Monday, May 28, 2012

email address fixed

Thanks to Sarah at Root Cellars Rock! for pointing out that I had posted the wrong email address.  Silly me, I'd switched the Greenthumbs and greenhorns around in the address but Sarah was smart enough to figure out what was wrong and got an email to me anyway letting me know that it needed to be fixed.  All fixed now!  BTW, if you haven't checked it out yet, go check out Root Cellars Rock!.  They are also trying to bring together and support gardeners, but specifically vegetable gardeners in Newfoundland.

I'm still hoping to connect with gardeners of all sorts - vegetable, flower, etc - and all levels from all over, but especially near me in Pasadena, Newfoundland.  Be sure to leave a comment or email.  If you check out the YouTube channel you will see that I am following a number of gardeners from all over that are posting videos about their gardening on YouTube.  I'd love to find some Newfoundland gardeners with YouTube Channels. Let me know if you know of any.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Under Construction

I have decided to revive this blog with a new purpose.

Originally this was where I posted gardening articles that I wrote for my then local community.  I have decided to leave these articles in the archives.  I had decided to write the column for my then local newspaper in an attempt to connect with gardeners in my area and bring together green thumbs and greenhorn gardeners in my area.

Since then I have moved into a new community and once again I am wanting to connect with gardeners in my area.  However, I also realize the potential to use this blog to unite gardeners from all over the world wide web.  I would love to see it develop so that there were Green Thumb and Greenhorn groups all across the world that came together here, so I leave that out there as a possibility to be worked on while I am also attempting to connect with gardeners around my new home.

I have created a facebook page for the blog - as well as a group - I wasn't sure which would be best to create so I decided to create both and see what happens. If anyone has any thoughts on this I'd love to hear them.

I have created a twitter feed for the blog at
 .  I'm hoping this will help get the word out connect more gardeners.  Be sure to follow and encourage all your fellow gardeners to do the same.

I've also created a YouTube Channel - .  One plan for the YouTube Channel is to post videos of garden visits. If you live in Newfoundland and have a garden you wouldn't mind sharing, let me know and I'll try to arrange a visit.

So... that's what I've done so far.  To that end, this blog is under construction at the moment.  Please excuse the mess while I work on getting everything in place.  I would love to hear your thoughts on what I have shared so far and any suggestions you might have.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Garden of Eden in Green Bay - published June 1, 2005

Green Bay Green Thumbs and Greenhorns Garden Club attendees went on a road trip to visit a Garden of Eden in Green Bay on Sunday, May 29. What a beautiful garden! And to think that some people think you can’t grow anything in Newfoundland!

Tucked away in Miles Cove is the beautiful garden of Denzil and Betty-Jean Reid. The garden sits on a gently sloping piece of land that overlooks the bay. The garden itself has its own natural water features of a bubbling brook and a small peaceful pond. Along the sides of the pond marsh marigolds were out in full bloom and candelabra primroses were sprouting to bloom later in the summer.

In the center of the gentle slope of the garden is an interesting wooden trellis surrounded by a flower garden that was in full spring bloom when we visited. Spring flowering bulbs of daffodils and tulips in many different colors were sprinkled throughout the flower bed and were interspersed with different perennials. Many different colors and types of primroses were in different stages of blooming. Old favorites such as forget-me-nots, snow-in-winter, and lungwort, also know as lads and lasses, were also in bloom adding to the color. In between all these plants you could see later flowering plants, such as peonies, getting ready to take over the job of adding color when the spring flowers have faded. The trellis itself had signs of old clematis from last year still clinging to it, adding to the artistic look, while new growth of clematis could be seen starting to creep up the bottom of the trellis.

Beyond the trellis is a plot for a vegetable garden that will be planted a little later. Along one side of the vegetable plot is a grape vine stretching the full side of the plot. Along the other side are a number of berry trees and bushes. The front of the plot has a bed of summer blooming flowers that were just starting to grow. Beyond the vegetable garden are a number of fruit trees.

