Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Espoma Organic® Weed Preventer 9-0-0
Naturally Prevent Weeds!
Espoma Organic Weed Preventer helps prevent unsightly weeds from popping up in your lawn and garden while it nourishes the established plants and grass so that they become more resistant to heat, drought and other stress. And because the product is all natural, it is safe for your family, your pets, and the environment.
Weed preventer does not work on already sprouted weeds. It stops seedlings from germinating so weeds with already established roots systems will not be killed. Do not use in an area you plan to direct sow seeds.
See the fact sheet here.
* Prevents dandelions, crabgrass and other common weeds.
* Provides long lasting greening that won’t burn.
* Children and pets can play on lawn immediately after application.
* Made from 100% pure, granulated corn gluten meal.
* Apply twice per year: Early Spring and Fall. (25 lbs. covers 1,250 sq. ft.)
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Sow these peas directly into your garden soil, and fear not - they haven't been genetically altered.
The film The Future of Food, which I saw at the Woodstock Film Festival in 2004, was the first time I had even heard of genetically engineered food. Only after that did I read The Botany of Desire by the now well-known Michael Pollan. The book has now been turned into a film, and since then corporate farms and the dangers of monoculture in our food sources have gained a fair amount of attention.
At the center of the debate is the leader of GE (genetic engineering) and the company best known for it's weed killer Roundup and it's Roundup resistant strains of corn, soybeans and other crops, Monsanto. Sometimes portrayed as a corrupt corporate villain and other times as a technological savior helping farmers and fighting hunger - we'll let you make up your own mind. We're just providing a little information about seed companies owned by or independent of Monsanto:
Monsanto Purchases World’s Largest Vegetable Seed Company(from an artcle dated Jan. 24, 2005)
"Monsanto Company to Acquire Seminis, Inc., a Leading Vegetable and Fruit Seed Company.
The news of Monsanto’s agreement to purchase Seminis has received little attention from the media other than the financial pages and a few seed industry and anti-globalization web sites. But then again, why should it? How many consumers – of food or seed – have even heard of Seminis? And yet, as Seminis spinmeister Gary Koppenjan said, “If you've had a salad, you've had a Seminis product."
It is estimated that Seminis controls 40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of the world market—supplying the genetics for 55 percent of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75 percent of the tomatoes, and 85 percent of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas. The company’s biggest revenue source comes from tomato and peppers seeds, followed by cucumbers and beans."
"This is not the first time Seminis and Monsanto have done business. In 1997, Monsanto began to insert its Roundup resistant gene into one of Seminis’ lettuces, with an agreement to split the premium fifty-fifty. A 1999 Wall Street Journal article also noted that Seminis had received U.S. regulatory approval for selling disease-resistant genetically engineered squash and tomatoes with longer shelf lives and that the firm was working on using biotechnology to create sweeter peas and worm-proof cucumbers."
People have many different views on what genetically engineered food means for our health and environment. But if you do have concerns, you have no way of knowing whats been done to the DNA of the squash at the grocery store. Growers are not required to mark their produce "genetically modified."
Many people choose to grow their own veggies when they can, but if Monsanto also owns the majority of seed companies, what are your options?
Here is list of seed companies still independent from Monsanto. (Note that Botanical Interest and Renee's Seeds are on the list. Those are the seed brands we carry at Victoria Gardens.)
And here is a list of seed companies owned by Monsanto. Most of these companies, like Burpee are carried by the big box stores, and some are even labeled "organic." (Just because they are owned by Monsanto does not mean they are genetically modified, but as a consumer you'll never know, because they don't have to tell you.)
Direct sow these other non-GE cool weather crops directly into your garden:
We also carry seeds from The Hudson Valley Seed Library, a collection of local heirloom seeds.
Monday, March 29, 2010
We are lucky enough have Hudson Valley Seed Library Seeds. And when I say "we" I mean both the we of Victoria Gardens, but also the "we" of all the gardeners in the Hudson Valley and around the world trying to protect heirloom varieties and food source diversity. (Seed libraries around the world are needed to fend off crop "plagues" of fungus and other diseases - listen to this very interesting story on NPR.)
