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Archives for February 28, 2017

Garden hacks: Simple hacks for a container garden | Home …

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Gardening series entitled “Pepper Pointers, Garlic Guidance and Asparagus Tips” to be presented March 1, 8, 15

GOUVERNEUR — Cornell Cooperative Extension is offering a three-part gardening series entitled “Pepper Pointers, Garlic Guidance and Asparagus Tips.”

These classes will help both new and experienced vegetable gardeners to maximize yield and personal satisfaction, while keeping cost and stress to a minimum.

The series will be taught by Paul Hetzler, Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, and will meet Wednesdays, March 1, 8, and 15, from 6-8 p.m., at Gouverneur High School.

Cost is $10 per class, or $25 for the whole series.

To register, or for more information, contact Debra White, Family Consumer Science, Gouverneur Middle School, by emailing [email protected] or call 315-287-1900.

The class schedule is:

March 1: The Lowdown on Soil: Get the latest dirt on soil testing, plant nutrient requirements, site selection, garden layout and design, and starting seeds at home. And, it’s all relative(s)—learn which veggies belong to what families, and why it’s important to know.

March 8: A disease-free garden is nothing to sneeze at: Get updates on recent garden diseases, including some 2016 arrivals, as well the news about what to expect in the near future. Changing weather patterns and new pathogen strains are making it harder than ever to manage plant diseases. Learn about plant disorders, and how to best manage them.

March 15: Looking for trouble, and reaping the benefits: Over the past several years, a number of new and significant garden pests have arrived in the area. Find out how to identify and manage the new pests, and deal with the old ones in the process. Learn strategies for dealing with plant nutrient imbalances, and best practices for the harvest, handling and storage of your precious produce.

For more information, contact Paul Hetzler, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, at 315-379-9192, ext. 232.


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Four time-saving gardening tips from Dawes landscape chief

Every gardener loves a time-saving tip.

And if a tip saves both time and money, then even better.

Peter Lowe, the landscape manager at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, knows all about getting top results with limited time and on a budget.

Although Dawes comprises nearly 2,000 acres, many of his tricks and techniques work beautifully in home gardens. He recently shared a few favorites.

1. Clean the smart way

After a long day working outside, who feels like spending time in the garage cleaning tools?

(Hint: It’s not the person writing this article.)

Lowe suggests a surprisingly cheap and low-tech alternative: Just fill a 5-gallon bucket with builder’s sand and add motor oil or vegetable oil to moisten. Then stick dirty tools with metal blades — such as trowels, pruners and soil knives — into the oily sand.

“The mixture removes rust, extends the sharpness of the blade and removes dirt,” he explained.

2. Use your noodle

If you’ve ever cleaned out a deep container used for growing annual flowers, you probably noticed that the roots didn’t extend to the bottom.

They certainly didn’t need all that expensive potting medium.

Furthermore, a heavy, soil-filled pot can be difficult to move.

Lowe’s solution: foam swimming-pool “noodles” — or styrofoam plates or packing peanuts.

Simply cut up the noodles and place them in the bottom of the pot, then put soil on top.

“It reduces the weight of the container, and you’re not wasting all that soil,” he said.

3. Take measure

“How often do you carry a tape measure out to the garden?” Lowe asked — rhetorically, I think.

Well, um, literally never.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t needed one, especially when planting a tree, because both depth and width of a hole are important factors.

His handy-dandy hack: Using a tape measure as a guide, mark inches and feet on the handle of a shovel.

Voila — one tool for both digging and measuring.

Be sure to use a waterproof pen, such as a Sharpie, so that the marks will last in any weather.

4. Firing away

Weeding can involve tedious work on hands and knees, or the use of herbicides that some gardeners would rather avoid.

A gadget called a weed-burning torch, on the other hand, is operated from a standing position and leaves no chemical residue.

Plus, “It’s fun,” Lowe said.

The hand-held torch connects to a portable propane tank at one end and zaps weeds at the other.

“It’s great for a driveway, pavers or a gravel surface,” he said.

While meditatively pulling weeds by hand can be soothing, annihilating them with a burst of flame is positively empowering.

Hasta la vista, dandelion!