Across the brook on the side of another gentle slope is garden plot full of rose bushes and trees that of course were not showing much sign of growth yet but will be out in full bloom later in the summer.

The house itself is surrounded by rhododendrons that will add to the color later in the season. There are also flower beds around the house and all along the edge of the garden. Beautiful trees of a number of different varieties, both flowering and not flowering, are also sprinkled throughout the garden.

I never did believe that Newfoundland is just an ugly old rock on which you can’t get anything to grow, but now I will vehemently argue with anyone that dears say such a thing in my presence.

While at the garden we met up with members of a garden club from Central Newfoundland that were also visiting this haven of beauty. Contact information was traded between the club organizers in the hopes of planning future road trips and exchange garden visits. This is one of the things that will be discussed at the our next meeting on June 5 at 2:30 at Camp Mettabesic.

Secrets to Success in Growing Corn in our Area - published May 15, 2005

Theodore Roosevelt said, “ Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” What we have where we are is a short growing season where we are guaranteed to encounter some cold. In order for any plant to succeed in our area we have to find a plant that will grow in our short growing season and be able to tolerate some cold. You may think that means that there is no way corn can be grown in our area. However, there are people that have had great success in growing corn in our area. I asked them to share some of the secrets to their success.

A very important key to having success is to pick the right kind of corn to try. There are many, many varieties of corn and each variety has it’s own unique needs and characteristics. You can find out about the needs and characteristics of the corn by checking out the information on the seed pack. Two important things to look for are the growing season for the corn (the number of days it takes to reach maturity) and whether it can tolerate some cold.

The online sites of Vesey’s ( ) and Stokes ( have a number of varieties of corn that have short growing seasons - 57-68 days - and that are tolerant of some cold. Seneca Arrowhead, Sugar Baby, Speedy Sweet and Frisky are just some of the varieties listed on these sites that meet these requirements.

Once you’ve picked the right corn it is important to take care in planting it. Be sure to start the seed in a good growing medium. Plant twice as deep as the width of the seed. If you like you can start the seeds indoors but don’t start it too soon. Corn likes warm soil so putting it outside before the last frost would not be advisable. There should be information on the seed pack about how many weeks before the last frost to start the seed indoors.

Corn is wind pollinated so when the plants are planted outside it is important that the plants be close to one another to allow successful pollination. It is a good idea to plant a block of several rows with the plants no more than 6 inches apart.

Fertilization is also important. Bottom feeding is the best and the recommended fertilizer is a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer. It should be feed with this once every two weeks.

So, there you have it - some tips on being successful at growing corn. Give it a try and let us know what happens. If you want to learn more about the gardening possibilities in our area be sure to come out to a Green Thumbs and Greenhorns Garden Club meeting. The next meeting will be held at Camp Mettabesic on Sunday, May 22 at 2:30. For further information call Jim at 673-3213.

Remember, as Sir Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” or as the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

Waste not, want not - published May 1, 2005

Good soil is essential to being a good gardener. If you like you can spend your hard earned money buying good soil or, with a little time and effort, you can create your own with the waste you naturally accumulate.

Composting was one of the many topics discussed at the latest meeting of the Green Thumbs and Greenhorns Garden Club. It was pointed out that tons of good soil goes to the dump every year because we don’t take the time and effort to compost. Discussion continued into the different kinds of composting containers as well as what to compost and what not to put in the pile.

This is International Compost Awareness Week (May 1-7) and if we were in St. John’s we could visit the Botanical Gardens and take advantage of workshops and demonstrations they have set up on the topic. Thanks to technology, even though we can’t visit in person we can visit through the internet and learn about composting. Type the following link in the search bar of your internet browser and you will come to page one of a leaflet all about composting - . Continue through the leaflet by clicking on the page numbers on the right hand side of the page. You’ll soon find out the benefits of composting and the fact that it’s not as complicated as you may believe.

