Let's decorate for Thanksgiving!

The Turtles - Happy together (video/audio edited & remastered) HQ
The Turtles - Happy together (video/audio edited & remastered) HQ

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It's time to put your garden to bed!

The weather has been mild for most of us but let's use these remaining nice days to our advantage and close up the garden for the year. The weather has a way of changing without much of a notice so let's get it done and move our gardening skills indoors now.

In the vegetable garden let's pick all the roots crops, such as carrots, beets, turnip, and rutabagas. Remove all the foliage but do not cut into the flesh of the vegetable, I usually cut the foliage to one inch of the top and toss the greens into the composter. Store these vegetable in your garage or cold basement in a box of sandbox sand. All I do is cover the bottom of the box with a thin layer of washed sand and then place the root crop in the box and cover with the rest of the sand. This keeps the air off them so they do not dry up while in storage. Sandbox sand can be purchased in 50 pound bags at your local garden center and it keeps the vegetables much cleaner than using peat moss. When you're done eating the vegetables, use the sand on the snow and ice on your walkways as needed.

If you have not pulled your onions, shallots, sweet potatoes, or regular white potatoes, now is the time to do so. Shake off any soil, wash them with the garden hose, and let them air dry. Remove any dried foliage and place them in your garage or cold basement in open baskets or mesh bags to create good air circulation while in storage. Check often for possible rotten vegetables and dispose of them as needed. (One rotten potato can and will destroy all your work.) When everything is removed, rake the garden clean of debris and spread limestone over the garden to keep the soil from getting too acid.

All your winter squash can also be kept in the same storage conditions in baskets and dry. Butternut, acorn, buttercup, Hubbard and more will keep well most of the winter. Many places are having specials on winter squash right now so take advantage of the price and stock up while it is available.

Brussels sprouts can stay outdoors in the garden until you are ready to eat them; along with kale. Many years I have picked both of them right up until Christmas; several years I had to dig them out of the snow and they tasted real good.

Let's not wait any longer--winterize your roses now. First, if you have potted rose bushes, potted tree roses, or miniature potted roses they must spend the winter in an unheated building like your garage or tool shed, NOT your house or basement. Roses must go dormant for the winter and rest. If you keep them alive they will grow themselves to death. Like you and me, they need downtime and winter is their time to rest. Once all the foliage has come off or turned brown, water the planter well and move it indoors. Do not feed them, do not prune them; just let them rest in the cold building until mid-March. When the weather changes, move the container outside, water well, and wait until April first before pruning the plant and feeding it to begin a new season in your garden.

Roses planted in your garden need extra protection for the long winter if you live in a cold climate like North East. Right now build a mound of soil, compost or bark mulch on top and around your plant 12 to 18 inches tall and just as wide. This will help protect the delicate graft on the plant. I also recommend that you spray the branches or canes of the rose bush with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Stop or Wilt-Pruf to prevent the winter winds from drying out the delicate canes. Do not prune your rose bushes during the fall ever; wait until April to prune them and at that time start your monthly application of rose fertilizer. If you have climbing roses, make sure to tie them up to the structure they are climbing on so the branches are not damaged with the winter wind and snow. In April, spread the mound of protection material around the plant to help keep the roots cool during the heat of summer.

Hydrangeas should be cleaned of all dead flowers on the plant to prevent heavy snow or ice damage. Those large dried flowers will catch the heavy wet snow or ice and the weight will bend, possibly breaking the branch. Just remove the dead flowers; do not cut back the branches until spring. Your summer flowering blue hydrangeas are the least hardy, and if you live north or west of Boston, in northern New York State or in western Pennsylvania, they should be protected much the same way as the roses are. Follow the same steps with the mound of mulch and a spraying of an anti-desiccant to help protect the delicate flower buds on the plant for next year.

Newly planted trees over 6 feet tall should be staked to the ground to prevent the wind from moving the plant around during the winter months. If the tree moves around during the winter, the root ball in the ground will also move and the small newly developing roots will snap off, preventing the plant from establishing itself. If you have a flowering or fruit tree, it should also be wrapped with tree wrap to prevent the bark from cracking or splitting with the fluctuating temperatures.

If these trees are planted near open fields or near a wooded area, there is the possibility of rodents damaging the plant by eating the bark the first couple of years, until the bark toughens up. Please take the time to build a ring around the trunk of the tree with hardware cloth wire from the ground to the first branch. Make the wire collar so it has a 1 inch space from the trunk of the tree to the wire. If you don't, mice, moles, and rabbits will feed on this tasty bark when the snow gets deep; if they eat the bark off the plant, the tree will die.

