkin of today but more crooked-neck, odd shaped or more like winter squash in shape and not bright orange but a mixture of different colors. Today's pumpkin originated in America; it was hybridized by our farmers to what we have today as an orange, round-shaped vegetable.

The name pumpkin came from America. Christopher Columbus brought seeds from this funny looking vegetable that the Native Americans gave him back to Europe, where it was used to feed animals during the winter months but never eaten by people. Little did they know how nutritious this amazing vegetable would be in their diet when food got scarce. Pumpkins are not used as decoration in Europe like here in America; they are grown as a food crop for animals.

Many years ago while I was working at a nursery, a tour bus pulled into where I worked and tourists from Holland poured out of the bus with cameras to take pictures of the display we had made. They could not believe how many pumpkins we had and what people did with them. They thought pumpkins were for animals and loved the idea of using them for decoration around the house during the fall.

The first Native Americans used pumpkins as a food source and cooked them in numerous ways from roasted, baked, boiled, and even dried for flour. They ate the seeds and used the flowers in soups and stews but the real benefit of the pumpkin was its ability to be dry and stored for late use when food became scarce during the winter months. Some pumpkins shells could be dried and used as bowls or storage containers to hold grain, beans and seeds.

The Native American Indian introduced the pumpkin to the Pilgrims; it is documented that it was served at the second Thanksgiving Celebration. The pumpkins were an important food source because they stored well, which meant a nutritional food source during the winter months for them. It is also documented that without the pumpkin many of the Pilgrims would have died from starvation.

As time progressed and food became more plentiful, the Pilgrims also used the pumpkin to make pumpkin BEER by fermenting a combination of persimmons, hops, maple sugar and pumpkins to make the early colonial beer. Man does not only live on pumpkin pie, he needs something to help wash it down with while watching "Pilgrim Football."

Now let me tell you about the Jack-o'-lantern and Halloween. The early Jack-o'-lanterns were carved from large potatoes in Ireland and large turnips in Scotland for their Celtic celebrations. The British used large beets, and to illuminate them used a lump of coal lit on fire and placed inside the hollowed vegetable. When European settlers arrived in America, they found that the pumpkin was easier to carve and much better suited to being a Jack-o'-lantern. The Halloween celebration in America with Jack-o'-lanterns was first celebrated in the late 1800's as a means to celebrate the fall harvest, with community and neighborhood parties.

Now let me tell you how to grow the "great American pumpkin" in your garden. Begin with a garden located in FULL sun all day long. Pumpkins are tender plants and will not tolerate a frost, so plant them when the season is ready and frost-free. The seeds will germinate better in warm soil, so don't rush to plant the seed until the ground has warmed up with the help of the spring sun. You can start seedlings indoors in pots 2 weeks earlier than outside to get a jump on the season. Just watch the weather when planting your seedlings grown indoors and moving them to the garden--and always be ready to cover them if frost is predicted. Don't rush the planting season, as Halloween is a long way off.

Your soil should be well drained and fertile with lots of organic matter like animal manure, compost or peat moss. The Pilgrims used seaweed and herring to help condition their soil before planting. If the soil is sandy, add Soil Moist Granules to help hold moisture in the soil. The best soil should have a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 and lime will be needed in most areas in the Northeast, but test your soil before planting. Try to stay away from areas where vine crops like cucumbers, melons and squash grew during the past 2 years.

Water is also very important when growing pumpkins. Your plants will require 2 to 4 inches of water per week, depending on your soil type. Soil Moist Granules are very helpful to help hold moisture in sandy soils along with a lot of organic matter. Always water in the morning and NEVER at night or your wet leaves will trap fungus spores, and diseases like powdery mildew will hurt your leaves, limiting the production of pumpkins.

How much space will you need to grow pumpkins in your garden? The average vine can grow 30 to 40 feet long, so if space is limited, plant seedlings or seeds on the side of the garden and let the vine run on your lawn. Spacing required is 50 to 100 sq. ft. per hill, so plant 5 seeds per hill of soil and thin to the 2 to 3 best when the plants begin to develop and become well established. Space hills 5 to 6 feet apart and 10 to 15 feet between rows of hills.

Weeding is a big factor when growing pumpkins and the garden should be weed-free at all times. When weeding, keep your garden weeder shallow in the soil as the roots of pumpkins stay close to the surface and deep weeding will hurt the roots. Landscape fabrics, plastic mulches or weed-free straw will save you a lot of time and help the roots develop without interference. Pumpkins love loose soil, so try to keep off the areas where they are growing to prevent soil compaction.

