What Is The Best Type of Manure?

In order to have a healthy, flourishing garden- you need to take good care of it. One way to ensure your garden grows big and strong is the addition of fertilizer. Fertilizer (or manure) is a way to return nutrients into the soil that may not be present; such as nitrogen. Different types of animal manures provide different types of nutrients, so how do you know which one is right for you? How do you distinguish what is too much of a good thing, from just the right amount for your soil? 

First, let’s start by learning what manure is, and what the different types of it are. Manure is a waste product made by animals (both domestic and livestock,) that have undergone the composting process to remove any harmful pathogens and to break it down even further for quick absorption by plants. You are able to purchase un-composted manures; However, they must be used with caution because they take longer to break down and be absorbed, and they may also contain weed seeds or pathogens that can seep into the surrounding landscape. Since the early days of cultivation, people have been using manure as a fertilizer. It is no surprise that manure has been used for this long, it is a rich source of nitrogen and other beneficial nutrients that plants need to survive.

While using raw manure has its benefits, it also has its downfalls. There is a stagnant odor associated with the unbroken down waste, which also attracts flies. Sometimes the manure can be too ‘hot,’ which is when there is too high of a concentration of nutrients present- this burns or kills plants. Raw manure can also lead to plants growing too quickly, not allowing proper stem growth to occur. This will leave you with thin and stringy looking plants. If you choose to use raw manure, apply it to the garden late in the season. This way it has time to break down before the next planting season.

Manure can come from any animal, but not all manures are equal. For example, cat or dog manure must be composted for a minimum of two years before it can be used (however, it cannot be applied on any food crops.) Human manure, should never be used. There are too many drugs, pathogens and other potential problems sitting in our waste that cannot be safely composted (unless you have very specific knowledge and tools.) Traditional domestic livestock all contain different levels of nutrients such as nitrogen. The most common types of livestock manure used in gardening is:

  • Chicken – Chicken manure is ideal for most gardens. It has a very high nitrogen concentration, but must be composted and aged well to prevent burning from occurring. It is best applied during the spring and fall.
  • Cow
  • Goat
  • Horse – Horse manure takes a long time to compost due to its large size, with the addition of weed seeds that the animal digests this adds more time to compost.
  • Pig
  • Sheep – Sheep Manure has a high level of nitrogen, but low levels in most other nutrients. Its small pellet size allows for a quick compost.

To find the best manure, it depends on your specific soil type. Any common variety of manure is beneficial to all soils, because it has the basics that all plants need. If you are composting your own manure, remember that it has to compost for at least 6 months (or longer.) Or you can add it raw, tilling it into the soil at least 1 season prior to planting.

Thank you to Gardening Know How for the original information. You can read more here.

How to Dry Flowers

Dried Flowers are beautiful to look at and can be used for many crafts and decorations. Many people buy their flowers already dried from the flower shop, but here is an easy way to dry your own flowers at home (saving you money.) If you want your flowers to retain their color, you should cut them when their color is at peak; this is usually in the morning. A classic way to dry your flowers is to let them sit in a vase with no water then let nature and the environment take its toll. Some people like to hang their flowers upside down to keep the strength of the stems (but this is unnecessary.) The one downfall to air drying your flowers is their color will fade from its original beauty. 

One trick to use, so your flowers retain their color- is silica gel. You may say “Silica gel? You mean the stuff you find in new coat pockets?” Yes! Those small crystal packets absorb moisture, which is great when drying flowers. Silica gel can be found at local craft stores in large quantities. How do you use it? In a plastic food-storage container, lay down about an inch or two of the silica pearls. Depending on how large your flowers are, depends what crystal size you need to buy. Place your flowers upside down on top of the crystal bed- making sure not to crowd them. Crowding your flowers can cause distortion in their original shape. You many need to use multiple containers, with one bloom in each. Cut the stem down to 2 inches or so, then scoop some more crystals over the underside of the petals. Continue to fill the container with silica gel until either the container reaches half full or your flowers are completely covered. Snap on the lid and leave undisturbed for four days. 

After your flowers have dried, carefully pour out your silica gel and remove your flowers. You can now use your dried blooms for decorations or crafts!

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

How To Care for Poinsettia Plants

Every December, poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are given or received as gifts. These beautiful red plants have become a sign of the holidays, but usually are thrown out as soon as the holidays are over. They are specifically grown for the holidays (those bright red leaves just scream Christmas,) but what if you could keep them growing all the way into the summer season? 

Lets start at the beginning. When poinsettia plants are first purchased they should be in prime condition; dark green foliage, be well shaped and have bracts free from defects. The soil should be kept moist at all times, but not excessively wet. When the soil begins to feel dry, apply enough water so it dampens the surface but also runs through the drainage hole. In between waterings do not let the leaves begin to wilt. Poinsettia plants should also be kept away from cold drafts and excessive heat- this can also cause the foliage and bracts to rapidly wilt.

Thank you to CCE for the original information. You can read more here.

