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Archives for May 22, 2014

Farmington gets initial sketch for new park at town entrance

Yesterday at 6:34 PM

The proposal calls for landscaping a lot at the intersection of High Street and Farmington Falls Road to create an attractive entrance to town.

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — A plan to transform a town-owned lot near the entrance to town into a small landscaped park is moving forward, after selectmen reviewed an initial sketch of the project Tuesday.

PROPOSED IMPROVEMENT: A preliminary sketch shows a proposal to landscape a town owned lot at the intersection of Farmington Falls Road, also U.S. Route 2, and High Street. The darker circles represent proposed coniferous trees and the light circles are for deciduous trees.

Contributed drawing

Related headlines

Farmington resident Richard Bjorn, a longtime community benefactor, has offered to pay to landscape the property at the corner of High Street and Farmington Falls Road.

Residents previously voted against selling the lot, the former site of the town garage, and the town manager said Farmington resident Nancy Porter has dropped an offer to hold a community flea market over the summer on the lot.

Officials value the land at $53,000.

The initial sketch, by Robert Zundel, of Treeline Landscape, shows a walking path surrounded by a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees leading from a parking lot, and looping in a circle in the center of the property. The parking area connects to High Street, with the a row of bushes bordering the parking spaces.

Davis said that depending on the specifics of Bjorn’s donation, the park could have additional features such as lights or benches.

He also said town officials eventually would need to name the park.

Anyone with ideas or questions about the project can share their input with selectmen or with Town Manager Richard Davis at 778-6538.

Davis said he reviewed the initial sketch Wednesday morning with Bjorn and will be moving forward with the project to get price estimates.

“He’s very excited about the project and getting started,” Davis said.

Bjorn, president of Kyes Insurance Agency, has a history of making donations to the town, such as partly funding the new Farmington Police Station garage and buying new seating for the Farmington Recreation Center.

“He has been very generous on a number of occasions, and we are very thankful,” Davis said.

Public works employees are expected to begin preliminary work for the project soon, and will remove dead trees and a shed that remains on the lot from when it was the town garage.

Some selectmen raised concerns Tuesday night about the ongoing maintenance costs associated with a new park, and whether another project would overtax the public works or parks and recreation department.

Earlier in the meeting, selectmen approved a request from the Farmington Downtown Association to have the public works crew water hanging baskets bought by the association for placement downtown, but not before questioning whether they should spend an estimated $1,400 in labor and material.

Selectman Andrew Buckland said the board should research any ongoing costs that would be associated with the lot and determine where the money will come from.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 | kschroeder@centralmaine.com

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Article source: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/Farmington_gets_initial_sketch_for_new_park_at_town_entrance_.html

Whiskey maker tests VT’s definition of farming

Raj Bhakta is standing on high ground in the middle of a rye field here, surrounded by the bright green clumps of a new crop covering the rolling terrain of WhistlePig Farm, the former Norris dairy farm. On this roughly 500-acre spread, Bhakta plans to distill what he says will be the world’s first farm-to-bottle straight rye whiskey.

Bhakta will grow the rye for the mash that begins the distilling process and see that process through all the way to bottling, something he says isn’t happening anywhere else. He believes adding value to his rye crop in the form of distilling it into whiskey will prevent his farm from failing as the Norris farm failed and as thousands of dairy farms in Vermont went out of business.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture estimates there were 995 dairy farms in the state in 2012, down from 11,206 in 1947.

On April 7, Bhakta received the Act 250 permit he needed to build a distillery in a historic barn on his property, but not before he tried to move forward earlier without a permit by converting farm buildings to offices, a bottling room and storage space for whiskey barrels. He was fined $18,750 by the state.

Established in 1970, Act 250 gives the Natural Resources Board the authority to manage the environmental, social and fiscal consequences of development, ranging from housing projects to gas wells. Farming and forestry are exempt from the Act 250 permitting process.

Bhakta says in addition to the fine, he spent $250,000 in legal fees over the two years it took him to get his Act 250 permit. Bhakta maintains his entire operation, including the distillery he hopes to begin building soon, should be exempted from Act 250 as a farming enterprise. Only then, he says, will his farm and other farms in the state be able to survive and thrive, free to pursue whatever entrepreneurial path will keep them in business.