The next meeting of the Garden Club is scheduled for Sunday, May 15th at 2:30 p.m. at Camp Mettabesic. Be sure to come along. In the meantime, if you have pictures of your garden you wouldn’t mind sharing we would really like to be able to use them to make a display of the gardens in our area. You can email pictures to me at or drop them by my house at 4 Fosters Road. I can make copies of them so that you can keep the original.

Happy gardening, and remember put that waste to good use so you won’t be in want of good soil.

Use Your Common Sense - published April 17, 2005

That’s what we were told at a recent garden club meeting. It got me a little worried because when it comes to gardening I feel like I don’t have any common sense to use. Green Thumbs in attendance, however, assured me that they were not always Green Thumbs and common sense will develop through trial and error.

While the scheduled topic of discussion at the meeting was to be how to plan your garden, the powers that be in the club decided to use their common sense and hold off on that topic as the main people that requested it were not able to make the meeting. The main topic of conversation turned once again to the importance of cold frames and planting seeds. Doc Austria showed us how to easily turn a normal cold frame into a bottom heated structure that would be good for seed germination.

This past Sunday we had a great time getting our hands in the dirt and planting some marigold and lettuce seeds. Doc Austria shared with us all the basics needed to have success in planting seeds. Some things to consider are as follows:
Preparing Growing Medium
It’s important to soak your growing medium, such as Pro-Mix, in water before you put it in your containers. We got our hands into some properly prepared growing medium so that we would know what it should feel like.
You don’t need fancy, expensive containers. Doc Austria stresses to use what you have before you buy. Egg cartons make great containers for starting seeds.
Planting Seeds
The trick to planting seeds at the right depth is to plant it about twice as deep as the thickness of the seed. We got to try some of Doc Austria’s tools he uses in planting seeds - a pointed dowel he made for picking up small seeds and tweezers for bigger seeds.
Protecting from Disease
Doc Austria highly recommends spraying newly planted seeds with No-Damp right away to protect them from disease. No-Damp is a powder that can be purchased and mixed with water.

Over the next while we are going to watch our seeds grow and learn more about how to care for them. Our common sense will be growing along with the seeds.

If you have any topics that you are interested in learning about, be sure to come along and make them known. The next meeting is May 1. If you’re unable to make the meetings but would still like to have your questions answered, drop me an email at and I’ll do my best to find an answer for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. One comment at a meeting that stuck out to me was that it’s okay to not know something, the trouble starts when you don’t know what you don’t know. In the mean time, get out there and learn some common sense by being brave enough to fail if need be and by asking questions of green thumbs that you know.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Spring - Starting Anew!

It is spring - at least the calendar says so. It is the time when they say young men’s hearts turn toward love and gardeners’ hearts turn ever more to the garden. They are itching to get started again.

Well, as my former readers know, I’m just a beginning gardener but my mind has starting turning towards the garden again too. After a rather disappointing gardening year last year I’m ready to start anew. I’m not only ready to start my garden anew, I’m also ready to start anew with the Green Thumbs and Greenhorns newspaper column. First of all, though, I feel like I owe my former readers an apology. So many of you were so good and encouraging to me, and I just disappeared without an explanation, leaving many of you hanging, waiting for a visit. Thank you to each of you that contacted me and invited me to visit your garden. I’m sorry I disappointed you and disappeared. I offer no excuses, just apologizes. I look forward to hearing from each of you again and being able to personally apologize and hopefully take up where we left off.

I’m extra excited about gardening this year because of the newly formed Green Thumbs and Greenhorns garden club. There’s nothing like getting together with fellow gardening enthusiasts. The group meets at beautiful Camp Mettabesic on Sunday afternoons around 2:30. Green Thumb gardeners come armed with pictures of their gardens along with catalogues, books and samples of tools and equipment that they’ve found helpful. The Greenhorns come armed with questions of all sorts and the Green Thumbs are more than happy to share their knowledge. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the time together very enjoyable.

