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Archives for September 19, 2017

10 tips on preparing your garden for winter

If you want to, that is.

RELATED: She brings the outdoors inside with the cutest Mason jar herb garden we’ve ever seen

1. Clean up the garden beds

This can be an overwhelming project, but it is necessary. It’s easier if you break it up over time and work through the garden a bed at a time.

Remove all the dead vegetation and add a 1-2 inch layer of finished compost, then lightly mulch. Once the ground freezes, add another layer of mulch to perennials.

2. Get a soil test

Soil test results will tell you the pH levels, the level of important elements such as potassium and calcium, the level of organic content and more. This test will recommend how much lime and fertilizer (organic or chemical) to add to improve your soil. Lime helps adjust the soil pH, and adding it in the winter is beneficial because it has all winter to dissolve into the soil.

3. Plant garlic

Garlic has a unique growing season. Planting it in the fall lets the roots to begin growing. When winter comes, the plants go dormant, then start growing again in the spring, right where they left off.

RELATED: From softening butter to peeling garlic, here are 10 time-saving kitchen hacks you need to know

Pick a garlic bed that did not grow alliums this year and plant next year’s garlic crop. Add in a generous amount of compost and some organic fertilizer.

4. Expand your garden

Many garden centers have sales on garden soil and compost in the fall, as well as stone or treated lumber that can be used to frame a new garden bed. It’s a great time to get creative with raised beds or square foot gardens. Fill your new bed with fresh soil, add a layer of mulch, and you’ll be ready for next spring.

5. Gather leaves

Leaves falling from the trees aren’t just pretty – they’re enormously useful for gardeners. They can be used for mulch, compost and for creating a rich humus layer.

A layer of shredded leaf mulch over the soil will help suppress weeds and retain moisture. Maintaining a carbon and nitrogen balance in your compost pile is important, and dead leaves bring plenty of carbon. As the leaves break down over time, they break down and can be incorporated into soil to improve the moisture holding ability.

6. Take notes

As you prepare your gardens for winter, take some time to think about what you grew and how it did.

Take notes on how many plants you grew, what did well, and how much you were able to harvest. Did you have pests? Was there a bed that didn’t perform well?

Writing down these details can help you frame your plans for gardening for next year and inform how you’ll treat your beds now.

7. Plant cover crops

Planting cover crops such as hairy vetch or cereal rye will keep the soil microbes alive and active during the winter months, giving your garden a boost at planting time.

While these crops are tilled into the ground — or even rolled down to form a mat — in the spring before they go to seed to add organic material to the soil, they also do a great service in the fall, winter, and early spring months, including suppressing weeds and reducing erosion that carries away valuable topsoil.

8. Keep certain plants in place

Vegetables in the brassica family, including cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and radishes left in the ground now and until pre-planting time in early spring can act as pest lures.

As spring hits, the plants release cyanide compounds that can kill off nuisance wireworms.

Leave some stalks standing in your flower gardens, too, especially local native plants and those with seeds and berries. They’ll attract birds, adding life and color to your winter landscape.

9. Support your trees

Trees are among the things you grow on your property, and they need help too. The wind can be a lot stronger in the fall, so create some tree supports to make sure young saplings have a strong enough base to make it through the fall and winter.

10. Enjoy the fall

Take time to enjoy the crisp cool weather. Low humidity makes outdoor work more comfortable, and the warmth of fall sunlight and colorful foliage makes fall the ideal time to be outside.

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Fall Lawn And Garden Tips

The sunny, dry summer is now behind us and with fall weather setting in, a local lawn and garden expert wants to offer a few yard care tips for this time of year.

Duayne Friesen says by now you should have spread your last lawn fertilizer application for the year. The growing season is over and by adding fertilizer now, you are encouraging growth, which gives your lawn a mixed message. Friesen says applying fall fertilizer was once done in Manitoba but he says it is no longer relevant.

“Our lawn fertilizers do not contain phosphorous,” he says. “Which is really what you are trying to get into the soil for the plants to build up the roots.”

According to Friesen, this is a great time of year for planting. He says the ground is warm, roots are active and there isn’t much watering required.

“I’d be surprised if you wouldn’t have one hundred percent success in any of your planting at this time of year,” says Friesen.

Having said that, he says it is still a little early for transplanting. He notes it is still warm which can cause stress to your plants and suggests waiting for cooler weather.

When it comes to trimming down perennials before winter, Friesen says there are two schools of thought. He cautions against doing this too early, noting the plant must be dormant. Friesen says some gardeners like to do it in fall already. By trimming perennials in fall, Friesen says you are not allowing those plants to trap snow in winter. Especially in open areas, locking in that snow can help add moisture in spring. But, if you leave the perennials uncut through winter, Friesen says you run the risk of giving unwanted pests and insects a place to hide in winter.

