Connecticut Garden Journal

Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more. Learn more about Charlie at gardeningwithcharlie.com.

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Connecticut Garden Journal: Grow ground covers for pollinators
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Connecticut Garden Journal: Grow ground covers for pollinators
Growing a pollinator garden has become very popular. But many gardeners don't have room for yet another garden. Another way to approach supporting pollinators is to find places in existing gardens to grow plants they love. One neglected group of plants for pollinators is ground covers. Growing ground covers between trees, shrubs and perennials not only creates a more natural look and adds color, but also provides a source of pollen and nectar for these essential creatures.  Here's some ground covers to tuck between your plants. Wild and alpine strawberries are favorite pollinator friendly ground covers. We have them planted throughout a winding border filled with shrubs and perennials. They bloom in spring and then, off and on, all summer and we get some berries, too. Rock soapwort, or Saponaria, is perfect for a sunny flower garden. It grows 4- to 8-inches tall, tolerates dry soil and has fragrant, pink and white flowers in early summer. Strawberries and soapwort are deer resistant. We love growing the perennial geranium as a ground cover. It grows 1 foot tall, and slowly spreads to fill in part shade areas between large perennials and shrubs. The pink flowers bloom on and off all summer. Clover is a great groundcover for areas between shrubs , trees and tough perennials. The white flowers are favorites of pollinators and they bloom all summer. For a more colorful treat, try growing the purple leafed variety Altropurpureum. It stays 4 inches tall and has purple leaves with green edging. It's less vigorous than the green leafed versions but still flowers and adds a splash of color to your garden.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: The three keys to growing indoor greens
22-02-2024
Connecticut Garden Journal: The three keys to growing indoor greens
Have you noticed? The days are getting longer and the sun is getting stronger. Spring is coming! I'm getting ready to start a whole variety of vegetables and flowers for transplanting into the garden this spring. But we don't have to wait to enjoy all those tasty veggies. With the longer days and stronger sun, we can start growing vegetables indoors in a sunny window. The keys are full sun, warmth and the right greens. While the days are longer, it's important that where you grow your greens gets as much sun as possible. That means at least 4 hours a day. If you don't have that amount of sun, try using grow lights to supplement your light. Also, place the seedings in a warm room with few cold drafts. I place a clear plastic cover over my grow light set up to keep the air warm and humid. You'll also want to use a heating pad under the seedlings to get them to grow fast. The best greens to grow indoors now are ones that can take lower light levels and cool temperatures. Mache, spinach, arugula, mustards and winter lettuces are the best bets. Mache and arugula are quick germinating and mature greens with a mild taste, if not stressed. Mustards are fast growing with a little bite. Grow greens in a tray or large pots. Sow seeds and keep the soil moist. Thin and harvest when the greens are young, or let them grow larger for a bigger yield. By harvesting just outer leaves, many of these greens will continue yielding right into spring.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Twenty years in the making, a new GMO tomato is ready to grow
22-02-2024
Connecticut Garden Journal: Twenty years in the making, a new GMO tomato is ready to grow
We know about GMO foods. Commodity crops, such as corn, rice and wheat, and some vegetables and fruits, such as squashes and pineapples, are genetically modified. But these varieties are available only to commercial growers. Now we have a GMO tomato that's available for home gardeners to grow. Recent news reports discuss a new, 'Purple' cherry tomato developed by the Norfolk Plant Science Group in England. They've worked for 20 years to move the purple gene trait from snapdragons into a cherry tomato. The result is a purple tomato with high levels of anthocyanin, an anti-cancer and anti-inflammation compound. These anthocyanins are in some tomato fruits already, but at low levels. 'Purple' tomato increases the levels and the potential health benefits. While many like the idea of the health benefits of nutrient dense vegetables, there are concerns about what happens in the environment when these plants are grown such as the controversy around GMO corn harming butterflies and pollinators. This GMO Purple tomato is making headlines, but it's also good to remember that traditional breeding can also create healthier varieties of edibles. The 'Indigo Rose' purple tomato that I've grown has been bred to have more anthocyanins in the fruit as well. In fact, the whole Indigo series of tomatoes has more than 50 varieties with this benefit that have all been bred traditionally. Trying to introduce a GMO tomato variety to home gardeners may be tough due to public perception of GMOs being bad for the environment and our health. But Norfolk Plant Sciences hopes to change the conversation. We'll see if it gets accepted.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Gardeners, what’s your sign?
