It's Gardening time . . .
I am a big fan and supporter of local Greenhouses and plant sellers,
I wanted to share some of my favorite sources for Garden Essentials
aren't always available close to home.
There are some seeds that are available in many and splendored
like Cosmos and Sweet Basil, and annually I do order seeds
following suppliers. I also buy many packets at the grocery
local feed-stores --and pretty much anywhere else I see
It's like with fabric, or books: you never have enough
But first a few handy garden hints you may find useful:
Reading Your Weeds
Sue-Ryn Burns Hill Woman Productions
Nothing can replace the value of a good soil test to aid in creating
healthier more productive gardens, but the weeds that pop up in our
landscapes speak volume about the nutritional state of their location.
Daisies, Hawkweed, Cinquefoil, Wild Strawberries, and/or Mustard
indicate acid soil.
Goldenrod and St. Johnswort indicate low fertility.
Wild Chamomile (Pineapple plant) and Plantain suggest compacted soil.
They also indicate overuse of acidifying fertilizers or cultivating when
soil conditions are too wet.
Mustard and Shepherds Purse both indicate and help absorb salts in the
soil (from fertilizers).
Boneset, Joe Pye Weed, Elecampane, and Horsetail indicate poor drainage.
Mallows, Figworts, and Cinquefoils suggest raw humus and usually appear
Stinging Nettles stimulate the transformation of humus and tend to show
up in barnyards or other sites where decomposition is occurring. Nettle
leaves, stems, roots, and seeds have been used for food, dye, fiber,
healing, and fertilizer since before the written word.
Dandelions and plants with deep taproots such as Thistles, Docks, Sweet
Clovers, and Queen Annes lace help bring nutrients up to the surface
where other plants can utilize them. All deep-rooted plants eventually
help loosen the soil and increase circulation of water and air as they
go through their cycles of growing and dying off.
Teas For Your Garden
Houseplant & Seedling Tea
Two parts by volume Nettles and one part each of Chamomile and
Steep a couple of tablespoons full of herbs in a half-gallon of
water for at least 48 hours. Strain the tea (compost the dregs!), dilute
with another half-gallon of water and give all your houseplants a drink.
This tea may also help jump start your seedlings and prevent damping
Herbal Compost Activator
Mix together Nettles, Chamomile, Yarrow, Valerian Root, and
White Oak Bark in equal parts by weight. Steep 5 cups of blended herbs
in 11/2 gallons of water for 24 48 hours. Make holes in your
compost pile with a rake handle or similar stick. Fill each hole with
about 3 of tea. Dump the remaining dregs onto the pile and cover with
leaves and clippings. Compost should be ready without turning within a
month. This formula is good for a pile measuring 2 high by 4 square.
multiply the recipe to meet your needs.
The seven day week, 29-30-31 day month,
and 365&1/2 day year have origins in the agricultural civilizations of
the Middle East and the Nile River Valley 5,000 years ago. Systems of
notation about Lunar and Solar rhythms can be traced back to the
Neanderthal people. Reindeer and Mammoth bones with lunar rhythm
patterns incised into them have been discovered and dated back to the
ice age. Humans dependent upon nature for survival have always kept
track of their seasons. The word month has lunar roots.
Astrology was "old" in ancient Egypt. At that time anyone who
was a priest or physician was expected to be knowledgeable in the
interpretive art of the mathematical science of astrology. Most Holy
Days were directly linked and celebrated according to planetary
calendars and many still are. The Pyramids of Egypt, the ancient Mayan
Caracol, the Menhirs of France and Stonehenge in Britain, and Casa
Grande built by the Hohokum Indians of Arizona in approximately 1300 AD
are all believed to have been created to observe and planetary patterns
and mark Solstices and Equinoxes that create our earthly seasons.
The East Indians, Chinese, Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks and
Romans all had astrological sciences. It was the Egyptians who developed
the most familiar form of astrology that most of us are aware of today.
The Egyptians divided the skies into thirty-six equal 10-day
sections. These were eventually transformed into the twelve categories
we know as "sun signs" or astrological signs. Each division was believed
to have a planetary association that gave it an archetypal set of traits
and an elemental nature. Since not all planets had been "discovered" at
that time there were some duplications. Most of the symbolism is rooted
in ancient mythology and some is even older. There is quite a lot of
"mythological" common ground when one starts to compare "stories" from
Moon phases are divided into four quarters; from the first
crescent to the half moon, from the growing half moon to the full moon,
from the full moon back to a half moon, and finally from the waning half
moon to dark of the moon. Each quarter is believed to be beneficial to
specific garden activities. The waxing, or growing phases of the moon
are considered the most fertile for planting above ground crops. The
first part of the waning moon cycle is considered beneficial for
planting root crops and transplanting or root pruning. The latter half
of the waning moon cycle is considered an excellent time for pruning to
stop growth, the removal unwanted plants, or tilling the soil. In many
ancient cultures the growing crescent moon, full moon, and waning
crescent moon are considered symbols of the three phases of a womans
The elemental associations and fertility of the "sign" the Moon
is in can add an invigorating effect when woven together with planting
schedules, and monthly Lunar rhythms. The results can turn the brownest
of thumbs to a vibrant shade of green.