Meanwhile, Friesen says the dry summer definitely left its mark on trees this year. He notes you probably noticed trees turning colour earlier than normal and says some trees took on unique colour schemes.

“I saw one plant that had a really orange look to it, it wasn’t dry it was orange and it was normally yellow,” he says. “It kind of looked nice but it was dropping its leaves probably three weeks earlier than it should have.”

Friesen says there are pest concerns every year and this year aphids were a real problem.

“I seem to think that when we have dry years like this we don’t have these hard driving rains that can in a sense wash the plants off,” he says. “They can knock a lot of insects off the plants, onto the ground and even injure them.”

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Top Tips to Prepare Your Garden for the Cold

Our local expert’s best tips for prepping your garden for fall and winter.


Before beginning any cold-season gardening projects, you need to know the approximate depth of the frost line and date of first expected killing frost for your zone. Which zone is Westchester, in?

Zone 6. Mid-October is usually when the first frost happens but it could come earlier or later than that. There is a month wide window that we could expect the first frost to come in, which will kill any remaining summer plants such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. Luckily, the depth of frost isn’t too much to worry about for gardening in our area.

What are the best practices for gardening in Zone 6?

Keeping the soil covered with mulch in between plants such as tomatoes. Usually you will plant your tomatoes four feet apart, and then plant shorter, quicker growing crops such as radishes, arugula, etc. underneath the tomatoes to keep the soil covered, which yields a better crop. Most natural soil doesn’t have all of the minerals that most vegetable plants need to survive, so it’s a good idea to get a soil test to see what minerals your soil is deficient in. If your soil is deficient in needed minerals, your plants will have problems with diseases because they’re not getting the proper “food” needed to thrive. Also, when you buy fertilizer and soil from the store, it won’t always have everything that the plants need. 

What are the best fruits and vegetables to plant in September and October?

October is too late for planting. Daylight hours are limited in the Fall so around Oct 15th is when plants stop growing so make sure your plants are ready to harvest before October 15th. If your plants are protected, you can pick them throughout November and December while they’re dormant. Some vegetables such as arugula, mizuna, radishes, and other leafy greens only take a month to grow so you could plant them in September and harvest them in October. The later you get into the fall, the less options you have for plants but August has plenty of options such as beets, carrots, broccoli rabe, bok choy, spinach, onions.

Why is mulch so important for winter gardens?

Mulch is important in every season but especially helpful in the wintertime. When you go for a walk in the woods, you rarely see bare dirt, you always see leaves on the ground, which is the “natural mulch” that you want to mimic. Mulch helps retain moisture so the plants roots don’t dry out. Mulch will provide a better microclimate for not only the roots of the plants, but also the microbiology in the soil such as bacteria and fungi. Bacteria and fungi depend on a stable climate underneath the leaves and the soil. They work with the plants to provide nutrients for a healthy plant which will provide more nutrient rich foods.

What are some tips for watering your plants when the ground is frozen?

You don’t need to water your plants when the ground is frozen because plants are dormant in the winter.


What about getting the timing right when planning and planting a winter garden?

A great book to reference is The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman. Eliot Coleman is a farmer in Maine who pioneered winter gardening techniques. You can grow plants in the fall and keep them covered and protected so that you can pick them all winter long even if the plants aren’t still growing. You can still harvest plants for weeks after they’re done growing.

Which covering/protections work best for your winter garden?

For instance, if you’re growing carrots in the fall, instead of digging them up when it gets cold, you can leave them in the ground and cover them with 6 inches of leaves or hay and that will protect the plants and keep the ground from freezing. Whenever you want to pick the carrots, you can dig them up all winter long because the soil won’t be frozen thanks to the mulch covering. This technique works with root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and sunchokes.

What can you do to protect your plants before a big snow storm?

In substitute of hay or leaves, farmers also use a thin white fabric sheet to cover their crops in the case of early frost or if they want to prolong the farming season. Sunlight and rain can still go through the sheet but it protects from insects and also provides frost protection, which makes it a great alternative to mulching. A great brand that farmers use is called Reemay.  

What should gardeners do to protect their bulbs in the winter?

Planting bulbs to the right depth is very important. Bulbs need to be 4-6 inches deep so they can survive the winter.

What is the best way to protect young trees and shrubs from damaging frost?

It’s important to pick the right trees and shrubs for your climate and area. You should plant trees in the spring so that they have a chance to grow their roots and establish themselves before they go dormant for winter. For example, it’s better to plant fruit trees in the springtime. People also cover their young trees and shrubs with burlap for the winter for added protection.

