Friday, March 31, 2006



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're looking for quality plants, try the White Flower Farm.

Any questions about April?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Over the past few weeks, I've attended two ORCHID lectures. One at the Boston Flower Show and the other just the other day at the Master Gardener Conference in Concord, NH.
The one in NH was better for Northern New England Orchid growers. The gal who spoke at the Flower Show was from Virginia and had information that wasn't always ideally geared for our needs.
One of the biggest differences was that the VA gal suggested planting the orchids in spagnum moss because it was very easy to check whether it needed to be watered or not.
The NH gal said NOT to use spagnum moss up here because we heat our homes in the winter. The spagnum moss dries out MUCH too quickly and you'd be watering every day. Hence, Northern New England Orchid growers should NOT use spagnum moss.
The other thing we, who heat our homes all winter, should remember is that these gorgeous plants need ample moisture. Putting the pot on top of pebbles in a tray with some water, will help to keep them a bit better hydrated. Don't water them that way however. They don't like to have their roots wet. Remember they grow UPSIDE DOWN in nature, so their roots are NEVER wet...nor do they want to be!!!
ONLY water when the pot feels LIGHT. Until you can feel the difference, try picking up the pots every day until you know that pot is light. When it's light, pour water into the pot until it runs out of the bottom. Let it drain well, and put it back on the windowsill.
I will go into more detail over the next few Posts, so stay tuned.

Friday, March 24, 2006


My first class on "The Aging Gardener" happened this morning. It was fun!
In the course of the session, as we were discussing all our frailties, both in and out of the garden, one of the ladies said, "Who ever invented the expression, 'Aging GRACEFULLY'? There is no such possibility!" We all laughed...but it left me thinking.
On the heading of my Blog I say that I'm "...aging gracefully in New Hampshire..."
Maybe I should change that to "Aging GRATEFULLY in New Hampshire!" What do you think?
Also, I wonder if some of you might take a look at my archives. When I click on them, they say nothing is available! I've been working on this blog for a long time and it appears that all that work disappears after a week. That would be a bummer!!!!! As far as I know, I'm doing everything correctly...but they disappear! So, if you could help me by checking that, I'd be VERY grateful. Then just leave a comment, on this Post. Thank you VERY much!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I haven't seen any of my bulbs appearing as yet, but I have utmost faith that the snow will stop and my wonderful, spring bulbs will begin to poke their welcome leaves up through the soil! I CAN'T WAIT!
It's good to be prepared for this eventuality. Go get yourself some markers. Be they metal, popsicle sticks or whatever, it doesn't matter. When your bulbs begin to flower, take a marker and make a note of the color and the name of whatever it is and poke that into the soil right next to them. As the season progresses and the leaves of those little guys die back, get lost in the perennials and annuals you have planted around them, or whatever befalls them, you'll know where they are. In fact, I know some folks who put markers in where they want to plant more. Whatever works for! Remember, it's YOUR garden!
When fall comes, and it's time to plant more bulbs, you won't forget where you already have them. You'll know what colors you can mix and match. You'll know NOT to plant more daffodils right where you already have a ton of them planted. Instead find another spot where they will make a welcome addition to your garden.
OR, if you had a very prolific bunch, you can dig them up and seperate them without having to dig up an acre and a half looking for them!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Depending on WHERE you live in New England, you may begin to see VERNAL POOLS in your more "rural" areas. If you have a large yard, you may even be fortunate enough to have one there somewhere. Often people don't like seeing those spring-time puddles that appear EVERY year at about the same time, but, you shouldn't be too quick to fill them in, or plow them up. There are many little creatures that rely on those yearly puddles to reproduce, or in the case of flowers, to bloom and grow!
Here are a few more links for you to click on so you can learn yet more.
Try the VERNAL POOL ASSOCIATION.; or the URI Website on Vernal Pools. Here's another one from the NH Audubon Society.
That should be enough to get you started. Maybe one of your children would like to do a report on Vernal Pools? It's surely worth learning about.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

To Boston for the Flower Show!