Ken Greene of The Hudson Valley Seed Library on his blog (Garden Notes for Seedy Folks) offers gardeners his advice for direct seed sowing cool crop veggies. Here is his #1 tip: "Begin in the late winter or early spring–but not until the soil is ready. Many cool-weather crops, such as spinach, peas, arugula, and hardy salad greens, benefit from being sown as early as possible. Germination may take a bit longer than under warmer conditions, but they’ll be off and running early, which means the plant has the maximum amount of time to grow before summer heat sets in. However, it’s important to wait to sow until the soil has recovered from the winter freeze-up and has returned to a friable, arable state. You’re looking for the top several inches to be dry and crumbly enough that the soil doesn’t stick as you run a tool across the surface but instead falls away in small chunks or crumbles. Clay soils can sometimes take 1-2 weeks longer than sandy soils to become planting-ready. As you continue to add organic matter to your soil over the years, it will become lighter and lighter and more easily worked at the start of the season."
Tip #2: "Do a thorough, pre-emptive weeding. Direct sown crops produce tiny seedlings that need careful attention to flourish. Among their greatest needs is to be free from crowding by weeds. This is easily accomplished in the greenhouse, where seedlings can be started in a weed-free potting soil. But when direct sowing crops, gardeners must pay careful attention to weeds during the seedling’s early days. Get a head start by doing a thorough, pre-emptive weeding before sowing. Pay special attention to stolon-rooted grasses and other perennial weeds, as it will later become nearly impossible to remove these aggressive growers without disrupting tender young seedlings. If gardening in a new or neglected patch, consider sheet mulching or tilling and raking multiple times to kill lurking weeds.
Tip #3: "Amend the soil thoroughly. It’s much easier to create a fertile bed for your plants before planting seeds than after they have emerged. An unplanted bed can quickly be thoroughly hoed and raked multiple times to incorporate a big pile of compost; trying to do such a thorough job once the seedlings are up is nearly impossible. So don’t jump the gun: add compost, lime, soybean or alfalfa meal, rock phosphate, kelp, or any complete organic fertilizer before planting. Many plants benefit from later side-dressings as well, but they won’t make up for the first-round big boost to initial fertility accomplished by thoroughly incorporating amendments."
For Ken's top 10 tips for direct sowing visit The Hudson Valley Seed Library Website.
"Our Art Packs are each designed by a different artist from the greater New York region (this includes upstate New York, the Hudson Valley, the City, Northern New Jersey, and Connecticut). Each pack celebrates the beauty inherent in heirloom gardening." -Ken Greene
Friday, March 26, 2010
Bend your knees. It's worth repeating: bend your knees!
When lift something off the ground, get in the habit of squatting down, balancing your weight through your heels, engage your abdominal muscles, and use your thighs to push yourself up to a standing position.
If you weed from a standing position - bent over - still bend your knees. If you are yanking out stubborn weeds you could easily strain your back. Absorb some of the strain with your knees. Try resting one arm on your thigh with your knees bent as you weed from this position and then switch arms. Weed ambidextrously! After ten minutes stand up and try these stretches for your hands and arms:
Extend your right hand out in front of you, pull your fingers back toward you, and stretch through the palm. Do this on both sides. Then interlace your fingers in front of your body, reach up high, lean gently to the right then the left. Then with your fingers still interlaced, push out in front of you and round out your upper back.
If you can, clasp your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together and down. Open up your chest. Take three deep breaths.
Drop your arms down to your sides. Make a fist with each hand and turn them so they face to the back and the side. Curl your fists upward and then backward in each position, rolling your fists and stretching your forearms.
If you kneel when you are weeding or digging with a hand spade in the garden, don't kneel on both knees. Keep one of your feet flat on the ground - this will give your back more stability.
There are lots of little gardening stools and seats available, but I've never been able to use one. I move around too much, a stool just gets in my way.
I do like a kneely-pad, especially when the ground is still damp.
While most gardeners tend to wear their old, ratty shoes while gardening, stability and support from the ground up is very important for moving properly and staying injury-free. Your feet should feel supported and your ankles shouldn't wobble. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes with good arch support in them just for gardening.
(Do not garden in flip flops, please - I beg you.)
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Take five or ten minutes before you tackle your spring-clean up and loosen up. The previous post covered some hamstring stretches and some shoulder and neck movements. Now, lets stretch our spine.
