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Edition 20.13 H&H Gardening Newsletter March 27, 2020

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Plant Perennials
This is perhaps the best month of the year to plant them. There are kinds to brighten every season, so put in a variety and you'll have something that is always coming into flower.

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GBO Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
Helps produce more abundant, better tasting and more nutritious vegetables.

GBO Palm and Citrus
Especially formulated for the needs of palm, cactus, citrus & succulents.


GBO Rose and Flower Mix
Ideal for a variety of in-ground and container planting.

featured quote

Featured Quote:

"I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error."
~Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988

We are open.

That being said, we appreciate our community and our guests and want to ensure that we have the goods and services you need. If you are not feeling well, please take care and get well soon.

We are so fortunate to have wide open areas of open air space, and we want to ensure that our employees and guests can maintain a safe distance and practice social distancing.

We have been implementing a cleaning and sanitizing routine on a regular basis. The health and safety of our guests and employees are our number one concern.

As for now, we are maintaining our winter hours of closing at 5:00 Monday through Saturday and 4:00 on Sunday. With the uncertainty of these times, we may need to adjust that, but we will keep you posted. Again, we thank you for your patronage.

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A Brief History of the Tomato

Few of us can conceive of cooking (or eating) without the presence of tomatoes in our diet. In the US, the tomato is the summer vegetable (or fruit?) most often grown at home--and there are plenty of cultivars to grow. The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims there are 25,000 tomato varieties.

But this delicious food didn't always have it so easy. Up until the 1800's, most people viewed the tomato with caution--and many with outright fear. Originally grown by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D., it is thought that the first seeds made their way across the Atlantic sometime in the 1500's.

Early Europeans categorized it with a group of well-known poisonous plants of the era: henbane, mandrake and nightshade. Because of its association with nightshade (whose hallucinogenic effects include visions and the sense of flying), it quickly became associated with witchcraft. In German folklore, witches would use plants such as mandrake and nightshade to summon werewolves (in fact, the common German name for "tomato" translates to "wolf peach"); because of this, the tomato was widely avoided (by everyone other than practitioners of the "dark arts," that is).

Legend has it that one of the main turning points in the popularity of the tomato in the US is largely due to one Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson. On September 26, 1830, standing on the courthouse steps in Salem, Massachusetts before a crowd of interested onlookers, he proclaimed his intention to eat a whole basket of the red fruit and survive. One member of the audience was his doctor, who loudly stated, "The foolish colonel will froth and foam at the mouth and double over with appendicitis. All that oxalic acid - one dose and he is dead! He might even be exposing himself to brain fever! Should he, by some unlikely chance, survive, his skin will stick to his stomach and cause cancer!" Colonel Johnson proceeded to eat the basket of tomatoes and survive with no ill effects.

Even with all its detractors, the tomato had a few fans. Some people once believed that placing a ripe tomato on a mantel of a new dwelling would ward off evil spirits and guarantee future prosperity. Since ripe tomatoes tended to go bad quickly, it became popular to make stuffed fabric tomatoes to put on the mantel. Invariably, people sewing began to use them as handy pin holders. To this day, pincushions are very commonly covered with red fabric--and many still look like tomatoes.

Today, we are much more likely to put a ripe tomato on our plates than on our mantels. We can enjoy all the different shapes, colors and flavors of tomatoes available. Here's wishing you a bumper crop this summer!

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Victory Gardens Today?

In the U.S., during World War I, we called them "War Gardens." They became "Victory Gardens" in World War II. And they saved this country and others from severe food shortages. It has been estimated that, in WWII, home and community gardens produced more than one-third of all vegetables grown in the United States and provided about 70 percent of the vegetables eaten by Americans at home.

Victory Gardens came in every shape and size. Governments and corporations promoted this call for self-reliance. People in all areas, rural and urban alike, worked the soil to raise food for their families, friends, and neighbors. Victory gardening enabled more supplies to be shipped to our troops around the world.

Nowadays, there are still remnants of these gardens in our backyards. Some are just home vegetable gardens. Others are yards filled with fruit trees, citrus, apricot, apples, avocado, etc. In some cities, they are community urban gardens. But our large farms are so efficient that it's unlikely we need any victory gardens anymore--or do we?

