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May 01, 2008
It's a bloomin" garden
Expert shows local club container gardens
|Members of the Bedford Garden Club look at plants during a recent meeting. |
|Joanne Smith photo|
BEDFORD, New Hampshire (STPNS) -- Earlier this month, the McAllaster Room at the Bedford Public Library was transformed with pansies, violas, snap-dragons, herbs and perennials, all waiting to be assembled into beautiful container gardens.
It was the April meeting of the Bedford Garden Club and Linda Zukas, manager of container gardening at Churchill?s Garden Center in Exeter, was telling the members how to create ?spring magic? ? containers that can go outside now and would survive even if the temperature dipped below freezing again.
?These will bounce right back,? said Zukas of the pansies. ?The worst that will happen is the foliage will discolor a bit?.
After explaining which plants work well in a spring container, she told the club how to plant it.
?Start off with really good soil,? said Zukas, ?(and) don?t use containers with no drainage. There is nothing worse for a plant than to have cold wet roots?
She suggests laying out the container first to arrange the plants in the best way.
?Consider whether the container will be seen from one or both sides to decide how to plant it,? she said.
Window boxes are the biggest challenge.
?There?s just not a lot of soil volume, they dry out quickly,? she explained.
So what do you do with those window boxes in the summer when you go on vacation?
?Move them into the shade,? said Zukas, ?so your sun lovers may not bloom, but at least they won?t be dead.?
Joanne Smith photo
Linda Zukas shows members of the Bedford Garden Club how to grow container gardens during the club?s April 21 meeting in the McAllaster room at the Bedford Public Library. She said then when people have selected your plants, they should take them out of their pots and ?rip the roots open to plant. Most plants are root bound in their pots and they?ll just keep growing like that.?
For food she suggests a liquid fertilizer every 10 days to keep the plants blooming throughout the summer.
? ?They need a lot of food, like a teenager,? Zukas said.
Herbs and vegetables, like tomatoes and peppers, also make excellent container gardens. Even if you don?t have room for a garden you can still grow vegetables in containers on a balcony or patio. According to Zukas, ?You don?t have to give up on gardening because you live in a smaller space.?
In front of a room full of garden club members, she planted purple sage, chives and parsley in a container and added the edible viola flowers. This is when she cautioned to use an organic fertilizer for the herbs because ?you are eating what you fertilize with.?
Zukas helps customers at Churchill?s Gardens to design and plant their own containers. She holds a container class every Sunday from May until mid-June, when she opens up the potting benches for people to plant their tubs.
?The soil and mess is on us,? she says. ?All you pay for is the plants.?
She also works with clients individually to plant their containers and reports getting some strange requests.
?I had a woman bring in the cushions from her patio furniture, to match with the geraniums,? she said. The garden club members laughed.
The Bedford Garden Club meets monthly throughout the year, hosts guest speakers and sponsors field trips, and is involved throughout the town. Members design and maintain seven gardens around Bedford and their volunteers dig, plant and weed these areas. This year they are focusing on improving the garden by the Bedford Town Offices.
The club is funded primarily through its plant sale, which will be held on Saturday, May 17, at the town hall from 9-11 a.m. However, ?by 9.45 a.m., most everything is gone,? warned club President Beverly Jo Snyder.
In addition to planting and education, the club also provides a forum for members to share their gardens and their knowledge. This year, a new program is being introduced: Blooming Calls.
?If you have a rose or something just about to bloom and you want to share it with the club, call me and I?ll send out an e-mail,? Snyder said. ?It could be a distress call too, if you are having a problem.?
One of the problems people are having this year is with voles. A stick of Juicy Fruit gum, stuck into the vole hole, was offered as a solution by one member.
Deer were also discussed, along with their habit of eating gardens, especially hostas. Irish Spring soap, drier sheets and unwashed human hair scattered around the garden seemed to be the best ways to discourage them, according to club members.
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