National Pollinator Week

 

Purple Cone Flower

Bumble bee pollinates Purple Cone Flowers.

National Pollinator Week; June 19th through 25th, is a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them.

Quote from the Pollinator Partnership website: “Ten years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.”

“The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 19-25, 2017 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior.”

The Pollinator Partnership website lists events around the country. However, during National Pollinator Week, you can encourage friends, neighbors, co-workers, and perhaps clients, to plant native plants and shrubs in their gardens to support pollinators such as birds, bees, butterflies, bats and beetles in the ecosystem.

You may ask, “What is pollination?” Pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from one flower to another flower of the same species, where it can fertilize it and start the development of fruit and seed production. Even though some plants can pollinate themselves, most need the assistance of insects, birds, bats and other organisms — together referred to as pollinators.

FYI:  At the July 12th meeting of the Somerville Garden Club, guest speaker Jessica Lubell, Associate Professor of Horticulture at the University of Connecticut, will give a presentation on  ‘Landscaping With Novel Native Shrubs’. Native shrubs provide support for pollinators and other ecological systems, and are a suitable landscape alternative to invasive plants.  The meeting will be held at the TAB building at 169 Holland Street in Somerville, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm; second floor in the senior room. All are welcome; no attendee or parking fee. Parking available for the event in the large parking lot to the left of building.

For further details: https://SomervilleGardenClub.org/

Rugosa rose & bumblebee

Bumble bee pollinating native Rugosa Rose.

 

 

 

 

Gardening Tips for Drought

IMG_5579

Here are some tips to help your plants survive during a season such as last summer’s drought:

  1. Use native plants, trees and shrubs that adapt well to this area.
  2. Place plants with similar light and water requirements together in the flower beds.
  3. Dig in organic matter such as, compost, manure, or rotting leaves.
  4. Put plants needing lots of water, near a downspout, near drainage areas that are low-lying, or in the shade of other plants.
  5. Do your watering early in the morning for the most benefit and most efficient use.  Watering later in the day during warm or hot weather leads to quicker evaporation.
  6. Conserve water, and help plants survive by using soaker hoses, or drip irrigation.  Overhead sprays tend to evaporate, and miss areas that need watering.
  7. Mulch with 2 to 3 inches of organic bark chips,  or shredded leaves to conserve soil moisture and reduce weeds.

Spring is almost Here!

IMG_0243

It’s late February, and there is still some snow on the ground. Hopefully the snow will melt by early to mid March. Here are some garden related tasks that can be taken care of during March.

MARCH TASKS

• If you haven’t cleaned your outdoor planters, scrub and sterilize them now with a solution of 1 part bleach mixed with 9 parts water. Then rinse them thoroughly with clean water.

Gardening tools that haven’t been cleaned can be washed and sterilized with this bleach/water solution, or with 70% Isopropyl Alcohol.

Get your pruning tools, spades, garden bed edger and mower blades sharpened if needed.

Get your lawn mower and other garden equipment tuned-up.

Draw up a plan for your vegetable garden so that this year’s crops will be rotated and not planted in the same place as last year.

Contact gardening and lawn care professionals to get scheduled into their calendar as spring is a busy season for them.

Join a garden club or take a gardening class to get new ideas and meet other gardeners.

New Years Garden Resolutions

priscilla-chews-square-ft-garden

Square Foot Gardening

In January, so many of us make resolutions for the new year, work on achieving these goals, but by February lapse into old habits. Myself included. Last year I made a resolution that I would plant within a few months, all potted plants I acquired either via the Somerville Garden Club’s monthly raffle or annual plant sale, or that I purchased from garden centers. I did pretty well, but there are still three small plants in pots on my driveway now buried in snow.

