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MelonWhat we call cantaloupes are really muskmelons. True cantaloupes are hard-shelled melons from Europe. Honeydew melons are different from muskmelons in that the skin is smooth, the flesh is green, and the scent is markedly different. Unlike muskmelons, honeydews can be stored for up to a month. Muskmelons stop ripening after being picked from the vine, but honeydews will continue to ripen a bit, though vine-ripening is best.

In cool areas, black plastic mulch can be used to warm the soil and keep weeds down. Melons use a lot of water while they are growing, but taste best if ripened under drier conditions. Set ripening fruit on a soft bed of straw, or a coffee can to keep moisture from damaging the fruit. Melons also grow well on a trellis, which saves space and increases airflow, helping to prevent fungal diseases.

When to Sow Outside: RECOMMENDED: 1 to 2 weeks after average last frost, and when soil temperature is at least 70 degrees F, ideally 70 degrees F to 90 degrees F.
As you probably know, at Bridgewater Farm Supply we have all you need to grow them… compost, fertilizer… whatever.

onion2Onion seeds should be started indoors (with the exception of the South) 10–12 weeks ahead of your average last spring frost, and transplanted out 4–6 weeks before your average last spring frost. Leeks and shallots also follow the onion rule – the bigger the transplant, the bigger the potential yield – so start these early (8 to 10 weeks before average last spring frost). Shallots are cold hardy and can also be transplanted out in the fall.

Growing onions from seed versus starter plants offers a wider variety, is less expensive, and gives you more control over growing conditions and inputs like fertilizer or pesticides. Plus, we are all itching to get our hands dirty again!

Tips for growing onions, leeks, and shallots

The ideal soil temperature range for best germination is 60°–85°F; although, they will germinate at 45°F, but it will take more time.
Onions are heavy feeders. Adjust your planting area according to soil test suggestions. Nitrogen is usually the first major nutrient to be used up, so usually a test suggests adding nitrogen and often, organic material (compost or ground leaves work well).

After hardening off, transplant onions 4″ deep. This may leave only a tiny bit of green poking up through the soil, but don’t worry, leaves will quickly catch up. Scallions and bunching onions can be grown densely; all others should be separated into individual plants and transplanted 3″–4″ apart.

Once greens are 8″–10″ tall, beds can be heavily mulched or hilled with soil to reduce weed pressure, conserve water, and in the case of leeks, blanch the stems (keep them white). Leeks should be hilled monthly to keep as much of the stalk white as possible.

With the exception of bulb-producing onions and shallots, the other onions discussed can be harvested whenever you like. Bunching onions and leeks are frost tolerant but should be harvested before a hard freeze. Many gardeners prefer to harvest leeks after a light frost, because plants produce sugars to avoid freezing, making them sweeter.

Bulbing Onions

Bulbing onions require special attention at sowing because their growth is triggered by day length (latitude). Understanding what varieties grow best in your area is the first step to success. Long-day varieties grow well in the north (above the 37th parallel), as they need 14 to 16 hours of daylight to trigger bulb formation. Try RingmasterYellow Sweet Spanish Utah, and Cipollini Borettana.

Quick Tips:
Long-day varieties grow well in the north (above the 37th parallel), as they need 14 to 16 hours of daylight to trigger bulb formation. Try Ringmaster, Yellow Sweet Spanish Utah, and Cipollini Borettana.

At Bridgewater Farm Supply we stock what you need to get it done: seeds, bulbs, fertilizers, soil, tools. . . it’s all here.

Popcorn!

Why Does Popcorn “Pop”?

A popcorn kernel is essentially a sealed container efficiently storing moisture, and the makings of a new plant. When enough heat is applied to a kernel, the internal moisture is turned into steam, and because steam takes up more space than water, the small shell cannot contain it, so it rapidly expands, creating a tiny, but powerful, “POP”.
Traditional popcorn is called butterfly or snowflake because it has “wings,” and pops into different shapes. Popcorn that pops large and round without a lot of extensions is called mushroom popcorn. This is the kind that is often glazed or coated and sold as flavored, gourmet popcorn.

Popcorn Diagram

Try Botanical Interests three varieties! Botanical Interests is one of our seed suppliers.

Robust Pop 400MR Popcorn: Electric orange kernels pop to a large, preferred round shape for kettle corn.
Dakota Black Popcorn: You’ll pop over these gorgeous, jewel-like, blackberry-colored kernels! Save the ears for autumn décor.
Strawberry Popcorn: These petite strawberry-shaped ruby red ears are a colorful and quaint addition to a fall centerpiece
Corn Strawberry
Corn Robust
Dakota Black

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   Yes, the growing season is over and we now look around for what else we can provide you. These rubber mats are very popular, and not just as horse stall footing. Because they are a relatively inexpensive rubber mat and highly durable, they lend themselves to various other uses. Commercial customers often buy a quantity to cover a concrete floor in manufacturing or process areas. They provide a skid-resistant and somewhat more cushioned surface. They also are a popular mat for use under heavy gym equipment.

