This area is for people to discuss gardening, which has a very close relationship with the weather.

161 Responses to Gardening

  1. John says:

    I see you added a new section. Cool.

    • Woods Hill Weather says:

      It may be reconfigured later, but you can use this for now and I’ll let you know if/when I may change the setup slightly.

  2. John says:

    So right now with these warm-ups people starting to think about the yard. Right now you can finish raking any leaves and get all the twigs and trash that that find there way into our yards over the winter. You can also start raking the lawn. Do any pruning that you have, and cleanup flower beds. I would say yard cleanup is the biggest thing now. You can start thinking about turning on outside water, and inspect summer tools., hoses and lawn mower tuneups. Enjoy the bulbs that will be popping. More later, job one is cleanup.

  3. Amy says:

    I need to dig up a section of “lawn” and reseed it. Should I do this soon?

  4. Vicki says:

    Wow – thanks TK – this is great and how are you feeling, John?

    My question can be answered when you are feeling up to it so please do not hurry. We need to do something about our front lawn. It was where the grubs were last year that you told me how to get rid of. It’s not large as our entire lot is only 1/4 acre. My son-in-law said he’d do it but I’m not sure what or when. I thought aerating it (I imagine we can rent a machine) but do we need to do more than aerate? Do we heavily seed and then cover with the peet moss you mentioned above? Or do we just scatter the seed, the seed starter fertilizer and water?

    Thank you very much and I hope you are feeling better today????

    • Vicki says:

      Oh I should say that some of the lawn is in pretty good shape but there are big areas (about 4×3 feet) where the grubs were scattered through the healthy parts.

  5. John says:

    Hey, still lousy. In April you will start this job. If the damaged area is not to hard packed you can just rake, aerate if you want. After soil is loose add grubex, seed and fertilizer. Peet moss is an added expense but it will keep the soil moist, water and you should be good. Grubex goes down in April and August. For small bare spot at work we get bucket and mix pm,seed and feet. Hope this helps. So do first of April.

  6. shotime says:

    Thank You so much, TK! I didn’t see this section when I posted my last comment. Oops :)

  7. shotime says:

    John, Your co-worker is correct about Marigolds. Always plant Marigolds in my vegetable garden. Basil is also a great deterent of pests in vegetable gardens. Especially around tomato plants! Here’s a great link to Companion Gardening.

  8. shotime says:

    John, is the lawn too fragile to thatch in the spring (as in now)? I did attempted some thatching last fall with a regular rake, but I’m fairly certain that I really need to use a thatching rake to get the job done properly.

    • John says:

      I dont think.

    • Vicki says:

      Oh I didn’t know there is a thatching rake. Thanks shotime. We have a yard service clean up in the spring (we do fall) and they thatch but our front lawn (where it is healthy) gets really thick so we will look for the rake.

  9. John says:

    Even though it has been fairly warm, I would still wait till April for fertilizer.

  10. John says:

    Has anybody ever seen a dawn red wood tree, very nice. I would like a peeling birch tree. We have a dawn at work.

  11. retrac says:


    trees are really going to get faked out…any thoughts?

  12. retrac says:

    I heard it’s better to thatch in the fall because thatching too late in the spring will just open up surface area and aerated soil to crabgrass?

    • John says:

      It is better to thatch in the spring for sure and to lay down seed.

    • Nick says:

      De-thatching your lawn in the spring should only be conducted under two circumstances.

      1. You have a severe thatch accumulation, greater than 1″ in your lawn, and remediation would be necessary to allow adequate water, nutrient and air movement through the thatch layer.

      2. You plan to overseed your lawn, giving the seed the best chance for good seed-to-soil contact, rather than broadcasting seed over the top of the thatch layer.

      Crabgrass and other weed species grow best in compacted soil, over time aeration will help combat infestations.

      Although temperatures have been warm, bear in mind that soil temperatures remain too low to initiate growth, DO NOT apply any fertilizer for atleast another two weeks.

      • shotime says:

        Thank you for that info Nick. Areas of my lawn fall under several of the reasons you’ve given when to thatch, so I will go ahead and only thatch those trouble spots.

      • Vicki says:

        Thank you very much Nick. Seems as if my lawn also falls under several categories. We will do what shotime is also planning and thatch trouble areas.

  13. John says:

    I am sure you will all get this. What known bush attracts butterflys.

  14. John says:

    Flowers and leaves make a great blanket in the fall to cover those bulbs.

    • shotime says:

      I purchased a leaf blower/vacuum/mulcher unit last fall and it was great since the mulched leaves proved to be a superb winter cover for my garden beds and the remainder filled only three leaf bags oppose to the usual 24 that I put out for curbside yardwaste pick-up.

    • Vicki says:

      That’s why we don’t rake flower beds in the fall……………or so I keep telling everyone 😉

  15. Philip says:

    My crocuses are starting to come up today. The snowdrops that have been up since mid-February are still going but a few are starting to fade now. It will be interesting if any tulips come up by month’s end. Everything is a good two weeks ahead of schedule.

    Thanks TK for this new gardening site! :-)

  16. matt souza says:

    my flower garden has crocuses starting to come out The early tulips are starting to poke through and the trees are starting to have a few buds.
    had not started with my small vegetable garden yet but i have pre planted them in my family’s small green house under some light. can not wait to see what comes up . I am planting some new things so its an experiment. i also wonder how my grapes and strawberries ( i get starberries through out late spring through summer

    • matt souza says:

      should have also added my rosemarry bush survived the winter and already has some new leaves on it. Herbs are a must in my family. My dad makes a really nice seasoning for steak and other meats using them.

      • shotime says:

        Matt, Do you continue growing herbs indoors in the winter? You can really set up a nice little herb garden at a sunny window. I keep small pots of basil, parsley and dill growing throughout the winter. They actually sell cute little indoor herb gardens, which can be more attractive than pots lined up on your window sill. My sister freezes her herbs, but I haven’t had much luck with that.

