Caring for Your Airplant

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Caring for Your Airplant

INDOOR CARE

Tillandsia in the home or office must receive enough bright light (filtered sunlight) and moisture for a healthy plant. In place of natural light, a broad spectrum fluorescent light is recommended. Watering can be daily misting or weekly soaking. Ideal watering schedule is one to two times a week. Watering once per week for humid conditions and twice weekly for dryer conditions. If foliage begins to curl, this indicates the plant is dehydrated. To remedy, soak in water for 15 minutes.

REPRODUCTION

Tillandsia reproduce by sending off pups (small offsets). While most send pups from the base, some will send pups through the leaves. It is common in many tillandsia varieties to see as many as 8 pups from the mother. When the young plants approach 1/3 the size of the mother, they may be separated

FERTILIZATION

Though not vital to survival, the tillandsia may be fertilized once a month. Tillandsias absorb water and nutrients through their foliage. Choose a fertilizer low in copper as high levels of copper are toxic to tillandsia. Dilute fertilizer to ¼ strength. Fertilizing will prove to boost growth, color, and may assist in producing buds.

TEMPERATURE

The tillandsia is very tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, with most species tolerating near freezing temps and high temps in the 90’s as well. However, temperatures in the sixties and seventies with prove the best for the tillandsia.

 Not enough water. If your Tillandsia are not receiving water from Mother Nature or humidity is very low, watering one to two times weekly is necessary.

Too little light. Especially if plants are indoors, need to be near a bright window (filtered light not direct sun light).

Tillandsia are epiphytes. Placing them in soil or covering their bases with moss can cause a wet environment resulting in root rot.

Too much fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can burn air plants. It’s important to use a non-urea nitrogen fertilizer, and dilute fertilizer to 1/4 strength of recommended dosage.

 

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Caring for Citrus

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Caring for Citrus

Water and Light

Water when soil becomes slightly dry. Citrus do not like to be waterlogged and if over watered while flowering, will lose their flowers.

Consistency is the key when watering citrus. Watering frequency will vary with soil porosity, plant size, and environmental factors (such as growing indoors vs outdoors, temperature and how much sunlight the plant receives).

A wilted tree that perks up within 24 hours after watering indicates the roots got too dry.

A plant with yellow or cupped leaves, or leaves that don't look perky after watering can indicate excessive watering and soggy roots.  Citrus plants prefer infrequent, deep watering to frequent, shallow sprinklings. Deeper watering promotes deeper root growth and strengthens your plant. Generally, deep watering once or twice per week works well for container grown citrus.

When Inside: Citrus need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day; an unobstructed south or south west window is perfect! Keep away from drafts.

When Outside: Your citrus tree should be placed outside after the night temperature rises above 55 degrees. Sunny, wind-free locations with southern exposure are the best.

Fertilizer

Citrus plants feed heavily on nitrogen. Your fertilizer should have more nitrogen (N) than phosphorous (P) or potassium (K). Use at least a 2-1-1 ratio. Ideally, a citrus fertilizer should be used. Fish and Seaweed Emulsion is also beneficial. Any good citrus formula will contain trace minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese.

Pruning

The graft union on the plant can usually be seen as a diagonal scar between four and eight inches from the soil. Remove all shoot growth below the graft. These "suckers" take vitality from the top of the plant (the fruiting wood). The growth of suckers is especially vigorous on young trees. Remove them as soon as they are observed.

Prune off thorns if desired.

Citrus can be shaped as desired, and will look fuller with occasional pruning to shape leggy branches. Pruning should be done after the plant finishes fruit yield. Some plants may develop erratic young growth above the graft. If so, prune for shape and balance. Also, Prune away any crossing branches; other fruitful branches will replace them. Any growth above the graft can eventually bear fruit. Well-pruned plants have higher fruit yields and are less prone to branch breakage.

Re-potting

Re-pot every 3 years to a pot with a diameter 2-3” wider than the current planter.

Be sure the graft line is above soil line and the roots are below the soil surface.

Select a soil with good drainage such as a potting mix. If a potting soil is used, mix in perlite, vermiculite, humus or compost to provide more drainage.

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Year-Long Vegetable Planting Guide

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Year-Long Vegetable Planting Guide

February

Start Indoors:

  • Celery
  • Leeks
  • Onions

March

When ground is workable and soil temperature is above 40 degress

Start Indoors:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Hot Peppers

Plant Seeds in Garden:

  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Shelling Peas
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

April

When soil temp is above 45-50 degrees

Start Indoors:

  • Basil
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes

Plant Seeds in Garden:

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Dill
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnips
  • Edible Pod Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

Transplant to Garden:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Leeks
  • Onions

May

When soil temp is above 50 degrees, danger of front is past. May 20th is average frost free date.

