Free gardening seminar with Doug on Saturday, Summer gardening tips as seen on KDKA’s PTL

July 16th, 2014

I’ll be presenting “Summer Gardening Tips” on Saturday 7/19/14, 11 a.m. at Plumline Nursery’s Customer Appreciation Day.

This is the fourth year I’ve appeared at the event and it’s an awesome day. The nursery is filled with unique plants and many are on sale. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will be there, there’s free food, games for the kids and more.
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Doug in Mercer Saturday for Bicentennial Celebration.

July 9th, 2014

Come see me on Saturday from 12-2pm in Mercer.

Come see me on Saturday from 12-2pm in Mercer.

I’ll be on the town square in Mercer on Saturday July 12, 2014 from 12 noon until 2 p.m. as part of the community’s bicentennial celebration.

I’ll be answering garden questions, talking gardening, giving things away and signing books too.

I spent a lot of time in Mercer when I worked for the Youngstown Vindicator, I’m looking forward to seeing all my old friends.

The day is packed with great festivities.

On Saturday enjoy historical tours, artisans, quilt show, Civil War encampment, food, farmers’ market.

Also on Saturday, take your family to the Old-Fashioned Day in Brandy Springs Park, south of Mercer. From from noon until the Fireworks at 9:30pm.

There will be balloon animals, pizza and ice cream eating contests, car cruise-in at 4pm, entertainment, crafts, food, games and more.

Keep Tomato Plants Healthy As Seen On KDKA’s PTL

July 9th, 2014

This tomato has early blight. Photo by Doug Oster

This tomato has early blight. Photo by Doug Oster

A cool spring has morphed into a hot and muggy early summer which is providing the perfect storm for early blight to infect tomato plants.

Don’t panic, this weather has just about every gardener worried when they look down at the yellowing spotted foliage of America’s favorite home grown vegetable.

Early blight is not a death sentence for tomatoes though.

The firs step is to remove infected foliage, new sprouts will form in their place. Be careful not to spread the disease to healthy plants.

I pull by hand and only work with infected plants. The diseased foliage is not added to the compost pile. I dispose of mine in a pile of weeds and diseased discards. I’ll throw a few shovelfuls of woodland soil over them. Before I do any more work with tomatoes, I go inside and wash up.

Early blight is soil borne, so if plants have not been mulched yet, they should be. This will stop the spores from splashing up on the plant.

Some varieties are more prone to fungal issues than others, it’s always a good idea to grow lots of different tomatoes.

It’s not too late to plant either. I’ve been to nurseries who are almost giving away big, healthy plants filled with tennis ball sized tomatoes. I’m still planting as other crops are harvested. The plants will take off in this warm soil.

Fungicides can help slow the onset of early blight. Most are best applied BEFORE signs of damage appear. Serenade on the other hand is an organic fungicide which attacks the spores themselves. It’s my number one choice when dealing with most fungal issues.

Don’t let early blight worry you, the plants will rebound when things dry out and the season progresses.

Blossom end rot is always a prblem for gardeners as we get into the summer. A sunken black or brown decay will form where the blossom was on the bottom of the fruit. This is caused when the plant can’t get the calcium it needs. The nutrient is probably in the soil, but unavailable when the soil dries out. The way to beat blossom end rot is to keep the soil evenly moist. Don’t let the plant go through periods of drought then to be deluged in a summer thunderstorm. A good thick layer of mulch helps.

Some varieties of tomato are more susceptible than others, often sauce or paste tomatoes are hit hard. Tomatoes grown in containers are also prone to the problem. They need constant watering or you might consider a self watering container. This video explains how to build one.

But it’s not just tomatoes that gardeners need to be worried about, eggplant, peppers and zucchini all can fall victim to the affliction.

I’ve had countless gardeners calling me, worried that late blight has hit their tomatoes, when in actuality it’s only blossom end rot. As always, identify the problem, and then take action.