        • matt souza says:

          yes i continue growing them but how do you keep dill alive. Thats usually what i have trouble growing even outside. Can you give me some hints

          • shotime says:

            Honestly, my dill grows just OK indoors. The stalks are kind of spindly, but acceptable. I start my indoor dill plants from seed. Dill needs daily light source for at least 6-7 hours. Pot must have good drainage and staked (wood shish-kabob skewer works well). Fertilize very little, small amount only about once a month. Fortunately, I have a sunroom which is a wonderful place for my indoor plants, plus I use a grow light in the winter when necessary. Hope this helps.

  17. Vicki says:

    I took a quick walk around the yard and noticed the mountain laurel leaves have a lot of black spots on them. The suffered the most in the 2010-2011 winter with the snow. Also a lilac bush has tons of what appears to be white fungus on its branches. I see leaves beginning so don’t know if I should leave the bush alone? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • matt souza says:

      cut the areas that are infected

      • Vicki says:

        Thanks Matt – that’s pretty much the whole bush. Should I just cut it back to the ground now or wait until it blooms and then cut back?

    • matt souza says:

      and with the lilac bush i had that problem as well i cut the infected branch and it got about 20 flowers on it about 2 months later so do not cut that down to the ground.Also check the soil see what kind of ph.

      • Vicki says:

        hahahahaha – you are thinking I actually know what I am doing. I should have a disclaimer beside my name that says (she has a black thumb). I looked at it again and it literally is all fungus.

        • matt souza says:

          i learned from my grandfather who has 2 large vegetable gardens and a variety of fruits. he also has a phd in botanyI also learned about other plants as well. Been learning about plants since i was in elementry school. Where do you think i was thinking vicki

  18. Vicki says:

    I have some sort of a bush way up at the back of our property with small purple flowers. It bloomed today. Don’t ever remember it blooming in March.

  19. Vicki says:

    Matt a curious question. Do you also enjoy cooking? I notice you have a great knowledge – thanks to your grandfather which is incredibly special – of herbs, etc. I couldn’t help wondering if that extended to also cooking with them.

    • matt souza says:

      yep i love to grill and my mom tought me and still is teaching me how to bake stuff. Grilled Sterloin steak with seasoned corn on the cob baked potatoes and grilled fresh pineapple. a good evening dinner expecially durring the summer and spring on the patio that is right now being fixed up. I am helping with that as well.

  20. matt souza says:

    outdoor hibiscus starting to grow leaves. lilac bush needs to get some vines cut off of it. I will be doing that this weekend.

  21. Woods Hill Weather says:

    Just stopped to check in here! Hope you are enjoying this section. I may make a few tweaks to the blog but if anything changes with this I will let you know. For the moment, it will remain as is. :-)

  22. shotime says:

    Noticed a few leaves w/ black spots on my Azalea bush today. Should I be concerned, or just leave well enough alone? Also, the bush seems to have a growth issue. I transplanted it 3 years to a sunnier area, hoping that would help. Any suggestions?

    • John says:

      If it is just a few leaves I would cut them off and see How that works, could just be a t ouch of fungus. So you said you moved it to a sunnier area. What kind of area was it in, shady or both. This type of bush is shade tollerant as well and can do very well beside a tree or under a tree. This plant does not require a ton of food but try feeding it with a bayer plant food product. I would have done this when you moved it. How long was it in before you moved it, sometimes it can be a shock to the bush. So access the location, cut few black leaves out, fertilizer and water. Watch and see how the bush responds.

      • shotime says:

        Thanks John :) The plant was moved three years ago, and gets afternoon sun. I will cut the leaves off, since it’s only a few. Hopefully, this year it fairs better w/ it’s growth. How often do you recommend I feed it? Currently, I’m using Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Plant Food (30-10-10) Do you still think I should switch to Bayer?

        • John says:

          It is recomended that you use a granular slow release fertilizer and put around the base of the bush, not using to much. This can be done in early spring and fall, although It should not need to be fertilized all of the time. You can use what you have been using but apply just once this season and see how that works. And as I said the azalea bush will do well in partial shade, too much shade will promote a weak growth.

  23. coastal says:

    I was wondering if you could make some suggestions for me. I moved into my house 2 years ago this coming June. The people who lived there prior did not take great care of the yard. I removed 2 very tall oak tree’s from the front yard and left two beautiful maples along the road. So the front yard does not get too much sun during the summer because of these maples. The back yard is flat around the house and then rises up about 15′ at the back of my property line. So basically the back yard has a two sided hill that slopes to the house. I do not have any water issued because the soil is very sandy. I have several different types of grass in my yard, in the front the grass blades are very thin. While in the back yard it appears I have several different types. In one are near the house I have a thicker blade type of grass and towards the hill its more of a combination of field grass. Does not look much of a lawn as you rise up the hill. I would like to make my lawn more consistent in appearance. I think I do need to thatch the lawn because it has not been well kept but I do remember you said something about thatching at a proper time. I was thinking about doing this in April after the 14th. We are having a birthday party for my daughter that day and know I will have a lot of kids running around.

    In late April I am planning on thatching the lawn, over seeding, lime and fertilizer application all at the same time. Does this make sense or will this negatively impact my lawn?

    What type of grass seed do you recommend?

    • Vicki says:

      Good questions, coastal – your yard sounds like mine except I have a fair amount of moss on the top level in the back yard. I’ll be anxious to hear answers from everyone as well!