Dressed in bright green pants, a knit navy sweater, yellow plaid shirt and polka-dot tie, Bhakta is Vermont’s most unlikely farmer, with a prep school smile and dark sculpted hair that brings to mind a Dewar’s ad. The son of immigrants — his father is Indian and his mother is Irish — Bhakta grew up privileged in Philadelphia, his father flourishing first as a car dealer, then as a hotelier. Bhakta attended private schools, and joined a boutique investment firm in New York City after graduating from Boston College.

Jumping into the dot.com boom in 2000 at age 25, Bhakta and some partners developed an online platform for trading in used cars, ultimately selling out when the dot.com bust came.

“We got the investors paid back, but didn’t make a nickel out of it,” Bhakta said.

Bhakta joined the family business next, finding, gutting and renovating an under-performing lodge in Vail, Colo. That was a success. Bhakta bought the property for $5.5 million and estimates the hotel’s value today at $25 million. But he found it increasingly difficult to be in a partnership with his father, a dynamic, self-made man who had come to the United States in 1969 with $68 in his pocket.

His way out of the family business was to take a run at The Apprentice, the television show where Donald Trump fired people after giving them a series of humiliating tasks to perform. Beating tremendous odds, Bhakta was selected for the show in 2004, but was canned in fine Trump fashion, ironically enough, for the job he did gutting and renovating a house.

“I had a bad contractor,” he said. “In the real world you would fire the contractor.”

The Apprentice sucked up six months of Bhakta’s life, but did give him a measure of fame which he turned to running for U.S. Congress representing the Philadelphia area as a Republican against Democratic candidate Allyson Schwartz. Bhakta says the liberal Philadelphia press ignored him, or wrote him off as a lightweight, so he concocted a plan to get national attention.

Bhakta rode an elephant across the Rio Grande at the Mexican border to make the point that illegal immigrants had a free pass into the country.

“We nearly lost the elephant,” Bhakta said. “A Mexican farmhand said the water was six feet deep but the elephant disappeared entirely into the river.”

Schwartz won 66 percent of the vote to Bhakta’s 34 percent.

Now Bhakta was really at loose ends. In a decision even more improbable than running for Congress, he traveled to India to look for the next Steve Irwin to build a television show around. Irwin was the famous television “Crocodile Hunter” from Australia who died in 2006 in a freak stabbing by a stingray in the ocean near Queensland. When that failed to work out, Bhakta hit a low point.

“I felt like I had suffered a series of public defeats,” he said. “I couldn’t win a TV game show. I run for office and get thumped. Then I go to India figuring there are 600 million men, I should be able to find one to replace Steve Irwin, but I can’t find him.”

Facing bankruptcy

Bhakta was 31 years old. He had run out of ideas. That’s when a friend in Vermont suggested he buy the neighboring farm. And that’s how Bhakta found himself standing at the picture window of the farmhouse he now owned on a defunct dairy farm in Shoreham, looking across his land toward the hills beyond, still unsure what to do.

“I was wracking my mind and soul for inspiration,” Bhakta said. “It came in the form of the financial crisis in 2008. The checks stopped coming in from Vail. I was faced with the fact that if I didn’t make this farm work, I was going to be bankrupt.”

Bhakta had been drinking fine whiskey since he was 18 years old. The thought of making the drink appealed to him. He sat down with Lawrence Miller, former Vermont secretary of commerce and founder of Otter Creek Brewery, and talked about the brewing business. Miller advised him to build a market before he built a brewery, Bhakta said.

“My dad thought I was crazy buying a farm,” Bhakta said. “He said, ‘Raj we left the farm in India, now you’re going back to the junky old farm that we left in India.’ He thought he had obviously over-educated his son.”

Bhakta spent two years investigating the possibility of investing in an existing whiskey, vodka or beer company, burning through the money he had raised for the purpose with some investors. Out of money again, he at least knew what he wanted to do. He would distill his own premium rye whiskey. The name came from a strange encounter he had with a French mountain biker on the trail in Colorado, who stopped to ask repeatedly, “Is it a whistle pig?”

For the record, a whistle pig is Appalachian slang for a woodchuck.

