Time to Plant the Garden!

Al Jolson sings April Showers - HD Widescreen
Al Jolson sings April Showers - HD Widescreen

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My name is Matt Parent and I am doing the Dark Side Challenge in April. The Dark Side 
Challenge is a 10K run on April 16th and a half marathon on April 17th. I am raising money
 to pay for me to participate. The Noah's Light Foundation is an organization who is trying
 to help cure pediatric cancer. This is something close to my family as I lost a cousin to
 brain cancer. So help me help them find a cure!  Please take sometime to click on the link and make a donation. 

Noah's Light Foundation - Donate

Matt's Darkside Challenge Race for the Light! supporting the Star Wars™ Half Marathon - 
The Dark Side 2016 campaign Good day everyone. As you know I like to run
 now it's time for me to put my legs and stamina to a good cause. 
I am raising money for Noah's Light Foundation. They help with pediatric brain Cancer.

This is our Oldest son  Matthew who is trying to raise money for 
Noah's Light foundation.  Thank You to anyone who would like to donate.

Time to plant the Peas, if you have not done it already!

My dad always planted Peas on St. Patrick's Day if the ground was ready--though it was sometimes not.

We have been waiting to get out into the garden all winter long and now is the time! Go down to your local Garden Center to purchase your vegetable seeds and be sure to pick up some Spring Peas, such as the peas for shelling, Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas. I like the Snow and Sugar Snap Peas because you can eat the pod and pea, no waste and a lot less labor to clean. The taste of fresh picked peas is as different as frozen peas are to canned peas. If you have never grown peas in your garden, this year try it and taste the difference. Peas do not like the heat, so you should plant them now while the temperatures are cool. Purchase double the amount of peas you need and keep the balance for a fall crop that you will plant in August and harvest in October.

My father told this story to everyone he knew who loves peas--and it is true. On June 16, 1949 my mother was in her garden weeding and picking fresh peas for their dinner. A few neighbors came by that morning to see her and say hello. To their surprise when they returned home that evening a sign was attached to the front of the house: "IT"S A BOY." While my mother was picking peas, she went into labor with me and I think that is why I love peas so much. That night, my Dad cooked the peas that my mother had picked and brought them to the hospital for her to eat because peas were her favorite vegetable also. Now you know the rest of the story!

It is best to plant peas in a location that is sunny all day. Before planting, work two inches of compost or manure into the soil as these plants love a rich soil and will give you more peas per plant for your extra work. If you have a loose, well drained soil, the plants will grow better than a soil with a lot of clay. If you have a wet spring, heavy, wet soil will rot the seeds before they have a chance to germinate. Use Garden Gypsum before planting to break up the clay and open up the soil.  A soil PH of 5.5 to 6.5 is best and for most of us, lime should be added to the garden every other year to lower the acidity.

Peas are unique because they can produce a small bump on the roots called a nodule. This nodule,with the help of bacteria that live in the soil, has the capability of pulling nitrogen from the air and soil,storing it in these nodules for future crops in the garden. Peas and beans can do this, so plant them in a different location every year and the plants will make free fertilizer for you, rather than taking it out.

If you are new to peas, purchase a package of nitrogen-fixing bacteria from the nursery when you buy the seeds as it will increase the yield of pods by as much as 75%. Vegetable Tone from Espoma or Pro-Trust vegetable food will give you better results than the traditional 10.10.10 fertilizer and actually help build up the soil at the same time.

Plant the peas on both sides of a string-type trellis or chicken wire fence to help keep the pea plant off the ground. Peas have tendrils that will attach to the support and hold the plant upright, keeping the peas clean, showing off the flowers so the bees can find them more easily, and produce more peas per pod. Space the seeds three inches apart and plant them 2 inches deep. If you like to eat peas, plant different types that ripen at different times so you can pick them for a longer time. Look on the back of the package for the maturing time and plant at the same time. Pick the peas when the pods are full but not bulging for the best tasting peas. All that remains is a little butter, salt, and pepper, so enjoy!   
HD 1080p
 "Singin' in the Rain" (Title Song) 1952 ~ Gene Kelly

Plant your seeds now for your first crop of Lettuce
When my Aunt Ruth was alive, she loved to work in the vegetable garden--and my garden became hers. That was OK, because I never had to weed or water that garden and, most of the time, I could just stand there and enjoy watching her enjoy what she was doing. She loved to grow leaf lettuce because it grew so fast, tasted so good and because you could cut it down to a couple of inches of the ground and it came back without replanting. She loved the different shapes, colors, textures and tastes of the foliage; most nights she would pick lettuce for us and make a wonderful salad. Her favorite was a salad of just mixed lettuce greens with basic oil and vinegar dressing. She would say to us, "I have made a honeymoon salad--lettuce alone." I do miss her a lot, and when I am in the vegetable garden working, I know she is right there next to me, working alongside me.

