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

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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!

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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

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.