If you have new arborvitaes, look at them closely and see that they are multi-stem plants; ice and heavy wet snow will split them, breaking them apart. Just take a piece of rope, like clothesline rope, and tie a piece at the base of the plant and wrap the branches together like a cork screw around the plant. Go 3/4 of the way up the plant to prevent damage and leave it on the plant from November to April. This will need to be done for the first 2 to 3 years until the plant has begun to mature and the branches harden.

If you have a new or established birch clump it might be a good idea to tie them together to prevent them from falling over with heavy wet snow. Tie one tree with the rope and wrap the rope around the others--like the arborvitae--in a corkscrew pattern. There is strength in numbers, so tie all the individual trunks together. Birches have weak stems and easily bend under heavy snow never to return to the same position in your yard.

Any newly-planted broadleaf evergreen like azalea, rhododendron, boxwood, holly or mountain laurel should be sprayed with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf or Wilt-Stop NOW and AGAIN in early February to keep them from drying out in a windy location. To me it's worth spending a dollar per plant to prevent damage on a plant worth $25.00 or more, now, isn't it?

The Seekers - Georgy Girl, US TV 1967
The Seekers
 Georgy Girl, US TV 1967

How to make your Christmas Cactus Bloom!

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 Neptune's Harvest or Espoma organic grow until the middle of August to help the plant make new growth. After August 15, fertilize monthly until you put it outside 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 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!
Herman's Hermits I'm Henry The VIII, I Am Ed Sullivan 1965
Herman's Hermits I'm Henry The VIII, I Am Ed Sullivan 1965
November projects  to prepare your gardening equipment for winter

It's November and the time to put your garden and the gardening equipment to bed for the season. Let's start with your equipment, because it's time to move it to the back of the garage or tool shed and prepare for the winter weather ahead of us. Power equipment like the rototiller, lawn mower, and your gas powered cutting tool should be cleaned, and then prepared for the winter by first filling up the gas tanks with a fuel that has been treated to prevent water buildup in the tank or fuel line. Start them up and let them run for a few minutes, so the treated fuel has a chance to move up into the engine. This little bit of maintenance will ensure a quick startup next spring.

I want you to purchase a can of WD-40 and spray all metal surfaces to prevent rusting from the dampness of the winter air. Be sure to coat all cutting surfaces extra well to keep your blades nice and sharp. This will also prevent moving parts from rusting together and keep the blades and wheels moving properly. If you have electric power tools, treat all metal surfaces the same way and coil up the power cords to keep them from being all tangled up in case you need them for the Holiday lights.

Equipment that you push like the wheelbarrow, fertilizer spreader, dollies, and even the hose reel should be washed and cleaned of debris. Spray WD-40 into all wheel sockets and treat any exposed metal to prevent rusting. Now is a great time to take a wire brush and clean your metal wheelbarrows, but instead of treating with WD-40 purchase a can of Rustoleum metal spray paint and paint the bowl of the wheelbarrow to keep it strong and rust free. With a cloth rub Linseed oil on the handles along with any wood pieces to keep them from drying out, splintering, and rotting during the winter, because handles have the most stress on them when used to move heavy loads. One last thing I want you to do is spray all your rubber tires with Pledge furniture polish to hold the moisture in the rubber and help prevent them from drying out and cracking.

Your fertilizer spreaders should be washed to remove fertilizer or lime dust that has built up on the moving parts and application ports. Let it air dry and then treat all moving parts with WD-40, especially the holes at the bottom of the spreader so they do not rust and become larger. If your holes get larger due to rust, you will be applying more product to the lawn than the bag calls for. When more product comes out it will cost you more money to teat that area and you may also burn the lawn with the extra fertilizer you applied. No one likes a lawn with stripes in it, plus if you over-feed your lawn it will grow faster and you will have to mow it more often.

Now for your hand tools and long handled tools. Clean them well and treat metal surfaces with WD-40 and wooden handles with linseed oil to help keep them strong. Last year I hung a 5 gallon bucket on the side of the tool shed and I now have a place to put all my hand tools, pruners and small gardening equipment--even gloves. I always know where to find them when I need them now. I also hate driving over them when mowing the grass, not very good for the tool--or the lawn mower blade. I did the same thing for all my watering tools and now I can always find the nozzle when I need it.