A home vegetable garden is a good way to save money, in more ways than one. If you like your vegetables really fresh, it's necessary to shop more often. With Covid-19 and all the "stay ay home" recommendations, we should avoid that. And if that isn't a good enough argument for "growing your own," the taste of freshly-picked produce will convince you, if you just try it once! Plucking fresh veggies or fruit from your own garden, just in time for that evening's meal, will give you a huge sense of pride, not to mention the unbelievable sweet freshness--even better than getting them from your local produce stand. Those of you who already grow your own vegetables can help by giving out a bit of your fresh fruits and vegetables to your neighbors. That alone may convince them to try it!

Many people resist growing food at home, for many reasons.

1) They think an attractive garden must be only decorative--and although many decorative flowers are edible (rose petals, for example), most people don't eat them. But many food plants are also decorative--eggplants have a very pretty flower, many herbs are grown as decorative plants, and pepper plants are often sold as ornamentals. Admittedly, tomato plants are generally unprepossessing--but you aren't limited to tomatoes!

2) Some people are low on space--apartment dwellers, for instance.'d be surprised what can be grown in a pot on your front patio or on a balcony (or even indoors). Some people even grow tomatoes upside-down as hanging plants. You can grow almost any vegetable in a pot, though okra or corn would probably tip the pots over, and watermelons probably aren't a great idea. If you are in a large town or city, community gardens are becoming more popular.

Find out if there is one--or interest in one--in your area. You could also try garden sharing with someone who has the space but for some reason or other can't garden. They provide the land, you plant it, and share the vegetables. Get creative. Even if you are in an apartment complex, your landlord might not mind your planting a few herbs around.

3) Some think growing their own food is just too much work. About half of the ones I know who say that they belong to a health club for comment. Gardening is healthy exercise. We highly recommend it.

So, save some money, get some healthy exercise at home, and enjoy the great taste of freshly picked produce. Plant your own 'victory garden' and encourage your friends to do the same!

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Fragrant Rosemary

Perhaps one of the most versatile plants available for home gardens is the fragrant rosemary. A plant that dates back to ancient Roman times, rosemary remains as popular as ever due to its intensely fragrant foliage and bright, vivid blue flowers.

The foliage can add flavor and spice to cooking as well as aroma to potpourri and beauty to flower arrangements.

Rosemary plants are evergreen, and are not only attractive to look at but also easy to grow. They tolerate poor soil conditions, are very drought and heat tolerant once established and require only occasional feeding to keep them happy. They prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade locations as well.

Rosemary plants are generally divided into two different types--upright and trailing.

Upright varieties have rigid upright branches with aromatic needle-like leaves. Most upright varieties can grow up to 4-6 feet high and half as wide. They can be placed as individual specimens or used to create beautiful low to medium-sized hedges.

Trailing varieties create a beautiful flow of fragrant foliage that forms an attractive carpet that can cascade from a container or rock wall. Trailing varieties also look great in rock gardens. These ground cover types generally grow 1-2 feet tall and can spread as much as 6-8 feet wide, if left untrimmed.

Rosemary plants are also are excellent for slopes and useful in erosion control.

Consider adding some rosemary plants to your garden. You'll love the fragrant foliage, as well as the butterflies and hummingbirds the beautiful blue flowers attract.

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Spring Lawn Care

Spring is here. The cool season grasses such as fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass are those lawns over which people have exclaimed, "You look marvelous!" (Can't you just hear Billy Crystal?) They have been bright green all winter. They are still growing fast; mow them weekly with a rotary mower (to 1 1/2 inches in height).

You should be feeding all established lawns now with a complete lawn fertilizer--containing phosphorus and potassium as well as nitrogen--to get warm-season grasses off to a good start and keep cool-season grasses going longer. A healthy, well-fed lawn is better able to withstand pests and diseases and choke out weeds

Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, dichondra, and zoysia, are waking up from winter dormancy. As they start growing, begin mowing weekly with a reel mower to the correct height for each. Mow common Bermuda to 1 inch, hybrid Bermuda to 1/2 or 1/4 inch, St. Augustine to between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches, and zoysia to 3/4 to 1 inch height. Cut Adalayd grass with a rotary mower between 3/4 and 1 inch in height.

We have mentioned two different kinds of lawn mowers: rotary and reel. A rotary mower is one in which one blade spins horizontally and uses a sucking and tearing action to cut the blades of grass. A reel mower is one in which the blades spin vertically and use a scissoring action to cut the blades of grass.

