Thursday, April 28, 2005


In this article, Experts: New Data Show Global Warming - Yahoo! News, there appears proof that Global Warming is not a joke! It's for REAL!

I'd love to have a conversation here about WHAT we as home gardeners can do to help. Obviously, it won't be profound on each of our little pieces of property, but if EACH gardener did their would, or COULD add up to a significant help to our parched earth.

I'd like to offer the first piece of advice for each of us to contemplate. COMPOST whatever you possibly can. Everything that is composted goes back into the earth as healthy, rich soil. Compost is much better for your garden than the chemicals for which you pay an arm and a leg. Let's try to garden chemical free. There are so many benefits to gardening this way.

Next, talk with someone today about helping them get a composting project going.

Then, let's teach a few youngsters about this process. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the next generation of gardeners were true composters?

This is just one little idea that won't have a huge impact, unless we ALL do it!

So, start making your voice heard in this BLOG. Add a comment about YOUR idea!

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker is back!

As I perused my NY Times this morning, I see that there has been a verified sighting of an Ivory Billed Woodpecker. Now this bird is believed to have been extinct since the 1940's. You can read the article yourself, as I have linked it here.

Birds are my wintertime joy. I love them during the rest of the year as well since they help me control the insects in my garden. I plant as much "bird friendly" shrubbery and plant material as I can to encourage their presence. Even though I am listed as the Maturing GARDENER, I am a gardener who loves to have birds ALL year long!

We have bears here in northern New Hampshire. During the winter they pose no problems, but at this time of year they are HUNGRY, and bird feeders are very vulnerable, so I usually remove any feeders by the beginning of April. However, there is ONE feeder I leave up. It is high enough that the bears can't reach it, and that's my thistle feeder. I just LOVE watching the American Gold Finches who visit it with great regularity.

The hummingbird feeder is also up as soon as our nights are warm enough that the sugar water doesn't freeze. Actually, I think it may have frozen once this year...but, I don't care. If there's a hungry hummer traversing my garden, I hope he'll stop by for "tea"!

Any gardening questions for me?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Has Spring Really Arrived in New Hampshire???

I really think it HAS happened while I wasn't looking! There in my rock garden are a few Galantus showing their white heads! Nothing else is blooming, but I'm watching for sure!
The daffodils are finally pushing some leaves up through the soil and spearing any leaf in their way. That offers hope for a splash of yellow and white soon.
I've started transferring compost from the bin to a holding "pen" so I can begin anew. I have three compost bins side by side. The actual compost bin where things are actively working; the unfinished bin from which I take "stuff" to put on top of any new additions to the active bin (this is what is left over from last year that has not fully decomposed yet); and then the finished compost that goes right into the garden. I LOVE this process. I love to see all our kitchen and garden discards going right back to the soil in such a wonderful, rich form.
Anyway, at this time of year once the frost is OUT of the compost I transfer everything to either the "not fully decomposed" bin or to the "fully decomposed" bin. Then I start over again from scratch in the active compost bin.
Any gardening questions for me?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Transplanting Tree Sprouts

Q. I'm delighted to have found your blog! I just found out the Kwanzan
Cherry tree we loved so much but had to cut down (carpenter ants
destroyed the trunk) left us some sprouts. I'm not sure how many are
there yet - they are under a ratty looking pine tree so I have to crawl
under and see. I want to transplant at least one of the sprouts.
What's the best approach?

