Greetings! I want to share a story with you. I started Natureworks in 1983, 34 years ago. I had worked in a greenhouse where I had to hold a pesticide applicators license and had to spray toxic poisons on the plants every week- poisons that are now banned. It really scared me to do this. I started my own business and pledged to never use them again. I was going to GO ORGANIC. It was a time when it was not popular. I was the ONLY organic landscaper and the ONLY organic garden center. There were very few products to sell, no internet, very little information except for Organic Gardening Magazine and Rodale Press books.People thought I was a crazy radical. Yet, I persisted. I joined N.O.F.A.(Northeast Organic Farming Association) even though I was specializing in ornamental gardens as it was the only group that I could relate to and learn from.Soon I was on the board, eventually I was the president! It’s crazy- I didn’t have a farm. I just had a complete dedication to organic gardening.
Fast forward to today. Things are a lot different now. N.O.F.A. is a huge organization. Organic food is mainstream.So are organic gardening products. I am no longer considered “that crazy lady” but instead, I am “the expert”.BUT, as we approach yet another Earth Day celebration, I continue to have deep concerns.Poisons are still being used in great quantities, especially on lawns in suburban neighborhoods.Somehow, the dots aren’t getting connected on that front.Pollinators are in decline, and monarchs are in a serious struggle for survival. Climate change is manifesting itself as extreme swings in temperature, rainfall, drought, and record breaking storms.So, I persist and will continue to teach organic, sustainable gardening methods for all of my days. My staff is right here beside me. Natureworks is still the goto place for all things organic. It is a safe house for pollinators and all creaturesbutterflies, birds, and HUMANS! I think that is why people tell us all the time that Natureworks is so special. It feels different. It is different. It always has been and we are so proud of the fact that
EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY AT NATUREWORKS.
Starting this week, we will be open late on Thursday evenings until 7 pm. This Thursday at 5:30 pm we will host our first Facebook Live event. Diane and I will talk about attracting hummingbirds to your yard. Facebook Live is just thatlive. If you can’t come, log into Facebook and listen and watch. Type in your questions and Diane will pass them along to me and I will answer them-live! How cool is that? After that, we will do some live shooting of a few educational videos, right before your eyes, right here in the garden center.You might even be able to participate with a “walk on” role.
We are uploading new videos to the Natureworks YouTube channel constantly. It is our new passion and a really cool way to teach our customers how to do things. Last week we did videos about feeding your blueberries, how to use row covers, spring care of your homegrown garlic, and cool season veggies. Click here to link to our YouTube page and share it if you like what you see. We also constantly post on Instagram and Facebook, all great ways to see gorgeous photos of what’s new and exciting at the garden center.
This week, lots of our customers have been reporting that the hummingbirds have arrived! They migrate north from Central America in early spring, drinking nectar from early blooming flowers. They build their tiny nests (1-2″ high and wide!) in tree branches, attaching them with spider web filaments. Their eggs are half the size of a jellybean and they usually only have one brood each year. We are ready.Are you? Our nursery yard is filled with all sorts of plants that will provide nectar for the hummingbirds and make them want to move in, settle down, and make your yard their home for the summer.Some of my favorite hummingbird plants blooming in late April and early May are coral bells, Pulmonaria, Silene, creeping phlox, columbines, quince, azaleas, bleeding hearts, fuchsias, and Dianthus.You should put out your hummingbird feeders this week. We sell a very basic feeder that is easy to fill and clean and we sell a high quality nectar made with real wildflower nectar.
As many of you know, I garden with the cycles of the moon, an ancient practice. This week is another chance to plant root crops. That’s great news for me as I am going to plant an entire raised bed with 5 varieties of organic seed potatoes. If you have never grown your own potatoes, you are missing out. There is nothing like the flavor of fresh dug potatoes. No space? No problem.You don’t need a dedicated veggie garden to grow them.You can plant up a Smart Pot and grow them in a cloth bag. When they are ready to harvest, you dump the bag out- no digging required. Jillian is offering a class on Saturday afternoon where you will plant your own Potato Smart Pot.See the details below or click here to register on line.