7 Ways to Minimize Your Carbon Footprint

  1. Stop Eating (Or Eat Less) Meat – When you think of climate change, you don’t automatically think of cows and chickens being responsible. But raising livestock for consumption creates a large amount of fossil fuels and emissions. Red meat is more responsible for these emissions than their poultry counterparts. Animals that are categorized as red meat consume 11 times more water and produce 5 times more emissions then poultry. To get a single pound of beef, it takes over 5,000 gallons of water. (Animal Agriculture is the number one consumer of fresh water in the world- which is a leading problem for water scarcity.) The average american eats 8.5 pounds of meat per day, by cutting this number by nearly half you are making a huge difference in the environment. While the best option is to cut meat out of your diet completely (not just for your carbon footprint but also for health benefits) it is not an option for everyone. Small changes in your diet, like eating meat only twice a week rather than 4 or 5 times a week is a step in the right direction for saving the environment.
  2. Unplug Devices – What if I told you ‘Vampire Power’ was a real and scary thing. Every year (in the U.S. alone) $19 billion of energy is drained from vampire power. What is it? Whenever a plug is plugged in a socket, it is draining power. The cord doesn’t necessarily have to be plugged into anything either. By leaving your electronics unplugged if you are not using them you are saving energy. So even if your phone is powered down and plugged into the wall, its sucking energy and using the infamous vampire power.
  3. Drive Less – For years people have been urged to not use their cars as their number one means of transportation. Using public transport, walking or riding a bike has always been the solution to lowering fossil fuel emissions in the atmosphere. Currently there are over 65 million cyclists in the United States (a number that has risen in the past 5 years.) Many people opt to bike to work, especially with the addition of bike lanes. Major cities are also making it easier to not own a car. Populations are continuously rising in cities, which forced public transportation such as buses, trains and subways to become more effective. U.S. public transport saves roughly 37 million tons of carbon emissions every year. 
  4. Don’t Buy ‘Fast Fashion’ – Everyone loves a good sale, $5 for a t-shirt? Count me in! But what if I told you that $5 tee will end up in a landfill by next year? Mass production of clothing in the fashion industry allows for cheap prices, but with the ever changing fashion “cycles” it becomes outdated quickly. To justify buying the latest trends in clothing, we tend to go through our wardrobes and dispose of old pieces that are off-trend. Clothing that costed less is more justified to be thrown out, because “I only payed $5 for it- I got my use out of it.” When clothing sits in a landfill, it can cause water contamination from the dyes and carcinogens in the fibers, reduce biodiversity and have negative impacts on health. Not only clothing sitting in the landfill is harmful, but the shipping and production step is too. Chemical runoff from garment factories and the oil required to ship products overseas creating fossil fuels is detrimental to the environment. To combat this clothing dilemma, try re-purposing old clothing for rags, buying local and handmade pieces, buy vintage or secondhand, host clothing swaps with family and friends and donate old clothes you don’t want.
  5. Plant A Garden – A quick way to reduce your carbon footprint is to plant greenery. Plants absorb CO2, which is beneficial for humans and the environment. Planting a garden in a city setting is even better. Large cities often have the “urban heat island effect” which needs to be reduced. This effect is when heat is trapped in the surrounding areas from vast amounts of concrete, buildings and large groups of people. Creating green spaces, leads to better cooling which is a necessity with the climate change happening.
  6. Eat Local (And Organic) – Eating local foods that are in season are the best option. Food purchased from a store has been grown in an area far from you, and was picked and packaged early (to ensure it wouldn’t go bad before reaching the store.) Not to mention the fossil fuels emitted from the transportation it took to get there. Buying local also supports the local economy and promotes food security. 
  7. Line Dry Clothing – You can save 1/3 of your carbon footprint by simply line drying your clothing. A single load of laundry in the dryer uses 5 times more electricity than washing. Running the dryer is equivalent to turning on 225 light bulbs for an hour. The Tumblr dryer is one of the top energy-consuming appliances in a household. 

These 7 tips are a simple and easy way to lower your carbon footprint. They are all immediately effective and can be accomplished by everyone. Get out there and save the environment!

Thank you to Huffington Post for the original information. You can read more here.

July 2017 Garden Events

This July there are many gardening events happening around Long Island. Here’s a list of things you can do this month and get outdoors! 

Farmers Markets – There are many farmers markets happening around the Island, click here to read our article on where you can find them! 

Tai Chi & Yoga – Throughout the Spring and Summer, at Old Westbury Gardens. For more information, click here. 

Bayard Cutting Arboretum Guided Tours – Free guided tours around the gardens every Saturday starting at 11AM. For more information, click here.

Talk and Tour at Old Westbury Gardens – Every Sunday and Wednesday throughout July, “Experience Art in the Landscape at Old Westbury Gardens.” For more information, click here.

The Lawn Expert! – Free lawn care advice in person or via email, Tuesdays through the end of October at Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton. For more information, click here.

Botanicals with Watercolor and Colored Pencil – Thursday mornings throughout July and August, sponsored by the Peconic Land Trust. Class size is limited ($20/ class.) For more information, click here.

Visit Madoo Garden! – Open every Friday and Saturday from Noon to 4PM through September 15th. For more information, click here.

Seasonal Highlights at BBG – Throughout July, enjoy a free garden wide walk at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. For more information, click here.

Visit Longhouse Reserve – Come visit Longhouse Reserve Gardens in East Hampton on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For more information, click here.

Birds, Butterflies and Dragonflies tour at NYBG – Saturdays through August 26th, visit New York Botanical Gardens for a colorful tour watching butterflies, birds and dragonflies in their natural habitats. For more information, click here.

Recycle the Rain – Open to North Hempstead Residents ONLY. For more information, click here.

Learn How to Compost – Open to North Hempstead Residents ONLY. For more information, click here.

CHIHULY – Through October 29th, World-Renowed Sculptor Dale Chihuly will be featured in NYBG. For more information, click here.

LI Dahlia Society – Saturday Mornings through November, LI Dahlia Society volunteers will meet at Bayard Cutting Arboretum. For more information, click here.

Smart Garden Exhibit – Through January 2018, visit the smart garden exhibit at BBG. For more information, click here.

Thank you to Long Island Garden Events for the original information. To read more,  click here.