Late blight is the worst thing that can happen to tomatoes. Luckily it’s only been found in the eastern part of the state and doesn’t threaten us yet. Only time will tell if the disease will move west.
Late blight is airborne, creating millions of spores and spreading them as far as they can float. The good news is the season is almost over. The bad news is I might not be able to pick the last tomatoes and ripen them indoors as I usually do.

In the case of late blight, there’s nothing a gardener can do as far as the soil is concerned. One there’s a freeze, the spores are killed. Next season we’re not any more prone to the disease because the plant were infected this year. The most important control is to remove any plant infected with late blight. They can’t be composted and need to be either bagged, buried or burned. Even though a freeze will kill the spores above ground, the disease can survive underground.

We had a season a few years ago where late blight ran rampant mid-season and many gardeners didn’t pick tomatoes that summer.

There are preventative measures which can be taken during the season though to combat late blight. The number one thing I should have done was treat the plants with an organic fungicide like Serenade. This is only effective in the case of late blight by treating BEFORE seeing signs of damage.

Trip to Indiana To Learn About Harmonists

July 1st, 2014

Sandy Carroll from Old Economy Village has put together a wonderful trip to New Harmony, Inidana to learn about the Harmonists.

Friday August 8, 2014 Depart Ambridge at 6:00 am via Lenzner Motor Coach. We will stop twice en route (once for lunch, possibly at Cracker Barrel) and plan to arrive in Evansville Indiana at approximately 4:00 pm where we will check in to the Holiday Inn Express West Evansville. After a break to freshen up we will be transported to New Harmony by the motor coach where the New Harmony Museum Interpreters will host us for a pot luck dinner at 5:30 pm in the Athenaeum (Visitor Center). Following the dinner we will attend the opening ceremony for the Bicentennial which will include key note addresses by noted speakers one of whom is Michael Knecht, Old Economy Village Site Administrator. This will be held at the David Lenz house. At the conclusion of the evening we will return to the Holiday Inn via motor coach.

Saturday August 9th Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast buffet at the hotel (included) before we depart for New Harmony at 9:00 am arriving in time to enjoy the Bicentennial Parade at 10 am. After the parade you are free to explore the town which is home to many shops and eateries as well as the Working Men’s Institute, the museum started by William Maclure, the business partner of Robert Owen. During this time you may also like to attend the Bicentennial Picnic sponsored by the Bicentennial Committee where you are welcome to purchase carnival style food being sold by various vendors. The Charles Ford Memorial Home will be conducting a free open house with dessert during this time as well.

We plan to come together again at 2 pm to participate in a golf cart garden tour followed by a behind the scenes tour of New Harmony which will include the newly restored Community House #2.

After our tour we will gather at the Barn Abby at 5:30 pm for a catered dinner. (Catering by Denise Rapp)J

I have arranged to have the air conditioned Barn Abby stocked with snacks and beverages and it will act as an Hospitality Center for anyone in our group who would care to take a break from the festivities of the day.

At 7:30 pm Saturday evening we will be treated to a musical performance of the Wolfgang Concert & Hagemann Composition in the Murphy Auditorium.

Sunday August 10th Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then board the bus for home. We do have the option of returning to New Harmony for the opportunity to attend the Interfaith Church Service at the Roofless Church. The service begins at 8 am which would mean checking out of the hotel no later than 7:15. We would then start for home around 9 am. If you are interested in this option please let me know as soon as possible. Majority will rule. We will stop twice on the way home.


Room = 104.00 per night x 2 nights = $208.00 room sharing is available

Motor Coach transportation = $130 per person based on 40 passengers *

Saturday dinner and hospitality suite = $30.00 per person

Total cost per person $368.00 includes gratuities for food and bus driver.

*Please note that if we do not have 40 passengers on the bus the cost of the bus will increase.

