Gardeners and plant lovers in and near Connecticut might want to put some time aside this weekend to visit Ballek’s Garden Center. On July 17 and 18 this well-established and much loved nursery holds their Huge Garden Tag Sale. I know many who picked up great perennial, annual, and hard good bargains there.
While in the area ride up the road a piece to visit Staehly Farms for some fresh local fruit and veggies, locally produced cheese and eggs, and multiple pies, condiments, and goodies. Staehly Farms also has a nice selection of small perennials as well as annuals and really nice hanging baskets (rumor has it the baskets are on sale). Like Pretty Much Picasso petunias? Mine came in 4 inch pots from Staehly Farms and look at them now.
On to more universal Newsy Notes … as gardeners we might expect the idea of a community garden in a public park to be met with open arms, but not all people in Burlington, Vermont see the creation of a community garden a plus according to an article in the Burlington Free Press. A group of volunteers proposed the idea last year and thought they had jumped through all the hoops needed to get final approval for a 110 by 140 foot area to hold about 28 plots – all raised beds – and a tool shed, the article states. But recently a group of neighbors raised some vocal opposition to the plan citing parking and other concerns. When I initially read the headline I was surprised that anyone would oppose providing the opportunity for a community garden. I love walking through the plots in Back Bay Fens Victory Garden, part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace originally designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, where so many Bostonians wield trowel and garden fork to tease fresh produce from their assigned little plot within the maze of other plots. So many clever gardening ideas grow out of the need to do more with a small area. But I have also seen community plots – and some in Back Bay – go unattended. If I were a neighbor to a community garden on public land I would want some assurance that all plots would be properly cared for so they did not become a weedy mess.
And speaking of weeds, weed scientists will be testing weed-identifying abilities of wanna-be weed scientists during the Northeastern Collegiate Weed Science Contest on July 27. Cornell University Department of Horticulture and Crop & Soil Sciences will monitor how well students from multiple universities identify weeds and apply herbicides for weed control in agricultural situations. Students will be challenged with ‘grower problems’ according to this press release. Associated documents put out by the Northeastern Weed Science Society offer interesting and science-based life cycle information on specific weeds – nutgrass, foxtail, horsenettle, quackgrass, crabgrass, purslane, and ragweed. Unfortunately, I found no similar contest for organic control for ‘grower problems.’ I know it is important for ag students to understand how to use available herbicides safely, but I’d sure like to think these same students receive an equal education on growing crops with no or minimal herbicides. Maybe I’m naive?
Finally, in case you did not see this in last week’s New York Times, look now – it’s called a garden system. I remember when we purchased a basketball hoop for our growing boys and it was no longer called a pole and basketball hoop but a basketball system. Well, gardening has finally reached the ‘system’ level of marketing. Still, for gardeners with enough cash ($3500 for a basic 8 x 10 ft system) and enough frustration from multiple produce predators – deer, woodchuck, rabbits, raccoons, chipmunks, etc. – this could be a viable solution. After perusing the multiple photos shown on the Teich Garden Systems website, I must admit I admire the ingenuity of the owners. We are in the midst of fencing below and above my vegetable garden beds to prevent voles, moles, chipmunk, and deer from reaping all I sow. Still, I’m not ready to purchase a ready made ‘garden system’ - to me they look like giant produce prisons or an oversized compost bin. There must be some architectural features or design alterations that would make them more visually pleasing.