Monday, June 26, 2006


Now is this scary or what? You’ve dressed in your grungiest jeans, found a pair of gardening gloves, and have even gotten your tetanus shot, now what?
Let’s back up a bit. You really SHOULD do a little planning first. It will help. You must remember that a garden needs a long-range plan in order to be what you want it to be, so relax for a few minutes and decide what it is you really want out there beyond the kitchen door!
Do you want a vegetable garden? Or do you want a flower garden? Are there any shrubs, trees or walls that you need to be cognizant of? (Don’t forget the house!) If you can, try to put it down on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy at all. Just scrap paper will do. There are those that say you need a pretty formal plan you can refer to later. If that will help you, or if that’s your style, go for it. (There are even Garden Journals that will include those planning pages. It might not be a bad idea to get one, if you haven’t already done that.) However, that isn’t really necessary.
You will probably find that as a gardener, you will change your mind often. I usually have a MAJOR plan in mind and the rest just fits in around that. That’s where the shrubs, trees and walls come in. Unless you want to move them, it’s a good idea to work these into your plans…because they are THERE and, at least temporarily, a permanent part of your garden. So make a basic plan with those in place.
Now it’s decision time. Flowers? Vegetables? or perhaps both?
Let’s deal with veggies first. They need sun and a fairly good size area depending on the size of your family and whether they love veggies. A rectangular spot in full sun will fill the bill nicely. So, draw that in your plan. Make it close enough to the house that it doesn’t become a chore to visit it for weeding and harvesting! You can fill that with rows of your favorites.
BUT- AH, HA! You need to get a soil test done! The results will tell you what you need to add as amendments to the soil. You can tell the Extension Service whether you will be planting veggies, or perennials, blueberries or other specialties like roses, etc. and they will give you very specific recommendations for those spots. This is a great time to do the soil amending because it’s easier to dig it in before you plant!
This will give you something to do for a few days (weeks?). Then come back, and we’ll go on to the next step!

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Religions and myths seem to indicate that the first place on earth was a garden. It was a place lush with plants that could feed, shelter and give us pleasure. I guess it could still be defined that way.
I had two separate experiences yesterday related to the “place” we call a garden. One was from a friend who for the first time in her life, has the opportunity to garden and is absolutely overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. The other was a quick observation on the TV, as my husband was roaring through the channels trying to find the perfect place to stop. On one of the gardening channels a woman was talking about how long it took her to get the curve in her perennial bed just perfect. She said her partner could tell if it was just an inch off. HUH? Which brings me to the definition of a garden.
Eden was not planned, but according to artist’s renderings through the ages, it sure was lush and lovely. It was there before we could even think about what it meant to garden. Today we might define gardens as places to grow food for either people or animals. Or we might define it as a place we construct to give us pleasure for all of our senses. But, do you HAVE to make your green space a garden?
I think it’s something buried in the soul of every human. We have a need to take a little space of ground and make it productive.
Not everyone has the advantage of a mentor to teach them how to go about this. Some of us grow up in cities where the closest we come to gardening is the dandelion growing out of a crack in the sidewalk…or maybe a pot someone has filled with petunias. That’s kind of where my friend was when she and her husband bought a house in the country and all of a sudden had a piece of land that can actually be “tended”. But how does one approach that task?
The other lady with her “inch off” perennial bed I think needs pity! She’s not enjoying her garden; she’s enslaved to it!
More on this topic in the next few postings! I’ve got to get breakfast for my recovering husband…

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


After a bit of a struggle with some kind of infection, antibiotics seem to be helping my prime "weeder" who is recuperating from his hip surgery. At any rate, I'm still trying to take it a bit easy, so I'm cheating on my page, and hope you'll forgive me.
This article came to me today from the National Wildlife Federation. It fits very nicely into the gardening niche, so here it is.

"Garden Patrol
By Sarah Boyle

AS A GARDENER, it can be your worst nightmare: watching helplessly as hordes of destructive insects attack your plants. With a little planning and simple landscaping, however, you can help moderate garden pests naturally in your yard. Your weapon: bug-eating birds. "During the late spring and summer months, insects make up the great majority of many avian species' diets," says NWF Chief Naturalist Craig Tufts. The trick to enticing these birds to your property, he notes, is to first learn which of them range in your area, and then to plant appropriate types of native cover that provide insect- and bird-attracting natural foods--leaves, fruit, pollen and nectar--to sustain both adults and their insect-dependent nestlings. Tina Phillips, project leader of Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Bird House Network, adds, "The most important thing to do to attract birds to your yard is to provide an enticing habitat, not just a nest box. Birds choose a nest site based on its surrounding habitat."

Along with native vegetation, offer birds a water source and a few different nesting sites: brush piles, ledges, nest boxes, shrubs and various types of trees--including dead tree limbs and trunks. "As long as they don't create a safety hazard for people, dead trees provide nesting areas and are a great food source for insectivores," says Tufts.