Spine stretch - Sit on the floor with your legs straight out and feet together. Contract your abdominal muscles and curl your shoulders forward (creating a C with your spine) and reach for your toes. You are not simply folding your body in half - no- you are arching your spine as you bend, separating your shoulder blades and stretching out the spaces in between your vertebrae. Roll back up, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and repeat six times.
The Saw - Still sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, spread your feet about shoulder-width apart. Sitting up very tall, raise your arms out to your sides, (perpendicular to the floor) and twist your body. Lean forward and reach your right hand to your left foot. "Saw" off your left foot's little toe with your right pinky-finger (but this is not a back and forth motion - just a Pilates misnomer). Very gently lean a little more forward with each exhale for three breaths, then sit up and untwist. Then twist to the other side and lean forward and "Saw" off the toes of your right foot. Be gentle, don't force or bounce, and remember to twist, THEN lean forward - sit up and THEN untwist. Repeat six times.
And let's not forget our feet. Stand on the bottom step of your stairs on the balls of your feet (Hold on to the railing or wall to keep your balance). Letting the back of the feet and heels droop over the edge. Gently allow your weight to stretch out the bottom of your feet and stretch your calves. Don't bounce.
While you are gardening, especially the first few days, try not to spend too much time in the same position. Pick a section. Cut back brown stalks. Rake that little area. Dump your tarp or pop-up weed bag. (Spray the clean section with deer-repellent!!!!! They'll eat anything this time of year!) Then start a new little section.
The point is - try not to spend more than ten minutes in one position - mix it up. The other benefit of doing small little sections is you won't load up your tarp or weed bag too heavy. Drag small loads to your compost pile. So it's a few more trips? Go easy, gentle... happy and pain-free.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Here are two of my favorites. Many people don't realize that some back injuries can be caused from tightness in the hamstrings (the muscles that run up and down the backs of your thighs). With all the bending and squatting that gardening requires, stretching your hamstrings can help avoid sciatica pain (literally a pain in the butt).
Single leg stretch - Lie flat on the carpet or a yoga mat, if you have one. Lift your head off the floor (this helps alleviates strain by keeping your lower back firmly planted) and bring your right knee to your chest. Very gently, tug your knee closer twice, then switch legs and repeat, keeping your head up off the mat. Five or six times on each leg should loosen you up.
Single straight leg stretch - Still lying flat, after you've rested your neck for a few breaths, lift your head again, keep you legs straight, and pull your right leg towards you - holding on to where ever is comfortable: your thigh, your calf or your ankle. Tug the leg toward you twice very gently, and switch legs. Repeat five or six times on each leg.
Another habit to get into before you grab your gardening gloves (or even other times like before you sit down at your computer!) is roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion - lifting them up towards your ears and then pushing them down as far as they will go - squeezing your shoulder blades together and then spreading them apart in the motion. Then reverse and roll your shoulders backwards. Then move your head from side to side (gently!) to loosen up your neck and shoulders.
Do these stretches before and after raking, digging or weeding (A ten minute walk before and after will help also - warm up those muscles as well as loosen them).
And finish the whole day with a warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts. Old-fashioned, I know, but it works. Pain-free gardeners are happy gardeners.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Victoria Gardens is now open Mon. through Sat. 8:30 am to 6 pm and Sundays 10 am to 4 pm. Our experienced and knowledgeable landscaping crew can get your gardens ready for the season – call us for a spring clean-up.
Our nursery and garden center located on the corner of Cottekill Road and Rt. 213 has seed starter kits and a wide selection of organic seeds including seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library, tools, mulch, early spring blooming perennials such as Hellebores, Witch Hazel, and Korean White Forsythia.
Visit and be Inspired.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
If the snow is melting, our experienced and knowledgeable landscaping crew can get your gardens ready for the season – call us for a spring clean-up(845) 658-9007 for more information or visit our website www.victoriagardens.biz.
Victoria Gardens Landscape Gardeners offer design, installation and maintenance - yes- we weed and mulch too! Knowledgeable and experienced, our gardeners will not trample your prized fragrant Daphne or dig up your Vitex shrub, because it is late to leaf-out! We don't mow - we garden with care.