Tick Outbreak on Long Island

Scientists have predicted that this upcoming season is going to show an explosion in tick populations. With the mild winter we have had, and the warm weather becoming stagnant they have stated we will also see an explosion in acorns and mice. Ticks carry a deadly disease called Lyme Disease that not all ticks carry, but the majority do. 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported each year. According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York has the highest number of confirmed Lyme Disease cases nationwide. Ticks are among the family of crabs, so they have pincers that can latch onto clothing, skin or fur without a qualm. The most common type of ticks found on Long Island are the Deer Tick, The Lonestar Tick (brought up from the South) and the American Dog Tick. While Lyme Disease is the front-runner for deadly diseases carried by ticks, it is not all that they have. There are many other deadly pathogens and bacteria for both humans and animals. If you find a tick latched onto skin on you or your pet, remove it immediately, place it in a plastic baggie and bring it to your physician or vet to get checked for diseases. Here is a list of things you can do to protect you, your family and pets from ticks this summer. 

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Stay on center trails when hiking, while also wearing long socks, sleeves and pants. 
  • Use bug repellents with at least 20 to 30 percent DEET on any exposed skin and clothing for an extra layer of protection.

    Full Size Tick and Nymph

  • Examine yourself, your family and pets very carefully after being outside. A baby tick (or Nymph) can latch and is about the size of a poppy seed.
  • Ticks like warm parts of the body (e.g. armpits, bellybuttons, behind the ears, knees, groin, or buried under hair. 
  • Remove any ticks immediately with a pair of tweezers. The pincers and clawlike mouth, allow the pest to bury itself in your skin. Act quickly.
  • Wash any clothes that you have worn in tick infested areas immediately, then put in the dryer on the highest setting. It is impossible for the bugs to survive this. 
  • Check gear and toys you have brought with you thoroughly. 
  • Use a comb on pets, the ticks can burrow into fur and cause a plethora of infections in dogs regardless of size. 

Thank you to Newsday for the original information, you can read more here.

 

How to Make A Bee-Friendly Garden

Without bees, everything we know would cease to exist. Bees are the reason why we have vegetables, flowers, and many plants. They travel from plant to plant, cross pollinating and making new life grow. Many people have misconceptions about bees, they are not out to harm. Bees are not aggressive, unless threatened or being attacked. Unlike wasps, bees cannot retract their stingers, so once they use it- they die. Which makes sense, since they don’t go out of their way to sting people. Recently, bees have been on the decline- which isn’t good (for anyone.) So here is a list of plants that you can put into your garden to attract bees, and keep them safe.

  • Bee Balm
  • Borage
  • Cosmos
  • Dill
  • Milkweed
  • Nasturtium
  • Orlaya
  • Penstemon
  • Zinnia

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. For more information, and how to plant and take care of the plants listed above, click here.

How To Start A Rain Barrel

For every inch of rain that falls on 500 square feet of roof, you can collect upwards to 300 gallons of water in a rain barrel. Using a rain barrel can save you significant amounts of money in one season! In most areas of North America, this means you can collect over a thousand gallons of water each year to use in containers, houseplants, the garden or even the lawn! Before you start, check  you local regulations. Rain barrels are illegal in certain areas. Making a rain barrel is more simple than you probably think. Here is what you need to get started: 

  • 1 Large plastic garbage can (the larger the pail, the more water you can collect.)
  • 1 Tube of watertight sealant (or roll of Teflon tape used in plumbing.)
  • 2 Rubber washers
  • 2 Metal washers
  • 1 Hose clamp
  • 1 Spigot
  • A drill
  • Landscaping fabric
  1. Start off by using your drill to create a hole near the bottom of the garbage can. This is where you will end up installing the spigot. You want to use a drill bit that is a little smaller or the same size as your spigot. Keep in mind not to drill a hole that is too low, you want space underneath to fill up water cans, or buckets.
  2. Place a metal washer onto the threaded end of the spigot, then snugly fit a rubber washer over the threads to hold the metal washer in place. This will prevent any leakage that may occur.
  3. Apply a bead of the waterproof sealant over the rubber washer and insert the spigot into the drilled hole. Wait for the sealant to dry and then run another rubber washer followed by a metal washer onto the threads inside the barrel of the spigot. Secure the spigot in place inside the barrel with the hose clamp. This will keep the spigot from coming loose. If you want double protection, you can also run watertight Teflon tape to seal the spigot hole.
  4. Carefully cut a hole in the lid of the garbage can. This hole should sit under your home’s downspout so the water runs right into your new rain barrel. Make sure you cut the hole large enough to accommodate the water flow from the downspout. You also want to drill a hole or two near the very top of the rain barrel, this will allow for overflow. If you want, run a short length hose or pipe from the overflow hole to another rain barrel to connect them! 
  5. Cut a piece of landscaping fabric to sit over the top, and put the lid on top of the garbage can. This creates a barrier that prevents any bugs like mosquitos from getting into the water.
  6. Position the rain barrel directly underneath the downspout of your home, in a convent spot. Now just wait for the rain! You can even set your rain barrel up on a platform to help give more pressure if you connect it to a hose. This will also make fill-up easier.

Thank you to Better Homes and Gardens for the original information. You can read more here.

Buy once, Grow forever!

Most people cut off the root portion of fruits and vegetables and throw them in the trash or compost. However, if you are resourceful enough you can regrow them over and overHowever, if you are resourceful enough you can regrow them over and over! Certain fruits and vegetables are prime for planting and re-growing. While some talk much longer then others (pineapple,) some will take minor days to regrow in a cup of water (green onion!) Here is a list of plants that can be cut and regrown forever!