Here are some New Year’s resolutions you might consider committing to in 2017:

  • Commit to spending fifteen minutes every day in your garden, or schedule one to two hours per week. Get a family member, friend or neighbor to help you or keep you company.
  • Make a resolution to conserve the use of water in your garden. If affordable, instead of using overhead ‘water-waster’ sprinklers for your garden or lawn, have an underground irrigation system installed, or use soaker hoses as a cheaper means to conserve water. Or, purchase a water barrel to harvest rain water from a down spout attached to your rain gutter.
  • To save money and have more types of plants to choose from, grow plants from seeds indoors. Order seeds from catalogs, or buy them from your local garden center. You’ll need a grow light, seed starting soil, small pots or a seed starting kit. Plant the seeds in their indoor pots about 8 weeks before the final expected spring frost. Follow directions on the seed packets or from the starter kit.
  • Growing local and sustainable food organically is a healthy and fulfilling alternative to buying food from the supermarket. So, grow vegetables and herbs; adding some flowering annuals and perennials for variety and color. Plant them in the sun in raised beds, or in raised square foot garden containers to keep the plant roots safe from any lead in your soil.
  • Go to lectures, the library, or search online to learn about building raised beds and growing organically.
  • If you’ve been using chemicals on your lawn, plants or shrubs, make the choice to go organic this year. Using organic fertilizers, soil amendments and pesticides will be healthier for your family, neighbors, the plants, and for the environment around you.

 

I’d love to hear what  your gardening resolutions are for this new year!

Contact me at:   SunandShadeGardening@comcast.net

Winterizing Broad Leaved Evergreens

rhododendron-with-leaf-winter-burn

Do some of the leaves on your broad leaved evergreens turn brown and fall off during the winter? Or have what’s called ‘winter burn’; when the edges of the leaves turn brown over the winter but don’t fall off ? If so, there is something you can do to prevent this leaf damage and loss.

All evergreens lose moisture through their leaves in winter, especially broad-leaf evergreens such as Rhododendron, Azalea, Andromeda, Laurel and Boxwood. If planted in an unprotected area open to cold, drying winds, evergreens are susceptible to desiccation; a condition in which the foliage dries out, turns brown and may drop. To decrease water loss, spray and coat both sides of the leaves with an anti-desiccant such as Wilt-Pruf or Wilt Stop during a day in mid to late November with temperatures above 40 degrees . Make sure it isn’t going to rain or snow during the next couple of days or the spray application may wash off. If you didn’t get to this task in November, then in January if there is a day and evening that stays above 40 degrees, you can treat your shrubs then.

You can purchase Wilt-Pruf or Wilt-Stop at most local garden centers or hardware stores that have a gardening department. (Note: Do not spray arborvitae, junipers, blue spruce or cypress). And, for extreme weather conditions, you can build a protective shelter for your evergreen using stakes and burlap.

You can also use an anti-desiccant spray to prevent leaf dehydration over the winter on cut broad leaved evergreen leaf branches you use for making winter wreaths, swags, and decorations in window boxes. Spray the leaves before you wire the branches together. The spray takes less than an hour to dry.

Custom made Evergreen Swags and Arrangements

Evergreen swag

Evergreen swag

Window box arrangement

Window box arrangement

Seasons Greetings!

GET a HEAD START by ordering custom made Evergreen Swags and Arrangements now!

Would you like a beautiful hand made SWAG for your front door,
or ARRANGEMENT for window boxes or outside containers?

I’d love to create them especially for you!

To place your order:

Contact me at:

ClutterClearerCoach@comcast.net

SunandShadeGardening.com

Call:  857-919-4735

Happy Holidays!

Winter evergreen arrangement

Winter evergreen arrangement

Putting the Garden to Bed

putting garden to bed

As freezing temperatures set in and the plants in your garden die back, it’s time to ‘Put the Garden to Bed’ for the winter. This means taking care of the following tasks that will prepare your garden for winter endurance and get it in good shape for spring.

1. Lawns: Mow grass to 2 or 2.5 inches. Rake up all leaves and heavy grass clippings. Fertilize lawn for the last time until spring with 5-10-10.
2. Leaves: Non-diseased leaves make good mulch for your garden beds until spring, especially if shredded.
3. Weeds: Dig up and put in lawn bags.
4. Perennials: Cut down to 2 to 3 inches. Compost non-diseased cuttings. Birds eat the seeds of black-eyed Susan and coneflowers, so over-winter if you’d like.
5. Ornamental Grasses: For winter interest, winter-over and cut back in early spring.
6. Annuals: Pull up by the roots and compost non-diseased residue.
7. Vegetables: Same as annuals, but, turn the soil. Apply 3 to 4 inches of organic compost to vegetable bed.
8. Shrubs: Do not prune spring flowering shrubs now. Prune after they bloom in the spring. Remove dead wood anytime.
9. Compost: (winter nourishment) Spread 1 inch on beds before the ground freezes.
10. Mulch: (winter blanket) Apply 3 inches once the ground freezes.

