Container Gardening with Herbs

At the October meeting, this year, Maria Price, Proprietor of Willow Oak Flower and Herb Garden in Severn, Maryland, will demonstrate how herbs from our garden can delight the senses and heal the spirit.

Why not plant some herbs now, and freshen up your patio at the same time, with a container garden of herbs.  Here’s a how-to video you might find helpful.

To see a list of other programs for the 2011-2012 garden club year, click on PROGRAMS on the left column of this website.

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Crofton Gardening Tip – Spring Flowering Bulbs

Daffodils, tulips and other flowering bulbs are such a delight throughout Crofton in Spring, but we can’t wait ’til then to plant them.  NOW is the time for doing that!

“HOW-TO”

Your choice of bulbs is important – this is no time to skimp by shopping at your local dollar store.  Visit a local nursery or place your order through a reputable catalogue or website, such as Burpee’s.  Look for bulbs that are plump and firm, not soft or mushy, and avoid any that seem to have mold growing on them.  Keep in mind that larger bulbs are more likely to grow into beautiful healthy plants than smaller bulbs of the same variety.

Plant your bulbs in well-drained soil, at a depth 3 times their vertical diameter.

DAFFODILS

Daffodils on white background

There are hundreds of daffodil varieties and their growing season can extend several weeks if you choose a mix of bulbs, such as Burpee’s 100 Days Mix.  Daffodils are typically a golden yellow, but some varieties are lighter – almost white – and they can light up your home interior as well as your yard.

Daffodils are the centerpiece of Golden Days, a National Garden Clubs, Inc. project promoting the planting of daffodils in public places.  In fact, Crofton Village Garden Club has donated daffodil bulbs to the Crofton Library for planting near the entrance this fall for the entire community to enjoy in spring.

TULIPS

Tulips2If you’re looking for color variety in your spring garden, you’ll want to plant tulips.  Reds, yellows, purples, and oranges in every imaginable shade… Gorgeous, whether they’re planted one color en masse or mixed in any combination.  Tulips tend to bloom after many daffodil varieties have faded, so there’s no reason you can’t have both dressing up your garden.  As cut flowers, they are beautiful in a vase or in an arrangement with other spring flowers.

MORE SPRING BULBS

Hyacinth, Crocus, Anemone, Iris… the list is long, the flowers are gorgeous, and you’ll be wishing for a larger yard or more energy –  or both –  for planting more spring flowering bulbs.  You can purchase them locally at Homestead Gardens or Behnke’s Nursery (among others), or shop from home via catalogue or the Internet at a reputable company such as Burpee’s.

At the very least, you can educate yourself about the options by going online and checking out the different varieties with their special characteristics.

Enjoy!

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How to Winterize Your Crofton Garden Pond

If you live in the greater Crofton area in Maryland, it’s important to prepare your garden pond for winter so you can minimize the loss of fish and plants.  Now is the time to do this chore, if you haven’t already.

Dave Kemon, the water gardening expert at Homestead Gardens in Davidonsonville, recommends these five steps to get your pond ready for winter:

  1. Water GardenDrain your pond halfway and scoop out all leaves and debris with a net. Fill the pond back up with fresh water and a de-chlorinator if you have chlorine in your water (Stress Coat is recommended).
  2. Bring in all UV filters, lights and clarifiers so they don’t freeze and break. If your outside filters are large, drain all the water out of them and shut them down for the winter. Also shut off all water pumps if you have concerns about the pond freezing them. Finally, add a pond de-icer or raise your pump halfway up.
  3. Cut back all water lilies and hardy bog plants, and bring tropical plants indoors. Remove all water hyacinths and water lettuce so that don’t rot in the pond.
  4. Cover the pond with netting but never lay it flat on the water, or falling leaves will push it down and turn the water dark. Always place your net like a tent using PVC pipes so the leaves fall to the side and frogs can still get up on the ledge.
  5. Switch fish food over to cold weather food, although they only need to be fed through the month of November. There will be enough organic matter in the pond to sustain them through the winter months.

Check the water gardening page of Homestead Gardens website for additional information including a list of items you’ll need for winterizing your garden pond and a list of thing NOT to do.

PHOTO: Istockphoto.com

Plant Bulbs Now for Spring Blooms in Crofton

(istockphoto.com)

(istockphoto.com)

As you drive around Crofton Maryland in early spring, the first flower you’ll notice (perhaps even popping through the snow) will probably be a crocus.  Soon after, you’ll see stunning gardens and accents of yellow daffodils and blue grape hyacinths… and a few weeks after that, colorful beds of tulips.  These and all spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in fall – and that means NOW.

