Author Archives: mspetersonexplains

The Good, the Bad, and the Freezing: What to expect when the snow melts

hardiness map

It’s now mid-March, and maybe, perhaps, we’re done with the snowfall. We might get to actually see our yards and gardens, very soon. So what can we expect lying beneath the melting snow? Good things? Bad things? UGLY things?

 

The simple answer is a little bit of all of the above.

First, the good news. Extreme cold weather can kill off larvae and fungi. Remember our post last year about the Emerald Ash Borer? Those little guys might not be as much of a problem this summer, thanks to the polar vortex. Cold weather can lead to a better tomato growing season as well, keeping the ph in the soil low, eliminating Black Spot, and killing off aphids. Another neat trick winter can perform on your veggies? A process called cold-sweetening, where plants break down their energy resources as free sugars in order to stay warm and guard against frost damage. Just like salt spread on roads and sidewalks, these sugars protect the plant before it can freeze, with the added benefit of giving you a sweeter harvest.

The bad news? Ornamental trees are sensitive, they can get easily damaged by a harsh winter. Now is the time to prune, your Japanese Maples especially, to prevent further damage.  Planting zones can be thrown out of whack be extreme weather, a zone 6 could potentially go down as low as a zone 4. You might need to replace perennials sensitive to cold like Hosta and Japanese Anemone.

No one can predict what the weather will do. Educate yourself on the best plants for your temperate zone, keep sensitive plants covered, and stay alert to falling temperatures. Your landscaper can recommend the best plants for where you live, so call a professional when in doubt. Of course, the best way to protect your landscape is early prevention in the autumn, before temperatures drop. Last year we were forced to cancel five fall clean ups because of the early snow, book early!

Ben’s Beard 2014

Spring is only a week away, so they tell us, must be time to shave Ben’s beard!!

The even will occur on April 17th, and we’re just hoping the boys won’t need their beards by then. In addition to Ben and Jeremy, Patrick Bohan, who joined the Algiere’s team in May, has also put his razor aside all winter and is ready to get shorn for charity!

 

This year all proceeds will go to support St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich. Supporting those in need in Norwich, St Vincent de Paul provides meals on site, as well as a pantry for folks who need food at home. In this way, the organization can help the homeless and those on a limited income gain more independence. To give a donation, you can use the link below, putting Ben’s Beard in the gift section. This year you can also give a food donation as well, bringing canned and paper goods to their downtown Norwich location, at 120 Cliff Street, the old St. Joseph’s school. Paper and nonperishable food donations can also be dropped off at the Greater Norwich Chamber of Commerce, located at 112 Main St.  Currently they’re in need of tuna fish, pasta sauce, canned soup, pasta, oatmeal, butter/margarine, napkins, paper towels, and garbage bags.

So forget the groundhog and the snow still on the ground, Ben’s Beard is the TRUE sign of spring, make your donation today!

 

https://www.networkforgood.org/donation/MakeDonation.aspx?ORGID2=060687373

 

 

 

Time for a shave!

Time for a shave!

Composting, Good for You, Good for the Earth

English: Composting

English: Composting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

365/66 California Compost

365/66 California Compost (Photo credit: mjmonty)

 

 

 

So, Earth Day has come and gone. Over a month later, you’ve helped clean up the shore line, pulled invasive species at the local park, and attended a fundraiser for fracking awareness.

 

You’re feeling pretty good about things, and then you get home. The garbage is piled high, and you’ve got newspapers and scraps of old computer paper just lying around the office. You wonder, how can I clean up my mess, and help make Earth Day every day at the same time?

 

The answer, my friend, is composting.

 

Many people think compost is hard, but the key is to maintain a good mix of the green, (like grass), with the brown, (ashes, coffee grounds, etc.) Grass will provide the nitrogen, and the brown items will provide the carbon. A little of each, well mixed, will break down more quickly and provide the best blend of nutrients for your soil.

 

Anything that has been living is good to add to a compost pile, but avoid pet droppings or meat scraps, as these will attract unwanted pests. The great thing about this rule is, this includes paper products! Just be sure to shred any newspapers or junk mail up really well before you add them.

 

See? You get to clean up your house, AND provide a nutrient rich soil for your vegetables and flowers. Everyone wins!

 

Need help getting started? Not sure what to plant after you lay your compost, or how? Give Algiere’s a call, we are here to help with all of your spring gardening and landscaping needs!

