155 episodes

Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more. Learn more about Charlie at gardeningwithcharlie.com.

Connecticut Garden Journal Connecticut Public

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Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more. Learn more about Charlie at gardeningwithcharlie.com.

    CT Garden Journal: Crepe myrtle may thrive in a warming Connecticut

    CT Garden Journal: Crepe myrtle may thrive in a warming Connecticut

    With our warming climate comes many challenges. But one advantage is the possibility of growing some plants that normally would not thrive in Connecticut. This is true of crepe myrtle. Known as the “lilac of the South,” crepe myrtle has traditionally been successfully grown in zone 7 and warmer climates. But now with new hybrid, sterile, varieties from the National Arboretum and warmer winters, we can grow crepe myrtles in zone 6, and even zone 5, which opens up the possibility in all of Connecticut.
    Crepe myrtle varieties come as shrubs or small trees. Choose the right type for your yard to avoid drastic pruning. Some of the best shrub-like crepe myrtles include the 2 foot tall 'Chickasaw' with small purple colored flowers and the 6 foot tall 'Caddo' with bright pink flowers. For small trees, try varieties such as the 10 foot tall 'Tonto' with red flowers and 'Natchez' with pure white flowers on 20 foot tall trees.
    Crepe myrtles flower best in full sun on well-drained soil. They bloom in midsummer on new spring growth. Prune in late winter to encourage more growth and flowering, reduce the plant size and improve the structure.
    The midsummer flowers are a treat when few other large shrubs and trees are blooming. Also, the bark exfoliates creating an interesting tree for winter viewing.
    Crepe myrtle are good city trees because they tolerate pollution. Crepe myrtle has few pest problems other than powdery mildew and fungal leaf diseases during our humid summers. If powdery mildew is an issue in your yard, try growing disease resistant varieties such as 'Caddo', 'Hopi' and 'Tonto'.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 min
    Connecticut Garden Journal: A deer deterrent that's likely in your refrigerator right now

    Connecticut Garden Journal: A deer deterrent that's likely in your refrigerator right now

    I'm always looking for the most recent techniques to help protect our plants from deer and other critters. Deer browsing our shrubs, vegetables, and flowers is a constant source of angst for home owners. Fencing deer out of your yard is often not practical for a suburban homeowner, so repellent sprays are really the next best option.
    Recent research at the Connecticut Agricultural Research Station, reported by Connecticut Gardener magazine, highlights the best repellents. Essential oil based repellents, containing oils such as mint, thyme or pepper, often evaporate quickly. Odor based sprays, such as those containing rotten eggs or blood meal, are more effective, but eventually wash off plants after about 5 weeks. In their research, the best deer repellent sprays were fat based. Fat based sprays don't smell bad to humans, don't need reapplying after rains and gave plants months of protection.
    Fat-based repellent sprays were discovered in Austria when farmers noticed that deer avoided plants that had raw sheep’s wool hanging on them. Raw sheep's wool has lanolin-based fats that repel deer. Lanolin is a byproduct of wool processing and is safe for people, wildlife and the environment. While their research showed three months of protection from lanolin-based sprays, these commercial products, such as Trico, are very expensive.
    A less expensive home remedy alternative that proved as effective as lanolin-based sprays is milk fat. Mixing Half & Half with equal parts water in a sprayer worked as well as the lanolin sprays.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 min
    Connecticut Garden Journal: Strategies for putting the kibosh on squash bugs

    Connecticut Garden Journal: Strategies for putting the kibosh on squash bugs

    The warm, wet spring and now summery weather has encouraged our summer squash and zucchini to thrive. But we're not the only ones enjoying these plants. Squash bugs are here and laying eggs on the undersides of summer squash, winter squash, and melon plants. You may not see much damage yet from the squash bugs, but if allowed to thrive, your squash patch will be a mess come August.
    Squash bugs are brown or grey colored with a shield shape on their back. They emerge in spring after overwintering under dead leaves, rocks, wood, and other garden debris and start laying copper colored eggs in organized clusters on the leaf undersides. The eggs hatch into miniature squash bug babies that continue to feed on leaves and flowers. The population usually explodes come August when it's too late to really control them.
    So, let’s do a little prevention now. Companion planting seems to help. Research from Iowa State University showed that interplanting nasturtiums among your squash deterred egg laying. The nasturtiums emit a fragrance that masks the squash so the squash bugs can't find the squash plants. Grow the trialing type of nasturtiums to have a good mass of plants. You can also check the undersides of the leaves every other day for egg clusters and squish them. You can also cut them out with a scissors if squishing isn't your thing. Finding and squishing the adults is good also.
    The organic spray, Spinosad, can be used to kill the adults and young. Spray when the squash aren't flowering and in the evening to prevent harm to pollinating insects.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 min
    Connecticut Garden Journal: Thinning the crop helps fruit trees thrive

