The big news of June is the Annual Luncheon and Auction and we have some great photos of this year’s event, thanks to Ann H. Our attendance this year was up substantially from last year, and auction plants flew off the tables, compliments of Max’s auctioneering skills. Jill C and the Hospitality Committee made it all possible. Here are some of the hightlights…
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Mark your calendar for our summer get-together on Thursday, July 18, at 11 a.m. at Prescott Park in Portsmouth. Go to the website Calendar for more details.
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If you have any photos of your gardens that you’d like to share, email them to me (LuAnn) at my home email or to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll post them periodically through the summer for all to enjoy.
Our garden club year is winding down (already?!) and the calendars for May & June has been filled with Promise Tree parties and field trips, not to mention our regular meetings and the upcoming Annual Spring Luncheon & Auction.
Even though the cool, wet May weather may not have tempted us to tiptoe through the tulips, Max put many of us in the mood to garden with her May Garden Party. Max’s surprisingly lush gardens (Newburyport IS south after all) was a beautiful backdrop for a fun afternoon of refreshments and good company.
Ann H. reports that it was a beautiful mid-May day that we visited Max’s gardens. Following a smorgasbord of treats and delicious drinks on the patio, we were invited to explore her healthy and well-tended gardens. Paths led in several different directions to plant discoveries and wonderful art in all the borders. Every artist has their unique vision and Max’s bright art and whimsey add charm and creativity at every turn. It’s always an inspiration to visit her gardens and fun to return home with new and creative ideas for our own gardens. Thank you, Max, for a wonderful afternoon!
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May’s General Meeting featured Speaker, Penny O’Sullivan, who delivered an enthusiastic presentation on “Spatial Garden Design”. She shared some of her extensive knowledge of garden design, along with beautiful slides of some of her favorite garden designs, some of which were surprising.
Also at the May meeting, members voted unanimously to approve our revised ByLaws and our Slate of Officers for 2019-2020. Congratulations to our newly elected Officers: Susan C., President; Linda S., Vice President; Recording Secretary, Lee C.; Corresponding Secretary, Florence W.; and Treasurer, Jill C. The revised ByLaws can be found here.
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Upcoming Club Events
Wednesday, June 5, 9:30 AM. Tour of the Woodman Museum in Dover.
Thursday, June 13, 11 AM. Vicki Burns is hosting a Lunch & Landscape Discussion.
Tuesday, June 18, 10:30 a.m. Our Annual Spring Luncheon and Auction.
Please check thecalendar for details about these events.
Looking for a garden tour? 2019 is the 40th anniversary of the Museum of Old Newbury’s (MA) annual garden tour. Dates are Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Start the tour at the museum’s Cushing Garden, then set out with a detailed guidebook and map to see Newburyport area gardens. Details can be found here.
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How To Care for the Soil in a Raised Bed
As thoughts of spring enter our minds, many people are starting to design and develop their perfect spring and summer gardens. For many vegetable growers, beds are a great choice because the soil they contain warms up more quickly than ground soil, which can prolong the growing season. Raised beds promote soil drainage, provide adequate space for root growth and they can also be quite beautiful. Lastly, individual raised beds can be managed differently, which allows for growing plants that require specific soil conditions, such as blueberries that need acidic soil.
Temporary raised beds are tilled plots of land that extend 12 or more inches above the ground surface. They are not reinforced, so they must be reshaped over time, especially before each growing season. Permanent raised beds, on the other hand, are boxes made of brick, untreated wood or other safe, rot-resistant material. These beds can be developed to any height, but like temporary beds, they should contain at least 12 inches of soil.
Which choice is best for me? Temporary beds are fitting for gardeners who can easily bend over for prolonged periods and who have plenty of yard space. These also work well where soils are uncontaminated, productive and easy to manage.
Permanent raised beds suit gardeners with limited yard space and soil that contains contaminants (such as lead) or presents challenges like a high clay content, low fertility, poor drainage, compaction and so on. Permanent raised beds are also a boon to those with physical limitations that make bending over a challenge, and those who simply enjoy the look of a contained bed.
Soil Maintenance Once you’ve created your perfect raised bed, it is important that you maintain the health of its soil. The Natural Resource Conservation Service defines soil health as a soil’s capacity to function as an ecosystem that supports plants, animals and humans. Indicators of healthy soil include a loose granular structure, good drainage, moisture retention and a relatively dark color (influenced by organic matter). Here’s how to maintain soil health in your raised beds:
Avoid soil compaction. Compaction is the process of increasing the soil’s density by removing pores and damaging soil structure. This makes it difficult for roots to grow and limits roots’ access to water, air and nutrients. The number-one rule for reducing compaction is to never step or kneel on your garden soil. To reduce this desire, design garden beds that are no more than four feet wide. Also, mulch the paths surrounding your beds. This will highlight their location and will provide padding for the soil.
