Tag Archives: gardening in Connecticut

Mile-a-minute vine

Study up … this is serious.  Mile-a-minute vine – acronym MAM – is no joking matter.  Mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) came by its common name quite naturally – it can grow 6 inches a day.  This highly invasive vine, aka mile-a-minute weed or Devil’s tearthumb –has thumb-tearing barbs along its stem; it is a devil of a job to clear it away from any plant to which it has taken hold.

I’ve seen it and removed it from gardens I care for, but until now I was not aware of requests to report all possible sightings.  Mile-a-minute vine has been officially identified in 15 CT towns.  Horticulturists see it as a serious enough threat to devote a website to the identification, reporting, and eradication of mile-a-minute vine.

I’ve mentioned some of Connecticut’s invasive plants in previous posts.  Eradication of these non-native threats requires time and commitment – as does anything worth doing.  But first you need to know what is invasive and how best to remove and destroy each plant that threatens to overtake our native species.  I cannot urge this strongly enough.

I’m devoting part of this rainy, foggy day to throw on a raincoat, waterproof shoes, and a pair of sturdy gloves so I can scout for, remove, and report any  mile-a-minute  vines I find. But I’ll also be clearing bittersweet vines, Japanese barberry and multiflora rose.  I would like to think that my soon-to-be-born granddaughter will be able to enjoy the bloom of our native mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia) when she is grown, just as we enjoy them now.  When you think of future generations, it tends to give you some incentive to protect the things we have.

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Garden touring

touring joene's garden

touring joene's garden

There are a couple of interesting sounding garden tours this weekend for those who are more caught up with their gardening tasks than I … and I suspect there are many of you out there.  Normally I would jump at the chance to visit other gardeners’ gardens, but this year mine beckon too forcefully to give up a weekend day.  So while I tour my own gardens, others will be touring these.

June 13 – 10 to 3 – rain or shine.  Northeast Organic Farming of Connecticut, fondly called CT NOFA is sponsoring an Organic Garden Tour.  Call 203-888-5146 to register to visit private gardens in Shelton, Westport, Wallingford, South Glastonbury, Hamden, Southington, Lebanon, Manchester, West Hartford, Windsor, Coventry, Tolland, and Sterling.  The tour will also feature Hatchery Brook Community Gardens in Berlin, School Courtyard Gardens at Barnard Magnet School in New Haven, a community garden and trail at Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury, a community garden at Unitarian Universalist Society in New Haven, and the Master Gardener/Foodshare Garden at the Auer Farm in Bloomfield … you choose which and how many gardens you want to visit.  Sounds like a great deal for $20, and one of the most intriguing parts of this tour – boy I wish I could go – is that all the featured gardens are not completed to perfection so visitors can observe gardens in progress.  Fantastic!

June 14 – 10 to 4.  Country Places Garden Tour opens up private gardens in East Haddam to visitors.  Meet at the Old Town Hall (488 Town Street), pay the $20 registration, and head off to be wowed.

bearded-iris

bearded-iris

If you visit, think of me while wandering, and do share your experiences.  I’ll be busy weeding, planting, mulching, and smelling the flowers here … rain or shine.

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Suds for slugs

Slug-damage

Slug-damage

Slugs – slimy blobs of goo that feast on hosta, lettuce, and other leafy vegetation such as the horseradish leaf pictured here – are perennial problems for many gardeners.  The moist spring weather we’ve had in Connecticut has been a boon for the local slug population, but for an effective, low-cost method to reduce slug counts, think beer.

Slugs love beer.  Sink a saucer, adjacent to slugs favored plants, so the saucer rim is level with the surrounding ground, then fill the saucer with beer to “invite” slugs away from plants.  Fill the slug pools in the evening and awaken the next morning to – ewww – a dearly-departed saucy soup.

Another sure fire slug-depleting method is to sprinkle them with common table salt.  In reality, it’s not quite as touchy-feely as depicted in the following never-made-it cartoon, but it is effective.

I have to be pushed to use the salt-eradication method, but  I will happily reach for the salt shaker when I consistently find patios and decks slimed with slug trails or when slugs manage to position themselves exactly where my bare foot just landed – double ewww!

Still, I prefer the thought of them enjoying their last hop-enhanced moments, naively floating in a Bud- or Duff-filled basin, maybe singing along with Homer …

Oh yeah, use cheap suds for slugs … like Homer they don’t seem to have a discerning palette … save the good stuff for human’s with more discriminating taste.

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Quick notes … cold, birds, expo, swap

cold-protection-for-plants

cold-protection-for-plants

Connecticut gardeners still need to be aware of night temperatures.  Tender annuals, such as impatiens, coleus, and morning glories, and tender vegetables, like the eggplant shown here, do not like temperatures in the low 40’s.  It was 38 degrees to my south-central gardens the morning of June 1. 