   For home use, you might consider them to protect your painted deck from shoveling scars and provide better footing, They can also be used under your washer or dryer to prevent “walking” (and reduce the noise a bit).  Need to cover a muddy area temporarily? Catch the ice under your snowblower? Flooring for a new shed or ramp?

   These rubber mats are 4×6 feet and 3/4 inch thick, they can be cut to size.

   Christmas wreaths are here and Christmas trees will be coming soon. The greenhouse becomes our Christmas display area and we have all kinds of Christmas gift ideas in our store from small farm-related toys for kids, to pet toys and supplies, to bird houses, thermometers, barometers and lots of other cool stuff. Drop by and see us, if only to warm up at the pellet stove. We’ve got all you need to deal with Massachusetts’ snow and ice.

 

Spring is struggling to arrive and is bringing the first flowers of the year! After the nastiness of this last New England winter, the early daffodils and a rainbow of tulips are most welcome.

The secret to keep spring flowering bulbs producing year after year is a spring feeding of Bulb Tone.

When planted, bulbs are packed full of nutrients to last all winter. Come spring, they have used all the food they have stored.

In spring your spring bulbs — tulips and daffodils included — are exhausted and starving even if they don’t look like it!

Fertilize spring bulbs after the plants have bloomed and are about 6 inches high.

Use an organic plant or bulb food that is low in nitrogen and has a higher amount of phosphorous. Nitrogen is the first of three numbers on fertilizer bags, — phosphorus is the second number on the bag. For example, Bulb Tone has a 3-5-3 Nitrogen- Phosphorous-Potassium ratio, which is exactly what bulbs need.

The advantage of using a plant food made specifically for bulbs is that it provides a complete feeding. Your bulbs will love Espoma Organic Bulb-tone. This specially formulated bulb food is fortified with microbes to create a healthy soil and environment for bulbs. Plus, of course, it is pet and child friendly.

Now to boost spring bulbs, apply Bulb-tone at a rate of 4 lbs. per 60 square feet. Simply sprinkle the organic bulb food around the bulbs to ensure they come back even stronger  next year.

One thing to remember – leaves on flowering bulbs produce food, and keep bulbs well fed throughout winter.  So embrace your bulbs’ leaves! They add a lovely pop of glossy greenery to your landscape. A light layer of mulch keeps those leaves functioning longer.

Only cut bulbs’ leaves when they begin yellowing or showing signs of decay. For tulips and daffodils, this can happen as late as July.

Pug

Pugs and other short-nosed dogs have more difficulty on hot, humid days.

Of course you know better to leave your dog or cat in a car.  And that you need to provide water and shade for dogs who are outdoors.  But do you know what to do if you find a pet with heatstroke? The Humane Society of the US advises:

Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.   Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees.

If your pet is exposed to high temperatures:
• Look for signs of heat stress—heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.
•  If your pet is overheated, move him to a cooler area and take these emergency steps:

  1. Gradually lower his body temperature by applying cool (not cold) water all over his body or soaking him in a cool bath.
  2. Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin area. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water. Direct a fan on the wet areas to speed evaporative cooling.
  3. 3. You may offer fresh, cool water if your dog is alert and wants to drink. Do not force your pet to drink.

•   Take your pet immediately to a veterinarian—it could save his life. Call ahead, if possible, to be sure your veterinarian is available.

During a heat crisis, the goal is always to decrease the dog’s body temperature to 103° F in the first 10-15 minutes. Once 103° F is reached, you must stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can plummet dangerously low if you continue to cool the dog for too long.

Even if you successfully cool your pet down to 103° F in the first 10-15 minutes, you must take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible because consequences of heat stroke will not show up for hours or even days. Potential problems include abnormal heart rhythms, kidney failure, neurological problems and respiratory arrest.

•   If you see an animal in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately and take the following steps:

  1. Get the vehicle’s tag number and enter the nearest store or business to request an emergency announcement be made about a pet left in a hot car.
  2. Go back and wait for police at the vehicle.

Remember that  humidity makes it more difficult for dogs to cool off by panting. Young or old pets are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke.
For more information about responsible pet care, contact
Check humanesociety.org/pets.

Watch Out For Fertilizers and Deadly Plants

Plant food, fertilizer and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them. In addition, more than 700 plants can produce physiologically active or toxic substances in sufficient amounts to cause harmful effects in animals.

duckies 008

In the midst of selling loam and mulch, lime and fertilizer, grass seed and crabgrass preventer — our chickens and ducks arrive. We always wait until after Easter so they are not bought as throw-away pets. It’s a bit of a hassle for us as we are busy at this time and the chicks require some tending. Still, it’s a rite of spring here and we though it is probably not worth it to us, it’s a bit of tradition.

And, no, we don’t keep them in a cardboard box.

They are fun to watch grow. If you’re serious about having your own fresh eggs some day, the children and grandchildren will love them! We have all you need to raise your own… everything from feed to waterers to chicken coops.