A few bulb-planting tips from Crofton Village Garden Club:

  • Choose healthy bulbs – i.e., large ones that are not spongy, dry, or moldy.
  • Bulbs love sun.  (Keep in mind that some areas are sunny in spring but not later, when there are leaves on the trees.)
  • Plant several bulbs to create a showy display of color in spring – either in a bed or in clumps.
  • Plant them at a depth 3 times the size of the bulb’s diameter.  (See charts below)
  • Plant bulbs with the pointed side up.
  • Mix some bone meal or superphosphate with the soil at the bottom of the hole to encourage strong root growth
  • Water newly-planted bulbs after you replace soil on top of them.

Plant Spring Bulbs in Fall

Plant Spring Bulbs in Fall

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Click here for information about Golden Days, a project of National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Planting Pansies in Crofton Maryland

The Better Homes & Gardens website has advice for Crofton Village Garden Club members and any of our neighbors who may be thinking about planting pansies this fall.

Pansies in Bloom

(istockphoto.com)

1.  Don’t wait. In fact, plant your pansies this week if you haven’t already.  This will assure plenty of time for them to get established before winter so they’ll survive well and provide lots of colorful blooms in spring as well as now.

2.  Choose healthy plants, in four inch pots or larger, for the same reason.  Their rapidly growing root system will help the pansies get established in the ground or in your pots before winter.

3.  Choose hardy varieties with medium size flowers because, as a general rule, they are more likely to survive the winter than those with large flowers.  A few suggested varieties include Sky, Delta, Bingo, Accord, Crystal Bowl, Prestso, Skyline, Universal and Maxim pansies.

4.  Provide good drainage because you will lose pansies that have too much moisture.  In fact, sometimes they’ll overwinter successfully only to suffer and die as snow and ice begin to melt and soak into the soil.

To maximize the colorful pansy blooms, be sure to deadhead the spent ones as long as the pansies are growing.  Over the winter plants won’t look their best, and you may even lose some of them, but they should come back in Spring.  When that happens, it will be time to dead-head again throughout the growing season.

Your Spring pansies will stay beautiful ‘til May, and you could have them last longer if we have a mild spring, but plan on replacing them with colorful annuals around Memorial Day.

P.S.  If you’re planting your pansies in a decorative pot, be sure to view the video posted a few months ago in 3 Easy Steps to Container Gardening.

Homestead Gardens on Pansies

Margaret Woda

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Whether you’re a beginning gardener, a master gardener, or somewhere in between, find out how to join the Crofton Village Garden Club by contacting club president Sunny Frank by email SunnyFrank@verizon.net.  Membership is limited.

Is the Bark Peeling on Your Crepe Myrtle Tree?

Crofton Village Garden Club members ask, “Is the bark on your Crepe Myrtle tree peeling?”

Photo from Flickr by

Photo from Flickr by yumievriwan

Bark is peeling from the ground to the tip of every branch on the crepe myrtle tree in my yard, so I did some investigating as to the likely cause.   Here’s what I found:

Horticulturist Neil Sperry says that crepe myrtles have exfoliating bark which peels off in long hunks, often exposing glossy honey-color trunks. According to him, peeling bark is completely harmless in all species of crepe myrtle. (also called “crape myrtle” or even “crapemyrtle”)

I have to say that it looks pretty creepy, even if it is “normal”.  But I’m glad to know peeling bark isn’t a symptom of disease or insects in this beautiful tree, because it provides a gorgeous canopy of shade for arranging outdoor seating whenever I entertain in the summer.

By the way, October is an ideal time to plant crepe myrtle and they are 50% off now at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville (thru 9/30/09).

By Margaret Woda

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Whether you’re a beginning gardener, a master gardener, or somewhere in between, find out how to join the Crofton Village Garden Club by contacting club president Sunny Frank by email SunnyFrank@verizon.net.  Membership is limited.

Fall Planting – Bulbs and Perennials

Check out this article on the Homestead Gardens website, including the YouTube video:

“Fall bulbs have traditionally been used to provide early season color until the garden really comes alive. From a design perspective, they have often been used to frame a garden or are planted in their own space. Although these uses serve a purpose, we can think of designing with bulbs in a new light. Instead of confining bulbs to a perimeter or a bulb-only garden, try integrating them into the mixed garden with perennials… ”      READ MORE

Plants Need More than Water

Don't just water... groom your plants, too.  (istockphoto.com)

Don't just water... groom your plants, too. (istockphoto.com)

Even the most low-maintenance annuals need some love and attention, as well as water and feeding.