Insect problems can develop on the plant but they can be easily controlled with recommended insecticides when applied late in the day or early evening while the flowers are closed and the bees are not present in the garden. Check with your local Garden Center for recommended product depending on your specific problem. Bees are very important for pumpkins, so be careful when applying insecticide to the garden. Stay away from SEVIN insecticide; it is the WORST product and very deadly to all types of bees.

Harvesting pumpkins is simple--when the pumpkin is hard and deep solid orange in color it's ready to pick! The vines are usually dying at this time but if the pumpkin has not changed color and the vine begins to die, pick them from the garden green and place them in a warm dry sheltered area until they color up. Always cut the pumpkins from the vine with pruners or a sharp knife. Pulling the stem from the vine will result in a broken stem, and pumpkins without stems do not keep well and will rot quickly. Always handle large pumpkins from underneath, never from the stem, to prevent breakage.

When you select a pumpkin always choose one without spots on it, soft areas, or cuts in the skin. The harder the skin the longer it will keep for you--and it must have a stem attached firmly to the top of the pumpkin. Thick walls keep better than thin lightweight pumpkins.
This is Halloween - The Nightmare before Christmas
This is Halloween - The Nightmare before Christmas

Make your Christmas cactus bloom for the holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Put A Spell On You - Bette Midler - Hocus Pocus 1993
I Put A Spell On You - Bette Midler - Hocus Pocus 1993
Fall Rose Care

Before you get caught up with all the holiday activities, here are a few final things to do in the yard and garden. The weather is still favorable to work outside now and the time spent in the garden can save you time and money--and save your plants from winter damage. There is nothing more frustrating than losing plants during the winter, because we did not know how to protect them properly--especially plants we worked so hard to develop this past season. Knowledge is power in your garden and here are a few things that will help you and your plants to have a better winter.

One of the most popular plants for the garden is the rose bush and for many of us, losing plants after the first winter that a rose bush was planted in our summer garden is tragic. The result is discouraging, and instead of increasing the size of the rose garden to add new varieties and colors, we replace the dead plants with perennials or annual flowers. Growing rose bushes is a lot of work but the reward is incredible as the plants produce the most sought-after flower in the world.

Here is what I want you to do in the next couple of weeks. Don't panic, because you still have time. Purchase a bag of bark mulch or compost, a bale of straw, or go down to the beach and collect sea weed and place it in your garden, but not on the plants yet. Right now the mice are still looking for a place to make their home for the winter and organic plant insulation will attract them to your garden and they will eat your plants during the winter. I want you to wait until Thanksgiving to create a mound of material around your plants.

Step one is to NEVER prune your roses in the fall of the year! Your plant is covered and sealed with strong bark that helps prevent moisture loss caused by winter winds and sun. Every time you cut back a branch from your plant, you are creating an opening for moisture to escape from the plant--resulting in branch die back or plant kill. If you live in a climate where winters get cold and temperatures dip down to the teens or colder, spend under a dollar a plant to give them additional protection by spraying them with an anti-desiccant sealant like Wilt-Pruf or Wilt-Stop. Before you use your insulation around the plant around Thanksgiving, apply the anti-desiccant product. That is something you can do now while the temperatures are above freezing during the day. Anti-desiccants sprays need 4 hours to dry on the plant when temperatures are above freezing to be most effective.

After Thanksgiving, build your mound with the product you have chosen to use to protect the plants for the winter. The mound should be 12 to 18 inches wide and high around your plants, and in the shape of a Teepee. If you live near the seashore or the rose garden is in a very windy location, you can also use a burlap bag to cover the plant for extra protection. NEVER use a plastic bag to cover your plants, because the bag will trap the daytime heat, causing wide temperature swings that will cause early sprouting during winter warm spells. Burlap is porous and breathes, allowing the heat to escape from around the plant and keep the plant dormant. After Christmas, recycle your Christmas tree and cut the branches from it so you can lay the evergreen branches against the plants for additional protection; as the needles dry, the smell will give your early garden great fragrance--and those fallen needles also become great organic matter to improve the soil around your roses.

Potted roses should be stored in your garage, tool shed or under your deck for the winter. This protects the plant from the winter weather but keeps it dormant. Plants stored inside an unheated building will need to be watered well before they are put away for the year and adding a bit of additional water during the winter to keep the roots moist. Those left outside under a deck or porch should be watered well and laid on their side to prevent the pot from filling with water and creating a ball of ice around the roots during the winter. Plants left outside should also be treated with an anti-desiccant before put into winter storage. If the weather gets nice out during mid-March bring the containers outside so the plants can gradually adapt to the changing temperatures. You don't want your plants to begin to sprout in the garage or tool shed as the days begin to warm up, and then have the new sprouting buds hurt by cold weather.