  24. shotime says:

    Good Topic, Vicki… MOSS! Any suggestions on how to rid my yard of moss and a good amount of it, too. Around my bulkhead, front porch and other areas near cement or where the grass has had a difficult time growing. My soil is very rocky, making me think this is one of the reasons moss takes to my lawn so quickly. Just a thought, but could be totally off on my thinking :)

    • coastal says:

      Vicki / Shotime,
      I had a bad moss problem in certain area’s when I moved in. There was no grass on moss in these places. I had 7 tree’s removed around my house that cause many issues with my roof and siding. I also believe that the lack of sunlight contributed to the moss problem. After removing the tree’s the most has dried up considerably and is much better today. You can also treat those area’s with some type of granular chemical solution which is found out Lowes and HD but I am not sure how well it works. Sunlight and ventilation did the trick for me.

    • John says:

      For moss on the lawn-moss looks for bare patches on your lawn. to stop this problem fill those spots. Rake up the moss with a metal or iron rake, strong back and forth motions. After moss is removed you can reseed that bare spot. If the lawn is dry or sandy use a drought resistant product. Add some dirt over the seeded area to speed up the growth of the grass. Water everyday till you see some grass. As far as moss on ground, walkways use a liquid solution.

      • shotime says:

        Thanks John, will do. Will I be able to plant grass seed in the areas where the moss chemical has been used, or will I have to replace the soil first?

      • matt souza says:

        thanks john I will be telling my parents. My yard is really dry and sandy since we live on a old river bank. and we tried to put down new grass but it did not grow.What would be considered a drought resistante procuct that you use for the grass

        • John says:

          Scotts turf builder and ez seed have a good record. Turf builder can be used for shaded areas as well. Pennington products have good reviews but not Sure if stores sell it, I think they do. At work we use Scotts products and have awesome green, thick lawns. But I am to cheap to buy for my house, product is expensive. I do this kind of work all summer. You would think I come home to an awesome lawn, wrong. We do a peet moss, seed mix at work that is good for bare spots.

    • Vicki says:

      I have a two level back yard. The top level is in the back and ends at the woods and the area on only one side where there is moss is covered by trees both in the woods and in a neighbors yard. It’s a tough spot to access for water as well. We gave up and actually do not mind the moss look as it is greener than the alternative which would be dry, brown grass :)

      • Vicki says:

        Oh and the chemicals I found were not child friendly and my grandkids play up there all of the time as well as my dog.

        • John says:

          I can research that for you. They must have some pet and child safe products. Remember moss is a shade lover. And always read all labels before buying a product, it is there for your protection. Safety is always number one thing.

          • Vicki says:

            Thanks for the offer, John, but we really are at the point where we feel it withstands the wear and tear of the kids and their toys far better than grass. It’s also where my SIL puts the skating rink in the winter so when he takes the rink down the entire area is lovely and green :)

  25. retrac says:

    the shade is the big problem vicki…and if the soil is hard and compacted to where grass roots can take a good hold too. Low soil PH can contribute as well but lime alone won’t do the trick. I might try loosening up the soil, fertilizing and liming. Get a shady seed mix too.

    for chemicals, you’re right to be concerned. when my son was about six or so he got some grubex in his eyes which landed us in the emergency room. His eyes were swollen shut and pussing out green and brown goop. those warning labels are for real.

    • Vicki says:

      oh no – what a scare that must have given you. The moss has made it a good place to put the kids sandbox and playhouse and other outdoor toys. As you can see we gave up trying to manage it and just worked with it :)

  26. shotime says:

    John, Remember my mentioning a concern about my Iris plants, and you doubted they were in fact Iris’ this early? They are, and they’re doing much better now. I’m sure you were right when you said that Iris’ never bloom this early, but this winter has brought about some new blooming dates dates for a good many plants. Should be a very exciting spring, that is as long as we don’t get a cold snap in April. Cross your fingers!!!

    • Vicki says:

      shotime I have three friends whose mini irises bloomed a week or maybe 10 days ago. Maybe mini are different from the non-mini. How are yours doing? Still not looking healthy?

      • shotime says:

        Vicki, I don’t think I’ve ever seen mini Iris’ before. Mine are full size plants. I have one garden of about 25 plants (a mixture of colors) and at least 15 of them are up about a good 4-5 inches. Thankfully, after the last few rains, they’ve been looking much healthier. The leaves are completely green now, rid of that brownish tint they had. Does anyone know if there is a way to post pics on the blog?

  27. John says:

    Oh good. I also ran that by the guy that I work with who has over 26 years in the field. So early.

  28. shotime says:

    This is an interesting planter that I saw in April’s Better Homes and Garden.

    • Vicki says:

      That is interesting shotime – too expensive for me but my guess is that in the long run with the way I kill plants it might actually be cheaper to get the planter than to keep replacing plants :) Thank you!

      • shotime says:

        Yes Vicki, I thought it was a bit pricey, too. But, interesting just the same :) I might like it for my winter herb garden. As long it’s not another gimick planter like the Topsee Turvey, which I have yet to have any luck with. Last year I had great luck with growing my tomotoes in planters. I recycled old taping compound buckets, and poked holes in the bottom for drainage along with stones in base of container. I grew nice large tomatoes, and didn’t have to deal with cut worms or any other pests that usually bother the plants.

        • Vicki says:

          more than interesting and I am willing to bet the initial investment for people with black thumbs like me is worth it. I don’t know anyone who has luck with those upside down plants. I want to try tomatoes in a container again this year. I haven’t done them for years!

  29. shotime says:

    I recommend to anyone with plants that have new buds or are already flowering to cover them during any nights that drop below freezing, and I believe there are a few forecasted for this week. You can use anything from old bed sheets, cardboard boxes or even newspaper. Plastic bags can be used, but are not the best material since they do not allow the plant/shrub to breathe, causing moisture to get trapped inside and if the temperature drops low enough, the increase in moisture is a greater threat. Just remember to remove covering during daylight hours (especially plastic) when temp goes above freezing. Hopefully, we will not have to discuss what to do if we have an April snowstorm! Ha!!