Which plants should be brought inside during the winter months?

Fig trees and citrus trees are usually brought inside during the winter or wrapped with sheets to keep them from freezing.

For more information or to sign up for a class at Hilltop Hanover visit their site

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Garden calendar for the week of Sept. 24-30

Sunday, Sept. 24

Fascination of Orchids: One-of-a-kind show and sale featuring a large assortment of orchids from growers around the world. Admission and parking are free. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. South Coast Plaza Village. 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. 800-782-8888 or

Wednesday, Sept. 27 

Staghorn Ferns: Learn about the exotic and incredibly ornamental staghorn fern.   Attendees will also divide and place one on a wall mount to take home.  All materials supplied. Preregistration required. $40-$50. 9 a.m. Sherman Library Gardens, 2647 Pacific Coast Highway, Corona del Mar. 949-673-2261 or 

Saturday, Sept. 30

Our Favorite Flowering Shrubs: Landscape General Manager Tim Fiskin will discuss his favorite flowering shrubs, as well as design ideas, installation tips and maintenance practices. Free. 10-11 a.m. Roger’s Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar. 949-640-5800 or

Urban Landscape and Garden Education Expo: Learn from gardening industry vendors and water agencies how to reduce landscape water use and ultimately save money. Other activities include presentations; demonstrations focusing on topics such as composting, irrigation and container planting; and exotic-fruit tastings. Free. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 7601 Irvine Blvd., Irvine.


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Garden notes: Sept. 19, 2017


Garden workshop 

STOCKBRIDGE – Berkshire Botanical Garden, 5 West Stockbridge Road  presents the following workshop. On Thursday, Sept. 28, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., “Designing The New Perennial Garden.” Instructor Robert Anderson will provide an overview of the major concepts of this movement as well as hands-on experience of practical evaluation and design with herbaceous plants and grasses. Participants will spend time in the garden taking an in-depth look at plants, and lecture time will include examining concepts and examples. A design project will be assigned. Cost for this program is $195, to register go online at

Send items for Garden Notes to two week prior to publication.

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Horticultural Alliance Of The Hamptons Hosts Ken Druse Lecture On Sunday For Shade Seminar

While some folks think of spring when they think of plants and gardens, September is a bountiful month for the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons.

The nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing both members and the public with information and knowledge about gardening on the East End, hosts a robust schedule of events this month culminating on Sunday, September 24, with the Karish Seminar, named for founding member and generous donor Paul Karish. One of two major annual fundraisers the 30-year-old organization holds, it’s a great day to get to know HAH. Whatever one’s level of gardening—amateur, professional or admirer—guests are sure to learn something from the Karish Seminar as well as enjoy the lush landscape of the East End.

The day begins with a self-guided tour of three gardens, all echoing the theme of the day: Shade Gardening in the Age of Climate Change. Afterward, the Karish Seminar will be conducted by natural gardener Ken Druse, a celebrated lecturer and award-winning author and photographer, who will shed light on ways to beautify a shade garden, as well as speak on the importance of having one.

The Smithsonian recently accepted “The Ken Druse Collection of Garden Photography,” and The New York Times dubbed Mr. Druse the “guru of natural gardening,” following the release of his first book.

“My first large format illustrated book was called ‘The Natural Garden.’ I was presenting a relaxed, naturalistic style that was not a descendant of formal European garden design,” said Mr. Druse from his home in New Jersey. “It took our North American climates into consideration—especially our hot summers. ‘The Natural Shade Garden’ and ‘The Natural Habitat Garden’ followed that book.”

Gardener, writer, photographer: Mr. Druse chuckles at the description of Renaissance man being applied to him.

“Well, I’ve been sculpting and painting, too,” he said with a laugh. “I’m flattered and happily accept the description. I think that these days we need a bit of a Renaissance, a rebirth in America. Perhaps we all should do as many good things as we can and in as many ways.”

Alicia Whitaker, a board member of HAH since the early 1990s, is responsible for booking the Karish speakers.

“I’m a home gardener, self-taught, but fairly knowledgeable, as are many of our members,” she said. “We look for speakers and topics that we know will be highly attractive to our members that are, in some way, special”

You could say Mr. Druse was a “natural” choice.

“I suppose I have always been interested in this type of gardening—learning from plants and the environment, planting in partnership with nature,” he said. “I suppose it began when I was a kid playing in the dirt with my toy trucks in the backyard, seeing seedlings, birds, butterflies and the creatures in the soil. But, I think it all began with the plants.”