Did you know that there are 4 main groups of lettuce that you can grow in your garden? The crispheads, loose heads, Cos or Romaine types, and leaf lettuce. The crispheads will form a solid and more rounded head of foliage--the 'Iceberg' is the most popular type found at the supermarket. This family is great for the spring and fall only, as it does not do well in the heat of summer. Cool weather is the key for this family of lettuce. It takes about 85 days to grow in the spring and 95 days in the fall for this family to mature, so plan ahead.

The loose head types--commonly known as the Bibb lettuce family--do not produce a firm central head. The foliage is loosely packed, more tender, much darker in color, and forms many outer leaves around the head. Some of these types of lettuce will tolerate the summer heat, but all will grow in the spring and fall.

Cos or Romaine types of lettuce will form upright growing heads with longer leaves and a thicker central midribs for support. This family will take longer to grow and mature, so plan ahead. The flavor is best when planted as a spring or fall crop in your garden. Summer heat will spoil the flavor and the plants will bolt easily in the hot weather, making them bitter tasting.

Aunt Ruth's favorite was the loose leaf; this family does not make a head at all. It resembles an arrangement of beautifully arranged leaves growing from a central point with foliage of different sizes and colors. This family will mature very quickly--in just 40 days in the spring or fall. During the summer, it's even faster because all you have to do is cut it back to within 2 inches of the ground and in just a couple of weeks the plant will replace all the foliage you ate earlier in the season. This plant has the ability to re-grow new foliage 2 to 3 times a season, if you fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.

All lettuce plants do best with cooler temperatures and you might think of planting some of your favorite varieties in the shade during the summer. To me lettuce can also be used in the landscape as a foliage plant grown for color. Much like what dusty miller, vinca vines, coleus, and sweet potato vines are grown for. Best of all, when lettuce is grown in containers you can eat the foliage as it matures as a bonus. Lettuce will also make a wonderful container plant for those of you with limited growing space--so consider growing mixed colored and foliage types of loose leaf lettuce instead of flowers in your container this summer.

If you would like early lettuce for your garden, now is the time to start the seeds indoor to transplant seedlings into the garden during mid to late April. Use a seed-starting soil like Espoma Organic Soil with mycorrhizae bacteria added to it. When the plants are 1 to 2 inches tall, transplant them into the garden and space them according to the type recommendations. You can direct seed into the garden in late April, as soon as the ground has warmed up. If you're planting loose leaf lettuce types and want fresh lettuce all year long, plant 2 to 3 feet of new seed row every 2 weeks. This will give you fresh succulent plants developing all season long.

When you plan your garden, just remember to rotate your crops, as lettuce should be rotated every year to a new location, so as not to deplete the soil of nutrients that the crop needs to grow. I plant lettuce at the base of tall-growing plants like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts (just for example) in the summer and use the shade they produce to cool the lettuce plants. The main thing to remember is that lettuce MUST have a lot of water during the hot days of summer or the plant will "bolt," which means it stops making leaves, and makes seed instead--and the foliage will get very bitter tasting.

Lettuce will grow in most soils and the better you prepare it, the faster the plant will mature--especially during the heat of summer. If you direct seed in the garden and seedlings come in thick in areas and spare in others thin thick area--just dig out a few seedling and transplant them. If plants are grown too close together, they will be less productive for you. Plant seed just about 1/4 inch deep and keep wet until they germinate; they will take about 10 to 14 days to germinate.