Plant Seeds in Garden:

  • Snap Beans
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

Transplant to Garden:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes

Harvest:

  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

June

Plant Seeds in Garden:

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn
  • Kohlrabi
  • Okra
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

Transplant to Garden:

  • Basil
  • Eggplant
  • Hot and Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes

Harvest:

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

July

Plant Seeds in Garden:

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

Harvest

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Squash

August

Plant Seeds in Garden

  • Beans
  • Endive
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

Harvest

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes

October & November

Harvest

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnips
  • Radishes
  • Peas


Planting guidelines courtesy of Hart's Seeds
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How to Winter Over Mums

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How to Winter Over Mums

In the Fall After the flowering season, usually in November cut back to ground level. (After the plant has died back).

After the ground has frozen, mulch the plant well with dried leaves.  This will prevent the plant from suffering damage during freeze and thaw periods throughout the winter.

In the Spring your plant will start emerging from the ground.  At this point the plant should be fertilized. We prefer Fish & Seaweed Emulsion. 
    
Pinch
As the plant grows you will want to schedule 1- 2 pinches.  The more you pinch,
 the bushier the plant and the more blooms it will produce. Also, the pinching
controls when the plant will bloom.  If you’re timing your Mum for the Fall ,
the first pinch should be taken by mid-June. The second pinch should not be taken
after mid-July.

Fertilize
Fertilize every 2 weeks throughout the summer.

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20 Showy Shrubs for the Fall

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20 Showy Shrubs for the Fall

Beautyberry (Callicarpa)

Bluebeard (Caryopteris)

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Blueberry (Vaccinum)

Burning Bush (Euonymous)

Chokeberry (Aronia)

Hydrangea Oakleaf

Hydrangea Paniculata

Ginkgo

Ninebark (Physocarpus)

Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus)

Redbud (Cercis)

Rhododendron

Smokebush (Cotinus)

Snowball Bush (Viburnum)

Spiraea

Sugar Maple (Acer)

Summersweet (Clethra)

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea)

Weigela' Ghost'

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)

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Pests You May Find in your Late Summer Garden

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Pests You May Find in your Late Summer Garden

It is that time of the summer when walking through your garden is a new discovery every day. Alongside newly blossoming flowers, you may be finding  some unwelcome surprises through as well. Holes in your leaves, along with plants that may appear to be disappearing altogether.  Strange creatures seem to have taken up residence as well. Here are some things you may be finding in your garden at this time.

Spider Mite : Wondering why your foliage suddenly has a bronzy finish, or looks dull and grey? Notice the small mites spinning tiny webs between leaves. These are spider mites! Spider mite damage peaks in July and August. They feed on the sap of the plant and the plant can die as a result.  Lady bugs are a natural predator of the spider mite, so seeing these in your garden should be welcomed! 

Tomato Hornworms: One of the largest predatory worms seen in Connecticut, the tomato Hornworm is an uninvited house guest.  He will feed on the leaves and the new stems of the tomato plant, and during this time of year, you may even see them eating the tomatoes themselves! Handpicking them off of your plants is really the best solution! Note: tomato hornworms are the caterpillar stage of the Sphinx Moth, an important pollinator in the garden! 

Aphid:  The most diverse of all of the garden pests, there are more than 4000 species of aphid and come in almost every color you can imagine. Not only does the aphid suck sap from the plants, but their saliva is toxic to plants as well. Decreased growth rates, and stunting are what is most readily noticed. The real concern is virus: many aphids are virus vessels for viruses that can kill plants. So, though they may be little, they can pack a punch.  For organic solutions,  you can treat with Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew or an Insecticidal Soap trying to avoid any flowers. For another organic solution, blast those little guys with a high powered hose to remove them from your plants.   

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Downy Mildew: So you are walking through your garden noticing that one of your plants looks to be covered with yellow dots. Underneath the leaves is a bluish/silver mass. This is downy mildew. Almost taxonomically identical a fungus, downy mildew works systemically going through the plant in every part. Treat with a fungicide.   Organic options include a Copper Funcicide Spray or Fungus Pharm.

 

Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew has the appearance that your plant's foliage and even stems have been lightly covered in a pale powder. Powdery Mildew is a fungus and will destroy the foliage if left untreated.  The worst foliage should be removed, while Copper Fungicide, a homemade solution or many of the Pharms solutions can be sprayed on the plant as a treatment. As a preventative, Copper Fungicide should be sprayed once per week throughout the season.

