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Growing Well Newsletter- Dec. 1, 2022

And the 2022 holiday season spins on! We hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving holiday – the weather was excellent, at least. Now we’re all looking forward to the winter holidays in their various forms.

But... First up – a late fall (or early winter) gardening thought ... Roses – It’s time to protect them: Years ago, I learned a really easy way to mulch tea roses and have rarely lost one since. I have roses on several garden sites, and this has worked everywhere... The idea came from Edmond’s Ros- es with some adaptations through time...

Wait for the ground to be frozen and night temps below freezing – the goal is to keep the ground frozen but not to great depth. This keeps the roses from starting back into growth too early (or too late – depends on how you read the winter temps...) Take pelletized sawdust animal bedding (not wood pellet stove pellets) and make a mound about 6” high and as wide at the base as is needed to make the cone.

Take a chopped straw and pack it lightly around the cone and then GENTLY water the mulch straight down the cone. I use warm water to speed up the knitting of the mulch to the pellets but cold water should work as well. Walk away and forget it. The night cold will freeze the two together and will last quite smoothly until you take it away in April. This is also easy to clean away in the spring and makes EXCELLENT mulch elsewhere (not under the roses in case black spot spores have infected it). I use this as mulch for toma- toes on the sites where I use it.

A word about Animal Pellet Bedding (as opposed to the discussion of paper vs plastic covered shavings – and that’s a story!!!). Our farm has used pel- leted animal bedding since Woody Pet came out years ago. Pellet bedding is a product that uses the same technology as the pellet stove pellets, but it’s made of pine sawdust instead – and the pellet breaks down much faster. DO NOT TRY TO BURN THESE PELLETS!!!! The name has changed through time, but the product is the same and is extremely useful. Our farm hosts ducks, goats, and a thirty-year-old Morgan mare. We use the pellets solo with the horse, mixed with mulch hay for the ducks, and mixed with shavings for the goats. All are bedded well and are very healthy. The pelleted sawdust can get dusty, so we sometimes add extra water (an easy fix that tells you how much urine it soaks up!) – but that same effect means that we have almost NO am- monia smell in our barn at any time.

And a word about Chopped Straw... “Raw” straw is the dry stalks of cereal plants after the grain and chaff have been removed – and therein lies the rub. Raw straw is phenomenal for improving soil – earthworms love it, and it cushions the heavy pressure of strong rains. Having said that – if the harvest wasn’t particularly clean, then you’re going to get a bunch of wheat or oat seedlings in the straw, and that can be a pain to weed out. straw...

Enter chopped straw... the raw straw is run through choppers and rollers to reduce the size of the straw (less likely to blow and easier to break down) and to clean out seed – no unwanted wheat!! The two kinds currently in the region are Mulch Master and EZ Straw. Either is an amazing product – with Mulch Master a bit cleaner to work with. I always have a bag on hand because it’s impossible to beat it for seeding a lawn, mulching a tomato, protecting a rose – you get the point!!

We have both pelleted animal bedding and chopped straw (Mulch Master in our case) at the store – both are super easy to work with!

Now back to the seasonal festivities We had our first wreath decorating workshops last weekend, and they were a blast! It was amazing to see both the diversity and complexity of the designs created. We had everything from two-toned bows to a sweep of deep red flowers with a dramatic bow – and all kinds of choices in between! There’s still some room in the next few dates (call the store at 978-632-0991to reserve your space) and there will also be decorated wreaths available for you to pick up. You can even put in a custom wreath request, and we’ll do our best to make it happen – within the parameters of the decorations and ribbons on hand!

When you’re in the store – don’t forget to check out all kinds of gifts for absolutely everyone on your list – two-footed and four-footed. We’ve got a colorful mix of locally produced products mixed tastefully with a collection of carefully curated gifts. You’ll also find all kinds of bird feeders, dog toys, cat toys, rabbit accessories, and chinchilla toys - in other words - treats for all kinds of animals!

And to that point (treats for all kinds of animals), we’re hosting a bird seed ornament workshop on 12/10 from 10-11:30 in the morning. Here’s the scoop: Birdseed Ornaments limit – 8 per session $15/ornament – and you’ll take home the cookie cutter to make more at home! Learn how to make your own ornaments – first for your tree and then for the trees outside. You’ll be able to bring the holidays to all of the local birds who visit your yard. Appropriate for all ages. Cocoa and cookies to make sure everyone is cared for!

Here’s the list of other workshops that we’re hosting at the store this holiday season: Wreath Decorating – 4 sessions limit – 8 per session $44/wreath, $39/wreath 2 or more per registration – ornament bar additional Take a 12” balsam wreath and make it your own! We’ll have a collection of classic decorations for you to choose from as well as an “ornament bar” that will highlight all kinds of fun animal and seasonal additions. We can teach you to tie your own bow – or make one for you. Cocoa and cookies with the Saturday sessions and wine and cheese for the evening sessions Am/pm 10-11:30 in the morning and 1-2:30 in the afternoon Dates: 12/3 am and pm, 12/8 evening, 12/10 pm only. You’ll need to call ahead to reserve a seat: 978-632-0991.

And last – but totally NOT least!!! YOUR INVITED to our Inaugural Open House, December 17 th , 10:30am -2:30pm. It’s HAPPENING!!! We have several local growers and makers coming in to showcase their talents (there’s so much talent in the region!) – and to answer any questions you might have... In the afternoon, we’ll be entertained by good friends (and florists) from Long Islandastheydemonstratehowtoputtogetheraunique table arrangement for your holiday table – and you can make right along with them! Please call the store - 978-632-0991- to reserve space (and flowers!) for you to make your own to take home. Come and join the party!! See you at the store!

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