Sales Representative & Gardening Coach
TEICH GARDEN SYSTEMS
By Barbara Hobens Feldt
July 9, 2011
Q.Ã‚Â Should I add native plants to my garden? Does it make any difference?
A.Ã‚Â Yes.Ã‚Â Not only for the most low-maintenance garden possible, but for the whole environment Ã¢â‚¬â€œ insects, birds, and the rest of the wildlife we share our 51 square miles with. Sadly, in order to make a15 minutes of fame Ã¢â‚¬Å“splashÃ¢â‚¬Â in todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s world, even scientists can get media-driven instead of fact-educating.Ã‚Â Although I am not spending $32 to read their opinion, it is covered in ScienceInsiderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s article.Ã‚Â But the Wildlife Society Blog rebuttal tells it like it is.Ã‚Â Planting native (plants that were growing here, and within 50 miles of here, when the European settlers
arrived) is the best advice for all homeowners.
Q.Ã‚Â What should I be doing now in the garden?
A.Ã‚Â In the morning and evening (the sunÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rays are strongest from 10-4), get out there and keep up with the weeding.Ã‚Â It is so much easier after the rain.Ã‚Â Mix some aged or bagged organic compost into the top few inches of soil between growing plants, and enjoy your harvest.Ã‚Â ArenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the tomatoes especially sweet this year? If you have hanging baskets and containers, be sure to give an extra drink morning and evening with this heat.Ã‚Â Be extra alert for ticks and replace lights near doorways with yellow bulbs to stop the bugs from following you inside.Ã‚Â
Reminder:Ã‚Â If you have heard of a black bear sighting, bring in your bird feeder! And make sure any garbage cans are very secure.Ã‚Â
Email your questions to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Ã‚Â Barbara Hobens Feldt is a garden and
landscape consultant and designer, White-tail deer and wildlife
gardening specialist, and author of Garden Your City.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“LikeÃ¢â‚¬Â Hudson Highlands Garden Design on Facebook for links
on organic practices, how-to tips, and plants for gardens, lawns,
patios, and yards. Photos courtesy of the author unless noted.
By Barbara Hobens Feldt
July 16, 2011
Q. What kinds of frogs are around here?
A. There are many species of frogs and toads around and if you are not sure by clicking onto pictures, check out their usual haunts distribution map for clues. Why do I say ““usual?” Like native plants, amphibians and mammals will travel to search for better habitat and food. Is this a Northern Leopard frog or is this a Southern Leopard that has ignored human-made maps?
Frogs are really great to have in your garden. Some people who have ponds and/or wetlands are bothered by the loud American Bull Frog Lithobates catesbeianus (Rana catesbeiana), but isn’t this a small price to pay for all the mosquitoes and their larvae, moths, snails, slugs, flies, beetles and cockroaches and spiders they eat?
I look for “my” frogs every morning when watering and again at night. I swear they know my voice. Years ago, I had the same toad visit every evening – right on time – every summer for 3 years (their life span ranges 4-15 years,) but then I figured out it was my habit that he was enjoying. I was turning on the patio light that provided a smorgasbord of insects.
Q. How can I attract frogs and toads to my garden?
A. As with all our wildlife, they need shelter, food, a place to breed, and in their case - moisture. Think like a frog. You have to be able to get in and out of the pond easily. They need a place to tuck under in the blazing sun. Either place two like-height rocks under one long one or turn a terra cotta pot over and raise one end with a rock.
Q. I have too many frogs right on my patio. What can I do?
A. First of all, think about the benefits. They don’t eat or bother any of your plants and just think of all the mosquito bites you are not getting. You may be providing too much of a perfect breeding habitat for them.
Bug like lights; frogs and toads love bugs, so turn off the lights that are attracting their prey and close the curtains. They like still, shaded ponds with plants, so add a fountain with a pump and remove plants and branches that shade your pond. Get rid of or move any planters or structures where frogs can hide on or near the patio. Any standing water is an open invitation.
