Weed War

I got my common name because it is said my seeds germinate on the way to the ground.  Do you know who I am?

I got my common name because it is said my seeds germinate on the way to the ground. Do you know who I am?

How well do you know the weeds you are doing battle with in the garden?

Can you name them? Do you know if any are edible? Are they a minor nuisance or an all-out threat worthy of hand-to-leaf combat?

Come to the Family Gardening Program meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, at 11 and you’ll find out who’s who in the garden.

See you then, Natalie

P.S. Check out the Garden’s bulletin board for information sheets on garden including insects and acceptable products you can use. This information is also here. Click Acceptable Garden Products in the menu bar.

Watering? Really? It’s Been So Rainy

An email from the National Garden Bureau on watering made be think.

We have had so much rain lately. Twice our usual amount for the month of June already and we aren’t through the month yet. So do we even have to think about watering?

The answer is: Yes. Think about it and make a decision based on what you know about your garden, where your plants are in their development, your soil, what you have planted and the weather.

Here are some guidelines from The National Garden Bureau that will help you decide.

How much should you water depends on your soil type, the air temperature, wind, type of plant, age of the plant, in-ground vs. in containers (and which type and size of container). An overall rule of thumb is to give your plants 1” of water per week. If you have sandy or silty soil, you will likely need to water more than 1” per week.

If temperatures spike then you will also likely need more than 1” of water per week. For vegetables, here are a few more specific guidelines:
* All seeds need even moisture during germination.
* Beans need more watering when they’re flowering.
* Sweet corn needs water during silk, tassle and ear development.
* Watermelon needs more water during fruit set and growth.
* Tomatoes need consistent amounts of water to prevent blossom end rot. And giant pumpkins need lots of water when they are growing.

Timing: One commonly known fact is that watering in the morning is best. Not that you shouldn’t water in the afternoon or evening but when possible, avoid watering in the heat of the day. Morning watering is best for two reasons: 1) less water evaporates as you water and 2) Overnight dampness on the leaves could cause diseases so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Frequency: Watering more thoroughly is better than watering more frequently. A thorough drink for your plants will help them establish deeper, stronger roots.” And a strong root system is vital for healthy, productive plants.

Also, it is hard to know with these on-and-off again showers if it has rained enough to be useful … too much … or not at all in your garden. Moreau was drenched recently when my own garden 20 miles away got nothing.

In my garden, I don’t guess. Instead, I check the soil before watering by digging a hole about 6 inches deep and touching the soil in the hole to feel if it is damp. If it isn’t, I water. If it is, I leave well enough alone.

Antique Garden Tools

antique1On a rainy day like yesterday, exploring the antique stores in Ballston Spa and having lunch with a friend were both wonderful diversions from the too-wet-to-be-in garden.

Look what I discovered on our explore. Old garden tools! Interesting to look at aren’t they? The box was bright and colorful. And some tools looked homemade by some resourceful gardener.

P.S. To the Rain Gods: Enough is enough. I would love a string of bright sunny days with a light breeze….just saying.

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Vermont Garden Trip

Horsford2This time of year it is a pleasure to visit different garden centers, see what they have and add to and tweak what you are growing in your garden.

When I was in Vermont yesterday, I stopped at Horsford Gardens and Nursery http://www.horsfordnursery.com on Route 7 in Charlotte, which is south of Burlington.
The nursery has been in operation for over 100 years and is well-stocked with annuals and perennials, vegetables, herbs, flowering trees, shrubs and fruit trees and conifers. There is plenty to see.

As I walked around taking photos, I found the premises to be well-tended and the plants healthy. Pictured below is one side of an area full of perennials for shade and sun. Horsford

One of the things I liked most was they test what they sell so you can be confident these varieties will withstand cold northern winters. “Our roses are the hardiest varieties, grown right here in Vermont,” the website states. Nursery hours are Monday to Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

I bought an astilbe that has a reddish stem and an eye-popping heuchera with color that will add a touch of drama to my back garden border and a Verbena bonariensis, an annual known for attracting butterflies.

While walking around, I admired a Locust tree in full bloom. These trees are putting on quite a spectacular show this spring with an abundance of white flowers. If you get to this nursery soon, be sure to sniff the row of peony that greets visitors near the parking lot adjacent to the garden shop. Great fragrances. A treat for the nose.Horsford5

The shop sells watering cans, gifts, bulbs, bird baths, pots and more.

Horsord3It was a good stop.

