Let’s Grow

I am so excited that you have given me the opportunity to serve The Garden Club of Kentucky as president. Thank you for this honor. And thank you for the countless hours you have worked in your community to advance our mission. Garden club members are good stewards of the land, and we encourage others to do the same. Our members not only ‘talk the talk’ but ‘walk the walk’.

The continued theme ‘Let’s Grow’ keeps us focused on just that. We need to grow in membership, clubs, all aspects of gardening, wildlife havens, youth collaboration, education through our four NGC schools, flower shows, conservation efforts, Blue and Gold Star Memorials, and making friends all the while.

We also need to grow in promotion of our accomplishments. Success breeds success. By showcasing our monthly meetings and projects of all types and sizes and by volunteering to speak at other organizations, we let the community know who we are and what we do. One of our goals as a local federated garden club is to never have someone remark ‘I don’t know if we have a garden club or not’ or ask the question ‘Is there a garden club here?’ It should be evident there is an active garden club. By ‘talking the talk’, members let friends and acquaintances know and possibly gain new members. By ‘walking the walk’, the community sees club members working on community projects whether great or small. They will know we are here!

Again, I want to continue with special projects ‘Gardening with Native Plants’ and ‘Habitats for our Wildlife’. These projects are intertwined. One project will result in the other. Because of urban development, ecosystems are being disrupted. We must be even more diligent of what open space we have, allowing for ecosystems to thrive. All life on earth is integrated, all has its purpose, and all must be protected. This is where garden club members come in…we can be those ambassadors in our communities who encourage our Mission Statement of The Garden Club of Kentucky: To provide education, resources and networking opportunities for its members and promote the love of gardening, floral design, civic and environmental responsibility.

Our incoming National Garden Clubs President is Mary Warshauer, whose theme is PLANT AMERICA-PLAY OUTDOORS, and our incoming South Atlantic Region Director is Marty Bowers. Her theme is Reconnect, Plant, Grow, and Bloom.

‘Let’s Grow’!

Carcille Carloftis Burchette

GCKY President (2021-2023)

 

In the Garden – April

  • Ticks have arrived and are waiting to drop from shrubs and trees onto you. Thoroughly treat clothing with tick spray. Wear light-colored long pants and long sleeve shirt, and hat. Tuck pants into socks, and gloves over sleeve cuffs. Check clothing before entering the house after working in the yard.
  • Daffodils – Daffodils are rapidly fading. Snap off spent blooms at the base of the stem. Allow foliage to die back 2/3rds before cutting it or tucking under other plants. Never fold or braid the foliage as that restricts nutrients to the bulbs to form buds for next year. Plant daylilies in front of daffodils to hide the dying foliage. To divide, wait until mid-June to mid-August.
  • Houseplants – House plants make a house attractive and comfortable. Too often pets are attracted to them and can be toxic. The following  are pet friendly, easy to grow and inexpensive: African violet, Boston fern, banana, gloxinia, and phalaenopsis. Air plant and spider also purify the air.  WARNING: Easter Lilies are poisonous to cats.
  • Trees and shrubs – Wait to cut back bush honeysuckle and early blooming spirea until after they cease blooming. They set their buds for next year on this year’s growth. (Please note that tartarian honeysuckle, Morrow’s honeysuckle, and amur honeysuckle are all invasive in Kentucky and should be removed completely.Tulip magnolia sets its buds by July. For thick hedges top to bottom, prune at an outward angle creating a slightly wider base to allow sun to reach the bottom branches. Before trees leaf out, check for hanging broken limbs and remove.

Easter Lilies

If you receive a lily for Easter, you know that lilies as with any true bulb are easy to care for in the house, and then planted out after the last frost. In the meantime enjoy their elegance inside.  (WARNING: This plant is poisonous to cats!)  Part of its charm is that its pure white petals reflect even the lowest of light whether indoors or in the garden.

A true lily, with a little care Lilium longiflorum will rebloom in mid-summer, having acclimated to its natural bloom period. Until planting out, keep it in bright, indirect light, 60-65 degrees, mist frequently to keep humidity high, and turn the plant every few days. When the flower dies, cut the stem to the base. Plant on a south-facing slope as it likes moist but not wet feet. Plant 6” deep in loamy soil. Clay can be amended by working peat and perlite. Do not worry about the exact depth, the bulb will adjust to its preferred depth.

