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May Happenings

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.

Penny O’Sullivan

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 the calendar for details about these events.

Local 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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Horticulture Tip

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.

February Happenings

Doesn’t this gorgeous bloom put you in the mood for Spring and exploring all the wonderful plants available for our New Hampshire gardens? To find out more about this shrub, check out Connie’s March Horticulture Tip here.

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Our February General Meeting featured Patti Elwell, who spoke about and demonstrated “Seed Starting.” Her enthusiasm for her topic was contagious and inspiring, as were the seed packets she offered for sale to benefit the Promise Tree.

Also at the February meeting, the Environment & Conservation Committee, led by Linda V. gave a comprehensive report on the effects of global warming on the world’s oceans. Members of the committee each addressed a specific aspect of the effects, along with providing handouts and posters.

Ann H. addressed members as Linda V. looked on.
The E&C committee provided lots of detailed info about how the ocean is being affected by climate change.

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Here are two local events to kick off the upcoming gardening season:

The Great Island Garden Club of New Castle is hosting a lecture at The Music Hall Loft on April 2nd at 10 AM. Marta McDowell will speak on her book, “All the Presidents’ Gardens”. Marta writes and lectures on gardening topics and teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at The Music Hall box office or at www.musichall.org.

The NH Master Gardener Alumni Association annual Spring Symposium will be held on Saturday, March 23, from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm at the Southern New Hampshire University Dining Hall & Banquet Facility, 2500 N River Rd., Hooksett, NH. The event will feature speakers and an opportunity to socialize with other gardeners. It is open to the public. For details, go to https://extension.unh.edu/2019springsymposium.

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BEE sure to come to our next General Meeting on Thursday, March 21. Our featured speaker’s topic will be “All About Bees.”

January Happenings

January is typically a quiet time for gardeners and EAGC gardeners are no exception. Our December Happenings post was awash with photos of members enjoying holiday festivities.  This month, in lieu of member photos, you’ll find some creative Valentine’s Day arrangements. It goes without saying, of course, that these photos can’t hold a candle to the lovely faces of our members!

 

Have you ever wondered what goes on in your garden when you aren’t watching? Click on this wonderful video to see the pollination process up close. You’ll be surprised by some of the pollinators in action. Vicki from Environment &Conservation found this for us.

    Some of the finest photography…click on HD for sharper view

    http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xHkq1edcbk4?rel=0

 

 

February’s Horticulture Tip is available on the website.  Since this is the season for indoor gardening, LuAnn has some suggestion for keeping our houseplants happy. Click here to check it out.

 

 

 

 

Minutes of the past two meetings can be found on the Website. Click here to go to the Meeting Minutes page.

 

 

Carole Chanasyk recently attended the New Hampshire Orchid Society Annual Show and is sharing a few of her photos with us. These gorgeous blooms are guaranteed to brighten any winter day.

           

          

 

It’s Mini-Grant time!

Linda & Edie, from E&C, are kicking off the Mini-Grant application process for 2018. We received fewer applications than usual last year and E&C would like to attract more interest this year. If you know of anyone who maintains a public garden, or who would like to beautify a public spot in our area, please encourage them to apply for a mini-grant. This year the grants will increase to $100 to $400, well worth the time required to submit an application. Click here to go to the Mini-Grant page of our website for much more info on this great program.

 

In keeping with this year’s theme of pollinators, E&C has found an interesting program called “To Bee or Not to Bee” , which will address landscaping to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. The program is presented by Andi Ross and will be on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 11 to 12:30 at the Newburyport Library. More info can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips On Preparing Plants For Auction or Gifting

Here are Becky’s time tested tips for potting garden plants. Start digging!

Potting PlantsIt is a challenge to keep potted plant divisions thriving and looking good until the Garden Club auction in June. This will be especially true this year because our plants are rushing into early growth and we seem to be stuck in an abnormally warm and dry weather pattern. Here are some tips to maximize both your success and the benefit to the club’s treasury.

DON’T DELAY
Plants should be divided before they have put on a lot of new growth. For example, hostas can be most easily divided when their little pointed noses have emerged, but the leaves have not unfurled. If your plants have already put on substantial growth, don’t be shy about cutting back some of the foliage. The goal is to have divisions with a good balance between the roots and the growth above ground. Cutting back foliage reduces stress. Similarly, don’t hesitate to trim the roots. First remove any dead or non-vigorous roots, then cut back the healthy roots to encourage new growth.

WATCH THE WEATHER
Try not to dig and divide on a hot, sunny, windy day. The best weather is cool and overcast with showers or light rain forecast. If you can’t summon up that perfect weather, protect your newly potted divisions from the sun and wind. Some ideas are to place them on the north side of your house, cover them with a bushel basket, shield them with a beach or patio umbrella.

HYDRATE
Water is going to be especially important this spring. After digging your plant soak it for several hours or overnight in a pail or tub of water. I have had good luck adding a couple of drops of Super Thrive to the water. The soaking will hydrate the plant and make division easier.

GROUP OR BURY
Keeping your potted divisions watered can be a challenge. The task is easier if you can keep your plants grouped closely together near your water supply. Plants will also not dry out as quickly if you can bury the pots in a free space in your garden. They will grow happily until you are ready to pop them out in June.

DON’T HESITATE TO ASK
Terri and I are always happy to answer questions if you are unsure about when, how or whether to divide a particular plant. If you look for information on internet, some of the most reliable websites are those connected with botanical gardens or universities.

A FINAL PLEA
Use potting mixtures that do not contain peat. Not only is peat difficult to hydrate, our planet needs those peat bogs to act as carbon sinks. You can make compost in a few months; peat bogs take thousands of years to form.