Back Patch Martha

Enjoy these articles from our very own Martha.

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Notes from Back Patch Martha

Busy, busy - loving this special time of year! I am a cold weather person. Love the bundling up and going out and enjoying. Do not love the ice and we've all had plenty of that. Not too many people go north in the winter, but it is part of my winter routine. Love snow shoeing on a flat surface. And you can look forward to coming home to a flickering fire and a warm beverage. Paper whites are good this time of year to get something fresh growing in your home or perhaps one of the many varieties of Amaryllis.

If you need a spring break, come to the garden club meeting in Feb. 6th at "high noon" As you know a great way to gain knowledge, a friendly group and yummy food.

Also, visit the State Flower Show at the Convention Center from February 20th thru the 22nd. Beautiful exhibitions, lectures, lots of food and vendors.

Wishing you and yours the very best during this special season.

Warmest Feelings - Back Patch Martha.


Welcome November!

I just returned from a walk with pussy cat, Dan. We knew that November was in the air - cool crisp air and no leaves. I think there are more leaves these days. I will be doing a third round of leaf removal. And then, there are the oak leaves still to come down. Also, bright blue sky. If you are fortunate enough you might see Canadian Geese traveling south. What a sight! Perfect or almost perfect formation flying beneath the blue sky.

Now would be a good time to mention the clear heavens at night and when the moon is at it's fullest. It just fills you with awe.

Today I started my first Paperwhites. I did some of these in tall clear vases planted on about 30 white small stones in the bottom of the vase. Then another grouping in a tall clear vase on clear stones (marbles) and a topping of red ones for a bit of color. I grow Ziva, which seems to be the only variety you can find these days. I purchase them in Bantam at Van Engelen . Ordered one day and received the nest.

As we all know gardens should be "put to bed" by now. Pull out all the annuals (root and plant), cut back all perennials and then mulch to protect plants from freezing and thawing. My gardens certainly needs all of the above. I have yet to plant and mulch my garlic for next year. I plant shallots in the spring, but of course they can be planted now. They are a tasty allium.

A real treat for the gardener is picking raspberries on November 2. My variety is 'Everbearing' and if we have no early frost I'll get a second harvest. Also, I was still picking zinnia and calendula. I had the yellow and orange ones. There are also maroon ones, but difficult to find.

Places to Go:

Lots of fairs around. I know of an interesting one in New Hartford on Dec. 7th.

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum has their annual Festival of Trees and Traditions from November 29th through December 8.

Also, Asylum Hill Church has their Boar's Head Yule Festival January 10th, 11, and 12. A very nice way to close the holiday season. Children love it. Five years old and up.

Enjoy and see you at the Christmas Party.

Back Patch Martha


Welcome October!!

With all your sunshine, gourds, pumpkins, corn stalks, "funny faces", harvest moon, Chinese Lanterns, bittersweet (they are sooooo fall), and the honking of the geese traveling south. What a beautiful section of the state in which we live to enjoy all of this.

The trees are showing us how beautiful it is to let things go.

I have just helped pick at the Kings Garden at Fort Ticonderoga. They have an enormous garden which they kindly share with the people at the local nursing home. We picked many flowers as they were anxious to clean out the gardens before a heavy frost. A perfect way to spend a fall morning. Many. many colors of zinnia, dahlias, cleome, celosia, nicotiana, snapdragons, statice, tansy (which I never see anymore) globe thistle, the tall ageratum, blue salvia (looking so healthy, calendula (which does so well in the cooler weather) and statice. That's just to mention a few.

Of course, October is when we normally get our first frost. After this, you should dig out all your annuals and tender tubers and prepare them for winter storage. In one of my raised beds I plant tulips for the spring at this time (critters don't seem to get them planted here. I dig them up after blooming and replant them in the fall. Sounds like more work, but not too bad as they come out quickly and go back with ease. I also plant garlic in the fall and harvest it in July. I mulch both the garlic and tulips with hay to protect them from the freezing and thawing. Time to plant spring bulbs. Think of the treat in 2020.