    • shotime says:

      I forgot to mention burlap, which is an exellent covering, but not everyone has a roll of burlap laying around the house. Save your money, and use something you already have hanging around the basement or garage. And then of course if you’re an avid gardener, you might have a cold frame which works wonders if the plants are small enough. The warm weather was a wonderful treat, but because of it, some of our more fragile plants now need to wear a winter coat at night. And not too worry… the fashion police won’t be out checking gardens for the latest in spring attire :)

  30. Vicki says:

    Shotime I just came here to post the same thing. I spoke to our local garden center (Russells in Sudbury) and they also recommend covering tonight – tomorrow – and any other time there is a heavy frost predicted. I have hydrangeas and peonies poking through now and do not ever remember seeing either this early.

  31. matt souza says:

    any suggestions that are better than black tarps. I made this wooden boarder that surrounds the whole garden and then a pole going up the center of the garden. I lay a tarp over the stand and over the wooden boarder and then clip the sides any suggestions that are better than this

    • Vicki says:

      I just lay down old sheets right on top of the plants. I use rocks to hold them in place. The sheets have never bothered the plants. I asked about plastic and they said it won’t be down long enough to keep them from breathing so that was fine too.

  32. shotime says:

    How did everyone’s plants fair the cold temps last night? My hydrandeas took a little beating due to the sheets being blown off! Rocks didn’t help!!! For tonight’s freeze, I’ve stapled them together and tied of bottom with rope, so they should hold tonight, plus I don’t think it’s going ot be as windy. The clemetis and phlox covering didn’t blow off, so they should be good. I haven’t cleaned the leaves from the other beds yet, so those plants were protected. I only wish I had left the burlap on my hydrangeas, but once the buds started opening, I thought the burlap covering would be an issue. Lesson learned!!!

    • Vicki says:

      My hydrangeas are small enough that the cover stayed on. I did a quick look and it seems ok. I left the covering on today. I was more worried about the peonies but they look ok. Too many to cover all so did the ones that were up the most. I’m sorry about your hydrangeas

  33. Amy says:

    I forgot about this gardening page… so forgive the repost.

    For those who wondered how the buds and flowers would fare in the frost… Here in coastal Quincy, the Magnolia buds at Marina Bay turned brown overnight. They are close to the Chapman’s Reach townhouses, but apparently not close enough to save them. Too bad, as they were very pretty.

    Elsewhere in coastal Quincy, things looked okay. We got down to 27, but reached 50 in the late afternoon. A neighbor appears to have sprayed his bushes with water, and they were icicle masterpieces this morning. I don’t know if this helped – it did make the sidewalk in front of his house into a skating rink. Hopefully the mailman was looking were he was putting his feet…

  34. shotime says:

    What to do, what to do! Do I cover my plants tonight, or leave them to fend for themselves? The only plants that worry me at this point are my clementis. John, or anyone else… Do you know how sensitive they are to colder temps, but not below freezing?

    • Vicki says:

      Oh no I didn’t see the lows for tonight. Now I’m worried

    • Vicki says:

      We covered the hydrangeas. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the rest. Thanks for the reminder. I hope your clematis are ok. We have two that seem to have survived everything. Hopefully this year won’t be different. If we do get snow at any point we will all be scurrying.

      • shotime says:

        The last I read was that tonight’s lows were suppose to be around 33-34 degrees, but with clear skies in the forecast, I’m a little worried that the temps could go below freezing. TK has the remote suburbs in the 20’s, with the rest of us low 30’s. I took the covering off my hygrandeas today, but they can easily be recovered, which I think I’ll go do right now :) I actually have a setup so that all I have to do is pull the covering forward and they’re good to go!

  35. Vicki says:

    Shotime – I had one of those DUH moments today. I do not want snow to accumulate on the babies that are popping up. Whether we get snow or not, I don’t want to take the chance. But I didn’t want clothes weighted down on top of them with wet snow either. Then I remembered I have a bunch of empty and fairly large planters so I just turned them upside down over the babies – as many as I could anyway.

    • shotime says:

      That was a great idea. Thankfully, we didn’t get any snow, but there sure was a lot of frost around this morning. Happy April 1st :)

  36. Brad says:

    How did your hydrangeas do? I covered mine, but the leaves were a little black around the edges. I think they will be ok, hopefully. Won’t know until later in May when the blooms should set.

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Brad. I went out and checked them when I saw your post. Mine are baby hydrangeas and just started to bud. It looks as if most did all right but there are a few leaves with the black curled edges. I also noticed that the lawn service people who did the spring cleanup this morning stepped on some of the peony sprouts and broke them…………argh!!!! Did your other plants do all right?

    • shotime says:

      Brad, Some of the larger leaves on my hydrangeas turned a dark green. Thankfully it was only a few. Not sure whether to remove them or leave the plant alone.

  37. Vicki says:

    My mountain laurels have black/white spots on the leaves. They really suffered in the snow last winter. I’d have to cut the entire bush back to the base to get rid of them. Is there a way to save them that anyone knows?

    • shotime says:

      Vicki, It sounds like your Mountain laurel has leaf spot, a type of fungus. This can occur for several reasons. First, make sure all fallen leaves under plants are removed since they are probably infected, reinfecting the new spring growth. Next, make sure plants are not over-crowed, watered and fertilized now (only required in once in the spring). Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Plant Food should work fine. The soil should have a PH level of around 5-6. You may have to purchase a fungicidal spray which should be applied now, while new buds are emerging. Hope this helps, and best of luck :)

  38. Brad says:

    I think everything came thru ok. My plum tree and almond tree still have blossoms on it. I was shocked. The other stuff was just coming up, so i covered those with some mulch left over from last year. Only other thing im worried about is the creeping ground cover phlox. They bloom really early. I think they will bloom, but I’m afriad they wot be as loaded this year.
    Cant help with the Laurel, dont know anything about them.

