Vermont Garden Journal

Fridays at 5:55p.m., Sunday at 9:34a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Nardozzi will focus on a topic that's relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests and more.

Hear the Vermont Garden Journal Friday afternoons at 5:55pm and Sunday mornings at 9:34am.

Subscribe to the Vermont Garden Journal Podcast and RSS

Visit the VPR Archive for Vermont Garden Journal programs before 4/19/2013.

ArielleJay / Morguefile

In the 1800's a London physician called Nathaniel Ward wanted to watch an insect chrysalis transform into a butterfly. He placed it, with some soil, in a glass jar and sealed it shut. To his amazement, but not only did he see the butterfly form, but he also saw ferns and grasses growing in the bottom of the jar. The plants continue to grow in the sealed jar for 4 years without additions of water. It was the first modern terrarium.

muvuka / Morguefile

This time of year, everyone is in a gift buying frenzy. Gardeners tend to be down-to-earth and are as happy with a bag of compost as a designer handbag. But there are still worthwhile gifts to consider for your favorite gardener.

hotblack / Morguefile

There's something special about stomping through the snow on a cold winter morning to pick out a holiday tree. Although I grew up with the classic plastic tree, as an adult I love the feel and smell of a good balsam tree.

Here's how to select the best tree. First, decide on the type of evergreen. Balsam has a great fragrance. Blue spruce has stiff needles, but can drop needles in a warm room. Scotch pine has stiff branches and needles that stay on the tree even when dry. White pine has soft, long needles and weak branches that can support only small ornaments.

Peggy Greb / Public Domain

Charles Warner once said, “Lettuce is like conversation: it must be fresh and crisp, and so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.” After our recent cold snaps, finding crisp, fresh and sparkling lettuce in your garden may be impossible. Unless you have a greenhouse or a hoop house system, you're probably relegated to buying your greens.

Yaarche / Morguefile

With the darker days of November upon us, this gardener's attention turns to indoor houseplants. One of the hottest trends in gardening is growing succulents. Succulents have thick leaves, stems or roots for water storage. There is a wide variety of succulents to grow and most are virtually indestructible! But don't get confused. While all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. True cactus have what's called an areole. It looks like a patch of cotton from which spines, flowers, and roots grow. While succulents may have spines, they don't have aeroles.

Al Behrman / AP

With the cold weather finally upon, most garden plants have gone dormant for the season. But don't get too comfortable in front of the wood stove yet. There are still a few chores to do and the most important is to protect your trees and shrubs.

Toby Talbot / AP

Now that the fall leaf color show is done, there's a lotta leaves dropped on lawns, gardens and yards. But instead of seeing them as a nuisance, look at them as an opportunity. Fallen leaves can be used as a fertilizer, protective cover and an herbicide. Here's how.

Betsy Blaney / AP

This time of year it's easy to pull out the remaining veggies, cut back your perennial flowers, clean out containers, clap your hands and say, “That's it, I'm done”! But wait. There are some other fall chores to do that will make life a lot easier come spring.

Keith Srakocic / AP

I recently returned from leading VPR's Gardens and Food tour of Spain and France. While in Provence I was struck by the pumpkins, or should I say lack of them. The round, orange skinned orbs we love to decorate and paint for Halloween are non-existent. But instead are the red, flattened, cinderella pumpkins. In French, they're called 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes'. Our French cooking class chef said they're the best for flavor. It got me thinking and noticing many different squashes on farm stands and markets right here in Vermont.

Lee Reich / AP

Planting spring flowering bulbs is an act of supreme faith. We hopefully pop our tulips, crocus and hyacinth bulbs into the soil now with dreams of a rainbow of colors next spring. Unfortunately, we aren't the only ones loving those bulbs. Squirrels, chipmunks and mice are just some of the creatures that will happily munch on your bulbs under ground so that come spring all you might see in your garden are the weeds you missed last fall.

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