Borrowing as much as he could against the farm, and securing a $275,000 loan from the Vermont Economic Development Authority, Bhakta launched WhistlePig whiskey in mid-2010 by buying a huge batch of premium Canadian 10-year-old rye whiskey in western Alberta and bottling it in Vermont. The Canadian stash was discovered by Dave Pickerell, former master distiller for Maker’s Mark, straight Kentucky bourbon whiskey made primarily from corn.

Pickerell left Maker’s Mark to become a consultant to the industry. He was trying to interest one of the big U.S. distillers in buying the Canadian whiskey, but was having no luck. Bhakta sought out Pickerell for advice on building a distillery, and learned about the Canadian rye. Here was a way for him to launch a business that requires a product that is 10 years old — without waiting 10 years.

Bhakta bet the farm.

“Suffice it to say that many millions were invested in cornering the old rye whiskey market on a global basis by WhistlePig,” Bhakta said. “Basically we have a seamless supply of what is widely considered to be the best rye whiskey in the world at 10 years and above.”

A fifth of WhistlePig whiskey costs $70 in Vermont and $80 everywhere else, Bhakta said, putting it in the same category as Scotch whiskys.

Sales have grown by more than 50 percent every year since WhistlePig’s launch in mid-2010, and the whiskey has gotten good reviews in publications ranging from Wine Enthusiast to the Wall Street Journal.

In 2013, WhistlePig sold 375 barrels of whiskey, up from 150 barrels in 2011, the first full year of bottling. To put that in perspective, Jack Daniels, the Tennessee whiskey favored by rock stars everywhere, ships about 550,000 barrels annually.

Bhakta says he has enough Canadian supply to grow 25 percent per year for the next decade. By then, he plans to have the first WhistlePig whiskey both distilled and bottled in Vermont, from rye grown in the surrounding fields of WhistlePig Farm.

The fear of black fungus

George Gross and his wife, Barbara Wilson, are Bhakta’s neighbors and owners of Solar Haven Farm, a small berry farm started four years ago. Gross said he has a couple of acres planted in blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Wilson and his wife objected to Bhakta’s plans to build a distillery because they were afraid a black fungus that can form as a result of the aging process for whiskey would infest their berry bushes.

“We had made a large effort to show the science behind whiskey mold, technically called Baudoinia compniacensis,” Gross said. “Basically they age their whiskey in oak casks, ethanol oozes through as part of the process, the hotter it gets the more ethanol is released, which triggers the mold to adhere to sides of buildings, cars, or in our case, berry bushes.”

In August 2012, the New York Times reported Kentucky residents were suing three Louisville distilleries over the black mold dotting their deck furniture, home siding and more. Gross understands WhistlePig is very small, but says the company will certainly grow.

“If you did realistic predictions of growth, the model could put tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of barrels in this valley if they’re successful at marketing their Canadian whiskey,” he said.

Geoff Green is the District 9 coordinator for the Natural Resources Board which oversees Act 250 permit hearings in Addison County, where WhistlePig is located. Green said the Act 250 process specifically allows for neighbors to get involved.

“Listen, there are some times we get these projects where people are very principally opposed to them,” Green said. “We’ve had projects that create a lot of public interest and a lot of opposition but by far — and this is what’s important for business to know — 90 percent of these permit applications go through the process in a very timely and efficient manner.”

WhistlePig, Green says, is the 1 in 100 that generates controversy. He says nearly 85 percent of Act 250 permits are done as “minors,” which means without a hearing, and that two-thirds of permit applications are completed within 45 to 60 days. Over the past five years, Green said, only 1 percent of Act 250 applications have been denied.

Green believes Act 250 is good for business.

“Act 250 is not a process to deny business opportunities in Vermont,” Green said. “Most of the time, businesses and neighbors work out problems and conditions, hours of operation, landscaping, access, a lot of things. I think that’s really good.”

A vision taking form

WhistlePig’s Act 250 permit limits the storage of whiskey to 6,000 barrels to address the concerns of George Gross and Barbara Wilson. The District 9 Environmental Commission determined there would be no threat of fungus to Solar Haven Farm from that level of whiskey storage.