  • Pineapple 
    • To regrow a pineapple, separate your fruit from the leaves just at the base of the leaves (this area is known as the crown.) Remove the bottom section of leaves, exposing the crown. Stick the leaves in a cup of water, you only want to submerge the crown. By three weeks, you should have long roots that extend to the bottom of your glass. Now is the time you can plant it in soil, and it will be harvest ready in about 18 months.
  • Celery
    • Cut three inches up from the bottom of the celery stalk. Place root side down in a cup of water, only submerging about half an inch. By three days, visual stalks have began to shoot up. At ten days remove the outer ribs to allow for more root growth. It is at this point that you can plant the celery outside, and it will be harvest ready in about 3-4 months.
  • Ginger
    • When originally buying ginger, search for a root that has a lot of “nubs.” Plant in a pot with the nubs facing upwards. Your ginger will be harvest ready in about 4-6 months.
  • Garlic
    • To regrow garlic, choose the largest cloves from the bulb. Peel back the paper from the sprout end. You can stick the cloves in soil at this point to initiate regrowth. Space the cloves 6-inches apart with the sprout end facing upwards. Within two weeks, garlic sprouts will have broke the soil. Your garlic will be harvest ready in about 9 months. 
  • Green Onion
    • Cut 4-inches up from the base of the plant. Place in a glass of water near a sunny window. By day seven you can either plant outside in the soil or keep growing in the water. By two weeks, you have green onions ready to harvest!
  • Round Onion
    • For round onions, cut about 1/4 of an inch up from the root. Place root side down in a pot of soil or cup of water. By day three, a tiny onion sprout will be growing. In about 4-5 months, your onion is ready for harvest! 
  • Other vegetables, herbs and fruits you can re-grow include:
    • Basil
    • Avocado
    • Carrots
    • Lettuce
    • Cilantro
    • Bok Choy
    • Lemongrass
    • Potatoes
    • Leeks
    • Rosemary
    • Bean Sprouts
    • Peppers
    • Fennel
    • Tomatos
    • Cherries
    • Apples
    • Peaches
    • And many, many more!

Thank you to Huffington Post and Veggietorials for the original information. You can read more from Huffington Post here and Veggietorials here.

Don’t Refrigerate My Tomatoes?

canstock11415091If you have ever bought tomatoes from a farm stand, you probably heard to keep them out of the fridge, or they will lose their flavor. Have you ever wondered why? Well scientists have too, and concluded its all in the genes. One study concluded that when the tomato plants genes “chill out” in the fridge, they begin to lose some of the  substances that contribute to their fresh taste. Once the tomatoes in the study reached below 54 degrees, they were robbed of flavor. However, this doesn’t just happen in the refrigerator at home. Tomatoes can be compromised at home or even in cold storage before the fruit reaches shelves at a grocery store. Now that scientists have a knowledge of how and why this happens, “maybe we can breed tomatoes to change that,” said a researcher from the University of Florida. She and colleagues, as well as in New York and China have all reported their findings in a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Reports found in this journal showed that at a week of storage at 39 degrees, the tomatoes lost some of the substances that are responsible for that characteristic aroma, which is a key part of flavor. The control of te experiment had a second set of fruit sit at room temperature for the same amount of time. After a taste test, it was shown that the refrigerated fruit was much less desirable to eat then the room temperature ones. The tomatoes that sat at room temperature still retained their freshness, unlike their chilled partners. Further research showed that the longer chilling time, made certain genes responsible for taste to slow down and ultimately stop making those compounds. There are currently scientists figuring out how cross-breed tomatoes to make a cold-resistant tomato for the world to enjoy.  

 

Thank you to The Associated Press at Newsday for the original information. You can read more here.

 

There’s an app for that!

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.42.04 AMBurpee has came out with a free app for iPhones/iPads and Android systems to help you remember when to plant, and how to make your garden grow better. The app offers advice on how to sow your garden, and when to harvest your bounty of vegetables, herbs, fruits and other plants. The app is location oriented, so someone living out on Long Island receives different growing instructions then someone in Phoenix. There is also a “How To” feature which contains links to videos on the web about a wide range of plants and vegetables, ensuring your growing success.

You can download the iOS app here.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.40.17 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.40.07 AM

How to Overwinter your Dahlias

Dahlias are tropical plants, which means they will not survive the cold New York winter that is upon us. Since New York is in zone 7, they are treated as annuals or they are dug up and have their tubers stored in a frost-free environment (like your house) until the spring. Overwintering Dahlias is an easy task, and here is how to do it.

Digging

Wait until just after the first killing frost has passed, You will notice the top of the plants turning black. Cut the plants back to 4-inches and dig up a wide enough area to ensure including the entire root zone.

Clumping

Remove the soil from root clumps by hand, but do not shake them; the plants are fragile.

Drying and Packing

Place the tubers in a dry basement, or outdoors on a screen rack or in a dry shady spot for a few days to dry. Gently wipe away any remaining soil from the tubers and tag them accordingly for different varieties, this way it will be easy identifying everything in the spring. Put four cups of vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, wood shavings or sawdust into a gallon-size produce bag. These bags have pinholes spaced about a half-inch apart to allow for air circulation. Add tubers, then pack the bags into a wood, cardboard or plastic box, and cover it to ensure complete darkness. Store at 40-45 degrees. Check your tubers monthly. If you begin to notice any shriveling, sprinkle water onto the packaging material. If any of them are more than slightly shriveled, you can put them in a pail of water overnight, if they plump up– pat them dry and return to the soil. Discard any rotted or molding tubers, and air out the bag and box they were in. Expect to lose 10 percent of all tubers stored.

You can plant your Dahlias outside around Memorial Day. Place them in a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily. To give them a head start, plant them in pots outdoors, kept by a sunny window, about a month before transplanting time.

 

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

 

How to make a Simple and Easy Yellow Jacket Trap

While it is true that yellow jacket are a beneficial insect in the environment. They are doing nothing beneficial while swarming around your sweet drinks and barbeque food. Yes- you can spray pesticides and numerous repellants but that gets into the ground water and cant be around children and pets. It causes more problems than solving them. So here is a simple, and easy way to trap those pests without hurting the environment or your family.