06-02-2024
Connecticut Garden Journal: Gardeners, what’s your sign?
Houseplants can be fun and fulfilling to grow. You always should grow the right houseplant for your room, but another fun way to choose houseplants is to select them based on Zodiac signs. Zodiac signs can correspond to your personality traits. For example, if your Zodiac sign is Aries you may have a lot of fire and like to stay active and busy. Then perhaps a snake plant or ZZ plant, that requires little care, is best for you? If your Zodiac sign is Taurus, you may find yourself to be hard working, tenacious and see things through. Maybe you should try a more difficult houseplant that requires extra care, such as a fiddle leaf fig or orchid. Capricorns tend to be very practical, serious people. That's why growing herbs and edibles indoors in a sunny window or under lights would suit this sign perfectly. The Pisces sign symbolizes intuition and luck. The money plant is an easy to grow houseplant loaded with good fortune and prosperity symbolism. Some plants equate to Zodiac signs because of their names. Peace lilies resonate with Libra which is ruled by the love planet, Venus. Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, is known for big, grand gestures. Why not grow a big, grand houseplant such as Monstera or rubber tree? Cancer is ruled by the moon which a closely associated with fertility. Why not a houseplant that reproduces easily such as a spider plant? You could go on and on looking for plants that associate with a zodiac sign. It's a fun way to get friends interested in houseplants and the symbolism they hold.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for growing succulents indoors
24-01-2024
Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for growing succulents indoors
Succulents can make great houseplants depending on your space and light levels. Many gardeners love picking up some of these small plants in winter to add some greenery to their indoors. But it does matter which succulents you grow, and where you grow them, in your home. For high light windows that get at least 3 to 4 hours of direct sun a day in winter or if you have a grow light, light-loving succulents are best. Echeverias, sedums, cacti and sempervivums or hens and chicks, all love the bright light. For darker areas that may only get an hour or so of direct light, but still is a brightly lit room, try Haworthia, aloe, snake plant, ZZ plant and jade plants. They can tolerate the lower light levels and not get leggy. The other consideration is space. Many succulents can be purchased in small, 2-inch diameter pots, but they can grow big over time. Consider places in your home where you can grow larger succulents or grow some that stay small such as Haworthia. I've seen very large aloe, jade and agave plants in homes that are striking as long as they have room and sun. Succulents are best watered once the soil is dry. Slowly pour water into the pot so it drains out the bottom. Or place pots in a basin with a few inches of water and the soil will naturally soak up the water. Some succulents grow small pups or baby plants next to the mother plant. Create more succulents by separating the babies from the mother and potting them in their own containers.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for urban gardening
22-01-2024
Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for urban gardening
As I finish touring India, I'm reminded of the power of urban gardens. India is the most populated country in the world and it's impressive how they garden in such a crowded place. We also can garden in small spaces in our towns and cities, but there can be challenges. Here's a few tips for urban gardening. Urban settings can have poor or even contaminated soils. It's best to do a soil test to make sure the soil is safe to grow in. Building raised beds and adding organic matter and topsoil can help plants grow better. Consider trying straw bale gardening and community gardens as well. Of course, containers are sometimes the best option for a small gardening space and don't forget using hanging baskets, railing planters and vertical trellises to grow plants. Try to locate your beds and containers where they'll get the most sun. That may change throughout the summer due to shade from nearby buildings and trees, so move containers as needed and grow plants adapted to low light in shady spots. Also, place gardens close to a water source and check local zoning ordinances about building gardens in your yard. Because you have limited space, select flowers and edibles you really like. For a big bang for your efforts grow edibles such as cherry tomatoes, greens, zucchini, bush beans and cucumbers and annual flowers such as impatiens, zinnias, geraniums and petunias.  Plan for animal pests such as cats, dogs, raccoons and mice. Fence the raised beds, add screening for bird and squirrel protection and use animal repellents. Learn more about the benefits of urban gardening at the Connecticut Horticultural Societies' Zoom talk at cthort.org.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: While winter roars outside, grow lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms inside
17-01-2024
Connecticut Garden Journal: While winter roars outside, grow lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms inside
