Volume 7, January 2017
Happy New Year Everyone!

I am busy perusing the seed catalogues and putting together my orders.  Let me know if you have something special in mind to add to your vegetable or flower gardens this year.  We will post a seedling pre-order form by the end of the month.
Kitchen Gardening Forever
With new occupants in the White House this week, I was gratified to hear
Pumpkin Brook can provide you
with raised beds filled with our special soil
for your 2017 vegetable gardens
that W. Atlee Burpee & Company, respected seed merchants for over 140 years, will provide $2.5 million to the National Park Foundation.  This sum is earmarked for maintenance of the White House Kitchen Garden for the next 17 years.  How very forward-thinking!  Such a fund ensures that the garden will not be ripped out tomorrow, but rather will continue as a source of learning and inspiration for all American gardeners.  What a wonderful lawn alternative, too.

Enjoy a guided tour of the White House Kitchen Garden hosted by Mrs. Obama by clicking here.
Continue to Eat Local this Winter - Visit a Farmers Market Near You
One of my favorite winter day trips is to the indoor farmer's market.  You can find one near you most weekends now through March.  Only a few years ago (2009) there were six winter farmers markets in Massachusetts.  Now there are 43!

The Wayland Winter Farmers Market at Russell's Garden Center is probably the largest and most varied one around.  Not only are there organic winter vegetables and greens, but locally grown and pasture raised meats, specialty foods, crafts, and even hot lunch available.  Special events like Wool Days and Wine Tastings are held during the season.  It was very clever of Russell's to open up its unused greenhouse space for this event and to set up lunch tables in the vibrant, warm tropical plant department!  Visit on Saturdays from 10-2 through March 11.

I have also visited a fun indoor market in Lowell in the renovated Mill No. 5.  This one is held on Sundays from 11-3 and actually goes on year-round.  It was great to walk down a "street" of storefronts and peruse extra tables set up for the day's vendors.  Live music wafted gently through the space.  Featured are fresh vegetables, preserves, home and body care products - all locally made.  Visit 250 Jackson Street, Lowell and take the elevator to the top floor where you'll be transported to another world!

If you're taking weekend trips around the state, check for winter markets in other areas at this Mass Grown website.
What is PBOG Up to This Winter?
Gardeners in winter usually take more time for family activities, hobbies, sleep and vacations!  Our group is no exception.  Here's what some of our staff is up to:

Priscilla is avidly working on finishing a hooked rug she designed and started back in 1994.  However, she put this project aside for 20 years in the rush of getting her seed starting business (and eventually PBOG) running.  She is also rehearsing with the Revels Singers.

Karla is taking an online permaculture class, learning how plants can multi-function in a garden and the home grounds.  She attended the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference recently with Priscilla.

Reese is repurposing barn board siding by cutting it into small sections for a local artist to use as "canvas" to paint.

Doris is working on a new time tracking/scheduling/estimating software program for the upcoming season.  She also will be cruising the Mediterranean in early March.

Carmine is working on the new time tracking/scheduling/estimating software along with Doris. They are anxious to start using it.  He is also pitching in with care for his three young children, with the youngest not yet in nursery school.

is installing wood floors, himself, at home!

Susan is singing with Nashoba Valley Chorale and other local groups.

Martha has a winter job taking inventory for a riding supplies company (horse riding, that is).  She also continues to work in a local restaurant.

Adam will be taking a hoisting class in March, along with new employee Kyle.  They will then take the state exam and be officially licensed to run our Kubota on the job.

Meanwhile, our office is open!  Priscilla, Carmine, Doris, Al and Paul have been busy working on accounting, budgeting, proposals and designs for our 2017 season.  Remember, you can contact us at any time about a specific project you might have in mind for the coming year.  No need to wait until spring!
Cooler Concord Fair at Concord Carlisle High School, Saturday, February 4
Mark your calendar for a unique event coming up in Concord in early February.  It's Cooler Concord!  This exciting event for families is sponsored by Concord's Sustainable Energy Committee in collaboration with the Schools, the Town and the Light Plant.  Hours are 10 am to 4 pm.

It's all about sharing simple and significant ways to save energy and money.  Students are working hard to put together
Ribbon cutting for the new electric school bus
powerful exhibits on topics such as home energy conservation, reducing use of plastic and more.  Adults can talk with local experts and businesses about what to do and how to do it.  The town will be prepared with strong financial incentives to make it easy to move forward.  There will be a fun Kids Activities area for everything energy-related from sports to arts and crafts.  Then take a music-filled ride on a new electric schoolbus!  It's reported there will be prizes and refreshments available, too.

And if all this isn't enough to make the Fair a "must do," the Concord elementary schools will be able to win $1,000 each if a good number of their parents come and choose some actions to save energy.

Priscilla will be helping to man the landscape booth from 10 am to 4 pm.  Come say hello and pick up points throughout the fair if you commit to specific actions to save energy at home.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP to to let the organizers know.
Plant Pick:  Acer griseum - Paperbark Maple
Acer griseum
While sorting through my files recently, I found an article about this lovely understory tree which has four seasons of interest.  Native to the mountains of central China, it is becoming increasingly rare in its native habitat.  It seems the tree sets very few fertile seeds and does not root from cuttings.  Populations have been lost from each other as forest land has been lost to agriculture and development.  A familiar story indeed!

Fortunately, a team of scientists began a conservation project in China in 2013.  From samples collected in the wild, they are testing 125 trees for their DNA.  This will create a gene pool for future conservation efforts.  The goal is to have enough diversity to ensure the survival of the species even if it becomes extinct (or nearly so) in the wilds of China.

Ernest Wilson, the great plant collector working for the Arnold Arboretum just over 100 years ago, introduced the Paperbark maple to the West.  He grew out 100 seedlings which were shared with other institutions.  The distinctive cinnamon-colored peeling bark was admired greatly when the seedlings grew into mature trees.  Walk along the Chinese Path at the Arnold Arboretum to see this plant at its best this winter.

I enjoy the development of the small leaves in spring and watch for the moment in fall when the paperbark maple turns deep orange-red.  As winter settles in, feast your eyes on the glossy exfoliating bark.  Surely something different from the neighbors' trees!
Acer griseum's
beautiful fall color
Seed pods
Winter interest -
exfoliating bark!
Priscilla's To-Do List for January
  • Browse through seed catalogues and select something new to grow this year
  • Get inspired by color photos in coffee table style gardening books
  • Keep a heartbeat going by lightly watering your houseplants, but hold off on fertilizing them until after February 1
  • Water forced amaryllis and paperwhites almost daily as these are now actively growing
  • Clean, sharpen and repair garden tools
  • Keep bird feeders stocked with seed and suet for energy
  • Provide water for birds with a submersible heater in the bird bath,
    Winter Storm Alfred
    Apply for a permit
    before you burn
    preventing dehydration
  • Carefully brush snow from shrubs and trees that may be temporarily crushed, do not pull as twigs are brittle in the cold and will snap
  • Prune dormant fruit trees and shrubs such as blueberries and raspberries if temperatures rise above 20 degrees
  • Burn your brush pile by permit only
Hope your are all enjoying the January winter thaw.  Hope to see you at a Farmer's Market or the Cooler Concord Fair on February 4th.

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