Summer and fall blooming bulbs

Fall blooming crocus

Autumn Crocus –  Colchicum

It is common knowledge that you can plant bulbs in the fall that will bloom the following spring. These are known as ‘hardy bulbs’ because they can withstand and often need the cold weather to produce their flowers. But not every gardener knows that there are bulbs that can be planted during April and May (after the danger of frost) that will bloom during summer and fall. These are referred to as ‘tender bulbs’ as they do not withstand winter and must be dug up in the fall before frost to be stored indoors.

These tender bulbs are not all referred to as bulbs. Some are called tubers or rhizomes, others corms. But to simplify things, I will refer to them as bulbs. Bulbs are typically for sale at garden centers just before the correct planting time for that zone. Be sure to plant the bulbs as soon as possible after purchasing them; following planting instructions.

Flowering bulbs to plant in early spring are Ranunculus, Anemone Coronaria, and Dahlias. The flowering bulbs Gladiolus, Freesias, Alstroemerias, Calla lilies,Canna Lilies, Agapanthus, and Begonias, plus foliage producing Caladium and Elephant Ears, should be planted before the end of May. Plant Autumn Crocus, also called Colchicum bulbs (the blooms resemble spring crocus, but are much bigger) in the summer (early August is fine) as they flower in the fall.

 

 

Mosquito Larvae in Standing Water

Mosquito dunk and mosquitos in standing water

I published this blog post last year, but it’s always going to be relevant as long as there are mosquitoes around laying their eggs.

Mosquitoes lay there eggs on the surface of standing water and stick around while the eggs develop. The mosquito larvae will hatch in about a week. If you’ve an area of soil that doesn’t drain well and retains water, mosquitoes will lay their eggs there also. Other mosquito breeding grounds include long standing water-filled rain barrels, bird baths, containers, tubs, flower pot trays, vases, old tires, clogged roof gutters, sewer drains, streams, ponds, and vernal pools.

To decrease the mosquito population, and lessen the chance of West Nile Virus spreading, be sure not to let still water stand for more than a couple of days in any of the above mentioned areas. Mosquito Dunks are effective in killing mosquito larvae for 30 days when added to standing water. The dunks which are formed in the shape of small donuts consist of bacteria known as Bti israeliensis. Mosquito Dunks only kill mosquito and black fly larvae, which die within 24 hours of ingestion. Mosquito dunks will not harm people, pets, wildlife or fish.

You can buy Mosquito Dunks at local garden centers. Bti israeliensis also comes in a granule (grits) form, but the donuts are more readily available. Dunks can be broken up easily into smaller pieces or crushed to a granule consistency. One dunk is effective in up to 100 square feet of water.

P.S. – Mosquitoes won’t lay eggs in moving water. So, water fountains are good resources to prevent this. Also, a bird bath ‘water wiggler water agitator’ (can be purchased via Amazon.com) keep the mosquitoes away.

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Creating an Ecological Garden

native violas and water source      

Native Violas and water source

If you would like to go Green or Greener in your garden, here are some things you can do to promote an eco-beneficial landscape:

  • Always plant the right plant in the right place. Such as; planting sun loving plants in sun, shade loving in shade, and plants that need wind protection along a fence or wall. If an area’s light exposure changes drastically due to overhead tree or shrub growth, move plants accordingly.
  • Provide a water source (small pond, bird bath, bowls of water) for wildlife and insects. During the times of year when mosquito’s breed, be sure to put a ‘mosquito dunk’ in those sources of water. Mosquito’s lay their eggs in water and ‘dunks’ kill these eggs within 24 hours. You can purchase dunks at garden centers, and also in hardware stores that sell garden supplies.
  • Plant plants that grow naturally (native) in a region for best ecosystem results. Native plants require less maintenance, and keep water clean by filtering contaminated runoff and preventing soil erosion. And, they attract native birds and wildlife.
  • Remove invasive plants in your yard by using organic or mechanical methods. As soon as these plants are removed, replace them with regionally native plants.

Let me know the green techniques you already use in your garden, or what you plan on doing. I’d love to know!