Here is what you need:

  • A large plastic bottle (2-liter preferiably)
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 banana peel
  • Roughly about 4 cups of water
  • Razor blade/ knife

How to make the trap:

  1. Pour a half-cup of water into the 2-liter bottle. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and shake until dissolved.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar and shake until combined.
  3. Add the banana peel (decaying fruit attracts yellow jackets)
  4. Cut a 3/4-inch hole in the top half of the bottle.
  5. Place the bottle near the hive, or in an area away from where you hang outside.

Thank you to Rodale’s Organic Life for the original information, you can read more here.

Butterflies

Which Plants Attract Butterflies

Here is a helpful list of plants that attract butterflies. Plant these in your garden or yard to have a front row seat to view some of the animal kingdom’s most beautiful insects!

Butterfly Bush Butterfly Bush (Buddleia selections)

Butterfly Bush is an Annual shrub that features flowers in shades of blue, purple and white. Grown in the summer, this plant will attract butterflies all season long. At full growth, this plant can be 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide depending on type. For best results, plant in full sun with moist and well drained soil. This plant flourishes in zones between 5 and 9.

 

PhloxPhlox (Phlox paniculata)

Phlox is a Perennial flower that has beautiful bunches of red, pink, lavender, salmon, or white blooms. Grown in the summer, this plant has a light scent that pleases not only our noses but also the hungry butterflies. At full growth, this plant can be 4 feet tall and 1 foot wide. For best results, plant in full sun with well drained soil. This plant grows best between zones 4 and 8.

 

Anise HyssopAnise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Anise Hyssop is a Perennial flower that is a beautiful shade of  purple that is great for cutting. Grown in the late summer, this plant is super heat and drought tolerant, and also avoided by deer and rabbits! At full growth, this plant can reach 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. For best results, plant in full sun with well drained soil. This plant is successful between zones 4 and 10.

 

Butterfly WeedButterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Weed is a Perennial flower that has bright orange flowers that are highly attractive to butterflies. Grown in the summer, this plant helps sustain the life cycle of Monarch butterflies. At full growth this plant can be 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide. For best results, plant in full sun with well drained soil. This plant flourishes between zones 4 and 9.

 

AsterAster (Aster selections)

Aster is a Perennial flower that blooms in shades of blue, purple, pink, red and white and also resembles the Daisy flower. Grown in the fall, the blossoms supply nectar for fall butterflies including Pearl Crescent Caterpillars. At full growth, this plant can reach 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. For best results plant in full sun with moist, well drained soil. This plant grows best between zones 3 and 8.

 

Purple ConeflowerPurple Coneflower (Echinacea)

Purple Coneflower is a Perennial that blooms bright purple flowers. Grown in the summer, this plant is very heat and drought tolerant. Many types of butterflies enjoy the nectar during the summer heat. At full growth, it can reach 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. For best results plant in full sun with well drained soil. This plant grows best between zones 3 and 9.

 

 

SalviaSalvia (Salvia ‘May Night’)

Salvia is a Perennial flower, unless bloomed in colder regions. Typically grown in the summer, Salvia blooms in many colors and sizes. Colors include: blue, purple, red, orange, and pink. At full growth, Salvia can reach 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide. For best results plant in full sun with moist, well drained soil. This plant flourishes in zones between 4 and 9.

 

 

LantanaLantana (Lantana)

Lantana is also a Perennial flower unless grown in colder regions. Grown in the summer, Lantana blooms in shades of lavender, pink, orange, yellow, cream, and white. This plant is ideal for borders or placed in beds. At full growth, Lantana can be 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. For best results plant in full sun with well drained soil. This plant grows best in zone 10.

 

 

PentasPentas (Pentas)

Pentas is an annual flower that dawns star shaped blooms in colors of pink, red and white. Grown typically in the summer, this plant holds up to drought very well and loves hot conditions. At full growth, Pentas can reach up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. For best results plant in full sun with well drained soil. This plant flourishes in zones 10 and 11.

 

 

PassionflowerPassionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower is an exotic vine flower that will give your garden a look of tropicana. Passionflower blooms in vibrant shades of purples and lavenders. Grown as both annual and perennial blooms, passionflower is grown in the summer. At full growth, Passionflower can climb 10 feet. This plant flourishes inn zones between 6 and 9.

 

 

Mexican SunflowerMexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotunifolia)

Mexican Sunflower is an annual flower grown in the summer. Blooming in vibrant oranges, this plant is sure to give your garden a lovely pop of color. At full growth, this flower can reach up to 6 feet tall and 1 foot wide. This plant grows best in warm regions.

 

 

 

South American VerbenaSouth American Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

South American Verbena is a Perennial plant unless grown in colder regions. Verbena is a flower that is perfect for cuttings, each time you cut it, more flowers grow back. Verbena blooms in in lavender purple blooms and grows best in summer. At full growth, Verbena can reach 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It grows best in zones between 7 and 10.

 

 

ZinniaZinnia (Zinnia)

Zinnias are Perennial flowers that come in a variety of colors. Grown in the summer, Zinnias are the perfect addition to any garden. At full growth, these boisterous flowers can reach 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide. Zinnias can be grown almost anywhere where there is heat.

 

 

Joe Pye WeedJoe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)  

Joe Pye Weed, is not what you think it is. While sounding like something you should pick instead of plant in your garden, Joe Pye Weed is a suprisingly refreshing look for your fall garden. Dusty pink flowers, can grow up to 7 feet tall and 3 feet wide. This Perennial flower grows best in zones between 3 and 9.

 

 

Black Eyed SusanBlack Eyed Susan (Rudeckia)

Black Eyed Susan, is a tough Perennial flower that grows in the late summer. With bright yellow petals and a dark center, Black Eyed Susans are a great addition to any garden or bouquet. At full growth, these flowers can reach up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. They grow best in zones between 4 and 9.