A. What a happy discovery! How long has your Cherry been "gone"?
I have a few questions for you since your "sprouts" seem to come from the trunk of your tree. Have you checked to see if the sprouts are "free standing"? Or are they sprouting from the stump of the tree? If they are growing OUT of the STUMP and are actually PART of that remnant stump, I'm afraid you'll have to leave it there. Pick the biggest and healthiest looking sprout to be your new tree. Cut out all the rest of the sprouts and say hello to your new tree! Once you've picked the final sprout to favor, cut out any others that grow up to compete with it.
IF it's a sprout that should be cut away, I'd do the cutting now, leaving the tree IN the ground where it stands until it's ready to transplant. Kind of like operating on a Siamese twin, but leaving it IN PLACE. That way, the shock of moving it will be less traumatic. Your best bet would be to wait until early fall to do the actual transplanting so it doesn't have to struggle through a hot summer.
While it sits there, separated, but in place, begin to prepare it's new home. I assume by now you've decided where it wants to be? Remember it will be in the same place for the rest of it's life, so make it GOOD!
Be sure this site has the proper amount of light and shelter. If there's a hill, place it half way down, rather than at the top or bottom as it will be better protected from frosts and winds. Avoid placing it too close to a building, under wires, or over pipes and cables where it may need to be trimmed back. Choose a well drained site. No tree likes to sit it water.
While you wait, get a soil sample from this new location and send it to the State University Extension Service with a note telling them that it is where you want to plant a Kwanzan Cherry Tree. They will test the soil for you and tell you exactly what you need to add to the soil, if anything. That is the BEST gift you can give your tree.
When you begin to dig, work some compost into the hole along with whatever amendments the soil test has suggested. Usually the hole is dug 2-4 times the width of the roots, so they can be spread out. If there are any damaged roots, be sure to trim them off. Gently set the roots in the ground and begin to backfill the hole. Stamp the soil in well to avoid any air spaces and water it thoroughly. You might prepare a bit of a "dish" around it so the rain will stay there rather than run away. For the first few years, be sure your new tree does NOT dry out. It may need a little winter protection and perhaps a trunk wrapper wouldn't hurt for the first, few winters. Mulching around it will help keep the weeds down and the moisture in. So consider doing that as well.
Good luck, and Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Moths in the Perennial Bed in April!

Q. There are moths flying around in my perennial bed. Why are they there, and what can I do about them, if anything?

A. At this time of year (early spring) you definitely want to be aware of the presence of the moths and get ready to do something. The moths themselves, won't bother anything. However, they are the parents of caterpillars! Right now the moths are doing no damage. They don't eat anything. You don't really want them in your garden though, because they are looking for a mate. The next step, as we all know, is laying eggs which turn into caterpillars. THERE is the rub! The caterpillars will eat their way throughout the garden, which is not a good thing. What you need to do is break the cycle. This can be done in a few different ways. Try all of them, or some of them. The more you do, the better results you'll have.

First, do some cultivating of the ground around the plants to get rid of any debris in which the hatching eggs might be hidden. This step should have already been done, but if you get to that before some of the moths hatch out, you will destroy a fair number of them. Remember this step for next year! Also, when you remove the debris, throw it into a plastic bag and then into the garbage. You don't want to put this in your compost as you'll transplant these unwanted critters elsewhere in the garden. You should do this in the autumn as well.

When you see the caterpillars out chewing, remove as many of them as you can by hand. Put them into a jar with soapy water where they will shortly meet their maker.

Next, I would treat your soil with Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, which you should be able to obtain in any garden center. Follow the directions carefully for application.

Bt is like a deadly flu bug for creepy crawlers. They catch it, get sick and die. Then the Bt spreads to all the other members of the bug family creating a plague down there in the ground. It does NOT hurt the good guys. Don't even ask why or's just true! Trust me!

In New England, where we have pretty cold winters, the Bt can die off during the cold times. However, some of it may last, or just put more down the next year to be sure you're covered.

I hope this has helped.