WhistlePig Counsel Leo Gibson, a college friend of Bhakta’s who left his practice in Detroit to join the company three months ago, said WhistlePig can live with the storage restriction for now.

“That’s what they’ve given us at this point,” Gibson said. “Depending on how the business goes, we can work through the process to seek additional leeway. We’re happy to do that.”

Bhakta spent $80,000 stabilizing the Old South Barn where WhistlePig’s still will go. The faded red boards of the barn are no longer sagging, and freshly poured concrete is ready to receive the stainless steel fermenting tanks, about 20 feet long and 12 feet high, and rising column of the still, which will go through the ceiling into the second story of the barn.

“You can see the vision starting to take form,” Gibson said, stepping outside the drafty barn. “This view as you step out through this barn door and get a look down at the mountains and you’ve got the Lemon Fair River there in the foreground. It’s a beautiful place.”

The Natural Resources Board took Act 250 jurisdiction over Bhakta’s entire farm, the former Norris dairy operation, under the theory that the rye that will be grown is connected to the distillery.

WhistlePig’s operations, including offices, barrel storage, bottling room and still, covers about 8 acres of the farm, but Geoff Green said previous court decisions show that when there’s a relationship between what going on with the farm and the commercial business, Act 250 jurisdiction attaches to the entire farm.

Bhakta has appealed the overall jurisdiction provided in his permit to the Environmental Court, a division of Vermont Superior Court.

“Frankly we think the whole thing should be viewed as a farming operation and we preserve our right to make that argument,” Gibson said. “But even if you take the position that distillation, bottling and aging are insufficiently connected to farming, we don’t think the other 492 acres should be subject to the requirements of Act 250.”

For Raj Bhakta, the best-dressed farmer in Vermont, the question is whether the state wants to continue to watch dairy farms disappear.

“I made the claim of being a family farmer,” Bhakta said. “I may not look like one or talk like one but this is a farm I own and I live here with my family. We’re building out a very agricultural mission here.”

Bhakta says the sales and marketing effort that goes along with WhistlePig whiskey allows him to bring money back to the farm for further development.

“In that sense I think we have a model for many farms in the state,” Bhakta said.

Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or ddambrosio@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DanDambrosioVT.

Article source: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2014/05/22/whiskey-maker-tests-vts-definition-farming/9388311/

Watch for ‘Spring Into Summer’

Spring Into Summer 2014_cover.pdf

Spring Into Summer 2014_cover.pdf




Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:00 am


Watch for ‘Spring Into Summer’


0 comments

Hometown News LP will publish its annual summer gardening and outdoor living guide, “Spring Into Summer,” on May 22. The guide is distributed free to subscribers to any of the company’s community newspapers.


The main local feature is a profile on Garden Prairie Farm in Sun Prairie. Meet the couple behind the thriving greenhouse and gardening center that brings new life to a former farm site.

The business offers a wide variety of flowers and vegetables for gardening enthusiasts.

Also inside readers will learn eco-friendly weed control ideas for lawns, mosquito prevention practices, tips for updating your outdoor landscaping, home improvement ideas that promote a healthier living environment, important considerations for those planning to list their homes for sale, gardening advice and ways to save money on roofing issues and materials.

We welcome feedback, article suggestions or theme topics for our publications.

To become part of the conversation, contact Hometown News LP General Manager Barb Trimble at btrimble@hngnews.com. Enjoy!

on

Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:00 am.

Article source: http://www.hngnews.com/cambridge_deerfield/news/local/article_97adb0ba-e156-11e3-a2b9-001a4bcf6878.html

Natives Are A Competitive Advantage At Homestead Gardens

Homestead Gardens Perennial AreaNative plant sales have become a big part of our success at Homestead Gardens, due in large part to our location. We are next to the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River near Annapolis, Md. When any of the homes in Anne Arundel County that are along the river begin a landscaping project, they have to reforest with native plants. It’s a county law. Based on the amount of landscaping they do, they have to reforest with many trees and shrubs.

On our website, we have a link to “Marylanders Plant Trees” (trees.maryland.gov), a state-run program that offers tips on the proper native trees to plant along with a coupon to our stores and others that participate in the program.