  39. Amy says:

    Grass seed timing… I’m thinking that is we have a warming trend starting next weekend, that it might be close to the right timing to sow some grass seed…


    • Vicki says:

      I’m interested in answer too. Neighbor fertilized weeks ago and his lawn is lush and green.

    • John says:

      Amy. Seed now. With lack of rain make sure you adequately water daily. Morning is best. Even though we had warm weather early this year, the ground underneath was still not ready. Now is the time. Scott’s is a good choice if you can afford it, or pennington is good as well. We use both at work and have nice thick green lawns. Just determine the sun/shade and by that type. For smaller areas scotts ez seed is great.

      • shotime says:

        John, Any ideas on how to deter the birds from gobbling up all my grass seed? I cover the seed with a 1/4 ” of soil, but once they locate the seeds beneath, they have a field day. I’ve also tried branches, and they just use them as their dining table while they feast on seeds! :) Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  40. Vicki says:

    Nick my son was telling me that any gold course super in the country gets free masters tickets. You ever taken advantage of it??

  41. Vicki says:

    If we seed now what do we do about any weed control? Or do we just let the weeds have fun? I know this is why we should have seeded in the fall. For some reason we never do it that way :(

  42. shotime says:

    What’s the word, folks… Do we have to worry about our plants tonight? I live in Brighton, so not sure how low the temps will fall just outside the city.

    • Vicki says:

      Shotime Brighton is where my son rents BTW and just started looking to buy. I think you are safe. I checked the national weather service and noaa and both said there is an increased fire danger but nothing about frost.

      I just inverted my still empty pots over many of my plants and will put out the tarps later. We have a stone wall behind most of our plants that are up so I can secure the tarp on it and then drape it down to the ground. It doesn’t weigh down the tall peonies.

      • shotime says:

        Thanks Vicki :) I thought I read we might just hit 32 degrees, so I felt like the plants would be OK. I haven’t planted my annuals or veggies yet, so safe in that respect. I’ve owned a home in Brighton for about 13 years now and love the area. I enjoy the convenience of being so close to downtown, but just far enough away at the same time. I was also fortunate that my son got into Boston Latin School which is a really big plus for Boston residents. Hope your son finds a great home!

        • Vicki says:

          Hi Shotime – don’t know if you saw my post on the regular blog about frosts vs freezes. I do think you are safe. I was pretty sure when we were still 41 at 10:30 last night we were not going to get to 32 and we didn’t But will be just as cautious tonight and tomorrow night.

          Boston Latin is an exceptional school. It’s nice that he can live close enough to take advantage of it.

          My son works in Boston and is pretty much the last person I would have pictured living in the city since he loves hiking and camping and just being outside. But he also loves the night life in Boston and the best part of this area is you don’t have to go far in either direction to find whatever you want. We are excited that he’s in a position to start looking to buy!

  43. shotime says:

    Took advantage of yesterday’s dry weather and planted 4 Gerbera Daisy plants, an Angels Trumpet and several Mosquito Shoo Geraniums. They should fair well with the next few days of rain and then some warm sunshine come the weekend! I also planted 12 creeping phlox plants on a small hill garden. I’m so excited to see how they do. Have several regular phlox plants in my garden and I just love the wonderful floral scent when in bloom.

  44. shotime says:

    Vicky, In the past I’ve used Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer Spray, but it is definately NOT child/pet friendly! This year I’m trying EcoSmart Lawn Insect Killer which IS child/pet friendly! The best part about the application process is that you just attach the container to your hose, and spray away! Here’s the link to the product in case you’re interested. You can purchase it at Home Depot.

  45. matt souza says:

    who has been having trouble this year with apple trees, blue berries, tomatoes etc this year. The blue berry bushes have these really tiny things and there are almost no apples on my apple tree. I have been having more luck on an experimental lemon tree. got 7 lemons already.

  46. shotime says:

    Anyone else pot their tomato plants? If so, how did they do this summer? I had issues early on, although I’ve have still been able to pick about 10 tomatoes from 2 seperate plants. They started out so strong, but pretty much downhill from there. Any suggestions for next summer’s plants?
    Also, I’ve been thrilled with the brillant shade of purple, size and number of lace cap blooms my hydrangea’s produced this season, especially after those crazy spring temp swings resulting in some bud loss. Just imagine if it was a normal spring! The winter burlap cover has really paid off.
    Remember that it’s once again time to fertilize hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons along with keeping them well hydrated since they’re now producing next year’s buds. Any neccesary pruning should have been completed by now. If not, do ASAP!!!

    • Vicki says:

      How do you prune a hydrangea? WE have two new ones – one in a pot and one in the ground. Our two from last year didn’t bloom but the new ones were and are incredibly lovely. You covered yours with burlap last winter??

      We potted our tomatoes – one roma and one big boy (I think) The big boys are ripening sporadically but are delicious. The roma are rotting at the bottom up into the core and I have no idea why.

  47. shotime says:

    Vicki, I prune my hydrangeas for several reasons, first to remove any dead wood (branches that have not produces buds) which I cut right at the base of plant. The second reason is to clean up and shape the plants. When pruning for this reason, decide where you’d like to cut back to on the stalk and then cut about an inch above any bud(s) in that area. Pruning is not a bad thing; as a matter of fact it helps to generate larger blooms next season. Since burlaping my plants, upon the advice of a knowledgeable gardener they have been producing more blooms than I ever thought possible! So, I highly recommend you using burlap this winter! It works wonders, especially if the plants are not protected by a wall or other boundary. And finally, deheading is safe at any time and is more of a personal preference. Just try to keep cuts above the first set of large leaves or only cut down to the last healthy buds. This ensures the safety of any developing blooms for the next season. Good luck :)

    Regarding your potted tomato plants… did you layer the bottom of the pots with pea stones? I actually mix in a few larger stones from the yard. Just make sure they are clean! Also, some pots do not have sufficient drainage holes, so I recommend you make more holes for next years plants. I’ve also raised my pot on to bricks so they can drain even better. Not sure if this was your problem, but it’s a start.