Drain your hoses of all water in them by throwing one end of the hose over a fence and pulling it to you as you coil it up in a neat roll. I then tie it in two places so it won't untangle, and it's ready if needed to wash road salt off the car during the winter; a frozen hose can be a real problem if you need it later. I hang it on the wall so I won't trip on it during the winter-- that also gives me more floor space for storage. Put the nozzle and the sprinklers in your bucket hanging on the side of the shed also.

I take all my granular or powdered fertilizers and insecticides and place them in a black plastic bag to help keep out moisture and place them on top of a bench so they stay loose, and don't turn into a solid block of product. Dampness from the floor will encourage your product to become solid and unusable in the spring. All liquids, especially pre-mixed products like Kleen-Up RTU, have a lot of water in the bottle, and they will freeze, affecting the performance of the product next year. Box them up and move them to your basement to prevent a decrease of the effectiveness of the products or breakage of the container causing a chemical spill--and real problems.

If you have a pump sprayer, remove the plunger and turn the sprayer upside down to keep moisture out and prevent corrosion. The rubber gasket around the plunger will go bad quickly because it is in contact with many products during the year, so every fall I coat it with a bit of Vaseline to keep it from drying out. Bottle sprayers used to control weeds on the lawn or apply insecticides on your plants should also be cleaned and opened to prevent corrosion in the mixing valves.

Bring in your garden statuary, clay, or ceramic pots, and gazing balls, also bird baths that are deep and hold a lot of water, because they will freeze and break. If you want to provide water for the birds purchase a bird bath that has a gradual slope and no lip on the bowl or it will break with the cold. If you have a large fountain, drain it of all water and cover it up with a piece of plastic sheeting. Now tape it together to prevent moisture from getting into the fountain and the wind from blowing it off. The pump should spend the winter in the tool shed.

If you're plowing or using a snow blower during the winter to remove snow on your driveway, now is the time to place stakes along the edge to help guide you and prevent damaging your lawn when it's covered with snow. After the snow storm we had last week, let's buy a couple bags of salt or sand and salt mix now so we are ready for the next storm. Do you have a snow shovel, windshield scraper...how about a battery charger? If you're using gas during the winter months and storing it in gas cans, let's purchase a fuel treatment activator to keep that gas free of moisture. If you have a walkway with gardens near it, how about a salt free product to prevent damage to those plants.

Before you close up the tool shed for the winter, make a list of tools you will need to replace for next year's garden. Christmas is coming and this note will help Santa bring you what you need for next year. If you have had problems with rodents spending the winter in your shed, place a couple packets of Bonide Mouse Magic in the shed and close the door tight to keep them out and your equipment safe. I always add a couple of additional packets after Christmas just to be sure they stay out.

One last thing--before you close up the tool shed, buy a bag of potting soil and store it the shed just in case you need to re-pot one of your house plants during the winter or you want to start some early seedlings on your window sill. Lettuce or spinach will do quite well in pots during those long days of winter. Get to work this weekend while the weather is nice--you never know when the next big one will come.
"Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year for gardening begins in January with a dream."

Josephine Nuese

                                    Macaroni and Cheese Soup 

As the weather begins to change and the weather begins to cool off, how about trying this neat soup to warm up with. Every youngster loves Mac and Cheese, but how about Mac and cheese soup? You can also add a package of cut up hot dogs to the soup for a bit more flavor and make it more filling. Your kids of all ages will love this soup.

3 quarts of water
5 tablespoons of chicken base
1 cup of chopped celery
1 large onion chopped
3 large carrots chopped
1 medium red or green pepper
1/2 package of frozen peas
2 cups of uncooked elbows macaroni
1 cup of butter cubed
cup of all-purpose flour
6 cups of milk
1 pound of Velveeta cheese, cubed

1}Use your stock pot and bring the water and chicken base to a boil. Add your chopped celery, carrots, onions, peas and red or green peppers: cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

2} Add your pasta, macaroni, cover and return to a boil, boil for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, or just when the macaroni is tender. If you like hot dogs slice them up into pieces and add to mixture.

3} In a large sauce pan, melt your butter. Add your flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a wire whip. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in the cheese until melted and then add to you undrained macaroni mixture. Blend well and you're ready to serve, I add a dusting of Paprika after I fill the bowls for a bit of color Enjoy!

Days to look forward
Thursday November 3 - Sandwich Day
Tuesday, November 8 - Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day
Friday, November 11 - Veterans Day
Sunday, November 13 - World Kindness Day
Thursday, November 17- Homemade Bread Day
Thursday, November 24 - Thanksgiving Day
Click here on picture and it will take you to our national park's trip!
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Keep records will make you a better gardener!!


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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