We hopped on the bus and rode a few hours to Boston from northern New Hampshire. We arrived before 11 AM and were to leave at 3 PM. This was plenty of time to see all we needed and also attend a few workshops.
We started by briefly checking out the vendors, but decided that this was not the spot for us. So, off we went to one of the "workshops". It was about "Starting a Garden Journal". When she began to teach us how to draw, I decided this was not the place for me and off I went to see the Flower Arrangments. I felt a lot more comfortable there.
As a kid, my mother exhibited table arrangements at the New York Flower Show. She was good and won a few times in her table setting classes. I never really thought it was a big deal until I grew up and realized just what it was that she had accomplished!
Anyway, I enjoyed them and couldn't help but think how much my mother would have loved to share this with me.
After this lovely experience, I returned to meet my friend where we listened to Molly Dugger Brennan from Brennan's Orchids give a very interesting and informative talk about how EASY orchid care is. I knew this, having cared for a few orchids in my time. However, that was where I had the proper light. Up here in Northern New Hampshire, living in the woods, I've not had nearly the luck I used to. How sad! BUT, she got me thinking that I should give it another try.
Ater that we took another cruise around the vending area. While there we found the New England "Wild Flower Society" booth.
From there it was back to the lecture spot to hear David Cannistraro from the New England Rose Society. He gave us lots of good, common-sense advise on roses.
Then it was up on our feet for a rush to catch the bus to go back home. It was a good day, and I got my fill of flowers for at least a day! Now if only one of mine would emerge from the soil!!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Tomorrow I'm off to Boston and the Flower Show. I can remember attending the big flower shows in New York City with my mother when I was growing up. She was involved as a competitor in Flower Arranging and often took home awards. It was a privilege to grow up in that environment!
Anyway, I'm looking forward to a wonderful day with the sights, sounds and smells of SPRING! I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I'm getting letters every day about those danged termites! People appear to be a bit panic'd about them. Either that or they have labeled them "a myth"! Don't pick EITHER of those avenues.
These Formosan Termites are definitely a problem in the south. But let's look carefully at their ability to move to our New England area. We don't have Fire Ants, and more than likely we'll never see these Formosan Termites either.
So, listen up!
These termites are sub-terranian, which means they make their nests IN THE GROUND, rarely in trees. That's the first thing we should consider, even though it's a POSSIBLITY that they might occasionally nest in trees.
Then they need warmth! They surely don't get that here!
The other thing is that they need moisture. Mulch dries out very quickly, so they will head for the ground, where they couldn't live long. Or into your house IF they could travel there from the southern climes of our country.
The first thing that happens to those downed trees is that they are chopped up. That's a pretty effective way to rid ourselves of creatures, large and small. It destroys the nest, mixes up the inhabitants, and spits them out into a very drying mulch! No one wants that mulch wet, because it will spontaneously combust, so the object is to keep it as dry as possible.
Now it gets bagged! Loaded on trucks, and shipped all over (according to the theory). But, if it has been shipped to our stores, where have the trucks gone? Through the intense cold of our winter climate. No water is provided. They have been shredded, etc. Then they get stored outside because there's no reason to keep mulch warm. Why use up warehouse space?
I could go on and on. Sure there's a really OUTSIDE chance that a few termites would make it to your property, but we've all been taught not to have our mulch right up against our houses anyway. So use the mulch in the garden, don't have it piled against the house (where there's the OUTSIDE chance that a stray termite might make it into the house and stay warm.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sugaring Off party (ending section)

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!

Saturday, March 11, 2006


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.

Friday, March 10, 2006


(Since this is a pretty long story, I'm going to divide it up into a few posts. Stay tuned for the next one!)