 

Japanese Beetle:  The Japanese Beetle is perhaps one of the most irritating pest in the garden. Little kills them other than the hands of a human and a cup of soapy water. At this point in the season, their damage is evident. by random holes in the foliage of your plants, this is the mark of a Japanese Beetle. You can use Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew , or you can hand-pick them and drop into soapy cup of water.

For more information, read our full blog post on identifying and preventing Japanese Beetles. ->

 

 

Praying Mantis:  As we round out the summer, the last of the praying mantis' are hatching for the season and feeding on the bugs in your garden! A majestic looking creature, the praying mantis commands respect through not only its size, but its stealth for hunting! These guys are good, be sure to keep them in your garden.

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20 Facts About Bees

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20 Facts About Bees

  1. There are over 4,000 species of native bees in the United States.
  2. Bees are related to the ant.
  3. Bees are the only insect in the world that make food that humans can eat.
  4. Nectar from about 2 million flowers makes 1 pound of honey.
  5. Honey has natural preservatives and bacteria can't grow in it.
  6. Honey was found in the tombs in Egypt and it was still edible! 
  7. Bees can smell hundreds of floral varieties and identify pollen from miles away!
  8. A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey.
  9. It only takes about 1 ounce of honey to fuel a bee to fly around the world
  10. The honey bee does not know how to pollinate tomato or eggplant flowers. 
  11. Bees have two stomachs - one stomach for eating and the other is for storing nectar. 
  12. Bees can better identify native plants as food sources than foreign plants.
  13. Every 3rd mouthful of food is produced by bees pollinating crops. 
  14. Honey bees contribute over $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production.
  15. U.S. honey bees also produce about $150 million in honey annually.
  16. Colony collapse disorder is partly responsible for the loss of some of our bees.
  17. Male drone bees don't have a stinger.
  18. If a worker bee uses her stinger, she will die.
  19. Swatting at bees causes them to release pheromones that call for more bees. 
  20. Bees depend on flowers Spring, Summer, & Fall. When planning your gardens, be sure to include nectar sources for all seasons. 

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Early Spring Garden Maintenance: March and April

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Early Spring Garden Maintenance: March and April

Tips for what to do in your garden in the early spring (March and April):
 

  1. Clean up any debris left from the Fall such as leaves and branches.
     
  2. Apply Corn Gluten or an organic weed prevention in early March (if no Snow on ground)
     
  3. Gradually remove winter mulch as soon as you see signs of plants emerging from the soil.
     
  4. Cut back any perennials that weren’t cut back in the fall, but wait until new growth appears on those with woody structures such as Butterfly Bush, Caryopteris, Sage, Rue, Germander, Lavender, and Perovskia (Russian Sage).  Cut these back to 14 – 18”.
     
  5. Cut down any seed heads leftover from the winter.
     
  6. Cut ornamental grasses down to about 6 inches before new growth begins. Do not cut down evergreen grasses such as Carex, Festuca or Helictotrichon. For evergreen grasses, use your hands to pull the dead foliage out of the crown.
     
  7. Limit pruning to removing dead wood and thinning branches to allow more light to reach the plant.
     
  8. Prune fall-blooming shrubs and trees. Wait to prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees until after they have flowered, we typically prune Spring flowering shrubs in late June. 
     
  9. Put a handful of ground lime around the base of each clematis vine.
     
  10. Spray woody plants and shrubs with horticulture oil for protection from insects such as scale, lacebugs, aphids, mites, and hemlock woolly adelgid. This must done when the temperature is above 40 degrees and there are clear skies. 
     
  11. Plant cool-weather vegetables such as peas in mid-march (if soil is workable). We usually plant our peas around Saint Patrick's Day.
     
  12. Mulching in early spring will help control weed seedlings. However, be careful not to cover any wanted seedlings, such as Verbena Bonariensis.
     
  13. Fertilize with organic fertilizers such as Plant Tone, Rose Tone, Flower Tone. If you feed the soil, the soil will feed the plants. Use Hollytone for acid-loving plants.
     
  14. Begin fertilizing Rose Bushes in April with ¾ to 1 cup of Rose Tone once a month until August. Begin a fungicide preventive spray program. An organic control for black spot is 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 1 tbsp horticulture oil and 1 teaspoon of dishsoap mixed in a gallon of water.

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Cool Season Vegetables

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Cool Season Vegetables

These crops grow best in cool weather:


Arugula

Beets

Broccoli

Brussels sprouts

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Collards

Kale

Lettuce

Onions

Peas

Potatoes

Radishes

Scallions

Spinach


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Saving the Bees - One Buzzzzz at a Time

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Saving the Bees - One Buzzzzz at a Time

Why are bees important?