Their predators are snakes, turtles, lizards, crows, owls, hawks, foxes, raccoons, large fish, and even other frogs. Some people have found inventive ways to keep frogs out of pools but safe.
Links to share: Here are some interesting links about our watershed and being aware of our region’s native plants and about our wildlife that makes it so special to live here. And since July is the month for daylilies, here is a catalog to drool over.
Herbs, Woodchucks & Tomatoes
By Barbara Hobens Feldt
July 23, 2011
Q. Any suggestions for herbs that will look great in the full sun flower beds at the front of my house?
A. Love this question. Who ever said that herbs and vegetables don’t look great in planting beds? Two favorite herbs to tuck between plants are thyme and oregano. There are so many choices - lemon is a favorite and all are hardy culinary and ornamental favorites and deer won’t eat them. Not only are a few freshly-snipped pieces of thyme great to add to dinner, but acting as ground covers, they will take up any room that weeds would creep into. Here’s a great easy thyme garden to grow.
Q. I have put out a Havahart trap out every night to get a woodchuck but no luck. Ideas?
A. Well, they are already tucked into bed by the time you are setting out your trap. Never leave it out at night since a skunk could get in! Put it out in the morning (no camouflage needed) and place a few string beans or pieces of cantaloupe outside and leading into the trap. Check it often, cover the trap with a blanket to calm him down, and drive no less than a full 10 miles on the odometer to let him live in a new forest.
Q. Roses and other flowers are just fading on the plants, what do I do?
A. Deadhead roses by cutting just above the next little branch of 5 leaves for the next rose to form.Ã‚Â Deadheading (taking off fading or dead blooms) allows new flowers to grow and instantly improves appearance while directing the plant’s energy into new growth. Not all blooms like to be treated the same way. Many “solid” blooms, like marigolds, are the easiest. If you don’t have pruners in hand, place your thumb underneath the dead bloom, grasp onto it, and flip your wrist to lift it off. A rule of thumb is to snip the “non-productive” bloom where the stem meets the main “trunk.” Prune for a clean cut just under the base of the fading bloom. I hate to do it, but when deadheading the first cluster of phlox blooms, I’m rewarded with bushier plants, more flowers, and fewer attacks of powdery mildew.
Q. My neighbor told me to pinch my basil? What is that and why?
A. You will have fuller, fatter basil if you pinch them. Don’t be nervous. Although at first it’s psychologically difficult to remove any part of a growing plant, it will pay off. What you’re actually doing is taking off the growing tip of a stem to force it to branch out. As long as the plant naturally branches - don’t pinch one that blooms at the top of a single stem – it should benefit from timely pinching. It may take the plant a bit longer to bloom, but you may easily double the amount of flowers! Use your fingers or pruners to remove just above the stems of other mature leaves.Ã The plant will look really silly and unbalanced for awhile; but before you know it, two stems will spring up with tons of leaves. Keep pinching for a nice plump plant and to keep it from flowering. If you’re trying to grow the biggest zinnia on the block, hold off on pinching since it causes more, but smaller, flowers.
Many plant labels, catalog descriptions, websites, and friendly people answering toll-free numbers will give you specific pinching suggestions and instructions.
Q. My tomato plant is so tall but nothing is ripening!
A. It’s too darn hot. The temperature will need to fall to at least 77 degrees to start flowers that your new tomatoes will emerge from. Get out there this evening to prune them and be patient.
Tomato questions? Email in yours for next week.
Email your questions to email@example.com. Barbara Hobens Feldt is a garden and landscape consultant and designer, White-tail deer and wildlife gardening specialist, and author of Garden Your City. “Like” Hudson Highlands Garden Design on Facebook for links on organic practices, how-to tips, and plants for gardens, lawns, patios, and yards. Photos courtesy of the author unless noted.
Questions may be edited for length and clarity. Photographs are encouraged to show your problem or design question. If considered for publication, you will be notified first for permission and photo credit. Submissions must include your name; request if you want your question to be anonymous since it will appear on www.philipstown.info and www.hudsonhighlandsgardendesign.com.