This week I am also planting beets and carrots from seed. Most of us like to eat beet greens but find they can be destroyed by leaf miners, a tiny insect that tunnels inside the leaves.Ewwww. This problem is easily prevented by the use of floating row covers.Easy peasy. Watch our YouTube video on how to install row covers and read a brief explanation of why they work in the article below. I am also planting both red and yellow onions from seedlings.Yay root crops! We are super-stocked with all kinds of cool season vegetables. Our salad planters are incredible, filled with different types of lettuces and fresh herbs.You can plant kale, broccoli, spinach (I am already eating fresh spinach from the garden) and so much more. Consider establishing an asparagus patch. It takes a few years, but just like harvesting your home-grown potatoes, asparagus is a delicacy and a perennial vegetable that is pretty to look at. Is it time to plant perennials? Yes! Shrubs and trees? You betcha. It’s too early for basil and tomatoes but we have lots of cool season, colorful annuals to fill your pots and windowboxes that won’t be bothered at all by nights in the 40’s. It’s also prime time to FEED your garden with our Magic Formula that has stood the test of time for decades:
Our Magic Formula for Spring Take a soil test and let the Natureworks staff help you interpret it organically. Add lime as needed to adjust your PH. Our basic feeding regimen is as follows: Fill a large wheelbarrow with compost (if you don’t make your own, use three 40 lb. bags.) Add 8-10 shovels full of Pro-Gro organic fertilizer. If your soil test indicates that you are very low in phosphorus, add extra rock phosphate. If you are very low in potassium, add extra greensand. Mix this up well with your shovel. Add 1″ of this mixture around the crowns of your perennials. Add 3-4 shovels full to the base of each rose and butterfly bush.This is called a “maintenance dose” of fertilizer and is done once a year, each spring. To read our complete Feeding the Garden handout click here. Now is also the time to feed your lawn using organic fertilizers. Continue to spread compost and sow grass seed in any bare spots. This Sunday, Diane is teaching a FREE workshop on Organic Lawn Care. It is the ideal opportunity to ask her all of your questions and gain a deeper understanding of how to be successful using organic methods. So plan on a visit to Natureworks this week. We are overflowing with lush plants and everything you need to have a healthy, safe, organic yard.See you very soon…
The Dandelion Wars
I need to get something off my chest. What did dandelions ever do to become so hated in our society today? The truth is I have been in an ongoing dispute with my husband about our front lawn. He wants it to be a monoculture, a pure carpet of lawn grass, nothing else.Besides grass, our lawn now has dandelions (which he is digging out by the roots with this cool tool called a Garden Weasel), beautiful purple violets, low growing white clover, and a few other low growing weeds. Why are weeds so hated in our society? I have been re-reading a very interesting book about the history of lawns A Man’s Turf: The Perfect Lawn by Warren Schultz, Three Rivers Press, 1999. This idea goes back to the late 1800’s when we finally felt that we had “conquered the wilderness”. Lawns became a symbol of prosperity. Until the 1950’s, weeds in the lawn were not considered a negative thing. Here’s an interesting excerpt:”…as the technology of World War II seeped into postwar life, war gases were converted into peacetime use.Scientists soon discovered that by shuffling a few molecules around in the formulas for nerve gases, they could create weed killers, and the modern herbicide industry was born.” Schultz goes on to describe how clover, once an integral part of grass seed mixes (being a legume, it actually fixes nitrogen from the air and helps to FEED the lawn) became something to be despised as the new herbicides killed all broad-leaf weeds, clover among them. I actually consider lawns to be a green space between planting beds. It is useful for picnics, pathways, croquet, lawn games, children, and pets. If you have more lawn than you actually use for these activities, and you insist that it be a monoculture of just grass, you will be spending lots of time and money on it. Period. Consider instead allowing a portion of your yard to become a meadow and allow flowers in. Guess what will happen? All of the creatures that you share your yard with will be ecstaticbees, birds, butterflies, bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, you get the picture.You will attract so much life to your surroundings that you will want to sit and watch it happen before your eyes. Life happens in a complex ecosystem. My husband knows my opinion but still insists that I advise him on how to “fix” our front lawn. The best advice I gave him, that he really took to heart, is that what he is doing is a process. Our front lawn used to be deeply shaded by huge maple trees. The roots are still in the soil after one of our ancient trees died and was cut down. The soil under maple trees is called starvation soil as the thick network of greedy roots uses up all the organic matter and nutrients. It will take time to re-build the soil and create the ideal growing conditions for a lush lawn to thrive.