If you are looking to combine this trip with another attraction: Shelburne Museum is not far away and the Open Days Garden Conservancy tours will be in the area on June 22. http://www.gardenconservancy.org/index.php?option=com_eventlist&view=opendays&id=1&Itemid=39&state=VT

Happy Gardening. Natalie

Weed Identification

Identifying the weeds that are determined to grow in your garden plot is an big part of gardening. Here are four of the weeds that are making an appearance at both the Moreau Community Garden and Saratoga Springs Community Garden. Remember it is easiest to pull these weeds out when they are small.

stingingnettleNettles – From the Cornell University website: “Urtica dioica has an enormous native range – including North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa – and a long history of use as a source of food, medicine, and fiber. The leaves of stinging nettles are covered with trichomes, hollow hairs that inject irritating chemicals, including histamines, into anything that touches them – a human hand, for instance.”
If you find this in your plot, use gloves to remove it. And if you are interested in this herbs history and folklore, search ‘nettle history’ online. Nettles are found in Norse myths, Hans Christian Anderson stories, West African tales and more.

Lambsquarters – This is a very common weed in the Northeast perhaps because a single plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds. As you weed, be sure to get the entire root. With time lambsquarters develops a short, thick taproot. At the tender size it is now, it can easily be removed with a pinch from your fingers or a garden hoe dragged along the surface. Here are two more uninvited guests you might want to know.

The first pictured below is common purslane. The weed has distinctive succulent foliage that is edged with a tint of red. Using a hoe with this plant isn’t advised as it can re-root if left on the soil.

Pictured below is Pennsylvania smartweed. Touching this plant causes dermatitis for some people. If you want to see an interesting website on how this plant was used medicinally, go to: http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/smartweed.html

No matter how many times we weed, new weeds will appear during the growing season. Don’t give up. It is important to weed as a single weed produces thousands of seeds, pulls nutrients and moisture away from desired plants, and provides shelter for insects making it harder for a gardener to grow strong, healthy plants.

Early Sunday Morning . . .

MargaretC.I stopped by the Saratoga Springs Community Garden at Wesley and found Margaret Chretien, a long-time gardener, working on her plot.

Does the layout look familiar? Yes, she is using the square foot gardening method and was busy harvesting when I arrived. It doesn’t get better than that. MargaretC2

MCG’s Family Gardening Program Plots

Moreau Community Garden’s Family Gardening Program plots are on their way. There are still a few plots left, but hurry and get your application in at Town Hall, 61 Hudson Street, Moreau. The plots are free to families who want to garden with children under the guidance of a master gardener.

Check out the photos:MCG-before

Pictured above are before (top) and after images of the plots in the Moreau Community Garden Family Gardening program. Below is a close-up of the green peppers plot that shows the square foot gardening technique that is being used.

Pictured above are before and after images of the plots in the Moreau Community Garden Family Gardening program. Below is a close-up of the green pepper’s plot that shows the square foot gardening technique that is being used.

In square foot gardening the plots are divided into one foot squares and depending on the size of the vegetable a set number of vegetables will be planted per square. In the case of green peppers, one plant is advised per square. This is a great way to learn about plant spacing, provide proper air circulation, allow for ease of weeding, and assure a good harvest.

In square foot gardening the plots are divided into one foot squares and depending on the size of the vegetable a set number of vegetables will be planted per square. This is a great way to learn about plant spacing, provide proper air circulation, allow for ease of weeding and assure a good harvest.

Next Meeting – June 6th

Today we worked in the Moreau Community Garden and as part of our morning seminar, I explained square foot gardening, planned plots, handed out coupons and got started marking beds and helping gardeners with their plants.

Gina LeClair, Mary Meade and I also planted plots. A lot got done! We planted five different varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, zucchini, beans, green peppers and more. It looks terrific.

Next week – and every week in June – the Family Gardening program will meet Thursdays at 4 p.m. in the garden.

Planning and Planting Today

This morning at 9 a.m. I will be in the Moreau Community Garden holding a workshop on the Square Foot Gardening method will be using in the Family Gardening Program this season.

Everyone is invited to come.

We will start with deciding what to grow, how to purchase plants for a vegetable garden, square foot gardening concepts, designing a garden plan for a bountiful harvest with few problems and lower maintenance. We will also have on hand the materials for participants in the Family Gardening Program to set up the beds for the season.

The goal for the morning is to have the beds planned and for planting to begin. And to set up ways to communicate about the insects we find, troubles with the plants, garden tips and we hope to build and paint some trellises that will be laden with red, juicy tomatoes in the months to come.

If you don’t have a plot, but would like one, there are a few still available free of charge. Come to the garden for an application or to check out what we are doing. The garden is located behind the Recreation department, off Jan Street, in the Moreau Recreational Park. When you drive in the park, you will see the green building straight ahead on the left side. We are behind that building with perfect southern exposure. 🙂

Applications are also available through Town Hall, 61 Hudson Street, Moreau.

I hope to see you later – Natalie Walsh