Charlie Nardozzi | Connecticut Public Radio
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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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That Christmas cactus may not be a Christmas cactus.
adogcalledstray (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Some plant names are confusing. Take Christmas cactus. This plant can flower anytime between November and April. The reason is most Christmas cactus can have Thanksgiving cactus or Easter cactus genes, but are forced into bloom at Christmas time by growers.

Amaryllis
Jennifer C. (Flickr) / Creative Commons

No flower says the holidays like amaryllis. This bulb hails from South African and South America. It's a spring bloomer in its native range, but through hybridization and marketing mostly by the Dutch, amaryllis has been made into a favorite flower for Christmas time.

Shagbark hickory nuts.
Dan Mullen (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Happy Thanksgiving. One Thanksgiving food I'll always remember when growing up is nuts. I can see my dad there, cracking away on the walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and other assorted nuts before dinner. For some reason, Thanksgiving was a special nut eating time for him.

Penn State (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Shiitake mushrooms are all the rage in kitchen, teas, and medicinal preparations. It seems not only are they good for you, they're tasty too. But one drawback of shiitake mushrooms is they can be expensive. So, grow your own. It's not as hard as you think.

Aloe.
Brandon Giesbrecht (Creative Commons) / Flickr

Succulents are popular container and garden plants. Some, such as Hens and Chicks, are hardy in our climate and make excellent rock garden plants. If you go into a garden center, however, you'll often see succulents sold as houseplants. These aren't necessarily hardy as outdoor plants in our area, but can survive indoors, with the right care.

If you take the right steps now, you could have gladiolus that look like this next year.
Allan (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Halloween has passed, frost has come and now it's time to get your garden ready for winter. One chore that needs to be done soon is digging and storing your summer flowering bulbs.

Monkshood.
Lotus Johnson (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Common names for plants can be misleading, such as Jerusalem artichoke has nothing to do with that city or artichokes. But some can be right on, such as Aconitum or monkshood. Monkshood's flower shape resembles a helmet or a hooded cloak of a monk. It's also called wolfsbane for its ability to ward off werewolves, but that's another story.

Brian Jackson (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's almost Halloween and lots of families are buying pumpkins for carving and decorating. It's fun to carve all types and colors of pumpkins from the small pie pumpkins to large field pumpkins.

Nestor T. (Flickr) / Creative Commons

While fall is a time of garden cleanup and planting bulbs and garlic, it's also a perfect time to test your soil.

jen (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Many gardeners like to bring their houseplants out onto a deck, balcony, or patio in summer for a little rejuvenation. It's good for houseplants to get some fresh air, bright indirect light, and natural watering in summer.

If you want colorful tulips and other flowers next spring, consider planting bulbs this fall.
Thomas Hackl (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's almost October, and time to plants some bulbs. Many gardeners plant tulips, daffodils, crocus, and hyacinths each fall. But some gardeners don't have the space or are tired of dealing with critters digging up or eating their bulbs. One solution is to plant bulbs in a pot.

The Bonica rose is one of the author's favorite shrub roses.
Kenneth Vetter (Flickr) / Creative Commons

I'm always looking for perennial plants that will add color to our fall garden. I've been noticing the last few years how fall has become a beautiful time of year for perennial flowers. Certainly you can plant mums, goldenrod, asters, sedums and plants with brightly colored leaves for fall, but I've been surprised at a few other plants offering a second coming of color in autumn. One of the best are the shrub roses.

Emily Carlin (Flickr) / Creative Commons

One of my fall traditions with my mom is to visit Roger's Orchard in Southington for apples. She's too old to pick apples, but it's still fun walking around the farm stand looking at the different heirloom varieties.

Tony Hisgett (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It takes just one look outside to know what time of year it is. The goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace, and asters are blooming, so it must be late summer moving into fall.

Kopper King hibiscus
K M (Flickr) / Creative Commons

When I say hibiscus, most gardener's think of the shrubby plant we see outdoors in warmer climes like Florida, or ones we see at garden centers. This shrub is beautiful, but isn't hardy in our area. But another hibiscus is and it's showing off right now.