As a result, we attract a lot of business from these waterfront homes. It’s made natives a category that has increased every year that we’ve been open.

We Commit To The Category

We have two locations: our main store is in Davidsonville and our smaller second store, where I am the nursery manager, is in Severna Park.

At the Severna Park location, I have all the natives in one area where people can shop for that entire category in one spot. I try to give it as much size as any other individual category, although it’s growing quickly enough that it now has more space than my azalea department. It takes up a fair percentage of our plant yard, about 10 percent overall.

I try to display all the native trees with the shrubs. To draw attention to it, we have included concrete statues of a Maryland Terrapin, a popular mascot in our area.

A lot of people are stunned that we have the native selection that we do and how much they can choose from. Most people are used to seeing two to three options at the other stores they might visit. They come here and there’s 50.

Lately, our best-selling varieties are the ones that attract birds, such as serviceberries and viburnums. Any plant that is tied to outdoor birding is becoming more popular. These varieties may include Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance,’ Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi,’ Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo,’  Viburnum nudum ‘Brandywine’ and Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin.’

We maintain about the same margin for our native plants that we do for the rest of our materials. Just-in-time deliveries tend to work best for us. We use about 10 to 12 different vendors for this category. All of them offer natives along with several other plant types.

We Help Our Customers Make The Right Decision

Because our county is giving many of our local residents a list of shrubs to choose from, we have a built-in customer base. They simply have to decide which to buy, and we can help them make this decision.

In many cases, they’ll want northern or southern-type native plants, things that don’t handle our conditions well. A lot of it is based on where they grew up around the country. I try to steer them toward trees and shrubs that are hardier for our local climate.

Water restrictions are always possible in our area, although it’s been a few years since they were enacted by the county. If Northern Virginia or Southern Maryland experience a drought during the summer, watering regulations may be put into effect. This is when having those native plants in the landscape can be beneficial.

We will soon be doing more marketing on our website for our native selections. We have a new web designer, and he is creating a section that will list the native plants we carry.

Customer Service After Planting

In the summer of 2002, Homestead Gardens hired Gene Sumi as its garden horticulturist. Sumi, who started working at an early age in his father’s landscape maintenance business in Garden Grove, Calif., had worked for many years with the Behnke Nurseries Company in Beltsville, Md.

Today, Sumi is the educational coordinator at Homestead Gardens, where he manages educational programs to benefit customers and staff. Included in these programs are garden seminars and workshops held on and off the nursery premises, coordinating group tours at Homestead Gardens and overseeing the Golden Spades, a gardening group for senior gardeners that meets monthly at Homestead Gardens’ Davidsonville and Severna Park locations.

Article source: http://www.todaysgardencenter.com/varieties/natives-are-a-competitive-advantage-at-homestead-gardens/

Tickets available for annual tour of private gardens

Smith County Master Gardeners, a volunteer organization of Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service, announced it will have its annual Garden Tour on June 7.

Four private gardens in Tyler will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine. Each garden has a different setting, from causal, to a shady hillside to a formal garden of individual rooms. Each of the gardens offers interesting landscaping ideas that could be an inspiration for homeowners looking for designs for their own gardens.

This fundraiser helps support many projects the Master Gardeners sponsor in the Tyler area.

Tickets to tour all of the gardens cost $10 in advance, cash or check. Tickets on the day of the tour are $12 each.

Advance tickets may be purchased up to June 6 at Brookshire’s on Rice Road; The Potpourri House, 3320 Troup Highway; Blue Moon Nursery, 13062 Farm-to-Market Road 279, Chandler; Rubicon Wild Birds, 19456 Texas Highway 155 South, Noonday; the AgriLife Extension Office in the Cotton Belt Building, 1517 W. Front St., Suite 116, Tyler.

Tickets may also be purchased by mail if ordered by June 1. Send a check for the total tickets ordered to MG Garden Tour, 1320 Oak Hill Lane, Flint, 75762. Credit cards may be used on the day of the tour only.

For more information, call the Smith County Master Gardeners at 903-590-2980 or go to the website http: //scmg.tamu.edu.

