Gardening Tips by Bob Beyfuss

Gardening Tips: March 18, 2015

Maple Syrup Part 2
I should have prefaced last week’s column by acknowledging that much of the sugar maple forests of our region still have snow that is “butt deep on a tall Indian.” “Butt” is not the exact word that the reader used, but this is a family newspaper. I recall using snow shoes to move through the woods in order to tap my trees in previous years and then wondering later on in future summers why I tapped them so far above the ground?

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Gardening Tips: March 4, 2015

Herbs: Part Three
Before I begin this week’s column, I want to wish George Story a slightly belated happy 95th birthday. George, the founder of Story’s Nursery in Freehold, Greene County, turned 95 on February 22. He was named after George Washington, who shares the same birthday. Many kids today don’t know when Washington’s birthday occurred, which old folks like me grow up knowing because we got a day off from school for both he and Lincoln. Now we celebrate “President’ Day” in lieu of Washington’s and Lincoln’s actual birthdays.

Gardening Tips: Feb. 25, 2015

Are Herbal Remedies Safe?
Before I continue with the topic of herbal medicines, I want to share some cold weather tips with you. If you did not put rodent guards around the base of your fruit and ornamental trees, this would be a good time to shovel away the snow at their base and either install plastic guards or wrap hardware cloth around the lower two feet or so. Mice, voles, and rabbits will tunnel under the snow, quite happily and eat the bark off, possibly killing the plant. If your houseplants are looking a little sickly due to darkness and indoor dust, take them in the shower with you! Be careful with rock salt around garden plantings, use Calcium Chloride or one of the newer “plant friendly” alternatives. In a pinch, ordinary garden fertilizer such as 5-10-5 will melt snow and ice. Now back to herbs!

Gardening Tips: February 11, 2015

Salt Alternatives for the Homeowner
I read in the Greenville Pioneer that the Town of Green­ville has to budget more money for road salt as snow continues to fall. The price of salt, like almost everything else, has gone up substantially this year, from $48 a ton to almost $63. Green­ville uses about 1,000 tons per year. This is another reason why property taxes are so much higher in Northern states compared to places like Florida.

Gardening Tips: February 4, 2015

Forcing Plants to Bloom
The massive blizzard predicted for earlier this week turned out to be a bust for much of our region, although my brother reported close to two feet of snow in Groton, CT where he lives. NY City had between seven and 10 inches. I guess it’s important to warn people when a blizzard is predicted, but I feel sorry for those late night businesses in the City that were all forced to close because no one was allowed outside.

Gardening Tips: January 28, 2015

Backyard Bird Feeding
Before I begin this week’s column I want to pass on a suggestion from a reader that was prompted by my comment last week about supporting your local food pantry. Many people who need food from these pantries also have pets and pets must be fed also. My late friend Kathy loved her cats dearly and sometimes she would spend her last money on cat food instead of food for herself. If your local food pantry allows it, consider donating some pet food along with groceries. Most privately run pantries will not object and you will be doing a really nice service to those less fortunate than most of us.
Many gardeners are also bird lovers and for good reason! Birds are important predators of insects that damage our gardens during the growing season. They also provide us with beauty and amusement during the cold winter as they flock to our bird feeders.

Gardening Tips: January 21, 2015

2015 All American Vegetable Variety Selections
Since the 1930s new or improved, vegetable and flower varieties have been tested at various locations around the country. The ones that perform the best are designated as AAS winners for each year. Some of these varieties go on to become more or less mainstay selections for thousands of gardeners all over America. Some never become popular and quietly disappear from seed catalogues, despite their glowing reviews.

Gardening Tips: January 14, 2015

Full Moons and Food
The Arctic chill has descend­ed on the region, as January cold has extinguished the last sparks of fall and the December Holidays are just expensive memories now. This is normal for this time of year, but normal does not mean nice when it is close to zero. One of the drawbacks of winter life is that it is pretty uncomfortable to sit out at night and watch the stars, or the moon even. The full wolf moon has just occurred.

Gardening Tips: January 7, 2015

Happy New Year!
It is time to try to remember to write the year 2015 on checks and other written correspondence. Every year this seems like less and less of a concern, as the computers that run our lives and keep track of pretty much all of our day to day activities automatically remember everything for us. We are immersed in a cyber-age that has changed the world more profoundly than any natural event in memory.

Gardening Tips: Dec. 31, 2014

Care of Holiday Gift Plants
I hope you were lucky enough to receive a pretty plant as a Holiday gift this past week. I gave my daughter an amaryllis bulb as usual this year. They are long lived, potted houseplants for us in New York, but they are hardy outdoors in central Florida. She has quite a collection of them in a shaded location in her backyard.

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