    • matt souza says:

      I have a really big hydrangea in between this spot of the house the porch and the porch stairs and it it blooms all summer.Sadly it was not all blue this year which i like. When the leaves are off we basically just keep it out. we cut any of the dead stuff off durring the spring.

      • shotime says:

        Matt, For blue colored blooms, you need to lower the pH level of your soil. You can do this by adding coffee grounds, eggshells or ground-up citrus peel to the soil. You’re shooting for a pH level of 5-6.

  48. Vicki says:

    shotime I jinxed myself. We went out to pick a few tomatoes yesterday and there was a HUGE – AND I MEAN HUGE green worm thing eating them with droppings all over the tomatoes. My daughter and I were trying to figure was was on the tomatoes and we didn’t see the worm until the last second and both of us literally screamed when we realized it wasn’t a leaf.

    Thank you for the information re the hydrangeas. We will make an effort to do all of this. I have always enjoyed the flower – fresh and dried.

  49. shotime says:

    lol :) Sorry about your worm experience! Sounds like a horn worm which are common in July and August. Best way to rid the plants of these nasty pests are with some insecticidal soap. Next year you might consider planting lots of marigolds around your tomato plants. Marigolds are a superb in keeping your plants free of pests. Dill is another great deterent.

  50. shotime says:

    Vicki, I wrap my hydrangeas with burlap once all the leaves have dried and fallen off which is usually after a few good hard frosts. You can go ahead and de-head the plants now, if you haven’t already done so. Depending on the size of your hydrangeas, you might need to tie the branches closer together with a thick twine before covering with burlap. Be careful not to injure any of the buds, since those are next year’s blooms. You’ll be amazed by the increase of next season’s blooms. I know I was!

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks shotime. I still have some huge flowers on ours that have a bit of color. Should I deadhead those and how far back do I cut? Thanks so much for your help. These new hydrangeas were spectacular this year and I really want to have them winter well. Should they be surrounded or covered by wood supports so snow doesn’t weigh the burlap down?

      • shotime says:

        You can keep the blooms on until they’ve dried. Some people never remove flowers, also known as “Deadheading” but I like to clean up the plants for spring. Cut should be made right below bloom and above first leaf.
        My hydrangea plants are about 5′ tall and 4′ wide and I’ve never built an enclosure before covering with burlap. Snowpack has never been an issue in the past since plants always bounce back in the spring. Twining method; circle twine around plant – starting with bottom branches up, pulling them together good and tight. Then cover plant with burlap (2 layers) around and over top of plant. Secure burlap the same as you did when bringing branches together. Make sure to use a thick twine so that it does not cut into the wood.

        • Vicki says:

          Thank you so much. We will do this. One is in a pot and it has had a lovely pink HUGE flower since late August that is just losing its color.

  51. Vicki says:

    This is what I have so far – please let me know if I missed you – also I rearranged when I copied to paste here and hope I didn’t cut anyone by accident

    Alisonarod Commack Long Island
    Merlin Long Island and into Bridgeport CT
    Keith-Hingham Jones Beach NY
    Tom Block Island RI
    Hadi Brick NJ
    Rainshine Monmouth, NJ
    Vicki Toms River, NJ
    JimmyJames Belmar, NJ
    Mark Monmouth Beach, NJ
    Old Salty Ocean Pines, MD
    Matt CT/long island/ny
    Coastal Shirley, NY
    Shotime Narragansett, RI
    Sue Somers Point, NJ

  52. shotime says:

    I know this is going to sound crazy, but I think my backyard needs a cutting. Would I damage the lawn if I were to mow it tomorrow since it is going to be in the 50’s? Thanks :)

    • Nick says:

      I would avoid cutting your lawn now, unless it is unbearably high. Soil temps have been fairly low, by growing standards, for almost a month now. When soil temps start dropping the grass transitions from metablozing carbohydrates for top growth (as it does throughout the growing months) and begins storing carbohydrates in its root structure to survive the winter. Each time you cut your lawn, the grass plants have to expend stored carbohydrates from their reserves to heal the wound created. If you feel you must cut your grass, you won’t kill it, it won’t immediately turn brown, but it will deplete some of its stored reserves for winter. With soil temps right now averaging low to mid 30s, the grass plants wont be able to mine any additional nutrients from the soil or applied fertilizer, so what they have in reserve is all they have until spring.

      • shotime says:

        Thank you, Nick. Great infromation and I will refrain from mowing the lawn until spring. It’s definatley a little longer than I would like going into the winter, but I think I’d do more harm than good.

  53. Scott77 says:

    I came outside my front door this morning and notice a good size area of marks on my front lawn. It almost looks like larger aeration marks. I’m thinking either it was an animal that trampled on it(possibly a deer maybe) or some other critter underneath the ground? Does anyone have any idea what it might be? I spent a great deal of time aerating and overseeding it this fall so wasn’t happy about it…

  54. Scott77 says:

    I’m thinking it might be moles, but that is just a guess on my part. Maybe due to the warm weather they are creeping up?

    • Nick says:

      Hmm…I would think it would have to be something above the surface to create aeration like holes. If it were moles, I would think you would see evidence of tunneling. Let us know if you find the culprit.

    • shotime says:

      Wonder if the grubs are surfacing since temps have been fairly mild recently. Just a thought???