Needless to say, birds will not completely rid your yard of insects, and even if they could, you wouldn't want them to do so. Some insects are imperative for a healthy garden, and birds do not discriminate between destructive and beneficial bugs. But they can help keep insect populations in your neighborhood at a stable, balanced level, benefiting both you and your neighbors. Subsequently, you'll have a nicer garden to show for it throughout the summer."

If you'd like to read the article WITH the list of birds and how to attract them, just visit this link.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I just brought my husband home from the hospital after a hip joint revision. What that means is that his first hip replacement failed. This was not a good thing, but we're glad it's over and he's now on his way to recovery. At any rate, I've been remiss in doing posts to this blog. I hope you will give me a few days to catch up with myself.
It's pouring outside. We've gotten over 3 1/2 inches in the last 3 days. Yikes! That's great for the shrubs and perennials, but not too great for the seedlings which have had a hard time with all that "wet"! That will give me a breather in the garden as well.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


It's TURTLE time again, so I copied an article I just recieved. I thought it was worth sharing with all of you, so for goodness sakes, WATCH OUT FOR TURTLES!

By Mike Marchand, Wildlife Biologist

It's one of my favorite times of year, but also one that brings me much sadness and frustration...turtle nesting season. After an afternoon of yet more rain, I left my Chichester home in order to salvage the last several hours before nightfall. Soon after departing, I found a small turtle on the side of a busy road in the center of town. I safely turned around, pulled over, and approached the turtle. Despite my hopes, this turtle had been struck by an automobile. For a turtle, this individual had survived surprisingly well, considering the speed at which cars travel here. The turtle had crossed the actual road safely, but then was struck two feet into the sandy front lawn of a local residence, the tire tracks still apparent. The images of an impatient driver swerving around traffic and striking the turtle haunted me. Perhaps more disturbing was that this turtle was still alive...not functionally and not for long, but still breathing and capable of moving its legs when
touched. It was a fresh strike!

This turtle was a male painted turtle. Its movement from the neighboring pond several hundred yards away was probably prompted by the afternoon showers. Male turtles often move among ponds during the spring in search of potential mates, but the amount of movement of male turtles generally doesn't even begin to approach that of females. Females that hope to contribute to future generations MUST leave the relative safety of ponds and wetlands. Biologically speaking, female turtles could be considered more important than males in local populations. That's not to say that males aren't needed. To complete reproduction and produce young, both males and females are required. However, female turtles carry the hope of future generations within their shell.

To find an appropriate nesting habitat, females may travel several meters or more, seeking a sandy or other well-drained area that is open to sunlight. Female turtles dig a nest chamber, deposit eggs, cover the eggs with soil, and depart, leaving the turtle embryos and future young turtles to fend for themselves. Predators, primarily raccoons, may dig up and destroy a large number of eggs. Although it saddens me to observe a turtle nest that has been destroyed by raccoons, it is generally not catastrophic for local populations. Turtles have overcome this problem by being able to live a very long time...with some local species of turtles possibly exceeding 70 years. Everything eats turtles when they are small...raccoons, great blue herons...even a bullfrog on occasion. As turtles approach adulthood, they are generally less vulnerable to predators. But low survival of young isn't the only reason why turtles must live a long time -- female turtles of some species may not be
capable of reproducing until 15 years of age or later!!!

Today, the biggest threat to turtle populations in New Hampshire is being struck by automobiles on roadways. As I mentioned, female turtles must leave the relative safety of ponds and wetlands to find appropriate nesting areas. Although some species of turtles, such as painted turtles, are still relatively common, local populations are beginning to feel the effects of development and the associated increasing levels and speeds of traffic. Recent research has showed that some turtle populations near roads have proportionally more male turtles than females, compared with turtle populations where roads are few. Maintaining and improving wildlife's ability to move across a landscape of forests, wetlands, rivers and human-developed areas is a critical challenge.

Turtle nesting season (late May through early July) is here now and reaches maximum intensity in early June.


1) Slow down and watch for turtles in roadways!!

2) Help turtles cross roads safely. If you see a turtle crossing a road and it is safe for you to do so, help it cross in the direction it was traveling.

3) Don't take the turtle home or move it far from where you found it. A turtle taken to your home is a turtle lost from the local population.

4) If a turtle is injured, visit the Fish and Game website for a list of Wildlife Rehabilitators, or call Fish and Game's Wildlife Division at (603) 271-2461 for a list of rehabilitators in your area.

5) Report turtle sightings to New Hampshire Fish and Game's Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program.

6) Work with land trusts and town officials to help conserve important natural areas in your community.

By taking these steps, we can all help to ensure that New Hampshire's turtles stay abundant and healthy.