    Connecticut Garden Journal: Thinning the crop helps fruit trees thrive

    We're potentially going to have an abundance of tree fruits this summer. With the mild winter and spring and the right about of sun and moisture, our cherries, plums, pears, apples and peaches have set lots of fruit. While I'm excited about the potential fruit glut, I also know that trees might be too enthusiastic. Too many fruits can lead to the branches breaking from the weight and the fruits being small and not as flavorful. That's why I'm thinning some fruits from my trees.
    Thinning is removing some young fruits so the remaining ones thrive. Nature does a good job by doing something called the June drop. That's when trees naturally drop some of their excess fruit on their own. However, you still may need to hand thin fruits now.
    Some fruit trees are okay with a big crop. Mature cherries can handle the load. But plums, peaches, apricots, apples, pears and all young trees can stand a little help.
    Thin plums to 4- to 6- inches apart. Peaches, apricots and nectarines should be thinned to 8 inches apart. Apples and pears set fruits in clusters so remove all but one of the fruit in the cluster and make sure the clusters are at least 6 inches apart. For dwarf trees or young trees be more aggressive. We have a few 3 year old peach trees that are loaded with fruit. I may leave 6 or 8 peaches on each tree since they're too young to support the weight of all those fruits. The sooner you thin the better so the remaining fruits will plump up nicely.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 min
    Connecticut Garden Journal: Edamame is buttery, delicious and easy to grow

    Connecticut Garden Journal: Edamame is buttery, delicious and easy to grow

    If you've ever been to a Japanese restaurant, chances are you've seen or eaten edamame. Edamame is a selection of soybeans that are harvested young when the green seeds fill out the pod similar to peas. You eat the seeds and the flavor is buttery and delicious. You can buy frozen edamame at grocery stores, but the flavor of fresh edamame is better.
    If you can grow bush beans, you can grow edamame. Edamame thrives in warm soil so now is a great time to plant. We grow ours on a raised beds amended with compost. Edamame is a legume so it fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere into a food it can use. The soil should be well drained and loose since cold, heavy soils can cause the seeds to rot.
    'Envy' is a quick maturing variety, but my go to variety is 'Midori Giant'. This variety has large pods with 3 seeds per pod. Space plants about 4- to 6-inches apart. Watch for slugs when the plants are young. Control them by hand picking the mollusks or spreading an organic bait that contains iron phosphate.
    Harvest when the pods fill out and are plump, but before the pods turn yellow. We often just steam the pods in salty water and eat them as a snack. But they're also great cooked with other vegetables, in potato salads, and as a topping on summer salads.
    We companion plant kale between our edamame rows, so that once the edamame is harvested we chop down the plants and leave them as mulch around the kale. The kale thrives as a fall veggie.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 min
    Connecticut Garden Journal: The hows and whens of pruning spring flowering shrubs

    Connecticut Garden Journal: The hows and whens of pruning spring flowering shrubs

    Now that the lilacs and other spring flowering shrubs have finished flowering, it's time to prune. Many gardeners delay pruning until later in summer, or even next spring, but that's wrong. Pruning late will remove the flower buds for next year's show. After spring flowering shrubs, such as lilacs, forsythia, rhododendrons, weigela, nineback and bridal wreath spirea have finished blooming, you have about 4- to 6-weeks to prune before flowers form for next year.
    These shrubs don't have to be pruned every year unless they're growing too large. Then you have a few options. You can remove some of the new growth down to a height you want. If you don't take off too much new growth, the plants will still flower next year. Doing this pruning yearly is a good way to keep a tall and wide growing shrub, such as lilac, from getting too large. Of course, if planted in a yard or location where it can grow to its maximum size, your shrubs will be magnificent when in flower.
    The other method is to severely prune the shrub to reduce the size and lower where the flowers are forming. This drastic cutting, sometimes to only a few feet tall, will result in no flowers for a few years until the shrub recovers, but will create a smaller, more manageable plant. Another way of approaching a tall lilac, for example, is to prune one third of the stems each year for 3 years. This will stimulate new shoots or suckers to grow that will eventually flower while reducing the height and still getting some flowers each year.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 min

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