 

 

FennelFennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel is a plant not just for eating. Fennel can add a great contrast and texture to any garden. Many swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on Fennel plants in the fall. Fennel is a perennial plant unless in cooler areas. Fennel can reach up to 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide. This plant flourishes in zones between 4 and 9.

 

 

CoreopsisCoreopsis (Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’)

Coreopsis is a bright Perennial flower that grows in the summer. These flowers are great to look at due to the bright yellow flowers against the dark green foliage underneath. At full growth these plants can reach 18 inches tall and wide. These flowers bloom best between zones 3 and 8.

 

Thank you to Better Homes and Gardens for the original information and photographs. You can read more here.

Black Plants for October

Once the month of October arrives, it is time to get festive. Cozy Sweaters, Hot Drinks, and Halloween! Carved Pumpkins sitting on the porch, and ghosts hanging in the window. Your yard would be incomplete without a little decoration in the garden also. Here is a list of black plants to give your garden a pop- or lack of a pop of color.

1792-ophiopogon-planiscapus-nigrescens

Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) – This grass does well when planted in full sun or part shade. It grows roughly a foot tall and wide, and is great for ground coverage.

 

 

 

heuchera-obsidian

 

Coral bells (Heuchera ‘Obsidian’) – This plant can tolerate full sun and part shade. For the best results plant in a sunny area with some afternoon shade. It grows about 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide.

 

 

 

Orange and black pansies (Viola x wittrockiana)
– This plant does well in full sun to partial shade. It will bloom in the fall and then once again in the spring. It grows to about 6 to 8 inches with about the same size spread.

 

 

 

 

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Black snakeroot (Cimicifuga ramosa ‘James Compton’) -This plant grows best in full sun for the deepest color. It grows to about 3 feet tall with a spread of 2 feet. It’s flowers will bloom in autumn.

 

 

 

aeonium_arboreum_zwartkop_lgBlack rose (Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’) – This plant thrives in full sun to partial shade. It can grow up to 10 inches tall and wide in the shape of a rosette.

 

 

 

 

 

Deers

Plants that discourage deer

Here in the northeast, there has recently been an overwhelming number of deer in spots. The victim of the mass quantity of deers is people’s gardens. Since there is a sparse food source for the deer due to overpopulation, they have to turn to alternative methods. Since a starving deer will eat almost anything, there is no designated “deer resistant” plant. However, deer can be picky eaters. Some favorite plants of deers include arborvitae, rhododendron, hosta, tulips and yews. So be weary of planting those if you have a deer issue. Here is a list of plants that deer find inedible:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Catmint
  • Clump Bamboo
  • Daffodil
  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce
  • Fern
  • Fountain Grass
  • Ornamental Onion
  • Yucca

While there is deer repellant that is sold in stores, it can be pricey and has to be reapplied many times. This constant reapplication can lead to the repellant getting into ground water. If your deer debacle is minimal (about 1 to 3 deer), home remedies can be useful. You can collect human hair (either from a barbershop, salon, or your own house) and place a few handfuls in mesh bags and hang them in trees 2 to 3 feet off the ground.You can also hang heavily scented soap like Irish Spring in a bag from a tree.

If your problem is severe, the only remedy may be installing a fence. Keep in mind that starving deer can jump a 6-foot fence- you will have to get creative. Either install an 8-foot fence, a 6-foot fence angled out at 45 degrees, or two fences at least 3 feet tall and about 4 feet apart. Deer won’t be able to leap over both sets of fences.

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

You can also read more here, in our other article on what plants deers will not eat. 

Compost Pile

How to start your own Compost Pile

You may ask, Why is composting good? Well there are many reasons. Here are some to name a few:

  • It saves water by helping the soil retain moisture and reduce runoff.
  • It reduces the need for commercial soil fertilizers, which contain chemicals that are not healthy in mass quantities for the environment.
  • Helps protects plants from drought and freezes.

You can read more here about the benefits of composting as written by The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The bigger question you may be asking now is, Why don’t I have a composting pile in my yard? Here is a helpful guide on how to start your own composting pile for your garden and yard.

To start, you will need a few things.

  • Carbon rich “brown” materials, like fall leaves, straw, dead flowers, and newspaper.
  • Nitrogen-rich “green” materials, like lawn clippings, vegetable peelings and fruit rinds (NO meat scraps), or animal manure*.
  • One or two shovels of garden soil.
  • A site that is at least 3 feet long by 3 feet wide.

*Manure, even though brown in color, is full of nitrogen. However, do not use manure from carnivores such as cats or dogs.

Here’s how you start!

  1. Start by putting down a layer that is several inches think of coarse dry “brown” stuff in the area where you wish your pile to be.
  2. Top that with several inches of “green” stuff.
  3. Add a thin layer of soil.
  4. Add a layer of “brown” stuff.
  5. Moisten the three layers.
  6. Repeat.

You want to layer your pile until it is roughly 3 feet tall. A good rule to go by is a ratio of three parts “brown” to one part “green.” Don’t be alarmed however, it will take a little while before your pile gets that high. Every couple of weeks, use a garden for or shovel to turn the pile, moving around the compost and releasing gases. Move the material from the center out. It is important to keep your pile moist, but not wet. If you keep up with turning and keeping it moist, you will have earth worms in a few weeks and it will begin to turn into a black, crumbly, and sweet smelling fertilizer.

Keep in mind that you do not need a compost bin, to make a compost. Just a pile in your yard works. Some gardeners make a box to keep it in, to insure a neat pile. But that is totally optional!

Thank you Organic Gardening for the original information. You can read more here.

What to do in December

What to do in December

December is upon us, that means plants have become dormant and grass has stopped growing. But there is always garden work that can be done! Here are some tips of what to do in the month of December for your garden.

