Ocean Grove, March 24, 2014: Chicken wire can be effective in preventing squirrels from digging up bulbs. It is easiest to use where you have a bed with nothing else in it. Cutting around shrubs gets tricky but can be done. It also has to be secured to the ground so the squirrels don’t go under it. Once the flowers are up, the buds are fair game. Rabbits are more of a problem for the buds but these OG squirrels are a breed of their own. I have one that puts his paws on the glass storm door and looks in!
Editor’s Note: Pegi Costantino is a gardening expert and she has written books and has had a radio show on Sunday mornings for over 25 years. It is called “The Garden Show” on 1450 am WCTC. She goes under the name of Pegi Ballister-Howells. Pegi is also the founder of the new Woman’s Club of Ocean Grove. OGWC link
She has graciously agreed to write a series of short pieces addressing some of the challenges of gardening in Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger
By Eileen Goldfinger, Food and home editor @Blogfinger and Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger
Eileen usually has flowering hibiscus plants in our Ocean Grove garden, and they always have beautiful blooms. But this year we decided to bring one of those plants into the house to see if we can enjoy the flowers during the winter.
Last week Eileen brought one in and she placed it in a sunny window facing west. After about one week, two flowers appeared. We had read about how to do this, but we decided to consult with a person who lives in Ocean Grove and is a real expert regarding gardening, and, in particular , gardening at the Jersey Shore.
Pegi Ballister-Howells of Ocean Grove—gardening expert, author and talk show host. Photo supplied by Pegi.
Pegi Ballister-Howells has just celebrated 25 years of her Sunday morning (8:00-10:00) call-in radio show “The Garden Show ” which is on WCTC -AM out of New Brunswick. It also can be heard online at WCTCam.com.
She is the author of several books on the subject including “The New Jersey Gardener’s Guide” which has a chapter on gardening at the shore. Pegi says that there are some unique differences when considering shore gardens, so we hope to learn more about that from her in the future. Her books are available online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
Pegi and her husband Tom have a home on Mt. Carmel Way (it is the former location of the Ocean Grove Women’s Club) and they have a 10 acre farm in East Windsor. She was very kind to help us with our topic today regarding the hibiscus.
The hibiscus is a tropical plant which can be brought in for the winter, provided it doesn’t freeze to death before you do so. Last week we had, according to Pegi, a “hard frost” in the Grove, but many of her plants did survive including begonias and zinnias. Many homeowners who have hibiscus in their gardens simply buy new plants each spring, but that can be expensive. If you bring them into the house, you can pinch off the buds and place the plant in a cold environment such as a garage just to let it go dormant and keep it alive till spring and save money.
Or, you can bring it in to enjoy the blooms, even though that might weaken the plant for the spring. The hibiscus must be placed in a sunny window. Don’t water it too much—“keep it on the dry side.” If it is near a source of heat such as a radiator, you might have to water it more often. Pegi says, “Do not fertilize it during the winter.”
If the plant gets some yellow leaves, “pluck them off.” In the spring you can then buy new plants or cut back the winter plant, put back into the garden and fertilize.
We hope to interview Pegi subsequently about her background and her remarkable run as a talk show host for 25 years.