 

Get Your Earth Day on With a Free Tree From Algiere’s Landscaping!

We are raffling off 5 Sugar Maples  on Earth Day as a way to say “thank you” for all the likes on Facebook. We can’t think of a better way to help the Earth soak up carbon and add beauty to your yard at the same time. Want one? Just like and share the Algiere’s Landscaping page on Facebook, it’s that easy!

Don’t live local? Don’t worry, we will ship one to you if you win! One lucky local winner will receive the grand prize of Big Al our mascot stopping by to plant an extra special tree.

Have fun and happy Earth Day!

Like and share to take me home!

Like and share to take me home!

Cold Crops, What to Plant When Spring is Late

Potatoes come to Europe.

Potatoes can be planted, even in the cold!

 

 

 

 

 

For springs like these, people come to us moaning about the short growing season. What can they do? What should they plant when a spring is this slow in showing up?

 

Let us introduce you to some great cold crops you can plant, even when the temperature is close to freezing. Think root vegetables, like onions and potatoes, though you should only use seed potatoes to get your plants started. Some leafy vegetables as well, like lettuce and arugula, can be planted in temperatures as low as 40 degrees.

 

Want to get started but fear the temperatures dropping even further, or a possible late season snow? No problem, cover your plants, making tents out of empty milk jugs, cut to accommodate your seedlings’ size. You can also attempt to raise the temperature of your soil using plastic covers.

 

Whatever the weather, you can enjoy gardening, and Algiere’s is available to you year round for all of your gardening and landscaping needs!

 

Time to Get Your Seeds Started!

Sunflower seedlings, just three days after ger...

Time to get those seedlings sprouting!

 

 

 

Spring is beginning to warm up, and it’s time to get your seeds started. Before you start, be sure to keep a record of what you’ve planted, and the progress they’ve made, this will help you next year to remember what works, and how long you will need for each seedling. Make sure to store your seeds in a cool dry place, in small plastic containers. To make sure that your seeds are still viable, take a few and soak them in cool water. If they sink, they’re still plantable, if they float, they’re technically “dead” and won’t sprout.

 

Use plastic containers instead of clay for planting, they will keep moisture better. You can recycle old yogurt containers or other plastic tubs, just make sure you poke holes in the bottoms of them for drainage. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your seeds, tamp them down to make sure that there is contact between your seeds and the moist soil or potting mix that you use, and cover them lightly with more soil.

 

You can maintain air and moisture quality in a few ways. Use a small fan to keep the air circulating, spread some finely ground stone or grit over the potting mix, and cover the containers with plastic. Check your containers daily, and use a spray bottle to add moisture when needed. Keep your seeds warm, between 65 and 75 degrees, by placing them near a heater or using a heating mat. Want to recycle even further? Ben’s dad makes his own heating pads for plants using old waterbed mattresses!

 

Once your seeds germinate, you can remove the plastic covering. Make sure to rotate your pots daily so that the stems grow uniformly, and gently brush them with your palm to encourage strong stems. Once the leaves begin to emerge, it will be time to feed your seedlings weekly with watered down fertilizer.

 

At this time you should also begin hardening your plants by placing them outside in the sunlight for a few hours in the morning, gradually adding more hours until your plants are acclimated enough to the outside temperatures to be planted.

 

Good luck, and if you need any assistance with your plants this spring, give Algiere’s a call!

 

 

 

Organic Grub Control Made Easy

Milky Spore Japanese beetle killer, Tukwila Go...

Milky Spore Japanese beetle killer, (Photo credit: photophonic)

The time has come once again to take on the grub population in your yard. In addition to methods like planting more shade trees and shade tolerant grasses, it’s also important to apply some form of grub control. There are a couple of great organic methods available.

Milky Spore is a disease which only affects white grubs. You can buy it as an organic grub control powder that will not pose a risk to animals, children, and beneficial insects in your lawn. It’s also safe to use around waterways.  After initial applications of three to four times a year for three years, it can last up to twenty years, and is guaranteed for ten. You apply Milky Spore in one teaspoon increments every four feet, a ten ounce box will treat 2500 sq feet, and a forty ounce box will treat 10,000 sq feet. It’s safe for the environment and less invasive, but will only kill one type of grub.