This past week Sam and Kaye shared pictures of their beautiful garden and Sam told us about a portable greenhouse he made. We’ve discovered that Sam and Kaye are experienced and successful corn growers.

Doc A. brought along a tray for starting seeds and a neat little tool he made to help in planting small seeds. He shared with us many tricks on how to have success in planting seeds - from starting with a good soil mix to the importance of using cold frames. He brought along a cold frame that he had constructed to show us how simple it was to make one.

One topic that came up was slugs and how to get rid of them. We learned one lady has earned a reputation for her late night trips to the garden armed with a flash light to capture the creatures and bring them in to a quick death in boiling water. Doc Austria brought along a slug trap he had made with a 2 litre pop bottle. Others shared tricks they had tried or heard about.

This coming week many of the gardeners are planning to start planting seeds inside. Although the last frost date is not until June 22, some plants can be put out before that. Onions, beets, carrots, and lettuce are plants that can take some cold.

Next week the main topic of discussion will be how to plan and design a garden. It’s hoped that others will bring pictures of their gardens and will share about their garden design. Whether you are a Green Thumb with a great garden that you can share with us or a Greenhorn looking for advice on how to get started be sure to come out to the next meeting, Sunday April 10, 2:30pm at

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Share Your Garden

Abby Adams, in her book What is a Garden Anyway, says, “There are as many kinds of gardens as there are gardeners.” There are vegetable gardens and flower gardens, big gardens and little gardens, fancy gardens and natural gardens, perennial gardens and annual gardens. Just as every individual is unique, so is every garden.

Adams also says, “Different countries breed different gardeners.” Newfoundland has a reputation of being a place where gardening is difficult, if not impossible, but some of you have proven that wrong. Even though we aren’t actually a country anymore, I think it’s time to showcase what kind of gardeners Newfoundland breeds, especially in the Green Bay/White Bay area.

The next few columns I’d like to showcase the different kinds of gardens that are around in our area. To do this I need gardeners that are willing to share their gardens. If you are willing to share your garden email me at I’d like to come and visit and take some pictures and have you tell me all about your garden, no matter how big or how small it is. I’d like to share your experience and expertise with our readers. Don’t think your garden is too small, because there may be some reader who’d love to have a garden but they don’t think they have the space for it. Don’t think your garden is too big, because there may be some reader who has a big garden and doesn’t know what to do with it. You never know how many others might be inspired by your being willing to share.

I realize that the flower gardens are probably just now coming into bloom, and the vegetable gardens are probably just now being planted, so you may want to wait until later, but I’d like to see what it’s like now and then come visit again later to see how it’s changed. Those of us that are just starting out in gardening need to see and learn about the different stages of the garden.

If you are not a gardener yourself but you know of a gardener with a garden you admire, give them a call and tell them you think they should give me a call. They may not realize that someone else might be interested in seeing their garden.

As Augusta Carter said, “You don't have a garden just for yourself. You have it to share.”

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

To Use or Not to Use, That is the Question - About Pressure Treated Wood

Karen, of Springdale, had planting boxes of pressure treated wood made for her last year. She planted flowers in the boxes and added a few carrot seeds for visual interest. She also had a vegetable garden in the backyard that didn’t contain any pressure treated wood in which she also planted carrot seeds. When she harvested her vegetables she discovered the carrots in the boxes made of pressure treated wood did much better than the carrots in the backyard garden. However, having heard the concern surrounding the safety of pressure treated wood she opted not to eat the carrots. As the new planting season approaches she wonders if all the fuss about the pressure treated wood is something to worry about or not.

For those of you that may not know what the fuss is let me give you a short run down. Pressure treated wood, known as CCA treated wood, is wood that has been treated with chemicals to give it a longer life span without rotting. Unfortunately the chemicals have been known to leach out of the wood. This brings into question the safety of using it. There has been much debate about the safety of using pressure treated wood, especially in playgrounds. Here I address the question of it’s safety for use in the garden.