Friday, April 15, 2005


A few years ago, we went to our first “Sugaring-Off party”. It was fun AND informational. We always get enough syrup to use as “house gifts” for our out of state friends. They all love it!
Anyway, we had never been to one of these, I thought there might be some of you out there in cyber-space that haven’t done this either. So, here’s the story of “Sugaring-Off” in the North Country.
We arrived at the “sugarin’ barn” that had steam and smoke POURING out of the metal stack at the top. If you didn’t know better, you’d think there was a fire burning out of control inside that fireplace. However, it was only steam, which is a by-product of the sugaring process, and smoke from the soft wood they use for firing up the burners under the syrup.
As we came in the little “ante-room” (I’m sure the farmer has another name for it…like “shed” or something equally original). There were pumps and tubes just everywhere, with the accompanying noises. This, we found out later on the tour, is where the syrup comes into the barn from the “sugarbush” (the stand of maples from which they take the syrup). They do not use buckets at this installation, as they tap about 8000 maple trees. That would be a bit of a job, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, there is a pump, which essentially vacuums the syrup into the barn. The maples are on a hill allowing gravity to play and important part in this whole process.
The next step was tasting the “Sugar on Snow”…a new experience for us both! They had a huge bucket of shaved ice, as nature was not being helpful. . It got up to 71 degrees the day before we went! Anyway, they had some maple syrup in a crock-pot that had been boiled down to a pretty thick consistency, just being kept warm. A spoonful of this thick syrup was ladled out on the snow in a very thin layer. It hardened immediately and we could just peel it off the snow and pop it into our mouths. Oh, my…ambrosia! It was the consistency of caramel with the flavor of rich maple syrup. Delicious and VERY sweet. They had a huge bowl of pickles made by the farm to which you could help your self. I had always wondered about the custom of serving pickles at a sugaring off party. Now I know why. The “Sugar on Snow” is SO rich and sweet, the pickle cuts through that sweetness allowing you to escape the incredibly sweet aftertaste you will be left with, sans pickle. I know, because on the way out, I stopped and popped a piece of maple sugar on snow into my mouth, not taking the pickle. I tasted that maple sugar all the way home (a 20 minute drive!) Donuts are also served. You can dip them in syrup or else there’s the Maple Spread, which is the consistency of Peanut Butter. A knife puts a big dollop on your donut, and your smile defines the moment.
Next step was where they displayed how the little plugs are attached to the trees trailing tubing throughout the “bush”. They drill a hole into the tree and insert the little blue, plastic plug. This plug is attached to the black tubing and you’re in business. Every year the plug is removed after sugaring season and the tree allowed to heal itself. I guess it forms a bit of a callus, and the section of the tree about one inch out from the center of the hole essentially dies. The new plug must be placed at least 5 inches from that wound next year, or it won’t work.
The black plastic tubing is a constant worry. All kinds of animals, even human, create problems with it. There are often holes found, put there by the teeth of everything from bobcats to foxes. Beavers sometimes build dams causing floods that freeze, stopping the flow! Another time, someone had burned the tubing, causing it to melt. And on and on. Anyway, if there’s a hole in the tube, the vacuum won’t work and the syrup squirts out. This means that the maze of tubing must be checked often.
Part of the tubing in the ante-room (or shed, if you’d prefer) is clear, allowing you to see the sap flowing through. It looked like water, with the same consistency. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! Not much sap was flowing as we looked. It had been warm a few nights. In order to have good flow, the temperatures must drop below 32 degrees at night and climb above that temperature during the next day. If this doesn’t happen the sap does not flow up and down enough to be tapped. Eastern Canada and areas close to New England are the only areas of the world that produce Maple Syrup! I wasn’t aware of that, were you? The season lasts about 5-6 weeks from late February into early April. Some years are better than others, which is why some years the price of Maple Syrup is exorbitant.
Another thing I learned is that Grade B syrup is really much better than Grade A. It has much better flavor. Also the grading is for COLOR! Every day the grade will be different and it depends on the temperature of the environment. They have a hard time getting enough Grade B, which is what all their local (those “in the know”) customers want. In fact the farmer has his/her own “stock” that is called “Super B” that is used for cooking. So when you buy Maple Syrup, and have a choice, try Grade B.
They had 2 “evaporators” which do the boiling of the sap, creating the syrup. (The big joke in the North Country is that there are those who would like to make their own syrup, which is fine, but they do the boiling in their kitchen. The next day all the wallpaper is on the floor! (Remember the 40-1 gallon equation. There’s a LOT of steam generated by this process.) One of the evaporators essentially heats the sap for the next evaporator, which does the bulk of the work. They only use both evaporators when the sap is REALLY running. When we were here, only one was functioning.
In order to get the hot, quick fire they need to boil that sap, soft wood is used to burn. That’s wonderful, because no one else wants that wood for his or her fireplaces. So they get all the cast off wood from “blow-downs” and just junk wood to burn. People are happy to give them wood. Rarely do they need to actually buy it. Not a bad deal, eh?
The maple syrup is graded on the spot and bottled. Next step will be for us to buy it and pour it on our pancakes and waffles. I’m already looking forward to next year’s “Sugaring-Off” Party!
So, there you have it! New England may be gorgeous in the autumn, but the sheer delight of a “sugaring-off” party surely warrants a late winter visit here as well!
I hope you learned something new. I surely did!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Check out my presence on the web!

North Country Maturing Gardener is a Connecticut transplant now living in northern New Hampshire, and a certified Master Gardener in both states. Her blog item listing monthly chores for most of New England is the sort of news to use I crave. Yes, plant your peas in April.

This is what appeared on the Subterranean Homepage News.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Warm at Last!