Now, the pruning of the rose bushes should be done in the early spring. Always wait until the baseball season begins in your home town--not during spring training. Prune to control the size of the plant, remove any branches that dried out during the winter and turned brown, also remove any small shoots or suckers that have formed at the base of the plants. Keep the most vigorous branches, as they will produce the most new growth during the summer and more flowers for you to enjoy. I also like to apply the anti-desiccant spray on the plant again in the spring after pruning to seal up the cuts made on the plant and hold moisture in the plant until it is ready to grow. If you're only making a few cuts on the rose bush and have no anti-desiccant spray left, just light a candle and drip some wax on the cuts you just made to seal the plant until it is ready to grow and care for itself. Make your cuts at an angle so rain and watering can roll off the branches to prevent rotting of the stems.

Fertilizer is applied in April when you begin to notice that the buds are beginning to pop and green foliage is forming. You can also begin to apply your first application of a systemic insecticide to the plant so it has time to move up the roots of the plant and get established in the new shoots that develop. That way you're ahead of the insects before they get a chance to get established on the plant. I also like to apply All Season Oil and a dormant fungicide to the plant to control any overwintering insect eggs left on the plant in the fall and disease spores from last year. This is most effective once you have pruned the plant in the spring and are getting the garden ready for the new season.

I don't care what people tell you about growing roses, it requires work, but the end results are well worth the effort. If you have never planted roses before, give it a try next spring but prepare your soil properly and choose a location with sun all day long, that's the key! If you're new to growing roses, ask for a gardening book about roses for Christmas and read up on how to grow them during the winter so you're ready when spring arrives. After the holidays, go on the internet and sign up to receive the new rose catalogs in the mail, so you can select the color combination for your garden. Those catalogs will also be full of additional helpful information when you get ready to plant the garden. If you follow these easy steps you can remove from your vocabulary to following phrase, "I never promised you a rose Garden because it is too much work." Can you imagine Valentine's Day without roses? Now imagine your garden with rose bushes growing in it; imagine cutting roses from those plants and placing them on your dinner table this coming summer. You can do it and you will enjoy your time in the garden with your rose bushes. Enjoy.

"Hold on man. We don't go anywhere with "Scary" ,"Spooky", "Haunted" or "Forbidden" in the title.
Scooby Doo
Halloween 1938
Halloween 1938 "War Of The Worlds" Legacy Lives On 75 Years Later!!



Easy to grow Swedish Ivy 

If you are looking for the easiest hanging plant to place near or in front of your window at your home or even at the office, look no further than the Swedish ivy. This hanging plant is the most popular of all the hanging indoor foliage plants sold today, and it's the easiest to grow, no matter where you live or what your experience level is with growing plants. The plant is perfect for the beginner, for your first apartment, for the dorm room in college or even for a teacher in a cool classroom--if neglect is likely, this is your plant. Think "foolproof" and it will grow better with little attention; even thrive in your window if you leave it alone except for a bit of fertilizer now and then and water when it needs it.

I have no idea how this plant got its name, since it is not in the Ivy family and is unable to climb an upright vertical surface as all ivies do--and it's not even from Sweden, it's a native plant to Australia and the Pacific Islands. It is a member of the Mint family but the Swedish ivy is able to cascade as much as 3 feet over the side of a hanging basket, and if it likes where it is growing, it will reward you with flowers in the late spring that will last to mid-summer.

Let me tell you about this plant. It will start as a bushy growing plant, upright at first, and as the strong thick stems begin to grow longer, they will fall over the sides of the pot. The plant does grow best in a hanging basket so you can better see the wonderful foliage from all sides. The foliage is rounded, the edges are scalloped and the edges have indentations on them. The foliage is also glossy, medium to deep green in color and has 1 to 2 inch long stems holding the leaf from the stem. You will also enjoy the deep veins running through the leaf giving it additional character.

In the spring, flowers will develop all over the plant at the base of the leaf and quickly poke their way thru the foliage often covering the plant. These flowers develop in the shape of a spike opening from the bottom of the spike first and slowly moving to the tip of the spike. These flowers will range from white to pale lavender and are often spotted with lavender dots. The flower spikes are short--2 to 4 inches tall--and attractive but not as showy as the foliage.

When the flowers fade, remove them, then cut back the plant to encourage new branches to develop on the plant. The pieces you remove from the plant can easily be rooted in a glass of water, or dip them in rooting powder and place several 3 to 4 inch long cuttings into a container filled with fresh potting soil. Roots will develop in just a couple of weeks in soil and a bit longer in water. When the roots grow to 3 inches long in water, pot them up in fresh potting soil and place 3 to4 rooted cuttings in a 4 to 6 inch container. You can cut back the plant at any time of the year to control the size of the plant.