" To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose
Below are listings
to resources I use and find valuable.
Gardens Alive 5100 Schenley Place
Lawrenceburg IN 47025 513-354-1482
The subtitle on their catalog cover says,â€ Environmentally responsible
products that workâ€ and I agree. I have heavy clay soil at home and
shallow loamy soil at the shop and have used products from these folks
successfully at both sites. They carry a broad range of soil builders,
lawn maintenance products, non-toxic insect repellants and traps,
beneficial insects, garden tools and aids, as well as organic seeds.
Most of their products have the convenience and ease of premixed garden
center varieties, without the scary ingredients and some are just simple
organic soil amendments. The catalog also contains a 32 page guide to
plant damage caused by insects, disease, and soil deficiencies, with
good pictures and descriptions to help you troubleshoot problems around
your home and orchard. And if thatâ€™s not enough to attract your
attention, they also have a great savings coupon on the front of the
catalog to get you off to a good start.
Acres USA PO Box 91299, Austin TX 78709 Order
Another good source for organic and alternative gardening books. Great
selection, fair prices, reasonable shipping and handling fees, plus they
list all of Juliette di'Baracli Levy's books on natural animal care.
John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds 23 Tulip Drive, P O Box 638, Bantam
CT 06750 860-567-6086
An excellent assortment of seeds.
Nichols Garden Nursery 1190 Old Salem Rd, Albany Oregon
Nichols has been in business for a long time, and is still giving great
service and products. It's the first place I ever bought seeds! They
sell seeds, plants, tools, supplies, books and more.
Pinetree Garden Seeds Box 300, New Gloucester Me 04260
Pinetree is another business that's been around for a while - 24 years.
They are a woman-owned and operated business, have an excellent
selection and are probably best known for their smaller seed packets and
reasonable prices, but they also sell a wonderful selection of books,
some tools and a selection of soap
making supplies. They offer an incredible selection of Cosmos seeds!
The Cook's Garden PO Box 535, Londonderry Vt 05148
The Cook's Garden catalog is worth ordering from just so you can see
Mary Azarian's illustrations...but they also offer a nice variety of
seeds and plants in normal plus larger quantities, along with beautiful
hand crafted baskets.
Johnny's Selected Seeds 184 Foss Hill Road, Albion Me
Johnny's has a serious selection of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds
for your garden, as well as Organic gardening supplies, tools and books.
Many of their offerings are available in "mini" packets, so if you just
want a small patch of tomatoes, or to test a veggie variety before you
plant a half acre, you can order
a smaller quantity.
Shepherd's Garden Seeds 30 Irene St, Torrington Ct 06790-6658
Shepherd's has an eclectic collection of gourmet veggie, flower, and
herb seeds and plants plus a selection of elegant tools for your kitchen
and garden. They also offer "collections" of seeds so you get to try
several new varieties at once.
Musser Forests, Inc. Dept.S-02M, PO Box 340, Indiana Pa
I am a planter of Trees and Shrubs. It's something my parents taught me,
and something I have lived long enough to understand is as important as
it is rewarding. Musser's sells most of their plants in quantities of 5
or more. Most of their plants start at 2 years old, so they are
still seedlings, which is reflected in their prices.
They carry a wide variety of hard and soft woods with good advice on
what conditions are best for the seedlings. I've had pretty good luck
with survival rates of their stock, despite my heavy soil --though some
years I've carried so much water I felt like the Sorcerer's Apprentice!!
They also sell Pepperwax Spray concentrate to help keep deer away --and
this stuff works if you are vigilant. Also new this year, Witch Hazel
Gardeners Supply Company 128 Intervale Rd, Burlington
VT 05401-2850 800-427-3363
These folks carry an interesting assortment of helpful garden tools and
kitchen gadgets, and a few whimsical decorative wares as well. I usually
have a 'wish list' order form filled out somewhere on my desk for
functional items from this company . In the past they have even been
know to refund money for "experimental" items that didn't work! This
year I'm hoping to order some Mason Bees from them.
