Charlie Nardozzi

Host, Vermont Garden Journal

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. You can learn more about organic gardening at Growing with Charlie Nardozzi . Charlie is a guest on VPR's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.

www.charlienardozzi.com

Ways to Connect

Unlike true cactus that grow in desert climates, the Christmas cactus is native to the wet, coastal mountains of Brazil.
Nadezhda Nesterova / iStock

Common plant names can be misleading. Joe Pye weed isn't a weed at all. Eggplant does not bear eggs and I have yet to find crabs on my crabapples. The name Christmas cactus is the same. You'd think it would bloom at Christmas time, but mine start in November and continue through late winter.

Pumpkin pie might be the go-to dessert at Thanksgiving, but there are many varieties of winter squash that also make for a delicious pie.
pilipphoto / iStock

With Thanksgiving on the way, many of us are looking up recipes for pumpkin pie. While pumpkins certainly make great pies, other types of winter squash make wonderful pies, too.

Now that outdoor gardening is done for the season, it’s time to move inside and focus on houseplants.
imnoom / iStock

The word around horticultural circles is that houseplants are back! With a growing interest in having greenery indoors and the benefit of air purification, houseplants are being used by interior designers to create a cozy, natural look.

Many trees in Vermont, like this one in Middlebury, were damaged or uprooted from wind and rain during a late October 2017 storm.
Melody Bodette, Courtesy / VPR

The storm earlier this week caused significant damage to many trees in Vermont. The combination of ferocious wind and heavy rain uprooted large trees and, in the process, damaged nearby trees as well. While uprooted trees can't be saved, you can salvage trees with broken branches.

Autumn leaves left on the lawn can support better growth in the coming year and can also be used as winter mulch around certain vegetation.
Elenathewise / iStock

Leaves are beautiful to look at when they turn vibrant colors in fall, but can be a pain to clean up when they drop. Instead of cursing your fallen leaves, rejoice in them! Leaves can help your flowers, vegetables, lawn, trees and shrubs grow better. 

Selecting the right pumpkin and using carving tools will help to create a jack-o'-lantern masterpiece.
Media Photos / iStock

Halloween has become one of our most popular holidays. It's estimated Americans will spend over $8 billion dollars on candy, decorating, making costumes and having parties. At the center of all this activity is the common pumpkin, so read on if you want to step-up your jack-o'-lantern decorating game.

After drying properly, hard-shelled gourds have a multitude of uses and will last for years.
Merinka / iStock

What grows in a vegetable garden and is used for everything but eating? Gourds! Hard-shelled gourds can be used for a shower sponge, spoon, dipper, bottle, basket, birdhouse and even a musical instrument.

Just because the recent autumn weather has been mild and dry doesn't mean you should put off cleaning your flower garden.
vadimguoida / iStock

It's been an interesting fall as far as the weather goes. Just when I thought we'd be heading into a cool, wet autumn, it got hot and dry. But that doesn't mean you should shirk your fall cleanup duties. One of the biggest projects is cleaning the flower gardens.

The leaves of elderberry bushes and other edibles provide additional bright colors during fall.
Forgem / iStock

I'm a native New Englander but still always struck by our fall foliage colors. Many gardeners like to bring these colors into their yards with beautiful trees and shrubs but don't forget about adding edibles.

Popcorn dates back thousands of years, is a nutritious grain and easy to grow.
Juan Monino / iStock

I've always shied away from growing corn. It takes up space and then there's the raccoons. I just wasn't into the electric fence and netting that other gardeners use to protect their sweet corn. Instead, I've started growing popcorn. Raccoons don't seem to care for it and it's a lot easier to grow than you'd think.

This chelone plant or "turtle's head" is a hardy native perennial that comes in dark pink, white and red.
By Wouter Hagens - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2802803

I used to own a camp with a swimming pond in the Northeast Kingdom. I remember in late summer swimming in the pond and admiring these plants growing along the pond edge. They were 2- to 3-feet tall with rounded stems, deep green, boldly veined leaves and white or pink flowers on the top of the stems. The flowers reminded me of an animal's head. Do you know the animal I'm talking about? Yes, it was chelone or turtle head.

Many herbs from your garden will survive the cold of winter; however, some herbs like rosemary need to be brought indoors.
zeleno / iStock

This time of year, it's easy to just let the herbs in your garden go. Maybe you've made enough pesto to feed an army or used all the dill you'll need for pickles. But there are good reasons to stay on top of your annual and perennial herbs. Some can be protected from winter, some brought indoors and you can  collect seeds from others.

Eutrochium Purpureum, also know as Joe Pye weed, is a favorite of butterflies and bees and makes a nice addition around a pond or grouped with shrubs.
Zwilling330 / istock

I love plants with interesting stories. One example is Eutrochium Purpureum. Don't know it? Well, back in colonial times there was a Native American medicine man who made tea from a certain wild plant to help cure typhoid fever. He saved the colonists and his name then became synonymous with the plant; Joe Pye weed.

Plant breeders have created many hybrids of Verbascum, some of which have flower spikes up to eight feet tall.
Aloha 17 / iStock

This European native wildflower is in the snapdragon family but you'd never know from its shape and size. It has a tall flower spike, was used medicinally to treat respiratory problems and now has many showy hybrids created by plant breeders. I'm talking about Verbascum.

When harvesting apples, keep in mind that fruit on the south side and outside of the tree ripen faster than those on the inside.
xalanx / iStock

It's been a great fruit season and now's the time to pick the late summer fruits and berries. But how and when you harvest can make all the difference.

Modern Nurseries, courtesy

Many of our favorite flowering shrubs bloom in the spring and early summer then are nondescript for the rest of the growing season.

The warm, summer soil allows for quick germination when planting in unused beds for a fall vegetable harvest.
CJP, courtesy / iStock

We're at that in-between time in the vegetable garden; spring crops are done and summer ones are coming on strong. But one philosophy I live by is to never leave a bed unplanted!

The Chinese bell flower, also known as the balloon flower, slowly blows up like a hot air balloon before blossoming into the shape of a star.
maeterlinck, courtesy / iStock

The Chinese bell flower is a common perennial but better known as the balloon flower. It's a fun flower to grow with kids because of the shape of the flower buds.

Planting a fruit bush, like the beach plum, is a great way to enjoy the flavors of summer if your yard is too small for a fruit tree.
KJ Murphy / iStock

Not everyone has enough yard space for growing fruit so, luckily, there are bush versions of many classic fruit trees. They grow easily in small, sunny spots and stay a manageable size.  

When it comes to Daylilies, the Stella de Oro variety is considered the queen of the repeat bloomers.
Deuelpics / iStock

They're a classic Vermont summer flower. They've been grown for medicinal and edible use in Asia for millennia. The individual flowers only open for one day but the plants produce lots of them. Yes, they are daylilies!

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