Keep the soil moist, but never wet, or the roots will rot in the wet soil. Water sparingly during the winter months. The plant can stay indoors all year long but it will do quite well outside from May to October if kept in a shady location or in morning sun only. You can also repot the plant at any time of the year; just use a potting soil that is rich in peat moss or compost. When you repot the Swedish ivy, cut the plant back by 1/3 to make the transplanting easier, especially if the branches are long. This will help encourage new growth from the base of the plant and help thicken plants that have all their growth over the edge of the container.

The Swedish ivy will grow best in moderate light all year long but tolerate direct sun during the winter months. Indoors, keep plants at a temperature from 60 to 75 degrees and avoid drafty areas where doors open and close often. Fertilize every 2 weeks from spring to fall and monthly during the winter months with Neptune Harvest or Blooming and Rooting fertilizer. If your foliage is pale green and has darker green veins that may even turn purple, it's a sign that the plant needs to be fed more often. If you usually forget to feed your houseplants, go to your local garden center, purchase Dynamite fertilizer pellets and feed the plants with them. These fertilizer pellets will slowly fertilize your houseplants for 90 days or longer with just one application and help keep the foliage nice and dark green.

If you plants begin to get dull looking, bleached out in color, and droopy, they may be getting too much sunlight. Move to a different window and fertilize them to help bring back the foliage color and help make the plant strong growing again. If your plant has never flowered or makes only a few blooms, change your fertilizer to one with less nitrogen in it. A fertilizer with more phosphorous in it has a higher middle number on the package--like Blooming and Rooting plant food does.

Swedish ivy has two insects that can bother it--but not very often. The first is mealy bug; this insect pest will make it look like the plant has small pieces of cotton at the base of the leaf or under the leaf. The second is red spider mite; this insect will produce a spider web-like material on the foliage and between the stems of the plant. If you see this, move the plant away from other plants and quarantine it at the first sign of a problem.

Spray the plant top to bottom and under all the leaves with a product called All Season Oil. This is a wonderful non-chemical product that will smother the adults and the eggs at the same time--killing them both. Repeat with a second application in 7 to 10 days. During the winter months, these insects are more of a problem. The oil spray is not toxic to you when you breathe it or even touch the plant.

If you like unusual foliage colors, this family of plants has many new hybrids. Look for the green leaf type that has a lovely bright white edge along the margin of the leaf - called "Variegata."

Also available are varieties with as much white as green on the leaf and other variegations. There is a wonderful green and pale yellow variegated leaf type and both of these varieties will occasionally have new leaves on the plant that develop with all white or all yellow.

Your local garden center may also grow the green leaf type with purple veins on them and some also have a purple underside and so are the stems called "Purple Majesty." I also love the new silver-gray leaf variety that seems to be covered with fine hair like African violets have.

Also, if you're looking for something different for your outside planters, use Swedish ivy in them instead of vinca vines next year. That will look wonderful, especially when you use the variegated varieties in them.
Creamy Kale Pumpkin soup

With Halloween on Saturday, pick up a few small sugar pumpkins to decorate with and then use them to make a wonderful soup. Kale is still in your garden and should continue to produce until the ground freezes or buy a bunch at the supermarket about a pound will do. Your pumpkin will have a mild and smooth taste and with a couple fresh potatoes added you're in for a real treat. All you will need is crusty bread for lunch or supper treat. Enjoy!

5 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium to large onion, chopped, about a mounded cup
2 cloves of minced garlic
4 cups of chicken broth
2 medium to large new potatoes from your garden, peeled and cut up into I inch cubes about pound
pound of curly Kale, with the stems and ribs removed, chopped finely
teaspoon of salt
1 cups of pumpkin meat, cooked and place in a towel, and squeeze out most of the water. Baking the pumpkin cut in half or quarters and cooking until soft at 350 degrees is better than boiling, less water in the meat of the pumpkin.
teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon of white pepper, black will also do well.
cup of half and half

Cooking directions:
1} Cook your bacon until crispy and brown over medium heat in a Dutch oven or iron pot. Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the fat.

2} Heat your olive oil in the same pan and add the chopped onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and onions start to caramelize. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute.

3} Pour two cups of the chicken broth into the pan and stir to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the potatoes, Kale and salt: bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are easy to pierce with a fork and the kale is wilted.

4} Puree the potato mixture with a hand held blender or a standing blender. There will be flecks of green from the Kale so don't panic. Return the soup to the pan.

5} Stir the remaining broth and the pumpkin, nutmeg, and the pepper to the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired. Add the Half-and-Half and heat through, but do not "BOIL."

6} Sprinkle each steaming bowl of soup with the bacon bits you made and serve. 

7} refrigerate any uneaten soup or make it the day before and reheat before serving .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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