            Bees are responsible for pollination valuing nearly $15 billion in crops such as almonds, other nuts, fruits, vegetables, and berries. In California alone, the almond crop uses 1.3 million bee colonies which is about half of all of the honey bees in the United States. The number of bee colonies has been steadily dropping since the 1940’s while the need for pollination is growing steadily as well. As a result, bees are being imported. This poses a problem in that with the introduction of bees from other areas, there is an introduction in pathogens and pests that are fatal to the bees.   

But, where have all of the Bees Gone?

            While it doesn't appear that any of the bees have common environmental factors that could attribute to their illness, death, and disappearance, 3 factors have been identified. Pesticides could be a cause of issues with the bees, specifically, neonicotinoids. Another possible cause suggested by researchers is a new parasite or pathogen not yet familiar to the bees. The prime pathogen suspect is Nocema: a parasite that not only causes dysentery in the bees but renders them unable to fly due to disjointed wings as well. This parasite is in addition to the better known Varroa Mite.            The third possible cause is an increasing level of stress among the hives. Research has shown that stress in the worker bees can cause decreased immune systems which can make them more susceptible to an array of diseases.

What can be done?

            You can switch to natural and organic pesticides in your garden, ones that will not harm the honeybees in your area. Additionally, you can plant bee attracting plants to boost the honeybees and pollination in your area. Some plants that attract honeybees include:

Dill, Borage, Chives, Mint, Oregano,Thyme, Comfrey, Catmint, Sea Holly, Globe Thistle, Coneflower, Cleome, Zinnia, Aster, Alyssum, Salvia, Sedum,  Asclepias (Butterfly Weed), Lavender, Joe Pye Weed, Sunflower and many more.  Be sure to have plants in your garden for all seasons - spring, summer and fall.

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Three Sisters Garden

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Three Sisters Garden

If you’re looking for something new to add to your garden this year, sometimes the best gardening ideas are the oldest. The Three Sisters Method of vegetable gardening stems from the Native American tradition of companion planting. The premise behind the Three Sisters method is to create a vegetable garden that requires the least amount of tools. In this incredibly sophisticated garden plan, each plant benefits the other to create extended soil fertility and a plentiful harvest. This specific garden recipe calls for corn, beans and squash.

After mounding the earth to a 1’x2’ mound with the top flatted to a plateau, plant corn in the center. Next plant beans in a circle approximately 6” out from the corn. Beans germinate quite quickly, just pick out your favorite variety. Finally, plant the squash around the perimeter of the mound. When planting the squash be sure to either plant 3 seeds per hole, or if starting with plants keep multiple plants in each cell together.

You’ll want to plant this garden in full sun, it should receive at least six hours of sunlight per day.  Also, when planting corn it’s best to have at least 4 rows as corn is pollinated from the wind.  The multiple rows help aid in the pollination process.

The corn serves as food for the beans as well as a stake from them to grow up. The beans provide food and a nitrogen source for the corn and because they climb around the corn stalks, they actually provide more stability for the corn to stand through all New England weather - which we all know can be unpredictable. The squash plants  drop leaves creating an organic mulch, this prevents the moisture in the soil from evaporating. The squash will protect the garden from even the driest summers. Squash also acts as a deterrent to predators, protecting the beans and corn.

These three vegetables are not only complementary growing partners, but also nutritionally compatible. The corn supplies carbohydrates, while the beans contribute protein, and the squash provides necessary vitamins. In the spirit of maximizing the minimal, this method shakes up the garden as well as providing a great history lesson for kids on some of the lesser known Native American practices!

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Pest: Red Lily Beetle

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Pest: Red Lily Beetle

Have you walked out to your gardens lately and noticed a very hungry beetle has moved in?

This beetle is the Red Lily Beetle which is definitely a ‘bad bug’ and devastates lilies. These beetles prefer true lilies and fortunately do not bother Daylilies (Hemerocallis).  If you have lilies in your gardens (Asiatic, Oriental, Easter and Turk’s) pay attention weekly for the bright red beetles and also for the eggs on the undersides of the foliage.  Examine the leaves for tan-colored, irregular-shaped lines about one inch long. These tan lines will be a row of eggs.  Just before hatching, these eggs turn a bright red color.  When eggs are found, they can be removed and destroyed.

If you only have a few plants in your gardens, hand-picking adults and eggs can be successful. Another option to control the reproduction of the Red lily Beetle is to use an insecticide.  Products containing Neem and Spinosad are effective on the larvae and should be applied weekly. Neem is also sold as Bon-Neem. Spinosad is sold as Monterey Garden Insect Spray and Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew. All of these organic products will need to be applied weekly during the growing season and have been found to be effective. Whichever method (handpick or insecticide) you prefer will make it possible for you to enjoy lilies in your garden this summer.

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