28 December, 2009

Semianrs Begin this Weekend!

As 2009 comes to a close I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Our winter seminar series starts this Saturday Jan 2 with Attracting and Feeding Wild Birds at 1 PM in Poughkeepsie.
In addition I am pleased to announce that all five photos I submitted were accepted to the Catskill Mountain Foundation members show opening Jan 16th in Hunter, NY


24 December, 2009

the night before xmas

T' was the night Before Christmas
And all through the House
Not a Palozzi was stirring
Charlie Rangall was home with his spouse
So off to the Senate
For the vote on a bill
While called health care reform
Has many Americans ill
For such legislation the most monumentous in the land
I did not see claiming victory a Schumer or a Gillibrand
What did I see about a 1/4 past four?
Sarah Palin finishing up her book signing tour.
That's not all she's done since leaving Alaska
She seeks a new home
With free Medicaid perhaps in Nebraska
Or maybe Louisiana with it's gumbo bright vermilion
Can I have another bowl lease for my three hundred million?
Now what about Connecticut with the most millionaires?
Though I find it quite odd
Your vote sold for 100 million
What's up with that Senator Dodd?
Northward to Canada, to Europe and another
Examples of health care provided by Mother
If a government plan works
Let it be run not by ours
Let's hire another
On Mc Cain, On Snow
On Leieberman, Reid and all
Come next November
Dash Away, Dash Away Dash Away all!

Lighthouse Navigation
kayak/canoe sales and rentals
athens on the hudson, ny

21 December, 2009

New Year Bringing New Opportunities

It is with great anticipation and some trepidation I write this year end (almost year end) post.
I guess it is best to start from the beginning 25 years ago when I walked into Adams and filled out a job application for a position unloading trucks in the nursery.  The plan was to bide my time until gardening season started and then start my own landscaping business.
I did get the job unloading trucks in the nursery but never started my own landscape business. Within weeks of starting in the nursery the long time dept. manager of the garden center announced he was leaving. I was offered the position willingly accepted and the rest is history.
I have enjoyed being your gardening, bird feeding, BBQ-ing, hydroponic guru for the past 25 years. I have seen many generations of gardeners excel in growing beautiful gardens during this time and feel honored for this privilege. It has been a very good thing indeed.
But we all know the saying that "all good things must ( I prefer to say will) come to an end". As 2010 dawns and unfolds before us I will no longer be your garden guru. Opportunities come and go fewer and farther between in the gardening field these days. The days of youth come and go even quicker when you hit the late 40's too! I have had many opportunities cross my path in the last 25 years that while tempting, were not tempting enough. This one however is one not to be missed.  
I will not be leaving Adams however. I will be nurturing a newly created position of Lawn and Garden Buyer for all Adams locations.
With today's market place so keen and moving forward difficult at best it became apparent to us that at the store level our garden managers were wearing too many hats. That ispart  of our unique corpoarte culture which allows managers in each dept. to take an ownership role when it comes to product selection, display, pricing etc. This accompanied with hiring, training, selling scheduling etc beacame overwhelming limiting how well we wore each hat. With fewer hats hats to wear each of us will now be able to concentrate on wearing one hat well instead of several hats and end up with mussed up hair.
The transistion will take several months and I will still be doing my slate of 15 seminars this winter. So while all good things must come to an end no one ever said that better things will not arise.
I will still be writing my blogs and colums for the newspapers. I will now have more time for my garden(s) providing Sam does not stake his land claim before I do. I will now also be able to spend more time doing photography and participating in exhibits and art shows. I plan on attendning the many framers markets I have missed on the weekends perhaps selling some herbs at a few as well.
I scincerely thank all of you for making me part of your gardening experience for almost three decades. I have learned much from of all you and in return, if you learned a small fraction as much from me, I will consider my job well done.
Make sure you stay in contact on my blogs and in the papers.
Good Gardening and Happy New Year
Greg Draiss

15 December, 2009

Greg's Gardening Seminars for 2010

Here is my seminar schedule for Jan/Feb 2010:
Sat Jan. 2 1 PM: Adams Pok: How to Attract and Feed Wild Birds
Sat Jan 9 1 PM: Adams Kingston: How to Attract and Feed Wild Birds
Sat Jan 16th 1PM Adams Pok: Herb Gardening
Sat Jan 23rd 1 PM Adams Newburgh: How to Attract and Feed Wild Birds
Sat Jan 30th 1PM Adams Pok: Home Hydroponics
Sat Feb 6th 1PM Adams Pok: Seed Starting
Wed Feb 10th 6PM Adams Pok: Slugs Bugs and other Thugs
Wed Feb 17th 6PM Adams Kingston: Home Hydroponics
Sat Feb 20th 1PM Adams Pok: Composting
Sat Feb 27th 1 PM Adams Newburgh Home Hydroponics
Don't forget these are just the seminars I am doing! There will be more than 40 other seminars going on throughout Jan/Feb 2010. Chances are I will be doing several more if there is space open on the calendar. As well our annual Spring Garden Show offers up some fabulous gardening classes as well.