If you are at a loss as to what in the world you're going to do with your garden, Victoria offers design consultations. Any project by Victoria Gardens begins with an hour long consultation with Victoria. The purpose of a consultation is to allow Victoria to see the space you wish to work with and allows you the opportunity to express your wishes, desires and ask any questions you may have. You will not make a specific design during a consultation, but will be left with many ideas about how to proceed with a design concept.
Consultations are also great for those looking to do the work themselves, because you will gain insight and advice that will help prevent the costly mistakes often made without having a full understanding of your landscaping project. This will also be a great time for those wishing to do it themselves to pick Victoria's brain about their plans and also get tips on how to care for any existing landscaping.
There is an $100 charge for the hour-long consultation. Here are some examples of Victoria Gardens' projects.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
March 20th is the first day of spring and the first day of the season for Victoria Gardens. Our nursery and garden center, located on the corner of Cottekill Road and Rt. 213, has seed starter kits and a wide selection of organic seeds including seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library.
We will be open Mon. through Sat. 8:30 am to 6 pm and Sundays 10 am to 4 pm.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Sunday March 21st at 8 am on WKZE (98.1 FM) Victoria will be talking with The Garden Show host Sally Spillane.
Victoria will be talking about opening, spring plants and seeds of course, and she will also be talking about "Sunday Coffee in the Garden" which will meet for the first time Sunday March 21st 10 am, so come on down and join us.
It's very casual - you can bring your questions or your expertise - and chat with Victoria and fellow enthusiasts (hort- heads and horticulture junkies) about what's happening in your garden - problems, pests or even better, triumphs and success - After all who else can you share your excitement with when - YES! your daphne survives it's transplant, or when you get a record number of blooms on your peony tree?
If you miss the show, you can listen to the podcast.
"Sally is the upbeat host of the morning talk show, "THE GARDEN SHOW". Her guests are regionally based gardeners, landscapers, business-owners, and plant experts. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her wisdom on plants, people, and life is second-to-none. Sally is one of the few remaining people in life who does not believe in email!"
Friday, March 12, 2010
Opus 40 is an immense composition of finely fitted stone, rising in ramps and swirling terraces around pools and trees and fountains out of the rock bed of an abandoned bluestone quarry. It spreads out over more than six acres."
"Opus 40 is the product of more than thirty-seven years of a man's life. His name was Harvey Fite. He worked alone, using his hands and traditional quarryman's tools, to build his masterpiece.
Today, Opus 40 is maintained by a not-for-profit corporation, which is responsible for its maintenance, for opening to the public, and for presenting arts programs."
For more information here's an article form the Travel section of The New York Times.
50 Fite Road
Saugerties, NY 12477
Open to the public Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend
11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, holiday Mondays
$10 per adult, $7 students and seniors, $3 school age children,
Children under 6 free with an adult.
No dogs allowed. Picnicking on the grounds is welcome.
Call (845)246-3400 for information on group tours, rates.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Although some parts seem to leap right from the pages of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, according to Wikipedia, "the garden is inspired by science and mathematics, with sculptures and landscaping on these themes, such as Black Holes and Fractals. The garden is not abundant with plants, but sets mathematical formulae and scientific phenomenae in a setting which elegantly combines natural features and artificial symmetry and curves."
"It is probably unique among gardens, and contrasts nicely with the historical and philosophical themes of the less spectacular but equally thoughtful Little Sparta." (Set in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art.)
Unfortunately, the garden is private and not open to visitors! Sometimes it is open to raise money for the Maggie's Centres, a cancer care charity named for Maggie Keswick Jencks, the late wife of Charles Jencks. But I couldn't find any events or openings online. The closest we all may come to actually seeing it is the book: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation.
Although, we do have our own artist-made, garden-as-sculpture at Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY. (We'll feature it as our next virtual tour.)
In the meantime, we'll leave you will this final image: (Can you imagine that this is someone's private garden!?)
For more images of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation here is a slide show on flikr
Monday, March 8, 2010
At its windswept elevation of 1,100 feet in the Hudson Highlands Stonecrop enjoys a Zone 5 climate. The display gardens cover an area of approximately 12 acres and comprise a diverse collection of gardens and plants including woodland and water gardens, a grass garden, raised alpine stone beds, cliff rock gardens, and an enclosed English-style flower garden. Additional features include a Conservatory, display Alpine House, Pit House with an extensive collection of choice dwarf bulbs, and systematic order beds representing over 50 plant families."
