Tag Archive for Ballek’s Garden Center

Garden Deals, History, and Future Sustainability

There aren’t many families that spend generation after generation on the same piece of property, even in the land of steady habits. But in the midst of the hustle and bustle that dots much of Connecticut, not too far from the banks of the Connecticut River and the unique East Haddam Swing Bridge, lives a family that personifies steady habits. This weekend, July 7 and 8, the Ballek family celebrates 350 years of life on the same piece of property, now well known as Ballek’s Garden Center.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Ballek’s traditionally holds its Plant and Garden Tag Sale the weekend after our nation celebrates Independence Day, and this year is no different. For those looking to fill their gardens with greenery and interest, Ballek’s tag sale offers great deals. Local gardeners, including yours truly, often fill their cars and trucks with shrubs, trees, perennials, and annuals.

This weekend there will be more than great bargains to celebrate. The Ballek’s will have displays on compost and compost teas, native plants, rain barrels and water conservation, and herbs for health. They will hold tours of their huge array of solar panels that produce electricity and hot water for the nursery and farm, and provide visitors with information about solar power. The celebration also includes a book sale, local food producers, music and activities for children, and information on open space conservation.

Ballek’s Garden Center is built around the farm structures remaining from previous dairy farming. Their red barn stores a vast array of garden pots, tools and supplies. Their silo is surrounded by containers of perennials, vegetables and annuals. Their greenhouses are filled with everyday and unusual plants. They know and grow organic, and the family matriarch, Anita, is a living, breathing horticultural encyclopedia. Have a plant question? Ask a Ballek.

The Plant and Garden Tag Sale runs from 9 am to 5 pm on July 7, and 9 am to 4 pm on July 8. At 5:30 pm on Saturday, July 7, the Ballek family, already historically steeped in land stewardship, will hold dedication ceremony when they will renew their commitment to protecting land for future generations, and will ask others to pledge the same.

Come to Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam to share a Connecticut family’s history with the land.

They know how to garden thoughtfully.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

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

Why Visit the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show?

Hartford Flower show 2010In case you haven’t heard, the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show 2012 opens at 10:00 am Thursday, February 23 and runs daily through Sunday, February 26. It features many Connecticut-based nursery and horticulture-related businesses and organizations under one roof so visitors get a taste for what’s available once the local gardening season really begins humming.

If you’re one of the Nutmeg State garden and plant lovers still undecided about visiting the show perhaps one of the reasons I attend will help you decide to do the same.

  • It’s Local. It puts a face on nurseries, garden- and landscape-related vendors, and horticultural organizations Connecticut residents are most likely to use and seek advice from.  Some of my favorite booths at past shows include Ballek’s Garden Center (this year at booths 900 and 902, and Landscape #2) for their fragrant welcome, inspiring display, and sage advice; Adam’s Watergardens (this year at booth 1052 and Landscape #6) and Pondering Creations (this year at Landscape #9) for creative water garden ideas; and Connecticut Greenhouse Growers and Connecticut Nurserymen (this year at Landscape #7 and #16, respectively) for their CT grown plants.
  • Pondering Creations, CT Flower and Garden Show 2010
  • It’s in February, in my mind the dreariest month of Connecticut’s year. I need the emotional lift I get walking by racks of blooming plants and smelling spring bulbs and potted herbs.
  • I can touch things. I can test how a pruner or other gardening tool feels in my hands, try on gloves,feel the weight of pots and planters, or check out the construction of a product I might only have seen in magazines or on a website. Plus, many vendors run special show prices which can save money.
  • I collect information. By the time my visit is complete my tote bag is heavy with plant and product catalogues. Not yet a Connecticut Gardener subscriber? Sign up at booth 831, get a glimpse of the latest issue, or pick up some back issues at a reduced price. Learn about Connecticut Historic Gardens at booth 413. Pick up soil sample kits at the UConn Master Gardeners booths (#415 and 417) or, better yet, bring a soil sample for free testing there. You can learn about Master Gardener classes, the Northeast Organic Farming Association (booth 555) and its local chapter CT NOFA, The Connecticut Horticultural Society (Landscape #1), and many other local groups, or sit through one of the numerous gardening seminars.
  • I go with friends. This is the best part. I share my hours sniffing scents, noting plants, and taking in the start of the growing season with gardening friends. We compare observations, discuss experiences and make plans for future gardens.

Adam's Watergardens, CT Flower and Garden Show 2010Don’t go to the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show expecting something on the larger scale of the Boston or Philadelphia flower shows. Go with a local eye to meet and greet the plant, landscape and hardscape resources you are most likely to deal with on a regular basis in your own home state.

On the whole, it’s a great way to spend a February day in preparation for gardening thoughtfully in 2012.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry
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