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Connecticut Garden Journal

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Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more. Learn more about Charlie at gardeningwithcharlie.com, or reach him at cnardozzi124@gmail.com.

Hear Connecticut Garden Journal Thursdays at 8:58pm and Saturdays at 11:57am. 

Forsythia
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When I was a boy, my mother would always notice forsythias blooming in spring. I thought she was saying “for Cynthia” when she talked about the plant. I never knew who Cynthia was, and didn't learn the true name of this shrub until I grew up.

Kohlrabi
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My kohlrabi transplants are looking great under my grow lights. Kohlrabi, you say? What's that?

Blue Rug Juniper
Lee Wright (Flickr / Creative Commons)

It's hard to know what to plant on a slope. Slopes that are too steep to safely mow can become eroded and turn into an eyesore filled with weeds and invasive flowers and shrubs.

Corydalis elata
Leonora (Ellie) Enking (Flickr / Creative Commons)

With the recent spate of warm weather, everything seems to be popping out of the ground. I'm excited about my snow drops, crocus and early tulips, but I also love some of the wild, native bulbs that will be blooming soon. One that really captures my attention is corydalis.

'Pica Bella'
cultivar413 (Flickr / Creative Commons)

This is a good time of year to make your wish list of new perennial flowers for your garden. I like to read variety trials from public gardens located in similar growing zones to get ideas. One recent trail of echinacea varieties from the Mt. Cuba Center in Wilmington, Delaware caught my eye.

Uwe Aranas / Wikimedia Commons

Gardening can be really therapeutic. For the second year in the row, seed sellers are selling out of their stock early as more and more people prepare for another pandemic spring season at home. 

This hour, Charlie Nardozzi from Connecticut Garden Journal is here to answer your questions on gardening. 

Irish Moss
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In honor of St. Patrick's Day next week, I thought I'd skip the green beer and talk about Irish moss.

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If you're looking for a good, native, evergreen shrub that's an alternative or compliment to your rhododendrons, don't forget the state flower, the mountain laurel or Kalmia latifolia.

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Celosia are annual flowers that are getting lots of attention. They come in two different types: Cockscomb and Pampas Plume. The cockscomb looks likes a colorful rooster's comb and, in Victorian times, were exhibited at county fairs with the biggest comb winning. The more popular Pampas Plume varieties have large, feathery plumes that bloom all summer.

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While we're still a good month away from starting tomato seeds indoors, it's not too early to plan what varieties to grow. Growing tomato plants from seed indoors is easy if you have a light setup. They only take about 6 weeks of indoor growing to be ready to plant and you get to choose from a wide range of varieties.

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If you have a sunny, south-facing window in your home or apartment, try growing indoor cactus. Indoor cactus are easy. Many grow slowly over time, don't require frequent watering and tolerate our dry, indoor air conditions in winter. Use cactus potting soil, and water throughly, but infrequently, and don't mist the plants. It's good to choose the right cactus. While all cactus are considered succulents, not all succulents are cactus. Cactus have growth points or areoles where spines, hairs and flowers grow. Here are some of the easiest cactus to grow in your sunny spot.

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Houseplants not only do provide soothing greenery in winter, they also bring in some pests! There are a number of houseplant pests you're probably seeing right now. Here are three main ones.

Leeks
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One of my favorite winter vegetables are leeks. These non-bulbing, onion-family plants, have a mild flavor, are easy to grow and are beautiful in the garden. Of course, I'm not growing any leeks in late January, but I am thinking about them. They freeze really well and we're still making delicious potato-leek soups in winter.

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Winter is a good time to plan for better garden soil. Soil is the soul of your garden. As goes the soil, so grows your plants. In my new book, The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening, I talk all about growing vegetables, herbs and flowers without tilling, turning or disturbing the soil. There are many good reasons for gardening this way. 

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Houseplants are popular for adding lush greenery indoors. But what if you don't have space for large floor or tabletop houseplants? The solution is trailing or climbing houseplants. 

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January is a good time of year to spruce up your houseplant collection. While having a lush, dark green foliage houseplant is soothing, there are some ways to add color to your houseplant jungle without needing lots of light. 

Anonymous (Flickr / Creative Commons)

Happy New Year. This fall while filming the New England Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi: Holiday Edition special for CPTV, I couldn't help but stop at Logee's Greenhouses and pick up some citrus plants. 

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Winter is here and before we get into the thick of it, we should do some last minute preparations to protect our plants. This is especially true of our evergreens.

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It’s getting down to the wire for gift-giving this holiday season. One of the people you might still be shopping for may be the gardener in the family. Gardeners can be a bit particular about the tools, supplies and seeds they use. So, let me give you a few ideas for your favorite gardener.

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With the holiday season upon us, and many people sticking closer to home this year, decorating indoors and outdoors is going full tilt in many households. One of the standards for holiday decorating is an evergreen wreath.

Weeping Norway Spruce
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It's taken me awhile to appreciate weeping evergreen trees. For the longest time they reminded me of illustrations from a Dr. Seuss children's book. But used properly, weeping evergreens can be an amazing focal point in your garden and provide winter interest. 

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One of the big three flowers of the holiday season is the amaryllis. Its trumpet-shaped bright red, pink, salmon, or white colored flowers brighten up any holiday table. And it can be forced to rebloom each year fairly easily.

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There are some houseplants that are great for those gardeners who live or work in a dwelling with little natural light and are a bit forgetful about watering. One of the best is the snake plant.

Snake plant or Sansevieria also has the unfortunate common name of mother-in-law's tongue. That's due to the pointed leaf tips can pinch you unexpectedly if you touch it. The traditional snake plants stand 2- to -3-feet tall with broad, thick leaves. The leaves are dark green and some have yellow edges.

But with the boom in houseplants, there are many different types of Sansevierias that are smaller, more colorful and less likely to pinch you!

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“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil. There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” That was Charles Kellogg writing in the USDA Book of Agriculture about 100 years ago.

There's a new appreciation of our soils underfoot, especially as we search for ways to slow the pace of global warming. Soils and plant roots can capture carbon from the atmosphere and hold it in the soil for decades. Soil is also a living entity upon which all life depends. This view can change our gardening practices to be more soil friendly.

garlic
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The rush is on to get all the gardening chores done. But remember you should plant some garlic.

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It's estimated in Connecticut, that 22 percent of the waste we send to landfills is food scraps. That's a shame because all those food scraps can be turned into compost to feed our gardens.

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Halloween is right around the corner and many gardeners are decorating pumpkins for the holiday. A fun way to decorate is to make a pumpkin planter filled with succulents.

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As the leaves start dropping, many gardener's attention turns to fall garden cleanup. While this is an autumn tradition, there's some new advice about how and when to cleanup the yard and garden that might help make the work easier and help our bees, beneficial insects and birds.

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I recently returned from a trip to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden and was thrilled to see large plantings of Japanese anemones. Japanese anemones are different from the spring flowering bulb anemones or the wildflower anemones. This Asian native is a hardy perennial that grows into a 2- to 4-foot tall beauty that flowers from August until frost. Depending on the variety, the flowers range from white to pink to a deep rose color. The daisy-shaped, single or double petaled blooms dance atop wiry stems and seem to float in the breeze. That's why this plant is also called the windflower. Most varieties, such as 'Bressingham Glow' and 'Honorine Jobert' stand 4 feet tall, but 'Whirlwind' is a good 2 foot tall variety that can even grow well in containers.

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It's October and time to think about planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths. There's nothing like the look and scent of these beauties blooming on cool, gray April days. And now is the time to act.

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