This is an unusually chilly spring and it’s best to not become complacent – overnight cover with an overturned basket or an old sheet may be all that’s needed to protect tender plants.

baby-robins

baby-robins

Our baby robins are getting closer to flying off on their own.  I don’t see how they can get much bigger and still fit in their nest.  These, nested in a rhododendron, should be fledged by the time the blooms have passed and need deadheading.  Spring blooming shrubs are best pruned immediately after they flower, so now’s the time to deadhead and prune lilacs that are finished with thier annual show.

Siberian iris-geranium sanguineum-cranesbill

Siberian iris-geranium sanguineum-cranesbill

Stamford, Connecticut recently held a Sustainability Expo.  Read Debbie’s current and future posts on what she learned and had re-confirmed there.  Also check out the info on the plant swap planned for June 6 in New Canaan, Connecticut.  You may find perennials that become anchors in your garden.  Over the years, I’ve managed to fill my gardens with finds from similar local events.  The cranesbill and iris pictured above were two of my most prolific finds … I started with one small clump of each, but over the years have divided both plants to the point that they offer spectacular shows in the early spring.

Have you stretched your gardening dollars with plants from local sales and swaps?  Do tell!

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Give it your best shot …

In the greenhouse at Staehly Farms

In the greenhouse at Staehly Farms

Customers of Staehly Farms, in East Haddam, CT, already know what a welcome addition their bedding plants and fruit and vegetable stand has been for customers of this family run fresh-cut Christmas tree farm.  Their sweet corn is outstanding and they offer a great selection of fresh produce from late spring through final frost.

Staehly Farms, East Haddam, CT

Staehly Farms, East Haddam, CT

This year Staehly Farms is trying to spark a little competition among their customers by running a garden photo contest.  What are they looking for?  New or refurbished, creative and colorful gardens created with the help of some Staehly Farms plants.

Their customers can submit one photo per household, emailed  to submissions.2009@staehlys.com by July 17. Then, from July 20 through August 31, all submissions adhering to the contest rules, will be posted on Staehly Farms’ website where all customers can cast one vote for their favorite.  Prizes include – you guessed it – gift certificates to Staehly Farms.

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Battling Bittersweet

See these festive looking berries?

Photo by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Photo by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

You’ll find these orange/red seeds, surrounded by their golden seed pods, in Thanksgiving table decorations, poking out of Halloween pumpkins, and entwined in seasonal wreaths hung on many New England front doors. To many people, bittersweet berries are a must-have autumn decoration.

Not to me … when fall hits and these berries gently hang from vines towering above now dead roadside trees, I imagine each little red seed as one soldier in an invasive army whose mission is to destroy, by strangulation, every nearby plant, bush, and tree.  To my ears, bittersweet berries scream “INVASIVE, INVASIVE, INVASIVE.”

Why post about this now, when spring birds sing happily as they flit around gathering building blocks for their nests, and winter’s chill is slowly succumbing to an ever strengthening sun?  This is the best time to effectively wage war on young, newly sprouted bittersweet vines.

In the fall, when berries are abundant, birds gobble bittersweet berries. As nature would have it, our feathered friends happily “deposit” these berries while roosting about in other trees and shrubs. The end result is an ever-spreading crop of bittersweet vines – if vines are left undetected and untouched.

Based on the number of young bittersweet vines I’ve pulled this year, the birds must have been very well fed last fall. Here’s one, still in the ground. The engaging green leaves in the center of the photo mask the monster within.

young bittersweet vine

young bittersweet vine

When you pull young bittersweet vines, preferably after a good soaking rain has softened the earth, you’ll know you have the devil vine by their tell-tale orange roots.

uprooted bittersweet vine and roots

uprooted bittersweet vine and roots

To make sure these do-no-gooders cannot root again, I burn them in our outdoor fire pit. I do not advise adding them to a compost pile.

Learn more about bittersweet and other invasives attacking Connecticut. Keep an eye out for invasive plants, and eradicate them when they are young to prevent their death-hold on your prized landscape.

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Filed under Gardening, General, Seasons

Quick notes …

Gardening Oops – Damn-I-wish-I-hadn’t-done-that Day – GOOPs for short – May 1.  As previously explained, this Friday I’ll share one of my gardening gaffes and you can do the same, either in entirety in a comment or as a GOOPs teaser that links back to your own blog’s complete GOOPs post.  Maybe we can turn our own damn-I-wish-I-hadn’t-done-that GOOPs into each others’ PHEW-I’m-glad-I-didn’t-do-that!

 

The chance for frost exists Wednesday night in Connecticut – temperatures could fall into the 30’s over the entire state.  Cover any tender or just transplanted plants in outdoor exposed areas.  Use old sheets, upside down baskets, or other covers that will prevent frost from settling onto tender leaves, but won’t crush the plants.  Protect houseplants moved to outdoor locations for hardening off with either a cloth or bring them back inside for the night.

 

Remember Project BudBurst – my observations include dandelions’ first bloom which occurred on April 4, and the April 25 leaf out of my tulip tree.  I’ll continue to watch for tulip tree flowers, and for my other observations.

 

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Filed under Gardening, General, GOOPs-Gardening Oops, Project BudBurst, Seasons, Techniques