If you are interested in joining us for this once in a life time, fun filled experience please contact me as soon as possible. A 50% deposit is due by June 25th with the balance due by July 21st. The trip is open to all Old Economy Village staff, volunteers. FOEV members, their families and friends.

Sandy Carroll

Volunteer and Site Rental Coordinator

Friends of Old Economy Village

270 Sixteenth Street

Ambridge, PA 15003

724-266-4500 Ext.120

A Few Seats Open for Doug’s Trip to Italy

June 25th, 2014
This garden is one we'll see on my trip to Northern Italy.

This garden is one we’ll see on my trip to Northern Italy.

Response has been overwhelming for my upcoming trip to Italy and recently we were able to add a few seats for the trip. If the trip is right for you, call Alice Steel today at (724) 266-5715 to make sure you’re registered to go.
Next September I’m taking gardeners on a once in a lifetime trip to northern Italy. It’s a 10 day trip starting with our overnight flight to Venice on September 6th, 2014 (my birthday). Gardeners who came to London with me last May have already signed up too. The price of the trip includes air fair, lodging, 12 meals, bus travel, admission to all venues and more. Highlights include Venice, Murano Island, Doge’s Palace, Giusti Giardino, Como, Lugano, Switzerland, Bellagio, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, Isola Madre, Isola Bella.
We’ll have local professional guides at each area and I’ll be traveling with you to help them.
It’s going to be a wonderful time. There’s nothing better than traveling with other gardeners. But this trip is more than gardens, there will be lots of other things to see too.
Here are all the details.
Call me with questions, 412-779-5861.

Still Time for a Veggie Garden as Seen on PTL

June 18th, 2014

Cherry tomatoes are a good choice to plant now. They will produce fruit quick and can be picked all summer.

Cherry tomatoes are a good choice to plant now. They will produce fruit quick and can be picked all summer.

There’s still plenty of time to plant. Lots of gardeners think if they didn’t get their vegetable garden planted by Memorial Day weekend, they have missed their opportunity.
In fact things like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, which love warm soil and air temperatures will thrive being planted now. If you’re somebody who didn’t get their garden in or would just like to spruce up what you’re growing.
This is bargain time at the nursery, so regardless of why you need to get plants, they will be cheaper.
Didn’t get a vegetable garden in? Buy some big tomato plants. I showed peppers on the show, with nice sized fruit already on the plants too. Lettuce, cilantro, mixed greens, arugula, beets, beans and lots of other things can be started from seed right now also. They will all grow now and will really flourish when the weather cools off.

What to do with Hydrangeas as seen on Pittsburgh Today Live

June 11th, 2014

It's time to remove the brown sticks from hydrangeas.

It’s time to remove the brown sticks from hydrangeas.

Gardening can be a bit frustrating after a killer winter like we just went through.

It’s June and I can’t believe we’re still talking about winter damage in the garden. Hydrangeas really took it on the chin. The most popular cultivar is probably hydrangea machrophylla, that’s the mop head hydrangea many gardeners grow.

Hopefully you’re hydrangeas have new growth from the bottom of the plant.Even in a good year they aren’t reliable bloomers in our zone 6 gardens.

If your plant hasn’t put on any growth on last year’s stems, it’s time to remove them, at least that’s what I’m doing in my garden. Most H.macrophylla bloom on old wood from last season. Removing those brown sticks means no blooms this season and that stinks.

Follow the stalks to the base of the plant and snip them just above the ground. Hopefully there’s new green growth from the bottom which will produce buds for next season.

I’ve planted a lot of hydrangeas in the last few years to get blooms in the garden well into summer. The garden I inherited 16 years ago was heavy on spring bloomers, it needed plant which bloom later too.

If you lost some hydrangeas (as I did), think about other types on the plant which bloom freely in our climate.

‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas are just one variety which blooms on this year’s stems. In my garden they look wonderful and are preparing to bloom.

There are a series of ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas which bloom on old and new growth. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, nurseries are loaded with reliable bloomers.

