Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September Design Challenge:
September 17th from 1pm - 3pm
Woodbridge Greenhouses is hosting:

"A Design Challenge with Tysh McGrail"
Talented and Energetic Landscape Designer

Bring in your questions, photos, and ideas.
You'll get FREE advice from Tysh
regarding the space you would like to enhance.
FYI: A beautifully landscaped yard adds 10% to your property value.

Chipmunks: Pesky Pests or Cute Critters?

Have you also noticed more than the usual number of chipmunks running along the old stone walls lately? Granted, chipmunks look cute romping through the woods. Many campers have encountered chipmunks that will climb into your hand for a little snack. Once their paths cross ours, though, it can be a much different story.
To restore a peaceful relationship with chipmunks, it comes down to food and shelter. You will need to cut off their food supply and block their access to your shelter.


Weighing four ounces or less, these petite cousins to squirrels hoard food, collecting and storing much more than they can eat in a season. Chipmunks see our bird feeders, compost piles, fruit trees and pet food dishes as all-you-can eat-buffets.

Don't even think of poisoning them: It is illegal; and they'll most likely store the poisoned food, which may eventually poison other types of critters.

Most of the damage they cause in gardens is in their pursuit of your tasty bulbs. Keeping Chipmunks out of your garden is tricky. Unlike some pests, there aren't any plants they dislike so much that they won't walk past. Ditto for mothballs (which may cause cancer in people and pets).

One home remedy to try is spraying the area around your bulbs with a potent spray. Combine pureed garlic and hot peppers. Steeped them in hot soapy water. Strain this mixture into a spray bottly and spray the plants they are most attracted to: bulbs and root crops. Reapply after heavy rains. Other likely repellents are castor oil, predator urine and ammonium soap.


Measuring four inches or less (tail included), they are small enough to fit in places we have trouble finding. Their den (of destruction) can be identified by a hole dug straight down that measure approximately 2" in diameter, unless you are lucky enough to have stone walls where they prefer to live.

If you suspect damage to your home from chipmunks, carefully examine the foundation of your home. Wherever you find a space, gap or crevice, cover the hole with newspaper. If the newspaper stays intact for five days, you have found their entrance point. You have just gained the upper hand and can block their entrance (seal small spaces with caulk, cover vents with screen, etc.)

Consider providing them with a shelter of their own: a stone wall (pile) far away from your home and delicious garden.


Have a heart and use a trap...well there are two kinds of traps. Known as a "Have a Heart" the kinder trap catches the critters so you can release them in a more suitable location. The other kind, is not as kindhearted...

Death Knell

Personally, I have a soft spot for the striped little critters, so I don't sanction this method. But I will relay it in hopes that it will be used in only the most desperate of situations. Our neighbors eliminated their mouse and chipmunk problems with a home-made trap made from a five-gallon bucket filled halfway with water. They then sprinkled birdseed on top to cover the water. The chipmunks reach for the seeds, fall into the unseen water below, and drown. The neighbors swear that they "caught" over 20 within a week. Certainly not for me.

The official word from the DEM website: Note: Chipmunks are not considered "furbearers".
"In Rhode Island, state law (RIGL 20-16-2
) allows a property owner to kill, by legal means, any furbearer (as defined in RIGL 20-16-1) that is killing or attempting to kill any livestock or domestic animals, destroying crops, creating a health hazard, or causing economic damage to their property. However, the law does not allow for the random taking of wildlife, for the taking of furbearers for their pelts outside the open season, or for killing of animals outside the boundaries of the property of the person with the problem. Also, it does not allow for unlawful methods of take such as poisons, snares, foothold traps, or discharge of firearms in violation of state or local ordinances. The law states that animals taken must be reported to the DEM within 24 hours.

The DEM does not recommend that property owners attempt to live trap nuisance furbearers unless they are prepared or willing to euthanize the offending animal. State regulations prohibit the live capture and translocation of furbearers. Captured furbearers can only legally be released on the property on which they were captured. (Capturing a wild animal ...and releasing it in another location is prohibited in Rhode Island. Regulations adopted by the Department of Environmental Management prohibit the translocation of "protected furbearers" (raccoon, opossum, skunk, gray squirrel, rabbits, woodchuck, muskrat, beaver, weasels, fisher, mink, red and gray fox, coyote, river otter, and bobcat ).