Barta IV (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's been a rough year for lawns. With all the heat and drought, our cool season grasses have gone brown sooner than usual and are staying that way longer. That means we should all be gearing up for some fall lawn care. If you're only going to fertilize your lawn once a year, September is the time to do it!

Asian pears
See-ming Lee (Flickr) / Creative Commons

What fruit looks like an apple, but tastes like a pear? It's the Asian pear. Although we know European pear varieties such as Bartlett, many gardeners are still unfamiliar with this ancient fruit. Asian pears have been grown for more than 3,000 years in Japan and China. There are yellow- and brown-skinned varieties. Both are round and crisp like an apple, but sweet and juicy like a pear. 

Jim, the Photographer (Flickr) / Creative Commons

I like growing flowers that are unique and fun. One easy-to-grow perennial that fits the bill is the balloon flower.

Via Tsuji (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's the vegetable glut time. August is the time of year to lock your car so neighbors don't slip a few extra cucumbers or zucchinis into your back seat. With all the produce pouring in from the garden, the idea of planting more seems alien. But this glut won't last. Come September and October you'll be looking for a little variety. So, two vegetables to plant now are kale and kohlrabi.

Gladiolus.
Daniela (Flickr) / Creative Commons

The Latin name for this flower means “sword.” And the bulbs of this plant were worn around the necks of Roman gladiators for strength. Yes, it's the gladiolus.

Howard Walfish (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's hard to imagine having problems with your green bean crop. Bush beans are one of the easiest veggies to grow. It's part of our history. Every kid has probably started bean seeds in their science class and were amazed when it bore fruit!

MdE (Wikimedia) / Creative Commons

It's time to get on top of your weeds. Annual weeds, such as lamb's quarters and pigweed, are easy to control by shallow weeding with a sharp hoe or a tug on larger plants. But perennial weeds only have one control option -- your tenacity.

Bernard Spragg. NZ (Flickr) / Creative Commons

With all this heat, roses are bursting right now. If you can keep up with the watering, roses can put on a show. While the trend in roses are shrub types, I'm fond of the fragrant roses.

Birds will eat berries, whether they're in the wild, or in your garden.
hedera.baltica (Flickr) / Creative Commons

There's nothing more frustrating than growing a beautiful crop of berries only to have the birds wipe out your crop in a matter of days.

Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn.
Provided by the museum.

One activity I love to do in summer is visit other gardens. It's so easy to get absorbed in all the work of our own gardens, that I never leave home. But visiting other gardens gives me fresh ideas, inspirations, and the relief that we don't have to care for these gardens.

Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood viburnum) foliage with viburnum leaf beetle larvae
Plant Image Library (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Nature abhors a vacuum. For years, viburnums have been carefree shrubs. They flower consistently each year, some with fragrant blooms, and produce colorful berries in fall for beauty and for the birds. Viburnums have few pests or problems, until now.

Four o'clock flowers
harum.koh / Flickr Creative Commons

Some old fashioned flowers have interesting behaviors -- take the four o’clock or the Marvel of Peru. First, this flower can have different colored blossoms on the same plant. The flowers open in late afternoon and close in the morning, in case you are wondering what time it is.

Alina Kuptsova (Flickr)

Gardening is known for its folklore, especially when it comes to insect controls. Some old wives tales have some truth to them and others, not so much. I’m often asked about companion planting for insect control. Although many say plants such as onions, marigolds, and rue can deter pests, scientifically, few of these folklore remedies have been proven. 

poppet with a camera (Flickr)

What vegetable grows like a cucumber, looks like a teeny watermelon, can be eaten raw and has a hint of lime flavoring?  It's a cucuamelon.

Cucamelon is not a cross between a cucumber and watermelon, but it sure looks like it. They are also called Mexican sour gherkins or mouse melons. They are so cute! This Central American native vegetable vines like a cucumber, and produces an abundance of 1-inch long oblong, striped fruits that look like miniature watermelons. The taste is like a cucumber with a slight lime flavor.

Frank Farm (Flickr)

I'm always looking to push the envelope of what we can grow in your climate. I think I got fig growing down, so my latest adventure is fresh ginger. I love the flavor, and I love cooking with ginger root. Ginger also has many medical qualities such as aiding digestion, improving circulation, and helping combat arthritis.

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