One way to get a gardening fix in the middle of winter is to grow mushrooms. Gourmet mushrooms are hard to find in the wild and often very expensive in grocery stores. An easy way to have gourmet mushrooms is to grow them indoors with mushroom kits purchased online. Growers have expanded the varieties available. There are now oyster mushrooms, lion's mane, wine cap and shiitake mushrooms you can grow in the comfort of your home while the winter rages outdoors. Probably the easiest mushroom kits to try indoors are the lion's mane and oyster mushrooms. Kits feature blue, pink, or golden varieties of oyster mushrooms. Once you’ve received the mushroom box with inoculated spawn inside, place it in a humid, cool room and mist the medium in the plastic bag to keep it moist, but not wet. Within a few weeks, mushrooms magically appear. Harvest when they're fully formed. If you keep the kit moist you should get another flush of growth within 2 months. Shiitake mushrooms grow a little differently. Make slits in the clear plastic bag holding the medium and mist inside the bag to keep it moist, but not wet. Place it in a warm room with indirect light. After a few weeks the shiitake mushrooms will start forming. Harvest when the cap is domed by gently twisting and pulling the mushrooms. After the first harvest, soak the medium in water overnight. Let it dry out for another night, then place it back in the plastic bag to rest for 2 weeks. It should start sprouting mushrooms for a second round, soon after that.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: When you shop local, think of seeds, too
03-01-2024
Connecticut Garden Journal: When you shop local, think of seeds, too
Happy New Year. January is time to go through all my old seeds, see what I need to replace and try some new varieties. This year let's keep our seed purchases local. There are vegetable and flower seed houses based in Connecticut offering a nice variety of seed to purchase. NE Seed in East Hartford has been around since 1987, but the family goes back many generations. They offer a wide variety of veggie seeds, including a nice selection of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, and organic seed. They're geared towards larger sized growers and sell seed on line by the half ounce. John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds in Bantam also offers a wide variety of veggies and flowers and are more geared to the small scale, home gardener. I particularly like their salad greens with many unusual selections such as dandelion greens and mache. They sell seed packets on-line. Chas Hart Seed has been selling seed wholesale since 1892 in Wethersfield. You mostly see their seeds on seed racks around the state. But they also offer seeds on-line in their catalog and sell seed by the quarter ounce. If you're looking for lots of classic varieties, this company is the place to go. Finally, Select Seeds in Union, Connecticut is all about flowers. They offer annual and perennial organic seeds and themed seed collections such as for pollinators, edible gardens, fragrance and containers. They sell seed in packets online and in stores. Although not all the seed offered in these catalogs is grown and sourced in New England, but purchasing seed from these companies supports the local economy.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Make holiday plants last into spring and beyond
28-12-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: Make holiday plants last into spring and beyond
After the holidays, many gardeners wonder what to do with the holiday plants they purchased or received. Many of those plants can have a second life indoors and outdoors. Let's go through the list. Poinsettias aren't hardy outdoors during our winters, but they do hold their bract colors throughout spring. The best use for poinsettias is as a houseplant this winter to add a little color indoors and then pair them with spring annual flowers, such as violas, pansies; and perennials, such as heuchera and bleeding heart, outdoors in the garden. As long as it doesn't frost, you can create a colorful spring scape using your poinsettias. Once summer comes and they start growing new green leaves, it's time to compost them. Check out Connecticut Gardener Magazine for more ideas on using poinsettias. For holiday cactus, find a bright, cool, room indoors for them to grow. In spring, hang holiday cactus plants in small trees, such as crabapples, as they would grow in Nature to give them a taste of the humidity and light. Amaryllis are perennial bulbs and are easy to bring back again for a repeat bloom next year. Remove the flower stalks, once spent, and leave the leaves growing your amaryllis in a sunny window. In early summer move the potted amaryllis outdoors to a part shade location with other low growing perennials. The green leaves provide a perfect backdrop to more colorful annuals and perennials. Come fall, move it into a dark, cool room, stop watering, remove the leaves and let it stay dormant for a few months before it starts growing again.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Ecological or regenerative gardens are in tune with nature
12-12-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: Ecological or regenerative gardens are in tune with nature