1. In  the beginning of the month, you should incorporate lime and compost into your vegetable beds. By adding nutrients to the soil now, by the time spring rolls around you will have a rich soil ideal for spring planting.

2. Within the second week of the month you should move your house plants together in one area inside your house. It is ideal to run a humidifier near your plants and keep them away from radiators and heating vents.

3. By the third week of the month you should cover strawberries with floating row covers, to prevent frost and cold air to build up on the fruit.

4. Once the fourth week of the month rolls around, you should begin to bring inside lilies (don’t worry they should bloom by Easter!)

5. For the last week of the month restock bird feeders and remember to provide clean water for birds because they need to find food in the winter as well.

Throughout the month of December, it is important to check your Christmas tree for watering daily (if you always have a live tree). Be sure to keep it at least three feet away from radiators or any heat source and to always turn off the lights before going to sleep. According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. When decorating the tree, make sure there is no broken, worn, or loose bulbs on a string of lights. After the holiday season is over, get rid of your tree when it begins to drop needles. Dried-out trees are just as much of a fire hazard than you think. Never keep it in a garage or placed outside against the home. For more information on Christmas tree safety, you can visit our page here.

What to do in November

November is here, which means changing colors, raking, and Thanksgiving. But before turkey time comes around, here are some chores that should be done in preparation for the coming winter months.

1. For December blooms, place Christmas cactus in the dark at 55-60 degrees for 14 hours each night, and in bright light for 10 hours daily.

2. Deadhead flowering houseplants and trim brown foliage.

3. Harvest Brussels sprouts.

4. Continue to plant bulbs as long as the ground isn’t frozen.

5. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

6. Resist the urge to apply new mulch; it’s still too early. The ground must be frozen.

Don’t forget that it is illegal to apply fertilizer from November 1st to April 1st in Suffolk County, and from November 15th to April 1st in Nassau County. As the ground starts to freeze, it becomes harder for water to absorb into the soil. When it rains, the excess nitrogen from the fertilizer runs off and gets in to the public drinking water supply, endangering the public health.

What to do in October

It is October, time for the cold weather, last minute garden cleanup, and celebrating Halloween.

1.Time to do final lawn repairs and seeding before it’s officially too late. For next June’s harvest, plant unpeeled organic garlic cloves pointy end up in the garden. For holiday blooms start those paperwhites now! Place the bulbs pointy end up in a shallow container of gravel. Add water to reach bulb bottoms.

2. Time to plant rhubarb (it is perennial). Also prepare a bed for peas and spinach so you can sow seeds in the early spring. When the vines die back, you can even harvest winter squash!

3. Cover your ponds with netting, to keep out pesky falling leaves. Also clear out vegetable beds, till soil and incorporate compost, manure and lime into the soil as well. Apply potassium around the base of roses to increase resistance against winter, but DO NOT apply nitrogen. Cut back long whips to protect from wind damage.

4. Now is the time to start smothering the grass, so you can prepare new beds. Get cardboard or thick layers of newspaper to cover the ground and mulch over to keep in place. Cut down bee balm, blanket flower, bearded iris, columbines and day lilies also.

5. Time to clean those terra cotta pots and store them inside (if left outdoors in the winter, they will surely crack). Do not panick if the inner needles on evergreens turn brown. It is normal for the older needles to do that before shedding. Also buy some candy at the grocery store, and hand it out to little superheros and princesses on Halloween!

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here. 

What to do in September

It’s September, school is starting back up again and fall weather is coming quickly. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on schedule for the month of September in your garden.

1. Now is the time to reseed and/or renovate the lawn. Also now is the time to celebrate Labor Day! Sow your lettuce, cabbage, arugula, collards, kale, radishes, spinach, kohlrabi, Asian greens, mustard greens, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts for the fall harvest. You can also plant ferns in shady garden beds and borders.

2.Test your soil and add lime if needed to correct the pH, it will work on the soil all winter long. If your tomato plants are still producing blossoms, remove them. We want the plant to focus solely on ripening the existing fruit. Do not prune your spring-flowering shrubs now or they will not bloom next year.

3. Time to harvest grapes! You can also stop deadheading roses, so the hips will form. You can either make tea with them (only if they are chemical free) or leave them on as an accent to the plant. You can also plant witch hazel, red-twig dogwood, deciduous holly and beauty berry for winter interest. Bring in those tender pond plants and keep them moist by a sunny window.

4. It is the official beginning of fall! You can use last summers crops that are left to make soup (go crazy!) Pot up those rosemary, chive and parsley plants from the garden and bring ’em indoors near a sunny window.

5. Rake your soil well and get rid of fallen leaves and plant debris. We don’t want disease to overwinter in the soil, where it will attack again next year. Wait until your pumpkins are a rich orange color before harvesting. Leave several inches of stem attached to prevent premature rotting.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Helpful Hint:

  • Crickets coming into the house? Just vacuum them up and discard the bag.

What to do in August

It’s August already! Almost time for kids to go back to school, have a last away summer vacation and enjoy the last bit of summer heat. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on your garden schedule for the month of August!

1. No matter how tempting it may be to let your zucchinis grow to a larger size, they are more tender and taste better if you pick them while they are small. It is officially safe to relocate evergreens now through October, just make sure you dig up as much of the roots as you can.

2. If your cabbage heads begin to split, bring them inside immediately or they will surely become inedible. You should also be monitoring the moisture levels of potted plants daily, because they lose moisture more quickly than garden plants. You should also clean up the fallen fruit around the bases of trees to prevent pest infestations.

3. When beets get 2 inches wide, it is time to harvest them. You can also saute and eat the leaves too (this is not true for all vegetables though; tomato foliage is toxic– stay away from those). You can also transplant spring-flowering bulbs that need to be relocated. It is now the time to take cuttings from inpatients, geraniums and wax begonias, and root them indoors for a new generation of free plants next year.