Another great organic option is the humble nematode. These mighty microscopic worms will feast on grubs, cut worms, and over 200 other soil dwelling and wood boring pests, without bothering you or your lawn. There are a few nematode products on the market now, including the Nemaglobe and Dr. Pye’s Scanmask, both available at Amazon.com and many local hardware stores. If you can’t find them in a store near you, be sure to ask!

Another benefit of grub control is you’re effectively taking away the food source of other pests, like moles, without having to apply stronger chemicals that might also harm your pets. The most important thing to remember, whatever you use, is to apply your grub control product now. Most grubs hatch in late August or September, and begin feasting on the roots of your lawn at that time, so it’s best to be applying your grub control product as soon as possible. Give Algiere’s Landscaping a call to set up an appointment today!

Meet Jeremy, Ben’s Right Hand Man!

Jeremy

As talented as Ben is, he can’t be everywhere at once. So here at Algiere’s we have a second in command for out in the field, Jeremy Bourbeau.

Part of the reason Ben is so talented and capable is because of Jeremy’s solid work ethic and initiative, which helps Algiere’s Landscaping keep up its professional image. For example, Jeremy is efficient and organized enough to expect what Ben will need next and has it ready and waiting for Ben, whether it’s cleaning up in time to wrap up the day or anticipating what tool to hand off.  Jeremy is constantly learning from Ben, and it has become a common joke between the two of them, “It’s amazing what you can fix with WD-40, baling wire and duct tape.”

Jeremy has worked part-time at UPS with Ben for over 7 years and part-time in a variety of jobs including landscaping. When not helping Ben with Algiere’s Landscaping, he can be found at Jett Fabrication wrenching on race cars or at the Waterford Speed Bowl driving.  This year, Jeremy is stepping up to the barber’s chair to shave off his beard to help with our annual fundraising event for UCFS.

So, when you see us out and about this spring, please give Jeremy a warm welcome as he too is an ambassador of Algiere’s Landscaping.

Mulch Madness!!!

Shredded wood used as mulch. This type of mulc...

Shredded wood used as mulch. This type of mulch is often dyed to improve its appearance in the landscape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Despite the snow, we’ve seen signs of spring around Algiere’s, and the sprouting of snowdrops and trilling of robins outside our windows make us think of one thing. Mulch.

 

Mulch is vital to a healthy bed, because it keeps the weeds out and can also help with water retention and keeping roots cool. Wood, shell, stone, no matter what kind of mulch you choose to use, it’s important to purchase pretreated materials. You may save money up front by getting something from the dump or shredding your own wood, but in the long run you’re more at risk for pest infestation.

 

The varieties of wood mulch available ensure you’re doing the best for your garden while still being able to put on your own unique touch. Double shredded pine, cedar, or even cocoa shell, which can offer a nice aromatic for small beds around the house. Choose a dyed mulch to maintain color longer for a more uniform look.

 

Prefer something a little harder? Think stone or seashells. Especially here in the east coast, we have plenty of both, which don’t break down as fast and can prove a much more durable option, though typically with a higher price. Stone is especially high due to the fact that it’s more labor intensive to put in, plus it doesn’t have the lovely scent of wood, so we don’t prefer it in our own gardens. However, the choice, as always is up to you. As always, here at Algiere’s whatever the customer prefers, “we can do that!”

 

Whatever your mulching needs, we at Algiere’s can help! Call or email now for best availability.

 

Shave Ben’s Beard 2013

Time for a shave!

Time for a shave!

It’s almost that time again! Time to drive the birds away from where they’ve been nesting under Ben’s chin and give him a clean shave for the spring and summer seasons, while raising a little money for charity in the process!

On April 2nd Melissa Burkhart-Coleman of Norwich will do the deed, and we hope to raise at least 500 dollars for United Community and Family Services. Ben’s second in command Jeremy will also be stepping up to the barber’s chair and getting a clean shave as well. To donate, you can click on the Causes link at the bottom of this post and make your donation securely online. 25% of all donations will be matched by Algiere’s Landscaping.

Last year we were able to raise a little over 300 dollars, let’s dig deep this year and beat that number. UCFS has been helping provide affordable healthcare and community services to the residents of New London county for 130 years, including eldercare, women’s health, and dental care. Let’s help UCFS provide affordable health and human services to the residents of Southeastern Connecticut!

http://www.causes.com/actions/1731269-shave-bens-beard-for-united-commity-and-family-services