Gardening Tips by Bob Beyfuss

"Gardening Tips" is a column about all things flora written by Bob Beyfuss of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Gardening Tips: March 18, 2015

Maple Syrup Part 2
I should have prefaced last week’s column by acknowledging that much of the sugar maple forests of our region still have snow that is “butt deep on a tall Indian.” “Butt” is not the exact word that the reader used, but this is a family newspaper. I recall using snow shoes to move through the woods in order to tap my trees in previous years and then wondering later on in future summers why I tapped them so far above the ground?

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Gardening Tips: March 4, 2015

Herbs: Part Three
Before I begin this week’s column, I want to wish George Story a slightly belated happy 95th birthday. George, the founder of Story’s Nursery in Freehold, Greene County, turned 95 on February 22. He was named after George Washington, who shares the same birthday. Many kids today don’t know when Washington’s birthday occurred, which old folks like me grow up knowing because we got a day off from school for both he and Lincoln. Now we celebrate “President’ Day” in lieu of Washington’s and Lincoln’s actual birthdays.

Gardening Tips: Feb. 25, 2015

Are Herbal Remedies Safe?
Before I continue with the topic of herbal medicines, I want to share some cold weather tips with you. If you did not put rodent guards around the base of your fruit and ornamental trees, this would be a good time to shovel away the snow at their base and either install plastic guards or wrap hardware cloth around the lower two feet or so. Mice, voles, and rabbits will tunnel under the snow, quite happily and eat the bark off, possibly killing the plant. If your houseplants are looking a little sickly due to darkness and indoor dust, take them in the shower with you! Be careful with rock salt around garden plantings, use Calcium Chloride or one of the newer “plant friendly” alternatives. In a pinch, ordinary garden fertilizer such as 5-10-5 will melt snow and ice. Now back to herbs!

Gardening Tips: February 11, 2015

Salt Alternatives for the Homeowner
I read in the Greenville Pioneer that the Town of Green­ville has to budget more money for road salt as snow continues to fall. The price of salt, like almost everything else, has gone up substantially this year, from $48 a ton to almost $63. Green­ville uses about 1,000 tons per year. This is another reason why property taxes are so much higher in Northern states compared to places like Florida.

Gardening Tips: February 4, 2015

Forcing Plants to Bloom
The massive blizzard predicted for earlier this week turned out to be a bust for much of our region, although my brother reported close to two feet of snow in Groton, CT where he lives. NY City had between seven and 10 inches. I guess it’s important to warn people when a blizzard is predicted, but I feel sorry for those late night businesses in the City that were all forced to close because no one was allowed outside.