Monthly Archives: May 2012

Reuse, Recycle Plastic Nursery Pots

I’m just one of hundreds of Connecticut gardeners with stacks of emptied plastic nursery pots growing in and around the garage and garden shed. Disposing of these pots in an environmentally responsible manner does not involve simply throwing nursery pots and trays into your town’s recycling stream. Many nursery pots are of black plastic, often made from previously recycled plastic, and are not accepted in municipal recycling programs. But these pots don’t have to end up in the trash. Read my article, Reusing & Recycling Plastic Pots in the May/June 2012 issue of Connecticut Gardener for information on how to reuse and recycle plastic nursery pots and trays.

Connecticut Gardener magazine is a wonderful resource for people gardening in Connecticut and adjoining areas. It’s full of practical articles written by real-life, get-your-hands-dirty Connecticut gardeners and each issue has an extensive list of gardening events in our region. As a public service, publishers Anne and Will Rowlands kindly posted Reusing & Recycling Plastic Pots on the Connecticut Gardener website. Subscribe to gain the knowledge and gardening insight provided by all the other articles published by Connecticut Gardener.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When it comes time to recycle my stacks of nursery pots and trays I have two options: Ballek’s Garden Center has a plastic pot collection bin (they wash and reuse what they can and also donate collected pots to garden clubs and groups) while Staehly Farms accepts any and all empty plastic pots, tags, and trays (they recycled over 400 pounds of these last year). Before returning any used pots I shake them free of excess soil. Places willing to take back used nursery pots are doing enough … they should not have to, and may not accept pots full of packed soil or covered with caked on soil.

Any pots I don’t send for recycling I reuse. Some get washed and saved for seed starting and transplants, some become storage bins for plant tags, gloves, or wood for the outside fire pit, others become scoops for bagged potting soil. There’s an endless number of ways these used pots can be reused. Otherwise, recycling is the way to go.

Does your favorite garden center reuse and/or recycle nursery pots? They only way to find out is to ask.

Garden thoughtfully …

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

Japanese Stilt Grass, a Prolific Invasive Plant in Connecticut

The transition area between our front lawn and adjacent woods is a ‘wild’ area filled with woodland grasses, ferns, and mosses – lovely and very low maintenance, until now.  Last July I identified Japanese stilt grass in a section about six to eight feet wide and long. Japanese stilt grass is a truly scary invasive that is overtaking roadside edges, drainage culverts, and wooded areas in my neighborhood and elsewhere in Connecticut.

Japanese stilt grass spreads by seeds and possibly resprouts from rootlets not completely removed when pulling the plant.

This is what Japanese stilt grass looks like now, at the end of May on my Connecticut property.

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Here it is even closer.

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It doesn’t appear to be troublesome at first. It looks unassuming in the foreground below.

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It’s actually a rather attractive low-growing plant that holds a lime-green shade all summer long. But don’t be fooled by its mild-mannered look. Left alone it will fill in so thickly that native grasses and other plants will be smothered. In the same area it looked like this last August.

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Normally, Japanese stilt grass germinates in June. This year it germinated in May. Normally Japanese stilt grass blooms in August. This year watch for it to begin blooming in July. One plant … one of these thin stalks of greenery … typically produces about 100 seeds. Seeds remain viable for about seven years. Do the math. One stalk can cause 100 more stalks any time during the next seven years.

It has, does, and will spread.

We followed advised control steps: weed whacked it before it began to bloom and let it dry and remain in place. Any raking disturbs underlying soil and brings seeds to the surface to sprout. We left the area alone till Autumn. No new plants showed up.  Then we spread wood chips harvested from some of the felled trees on our property.

This year the stilt grass is back, presumably from seeds that must be in the soil. There must have been some in the area in previous years that went unnoticed and seeded. I’m pulling as much of the stilt grass as possible without moving the wood chips aside. I don’t plan to let it get as thick as it was last year. Continued pulling will have to continue throughout the growing season.

Pulled plants should be placed in a container and sent away with the trash. Ideally, to be sure the plants are degraded fully, let them sit in a plastic bag in the hot sun for a few days before throwing the bag in the trash. Do not compost Japanese stilt grass. It is not clear that home composting gets hot enough to kill it off. Do not throw Japanese stilt grass into the woods thinking it will die off; it may regrow from rootlets.

If you find this plant in flower beds, do not ignore it. It will quickly become a major problem.  Read UConn’s Invasive Plant Worksheet for more information.

Garden thoughtfully …

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

Morning Discoveries in the Garden

Early mornings are wonderful in the garden. With cup of coffee in hand and birds singing wildly from nearby trees, I stroll through the garden to enjoy the blooms and observe what’s going on.

Many iris are in full glory, but I’m not the only one enjoying them. Early morning strolls reveal slugs in their journey back down iris leaves and stalks after they have had a nighttime feast on the foliage and blossoms. To counter a slug invasion I arm myself with with a repurposed peanut butter jar filled partially with soapy water and a plastic spoon. The spoon easily scoops slugs off foliage and bloom so they can be deposited into the soapy water … their final home. I don’t get them all but each slug I remove means fewer slug babies enter this world to feast on my plants.  When the slug population really explodes, as it does during rainy springs and summers, I go on slug-fari in the evenings, too.

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Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ shows off its stunning blooms. Slugs don’t seem to care much for my clematis.

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Strawberries, though, are a favorite of slugs. So far, the wood chip mulch surrounding my Alpine strawberries has kept the slugs away – they don’t like crawling on the rough surface. The first of these tiny, sweet tasty fruits delighted my taste buds this morning.

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Yesterday morning, during an extended stroll and weeding session, I heard a rustling in leaves I neglected to clean from under a holly bush. Closer inspection revealed an Eastern box turtle as the cause.

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An Eastern box turtle hung out at the opposite end of my fenced in back yard gardens last year. Perhaps I cleaned too many of the leaves from the area the turtle preferred last spring, or maybe it’s just a different turtle.  I’m just happy to have a turtle call my garden home, even for a short while each spring, and from now on I’ll be sure to leave leaf litter under the holly shrubs the turtle/s obviously prefer.

When I went out later to check on him – I think it’s a him because of the red eyes – he had settled down among nearby euonymus.

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He’s still under the holly this morning, barely visible among the leaves and I chose not to disturb him with another photo session.

The Eastern box turtle population has taken a serious hit in Connecticut. Development diminishes their woodland habitats and roads dissect the routes female turtles travel to find preferred egg-laying locations. I’m happy to maintain areas of unraked leaves under the shrubs in my gardens for Eastern box turtles to use. They eat slugs, worms, small snakes, and fungi … there’s plenty of each in my gardens. They also eat fruit. So even if resident turtle meanders to the nearby Alpine strawberries, I don’t mind sharing if it helps him survive.

Garden thoughtfully …

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry
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