Debunking The Poisonous Poinsettia

Millions of poinsettias are purchased each year as a celebration of the Christmas holiday. Nothing says "holiday" like a bright red poinsettia. They make excellent gifts for the host of the holiday dinner. As well they grace many entrances to commercial establishments as well. The poinsettias history is steeped in mystery and a little trickery. Poinsettias colorful show are not flowers but colored leaves called bracts. In fact the flower itself is not very showy at all. Poinsettias also are not supposed to "bloom" this time of year. They are coaxed into turning colors by controlling the amount of light they receive. To further add to the intrigue it turns out that poinsettias are not poisonous at all. So where did this colorful harbinger of the holidays come from and how did it gets its' shady reputation?
Poinsettias are native to an area in Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon.  Aztecs put this plant to practical use using it for dyes and medicinal purposes. Its milky white sap was used in a formulation to treat fevers. Joel Roberts Poinsett an early ambassador to Mexico discovered this plant growing in Mexico and brought it back to his hot house in South Carolina. Poinsett then began making cuttings and giving them to his friends. He later founded the Smithsonian Institution. Without Poinsetts' interest in the plant Poinsettias would be but a biological oddity to us in the temperate regions of the world.
Until recently poinsettias were considered poisonous. As late as 1995 some 66% of people surveyed still believed the plant to be toxic. This urban legend began some 80 years earlier when a doctor believed the death of an Army officers' 2 year old child to be caused by ingestion of poinsettias leaves. According to POISINDEX, a child would have to eat 500-600 leaves to even get an upset stomach. Further complicating the chance of this happening is that the sticky milky sap gives off a terrible taste making even eating a few leaves unlikely.
Caring for a poinsettia is much easier than dispelling its shady past. Poinsettias like bright warm rooms with no drafts. Watering needs be done only when dry to the touch on the surface of the soil. To prolong the beautiful colors keep temps between 60*F and 72*F. It is possible, with a little care, to get your poinsettia blooming again for next Christmas.  After colors fade in February cut stems back to 8 inches. Hold off on fertilizing until July. At this time it may be necessary to repot it into a pot a little larger. Poinsettias do well outside in light shade providing night time temps stay above 50*F. When the dog days of August strike cut stems back leaving only three leaves per shoot. From September 20th thru December first Poinsettias must be in the dark from 5PM to 8AM the next day. It is very important to follow this schedule in order to get the colors back on the bracts.
Poinsettias official name is Euphorbia pulcherrima. Today there are myriads of styles and colors.
The new rage is "painted" poinsettias where the leaves are hand painted bright colors. Red though still popular often gives way to white; burgundy and even yellow bract varieties. A multicolored bract variety is named after the painter Monet because of the color patterns.