With the holidays upon us, many gardeners have free time from their jobs and gardening outdoors. It's a good time of year to see how ecologically oriented your yard is. Ecological or regenerative gardening focuses on the whole yard, including the soil, to create a habitat that's good for birds, wildlife and humans. The first step is to realize there's life happening in your garden even in the dead of winter. Winter birds, chipmunks and mice are searching for seeds to eat. Insects are settled into their winter homes in leaf layers and in erect, pithy, plant stems. As long as the soil is thawed, microbes are breaking down organic matter creating food. With this in mind, there are some simple things to do to encourage all this activity. Leave leaves in the yard and garden for creatures to overwinter and to protect plant roots. Any amount of leaves over a 1-foot-thick layer should be removed and composted into leaf mold. Plant native flowers, trees and shrubs that produce an abundance of seeds, berries and fruits for wildlife. (It’s easy to research native plant nurseries). Make sure there are places to nest, overwinter and hide such as brush piles and dense evergreen shrubs and trees. Consider creating a water feature. This will help animals in winter as long as it stays thawed and create habitat for salamanders, frogs and other water lovers adding diversity to your yard. An ecologically oriented landscape may not look as neat and tidy as we're used to, but it's good to garden in tune with Nature.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Celebrate the holidays around a living Christmas tree
12-12-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: Celebrate the holidays around a living Christmas tree
Many gardeners have already selected and decorated their holiday tree for the season. But if you're still planning on getting a tree, consider this alternative; a living holiday tree. Living holiday trees are ones you'll plant in your yard once the holidays are over. It's a great tradition where you can grow a forest of holiday trees over time. Garden centers offer lots of options for a containerized, living holiday tree in pots, including smaller sized trees for tabletops. Here are some options. Blue spruce has bright blue, sharp needles on stiff branches that are great for hanging ornaments. If the needles are too sharp for you, try the softer, but green needled, Serbian and Norway spruce trees. Dwarf Alberta spruce has beautiful green needles, but they're tightly pruned. They're fine for wrapping lights and tinsel on the tree but harder to hang ornaments. For fragrance nothing beats a balsam fir tree. You can even find juniper shrubs and white pine trees in small sizes for your home. Once you have your tree, leave it outdoors. One week before bringing it in, move the tree to a protected, unheated shed or garage. Once you bring it inside, place it in a bucket to catch water, and place it in a bright, cool room for only one week. If you leave it indoors too long, the tree might break dormancy. After the holidays, plant it outdoors in a full sun location where it will have room to grow for years. Keep it watered and protected from drying winds this winter with anti-desiccant sprays or wraps of burlap.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: The new hardiness zone map reflects a changing climate
28-11-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: The new hardiness zone map reflects a changing climate
The USDA plant hardiness zone map splits the country into 11 zones, with a and b half zones, based on average winter minimum temperatures over the past 30 years. Although not the last word on plant hardiness and survival, the map has been a touchstone for gardeners to compare plants and determine which are best for their area. The USDA Hardiness zone map was last updated in 2012 and now they have a new 2023 version. As you might expect with global warming, the hardiness zones have shifted. In 2012 there was a significant area of Northwest Connecticut in zone 5 (winter minimum temperatures between minus 10 and 20). That area is gone. Most of Connecticut is firmly established in hardiness zone 6 (winter minimums of zero to minus 10) with a large area along the Long Island Sound in hardiness zone 7. In general across the country, there has been a one half zone shift towards warmer winters. While the winter minimum temperatures might be warming, that doesn't mean we won't get winter cold snaps that will plunge the temperatures well below those minimums. The zones are based on averages, not isolated events. Plants can be killed if the temperatures in winter dip too low for a period of time, regardless of what the map says. So, the recommendation is to grow plants well established in our hardiness zone and, if you're testing marginally hardy plants based on the map, plant them in micro climate areas such as near the house, garage, or the shelter of other trees and shrubs where they are protected from the cold.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Time to revive your amaryllis bulbs
28-11-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: Time to revive your amaryllis bulbs