The Japan Woodworker 1731 Clement Avenue, Alameda CA 94501
A woodworking catalog? Well, these folks do have some amazing
woodworking tools, along with a selection of hand-crafted knives and
other kitchen implements. But the Troll stumbled on a catalog from these
folks, and ordered some of their very nice and reasonably priced
gardening tools for Sue-Ryn. The have a couple grades of folding pruning
saws, bulb planting tools, sickle-saws, and other handy tools for
working in the garden. Fast service, reasonable prices, nice tools.
Green Prints PO Box 1355, Fairview NC 28730
A Quarterly Magazine, subtitled 'The Weeders Digest' is not a how-to
It is a collection of short stories, ingenious ideas, poems,
quotes and stories and gardening bloopers with wonderful original
artwork scattered throughout its pages. Its cost of $22.97 per year is
higher than most, but I read it cover to cover and find great
inspiration in it's pages.
As I said, I strongly believe in supporting local nursery businesses,
and I do my share of shopping there. But these are some of my favorite
mail order sources for seeds, tree-babies, and other supplies. For more
resources, please check Herbnet and the NEHA sites, links to be found on
my home page and the Hot Links Page.
Peace in the
Many of us are trying to garden without resorting to drastic or toxic
measures. I almost gave up gardening a couple of years ago because of
the booming deer population. I took up serious container gardening and
it was fairly successful despite my crazed summer schedule, but it was
no substitute for digging in the dirt. I still have plenty of containers
around the house and yard for growing flowers and herbs. I have been
reclaiming my former garden space from the perennials and sod that the
Deer didnt eat. While I love to grow food, flowers, and herbs, I am at
heart a planter of Trees, I think it must be genetic. Many a summer I've
felt a strong kinship with the sorcerers apprentice while carrying my
water buckets to the tree babies.
There are a few really good deer repellants on the market that are
non-toxic and do work, but most need reapplication often enough to make
them expensive to use. A few years ago my Mom discovered a formula for
home-made deer repellant that really works for ornamental plants,
shrubs, and trees. In a recycled gallon jug mix:
1 egg (some people like to use 2 eggs, but 1 seems to work )
1 tablespoonful of chopped garlic (1/2 tbsp if using powdered
don't use garlic salt!)
1/2 gallon water.
Shake until thoroughly mixed and foamy looking, then top it off with
Set the mixture in a warm place for 2-5 days to ferment. I
usually put mine in the warm back of my truck or on the sunny side
of the deck if I need it fast. DO NOT open this in your house the odor
is impossible to be rid of. YES, you can learn from another's mistake!
Once it is fermented, slosh it onto your ornamental plants, trees, and
shrubs. After about 25 minutes the
scent will dissipate and humans cant smell it. Deer can smell it and
will not eat plants that have been treated with the mixture. There wont
be any obvious residue. It will need to be replied after heavy rains,
fog, or dew, but it is economical to keep a supply in reserve. When you
start using one jug, start another. Applying it in the evening works
best, since that seems to be when Deer are prowling the all night
buffets in our yards. I have used it on all sorts of ornamental plants
with no ill effects.
It may be possible to slosh this mixture on a thick border of plants
around a bed, and leave the middle plants unsullied for your own use. I
intend to experiment with this concept around my yard this season.
Some books recommend planting a thick border of fragrant herbs or
prickly Blackberries around your garden as Deer mostly leave these
plants alone. One neighbor swears a thick planting of catnip works
around her garden, and another gardener told me she plants a thick
border of radishes that Deer will not cross. Many folks swear by hanging
bars of soap, sweaty clothing, dirty socks, and a variety of
unpleasantly scented products (fish meal and blood meal come to mind)
around their garden perimeters, but these all impact our sensibilities
as negatively as they effect the Deer.
After Labor Day when my shop hours revert to weekends only, I usually
lose track of the heavy fogs and
dews down along the river. Because the deer have become accustomed to
the plants at the shop being
inedible, they usually leave them alone until October. I have used this
mixture successfully to protect
young trees and shrubs as well, even White Cedars. I planted several
Spruce trees in the yard about fifteen
years ago. Two are almost ten feet tall because I planted them in a
prickly copse. They only have tufts of
branches above the browse line and Ive used this mixture to protect
their trunks. The other survivors look
like carelessly pruned Bonzai trees. I have used this mixture during the
winter and they do leave the trees
alone if I am vigilant.
You might consider growing plants Deer wont eat. These include Daffodils
(which are toxic), Delphiniums,
Foxgloves, most varieties of Dianthus and Artemesia, Yellow loosestrife,
Soapwort, most fragrant, lemon,
or camphorous scented herbs. Plants they will most likely eat according
to most nursery people and
experienced gardeners are anything in the Lily family, anise flavored
herbs (including tarragon), and pretty
much anything else if you live on Wellesley Island.