After much research, the jury’s still out on this one. I found three possible answers to the question: 1) Don’t even think about it; 2) Go right ahead; and 3) Proceed with caution. I’ll tell you where each answer comes from and you can make up your own mind.

Don’t even think about it

Organic gardeners don’t like the idea of any chemicals coming near the garden and say if you already have pressure treated wood in your garden replace it with natural rot resistant wood such as cedar or redwood.

Go Right Ahead

The producers of the wood say that while there is some leaching of the chemicals there is not enough to cause concern. A study done by Paul Cooper, a wood scientist, of the University of New Brunswick showed that the most leaching happened in the first rainy season after the board was installed and the soil closest to the board showed a higher concentration than the soil further away. The overall amount of leaching, however, is said to be of no concern. Rufus Chaney at the USDA says that “high levels of inorganic arsenic in soil will kill a plant before there's enough arsenic in the plant itself for you to consider not eating it.”

Proceed with caution

Those that acknowledge potential danger suggest that painting a sealer on the wood or covering it with heavy plastic sheeting will provide more protection and thus take away any concern.

So there you have it. Now it’s up to you to decide. If you want to read up on the information and studies for yourself you can check out the links on the online home of the column at .

I found it interesting that there seems to be more concern about how to safely get rid of the pressure treated wood than there is about the safe use of it. One source I checked out says that "Because of this concern, the wood products industry and EPA have agreed to stop selling CCA-treated wood by the end of 2003." So the question we need to ask ourselves now is not to use or not to use, but to keep or not to keep.

If you have any comments on this or any other gardening related topics I’d love to hear from you. Call me at 673-4825 or email me at .

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Published May 19, 2004

“It will never rain roses”

So said George Eliot. Around here we’d be content if we could be assured it would just rain rain instead of snow from now on. Thank goodness all the threats of snow haven’t amounted to much here. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The complete quote from George Eliot says: “It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses we must plant more trees.” And with our weather it is important that you plant the right kind of trees. And no, it’s not as simple as saying if you want roses you plant a rose tree.

If you’re like me, you agree with the Gertrude Stein quote, “ Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Maybe there was a time when it was as simple as that, but it is no longer the case.

Julia, from Wild Cove, emailed and asked some advice about growing roses. As I promised in my first article, I knew nothing about it, but I set out to see what I could learn.

Did you know that the government of Canada has been developing roses “expressly to survive through Canada’s winter”? Says so, right in the Roses Catalogue from Vesey’s and also at their web site ( ). I didn’t know about it until I was told by Ian, of the Newfoundland Horticultural Society.

Explorer Roses and Parkland Roses were developed especially for Canada. The Explorer Roses are named for the explorers that were among the first to brave Canada’s winters. There are a number of different roses in each of these series and they are available in a number of different colors. Most of them are said to be hardy to zone 3 and some even to zone 2.

Both Ian and also Todd, of the Newfoundland Rock Garden Society, have had some experience with growing roses in Newfoundland. Both mentioned that David Austin Roses have been known to grow well in Newfoundland. Todd also stated that “standard hybrid teas, grandifloras and floribundas are challenging to grow here and not recommended unless you want to fuss and have a sheltered site”. Ian stated, “You will stand the best chance of success if you start off with a pot grown rose from a nursery rather than the waxed store bought plants.”

Wanda Dicks, of the Garden Center in Springdale, says there is still plenty of time before you would consider planting roses this year. The Garden Center doesn’t have their roses in yet but will have them in plenty of time for planting.

I’ve had to rely on experts outside of our area, though still in Newfoundland, for information for this article but I’d love to have a network of local experts to call on. If you have had any experience with growing roses in our area, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

If you are thinking about planting roses in your garden this year and want more information about the roses that are hardy to our area check out the special roses section in the links section of the online home of the gardening column .

George was right. It will never rain roses, and if you want roses to succeed around here you have to make sure you plant the right kind of rose tree.