I did a third planting of radishes in Sept. I got the seeds at the Conn. Flower Show. They were more then I normally pay for seeds, but worth it. They were much larger and "hotter" then the ones I normally plant. A variety of colors also. So a win, win deal.

The other day I saw for the third time in my life, a stick bug - Phasmatodia or ghost bug. What a delight. She hung around for three days, clinging to my aluminum storm door. I find this an interesting fact. Females reproduce by themselves without the need of a male. This process is called parthenogenesis. They are an amazing bug and certainly do remind you of a skinny stick. What a treat for me.

See you at the fall festival.

Albert Camus says "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."

Enjoy - Back Patch Martha


Back Patch Martha -

August, 2019

It's mid-August and I'm finally here. Soon the "dog days of summer" (hot and humid) will be here again.

On Sunday I went to the New York Botanical Gardens. We left at 8:30 a.m. to avoid the traffic - did a good job as we arrived a little after 10. A Brazilian artist, Roberto Burle Marx has been the exhibitor for several months. I wasn't too excited about it. How foolish I was - I was so pleased with everything. Exotic flowers and gardens, music, dancing, and a bonus of sampling different varieties of tomatoes they grow in their garden. They also had an eggplant (fairy tales). Grows in a cluster and very small. Loved it. A quote from Roberto Burie Marx, "A plant is a form, a color, a texture, a scent, a living being with needs and preferences with a personality of its own".

Speaking of small vegetables. The smallest one I've seen so far can be found right in Goshen at the Goshen Green Garden. I wish what was happening there was happening all over the world. A community gardening to help feed their community. Hats off to them!!!!! Back to the tiny veggie. It is a Mouse Melon and it is a cucumber about the size of your thumb nail. Not good for stuffing, but certainly good for picking off the vine and popping in your mouth. Actually, I can see several of them in a glass with your favorite summer drink.

Another trip. This time to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburn Falls, Mass. Again, left early. However, got lost and we were all over enjoying a ride through Western Mass. After 3 hours (UGH) got there and of course it's wonderful. Then a picnic down by the "pot holes". A fun day.

My garden produces well. I have planted a fall crop of beets, radish, greens and kale. We need rain if we are to continue to produce.

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

My favorite pie is Lemon Meringue. I guess anything with the flavor of lemon as I have Lemon Cookies in my frig. right now. A gift from a very NICE friend. . However, the fruit has many other uses to the gardener - takes the sting out of a bug bite, bury lemon rinds around the perimeter of garden beds to discourage rodents, toss lemon slices onto your compost pile, use lemon juice as a weed killer on plants poking out of sidewalk cracks.

The Harwinton Library is having a seed saving workshop on 9/14 at 11 am. I have a feeling this might include a give a way. I have attended their spring workshop and it is great.

Annual Hollister House sale of rare and unusual plants 9/7 & 9/8.

Enjoy the remainder of our beautiful summer.

Back Patch Martha is headed North.

Back Patch Martha

May 2019

Winter, winter go away. Please bring spring in the month of May. Look for the arrival of Hummingbirds, Red Breasted Grosbeak (I normally get 3 pairs.) and of course the Goldfinch.

Many birds on the move this time of year so look up and see who might be in the skies above. To attract and keep your hummingbirds coming back - use saucer feeders because they are easier to clean and don't drip. To attract them, keep your feeders clean and use only sugar water, and hang it in a shady area so it does not spoil. Plant sweet peas (soak seeds prior to planting for faster germination) or Blue Salvia under a window for a natural food source. These birds love darting from flower to flower.

