Avant Gardener – 111113

Hosts Derek and Carolyn discuss the spectacular fall coloring of their grove of hardy dawn redwoods at their farm in Pennsylvania, a tree that once covered most of North America and which formed the major North American coal deposits millions of years ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Thought to be extinct, and known only by fossil remains, a small grove of these beautiful trees was discovered in China in the 1940’s and re-introduced to North America by the Arnold Arboretum, Boston. Although a fast-growing conifer with a trunk resembling a bald cypress and leaves that resemble a hemlock, it is in fact deciduous and turns a golden russet color in fall before dropping its leaves. The Fells discuss its merits and how the ‘Heritage’ variety of river birch makes a good companion to the dawn redwood since both grow at the same fast rate of up to 5 ft. a year, and like a moist soil. The Fells also discuss headlines from their on-line newsletter, the Avant Gardener (avantgardener.info) including How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin up to 2,000 lbs in weight. Carolyn also provides her recipe for pumpkin soup using the beige-colored Pernnsylvania Neck Pumpkin or one of two French heirloom varieties that Derek recommends. Derek responds with his recipe for a hearty vegetable soup which he freezes for use later in the winter. The Fells also discuss changes in the seed industry, notably the change of ownership for Park Seeds, which recently fell on hard times, but is now back in the business of selling flower and vegetable seeds to home gardeners. Derek also notes the remarkable rise to fame of a new company, High Mowing Organic Seeds which quickly increased sales from $18,000.00 a year ten years ago, to $4.2 million today, and still growing. Answering emails, Derek tells a listener how to plant a windbreak hedge on a windy cliff; he advises another listener why her red-twig dogwood stems are failing to turn color, and whether the mole plant will in fact repel moles from your garden, as many seed catalogs claim..