Promote soil drainage. For both temporary and permanent raised beds, this can be done by digging beds that are deeper than 12 inches. Tilling to deeper depths may prevent water from ponding around the root zone, unless you are already working with very wet soils. (If you’re dealing with contaminated soils, please first seek professional guidance before developing a permanent raised bed.)
Amend your soil with organic matter every spring. Organic matter is a great source of slow-released plant nutrients. It encourages soil structure to develop by holding soil particles together like glue. It also attracts beneficial organisms, which also help develop soil structure. Structural development improves water infiltration, gas exchange and increases soil’s resilience to compaction.
Cover your soil, especially during the off-season. Naked soil is vulnerable to wind and water erosion. Both processes effect soils in different ways, but both lead to loss of soil and organic matter, reduced water infiltration and structural loss. Cover crops are a great solution, as they also provide additional nutrients to your soil when they are tilled into the garden bed before planting crops in the spring. Mulching with leaves or straw is another viable option, as these are easily accessible, decompose relatively quickly and effectively cover soil.
Managing for soil health is one key step toward having a successful garden this summer. Avoiding compaction, digging deep, applying organic matter and keeping the soil covered are simple measures that will reap great rewards.
Soil scientist Mary Tiedeman is a Research Assistant at Florida International University. This article is presented by the Soil Science Society of America. Learn more at soilsmatter.wordpress.com.
Kevin Gardner, our speaker at the January joint meeting with the Rye Driftwood Garden Club, filled the room at the Congregational Church in Rye. His talk on “Discovering New England Walls” was well-received and he was swamped afterward by listeners with questions and comments about this very popular topic.
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Welcome to new member Dianne A. from Exeter who joins us this month. Dianne has joined the Design Committee.
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UNH Cooperative Extension is holding its annual Greenhouse Open House at the Thompson School at UNH on April 5th and 6th. This year’s event will also feature the final Thompson School Flower Show and Plant Sale. The general public is invited to engage with UNH faculty, staff, and students in UNH horticulture and agriculture research facilities. This event is an opportunity to connect with the expertise of Extension educators, specialists, and Master Gardener volunteers.
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Be sure to watch the Promise Tree for some fun new additions, including a Bunco Party, gardening books, field trips, and other surprises. If members are not able to attend the next meeting, you can check out the Promise Tree offerings on this website under “Members Only.”
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Don’t miss this month’s General Meeting – our speaker will be our own Patti Elwell, who always wows us with her knowledge and enthusiasm. This month she’ll be talking about “Seed Starting.”
December was truly a month of photo opportunities for members of EAGC. So many fun events gave us all time to put the stress of the holidays aside for a few hours to enjoy each others’ company.
Connie and Ann H. put together an outstanding Design Class in December, where members assembled holiday arrangements to last throughout the season. The resulting floral arrangements were stunning. Thirteen EAGC members and one guest gathered for the Holiday Flower Design Workshop using evergreens and blooms of roses, lilies, carnations and amaryllis in shades of red, white and a lovely shade of mauve. The theme for the workshop was taken from the Christmas carol, The Holly and the Rose, a beautiful carol that was sung by one of the club members before the workshop began.
Here are some of the lovely results.
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Susan C. hosted a festive Holiday Open House in December. Members were treated to a beautiful selection of appetizers and an opportunity to take in Sue’s spectacular Christmas decorations. What a relaxing break from the holiday rush!
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Our annual Holiday Luncheon, hosted by the Herb Committee, was better than ever — delicious food, lots of laughs, and an opportunity to wish all our special gardening friends happy holidays. Lynda B. outdid herself in organizing a wonderful afternoon for us.
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Our November General Meeting, in conjunction with the Hampton Garden Club, featured Andi Ross, who did a presentation on Hip-Hip Hydrangeas , Part 1. Andi shared a lot of helpful information about the identification and care of hydrangeas. Pat N. has provided a link to Andi’s handouts from that meeting. If you’d like a copy, click here.
Donna R. obviously has green thumbs. And she’s a talented photographer too!
Organic Beefsteaks — “We had a nice year of tomatoes. “
Garlic — “We planted in the fall and harvested them in July. Twenty five huge organic bulbs that made us very excited.”
“Our first attempt at onions brought us a small happy harvest.”
Organic Squash — “We thought we would attempt these this year. We have had quite a harvest.”
“When I came to the first meeting you had the speaker from Fuller Gardens. After his talk I decided to try and grow a rose bush. Here is one of the first 7 roses that it keeps producing. I’m very excited about being able to nurture this rose.”
“Some of the sunflowers growing in our gardens.”
“I enjoy putting together the window boxes.”
“The mom built a nest on the hose so we had to water from another source until the birds left the nest. We had two other nests in our shrubs and you couldn’t go near them or the mother would aim and dive for your head!!”
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And from Linda V, “My helianthus and Joe Pye weed are still going strong.”