If all else fails, you can always use Deer netting. I put a double layer
of netting about six feet high around
my small vegetable garden and hung recycled CDs around the outside to
alert creatures to the boundary.
I had to rescue a couple of Dragonflies who got caught between layers,
but other than that there were no
casualties. A wild wind storm took the netting down to a few feet, at
which point the deer got in and ate
my late season greens. I will be putting it back up this spring.
Alternative Pest Repellants
Ants are repelled by Lemon
scented herbs, oils, and soaps. Use Lemon scented dish soaps and hand
soaps, and try using Murphyâ€™s oil soap or similarly citrusy scented
cleaning products during Ant season and you may reduce their attraction
to your home.
Mice are repelled by minty
scents, Pennyroyal and Peppermint being their least favorite. Iâ€™ve used
the crushed herb, really strong teas, and sprays made from pure
essential oils mixed with distilled water to repel mice. Catnip is a
mint that may draw Catâ€™s attention to Mousie haunts and may work to keep
the critters away.
Sometimes, drastic measures are required. Extremely wet and low snow
winters can drive the little creatures to invade your home when itâ€™s
inhospitable outside. If nothing else works and you must be rid of them,
try leaving out a small plate of Betty Crocker's Instant Mashed Potato
Buds. The mice will feast on the salty products, then go outside to find
water. Fatal bloat will kill them. No, itâ€™s not nice. The one good
aspect of it is that if someoneâ€™s pet or stray or an opportunistic
predator eats the carcass, they will not be poisoned.
Squirrels have very sensitive
noses, itâ€™s how they find their buried treasure. Have-a-heart traps
baited with peanut butter usually work like a charm. Take them for a
long ride to someplace with many trees and not too many visible squirrel
nests. Clean out any nest they may have created and leave something
strongly scented in the area; like perfume samples or soaps. Small
samples can and will be moved, you may need to secure them in a recycled
jar with holes punched in the lid.
Raccoons are regular Houdinis at
getting into and out of places and usually make all kinds of a mess
wherever they go. Care needs to be taken because they can carry rabies.
Any Raccoon exhibiting suspicious behavior â€“ irregular movement,
unprovoked aggression, or looking obviously sick should be left alone
while you contact your local health department. Landowners can legally
use Have-a-Heart traps, or contact your local nuisance trapper. Use
Marshmallows for bait and you will get a quick response, without having
to release curious other curious pets or critters..
Skunks and Woodchucks are
repelled by Pinesol. It has to be the original, not a knock off version.
Saturate a rag with Pinesol and stuff it into a hole or burrow or under
your dwelling and the critters will leave. You can also saturate an
absorbant material like cat litter and use it to create a boundary that
they will not cross. Skunks are also repelled by Fox Urine, which can be
obtained at trapping supply stores. Woodchucks donâ€™t seem to be
reliabley repelled by much else. Skunks can also carry rabies, and the
same rules apply as mentioned above, report animals that are behaving
suspiciously to your local health department.
Let a couple of "Lambs Quarters" plants (pigweed) grow near your Beets
if leaf miners are a problem,
and they will feed on the weed. Old timers say Chards and Beets planted
after the old fashioned Lilacs
have bloomed won't be bothered by leaf miners.
Let a few bitter Nightshade plants grow around your Potato patch and
Colorado potato beetles may prefer it to your crop.
Plant 1/3 Radish seeds with 2/3 Carrot seeds . . . you will harvest the
Radishes to eat and never have to
thin the Carrots.
When to plant:
Plant your Tomatoes indoors when the first Geese fly over.
The soil is warm enough to work when there are Earth Worm castings
When Dandelions are in bloom in the yard (not next to a warm
foundation), the soil is warm enough to plant.
Plant root crops when the Shadbush starts to bloom.
When tent caterpillars start appearing it's probably warm enough to
plant most tender crops.
When Jewel Weed and Purslane are up for a few days, it's probably safe
to transplant most very tender crops.
Cold-tolerant vegetables such as Lettuce, Kale, Peas, Spinach and
Chard can be planted when old fashioned
Lilacs are in "first leaf". That's when the widest part of the first
leaves are extended beyond the bud scales.
Corn and Beans may be planted when Lilacs are at least 50% in bloom.
When Lilacs are in full bloom it's usually safe to transplant very
tender plants like Tomatoes, Peppers,
and Sweet Potatoes.
Plant your Peas when the Partridge drums.
The above information originally published in and thankfully shared from
old copies of North Country
Gardener, by Phil Harnden of Richville, NY. Contributors included:
Shepherd Ogden, MaryAnn Cateforis,
Myrtle Pellitier, Dorothy Holt, and Preston G. Miller, residents and
organic gardeners in St. Lawrence
and Franklin Counties.