February – Things to do in the Garden

THINGS TO DO

Groundhog Day – Punxsutawney Phil claims his Spring predictions are 100%, any error is due to his interpreter’s miscommunication. My prediction is based on phrenology and when Easter is. It is early this year(April 4) therefore spring will be earlier than normal.

Birds –Keep bird baths clean and filled as we are averaging less than half our normal rain for this time of year.  Clean birdhouses. Install bluebird boxes on fence posts and martin boxes on tall poles where both birds have plenty of flying room. Face the boxes openings away from the prevailing winds.

Trees – Order trees for planting in March. Survey trees and shrubs for maintenance they leaf out. Remove crossed branches, hanging branch can cause injury. Crape myrtles grow well here providing us late summer non-stop blooms. The Indian-named myrtles developed at the National Arboretum are cold hardy to Zone 6. Good source: The Crape Myrtle Company (crapemyrtle.com)

Vegetables – Sow herbs, bunching and bulb onion, and pepper indoors. Finish cleaning the garden. Repair supports and trellises.

Tools – Clean out your tool shed or wherever you store tools and supplies. Organize a hand tool carrier. Paint handles a construction pink or yellow. It IDs your tools and makes it easier to find in  grass and leaves.

Long handles that are broken or too short can be replaced at most local hardware stores. Rake handles should come to the top of your shoulder. If there is height difference in the family, buy multiple rakes and paint handles difference colors. Save old paint and chemicals in a container marked for disposal at your county’s free-disposal day in the spring.

 

Things to do in November

  • Peonies – Remove this year’s perennials spent foliage. If peony foliage has fallen, rake it up to prevent disease carrying over to next year. If still attached pull it from the base. Do not add to the compose. Plant peonies while soil temperature is above 40 degrees(Sunday it was 60). Peonies planted now will grow feeder hair roots that take up nutrients preparing them for early spring growth.
  • Pumpkins – According to Margaret Roach, garden writer, recycle your un-cut pumpkin into a planter. Remove the top, clean the interior, fill 3/4s with potting soil and plant a perennial or spring seeds. When the pumpkin begins to wilt, plant it in the garden where it will provide nutrients as it breaks down.
  • Roses – Jackson & Perkins has introduced its 2021 roses. Pre-order now and pay when shipped. info@jacksonandperkins.com, 1-800-292-4769.
  • Houseplants – Protect plants from pets and small children by placing containers out of their reach. Keep foliage off of cold windows. Start Christmas cactus plants by placing 6” long leaf segments. When roots appear, plant in potting soil and share with friends.
  • Trees and shrubs – Use evergreen prunings to make wreaths. Submerge the prunings in water overnight to condition them, then place in a container with enough water to cover the stem ends, then in a cool location until ready to use. Magnolia is the longest lasting in or out of water. Pine dries the fastest. Personalize your holiday wreaths. Check out online and local nurseries for live wreath design ideas. Alternately, purchase an undecorated evergreen wreath and add evergreens from your yard. Include magnolia leaves and pods, deciduous leaves, spirea and ginkgo branches, dried perennial stems, privet berry clusters, bittersweet, and whatever of interest from your yard.

In the Garden – Storing Vegetables Overwinter

Warm spring, mild summer and plenty of water this year produced a bumper crop of vegetables. Some continue to produce more. No doubt you have given lots of vegetables and fruits to friends and neighbors, and frozen and canned the rest. What do you do with the remaining vegetables? Our grandparents saved them in the root cellar. Few of us have , but can create similar

Not all vegetables have the same storage requirements. Some prefer cold and dry, others cold and moist.

Storage is similar to that of tender flower bulbs. Store in a cool basement, unheated attic but not in an enclosed garage as the roots will absorb vehicle exhaust. Occasionally check as to moistness or dryness, rot, or root growth. If vegetables freeze, use them as soon as possible.

It is important to store vegetables at a consistent temperature. Insulated coolers packed with hamster bedding, straw, or newsprint are ideal. Vegetables that like cold and damp prefer 32-60 degrees with high humidity. Radishes and rutabagas store for 2-3 months; and beets, carrots and turnips 4-5 or 6 months. Remove excess foliage and keep roots from touching to reduce rot.