Ms. Whitaker is thrilled to have him.

“Ken Druse is a well-recognized gardening expert who also has the gift of taking wonderful photographs and writing beautiful and useful books. He’s also unafraid to tackle topics such as climate change—those of us who are gardeners can see that things are different in our lifetime,” she said.

Mr. Druse concurred. “We’re facing some extreme challenges these days, and we want to adjust our garden practices. We want to find cool shelter—either discover these places or create them,” he said. “My talk will be ‘The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change.’ Even on Long Island’s East End, summers are getting hotter. We need to conserve water and our precious soil. We have to be stewards of the land as well as gardeners.”

Ms. Whitaker said, “Ken’s most recent book is about shade gardening at a time of climate change, and the topic has resonated with our members. Many of us start a garden that is more or less in full sun and then things grow—especially shrubs and trees—turning our formerly sunny patch into one with significant shade. The plants that do well in shade are different from those that do well with a lot of sun, and the challenge is to find a way to use foliage colors and textures as well as flowers to make a shade garden beautiful.”

In terms of challenges with shade gardens, Mr. Druse looks at it this way:

“I think that in many ways gardening in the shade is easier than gardening in the bright open sunlight, and unless you are growing flowers for cutting or edibles, cool sheltered gardens could be a relaxing passion,” he said. “Since shade gardens are not subjected to hot sunlight, watering needs are greatly reduced. We want to plant self-sufficient ground covers instead of wood mulch and always choose the most sustainable methods to reduce stress on the environment. We’re all told to stay out of the sun as much as possible, and that’s another reason to retreat to the shade.”

The gardens chosen for the event were selected for their shade.

“We found the gardens by networking with some of our members, which is the way we typically find gardens for our tours,” Ms. Whitaker explained. “We typically like to have a mix of professionally designed and owner-designed gardens and look for ones that are maintained to a high standard.”

Mr. Druse looks forward to imparting his advice to amateur and professional gardeners and those who just want to have a lovely day.

“We all want to do what we can to help our planet and leave the earth as good if not better than we found it,” he said.

The event will continue with a reception, book signing and a plant sale featuring curated shade plants from Glover Grown Perennials, with selections guided by Mr. Druse’s list of recommended shade plants.

Check-in begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 24, at the HAH Library, in the lower level of the Bridgehampton Community House, and the self-guided shade garden tour runs from 10 a.m. to noon. The Ken Druse lecture is at 2 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Community House auditorium, followed by the reception and plant sale from 3 to 4 p.m. Admission is $125 per attendee. More details and the schedule of events can be found at Pre-registration is required.

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Gardening during the fall season

Daphne Williams from Valley Landscaping gives homeowners some ideas of strong fall plants for the garden.

Fall is actually one of the best times to plant. There’s a tendency for there to be more moisture, the temperatures are still warm and it promotes better root growth to plant in the fall. The cooler temperatures make for a perfect recipe.

A lot of people think that once summer is over, planting season is over.
These are great because they have great late-season bloom, they have bright foliage, multipurpose uses — attract birds, give them food in the fall and winter, and they’re low maintenance.

An evergreen shrub is easy to take care of, has wonderful foliage for fall and it’s called the “Bergundy Bunny.” The color really stands out, and birds can also use the plumes to take back to their nests.

Nothing says fall more than the Sedum AutumnJoy. It starts out in summer with a white bloom, and then it fades from light to pink to medium, then to rust.

There are 98 different varieties of the “Coral Bells.” Orange, plum, purple, black, gold, greens, silvers, any color you can imagine.

Pansies and violas are great cool-season annuals. They thrive in cool temperatures.

Hydrangas are great for small gardens and not much time.

For more information visit

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Derry seeks ideas for property development – Eagle

DERRY — The town may be getting closer to finding just the right outcome for what to do with some vacant property.

A vacant town-owned lot at 19 Elm St. is one space where officials hope to put the right plan into play.

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is currently released, inviting potential developers or interested parties to send in proposals that might benefit the community and that land.

The RFP states that the town “is interested in a development that stimulates economic activity and is a catalyst for smart, sustainable growth. The Town will consider proposals that are creative, visionary, and benefit the community.”

The 1.69-acre Elm Street site was once home to a former shoe factory and other businesses, with an old building demolished last summer that stood there for decades.

The building had fallen into much disrepair through the years and town officials decided it was a dangerous eyesore that needed to be torn down.

There were major issues cited by town code enforcement and fire department officials, including a faulty sprinkler system and other major structural problems.

Now councilors are hoping that the RFP release will help bring ideas back to Derry as to what type of building or use might suit that property best.