Ironically, every day I work in the retail garden center, I get asked lawn questions on a regular basis. I can’t seem to escape this subject! Many folks now understand how important it is NOT to use poisons on our lawn and gardens.But, they want what they want and we will always be the go-to garden center to help that achieve their goals using organic methods. Click here to read our comprehensive Organic Lawn Care Handout and stop by this Sunday afternoon at 1pm and learn from our resident organic lawn care expert Diane St. John.And perhaps, try to stretch your concept of what a lawn should be just a tiny bit as a “tip of the hat” to Earth Day. The earth thanks you.
What do Row Covers have to Do with Earth Day?
When you decide to grow your gardens organically, you quickly learn that understanding the needs of your plants and the life cycle of your pests are the keys to success.
This year, we are once again offering floating row covers and metal hoops to use on your vegetable gardens. These are made of a light weight, white fabric that allows light and air through to the crops. It is installed over the plants and secured at ground level on all sides. The purpose is to keep out pests. One great example of why to use floating row covers is to prevent squash vine borer on your zucchini and summer squashes. This destructive pest (the larvae of a hawk or sphinx moth) bores into the vines of squashes and causes the plants to quickly wilt and die. If you plant squash seeds or seedlings and immediately cover them with this lightweight fabric, you protect the plants from this pest.You must remove the row covers when the plants bloom so they can be pollinated. In my own gardens, I wait until late July to plant my zucchini.By then, the life cycle of the squash vine borer is complete and they are not a problem.Know your enemy and try to outsmart him is Plant beets under row covers to prevent leaf miner damage. the way organic gardeners roll. Use every tool at your disposal before you consider using even an organic spray.
Thursday, April 20 th – Facebook Live Thursdays!
We are now open Thursday evenings ’til 7 pm We will be offering our first Facebook Live event at 5:30 pm.Visit the Natureworks Facebook Page and learn all about attracting hummingbirds to your yard and type in your questions.After that, watch us filming short, informational videos and maybe even get a role as a walk-on! FREE
Friday April 21 st – Pollinator Hero Planting
All day long we’ll have cowpots, soil and some of our favorite pollinator seeds for children to come by and plant up their very own Pollinator Hero Cow Pot! FREE
Earth Day Weekend!
Saturday, April 22 nd 10-11:00 am What’s On with Nancy… LESS LABOR, MORE COLOR
The gardening industry is abuzz with seminars on the ecological role of plants in the landscape and managing plant communities. More plants and less mulch is the battle cry! More color, less labor, and less inputs make this an intriguing approach for gardeners short on time or less able to do the physical work. Nancy will offer a simplified explanation of the very important movement and help you to apply it to your own yard. Don’t miss this! FREE
1:00-2:00 pm Plant a Potato Smart Pot
Pull up a chair and plant a potato smart pot with us. Fee includes an entire bag of potatoes to fill a 15 gallon smart pot (and probably a few extra), organic soil and 15-gallon smart pot. We’ll give you everything you need to know to grow the happiest, healthiest potatoes you’ve ever grown (in a container!). Pre-registration required. Fee: $30
Sunday, April 23 rd Enjoy an Organic Lawn and a Mini Meadow, too!
1-2pm Join the organic land care movement and grow a healthy lawn for you, your family and pets. Join Natureworks store manager Diane St. John and learn how to have a beautiful organic lawn. If you have one, bring your soil test for interpretation.(if you don’t have a soil test, stop in and ask us how to take one too!) She will also introduce the idea of a “mini-meadow” and explain how simply allowing the grass to grow it can eventually become a beautiful, sunny little meadow in an area of your existing lawn! FREE