I won’t be planting any standard H.macrophylla, I’m looking for plants which bloom on old and new wood or just new growth.

It’s a better bet for our climate, and I long for summer color.

Tulip River Cruise with Doug will be Amazing. Book now before it sells out.

June 4th, 2014

Join me for a once and a lifetime tulip river cruise.

Join me for a once and a lifetime tulip river cruise.

First it was London, then Italy, now I’m taking gardeners to Holland and Belgium in April of 2015 to see amazing sites and spectacular fields of tulips. This trip needs to be booked by July to get the cabin you want. Both of my other trips sold out quickly, so if this one is for you get a deposit in. The next payment won’t be due until December and of course, as always there’s travel insurance. If anything prohibits you from being part of the trip, you don’t lose a dime.
This is a trip for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. We’ll be cruising on a cozy luxury boat which holds less than 200 people. The ship will be our home for the trip which takes us all over Holland and Belgium. There’s no packing or unpacking and we have wonderful local guide who know just about everything about our destinations.
The trip is nine days and includes 20 meals along with airfare and lodging on the ship.
Here are just some of the highlights-
Keukenhof is a kaleidoscope of color in bloom with SEVEN MILLION tulips.
Tour of Holland’s capital Amsterdam.
Bruges, one of Europe’s most perfectly preserved medieval cities.
Join a local expert exploring Antwerp’s historical sites including the “Liebfrauenkirche,” Belgium’s largest Gothic church; the legendary “Brabo” fountains; and Rubens’ house.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
These trips are set up to make traveling easy. I’ll be with you from beginning to end. The goal? To have fun of course!
Here are all the details and itinerary.
There are a few bulbs blooming where we're going!

There are a few bulbs blooming where we’re going!

Try a Fairy Garden as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

June 4th, 2014

Fairy gardens are fun and easy to plant.

Fairy gardens are fun and easy to plant.

Fairy gardens have become all the rage, and why not, they’re fun.
It’s a small garden for fairy’s, gnomes, trolls and more.
it can either be made in a outdoor space or a container.
Like any garden, starting with good compost will help.
Then the garden can be filled with small plants, moss, rocks and then small benches ect.
A fairy garden is only limited by your imagination.

12th Annual Plant Swap and Giveaway Sunday June 1, 12-2pm North Park Swimming Pool

May 28th, 2014

'Chocolate Stripes' is one of the many different tomatoes I'm giving out on Sunday June 1, 2014.

‘Chocolate Stripes’ is one of the many different tomatoes I’m giving out on Sunday June 1, 2014.

This will be the 12th year I’ve held the Post-Gazette Backyard Gardener Plant Swap. Although there’s some dispute with participants about how many years this has been going on. The first couple seasons I actually held the event at my house. It quickly grew and that’s when we moved to North Park.

On Sunday June 1st, 2014 the event will be held in a new location in North Park in the Swimming Pool parking lot from 12 noon until 2 p.m.

Bring divisions from your garden to trade with other gardeners. Be sure plants are labelled and please don’t bring anything invasive.

Thousands of gardeners attend every year and it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet like minded people.

I’ll also be giving away ‘Limbaugh Legacy Potato Top’ tomato plants. The Pittsburgh heirloom tomato was introduced to me by the late Fred Limbaugh, here’s the whole story. The plants produce large (1-2pound), pink and meaty tomatoes. I also have a limited quantity of plant I started from seed which I don’t have room for. One of the tomatoes is ‘Chocolate Stripes.’ This tomato yields lots of three to four inch, mahogany colored fruit with with dark, olive green-striping. They are easy to grow and taste great too.

Usually they are the last fruit picked in the garden, so grow other varieties too. There are a limited supply of plants, they will be given away on a first come, first serve basis, one to a family please.

Mindy Schwartz of Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery in Wilkinsburg will have lots of plants to give-a-way too.