Cool and dry vegetables prefer 40-60 degrees. Store in wire baskets for greater air circulation, lower humidity (60-70 percent). Place onions( on high shelves(warmer). Hang garlic in mesh bags in a dark location Both onion and garlic will last 5-8 months.. Place beets, radishes and turnips into soil, in a bright window to provide winter harvest. Sweet potatoes will last 4-6 months, require 55-60 degrees and darkness. Keep winter squashes at 55-60 degrees. Store on an upper shelf individually. Acorn, small pumpkins and spaghetti squash last 1-3 months, buttercup and large pumpkins 3-4, and Hubbard and butternut 6 months.

In the Garden – November

Things to Do…

Watering your plants

If you’re watering your houseplants with chlorinated water, allow the chlorine to outgas from the water by filling watering cans or bottles 24-48 hours before using. To avoid confusion as to what was watered when, mark a calendar that is kept with houseplant supplies.

Garden

  • Plant tulips now, but start daffodils in December. Tulips like moderate planting weather, and daffodils, cool to cold. Plant bulbs pointing up. Sometimes it is difficult to determine corm roots. If in doubt, plant on them on their side. Mark planting site using plastic knives or spoons to prevent planting on top of them.
  • Continue to treat broadleaf weeds. Protect good plants by placing carboard between spray and good plants. Let the spray settle before moving to the next plant. Sprays can be used during temperatures to 40 degrees and at least three days before a rain.
  • When mum flowers fade, plant in ground and cut back nearly to the ground.
  • Check attachments of climbing rose cane and retie as needed. Tie with strips of nylon stocking as they are soft and stretch.

Trees 

  • Order live and/or cut Christmas trees for delivery no sooner than mid-December. Select the location for the live tree and prepare its site. Contact in advance your city, park or school to donate your live tree.
  • Continue to plant new trees. Stake (two on per tree) through one season to let it settle in and build a strong root system.

Vegetables

  • Remove spent plants and continue to harvest producing ones.
  • Pull up tomato plants, and in an unheated place, wrap individual fruits in paper to ripen.
  • Wash, dry, and apply liquid wax to pumpkins to extend their useful life.
  • Dig root vegetables to store for the winter, except parsnips which sweeten the longer they stay in the ground.

 

October – Things to Do

Garden Tasks and Tips

  • Pansies are in full bloom. Given protection and a mild winter they will remain blooming through the winter.
  • Roses are at their peak. Prune only after they go dormant to reduce root damage from canes being whipped by high winds. Remove matted leaves from flowering plants. Cut flowers to encourage the last bloom of the fall. According to moon signs, today is the best day to plant those that flower. Fertile days the rest of the month are 25-26 and 30-31.
  • Lawn –Mow with the leaf shoot facing away from beds. Attach the grass bag to catch mulched leaves. Add to a compost pile or no more than 3 inches deep and away from shrub and tree trunks. Tree bark does not grow roots. It does soften when covered, setting it up for rodent and insect damage
  • Insects – Shorter days and cooler temperatures have brought stink bugs in for the winter. They are not destructive, just stink if frightened. They lay eggs in winter, nor bite. Controls: wipe screens with the strong smelling fabric softener sheets; Sarah Welsh, farmanddairy.com, recommends mixing in order: 2 cups hot water, 1 cup white vinegar, and ½ cup dish soap. Or use a tissue to pick the insect up, taking care not to pinch or step on it as it will stink. It is more efficient to vacuum to collect a large group, but discard bags immediately as they will hold the odor.
  • Vegetables – Grow tomatoes all winter. Bring in producing plants now to continue for a while. Bonnie L. Grant suggests planting tomato varieties Red Robin(best indoor variety) Yellow Pear and Burpee Basket King(hanging plants). Sow every two weeks for continuous production. Place in a sunny, southern window and turn for even growth.

Plan Ahead

Burpee is offering a reusable $10 discount on $25 plus orders through June 10, 2021. Limited to one discount per order.

Carolyn Roof

Pumpkin Carving and Preserving

The Jack-o-lanterns of today would not be recognized by those who introduced them to this country. According to Irish legend, Stingy Jack bargained with the Devil and won. The Devil took his revenge by forcing him to wander with only a turnip lantern to guide him.