If you like variety in lettuce you can also purchase mixed blends of seed like Mesclun spicy mix, Mesclun Salad Mix, mixed color leaf types, and mixed texture leaf types. I plant several of these mixes for variety, color, texture, and flavor. This spring, be sure to plant lettuce in your garden, your containers or as an accent plant in your landscaping. As my Aunt Ruth would say: "How about a honeymoon salad tonight--lettuce alone." Enjoy!

Aunt Ruth "How about a honeymoon salad tonight--lettuce alone"

Simon & Garfunkel - April Come She Will (Live In New York 1981)
Simon & Garfunkel - April Come She Will (Live In New York 1981)

Now is the Time to plant Broccoli seedlings!

Broccoli is a vegetable that either you love...or you don't. It's a vegetable that can be eaten fresh out of the garden, raw in salads, is great for dipping or cooked a hundred different ways to fit your taste buds. It's also one of the few vegetables that you actually eat the flower buds of the plant before they mature to flowers. This unique vegetable will do best when planted early in the spring when the weather is still cool to cold, so don't wait to plant them when the weather is ready in mid-May for your tomatoes--plant them now. At this time of the year, it's too late to start broccoli plants from seed, so plant seedlings available at your local nursery or garden center. But you should buy a package of seeds for a fall and early winter crop--and I will tell you about that fall crop after we talk about the summer crop.

Broccoli is a vegetable that prefers a soil a bit on the acid side to neutral; if you apply wood ash or limestone to the garden every other year the plants will do quite well. They are heavy feeders and will quickly deplete your garden soil of Nitrogen in just one season unless you fertilize them monthly with a good organic vegetable garden fertilizer. Broccoli should never be planted in the same location of your garden every year. Rotation of the location in the garden will keep this wonderful vegetable productive and will give the soil a chance to rest and rebuild the soil fertility. Adding compost to the garden soil--leaves, animal manure or seaweed--in the fall of the year will help to rebuild the quality of the soil by spring for other types of vegetable plants.

If you have tried to grow broccoli in the past--or other cold weather crops such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage or collards and have had problems with small or stunted growth, hollow stems or stems that crack or split open, you have a problem that is easily solved with an application of Borax detergent powder. Soils that are on the acidic side or are low in organic matter, such as compost or animal manure are usually deficient in Boron. In the spring before planting add compost and use Bonide - turf turbo to sweeten the soil.

If the fertilizer you are using does not list Boron on the package, just add Borax detergent to your garden at the rate of 2 pounds per 1000 sq. ft. of garden and till to a depth of 6 inches deep into the soil. Boron deficiency is also responsible for corn that has discolored foliage, stunted growth and is light in color; also look for poor corn kernel development on the cob of the plant. Vegetable garden fertilizers like Vegetable-Tone or Dynamite time release pellets are complete fertilizers and will solve your problem with a Boron shortage in your garden.

Broccoli loves a well-drained soil with lots of organic matter like compost, animal manure, or seaweed added to the garden every year. This helps to hold moisture around the plant roots during periods of high heat during the summer. If your soil is heavy and on the clay side, conditioning is necessary to help root development and prevent root rot problems if the season is a wet one. Adding Garden Gypsum will also help to break up the clay in the soil and improve drainage. If your soil is on the sandy side also use Soil Moist granules at the time of planting to help hold moisture around the roots, all you will need is a good pinch per plant.

Select a full sun location in the garden for the best yield but the plant will tolerate a bit of shade. Space your plants 18 to 24 inches apart, with 2 feet between rows. If you're planting in a block, try to stagger the rows so plants have more room to grow. Once the plants are established in the garden and growing well, water them weekly to help the plant produce side shoots once you have picked the large terminal head of broccoli. A well-fed and watered plant will produce 1 to 2 inch mini heads all summer long. Pick those mini heads often and if some should develop yellow flowers, cut and remove them from the plant--or the plant will go to seed and production will stop, especially when it gets hot. Broccoli will keep over a week in a food storage bag in your refrigerator, so pick often until you have enough for a meal and then cook or just eat them raw in your summer salad. Pick your broccoli when the flower buds are small and tight for the best flavor.

Broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane, (a compound that can help prevent some types of cancer) and antioxidants that help protect the body from other disease. It is also low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Broccoli is full of vitamins like calcium, iron, potassium and a good source of protein.