I was poking around my basement the other day and found my amaryllis bulbs. I stored them down there a few months ago to go dormant. Now it's time to move them into a sunny, cool room. Amaryllis bulbs are native to the southern hemisphere. They normally bloom in spring and early summer in those climes, which means winter here. While the classic amaryllis has either a large sized, red or white flower, there are many variations in nature and for us to grow. 'Beautiful Emotion' is a salmon colored dwarf variety. 'Bright Nymph' is a red and white, double flowered selection and I recently purchased 'Sumatra' for its spider-like, red flowers. Whatever variety you choose, bring them home and pot them in a container one size larger than the bulb. Amaryllis like to be root bound. Grow them in a sunny window in a warm room. Rotate the pot periodically so the flower stalk doesn't lean. Use wooden chop sticks to keep tall varieties from flopping over. For bulbs already potted up, place the plastic container in a larger decorative container. Just make sure the drainage holes are open. Keep the soil moist, but let it dry out a bit between waterings. The bigger the amaryllis bulb, the more flower stalks and flowers you'll get. It's not unusual to have 3 flower stalks with 4 to 6 flowers on each stalk. Cut back the stalks once they finish flowering and grow the plant indoors until spring when it can be moved outdoors. Water and fertilize regularly remembering to give the bulb a rest next fall to stimulate flowering.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Decorate with succulents
23-11-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: Decorate with succulents
I hope everyone is having a good Thanksgiving break. This time of year it's nice to do some indoor craft and gardening projects. One of my favorites is decorating with indoor succulents. Succulent plants have become very popular for their low maintenance and interesting shaped and colored leaves. They don't require much water, especially in winter, but do need a brightly lit room to grow well and not get leggy. There are many ways to decorate with succulents. You can pot up a single, dramatic succulent such as an aloe vera or jade plant as a centerpiece for the holidays. Another method is to purchase many small succulents in 1 or 2 inch diameter pots and group them together in a shallow decorative container. The advantage of these small plants is they're easy to work with, less expensive and fun to mix and match for their colors and shapes. Use an 8 or 10 inch diameter container and plant small versions of different types of cactus, echeverias, milk trees, sedums and hens and chicks. You can even plant some cascading succulents such as string of pearls for the edge. Some gardeners love containers with all the same types of succulent, while others like to mix and match different colored and shaped plants. Plant in cactus mix potting soil in a container with a drainage hole. Water well at first, then let the pot dry out completely between waterings. Decorate the planting with rocks, pebbles and even moss. Pack the plants together. Even though they will eventually need replanting as they grow, these indoor succulent containers will look great for the holidays.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: The benefits of raised bed gardening
14-11-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: The benefits of raised bed gardening
After the cold weather that ended our growing season, it's predictably warmed up again. This temperature fluctuation is our new norm, so we should be ready to act when we have a window of opportunity. That's why I'm building some new, raised beds this week. Raised bed gardening is a great way to maximize your veggie and flower yields, contain gardens in a small space and define the garden so kids and pets don't run through it. While you can use lots of different materials to make raised beds including, stone, brick, cinder block, metal and composite wood, I like using rough cut spruce or hemlock. They hold up for a good 10 years in my garden and are much cheaper than cedar. Build the beds at least 10 inches tall and no more than 4 feet wide. You'll avoid walking on the soil and compressing it and have a high enough bed to get good soil water drainage and plant growth. I like using metal, raised bed, corners. These corners come with 1 or 2 inch diameter slots and at different heights. Simply cut the wood to length, slide the boards into the slots and screw them tight. When the wood eventually rots, just replace individual boards without having to redo the whole bed. I also line the bottom with ¼ inch mesh hardware cloth to prevent mice and voles from tunneling into the bed. Build the beds now but don't fill them with soil yet. That's better done in spring. And don't just think of veggies when planting. I've seen some beautiful perennial and annual flower raised beds, too.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Fall is the time to sow wildflower meadows
01-11-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: Fall is the time to sow wildflower meadows
Many gardeners love the look and feel of a wildflower meadow. Plus, many of us are trying to reduce the amount of lawn we mow and create places for pollinators to thrive. Wildflower meadows are a perfect solution. Fall is a great time to sow wildflowers. When planted after a few frosts, that would be mid to end of November in most parts of Connecticut, the soil is cool enough that wildflower seeds stay dormant in the ground. In spring they germinate when the light and moisture conditions are right and you get a jump on your wildflower meadow planting. First, purchase wildflower mixes adapted to New England. These can be a mix of annuals and biennials for quick color and some perennials for long term meadow plantings. Or you can buy specialty mixes with just natives or pollinator friendly plants. Prepare the site in a full sun area on well-drained soil. It's best to till, or hand dig a small site, 2 to 3 weeks before planting your wildflower seeds. Remove weeds and perennial grasses that will compete with your wildflowers for water and nutrients. Sow the seed mix with a hand or drop spreader following the rates on the bag. Mix 8 parts sand to one part seed for better spreading. Sow one half of the seed in one direction and the second half in the perpendicular direction to get good coverage. Finally, walk across your wildflower patch to compress the soil so the seed has good soil contact.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: How to dig up and store dahlias and cannas for the winter