Article source: http://www.tylerpaper.com/TP-News+Local/200181/tickets-available-for-annual-tour-of-private-gardens

Feed Fayetteville plants community garden in downtown commercial zone

Feed Fayetteville director Adrienne Shaunfield and volunteers plant vegetables, fruits, and other edibles in landscaping beds at the newly constructed First Security Bank in Fayetteville

Staff photo

Bushes, shrubs, flowers, and greenery. All of these are common to find in the landscaping beds at businesses along College Avenue.

Now, in downtown Fayetteville, one local business is hoping to put that real estate to a better use.

First Security Bank, located at 11 N. College Ave., has partnered with local non-profit Feed Fayetteville to turn their landscaping beds into one of the first commercially-zoned community gardens in Fayetteville.

Volunteers work to plant a new community garden at First Security bank Monday

Staff photo

The bank donated five 15-foot beds at their new bank to the cause, and Feed Fayetteville earlier this week filled them with vegetables, nuts, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers that they’ll harvest regularly and distribute to local community meals and food pantries.

City urban foresters and the University of Arkansas’ Department of Horticulture provided guidance on what to plant.

The initial planting included hazelnuts, raspberries, blackberries, cucumbers, thyme, eggplants, squash, bee balm, tomatoes, and lavender.

Peter Nierengarten, Fayetteville’s director of sustainability, said he hopes more businesses will be inspired by the community garden

“We wanted to be involved because of the visibility of that location,” he said. “We wanted people to see that edible landscaping can be not only functional, but it can be attractive as well.”

Feed Fayetteville director Adrienne Shaunfield said that while her organization plans to make sure the food harvested in the gardens is distributed where it is needed, she wouldn’t be upset if residents who needed it found the garden themselves.

“I’d say that falls well within our mission of reducing food insecurity in Fayetteville,” she said. “We’re excited to be a part of it.”

Article source: http://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/2014/05/21/feed-fayetteville-plants-community-garden-in-commercial-zone-downtown/

Gardening tips on growing tomatoes

Even people who don’t normally grow vegetables find the notion of picking their own fresh ripe tomatoes quite irresistible. Nurseries offer lots of transplants and some will be marked as being ideal for containers.
Tumbler is ideal for hanging baskets because its branches droop over the sides for fast ripening and easy picking. The long vines of grape tomatoes also droop and fruit thickly with small but very sweet tomatoes.
People with only a sunny windowsill might be interested in Tiny Tim, which usually grows just 30 centimetres tall. Generally, cherry tomatoes are more disease resistant than most other types.
After a few warm days, it’s tempting to put young tomato plants outside – but they still need to be kept warm because our coastal weather is unreliable in spring and nights are still cold.
Plastic milk cartons or polycarbonate juice bottles (with tops removed so hot air can escape) make good free cloches that protect young plants. But several kinds of reusable and reasonably priced commercial cloches are available in clear plastic. Row covers in spun fabric or plastic are available for tomatoes grown outside.
Greenhouses are the very best growing area for tomatoes. But containers against a wall under a south or west roof overhang yield enough to make people many delicious summer salads.
An alternative for people with gardens is to try blight-resistant tomatoes (these are the result of conventional breeding).
None are 100 per cent resistant, but when I tried them my garden, blight started exceptionally late and moved very slowly.
The blight-resistant beefsteak tomato “Legend” has been available as transplants and seed is available online. “Defiant” is another large blight-resistant tomato available from seed – both are bush types. Large blight-resistant cherry tomatoes include “Mountain Magic” and “Mountain Merit.”
In choosing tomato transplants or seeds it’s important to clue in to the difference between determinate (bush) tomato plants and indeterminate ones. Bush tomatoes produce all their fruit at the same time, then stop flowering. These are the best for containers because they’re easy to manage.
Indeterminate (vine) tomatoes don’t stop growing till frost. Suckers need to be pinched off frequently. If you don’t do this, a vining tomato plant will become a huge bush where tomatoes are deeply shaded and slow to ripen. At summer’s end, you’ll have a few handfuls of ripe tomatoes while zillions of green ones remain.
The practical way to prune vine tomatoes is to leave the first three or four suckers. That’s because these should have time to flower and produce ripe tomatoes. But the later ones should be removed.
Tomatoes are very greedy feeders. They’ll have lots to eat if you mix bonemeal and compost or rotted manure into their planting holes. They like frequent watering too.
Later, a mulch of aged manure and/or grass clippings helps to hold moisture around the plants.
It’s useful to know that contact with soil triggers tomato stems to put out roots. That’s why many gardeners plant tomatoes sideways with the top inch or two out in the sun. This produces a stronger plant and makes it easier to protect on cold nights.

Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via amarrison@shaw.ca It helps if you can add the name of your city or region.
 

© Burnaby Now

Article source: http://www.burnabynow.com/community/gardening/gardening-tips-on-growing-tomatoes-1.1070318

Your Life video series: Spring gardening tips with horticulturist Ken Brown

DurhamRegion.com

DURHAM — Spring is here and gardeners are eager to start getting their hands dirty. However, gardeners need to be careful about what they plant since nights still tend to be cool and frost can develop. Next week on durhamregion.com, we are with Whitby horticulturist Ken Brown in his garden with some great tips and ideas about what to plant now, how to restart your lawn’s growth process, and what to look out for.

Mr. Brown is a certified horticultural judge and is a frequent speaker at horticultural meetings and seminars in Durham. His writing and photography continues to be published in several magazines and newspapers. Mr. Brown’s web page, www.gardening-enjoyed.com, is a great source of advice, tips and updates on his own garden. He grows a wide range of vegetables and flowers in some innovative ways to maximize the use of space.

Let’s wake up the garden to a new growing season. Join us next week, as we will have a new gardening tip on video for every day of the week.

Series Breakdown:

• Monday, May 26: Lawn

In this segment, Mr. Brown shows you how to top dress and overseed the lawn to fill in thin and bare patches, in order to restart the growing process.

• Tuesday, May 27: Asparagus

Today’s video includes how to pick the first asparagus and how to plant your own asparagus patch.

• Wednesday, May 28: Planting cool season veggies

Mr. Brown has the tools you need in this video to plant cool season vegetables like kohl rabi, broccoli and pak choi.

• Thursday, May 29: Prune your clematis and or hydrangea

In this video, we clean up the clematis. Mr. Brown has his plant growing up a trellis. He shows you where to cut and how much.

• Friday, May 30: The red lily beetle

With spring comes bug invasions. In this video, Mr. Brown shows you how to catch and destroy one of your garden’s arch enemies, the red lily beetle.

Is there a project or topic you would like to see us cover? Let us know what you want to learn. Drop us a line or post your information on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/newsdurham.

Home News Your Life video series: Spring gardening tips with…

DurhamRegion.com

DURHAM — Spring is here and gardeners are eager to start getting their hands dirty. However, gardeners need to be careful about what they plant since nights still tend to be cool and frost can develop. Next week on durhamregion.com, we are with Whitby horticulturist Ken Brown in his garden with some great tips and ideas about what to plant now, how to restart your lawn’s growth process, and what to look out for.

Mr. Brown is a certified horticultural judge and is a frequent speaker at horticultural meetings and seminars in Durham. His writing and photography continues to be published in several magazines and newspapers. Mr. Brown’s web page, www.gardening-enjoyed.com, is a great source of advice, tips and updates on his own garden. He grows a wide range of vegetables and flowers in some innovative ways to maximize the use of space.

Let’s wake up the garden to a new growing season. Join us next week, as we will have a new gardening tip on video for every day of the week.

Series Breakdown:

• Monday, May 26: Lawn

In this segment, Mr. Brown shows you how to top dress and overseed the lawn to fill in thin and bare patches, in order to restart the growing process.

• Tuesday, May 27: Asparagus

Today’s video includes how to pick the first asparagus and how to plant your own asparagus patch.

• Wednesday, May 28: Planting cool season veggies

Mr. Brown has the tools you need in this video to plant cool season vegetables like kohl rabi, broccoli and pak choi.

• Thursday, May 29: Prune your clematis and or hydrangea

In this video, we clean up the clematis. Mr. Brown has his plant growing up a trellis. He shows you where to cut and how much.

• Friday, May 30: The red lily beetle

With spring comes bug invasions. In this video, Mr. Brown shows you how to catch and destroy one of your garden’s arch enemies, the red lily beetle.