4. You can collect seeds from daylilies, Cleomes, rose campions and other plants that produce pods. Store in a paper envelope in the fridge, away from fruit until spring. You can also replace faded annuals with pansies. They’ll bloom through fall and again for next spring!

5. It is now the time to move your potted tropicals and houseplants into a shady spot for a couple of days before bringing them indoors until next spring. Dig up and divide daylilies as well after they have stopped blooming.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here. 

What to do in July

Happy July! With an unpredictable month ahead of us, it is time to get down to buisness in the garden. Here are some helpful tips to help you stay on your garden schedule for the month of July!

1. To make sure your potato and tomato plants are protected against late blight, spray with a fungicide containing chlorothalonil (copper if you are growing organic) and reapply weekly. For top notch grass, set mower blades to 3 inches and keep them sharpened to lessen the chance of lawn disease. It is also time to celebrate the Fourth of July! Go America!

2. If you have a pond, add bunches of eelgrass per square foot of the surface water to keep algae under control. It is a good idea to set automatic sprinklers manually to make sure that your lawn gets 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week (adjusting for rainfall), Soak deeply in the early morning. When the skins of melons turn yellow, and stems loosen the hold onto the fruit–pick them!

3. Most vegetables planted in the garden need once inch of water per week, while their potted friends dry out much quicker (so check them daily). When the zucchini fruit reaches 5-6 inches long pick it, or the plant will stop producing. For a fall crop it is now the time to sow seeds of lettuce, radish, spinach cabbage, broccoli and cabbage directly into the garden.

4.   Hooray! You can still plant shrubs and trees! Container grown are usually the best (although expensive). If you buy balled or burlapped make sure that the roots are fresh. To prevent powdery mildew , space plants to allow air circulation and avoid wetting leaves, water early in the day. Now is the time to also plant peas again for the fall harvest.

5. Make sure that your tress you newly planted get 1 1/2 inches of water per week, and also water established trees if two weeks have passed without rain. To lure slugs from your garden, place a wooden board inside the garden and overturn it in the morning scraping them off into a pail filled with soapy water.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Helpful Tips:

  • Cut flowers will stay fresher longer if you pick them in the morning, but if you’re going to dry them, pick them late in the day.
  • Living on Long Island it is good to know that if you’re near the beach, spray tree leaves with antidessicant to protect against salt and wind damage.
  • Smokers aware! Cigarettes can transmit tobacco mosaic virus to your plants. Don’t smoke in the garden, and wash hands after smoking before handling plants!

What to do in June

It’s June, a month full of graduations, proms, the start of summer vacation, and father’s day. June is also a busy month for the garden. Here are some helpful tips, that you can follow for your garden!

1. In the first week, snake hoses through perennial and vegetable gardens to have a direct water source for the roots. You should also spray plants  susceptible to mildew with one tablespoon of baking soda and ultrafine horticultural oil diluted in a gallon of water.

2. Time to remove wilted yellow leaves from bearded iris plants to help prevent iris borer infestations, and also stay on top of weeds. It is much easier to pull them after rainfall.

3. To increase tomato production, remove suckers, the small stems that grow in the crotch between the main branch and stems. Don’t forget to harvest lettuce before it bolts and turns bitter!

4. You should keep an eye out for Japanese beetles, pick them off in the morning or late evening when they are at their slowest. Drop them into soapy water. Also pinch back vining houseplants. Harvest your herbs in the morning, just after the dew has dried for the best flavor.

Helpful tip: Throughout the month you should keep an eye on mowing the lawn.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

What to do in May

May is here! Time for Memorial Day parties, the start of summer, Mother’s Day and more gardening! Here are some tips to help you keep on your garden schedule for the month.

1. Within the first week of May, apply mulch to your beds and borders. Also give cool-season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and cabbage a helping of fertilizer and also mulch (if you haven’t already).

2. It’s the second week of May, time to sow the summer-blooming biennials and perennials into the garden. It is also time to plant sweet corn! You may also want to prune the gray tips from the branches of juniper.

3. In the third week of May, mound soil over the lowest leaves of your potato plants when they reach 8 inches tall (They will produce mire when their stems are buried). You also want to transplant your herb seedlings outside. However there is no need to fertilize.

4. The fourth week of May is upon us, time to fertilize those tulip bulbs, and remove the yellow foliage. Celebrate Memorial Day with your family and friends! Plant seedlings of cucumber and squash around a support, now you can also sow seeds directly into the ground!

5. In the last week of May, place peppers, melons, eggplant and tomatoes into prepared beds. Add compost to planting holes, then mulch. You can also prune spring-flowering shrubs immediately after they have finished blooming.

For an easier way to pull your weeds, wait until after it rains or saturate the area first– the weeds will come right out of a wet ground.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

 

April 2014

What to do in April

It’s officially Spring! Its April– warm weather, gardening, and happy days are upon us. It’s been a while since last spring but here are a few tips that will get you back into the ‘Spring Grind’.

1. In the first week, pinch off the tips of leggy seedlings that are growing inside to make them grow stockier.

2. The second week of April means you can finally plant blackberries, strawberries and raspberries! You can also plant your potato and sweet potatoes.

3. Deadhead rhododendrons immediately after flowering, and prune azaleas after they bloom. Unfortunately it is also tax day on the 15th, but it is also the last day for frost! Rejoice!

4. If you haven’t already, pull out those weeds before they overtake your garden! Celebrate Earth Day! Scratch one half cup of Epsom salt into the soil around the roses to boost flower production, and fullness.

5. Resist the temptation to remove foliage from spring bulb plants before it turns brown. The bulbs are busy storing food that will be needed to bloom next year. And finally start mowing the lawn when the grass is 3 inches tall, but don’t fertilize until Memorial Day!

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the information. You can read more here.