Daffodil season came in Northfield about a month ago and is quieting down. So many varieties of this Narcissus family. One that is a real beauty and a later bloomer is a tiny bell-like flower edged in green. I believe they originally came from White Flower - mine was a gift from Nancy Noell - thank you Nancy. After blooming, I cut off the blossomed stem at the bottom and then wait for the leaves to die back enough until I can just pull them out. It is very unattractive for a while. I once knew a gardener in Westport who plated hers.

I love my old lilacs - they should bloom this week. However, I don't see many blossoms . I think the winter was hard on them. Also, the rhododendron has a lot of winter kill. After the lilacs bloom, I cut off the dead blooms. Lilacs bloom on new wood the following year.

Just heard this from a gardening friend. If you are having a difficult time rooting a plant. Cut off a piece of willow, smash the stem, place it in water along with the plant you are trying to root. The rooting hormone in the willow should do the trick. Worth a try! Actually, I have a white forsythia which I have tried layering and rooting in water to start a new plant - no luck. I shall try my luck at this and then share the plant with YOU. It is a spring beauty. Shortly after my yellow forsythia blooms I will severally trim it back so I have a expensive view to the north. It the early fall, it will again be full enough to provide protection for birds at the feeder. All spring flowering trees and bushes should be trimmed after they blossom.

Everyone should be planting Asclepias (milkweed). This is a very important plant for the Monarch caterpillar and butterfly and also the bees. Certainly plant native plants to attract the birds, butterflies and bees. Did you know that 1 out of 3 bites of food that you eat comes from plants that are pollinated by bees.

To attract butterflies and hummingbirds buy bee balm, day lily, cosmos, zinnia, milkweed, hollyhocks (a nice old fashioned plant) lavender, coral bells, dahlia, foxglove, nasturtium, phlox. These are all very good pollinators and we will have some of these at the plant sale.

For all who may need extra helping hand in the garden, you can call George Baldwin, 860 751-xxxx. He is a retired man who loves working outside and staying busy. He's very punctual, honest and dependable. A GREAT worker.!

'Back Patch Martha'

After Bloom Care for Lilies

Once the lovely flowers of an Easter Lily have died, most people don’t know what to do with the plant. Keeping an Easter Lily as a houseplant is not an option. It needs to be planted outside as soon as the weather is warm enough. If you have to keep it indoors until the temperatures rise, place your Easter Lily in a sunny window and water it when the soil is slightly dry.

When you’re ready to move your Easter Lily outside, remove the Easter Lily from its pot, gently loosen the roots, and find a bright sunny spot in your garden to plant it. An Easter Lily is a bulb plant. Plant the bulb a few inches deeper than it was planted in the pot and cover it with soil. Water your Easter Lily Plant well and feed it with an all-purpose plant food. Continue watering and feeding your Easter Lily along with all of your other outdoor plants.

Don’t be alarmed when the remaining green leaves and stems of your Easter Lily wither and die. Around July or August, your Easter Lily will send out new growth. A newly planted Easter Lily doesn’t usually bloom the first year but the following summer it should produce some beautiful lilies.

If the winters are mild where you live, you can leave the bulbs alone while they are dormant. If your winters get quite cold, be sure to cover your Easter Lily bulbs with about 4” of mulch or dig them up and store them indoors in a cool dark area until spring.

Connecticut Landscaping and Gardening Tips for May

May is the perfect time to begin your garden planting and add shrubs to the landscape of your Connecticut home.

When you’re sure the danger of frost is gone, (will it be this year?) plant tender vegetables and annual flowers, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, petunias, marigolds, zinnias and celosia. It’s also time to plant tender summer bulbs, such as callas, dahlias, caladium and gladioli.

Early May is a good time to fertilize lawns and reseed bare patches. To determine how much fertilizer and lime to apply, have your soil tested by a professional landscaper.

Add a fresh layer of mulch to your garden. You should do this as early in the month of May as possible before a lot of your plants start peaking through the ground.

Now is the time to start feeding your plants. When applying a granular fertilizer it is best to work it into the soil. Healthy well-fed plants are last to be attacked by insects and disease.