Is there a project or topic you would like to see us cover? Let us know what you want to learn. Drop us a line or post your information on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/newsdurham.

Tips for getting the most yield from your garden

GARDENING




A National Park Service worker tends to the White House kitchen garden.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

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How can you get the most yield from a garden where space is limited, and water is too?

Plant smart, and pay attention to the soil.

“Your garden is only as good as your soil,” says David Salman, chief horticulturist at High Country Gardens, a Santa Fe, N.M., catalog that specializes in native and low-water plants.

Find out what nutrients your soil has — and what it’s missing — with a soil test, available through local cooperative extension offices at a nominal fee (home soil-test kits are less reliable, according to the Colorado State University Extension).

Encourage plant health by fertilizing with natural, organic fertilizers, which include fish emulsion and liquid seaweed, says Salman. Limit the use of chemical fertilizers because they don’t help build the soil.

“You will have more nutritionally complete vegetables if you have healthy soil,” he promises.

One trick Salmon recommends, especially for gardeners living in new housing developments, is adding a soil inoculant called mycorrhiza, a beneficial fungi. It’s found naturally in healthy soil, but often needs to be added to a new garden.

“New gardens in new subdivisions, their soil is scraped off as part of construction,” says Salman. “You need to put beneficial fungi back in.”

Peas, beans and soybeans could benefit from legume inoculants, which are species-specific (a soybean inoculant cannot be used to improve peas’ growth). Read product labels carefully or ask your gardening center for assistance.

“Your beans will do OK (without it), but if you really want to crank out the beans, you can do that with the inoculant,” says Salman. “It’s kind of a ‘grandma’s secret’ to growing great beans.”

Plants that can offer high yields with low watering include leafy vegetables such as kale, lettuce and spinach; beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas; and some varieties of cucumbers and squash, he says. Plant vining beans and peas if you have space or can grow them up a fence or trellis; plant bush beans and peas in large pots if space is limited.

Sarah J. Browning, an extension educator for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, suggests planting radishes, carrots, peppers, zucchini and summer squash for summertime bounty. Peppers grow well in dry conditions, says Browning, and root crops such don’t need frequent watering.

“If you watered them well and then mulched them, I think you could get a crop with fairly small amounts of water input,” she says.

Plant radishes early in the season or in part shade, and mulch them and other plants to retain moisture and combat weeds.

Browning recommends the cherry tomato cultivar Sun Gold and the slicers Big Beef and Celebrity as great-tasting high producers. Also look for disease-resistant tomato varieties, which are easier to grow. Browning refers tomato lovers to Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences Extension’s “Tomato Report 2011,” which lists the best varieties in its tomato trials.

Melissa Ozawa, a features editor for gardening at Martha Stewart Living magazine, recommends growing okra and Swiss chard; both are heat- and drought-tolerant. Melons also can handle less water once established because of their deep root systems, she says.

Not all vegetables grow well in all regions, so read seed packets, matching days to maturation to your region’s growing season, Salman advises.

“One of the big problems with horticulture in this country is everyone tries to be one-size-fits-all, and this is just too big of a continent to do that,” he says. “You don’t want to grow a 120-day watermelon in Denver. They can grow those in Texas, but the maturation period in Denver is much shorter.”

Prolific, water-wise herbs include basil, oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary, says Browning.

Salman offers space-saving planting tips for herbs: Plant lavender and oregano along the dryer edges of your garden, since they’re the most heat-tolerant, and plant Greek oregano and dill, plus annual herbs such as basil and cilantro, among the root vegetables.

Try growing perennials such as rosemary, English thyme, tarragon and lavender in your ornamental beds. They don’t require your vegetable garden’s mineral-rich soil, says Salman.

Drought-tolerant flower varieties include coneflowers, hummingbird mint, salvia and blanket flowers, according to Ozawa. Other cutting-garden winners are cosmos, zinnias, sunflowers and larkspur, says Salman. His favorite late-season bloomer is the Mexican sunflower.

“If there’s a bee or butterfly in a 10-mile radius, they’ll find that Mexican sunflower,” he says.

Article source: http://www.toledoblade.com/Gardening/2014/05/21/Tips-for-getting-the-most-yield-from-your-garden.html