As part of that process, any ideas or information gathered will also put current zoning and any potential changes in zoning on the list for consideration.

“The RFP will give use ideas, and fast track development,” Councilor Jim Morgan said earlier this year.

The town spent about $101,000 on the property along with another $25,000 for landscaping once the building was demolished. Add in a tax liability of about $118,000 and the town’s total investment is $250,000.

In addition to the Elm Street inquiry being sent out, councilors also decided to include another town-owned property at Abbott Court into the RFP plan to also get information and ideas on what might be best for that property.

The town has owned that parcel many years and not only is is standing vacant, but it needs some cosmetic care. Finding the perfect development plan that will also support economic growth and the community is key, officials said.

The Abbot Court site includes not only the 5 Abbot Court land, but also three other parcels on Central Court..

The property is in the downtown business district that allows for mixed use and a variety of other permitted uses including retail, commercial and residential. The land is also adjacent to Derry’s rail trail and within walking distance to Broadway and its businesses.

Many ideas about what to do with Abbott Court have floated through town boards over the years.

Deadlines for both the Elm Street and Abbot Court RFP process is Oct. 27. More information on these parcels is available at

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Fall landscaping ideas – WISC – – WISC

Pile of fall leaves with fan rake on lawn

Are you looking for ways to spruce up your yard this fall? Check out these landscaping ideas that are perfect for the autumn months ahead.

1. Plant fall flowers

Mums are hearty flowers that flourish in the fall weather. Go for deep colors like red and plum to spice up your lawn.

2. Highlight your front door

Another great way to add a splash of color to your exterior is by painting your front door a deep fall hue. If you don’t want to commit to painting, you can always add a festive wreath,

3. Install outdoor lighting

This is not only a great decorative idea, it’s a practical one too! As winter approaches, it starts to become darker earlier and earlier. Install decorative lighting to illuminate walkways and use lanterns to brighten entrances.

4. Play with pumpkins

Add pumpkins and other gourds to your porch for a distinct fall look. This is a cheap and natural way to play up the autumn look.

5. Keep it clean

Remember to clear out those gutters and keep the lawn cut short in the fall. This will give you a clean pallette to work with for decorating.

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Rutgers Landscape Architecture Club brings green living to urban New Brunswick parking spots

On Sept. 15, The Rutgers Landscape Architecture Club hosted its sixth annual “PARK(ing) Day,” a nationally recognized day that aims to turn urban spaces such as New Brunswick into serene relaxation spots.

In partnership with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) of New Jersey, members of the club worked together to turn two street parking spots on Seminary Place on College Avenue into a parklet featuring yoga and meditation sessions led by professionals, Zumba dance lessons, arts and crafts activities, a bike maintenance station and live music for the public to enjoy.

The parklet was completely decorated with plants provided by Rutgers Gardens, and Carla Haynes from New Brunswick’s Garden of Healing Yoga and Wellness Center stopped by to assist in yoga and meditation sessions.

“It’s about challenging notions of what urban open space is,” said Esther Lim, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior and treasurer of the Rutgers Landscape Architecture Club. “Creatively transforming a parking spot is really important for Rutgers students to see.” 

Originally the movement started in Los Angeles, the ASLA’s PARK(ing) Day concept has become an international celebration, with more than 11,000 installations having been created since 2005.

By developing an open green parklet that’s available to all in a typically crowded and polluted space, the ASLA’s mission with PARK(ing) Day is to promote new approaches to urban landscaping.

“We’ve been participating in PARK(ing) Day for about six years now, and everybody seems to get involved,” said Nicholas Tufaro, a county planner in Middlesex and trustee of ASLA of New Jersey, who helped coordinate the event. “It’s become very successful in promoting green space in urban areas, and PARKing Day has started a parklet movement in New Jersey towns such as Morristown and Montclair.”

While Rutgers is not new to hosting PARK(ing) Day, this was the University’s first time hosting it on the College Avenue campus, one of the most populated areas in Rutgers.

“We usually celebrate PARKing Day off-campus, but this time around, we wanted to reach students better,” said Nicole Cohen, president of the Rutgers Landscape Architecture Club and a senior in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “A lot of families have also stopped by, and it’s been a popular space for people to come get their bikes fixed.”

PARK(ing) Day began at 9 a.m with a yoga session. and ended at 5 p.m. on a fun note with a Zumba class. This event was a breath of fresh air on a campus typically surrounded by the hustle-and-bustle of New Brunswick traffic.

The Rutgers Landscape Architecture Club meets every Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Blake Hall in room 148, and all are welcome to contribute to next year’s PARK(ing) Day event.

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