Yesterday I finally got outside to check the garden! There are still some little piles of snow around where the plows pushed it up, but generally, it's time to start looking for emerging bulbs! HURRAY!
I started by checking the flooded areas. They are covered with black soil. At first, from a distance, I thought it was some kind of awful, sooty stuff, but upon closer examination, it's wonderful looking dirt! The garden should love it.
I pulled out most of the stakes that kept the plows out of the garden areas. I did manage to get rid of SOME of the debris from the flooding, but there's still a lot of that left to deal with. I also removed the snow covers from the Mountain Laurel and the Rhodies.
Next on my list will be the blueberries which can stand some pruning, as can the lilacs. I'll get to that in a week or so, it's still a bit chilly to be about that yet. It just got up to about 42 yesterday.
I think my chores before then will be to prune off some injured branches on ALL of the shrubs. I always enjoy that task. It makes everything look so neat. But then, to me ALL gardening is so satisfying. At my age, it's also easier to prune because I don't need to get down on the ground. That becomes more and more difficult for me as I age. So, I use a lot of mulch to keep the weeds down, and let my perennials give me color and pleasure, rather than having to deal with planting and pulling annuals.
If you have any gardening questions, E-mail me here!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Chores for APRIL in MOST of New England


Start up your lawn mower so you know it doesn't need a trip to the repair shop before grass cutting time. Also be sure the blades are SHARP.

Avoid working in the garden unless the soil breaks up in your
hand if you squeeze a lump of it.

Hummingbirds begin to appear this month in some places. Clean
the feeders and hang them for the "early birds"

Sow peas in the ground as soon as the frost is gone

Continue with the tree pruning. Get rid of dead and diseased limbs

You can prune your berry bushes-check a reference or
ask me

This is a good time to pull out weed trees and old bramble branches. They tend to yank out easily because the soil is still soft and moist.

Remove mulch from strawberries

Pansies can now be planted outside

If you have any bareroot plants going into the garden, soak them overnight before planting. also be sure to trim off any super long or broken roots.

If you have gardening questions, E-mail me here!

Monday, April 04, 2005

It Seems Some Amphibians Need Our Help!

As a member of the local Conservation Commission, I received the following e-mail from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. I guess this is an entirely new concept of why to drive during the daylight hours!
Anyway, I did enclose their link at the bottom of the page, so if you want to know more about this can just click on it.
If you have gardening questions, E-mail me here!


CONCORD, N.H. -- Keep an eye out for amphibians on the roads in the coming weeks, especially on warm, rainy nights. Spotted salamanders, spring peepers, wood frogs and toads will be hopping and sliding across New Hampshire roadways on the first warm wet nights, heading to mate and lay their eggs in vernal pools and other wetlands. They are already on the move in southern New Hampshire, according to Wetlands Biologist Michael Marchand of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.

"If you can, consider picking up that gallon of milk on the way home from work instead of driving after dark on rainy nights in April through the first week of May. By doing so, you could help save some of the thousands of salamanders, frogs and toads that will be run over by cars during this period," says Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Eric Orff.

The height of spring amphibian activity comes during the first rainy nights after you begin to hear the spring peepers. So give our slithery neighbors a brake, and consider doing your errands during dry evenings or daylight hours in the coming weeks.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.

Learn more about Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, including more ways you can help, by visiting Wildlife.

Now we've got flooding!

The heaven's opened up and the rains came forth!
Yesterday when I awakened, I could hear a "rushing" sound. I knew it was one of two things. Either the heat was on and I was hearing the air rushing through the vents, OR it was the little brook next to our house. It was the brook! The brook is about 50 yards or so away, and down a considerable hill, however, my Wildflower meadow and my perennial bed are both between the brook and our house. When I looked outside, I couldn't believe my eyes!
The brook had flooded the entire perennial bed and half of the meadow! The snow that had been piled up by the snowplows, by the side of the road, was essentially forming a dam holding the water in. By time I got dressed and outside with my camera, a small breech had formed in the snow bank and water was RUSHING over to the road and flooding that. It made for an exciting day. I won't be gardening any time soon!
This morning the town road crew was out by my garden doing a LOT of repair work to the road. I wonder if ANY of my mulch remains? I'm not worried about the perennials. Although the road washed out, I think the garden remains intact. It's all covered with a black soot-like substance. I'm hoping that's a good thing, but right now it just looks dirty.
Since the snow is (almost) gone, I've started collecting compost again. I don't do that in the winter because there is too much snow between me and the compost bin. I'm getting too creaky to shovel all that. I must admit, that I love to compost, so I'm happy to be involved with that again.
If you have any questions about either composting or any other gardening question,Email me! me here!