FYI: DEM does not remove or relocate nuisance wildlife. Nuisance Wildlife Control Specialists are professionals licensed by the DEM, who for a fee provide wildlife control services.

Invite an Owl...

Natural predators, such as owls, may be enticed to your yard if you provide them with a home. Owls feed on small rodents like chipmunks. Not only will the owl take care of chipmunk control, but will also control voles, moles, mice and rats. (Some house cats are quite capable at controlling Chipmunk populations.)

Try something stinky...or a good hunter.
At our house, we prefer the potent garlic spray. It also keeps mosquitoes and ticks at bay. Of course, our cat does her share to help keep them in check. Good luck!
"By all these lovely tokens

September days are here,

With summer's best of weather

And autumn's best of cheer."

- Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885

Lettuce: A Delicious & Nutritious Fall Crop

Warm soil and cool nights are perfect for cool-weather crops. The easiest to grow is lettuce. With a late frost and a little luck, you can be enjoying garden-fresh produce for another few months.

The benefits of planting lettuce and other cool-weather crops are numerous. Fall cool weather crops are delicious and nutritious. Filling the empty rows in your garden with fall crops will greatly reduce the number of weeds that will grow. Their lovely shades of greens and reds will refresh your garden.

About an hour or so before you plan to transplant your seedlings, water them well.

Prepare your soil by removing spent plants and weeds. Loosen the soil for the tender roots and work in some topsoil and fertilizer that we sell at Woodbridge Greenhouses. It is highly recommended to give your little lettuce plants a wonderful boost.

TIP: Try to transplant your lettuce seedlings on an overcast day or late in the afternoon to protect them from the hot sun.

Plant them around 6 inches apart and as deep as they were in the container. Firm the soil around them so they will stand tall, even when watered. Finally, gently water the plants thoroughly. Keep their soil moist. Young seedlings may need to be watered more often during the first week or two of growth. If the sun seems particularly strong, your young transplants may benefit from light shade for the first few days until their new roots become established.

No room in your garden? You'll be happy to know that lettuce also grows well in containers and window boxes. We recommend using a soil-less mix for best results.

To prolong your garden even longers, protect your plants from frost and cold temps with a cold frame or a simple cover of a light fabric to keep the frost off your precious plants. Protect whatever plants are still producing fruit from frost to keep reaping delicious veggies as long as possible.

Want to plant more? In addition to lettuce, other great cool-weather crops are other leafy greens like spinach and root crops, plus plants in the cabbage family.

Stop by Woodbridge and get to planting your fall crop of lettuce now in this superb gardening weather. We have plenty of young lettuce seedlings tucked in between a great variety of perennials, shrubs and trees at Woodbridge Greenhouses to give you a head start.TIP: This is GREAT weather for planting Hydrangeas!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"But now in September the garden has cooled,

and with it my possessiveness.

The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ...

The harvest has dwindled, and

I have grown apart from

the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on."

- Robert Finch

Share your Bounty
Woodbridge Greenhouses, inspired by "Plant a Row for the Hungry", is collecting donations of extra garden produce. We deliver it to the Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet*. Woodbridge is open every day from 9 to 5 to accept donations. We hope you will share your bounty with those in need.
"Plant a Row for the Hungry" was created in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association and the GWA Foundation. Garden writers are asked to encourage their readers and/or listeners to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations to help feed America's hungry.
*The Trinity Food Closet is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11am and is located at 251 Danielson Pike in Scituate. This pantry provides food to up to 70 local families monthly. The need for food is always great.
"Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!"

- Night An'Fey, Transformation of Energy
September Design Challenge:
September 17th from 1pm - 3pm
Woodbridge Greenhouses is hosting:

"A Design Challenge with Tysh McGrail"
Talented and Energetic Landscape Designer

Bring in your questions, photos, and ideas.
You'll get FREE advice from Tysh
regarding the space you would like to enhance.
FYI: A beautifully landscaped yard adds 10% to your property value.