Monday, May 5, 2008

Garden Happenings! Week of May 5

Hello again,

Gardening is Happening in Skillin's Country!

In this post we will be letting you know what we are doing or what we hear is going on out there in our local gardening world. We will be updating this post with quick supplements all through the week!

So check here frequently!If you would like to contribute just drop us a quick note at OR leave a comment at the end of this post.

We would love any tips OR questions from you.

May 7:

We are getting many, many questions about whether it is time to transplant annuals outdoors yet. In most cases, I believe it is still too cold to plant outdoors. There is still potential for frost or COLD WIND damage. Besides, the ground is still fairly cold—many of the warm weather lovers like impatiens, marigolds, petunias and vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, vine crops would simply not grow in the ground yet. That being said, it is an outstanding time to “harden off” the material I just described above.

With warm weather we look forward to planting outside, but night temperatures can still be quite chilly and frost in New England; this can be a danger until the end of May. A couple of weeks before you plan to plant, you will want to start hardening-off any plants that you have started indoors or that we at Skillin’s have only kept in our greenhouses.

To start, find a protected, shady place outside to place your plants for “hardening off purposes”. The first day, leave them out no more than a couple of hours. If after two weeks there is no threat of frost, you may leave them out all night. If frost or bad weather threatens, you will want to cover or protect them. Most important during this hardening-off period: do not forget to water your plants! They will dry out much faster outside.When it is safe to transplant (when the lilacs are blooming or after the last full moon in May), make sure your soil is properly prepared. Add soil amendments if necessary to make a light, loose crumbly soil, well supplied with nutrients. Use a plant starter to aid in early root development and to promote a greener, more vigorous plant.

Plants that can be planted outside include trees and shrubs and most perennials, pansies and snapdragons. Make sure the pansies and snapdragons are “hardened off” as discussed above.

May 6:

We're already hearing from our customers that the Lily Leaf Beetles are emerging from the soil and attacking their Asiatic and Oriental lilies. The lily leaf beetle, native to Europe, was discovered near Montreal, Canada in 1945. Its damage was limited to the Montreal area for decades, but recently it has spread to the south and west. The beetles are strong fliers and excellent hiders.

If you only have a few plants in your garden, hand-picking adults and eggs can be effective.

There are two types of garden sprays that can be effective. One is the "Merit" based products by Bayer Advanced. "Merit's" scientific name is Imidacloprid. Merit is a chemical and needs to be used according to the directions on the container. We feel that many people "overuse" this product, so again please use the dilutions and frequencies that Bayer Advance recommends. We do sell the Merit based products here at Skillin's so if you would like to use them please come and see us so we can give you the best advice. Don't necessarily trust the guy who was working in the Plumbing Department last week (if you know what I mean).

Many of us here at Skillin's will be trying the all natural K Neem by Organica for the lily leaf beetles. K Neem is the purest form of neem (an insecticide based upon extracts from the neem tree of India). Neem kills insect larvae and repels adult insects. Neem must be applied every five to seven days after egg hatch for best effectiveness.

(Thanks to Hammon Buck of Plants Unlimited for some of this tip)

(above photo from

May 5:

Good birding friend Liz Cardinale reminds us that it is time to get fresh cut oranges outdoors to attract the migrating Baltimore Orioles! If you have never attracted Orioles to your yard you are in for a TREAT! You can nail the oranges to a tree or hang them in a caged feeder like a suet cage (we sell suet cages right here at Skillin's!). Also Liz has read that Orioles love meal worms and she is going to try some meal worms to better attract her Orioles. We do sell the meal worms here at Skillin's.

Also Liz urges us to get our hummingbird feeders set up in our gardens as the migrating hummingbirds will SOON be here. We have some great hummingbird feeders and all the nectar they will need right here at Skillin's!

Also, let us show you some of the plants favored by hummingbirds like fuschia, columbine, trumpet vine, bleeding hearts and other trumpet shaped flowers.

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