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. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Creative Commons

With spring just around the corner, gardeners across Connecticut are preparing to defend their gardens from unwanted insects, animals, and plants. But gardening experts said pesticides might not be the first thing to turn to as a deterrent. 

Craig / Creative Commons

This early spring perennial flower hails from Japan, but made its first appearance in the United States in the 1800s as a Valentine's Day gift.

Flickr / Creative Commons

This popular vegetable has been grown and eaten for 5000 years as a food and medicine.

John Tann / Creative Commons

One morning at breakfast, I found myself swatting flies. What, flies in winter? Then I saw they were coming from my amaryllis plant on the table. I love house plants, but so do the pests.

Liam Moloney (tir_na_nog) / Flickr

One legend has it this holiday descended from the ancient Roman fertility festival where boys and girls would draw names to see who would be paired for the coming year. The Catholic church attributed this day to a priest who secretly married young soldiers in defiance of the Roman emperor. His name was Saint Valentine.

WoodlyWonderWorks / Creative Commons

I'm always amazed at the price of arugula and baby greens in the grocery store. They sell sometimes for ten dollars a pound! A better way to eat healthy greens is to grow them yourself, and we're getting close to the day when we can start planting two of my favorites: arugula and mache.

Theophilos Papadopoulos via flickr.com / Creative Commons

Winter is a great time to sit down and plan the expansion of existing gardens or creation of new ones. But don't just think of growing gardens for yourself. 

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Heirloom vegetables are generally any variety grown before World War II. Many are unique for their flavor, looks, and growth habits.

MJI Photos / Creative Commons

In winter it's hard for gardeners to get their fix of greenery. You can visit greenhouses such as at Yale's Marsh Botanic Garden, but it's nice to have your own house plants to create a warm, clean environment.

NatureNerd / Creative Commons

It's the new year, and time for all good gardeners to spend a little time perusing seed and plant catalogs for new varieties. 

Sonny Abesamis flickr.com/photos/enerva / Creative Commons

With the holidays behind us, gardeners are often looking for ways to keep their hands in the dirt. One old-fashioned growing technique is making a comeback and is worth trying, especially with kids.

Patrizia / Creative Commons

“I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." Yes, dreaming seems like the best we'll be able to do this Christmas.

A white Christmas in Connecticut normally has about a 50/50 chance of occurring, with less chance along the shore and more a likely chance in the Northwest hills. But this winter the chance is nil, and it won't even be cold! 

scrappy annie flickr.com/photos/14903992@N08/15723002693 / Creative Commons

Ho, ho, ho, it's time for holiday gift buying. Yes, let's talk about special gifts you can give the gardener in your family. If you're stuck for ideas, I've got a few to share. Are you listening, Santa?

Chris Coomber / Creative Commons

I was visiting my brother in Goshen recently. We were looking at the majestic blue spruce trees in his backyard that he planted as Christmas trees years ago, when his kids were younger.

They've created a backdrop for privacy, and have cherished memories for him and his kids.

Maja Dumat flickr.com/photos/blumenbiene/11692859806 / Creative Commons

This flower is named after a shepherdess who had unrequited love for a gardener.

Benjamin Chun flickr.com/photos/benchun / Creative Commons

The holidays are coming up quickly and as we entertain family and friends, it's great to have a colorful centerpiece for the table. While traditional cornucopias are nice, this year consider creating a living succulent centerpiece.

Kathleen Waters Photography flickr.com/photos/kathleenwaters / Creative Commons

As we try to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, laws now mandate the recycling of plastics, paper, and yard products such as leaves and grass clippings.

Composting is one the best ways to reuse grass clippings and leaves to benefit your plants. But we should also be composting food scraps from the kitchen as well.

tracy benjamin / Creative Commons

The Grandpa Tucker poem below pretty much sums up how many people feel about Brussels sprouts.

Eric Hunt flickr.com/photos/ericinsf/28907735 / Creative Commons

With the emphasis on pumpkins, apples, and chrysanthemums at this time of year, it's easy to forget those subtropical bulbs that have faded with the cold weather. 

Susy Morris / Creative Commons

Being an Italian-American from Waterbury, Connecticut who likes to cook, I eat a lot of garlic. Luckily for me, growing garlic is almost as easy as eating it. 

Shandi-lee Cox flickr.com/photos/shandilee/8983279962 / Creative Commons

Fall is not only for pumpkins, corn stalks, and colorful leaves. It's also bulb planting time. 

Frenchtowner / Creative Commons

Pumpkins line farm stands and garden centers along with mums and corn stalks this time of year. Soon, that age-old tradition of pumpkin carving will happen, but did you know the first Jack-o’-Lantern was actually a turnip?

Dan Perkins flickr.com/photos/31110281@N08 / Creative Commons

Everyone is talking about native shrubs these days as we try to wean ourselves away from invasives, such as burning bush and Japanese barberry, which have been used for years as landscape plants. But it’s not enough to simply plant a native and hope for the best. 

Curtis Swartzentruber flickr.com/photos/skills0/7248620938 / Creative Commons

Fall is an excellent time for soil building and one of the ways I keep my soil healthy is by growing cover crops.

TANAKA Juuyoh flickr.com/photos/tanaka_juuyoh/6443984075 / Creative Commons

Some annual flowers just knock your socks off with their beauty. I remember a few years ago wandering through a greenhouse at White Flower Farm and being bowled over by their display of tuberous begonias. The flowers were perfect in a rainbow of colors with single and double flower shapes and some were even fragrant.

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Watering is key during the hot, dry stretch of weather we're in right now. But one crop I don’t have to worry about in this heat is sweet potatoes.

Rosewoman / Creative Commons

This common flower's botanical name means “to sit,” probably for the way it creeps along rocks. It is also called rocky stonecrop in England for the way it's perched on cliffs. We know it as sedum.

Dave / Creative Commons

Our basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley herbs are going to town in the garden. But what do we do with all these herbs?

Cindy See / Creative Commons

This fall flower is a native of Central America, but the Aztec grew them for food and medicine. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that Europeans starting hybridizing this plant for its flowers and now there are over 50,000 named varieties of dahlias.

Sonny Abesamis / Creative Commons

This time of year, there’s a bevy of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, and other veggies to eat and share. Even giving them away is a challenge, as I see my neighbor cringe when I walk up their driveway with yet another gift of zucchini. 

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