A wise gardener once told me to deadhead my annuals whenever I water them, and it would never become a big chore.  Not only that, but I would have continuous blooms!  (And while I’m at it, she said, just go ahead and remove the damaged leaves.)

If I ever doubted that advice from my grandmother, I don’t any more.

My husband diligently watered our many pots of annuals nearly every day for several weeks while I was particularly busy at work, but I forgot to pass on that advice about deadheading whenever you water.  As a result, the plants soon had almost no blooms, they were leggy, and many leaves were damaged or yellowing.  Some previously gorgeous containers may now be beyond redemption, as to their beauty.  Yet they were growing just fine, thank you, having been watered regularly.

There is a lesson here for all of us… And that’s to listen to the wise gardener’s advice:  deadhead your annuals  and remove any damaged leaves whenever you water them.  Plants need that love and attention to be their best all season.

Margaret Woda

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Whether you’re a beginning gardener, a master gardener, or somewhere in between, find out how to join the Crofton Village Garden Club by contacting club president Sunny Frank by email SunnyFrank@verizon.net.  Membership is limited.

3 Easy Steps to Container Gardening

No doubt you’ve eyed those gorgeous containers with multiple plants at nurseries and even the garden centers of big box stores. For years, I was in awe and didn’t believe I could ever put together anything quite so scrumptious.  That’s why I purchased them already made and sometimes transferred them to my own containers.  Absolutely no expertise or creativity required, and my guests were always wowed by the splash of color these containers provided on my patio.

Then I learned these three easy steps for selecting appropriate plants for container gardening:

1.  The thriller
2.  The filler
3.  The spiller

Now I CAN create my own container garden.  It will save a lot of money and I will have the satisfaction that always comes with creating something of beauty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy5M0QKdVvc

Gardening Must-Do List for Spring

Wait to prune flowering trees and shrubs until after they bloom.

Wait to prune flowering trees and shrubs until after they bloom. (istockphoto.com)

Crofton Village Garden Club members are already taking advantage of an early spring break in the weather.  They’re organized and know exactly what to do outside to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.  Do you?

Several members got together and created this To-Do List to help Crofton residents get started:

  • Wait until the soil warms and dries before planting summer bulbs, tubers, etc.
  • Plant perennial vegetables and fruits after danger of frost has passed and the ground is workable
  • Prune roses before the buds break
  • Plant shrubs when the ground warms
  • Keep ahead of the weeds
  • Turn the compost
  • Sharpen your tools
  • Test and amend your soil, as needed
  • Prune flowering shrubs when they finish blooming
  • Plant and/or divide your perennials
  • Plant fruit trees and shrubs and perennial vegetables
  • Transplant and seed vegetables after danger of frost (late April / early May)

If you would like to join Crofton Village Garden Club, contact any current member.  You must attend three consecutive meetings as the guest of a member before you will be eligible to join.

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Decorating with Etched Pumpkins

Try something new this fall. Etch a pumpkin!

If you’ve “been there, done that” with gourds, Jack ‘o Lanterns and ghosts, watch this video for some great new ideas:

This might be a fun workshop for some of us to do. Any interest?

Protect Your Roses from Winter

It may be getting too chilly to even think about gardening, but it’s a good idea to do just that if you have roses. It’s important to protect them during the winter.

Flower-Pink Rose

(istockphoto.com)

OCTOBER – After October 15, spent roses may be permitted to form hips and not be pruned away.

NOVEMBER
- After Thanksgiving, canes should be pruned back to 3 or 4 feet to prevent them from blowing in the wind and loosening the soil. Pruned canes can be tied together at the top for added strength, and all dead or fallen rose leaves should be cleaned. Do not put this debris on your mulch or compost pile, in case it contains any blackspot or mildew spores. Instead, bag the debris to put out at your curb with the recyclables in a bag marked with a large X.

DECEMBER – By now it may be the first week of December, and you should mount about 8 inches of dirt around the base of the plant before it gets any colder. You may purchase or make a barrier and fill it with dirt. Fiberglass collars for this advertised are often advertised in gardening magazines. Now you will want to provide a mulch cover for this mound of dirt and the area surrounding your rose bushes.

This information was gleaned from several sources online… I’m not speaking from experience because I don’t have any roses. If any garden club member would like to expand on this topic, please email me with the additional information.

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