July 2022 — Volume 12, No. 6
Dear Friends,
There are some important announcements in this edition of our newsletter. Please read on for more details!
PBOG Leadership Transitions to New President
I am pleased to announce that I have sold Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening to a new owner, Mr. Yong Sun, as of June 30th. I’ll be spending the summer training Yong and meeting our various clients as we make the rounds together. All staff will be continuing under Yong’s direction. Our services and the name of the company will remain the same.

It is somewhat of a bittersweet moment for me, having worked in hundreds of client gardens (one at a time, of course) since Spring 2001! I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to know each of you and to see the transformation of your property. It has been a joyful quest to search out and connect with growers of special plants around the region and to watch our plantings grow and thrive over time.

My plan is to retire and turn to my garden history research and writing project about the history of the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture for Women. I’ll be winnowing down my possessions for my move late next year to Hager Homestead in Littleton, the first senior cohousing development in New England, currently under construction. I’m excited to start a smaller garden around my new cottage home and to participate in the care of our landscape and community vegetable garden.
Back in 2001, the NOFA Organic Land Care Standards were being written, and I was excited to be a part of the drafting committee. I took the Standards to heart and implemented them from the very beginnings of Pumpkin Brook. Since then, “organic” has become a household word. I’m confident that the PBOG staff will continue to uphold the OLC Standards and bring the very best service and beauty to you.
Meet Yong Sun
Priscilla (left) and Yong Sun (right)
A native of Shanghai, Yong grew up on a fruit farm outside the city. He founded three different businesses in China and Canada, with over 18 years of operating experience. At PBOG, he is in charge of corporate strategy and the internal management of the company. He believes that the Pumpkin Brook employees are the company’s most valuable asset and will prioritize continually improving their efficiency and horticultural skills.
When Yong is not working, he spends his time with his family and friends biking, hiking, and skiing—depending on the season. Yong lives in Lexington, where he will be managing his home landscape organically. Yong’s new email is yong@pumpkinbrookorganicgardening.com and cell phone 781-999-5158.
Managing Drought in the Landscape - Level 2, Significant Drought, Declared in Our Area
Now is the time when our standard practices of siting the right plant in the right place, topdressing with compost and soil amendments, applying compost tea, planting ground covers among taller perennials, shrubs, and trees, mulching, and use of drip line irrigation will pay off. But despite these measures, a Level 2 drought can be tricky to manage.

Browned out lawns, crisp leaves on newly planted trees and shrubs, sagging perennials - you have probably begun to notice these conditions in your own neighborhood. Water conservation is now a necessity due to the Level 2 declaration by the State. It is strongly suggested that we water only once a week using hand-held hoses and watering cans, and only before 9 am or after 5 pm. Many towns have mandated these practices.

Here are a few tips:

  • Harvest rainwater using a rain barrel, then fill watering cans from this source
  • Repair hose leaks quickly
  • Stop watering your lawn, just let it go dormant for the summer, and it will naturally green up again when cooler weather and rains return
  • Minimize lawn size this fall to reduce need to water a large greensward

PBOG can help you right now by bringing water to your landscape in our spray trucks. Long hoses apply the water from a 200-gallon tank. At this time of year, we add Stress X powder to the water. This product contains kelp and seaweed, proven to help plants recover from drought stress. We can also water containers during your vacation periods.

Please let Kimberly Kuliesis know if you would like to arrange our watering services for your property: Email Kimberly
Plant Pick:  Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower
Echinacea; purple, yellow, and white flowers
Varieties of purple coneflower thrive in a Littleton garden
This prairie native is fairly drought tolerant because droughty conditions are typical to summer on the plains! Blooming from July to September, it packs a great punch of color whether you prefer pale pastel or bright saturated tones in your garden. Its raised, mahogany-colored centers are a butterfly and pollinator magnet. Slightly drooping petals provide beautiful contrast.

We prefer to use the natural color, purplish crimson. There has been much plant breeding in recent years to select other colors, heights, and even double petals. Read the Mt. Cuba Center’s research report on the best Echinacea for the Mid-Atlantic region. These plants will perform well in New England, too. See the report here:  Echinacea Report
“Forever” Chemicals in the News
We have been alarmed by recent news about the PFAS or “forever” chemicals that have contaminated drinking water at over 200 properties in the central Massachusetts town of Westminster. The culprit in this case is the local compost processing facility, Mass Natural, that has accepted biosolids for over 30 years. Biosolids is a marketing term for sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants and paper mills. Mass Natural has been forbidden by the State of Massachusetts to sell any of its products since June. Investigation and control of the situation is still underway. 

We follow the NOFA Organic Land Care Standards in our work. The OLC Standards historically prohibited use of biosolids due to their high concentrations of heavy metals. Now there is an additional reason: the presence of PFAS chemicals used in common consumer and industrial products which do not break down in several lifetimes or even longer.
Rest assured that Pumpkin Brook has never purchased any products from this vendor. Our compost provider, Black Earth Compost, offers the following statement on their processes and products: Black Earth Compost

For more information on PFAS for homeowners, read this informative fact sheet compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection:
Remediating Lead Paint Chips in Soil
Several of our clients are having their homes scraped and painted this summer. For structures built before 1978, lead-based paint was used. What can be done about lead paint chips in the soil around foundations? Is it safe to eat herbs and plants grown in these areas?

Painting companies should take precautions to lay down plastic on the ground against the foundation as they work on a lead abatement project and to vacuum up debris at the end of each working day. When they pull out, we can help by topdressing planted foundation areas with compost to bind and hold lead and other metals very effectively. Then keep this area covered at all times with a layer of mulch. Particles of lead are conveyed through the air. Do not attempt to grow any edibles in these spaces or disturb the soil. If you need to plant or transplant to cover open bare soil areas, keep disturbance to a minimum and mulch immediately after planting.
Scraping of lead paint underway
It may also be advisable to test this soil to put this concern to rest or to take steps to minimize impact as noted above. Keep play areas away from foundations as well.

We recommend building raised beds for your edibles and to locate them away from old painted structures! Reese and Jeff have been building quite a structure this month in Acton that includes a deer fence and protection against digging critters.
A raised bed garden designed and built in Acton by PBOG staff member Reese Crotteau
Detail of the deer protection feature
Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for July into August:
  • Patrol for scale on Magnolia, Holly, Rhododendron, and foundation plantings where air does not readily circulate and remove by hand where feasible
  • Prune all spring flowering shrubs to create a natural shape, removing deadwood and crossing branches, creating air spaces, and lifting slightly off the ground
  • Selected spring flowering trees can be pruned now
  • Water new plantings according to local guidelines
  • Water containers at least every other day
  • Keep up with weeding and deadheading
  • Cut down any plant that is browned out or mildewed, as the root system will flush out fresh new growth
  • Cut back on lawn mowing when lawn browns out and reduce mowing frequency on still-green areas
  • Harvest beans, cucumbers, herbs, greens in the vegetable garden
  • Harvest garlic when only 5 green leaves remain on the plants and set to dry in a protected area
  • Pick blueberries and raspberries in the cool of the morning
  • Cut back strawberry foliage and remove runners to renew the plants
  • Top off mulch if bare soil emerges after a heavy weeding or deep watering
  • Take in garden tours and plant shows as your energy permits
  • Take time to relax and recharge in your garden
Yong and I look forward to seeing you in your garden in the coming weeks, along with our busy crew.

With sincere thanks and best wishes,
– Priscilla
A cool respite in Wayland
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