"Stonecrop's plant collections and display gardens not only demonstrate what can be achieved by horticultural enthusiasts, but also serve as an educational resource which, together with its professional staff, constitute the foundation upon which is based a developing School of Practical Horticulture."
Even though they tease us with this beautiful winter image, Stonecrop is only open to visitors April 1 through October 31.
Open days are Monday through Friday, as well as the first and third Saturdays, from 10am to 5pm. Starting May 1, the gardens will stay open until dusk every Friday.
Admission is $5.00 per person for a self-guided tour. Guided tours for groups of 10 or more people are available by appointment.
For a series of slideshows visit the Stonecrop Website.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
This time of year in Upstate New York, we are all dreaming of gardening and traveling. I stumbled upon this great slide show featuring the 13 most amazing gardens in the world:
The Gardens of Versailles
1. Versailles, France
2. Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland (More Pictures)
3. Boboli Gardens, Italy
4. Rikugien Gardens, Japan
5. Claude Monet Gardens at Giverny, France
6. Butchart Garden, Canada
7. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa
8. Yuyuan Gardens Shanghai, China
9. Abraham Lincoln Memorial Gardens, Springfield IL
10. Exbury Gardens New Forest, England
11. Holland's Keukenhof Gardens
12. Mirabell Garden in Salzburg, Austria
13. Ryoanji Zen Garden in Tokyo, Japan
Thursday, March 4, 2010
"Wave Hill House was built as a country home in 1843 by jurist William Lewis Morris. From 1866-1903 it was owned by William Henry Appleton, who enlarged the house in 1866-69 and again in 1890. A publishing scion, Appleton brought to Wave Hill such pioneering natural scientists as Thomas Henry Huxley. Huxley was astounded by the site, declaring the Palisades across the river one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
Theodore Roosevelt's family rented Wave Hill during the summers of 1870 and ‘71, when the future president was a youth of 12 and 13. Teddy's time here significantly deepened his love of nature and love of the outdoors that would later prompt him to secure the preservation of millions of acres of American parkland.
Mark Twain leased the estate from 1901-1903, setting up a treehouse parlor in the branches of a chestnut tree on the lawn. Of winter at Wave Hill he wrote, I believe we have the noblest roaring blasts here I have ever known on land; they sing their hoarse song through the big tree-tops with a splendid energy that thrills me and stirs me and uplifts me and makes me want to live always."
Part of the New York City Parks Department, "Wave Hill is [now] a 28-acre public garden and cultural center in the Bronx overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. Its mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts."
Visit Wave Hill later in March and you will see the heralds of spring Chionodoxa sardensis (a very early blooming bulb) and Helleborus sp. (Victoria's favorite spring perennial). You will also be able to see the winter forms of many different species and varieties of trees.
"A trail winds through the Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland, which wraps around the outer edges of Wave Hill. These 10 acres of second-growth forest and meadow are being rehabilitated with native plants. Featured plants include black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea), shadbush (Amelanchier species) and native ferns and wildflowers."
Although if you visit in summer, you will be treated with not only an exquisite flower garden but also the charming herb garden - pictured below.
"The stone foundations of a former greenhouse reflect and retain the sun’s warmth, and provide these connected garden areas with a strong architectural continuity. Narrow beds and paths invite close observation. Ornamental, culinary, and medicinal herbs from around the world make their home in the Herb Garden. Highlights include mints (Mentha species), pomegranate (Punica granatum), teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) and bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). Silver plants predominate in the Dry Garden, where a selection of plants from warmer and drier regions of the world include ornamental sages (Salvia), lavenders (Lavandula), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Euphorbias."
Quotes and images taken from the Wave Hill website.
West 249th Street and Independence Avenue (front gate)
Bronx, NY 10471-2899
Closed Mondays except Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day
Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas
April 15-October 14: 9am–5:30pm
October 15-April 14: 9am–4:30pm
$4 Students and Seniors 65+
$2 Children 6+
Target Free Days
Tuesday: Free all day during off-peak months (November–April, July & August)
Tuesday: Free 9am to noon during peak months (May, June, September, October)
Saturday: Free 9am to noon year-round
Parking (effective May 1, 2008)Onsite: $8 per vehicle
Nearby offsite parking is free with continuous, complimentary shuttle van service.