Charlie Nardozzi | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Charlie Nardozzi

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally-recognized garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 20 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

Charlie hosts Connecticut Garden Journal on WNPR and Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.

Charlie delights in making gardening information simple and accessible to everyone. His love of the natural world also makes him an exciting public speaker and presenter. He has spoken at national venues such as the Northwest Flower Show, Philadelphia Flower Show, San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, Master Gardener conferences, and trade shows. Regionally, Charlie has spoken at venues such as the Connecticut Horticultural Society, University of Connecticut Master Gardener Conference and the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show.

Charlie is a native of Waterbury, Connecticut and has been gardening in New England his whole life. Learn more about him at gardeningwithcharlie.com.

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Harvesting 'Red Golds'
Chiot's Run (Flickr / Creative Commons)

We grow potatoes in our garden. Even though they're cheap and plentiful, there's more to potatoes than russets and white boiling potato varieties. There are many unusual potato varieties you won't find in most markets. These varities feature red or blue skin and flesh and unusual textures, shapes and sizes.

Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
troistoques (time-out) (Flickr / Creative Commons)

There are geraniums and then there are geraniums. The classic geraniums everyone knows are the annual flowers my mom used to love. She'd pot up some red geraniums every year at her house. While I still grow annual geraniums in honor of my mom, I also like perennial geraniums.

strawberry
PEXELS.COM

It's strawberry fields forever. The delicious red berries are coming in strong and it's time to take care of the berries and plants for next year.

Starting a garden with your kids this summer? Let them take the lead so they'll enjoy the space and want to be there.
Pixabay.com

Kids have been home for months now and with summer on our doorstep, many parents are looking for kid activities. Gardening is the perfect solution. Here's some ideas for starting a kids garden with your young children this summer.

Cucamelons grow the size of a cherry tomato and are striped like watermelons.
Page (Flickr / Creative Commons)

Cucumbers are one of those staple vegetable garden crops everyone grows. Most gardeners are familiar with the green slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. But, if you have a little extra room in your veggie garden this spring, try some unusual cukes. You'll be surprised by their color, texture and taste.

Lavender 'Hidcote'
Gwendolyn Stansbury (Flickr) / Creative Commons

There is nothing like the sight and smell of lavender. I was fortunate enough to travel to the South of France and see the lavender fields. But we don't have to travel to Europe to enjoy this prized herb. There are lavender farms in Connecticut and you can grow it in your own backyard. You just need to select the right varieties and grow them properly. It's the National Garden Bureau's Plant of the Year, so let's grow some lavender.

Hosta (Multiple Varieties)
Dianna Ott (Flickr) / Creative Commons

This ancient, common shade perennial flower originates from China and Japan. It grows wild in the forested mountains. It's a favorite wild spring edible, collected when the shoots are young and then roasted or sautéed. It didn't reach Europe and United States until the 1800's but now there are thousands of varieties. This shade perennial is the hosta. Hosta is the go-to shade plant for many gardeners. It grows easily with colorful leaves and pink or white flowers.

Dandelions
Pixabay.com

Americans have an obsession with dandelions. This much maligned weed, actually was brought to North American for its culinary and medicinal uses. It's high in vitamins and was considered a delicacy during Victorian times.

Florence Fennel
Quinn Dombrowski (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Growing up in an Italian-American household, one of the treats of spring was eating raw bulbs of Florence fennel. My mother would prepare it with a simple dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar. I grew up loving this anise flavored vegetable.

Amsonia 'Blue Ice'
mwms1916 (Flickr) / creative commons

I first grew amsonia or bluestar perennial flower years ago in a public garden. I was impressed with the size, stature and beautiful light blue flowers that it produced in early summer and gorgeous golden fall foliage. Bluestar is a native plant that should get more recognition. It was the Perennial Plant of the Year back in 2011, but I rarely see it in gardens.

Nasturtium leaves
Courtesy of Steve Aitken

With spring in full force, many gardeners are planting violas and pansies. It reminds me to plant some edible flowers in our garden this year. Not all flowers are edible and not all flowers are tasty to eat, but there are many that are a delight to the eyes and tongue.

Tomato seedling
Renee (Flickr) / Creative Commons

There's been a big spike in people buying vegetable seeds. Hopefully this means lots of people will be growing a Victory Garden of vegetables to help offset the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, have some healthy food, and get outside and enjoy Nature. But many people don't have room for a garden. The solution is container gardening and the number one vegetable everyone wants to grow is tomatoes.

Snap pea
nanao wagatsuma (Flickr) / creative commons

With the Coronavirus keeping many of us at home, it's time to focus on the vegetable garden. Now is a perfect time to start planting and it all begins with peas. Peas have been eaten for thousands of years but mostly as a dried vegetable. It wasn't until King Louis 14th that royalty started eating fresh garden peas. Commoners have been eating them only for a few hundred years.

Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea
Courtesy of Steve Aitken

Many gardeners are pruning trees and shrubs this time of year. One shrub that often confounds people is the hydrangea. The reason for the confusion is different species of hydrangeas are pruned at different times. So, let's do a quick hydrangea pruning 101.

Gardening tools
Pixabay.com

With lives upended due to the coronavirus, many of us are spending some unexpected time at home. The silver lining is we have more time to work in the garden. Here's a review what to do, and not do, in the garden now.

Mixed flower garden bed
Marilylle Soveran (Flickr) / Creative Commons

There's nothing like the sight and smell of fresh cut flowers in your home from spring to fall. While it's great to support local growers and florists, you can grow your own cut flower garden, too. Here's how.

Witch Hazel
sharin (Flickr) / Creative Commons

This time of year we're all starved for color. Maybe a few snowdrops, crocus and hellebores are blooming, but we need more! One shrub to the rescue is an unusual one because it blooms either now or late fall, depending on the species, with colorful, spider-like blossoms. It's the witch hazel.

Tomato seedlings
JP Goguen (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Tomatoes are the most popular home garden vegetable for good reason. They're easy to grow and there are tons of varieties. Tomato varieties range from tiny plants like 'Micro Tom' to monsters like 'Giant Belgium'. But if you want to experiment with growing novel tomato varieties you're probably going to have to grow them from seed. So here's a refresher on growing tomato seeds indoors.

Celery
John Sheldon (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Celery is an ancient and trendy vegetable. Wild versions from the Mediterranean, were used medicinally in 850 BC. Relatives of celery, though, can be found around the world. The Italians started growing it as a vegetable in the 17th century creating taller stalks that weren't as strongly flavored. Today, celery-based smoothies are popular for detoxing the body.

A scene from the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show
The West End (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Indoor flower shows are a very unique American phenomena. It all started in Philadelphia when gardeners got tired of winter and began holding events to show off their prized indoor houseplants and flower arranging skills. What started as a simple get together among garden clubs has bloomed into a huge industry. The biggest show is the Philadelphia Flower Show, but I like the smaller local shows like the one in Connecticut.

Do you know where your roses came from?
Han N (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Valentine's Day is the traditional time to give and get cut flowers. But it might be good to be a discerning shopper when buying cut flowers. 

Charlie Nardozzi has some tips about planting and growing trees.
oatsy40 (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Americans are moving less. In 2019 less than 10 percent of the population changed homes and locations. That's the lowest level since 1947. For gardeners that means it's an opportunity to plant more longer lasting plants like trees.

Houseplants.
F. D. Richards (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It seems everyone is growing houseplants. But with their popularity, comes problems. Not all houseplants are easy to grow and some are more prone to dry indoor conditions, lack of light, and insects. Here's are some solutions to your houseplant problems.

You can help pollinators like butterflies, bees and other creatures.
oatsy40 (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Many gardeners are familiar with the plight of native butterflies, bees and birds. Pesticides, habitat loss and climate change have dramatically decreased wildlife populations worldwide. Often gardeners feel like there's little we can do to help these creatures. But garden enthusiasts in Connecticut have a plan and you can help!

Gloxinia.
Eric Hunt (Flickr) / Creative Commons

This common florist plant originated from Brazil. The original species featured large, bell-shaped, lavender-colored flowers on plants with big, hairy leaves. Through breeding there are now selections ranging in colors from pink to dark purple with single or double flowers. This potted plant can be grown as a summer annual and as a houseplant. It's the gloxinia.

These are specially designed wheelchair accessible garden beds.
Irene Scott / AusAID

Many gardeners are tired of bending, kneeling and squatting to garden. If you're looking for a better way to garden that's easier on your back and legs, try elevated raised beds.

As we enter a new year, what new vegetable varieties should you try growing?
julie (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Happy New Year. I'm looking forward to another outstanding gardening year. To kick it off, I make lists of new vegetable varieties to try. Here are a few that caught my eye!

Fungi aficionados can easily grow mushrooms indoors.
Dominick Guzzo (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Collecting wild mushrooms is a great treat, if you go with an experienced veteran who can distinguish good fungi from bad fungi. You can also cultivate your own mushrooms outdoors in beds, but that takes time. To get a quick fix of the taste of wild mushrooms without hunting or cultivating, grow them from kits indoors.

Anthurium, also known as the flamingo flower.
Bernard Spragg. NZ (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Many people are growing houseplants again to create a lush, green oasis in their home or apartment. But it doesn't have to just be green houseplants. There are new varieties of easy-to-grow houseplants that feature colorful leaves and flowers and some even grow in low-light conditions. Here are some of the best.

Even though red still dominates the poinsettia market, new varieties are coming out.
Debbie R (Flickr) / Creative Commons

In 1828, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, could never have imagined the impact he'd have on the holidays by simply bringing back a local plant to the United States.

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