Summer 2016: Today’s Gardener

Sweet and savory shrub will make great use of fresh fruit

Editor’s note: Deanna Nelson and Paul Haldeman own Zoar Tapatree Co., Rodman, where they boil and bottle small batch maple syrup. Recently, Deanna partnered with The Farm House Kitchen, Sackets Harbor, to make her maple-infused strawberry shrub. Contact Deanna through Facebook or online at tapatree.com if you’re interested in trying these local products.

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Brian Hallett

This past spring, I walked into my friend’s kitchen anticipating some maple syrup tasting and she asked me if I had tried shrub. I have to say that I get a lot of gardening questions in the spring, but this was a first. I had never heard of shrub, but I tried the strawberry shrub that she had been perfecting and it was delicious. The brightness and flavor of fresh strawberry balanced with an interesting sweet acidity really got my attention. [Read more…]

Spring 2016: Today’s Gardner

Start a family garden and watch kids’ excitement grow

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Brian Hallett

There is an affinity and almost magnetic attraction between children and the earth, whether it’s making mud or discovering the emergence of a germinating seed. Children and nature seem to go hand in hand. They just love getting their hands into dirt, digging and planting. Whether you are an accomplished gardener or a novice, gardening is a chance to partner with nature to make magic. [Read more…]

Summer 2015: Today’s Gardner

A few tried and true tips to grow healthy tomatoes

Columnist Brian Hallett

Columnist Brian Hallett

Few of us plant vegetable gardens out of need any longer, unless you count the need for a sun-warmed tomato. You can grow tomatoes in a pot on the patio or a half-acre vegetable patch. Either way, the rewards are great. All the clichés about tomatoes warm from the sun from grandmother’s garden can’t take away from the fact that no tomato tastes quite as good as one fresh from the vine, eaten with your feet still standing on the soil covering the roots. Here are some tips for coaxing the best out of your tomato plants. [Read more…]

Spring 2015: Today’s Gardener

Divide and conquer with your perennials this spring

Columnist Brian Hallett

Columnist Brian Hallett

One of the most rewarding aspects of perennial gardening is the fact that most plants actually increase in size over the years. After a time, some of your perennials are going to benefit from being divided, and in most cases spring is a terrific time to go about this task. [Read more…]

Winter 2015: Today’s Gardener

Enjoy fragrance, color of bulbs all winter long

Columnist, Brian Hallett

Columnist Brian Hallett

In a few months the daffodils and flowering magnolias will bloom, but spring comes early when you force bulbs and branches indoors. During the frigid, dreary months of winter, you’ll enjoy the powerful fragrance of hyacinths, the sweet scent of paperwhite narcissus, and the cheerful color of amaryllis, as well as spring flowering branches. But with just a little patience and work, you can force Mother Nature’s hand to create bright blooms indoors before spring actually arrives. A pot of narcissus on the windowsill in February and March can make a winter-worn gardener renew the desire to survive the winter. [Read more…]

Natural ways to control persistent garden pests

Brian Hallett

Nothing can take the green out of a gardener’s thumb like an insect infestation. Despite cold winters, the north country is not without its garden pests. And, controlling common garden pests like aphids can really seem like a full-time job if you do not properly plan your garden. Not only do these tiny insects suck the fluids from plant leaves and stems, leaving behind honeydew, a sticky residue that attracts ants to feed on it, but aphids also promote the spread of plant disease. Aphids are tiny, rarely exceeding an eighth of an inch, and teardrop shaped with long, slender legs. Depending on the species, aphids can be green, brown, yellow, red or black, and they are often found congregating on the underside of leaves. Luckily, there are some basic, all-natural ways that you can prevent garden insect invasions so your sowing and reaping time doesn’t just become spraying and worrying time. [Read more…]

Spring planting is time to let your creativity bloom

Brian Hallett

As I write this column I must mention that today — the first day of spring — I have shoveled snow away from the greenhouse twice in order to enter. As any gardener knows, there is nothing quite like the green of new plants or the smell of fresh soil. This alone is why each year I shovel my way inside, turn on the heat, clean the water system and start planting. [Read more…]

Time to prep your garden for a north country winter

Brian Hallett

The beginning of fall means cooler temperatures, beautiful leaves, bountiful harvests of crisp sweet apples and yard work. Yes, I said yard work. Fall is the perfect time to add some curb appeal with colorful hardy mums, corn stalks, golden orange pumpkins and spring flowering bulbs. Heading out into your garden in the fall can be a nice break from pre-holiday planning. I know that when I pick up a rake or my favorite trowel worries seem to disappear.

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Picking perfect plants means knowing the space

 

Brian Hallett in the main greenhouse at Halletts' Florist and Greenhouse, Adams. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

Look out any window and it’s hard to believe another gardening season has begun in Northern New York. We believe that no matter how our garden turned out last year this will be the year to have the garden of our dreams. As you head to your favorite local garden center, farmers market or road-side stand, think about the amount of sunlight that your intended planting site receives. This is the single most important factor to consider when choosing flowering annual or perennial plants.

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