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.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Well, now I guess I've heard it all! Check out this article about a plant that glows when it's thirsty.
Now as well as the familiar watering jug, you'll have to own a gizmo with which you detect the glow of your thirsty plants. The reason you'll need that tool is that the "glow" is not apparent to the naked eye. Supposedly it should be helpful for farmers, but I'll bet there will soon be a "homeowners version" upon which we can spend our hard earned money.
Tell me, can't you tell when your plants are thirsty? Do we really need to alter the plant's genes in order to use a device which will scan the plant to let us know that it needs water? Come on gardeners, raise your voices in laughter. This sounds pretty lame to me!

Monday, March 06, 2006


We were on our way to Monroe, NH, when we saw a big bird with a white head sitting on the ice. It was at the confluence of the Connecticut, Wells and Ammonoosuc Rivers. At first I couldn't believe my eyes, but there it was, an EAGLE in all it's glory!!!
I didn't have a camera, so I couldn't get a photo. However, I went to flickr and found this one. He looked pretty much just like this, except he was on ice at the side of the river. That was quite a thrill!
If you're interested in more on Eagles, here are some books that might help!

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I said I'd keep looking for information. Well, it came to me today in the form of a mass mailing from Terry Yockey, a Master Gardener in Minnesota! Jeff Hahn, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of Minn. asked her to pass the information along. Here is a quote directly from that letter.

"...Although they are a type of subterranean termite, it is relatively common for these termites to produce aerial colonies and to infest damaged trees. In one instance, they have been transported accidentally in mulch. However, after that much of what is said is exaggerated and unnecessarily alarmist.In conversations I have had with colleagues, it is recognized that no one knows for sure what would happen to termites in a tree that was chipped or mulched. However, it is universally agreed that it is highly unlikely that they would survive the process. Another factor is that termites do not survive well in mulch. Consider that as the internal temperature of a pile mulch increases, it can reach lethal temperatures that would kill termites as well as other insects. Also, Formosan termites are not tolerant of cold temperatures. They are not known to infest areas further north than 35o N latitude. Minnesota should be well beyond their reach.Another mitigating factor is that Louisiana imposed a quarantine in several hurricane-damaged parishes. The quarantine specifically addresses the concern about Formosan termite-infested wood products being shipped to new areas. According to Dr. Gregg Henderson, research entomologist and termite expert from LSU, all yard debris and dead trees are being burned or shipped to a large local landfill near New Orleans. It seems unlikely that a major home improvement store like a WalMart or Lowe's would come into possession of such mulch as it would have to purchase it illegally.In summary, it isn't impossible that Formosan termites could be accidently transported in mulch to Minnesota but it is very unlikelyIf you are interested in reading further information on this, check out these sources. The first is a Snopes article found here. Mike Merchant, an urban entomologist at Texas A wrote the following article ...."

So, what that seems to indicate is that we have little to fear from the Formosan Termite. Now we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief!


CHIPPIES! They are adorable, aren't they? You never see them listed in any "pest" columns. They delight children and are friendly, even coming to your hand for handouts. Seeing their little tails straight up in the air as they run from spot to spot endears them even more.
I received a WILDLIFE REPORT FROM N.H. FISH AND GAME - FEBRUARY 28, 2006 which had an article about them, which I thought was fun. So, I'll share it with you here, as well as a link to another great article about them and a few books.


Any day now you may catch a glimpse of an Eastern chipmunk scampering along a rock wall or hear its endless, bird-like "chip-chip-chip" warning call. After spending several months underground, chippies are transitioning back to the active life. Though a true hibernator, chipmunks don't have large fat reserves, so they awaken every three to four days to nibble on the stores of nuts and seeds stored in their nesting burrow during the fall. By now, these supplies are running low, so warming days bring chipmunks out of their burrows in search of food.