  55. Scott77 says:

    Yes when I walked out this morning I did see a raised area in one of the beds near the lawn which looks like a tunnel.

    • Vicki says:

      I googled mole holes in lawn and a lot of pictures showed up – maybe you could see if they look like the ones in your lawn. A tunnel would make me think mole or some similar creature. Our chipmunks seem to tunnel further down and don’t leave telltale signs of a tunnel on the lawn

  56. Scott77 says:

    We have chipmunks as well. I think my answer is Moles. Now will have to see how to prevent them from ruining my lawn. Thanks for the feedback!

  57. shotime says:

    Lily Leaf Beetle
    I have been able to keep my lilies free of these horrid pest with the use of Bayer Rose and Plant Spray. I tried Neem oil, but the results were not as good! Get an early start of these pest, or they will take over all your lily plants. I first spotted the red beetle about 3 years ago, thinking it was a lady bug until I took a closer look. I then began to notice them on my neighbor’s lilies plants, too. Good Luck and treat quickly!!!

  58. Hadi says:

    Thanks Shotime, I spoke with a bug specialist and his advise was either pick them off daily or use powerful chemicals that he said really do not work and are not the safest The other option was to get rid of them which we did :(

    • shotime says:

      I went with the picking off method at first, but couldn’t stay ahead of them. Seriously, my plants were infested, but Bayer Rose and Plant Spray took care of the problem and the lilies went on to bloom beautiful flowers. Sorry to hear that you were advised to get rid of the plants.

  59. Hadi says:

    Not sure how bad yours were but our were so infested. He said that the spray stuff does not really work but I guess you are saying it does….hmmmm

    • shotime says:

      My plants were so infested, it was scary! The leaves and stems were covered with a black tar-like gunk. I can’t say enough about Bayer’s product and how well it actually worked. I just sprayed my plants the other day. No sign of them so far, but the unwelcome mat is out in case those little pests get any ideas about dropping by for a another visit.

      • Vicki says:

        John swears by the Bayer products also. If I get the little critters again, I’ll try it

        • shotime says:

          Vicki, you might consider treating your lily plants and the soil at base of plant before those little pests have a opportunity to settle in! Also, remember to spray the underside of the leaves as this is one of their favorite places to hide.

  60. Vicki says:

    Does anyone here have a nice cutting garden? I have an area that’s about 5 feet by 2 along a stone wall in our back yard. I’d love to plant a cutting garden – annuals I would think. Every year I try to do this and it just doesn’t look good. It’s tough to love flowers and have a black thumb. Any suggestions for types of flowers??

    • Flowergirl75 says:

      Zinnias and snapdragons are always a great choice for cutting gardens. Lots of good perennials too — echinacea, delphinium, daisies, roses, dianthus, so many! You might want to check out sites such as or (they’re related to one another but have different things). I’ve always gotten really good ideas from those catalogs/websites, used their ideas and then bought plants at Home Depot, Lowes, or local garden centers :) Best of luck, and whatever you choose, I know it will be beautiful!

      • Vicki says:

        GREAT – isn’t that funny….I meant to say I had snapdragons last year and loved them. My mom always had a beautiful garden and as a child I remember her fitting the flower on my fingers so I could make them “snap” like a dragon.

        I noticed last year that they all sort of fell over instead of standing up straight. Is it something I did?? Off to check your links – thank you VERY much!

        • shotime says:

          My son gave me a bunch of seed packets of mixed zinnias and stock flowers. I’m going to try planting them directly in the garden, and see how they do. I also plan to plant about a dozen sunflowers along a chain link fence. I already know they grow very well from seed and I really enjoy watching the birds feast on the seeds in early fall!