The Jack-o-lantern today has evolved from only slightly scary to whimsical and even sculptural masterpieces. There are no rules as to what a Jack-o-lantern should be other than “Do you like it?” However, there are guidelines as to which pumpkin is best for which style, and tips on how to carve and lengthen the usable life of the pumpkin.

The best Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are mid-size, smooth thin-skinned, but firm for ease of carving and easier to clean out. Pie pumpkins and Carving pumpkins are interchangeable both for carving and eating; the only difference is pie-type is smaller. Mid-sized range from 8-12 pounds and larger 15-35 pounds. The big ones are harder to carve but dramatic.

Half of the fun of carving your own is selecting it at a pumpkin farm. Ask the staff for the best carving varieties.

Before purchasing, decide on the design and size needed. Inspect the pumpkin for intact stem and no bruises, soft spots or other damage. If hollow sounding when thumped, it is ripe.

Sanitation is important as the pumpkin has a maximum lifespan of 7 days. Before carving, clean tools and hands. Wipe the skin with bleach and cut a hole in the bottom to clean it out. Never carry by its stem, as a broken stem opens the pumpkin up to bacteria. Keep out of direct sun and in a cool location. Wipe out the inside and cut areas with bleach. Use battery-operated candles or flashlights inside instead of live flame. If it starts to shrivel or show mold, soak the pumpkin in bleach water (2 tablespoons per gallon) for a couple of hours

Enjoy your custom Jack-o-lantern and take pictures.

~ by Carolyn Roof

Mint – a multi-purpose plant

Ah, summer is here, at least that is what the calendar says. My idea of summer is sitting on the porch with a cool glass of any iced drink to which mint has been added. No matter how hot it is,  mint makes it feel so much cooler.

Mint is very versatile. It enhances food, is used in cosmetics and medicines, and is often considered a weed as it is so easy to grow. No matter whether mint is native or hybridized, it is easily recognized by its fragrance and its unique square stem. The most popular, of course, are spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (M.piperita), though Applemint (M. suaveolens) is rapidly catching up to the first two.

USING MINT

In Kentucky, the most familiar use of spearmint is as the mint in Mint Julep at Derby Time. One preferred variety is actually called “Kentucky Colonel.” Spearmint is preferred over peppermint for its more subtle flavor, which accounts for its widespread use in foods from the Middle East, such as Lebanon and Iran, to this country.

Other flavored mints include Chocolate mint (a hit of spearmint, mostly used for desserts), Basil mint, lavender mint, licorice mint, and these fruity mints.

  • apple – less invasive and sweeter than most;
  • citrus – lemony, used in Asian dishes;
  • ginger – spicy, spearmint-like’
  • orange – strong flavor
  • grapefruit – subtle flavor
  • pineapple – variegated green and white foliage, mostly ornamental.

There is also pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), for which the Pennyrile Region was named. An American plant in the area is called False Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides) and resembles the European species. Both can be lethal if ingested and yet are very soothing to the skin. In fact, rub any mint leaf on a bee sting and it will ease the pain. 

Liberally cut mint for fresh use or freeze any time of the year. Its essence peaks just before it starts to flower.

GROWING MINT

Mint is not a large family in the Plant Kingdom, but it is found world-wide. That means that different mints have different needs: some require wet soil and are often found along creek banks, pools, and lakes, while others  need well-drained or even very dry soil. Some like full sun; others like partial shade. Most have long, serrated leaves, though leaves may be oval or fuzzy.

The commonly grown varieties of mint prefer damp sites. Online catalog companies are generally sold out of seeds, but the more common plants still are available. Here are some ways to propagate it:

  1. The simplest way to propagate is pull up a handful of mint, cut in half, break the soil surface, water well, place the roots on the soil, cover with soil, and tamp down.
  2. Or, cut the top six inches, remove all but the top two sets of leaves, and stick in water. When root begin to form, plant in a container. Place the container on a hard surface and repot when roots grow out of the pot.

Be careful, though: Mint stolons (the root system) can spread 20 feet or more. Plant different varieties far apart or keep in pots, otherwise they will cross-breed and cancel out each other’s flavor.

Sources

  • Friends
  • local nurseries and garden centers (currently limited varieties)
  • Growers Exchange (thegrowers-exchange.com) mints listed above, native herbs, etc. $6.95. Ships in late August