Diana Lockwood, a freelance writer covering gardening topics, posts on Facebook at

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5 garden tips for the week starting Feb. 25

Avocado feeding time

Feed avocado trees in March and again in June. Apply just under 5 cups of 16-16-16 plant food, or 10 cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer around the drip zone of each mature tree each time you feed. And any time you apply plant food, be sure to thoroughly water it in the right away or let the rain do it for you.

Sharpen those clippers

Prune hibiscus and other evergreen shrubbery as needed, especially if it was damaged by winds or frost over the winter. Hibiscus grows quickly, so it’s OK to cut overgrown plants back quite a bit. Trim others to keep them in shape or get them out of the way. Trimming away wayward twigs and whole stems (rather than hedge-shearing) produces a more attractive, natural-looking plant.

Plan of attack

To help prevent borers from attacking your deciduous fruit trees, paint exposed trunks, large branches, limbs and larger cuts with interior latex paint — preferably off-white matte — diluted half and half with water. Doing this every year could save your trees from these devastating beasts.

Flower power

Even though pansies flower longest when they are planted in August, we can still plant them now and enjoy them for several months. Choose from the traditional, large, funny-faced hybrids to the single-colored, faceless types, down to the tiny Johnny Jump-ups. Plant them in composted soil in a sunny spot in the garden where loved ones and friends can see them and smile as they walk by. And don’t hesitate to pick some for table decorations, because the more you pick, the more they’ll bloom.

Prepare for spring

Get prepared for the great awakening that happens each spring as dormant plants come back to life. Have your lawn mower tuned up and the mower blades sharpened. Check and organize basic gardening tools. Sharpen shovel and hoe blades. Sharpen and oil pruning equipment. That makes it easier to keep your landscape looking its best.

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Garden Tips: Reduce your garden workload – Tri

As I grow older, I enjoy gardening as much as ever, but it is harder to get the necessary tasks done. Perhaps you too face the challenge that endless gardening chores present, either because of physical limitations or simply because time is limited. Here are some tips for reducing your gardening workload.

▪ Reduce the number of perennials in your landscape: Years ago, before they became as popular as they are today, perennials were promoted as a way to decrease the amount of time spent on flower gardening. Supposedly, perennials were “easy care” and required less work because they did not need to be replanted every year like annual flowers. While most perennials do not need to be replaced annually, they do require a considerable amount of work, such as cutting them back in the spring or fall, staking plants that require support, removing spent flowers during bloom, pinching to encourage bushier growth and dividing plants when they become overcrowded.

When perennials became a popular way to add color to the landscape, flowering shrubs were not a viable alternative. The flowering shrubs of yesteryear were typically behemoths that provided color or interest for a brief time. However, because of companies like Spring Meadows Nursery, gardeners now have smaller shrubs that fit well into garden landscapes. Many of these newer shrubs have a long bloom time, plentiful flowers and multi-seasonal interest. Spring Meadow, a wholesale nursery, grows more than 400 shrub varieties and introduces new and improved ones every year.

By planting newer, smaller varieties of flowering and evergreen shrubs, you can reduce your garden workload and still have abundant color and seasonal interest in your landscape. If you are tired of the time and work associated with flowering perennials, consider replacing them with these newer shrubs. They will need pruning and general maintenance each year, but not as much as flowering perennials need.

▪ Edging: The landscape around my house and on the inside of the fence is completely bounded with flower and shrub beds. I initially tried to keep the beds looking tidy and natural without a physical edging, but using a string trimmer and herbicide was just too much trouble. To reduce my workload, I had concrete edging installed along all my flower and shrub beds, as well as around each of my trees. I had previously eschewed concrete edging because of its unnatural appearance, but I was eventually willing to overlook my aesthetic concerns. Quality landscape edging makes it easier to mow along lawn edges, to keep grass from creeping into flower and shrub beds, and to contain mulching materials.

▪ Landscape beds: Because of environmental concerns about the amount of water, fertilizer and mowing needed for a healthy lawn, there are gardeners who desire converting much of their lawn area into landscape beds. It is a noble pursuit, but making landscape and garden beds larger can lead to more time and work needed for maintenance, such as weeding and plant care. Big or small, the maintenance of landscape beds can be reduced with the use of a 3- to 4-inch layer of wood chip or shredded bark mulch on top of bare soil. This conserves soil moisture, significantly deters weed growth and adds organic matter to the soil. A well-designed drip irrigation system can reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation and discourage weed growth.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a former retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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