31-10-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: How to dig up and store dahlias and cannas for the winter
Our dahlias and cannas have been tremendous this year with the warm fall weather. But frost has finally put them to rest. Now it's time to dig and store them for winter because dahlias and canna lilies aren't hardy in our climate. To store them, cut the foliage to ground level. Then carefully dig up the entire clump of dahlia and canna lilies to inspect them before storing. Gently knock off the soil around the tubers, remove damaged tubers and label each variety. Let the clumps dry in a dark, cool, airy place, such as an unheated garage or shed, for a few days. Then wash off more soil before storing them. Some gardeners like to divide clumps in fall, but I'd rather wait until spring. Dahlias and canna tubers have eyes that sprout into new shoots. Not all tubers will have eyes. In fall it may be hard to tell where the eyes are, but by spring they will start swelling like on a potato. Then you'll know which tubers to keep. I store dahlia and canna tubers in cardboard boxes. I fill my boxes with wet wood chips to keep the tubers moist, but with good airflow. Other gardeners use slightly moist peat moss or vermiculite as well. Place the boxes in a cool, dark basement or garage where the temperatures stay between 35 and 50 degrees. Check periodically in winter. If the tubers have shriveled or dried out, mist them. If the tubers have started to rot, dry them out. By spring you should have plenty of tubers to plant and share with friends and family.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: Carve a turnip, squash, or pumpkin into a jack-o'-lantern
16-10-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: Carve a turnip, squash, or pumpkin into a jack-o'-lantern
Halloween is almost here and it's time to get those jack-o'-lanterns ready to go. While carving an orange field pumpkin is the method of choice for many gardeners, you can also decorate other fruits to create a spooky, Halloween appearance. The first jack-o’-lantern wasn't a pumpkin at all. In Ireland, kids would carve turnips and put candles in them to scare away the evil spirits on All Hallows Eve, especially Stingy Jack. Legend has it that Jack's spirit would wander the streets at night finding his way with only a candle. Kids would create their own versions of scary carved turnips to keep Jack at bay. Once Irish immigrants came to North America, they brought the same tradition but used the native pumpkins instead of turnips. You can create your own version of a scary turnip or pumpkin by following a few tips. Like the Irish kids, use what fruits are available to you. Many farmers now grow a variety of winter squash and pumpkins, so consider decorating a blue hubbard squash, a red or white flat, wheel-like Cinderella squash or a warty skinned pumpkin.  Then, using a dry erase marker, draw a design you can carve or paint on your squash. When carving, cut from the back of the pumpkins, remove the insides saving the seed for roasting and make a flat spot for a candle. You can also use flashing LED lights for a wild experience. After carving, rub petroleum jelly on the cuts so the pumpkin lasts longer. Don't toss those squashes after Halloween. Many have tasty flesh for baking and cooking.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecticut Garden Journal: How to grow and when to harvest American persimmons
16-10-2023
Connecticut Garden Journal: How to grow and when to harvest American persimmons
It's been a rough year in my orchard. A late freeze in winter killed some blossoms before they even opened and a late May frost zapped those that did open. But surprisingly, one fruit tree did fine. That's my American persimmon. Most gardeners know persimmons as that Asian fruit in specialty grocery stores. Although most Asian types aren't hardy here, the American persimmon are and they're worth growing. Persimmon trees grow 20 feet-tall with large, avocado-like leaves. You only need one tree to get fruit. The tree has a nice shape and beautiful yellow, fall foliage color. But it's the fruit that I love. American persimmon fruits are about the size of a small donut. They grow slowly all summer and by now should be turning their characteristic orange color. But don't eat them yet. American persimmons are very astringent if you eat them when they're still firm. It's best to harvest when they're fully colored, bring them indoors and let them slowly soften over many days. When the fruits are mushy ripe, dive in. The custardy fruits have a sweet, citrus/mango flavor with a hint of cinnamon. I love eating them fresh, but you can also bake and cook with them. I even freeze some to add to winter fruit shakes. You can also leave the fruits on the tree into late fall. Once the golden leaves drop, the orange fruits give a spooky appearance and are great for wildlife to enjoy. The classic variety for New England is 'Meader', bred by New Hampshire horticulturist, Elwyn Meader. But others worth trying include 'Mohler', 'Prok' and 'John Rick'.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.