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Happy Fourth!

The conversations of the summer time…


Happy Fourth of July!!

Hope you all had a great day (since you’ll be getting this AFTER the day itself!! ☺ )


First up:  We’re putting our shade trees (maples, birches, willows and hawthorns), and our azaleas and rhododendrons on sale – 30% off.  All of these plants have been well maintained, watered, fertilized and otherwise cared for as needed.  We’re also putting the quart perennials on sale - $5.00 each or 10/$45.  All of these are an excellent value since they’ve all been managed well – and they’re very well grown in to their pots.  If you do decide to splurge on the trees or the perennials, soaking them in a mild soapy/sugary solution before planting will ensure that the existing root ball is completely hydrated.  And be sure to cut off the “hamburger” (my brother’s term for freeing up an overgrown root system – very appropriate description!!) off the root balls before planting.  Happy to go over details when you stop in…and there are other tools to use besides soap and sugar if you’re interested…  


Next:  We have a wonderful new shipment of houseplants!  Over 250!  The list includes African violets, hanging (and potted!) succulents, goldfish plants, money trees, English ivies, monsteras – and the list goes on!  There’s a plant for every kind of growing condition so everyone can enjoy a plant in their life  ☺


Now on to the conversations of the season…


Farming and Gardening of any kind (no matter how large or small) is really a conversation between the needs of the human and the needs of the rest of the local ecosystem.  Sometimes that conversation is a gentle conversation between good friends (as often seen on YouTube videos and Hallmark movies) and sometimes it’s a screaming match… We’ve seen a lot of the latter come through the store these past few weeks!  The joyful energy of planting is being replaced by the rigors of maintaining what’s been planted against what feels like a thundering herd of challenges…we’ve heard about rabbits (lots!), deer, porcupines, ground hogs, voles, moles, rats, chipmunks and more…then there are the insects like the LARGE beetle group (lots and all kinds!!), the sawflies, the caterpillars and more…and let’s not forget the diseases like mildews, anthracnose, rusts and more – and the slugs!!  When written out like this, it sounds overwhelming – I know it does!  But – and it’s a BIG BUT  – not all of those challenges hit every garden and each site has its own window into the local ecosystem. We’ve even had some people come in to tell us that their gardens are thriving – with just a bit of adjustment needed here or there…we get to say a hearty “Well done and carry on!!”


It's hard (especially when you’re feeling under attack!) to remember that every one of the challenges we’re all facing are actually members of the local ecology.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t step in to manage them, but it does help (a bit?) to understand that almost all of your challengers are just trying to survive themselves and complete their reproductive cycle.  That’s actually what every living thing is trying to do. Understanding the drive of the challenger can also lead to the control of that challenger.  If you know the life cycle of the insect (disease, mammal) you’re trying to control, then you’ll know the best time to insert a control option.  


One of the things we try to do at the store is find out exactly WHAT is causing the problem – and this is something you can work on at home as well.  Even with the identification apps available, it can be hard to be sure what you’re really trying to manage (unless it’s a mammal – we’re all pretty good with them!!).  One app labeled an unknown wildflower as a Mecanopsis (https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/meconopsis/growing-guide blue poppy!!)  If that were true?!?!! – I’d be out the door to that garden in a heartbeat…but it wasn’t.  It was a much more “normal” biennial.  This is my way of saying – check several sources!!  A lot of plants, animals and diseases are straight forward and easy to identify.  You can learn a HUGE amount about your local ecology just by figuring out what’s living (and driving you nuts!) in your own yard.  We’re always happy to see specimens at the store – in a clear plastic, zip lock bag!  And we’re happy to walk you through the options available for whatever is driving you and your gardens nuts.  


As an example of learning about a classic pest - take a look at this information about our most hated beetle – the Japanese beetle.  This tells you that you need to aim at adding milky spore granules in the fall when the grubs are smaller and more active, that a well-managed lawn is a highly desirable place for female beetles to lay their eggs and that also means that placing beetle traps on wilder and less cultivated edges is a MUCH better choice than placing it near you plants in the lawn.  If you are going to use chemical controls then mid-fall applications make the most sense and mid-spring applications must be heavier and well-watered in to be effective.  All of this information means that your money is well spent and your use of any specific product is applied for minimal collateral damage.


Speaking of collateral damage – PLEASE REMEMBER that the good guy bugs are harmed by standard insecticides.  Bee species generally leave the plants at sundown.   You then have about a half hour of very usable light for both insecticide and foliar feeding applications.  This window in a day is one that homeowners can access and professionals generally can’t – make the most of it!!!


Speaking of conversations – are there topics that you think we should cover in workshops at the store?  I’ve already had requests for a repeat of the foliar feeding workshop (working on it!) and there are A LOT of topics that could be covered.  PLEASE let us know what interests (or bothers!) you the most.  Thanks in advance for your feedback…


Now for something different – I mentioned this once before but there are more questions this time of year… I’ve been part of a once-a-month trouble shooting meeting for the past nine years called Growing Great Food and Flowers (and anything else for that matter!).  Since Covid, it’s been a zoom call on the third Sunday of the month, 6:30-8:30pm.  If you’d like to participate, please email altobelliml260@comcast.net and put GGFF in the subject line. You’ll be added to the email list for the zoom link.  We don’t necessarily get to all of the questions (depending on the problems of the year and the number of people on the call), but there’s usually enough information to act on going forward for most people. 


And finally – we’re running some interesting trials at the store – in the area below the greenhouse all neatly set up in front of the back wall.  This trial is based off of the “free” pots many of the local farmers got from a Cannabis operation changing over to hydroponics (the 2000 pots were headed for the landfill!!).  The goal was to try several kinds of mixes and several kinds of fertilizers and see what worked best for what plants.  Since we also have a rabbit problem (yes – we have pest challenges too!!), the plants are limited to basil, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and one very strange eclectic row (the project grew legs and more people got involved!!!).  We don’t have the labels on the rows yet but we will and we’re also tracking what we do (not including daily watering) to include any energy drenches or foliar applications.  Make sure you check the project out the next time you come in to the store.     


A quick reminder – on August 17: 1:00-2:30     

Growing Quality Cannabis Part 3:  Harvesting your crops – 

This is THE KEY to enjoying your crop. Slow and steady wins the taste challenge. Mike will go over what tools and resources are needed for long term storage.


-The Good Earth


Fourth Plants


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