Some problems you might encounter are: cabbage lopper--a small green caterpillar insect that is easily controlled with the new natural insecticide called Spinosad that is safe for all pollinators in your garden. A soil insect that I had problems with in the past called the root maggot is easily controlled with a new insecticide for the vegetable garden soil is called "Garden Eight Granules for the Vegetable Garden"; just apply in the hole around the roots at the time of planting and the problem is eliminated. This same product will also control cutworms when you sprinkle it around the plant after planting and it is safe and very effective, as cutworms love the cold crops vegetables when planted at this time of the year. Both of these vegetable garden insecticides are available from Bonide lawn and Garden at your favorite garden center or nursery. Once you apply the product, water the garden well to make them effective and protect your garden plants. If you have wire worms in your potatoes, radishes, or turnips this product will control these pests when added to the soil around the seed when planting.

If you want to grow a fall crop of broccoli, purchase your seeds now, as they will not be available later--and save them until mid-July. Start your seeds in a flat of seed-starter soil at mid-month; the seeds will germinate in about a week. Set out seedlings when the plants develop 3 sets of leaves--and plant them 12 inches apart in the garden, as this fall season crop will only allow you to harvest one large head per plant due to the length of the season. If the fall weather is nice, you may be able to harvest some additional side shoots but plan for nice large and tasty heads by late September or early October.

Some wonderful varieties to look for are 'Packman F1', 'Premium Crop F1', 'Saga F1' or 'Mariner F1', as these varieties will produce an abundance of side shoots all summer long and a large fully formed terminal head in the spring and fall season.

Keep plants away from plantings of pole or snap beans and strawberries, as they do not get along very well. Good companion plants are bush beans, lettuce, cucumbers, beets, and carrots. Now...do not forget to rotate your crops with another vegetable other than the cold weather crops and the plants in the cabbage family the following year; give the soil a chance to rest, and rebuild itself naturally. Enjoy!
 "Spring is the time of year
when it is summer in the sun 
and winter in the shade"

Charles Dickens
PATTY DUKE Sings DON_T JUST STAND THERE on _Shindig__ 1965
New England Shepherd's Pie

Growing up in New England, I grew up on my favorite Casserole called Shepherd's Pie. It is a recipe from England that every family modified to their liking. The original version used lamb but in America, beef was more popular so ground beef was substituted. It's an easy dish to create, quick to put together and a real Comfort Food. With 5 kids in the house my Mother made it often for us as we all loved the flavor combination.

2 to 3 pounds of mash potatoes
2 pounds of ground beef 85% beef for better flavor
1 large Onion minced
1 can of whole kernel corn 16 ounces
1 can of cream style corn 16 ounces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 stick of butter
1 cup of milk
A 3 to 4-quart casserole dish

1}Peel your potatoes, wash and cut up in small pieces to cook faster. Put your potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and lower the fire to medium. Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Put your cooked potatoes in a medium mixing bowl, add milk and half a stick of butter in pieces with a bit of salt and pepper. Mix well until potatoes are smooth, put aside.

2}In a large skillet add the remaining 1/2 stick of butter and melt on medium heat. Add your large minced onions and your ground beef and cook until the beef is brown and the onions soft and tender.

3} Pour your cooked ground beef and onions into the casserole dish "along with the melted fat" but don't tell anyone, as that the FLAVOR of the dish and keeps the meat moist. Spread the meat on the bottom of the dish.

4} in a small bowl mix the cream style corn and whole corn with the water drained together. Pour over your meat and spread. With a large spoon place dollops of mash potatoes over the corn and spread. Place 5 or 6 - pads of butter in the mash potatoes.

5} Place the Shepherd's Pie on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it starts to bubble. When all layers are hot serve with a nice crusty bread and butter. This will feed 7 to 8 people and if you have leftovers save it for a quick lunch the next day or freeze it in a freezer bag. My Parents always had a glass of a red wine with this wonderful meal.

6} Some people will also add a can of baby peas or even a can of sliced carrots drained to the corn mixture. I like it the original way better, it's up to you. Enjoy!
Day to look forward to:

April is National Gardening Month
April 1st - Fools Day one day
April 22 - Earth Day is 22 days
April 27th - Secretary's Day is 27 days
May 8th - MOTHER'S Day is 38 days
May 21st - Armed forces day is 51 days
May 30th - Memorial Day is 60 days



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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