03 December, 2009

Beating the Winter Blues

The onset of autumn is a feast to the gardeners' eyes. Although we try hard to have colorful gardens for the entire growing season nature always socks it to us wit the blast of brilliant fall colors. It is almost as if nature gives it to us two ways. First with the palette of colors and the warning that goes with it that winter is just around the corner. Gardeners
generally have had little to look forward to over the long dark nights of winter. I sometimes wish I could hibernate along with the bears and wake up just in time for the snow drops to bloom. Imagine a nice long winter's nap just and not being woken by Santa on the rooftop! But alas we must endure until spring just hoping our green thumbs do not turn brown in the meantime. I will try in the next few paragraphs to ease our lament even if only a little bit.
Get educated this winter! I often find the best way to handle not being able to do something is to learn more about what it is you can't do. I love to BBQ. Nothing sets my juices flowing like getting on the grill and cooking up a storm. Well when there is a storm blowing outside in January it is a little hard to grill, especially at night. So I will cuddle up in bed or on the couch with any one of my ten books on the subject of outdoor cooking.
Winter is a great time to learn more about gardening as well. Local book stores will have on prime display books on gardening shortly after the New Year. They too seem to know about the let down that ensues after the last New Years' eve toast is done. The Super Bowl is still a month away and not everyone like football. A cup of coffee and a comfy book store chair make for a fine learning experience.
A better way to learn about gardening in the depths of winter is to attend seminars at local nurseries and garden centers. After why suffer the winter blues alone when you could share it with fellow gardeners for an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon. Not to mention the free refreshments often served as well.
Adams Fairacre Farms three locations offer gardening and cooking seminars from January through early March. Many of the gardening classes include organic methods or at least the least intrusive way of doing things in the garden. One seminar I teach there is entitled Organic Gardening. This class delves not only into organic methods but the logic and laws behind labeling of organic products.
The Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, MA offers classes on an ongoing basis throughout much of the year. They are also offering a horticulture certificate program in conjunction with the Mass. College of Liberal Arts. Classes run all winter long and include Ecology for Gardeners, Landscape Design and Botany for Gardeners. For more information visit their web site berkshirebotanical.org
The New York Botanical Garden offers classes this winter in Horticultural Therapy, general gardening, Garden Writing and Photography and Landscape Design. Their web site claims an offering of over 900 classes throughout the year. Their web site is nybg.org.
My favorite winter time gardening activity is actually an offshoot but closely related outdoor activity. Watching and feeding wild birds. In fact bird feeding and watching is second only to gardening as America's number one outdoor passive activity. I am not sure who it was that coined gardening as passive but that is where gardening is placed in reference to outdoor activities.
Bird watching and feeding can actually be separated into two very distinct categories. For instance bird watchers think nothing of going down to the shores of the Hudson River on Christmas Day and counting the different species of birds flying over the sometimes frozen river. Let's face it even if Christmas day arrives and the temps are above normal it is still cold and windy down by the river. Bird watchers will also think little of hopping on a plane to Costa Rica and trudge through the jungles for a chance to add to their "life list". A life list to a bird watcher is a written documentation of how many species they have seen or heard throughout their bird watching adventures.
Bird watchers seldom are bird feeders. They will spend hundreds on a new spotting scope but not a dollar on bird seed.
Bird feeders on the other hand are content to spend Christmas Day inside around the tree and watch birds at their feeding stations.  This while staying warm and cozy. In exchange for staying warm during the winter many bird feeders fork over $15 to Cornell University to in "Project Feeder Watch". This program has "bird watchers" taking a tally of birds at feeding stations and sending the collected data to the Ornithology Dept. at Cornell.
Now there is a marketing scheme waiting to be hatched. In a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie why doesn't someone build a small bird watchers' hut and take it down to the Hudson and offer the bird counters a warm place to observe from. And lets' say they charge $15 and send it off to Cornell? Bird feeders are the backbone of the bird feeding industry. Bird feeders will come out to my bird feeding seminar on a cold Saturday in January. As well the hard core bird feeder is on a mission to have the most feeding stations in the neighborhood. Number two on their agenda is having the best squirrel proofing story!
Winter is also a great time to visit your nearest garden shop or nursery and peruse the new selection of seeds coming onto the market for spring. There have been a plethora of new organic varieties added to seed racks in recent years. Burpee has added a whole panel of certified organic seeds to its consumer display racks.  Seeds of Change, one of the original all organic seed companies, not only sells only certified organic varieties but their entire collection are made up of almost entirely of heirloom or indigenous varieties.
Winter is a time to head for warmer climates for some.  Winter is also a time for gardeners to take stock of the past seasons successes and challenges. Winter may also be a time to make sure that next winter comes with a little more color. What better time to remind yourself to pot up some tulips or daffodil bulbs for winter color next year than right now? Winter is a black and white season (OK gray and white). But that sad fact should not keep us gardeners from planning ahead for our season that is everyday closer than it was yesterday.
Now if there was only some way of making the 28 days of February not seem like the longest 28 days of the year. Putting the Super Bowl on the first Sunday in February just does not go far enough!

02 December, 2009

Hudson Valley Seeds Have Arrived

Recently I wrote about The Hudson Valley Seed Library and their unique approach to garden seeds.  Their "Art Pack " line has arrived and is now available just in time for holiday gift giving.
Each heirloom variety comes in a neat package designed by a local artist.
Remember the whole idea behind the library is to cultivate a line of heirloom seeds with attributes to grow in the Hudson Valley. In fact the motto of the Hudson Valley Seed Library is "Seeds with local roots"
More Real Dirt for you to play in!