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  • Published
    April 30, 2011

    Day-neutral strawberries for long-season harvest

    When my children were young, the end of the school year was soon followed by the first field trip of summer: To a pick-your-own strawberry farm. Now the kids are grown and I’m changing my strawberry regimen. This year I’m growing a day-neutral strawberry variety called ‘Seascape’ in my own garden. Unlike the June-bearing plants that we used to pick and that flower during shorter days of spring, day-neutral …

  • Published
    April 16, 2011

    Straw bale culture

    A friend said she’s going to try straw bale gardening this year, since bending down to tend ground-level gardens is getting troublesome as she ages. Straw bale culture is not just a quick way to make a raised bed, but it can enable gardening in areas without soils — as on concrete. Straw bale gardening, or straw bale culture, involves setting bales of straw on the ground (or on concrete or gravel surfaces), …

  • Published
    April 2, 2011

    Ten steps for starting vegetable seeds indoors

    1. Start with viable seeds — seeds that are alive and capable of germinating. Check the germination percentage and date of the germination test on the seed packet. Seeds that are short-lived and should be obtained anew annually include onion, leek, parsnip, parsley, sweet corn and delphinium. Others last from two to about five years, sometimes longer, if they were kept in cool, dry conditions. The Fedco Seeds …

  • Published
    March 22, 2011

    Seedlings need light, good light

    The equinox is near, the vegetable seedlings cheer. Twelve hours of daylight! Just what the plant doctor ordered. When vegetable seedlings don’t get enough light, they become etiolated, or leggy, as they “stretch” for more light. Leggy plants are weaker than stocky, well-grown plants and may fall over as potted seedlings or later, after being transplanted to the garden. You can grow good, stocky seedlings in …

  • Published
    March 5, 2011

    ‘Queen of the Sun’

    “Queen of the Sun” is a gorgeous new video about the importance and predicament of bees. It takes us around the world visiting organic and biodynamic beekeepers, seemingly the ultimate optimists even in the face of the drastic decline in bee populations; and it contrasts the lush and diverse habitats these beekeepers create or conserve for the bees with what are essentially, from a bee’s point of view, the …

  • Published
    February 21, 2011

    A windowsill herb garden

    Keeping a few potted herbs on the windowsill keeps me going, horticulturally, culinarily and spiritually, in the winter. Two pots of Greek oregano, started from seed last spring, are delighted with the lengthening days. They grew a little leggy in December and January, but clipping and adding that leggy growth to a shrimp and scallop stew renewed the plants. This perennial herb grows well in pots and in garden …

  • Published
    February 6, 2011

    Designing a flower bed

    I look upon our abundant snow and see a blank slate, a canvas waiting to burst into color. And winter, often forcing us to slow down, and hiding many of our landscaping mistakes, offers a great opportunity to create a garden of color — on paper or on the computer. If you’re thinking of growing a new flower bed or border this coming gardening season, get your crayons and graph paper out now, or open a blank Word …

  • Published
    January 24, 2011

    Use seed testing to grow microgreens

    January is a good time to test seed germination. Place 25 or so seeds on a damp paper towel, roll it up and keep it moist but not soaking. In a week to 10 days, check to see how many seeds germinated. If the percentage is low, order new seeds of that particular variety. Here’s a possible twist on the germination test for some seeds: Use the test to grow microgreens. A new book by Fionna Hill, ” Microgreens—how…

  • Published
    January 10, 2011

    Plant asparagus this year

    Fresh, organic asparagus sold for $4 to $7.50 per pound in Maine in May 2010. You can buy 25 asparagus crowns, enough to plant about 25 feet, for $15.50 from Fedco Trees. If that 25-foot row yields five to seven or so pounds, your plot will save you about $20 to $50 per year in asparagus expenses, minus the initial cost of the plants and of planting. Over your 80-some-year lifetime, that’s a fair amount of …

  • Published
    December 27, 2010

    Arborvitae: Tree of life

    Balsam fir may be the Christmas tree of choice, a symbol of life in the dead of winter, but a common landscape tree and woodland native, the arborvitae — the “tree of life” — also offers welcome greenery in the outdoor frozen world. A common tree for framing landscapes and a common shrub for foundation plantings, arborvitae still seems special despite its prevalence around homes. Native throughout the …

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