Connecticut Garden Journal | Connecticut Public Radio
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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 on Thursday afternoons on Connecticut Public Radio at 3:04 pm. 

Katie Hetrick UC Davis / Creative Commons

Many gardeners want to grow their own food. Homegrown produce is fresher, safer, and healthier. But many gardeners don't want to sacrifice the beauty of their yard by removing flowers or shrubs to plant edibles. The solution is foodscaping.

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One of the biggest trends in the last 20 years in vegetable gardening has been the expanded use of raised beds. It's not a new idea, but it seems everyone is embracing a raised bed to grow better tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and many other crops.

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I love the common name of the tree Chionanthus viginicus. Old Man's Beard is a good description of the white flowers that bloom in May and June. It's one of the later leaving-out and blooming spring shrubs and trees. 

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Some people love this root, while others loathe it. It's probably because the root contains the chemical geosmin, which gives it an earthy smell. 

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There are symbolic flowers for many holidays we celebrate: Poinsettias for Christmas, shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day, and lilies for Easter. 

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Back in colonial days, when someone died in winter, they had to store the body until the ground thawed in spring. 

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Those of us living inland tend to only think about the ocean in summer. But for those 23 million people living within a few miles of Long Island Sound in Connecticut and Long Island, the sea is a daily companion.

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Happy St. Patricks Day. I was tempted to talk about shamrocks or green carnations, but instead I'm talking about another green plant that's more Italian than Irish. It's the globe artichoke. 

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Connecticut is one the leading states for rooting out invasive species and encouraging land owners to plant more natives. Native trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers are adapted to our changing climate, interwoven in the ecology of the forests and open lands -- and provide vital food, shelter, and nesting sites for insects, birds, and animals.

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With the sudden change in weather going from snow storms to 70 degree temperatures, flowers are a bit confused. Although not spring yet, the warm spell pushed along some early flowering shrubs. And one of the earliest is the flowering quince. 

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With winter here, it's nice to have some outdoor garden activities that result in beautiful flowers. One activity I like is forcing flowering branches of spring blooming trees and shrubs indoors. Not only do you get beautiful color weeks before the natural bloom time, you prune your plants too. 

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This ancient vegetable hales from Southeast Asia. Laborers who built the pyramids in Egypt were paid with it. In Mexico a special night in December is dedicated to this veggie where they artistically carve the root. What vegetable is this? It's the radish. 

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Everyone loves flowering shrubs, such as lilacs and rhododendrons, but you may be wondering, how should I prune this thing? Pruning reduces the size and shape of your shrub, but you have to know when and how you do it.

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As you drive around the state, you'll notice orchards are being pruned. You can start pruning apple trees anytime after the New Year, up until the flower buds start swelling. 

Alex "Skud" Bayley flickr.com/photos/alexsbayley / Creative Commons

Unless you have a greenhouse or hoop house, you're probably buying greens this time of year. It's good to support local growers, but you can grow nutritious greens right in your windowsill without an elaborate light system. 

Martin Fischer / Creative Commons

Last week, I highlighted award-winning vegetables that we can grow in our gardens this summer. Now, it's the flowers' turn. The All-America Winners selections include annual flowers that you'll be seeing in garden centers in spring.

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When it comes to new varieties of vegetables, small is better. As the average size of the typical home garden shrinks, plant breeders have been working to create varieties of our favorite veggies that fit in containers and small beds. 

Ciera Holzenthal flickr.com/photos/cierah / Creative Commons

I first came across tillandsia, or air plants, at a boutique garden center in San Francisco a few years ago. This trendy plant seemed like the answer to many people's dreams of a low-care house plant. 

Timo Newton-Syms / Creative Commons

Well, the leftovers still fill the refrigerator, there's still reams of wrapping paper to recycle, and there's the Christmas tree. If you purchased one of the more than 20 million live Christmas trees sold this year, you're probably wondering what to do with it now. 

Guilherme Cardoso flickr.com/photos/guiskatenator / Creative Commons

I recently returned from a trip to India, and while visiting a friend in his garden outside Delhi, I was struck by one brilliantly colored, red plant. This five-foot-tall and -wide plant looked familiar. Upon closer inspection, it was a poinsettia.

Mónica Pinheiro flickr.com/photos/monica_andre / Creative Commons

Oh by gosh by golly, it's time of gifts for your favorite gardener. I may not be much of a singer, but I know gifts a gardener in the family might like.

Tracey Adams flickr.com/photos/bikracer / Creative Commons

One of the simplest and most rewarding activities to bring in some holiday cheer this time of year is to make your own wreath. You can go to local garden centers and take a wreath-making workshop, or buy a pre-made wreath. But I like to construct my own wreath made from materials around my home. 

Ted Thompson flickr.com/photos/buffaloted / Creative Commons

I'm always fascinated with plant names. Take Christmas cactus, for example. It's not really a cactus, and can bloom from November until March. Yet it's this time of year when we see Christmas cactus everywhere. 

Mr. Nixter flickr.com/photos/stankus/15241691836 / Creative Commons

One of my favorite vegetables for Thanksgiving is the leek. Called the poor man's asparagus by the French, leeks originated around the Mediterranean, and have been eaten for more than 3,000 years. 

Kake flickr.com/photos/kake_pugh/6641536287 / Creative Commons

Gourmet mushrooms have become popular for cooking, and none more so than the shiitake mushroom. 

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When I drive around and see home owners raking and bagging their leaves to remove them from their yard, I think they're missing a big opportunity. 

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One flower that's often passed along from generation to generation is the geranium. Luckily, it's also easy to overwinter indoors, since it won't survive our winters. Here's how to keep it alive.

Lisa Brettschneider flickr.com/photos/flyfarther79 / Creative Commons

The big day is upon us. Halloween is here and one of the traditions is to carve a Jack O'Lantern. I like tradition, but if you're interested in something different this year in Jack O'Lanterns,  try decorating some other winter squashes, too. 

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Spring bulb planting is in full swing this month. While weather conditions can influence the survival of your tulips, daffodils, crocus, and other spring bulbs, critters can have a dramatic effect, too. 

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Ahh, October in Connecticut. Cool weather, pumpkins, hot cider and gorgeous fall foliage. While Mother Nature does a pretty good job serving up an abundance of color in fall, we can add to the rainbow of beauty in our own yards.

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