Volume 5, August 2015
Greetings from one Hot Gardener to Others!

Those of us out pruning and watering certainly know what I mean by hot - if anyone knows how to do a rain dance, please begin now!

Traditionally, August 15 signals the time to begin overseeding lawns, transplant shrubs and divide perennials.  Weeding and pruning are still on the list, too.  

However, we will wait for the 90 degree weather to subside before we attempt transplanting and planting work.  Instead we are concentrating on keeping plantings from last year and this spring well hydrated.  Carmine and Al have 200 gallon spray tanks that can bring water to you if local restrictions are keeping you from hand watering.

Let us know if we can help you cope with garden tasks this month.  We'll be glad to assist.
Welcome Adam
Adam Geriak
Adam Geriak joined us in late July, working three days per week.  The rest of the time he is co-managing Dharma Harvest Farm in Townsend which offers a chicken and egg CSA program.  He is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University where he majored in Biology and tutored fellow students in the physical sciences.  During and after college, Adam worked in estate caretaking and developed an interest in landscape design which he plans to pursue in the future.  He's particularly interested in incorporating edibles into the landscape. 
Plant Pick - Clematis virginiana
I've found that Sweet Autumn Clematis is not always hardy in our area.  Vines are slow to revive in spring, and some we just have to declare as
Clematis virginiana
dead.  Luckily, I discovered the native Clematis virginiana.  Those who hike among waterways and open woodlands may recognize this plant as Old Man's Beard due to the fluffy seedhead that follows the flowers.

Clematis virginiana has white flowers like Sweet Autumn Clematis and begins bloom a bit earlier, around August 10.  It is vigorous and self-seeds readily.  Plants are easily removed if not desired and can be shared with friends. 
Pumpkin Brook Hardscape Projects -
Did You Know?
Pumpkin Brook can plant large trees and shrubs and install hardscape projects like walkways and patios.  Contact Priscilla to discuss details of your project.

A New England stone wall rebuilt using new
and existing stones. 

Patio and garden bed project
Granite steps installed
It's Bulb Ordering Time Again!
Spring tulips in vibrant colors!
Now is one of my favorite times of year - I can open the bulb catalogs and plan your orders for fall planted bulbs that will emerge next spring, just when we need color the most!

I will be placing orders by Labor Day to be sure we get our first choice of varieties before they sell out.  So let me know NOW if you would like to add some bulbs to your garden.  Either Karla or I can visit you to help decide what and where to plant.

One of our bulb vendors offers a helpful website to get you inspired.  Go to and create an account.
My Visit to That's A Plenty Farm and Pollinator Habitat
During the recent NOFA Summer Conference, Lisa, Kate and I had the chance to tour That's A Plenty Farm and Pollinator Habitat in Hadley.  We drove near the Connecticut River where it makes numerous twists and turns and creates pockets of old field, high-terrace floodplain forest.

There a very special three-acre environment has been created by Cathy and Michael Katz, who live on the property in a Tiny House from May to November.  Tom Sullivan, graduate of the Conway School of Landscape Design, laid out the property and suggested the plant varieties.  The garden was established in 2007 so is now coming into its own.  Well before the surge of interest in pollinators, I might add!
That's a Plenty's Sign

Pollinator habitat requires clusters of at least 3 different flowering plants for early, mid and late season bloom.  Clusters mean bees can feed without expending too much energy to travel.  Both nesting habitat and nectar/pollen sources have been considered in the choice of plants.

We walked through plots of nursery stock plants, all natives, that supply seed that is collected, dried and sold yearly over the internet or to farm visitors.  Many were in full bloom, offering inspiring arrays of color, texture and form.  We then continued on to the planted meadows where many of the same plants have been integrated.  Mowed paths offered easy access to see pollinators at work on Partridge Pea, Goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace and Sunflower.

Coming away with hundreds of ideas for plant combinations and designs, we plan to return to enjoy the garden earlier in the season to see another whole plant palette!
Late Summer and Early Fall Best Time to Restore Lawns!
Grass is a cool weather crop that goes dormant during the hot, dry days of summer. As nights cool it grows more vigorous in its root zone to survive the cooler weather ahead. Next, blades bounce back and appear more green and vigorous in September and October. Nature, in her divine wisdom, sends the leaves down from the trees to be broken down and feed the soil biology of your lawn this source of organic matter.  Most of us race to collect the leaves.   Mowing some leaf matter into your lawn with a mulching mower is a natural way to feed your lawn's soil biology and improve its organic matter in the fall. Unless you've got oak leaves. Oak leaves tend to be more acidic than lawn soils like, plus they take too long to breakdown.


The grasses in your lawn wake up from the dormancy of summer right about now.  Their root systems begin recovering first. We mechanically aerate to bring oxygen to and relieve compaction in their soils so the roots have the ability to grow deeper and stronger with less effort.  Research shows that plants with deeper root systems are more resilient to stress and disease. The most common disease aeration can help prevent is the threat of a white grub infestation.  According to Rutgers Cooperative Extension "most white grub damage occurs on a lawn from mid- August through mid-October." You can have a low threshold of
Compost Tea Brewing
Carmine checking the "secret sauce"
less than 10 grubs per foot and not be at risk of extensive damage to your lawn.  Grub infestations occur most often in soils that are compacted and pH of soil is low.  We do the following to prevent a problem before they happens:
  • Aerate to relieve the compaction
  • Adjust the pH by applying proper amount of calcium or magnesium to properly balance the ratio  
  • Our actively aerated compost teas (AACT) is like our secret sauce - it boosts the health of your existing soil biology and brings new healthy biology right into the root zones
  • Tonics feed really weak bare patches where growth is poor and needs extra attention
  • Organic granular fertilizer slowly release nutrients to feed your lawn soils all season  
  • Bare soil is unhealthy soil - we over seed with new drought tolerant grasses to cover and protect soils from erosion  
When next spring arrives, a healthier, stronger lawn will emerge. 
A Rose of Sharon Pruning Tale

Last year at this time, the Rose of Sharon tree was overgrown and leaning precariously, yet blooming prolifically.  We prescribed a hard spring rejuvenation pruning, since this shrub blooms on new wood and is best pruned in spring.  And here it is a year later, looking full and glorious but much more under control!

Rose of Sharon leaning heavily. 

Hard pruning done.
After pruning, a beautiful full, flowering shrub.
Priscilla's Garden To-Do List for Late August/Early September
  • Keep up with weeding and deadheading
  • Give annuals a pick-me-up of fish fertilizer or Organic Plant Magic
  • Replace any tired plants in containers, being sure to top off with new potting soil
  • Finish shrub pruning
  • Prune birch trees as sap is not running in hot weather
  • Prune vegetative growth of roses and wisteria
  • Divide and reset bearded iris
  • Make plans for fall transplanting and dividing work
  • Remember that fall is a great time to add new plants to the garden, so get your list started
  • Renovate and aerate lawns
  • Overseed lawns
  • Order bulbs for fall planting
  • Collect and save seeds as they turn brown or black
We love working in your gardens.  Let us know if you would like any new plantings.  Fall is the time.

Priscilla H. Williams
Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening
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