Less than six inches long (not counting the tail), chipmunks are easy to spot by the stripes on their back and sides. These little fellows are fast - they can zip along at up to 15 feet per second for short distances - which helps them stay out of the clutches of hawks and foxes. You'll most often see them on the ground, but you should look up in the branches, too, as they are agile climbers. Females give birth to a litter of 3 to 5 young in May, and may have another litter in August-September. These members of the squirrel family live about three years in the wild. Keep an eye out for these cheery noisemakers - a sure sign that spring is on the way."

Friday, March 03, 2006


It's SPRING...well almost!
At any rate, it's time to start honing up your knowledge about gardening and all that kind of thing. You can do this in a few ways. If you're willing to spend $70.- or so, you can take a course through the Horticulture Gardening Institute of Michigan State University. Some of the courses look quite interesting. You do it right on your computer. When you have the time . Maybe on a day that's cold and dreary; or pouring? Checi it out!
Another way is of course to just start reading. I have a book I have used since I was FIRST gardening. My mother gave it to me, and I have used it for myself and also to help me answer Master Gardener questions. It's called The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening and it's put out by Rodale.
Another thing that I do that is very helpful year to year, is to keep a gardening journal. I use one that goes for 10 years, but I totally disregard the years. I just fill in whatever I want on the date and give the year. I don't skip lines if I skip years. I don't know about you, but I don't spend THAT much time writing in it. But, I must say it is VERY helpful when I want to remember what I planted when. It also has places for you to put garden plans, which can be fun. Aside from those goodies, it also has some information on pruning, composting, etc. I tried finding mine at Amazon, but they don't carry the same one. However, here's another one that will more than likely be just fine!

Thursday, March 02, 2006


The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has issued this neat article! I thought you might be interested in it!
It was written by Kim Tuttle, Biological Technician


If you hear duck-like quacking sounds coming from vernal pools and other fishless waters (including swamps, pools in gravel pits and ditches) in the next few weeks, look a little closer. You might be surprised to discover that it is not ducks at all, but wood frogs calling. Male wood frogs often begin their enthusiastic quacking chorus in late March and early April, well before the spring peeper, even when ice may still partially cover their breeding pools. Wood frog choruses often go unheard, though, not only because of the brevity of their breeding activity (wood frogs may assemble, mate and depart their breeding pools in as short a time as a week), but because their quacking just doesn't carry that far, unlike the spring peeper. Also, wood frogs may call during the day in undisturbed locations but they generally begin "quacking" in the early evening hours and continue through the night.

The wood frog is easily recognized by its brown color and distinctive dark eye-mask. It is a medium-sized frog, up to 2.5 inches long, and can be found in woodlands and moist lawns bordering woods. Wood frog tadpoles feed on algae, leaves, aquatic plant material and microorganisms found in their breeding pools, while adults eat a variety of invertebrates such as worms, beetles, and caterpillars. They are quick transformers; tadpoles can be seen in April and small-sized versions of the adults can be seen leaving their pools in early to mid-summer. Hail to all quackers!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I found a site from the Ohio Extension Service that tells the entire story on termites, probably more than you wanted to know. It's part of my promised search for more information on Formosan Termites. Check it out! Remember to let me know if you find other sites that could help answer this question!



Be sure to fertilize that poinsettia.

Check your stored bulbs to be sure they're not being eaten by

Also, remove forced bulbs from cold storage. Put them in a cool place until they begin to sprout, then bring them into the place you want to have them bloom.

This is a good time to buy summer blooming bulbs.

Start seeds inside.

Begonias can be started in peat moss.

If you haven't done so yet, start planning a new garden!

If you have a lawn, this is a good time to send the mower in for
a tune-up.

Fruit trees should be pruned of dead and diseased branches. Check
a reference book and give them a general pruning as well.

Keep your pruning shears away from spring blooming trees and shrubs, except to
snip a few for inside forcing! (Although you should certainly remove dead and diseased branches.) Some good forcing candidates are: cherry, apple, dogwood and forsythia. Just remember that whatever you cut off now will not be blooming in a few months!

Talk about pruning shears...sharpen them before using.

Any questions about March?