You notice that we recommend fertilizing with a complete fertilizer. While nitrogen gives your lawn top growth and a healthy green color you can see, phosphorus and potassium feed the roots and growth systems of the plant that are unseen but just as important. Phosphorus and potassium are longer lasting in soil than nitrogen, so one feeding a season with them is often adequate. After this complete feeding, you can switch to a less expensive, pure nitrogen fertilizer if desired, and feed warm-season grasses with it once a month for the rest of the growing season.

Before applying your complete fertilizer, be sure to read the instructions for your lawn type. Apply fertilizer when the ground is damp and grass blades dry, and follow up by watering deeply. Otherwise, you risk burning your lawn. As an alternative fertilizer for the cool season lawn, add coated slow-release fertilizer. Cool-season grasses need little or no fertilizer during the warmer months of the year. Slow release fertilizer will work perfectly for this type of lawn.

Irrigate all lawns now, according to their individual needs, if rains have not been adequate.

Both warm- and cool-season grasses may be bought as sod, and cool-season grasses can be planted from sod any month year-round. Although you can plant both warm- and cool-season grasses from seed this month, fall is actually a better time to plant cool-season grass seed. This is because fall planting gives cool-season grasses planted from seed more time to establish a root system before summer heat arrives. When planting warm-season grasses, wait until the weather has warmed up in your area. (If you plan to plant zoysia, it's best to wait until June.)

There are numerous lawn types and you should investigate each of them before choosing and planting one. How do you choose which grass is right for you? There are many considerations: sun, shade, foot traffic, pets, children, hardiness, style, color, and simply the "look" that you like.

When planting a new lawn, regardless of the type of grass and method of planting you choose, be sure to prepare the site thoroughly. If you're planting an invasive grass, such as Bermuda or an invasive variety of zoysia, first install edging to keep it from creeping into borders.

For all lawns, roto-till deeply, add plenty of soil amendment, then level and roll this amended ground. "Level" might mean rolling the area completely flat or it may mean compacting the soil but adding mounded areas of interest. The point is to level out soil so that your new lawn is not filled with hundreds of hills and valleys that would make walking on it (and mowing it) difficult.

If you have chosen to put in a seed lawn, sprinkle seeds evenly. This is most efficiently done using a hand-held fertilizer spreader or a seed spreader and covering the seeds with mulch or a lawn topper product.

Perhaps you are putting in a lawn that can be grown from stolons. Stolons are little portions of the plant that will root once in contact with the soil. St. Augustine is an example of this type of grass. Either roll stolons with a roller to press them into the soil or simply partially cover them with topsoil or a lawn topper product. Keep your freshly planted lawn damp until established. Sprinkle it two or three times daily, and avoid watering late in the day.

Just water and watch. In a few months--voilà--your new lawn!

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Garden Primer

Is rainwater really better than faucet water for my plants?



Many municipal water systems put chlorine and other chemicals in the water. Chlorine is bad for soil bacteria, not to mention our air. Rainwater is oxygenated, un-chlorinated and warmer than tap water, qualities that make it a better source for plants and safer for the environment. Cold tap water can also "shock" your plants.

There is a growing movement to conserve water by collecting rainwater in plastic barrels. The water collected this way is better for plants, plus you don't have to pay for it. It also reduces energy consumption--every 1,000 gallons of tap water requires about one kilowatt hour of energy to be treated and pumped. Reducing such water use also slows the need to expand municipal water treatment and sewage plants.

If you decide to use a rain barrel, make sure it's childproof. To be safe for kids (and inquisitive animals), it should have a secure lid that can't be opened easily. You don't want anyone using your rain barrel as a swimming pool!

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Banana Spring Rolls

This is wonderful served with vanilla ice cream!


  • 2 large bananas
  • 8 (7-inch square) spring roll wrappers
  • 1 cup brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1 quart oil for deep frying

Step by Step:

  • Preheat the oil in a deep-fryer or large cast-iron skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • Peel bananas, and slice them in half lengthwise, then crosswise into fourths.
  • Place one piece of banana diagonally across the corner of a spring roll wrapper, and sprinkle with brown sugar to taste.
  • Roll from the corner to the center, then fold top and bottom corners in, and continue rolling. Dip your finger in water and brush the last edge to seal. Repeat with remaining banana pieces.
  • Fry a few banana rolls at a time in the hot oil until evenly browned. Remove to paper towels to drain.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Yield: 8 servings