  61. Vicki says:

    JimmyJames says:
    Thanks TK and Happy New Year to you and everyone on the blog. I look forward to another great year blogging with all of you.
    Since its the 1st of the year its once again time for bold weather predictions for 2013.
    At least 1 double digit snowfall for Boston
    7 out of 12 months with above normal temps
    below normal precipitation for the year
    15-20 90 degree days
    1-2 tornado watches posted including 2-3 big thunderstorm days.
    What are your bold weather predictions for 2013??? I would love to hear them.
    Woods Hill Weather says:
    My only partially scientific 2013 predictions…
    Still maintain near to below normal snow for the winter overall but 1 or 2 significant snow events probably February and/or March. It will snow in March this year.
    2013 drought intensifies through mid summer and is broken by a series of tropical rain events August / early September.
    Less than normal amount of t-storms but one severe weather outbreak in June or early July that will include a few “low precipitation” super cell thunderstorms much like what you see in West Texas.
    Quick description of the 12 months (not an official forecast):
    JAN: dry, chilly start, mild middle, cold finish
    FEB: cold & snowy (but not too much above normal)
    MAR: milder, some snow but drying trend
    APR: cool & dry but a couple brief warm spells
    MAY: mild & dry but a couple brief hot spells
    JUN: hot & dry, drought worsens
    JUL: hot & dry, drought peaks
    AUG: warm with tropical rains breaking the drought
    SEP: wet & muggy start .. chilly & dry finish
    OCT: dry & cool transitioning to wet & cold
    NOV: cold & wet start with early snow then dry & cold
    DEC: brief thaws otherwise cold with frequent fast-moving snow events
    rainshine says:
    I remember doing this last yr. and I was so wrong! And I’m sure I will be very wrong again this year, but here goes:
    Winter : I still believe we will be getting at least 2 more big snowstorms this season – probably in late Feb./March. At least one of them will be of blizzard proportions. Temps. for the rest of the winter will be up and down, resulting in an average winter. temp. wise.
    Spring: spring will start out wet and cold, early part will be some snow. By May we will dry out and warm up – but no real heat yet.
    Summer: kind of agreeing w/TK a bit, here. First part of summer will heat up and be dry, up until mid-late Aug. when some strong systems will give us a lot of rain. I will go for 3 tornado watches and a few severe thunderstorm watches. Some storms will be really severe, possibly a tornado or 2, late June or July. And I have to add that I believe in Sept. or Oct. New England gets a big hurricane. We get brushed by at least one tropical system during the summer.
    Fall: a wetter scenerio ends the summer and temps. cool down leading to a cool and wet fall.
    Winter: can’t see that far – will take a guess to an unusually snowy winter.
    Tom says:
    2013 Weather Predictions
    10 out of 12 months above normal temps, 8 out of 12 months below normal precip.
    February 2 to 14 time frame : a close to 20 inch snowfall at Logan.
    April 17 to 25 time frame : first 90F day
    Mid June to early August : New England will once again sit at the eastern edge of a huge central US ridge. It will be in the mid 80s to low 90s consistently without a lot of high humidity. On occasion, a bit of the extreme heat will break off from the ridge and Logan will have 2 days of temps 98F to 102F, with a total of 12 to 15 90F plus days.
    August-September : as the anomolously mild Atlantic ocean temps continue with no big La Nina or El Nino in place, New England for the 3rd year in a row will be impacted by a tropical system.
    October-December : autumn will continue to a bit milder than normal and the first snow at Logan will fall between Dec. 9th thru the 16th.
    Tom added the following: To clarify……. the Feb 20 inch snowfall all from one storm.
    matt souza says:
    JAN: dry with near normal temperatures.
    FEB: snowy and cold
    MAR: near mormal to slightly below normal temperatures with some snow first half of the month.
    APR: dry and cool to start then wet and mild later half of the month
    MAY: dry and warm
    JUN: mild and dry
    JUL: Extreme heat most of the month seeing 90+ with little precipitation besides for a few cold fronts moving though which in general will be thunderstormed starved.
    AUG: warm with a tropical air mass
    SEP: near normal precipitation and near normal temperatures
    OCT: wet and cold
    NOV: cool and wet with are first snowfall sometime around or after thanksgiving
    DEC: cold and dry some light snow events from alberta clippers
    Philip says:
    Here are my 2013 predictions:
    1. Game time temps for the Pats playoff game on 1/13/13 will be at least 45-50+. I have no idea if rain will fall or just fair skies.
    2. Boston will get ONE and only ONE significant snowfall with no mix or change. All other storms will see change to rain or rain from beginning to end. Water temps will remain above 40 degrees. Suburbs will get more snow aplenty which will make Logan’s final total for the winter very deceiving compared to the rest of SNE.
    3. The SB will feature Pats vs. Redskins…Brady vs. RG III.
    4. Drought #s for Logan will reach double digits again, but for a much longer period of time. IIRC it was only for a couple of days or so just last month.
    North says:
    My weather prediction for 2013:
    January: Drier and seasonably cold with a moderate snowstorm during the last week of the month.
    February: article cold start with a very stormy mid-late month with a sizable snowfall in there (15 inches).
    March: stormy first few days with some snow, drier and mild after that.
    April and May: Dry and seasonable after a cool start to April.
    June and July: Dry and hot with moderate humidity courtesy of a west to Northwest flow around the central ridge.
    August and September: Dry and hot first half of August, increasing tropical rains in the second half into the beginning of September, drier and mild after that.
    October: Dry and seasonable temps.
    November: Dry and cool to start. Cold and stormy to finish with 2 storms featuring snow just away from the coast.
    December: very cold with frequent snow events!
    John says:
    My call for 2013.
    1. The warmth coming in is overdone and will return to cold air by the time the pats play in a very cold game.
    2. Next snowstorm MLK weekend.
    3. Still going with a cold and snowy winter finishing with above for snow. Two very big snow event to boost the numbers, than some clippers. South shore community right down to the cape major snow event with double digits.
    3. Cold march with one storm probably a mix event Boston/south.
    4. Nice spring with warm weather again in April.
    5. Hot/ dry summer.
    6. Storm again for labor day weekend for like the third year. This Time a hurricane that will rival Bob and Gloria.
    7. Very nice warm fall.
    Vicki says:
    January – Average temps and dry
    February – One larger storm (8+) and two smaller events (2-4) temps a little above average
    March – early storm (6-10) then above avg temps
    April – June below normal precip and above avg temps
    July – August – above avg temps, below avg precip and possible TS or Hurricane late August
    Sept – October – above avg temps, avg precip
    Nov – above to avg temps, perhaps one low-mod snow event
    Dec – above to avg temps and a few small snow events

    Old Salty say:
    A hot summer

  62. Vicki says:

    2013/2014 predictions

    John 80.0
    Hadi 68.8
    Cat966g 65.0
    shotime 58.0
    Tjammer 57.7
    North 52.6
    Shreedhar 52.0
    Scott77 51.0
    Longshot 48.0
    Vicki 43.3
    kane 41.6
    Matt S 39.5
    TK 38.8
    Haterain 38.0
    JimmyJames 36.2
    Charlie 35.4
    rainshine 35.0
    WeatherWiz 32.1
    Joshua 32.0
    Philip 31.7
    AceMaster 30.5
    Old Salty 28.5
    Retrac 27.7
    Sue 24.2
    Tom 19.4

  63. Vicki says:

    These are winter totals so far but I can’t verify them with computer

    12/7 0.1
    12/9 0.4
    12/10 0.3
    12/14 3.2
    12/15 1.0
    12/17 6.4
    12/26 0.3
    1/2 10.6
    1/3 4.5
    1/10 0.2
    1/18 2.0
    1/19 0.2
    1/21 3.9
    1/22 0.3
    1/25 0.1

  64. retrac says:

    skunks are back poking holes in the lawn for grubs. Early.

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