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Setting the SEEN: New Year's Eve Special!

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

Ring in the New Year with a sneak preview of the Pittsburgh Opera's New Year's Eve Gala and Concert: As Time Goes By!

Big shout-out to Boutique la Passerelle and Anna Ciaccio for styling us!

Follow @NBSeen on Twitter and on Instagram @NatalieBenci to keep up with #wheresNataliePG

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North Hills Community Outreach needs seeds to help the hungry

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog tot seed podsbThese heirloom bean seeds would be a perfect gift to help the hungry. Photo by Doug Oster

The North Hills Community Outreach grows vegetables providing food for three food pantries and could use your help.

Donations of organic seeds are now being collected for their Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden.

Lettuce, spinach, bush beans, carrots, cabbage and broccoli are most needed. Onion sets and seed potatoes are also needed. 

Heirloom varieties and well-labeled seeds from home gardens are welcomed. All produce supports NHCO’s three food pantries. Please drop off at any NHCO location.

  • 1975 Ferguson Road, Hampton; 416 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale.
  • AGH Suburban, 100 S. Jackson Ave,  2nd Floor South, Bellevue.
  • Community Auto, 11490 Perry Hwy, Suite 7, Pine. 

Groups or individuals who can volunteer to grow seedlings are also needed.

Please contact Jen at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 412-408-3830.

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Double amaryllis is stunning, how to make them bloom again

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog sweet nymph'Sweet Nymph' amaryllis is the perfect cure for the winter blues. Photo by Doug Oster

The frilly pink blossoms of 'Sweet Nymph' amaryllis light up the living room from the windowsill.

I was sent three bulbs to try from Longfield Gardens. The first to bloom is 'Sweet Nymph,' the other two amaryllis bulbs are 'Cherry Nymph' and 'White Nymph,' which will be next. One of those two has produced three flower stalks, which means as many big, beautiful flowers.

Double flowers are one of my weaknesses, so these are perfect for my indoor garden.

Amaryllis are one of the easiest plants to grow and make great gifts for gardeners. They can be bought already planted in a nice pot or the bulb itself can be purchased alone. 

They offer some of the most beautiful flowers for the holiday season. For the first season the bulb has everything in it that the flower needs. Just give it a little water and the flowers will come.

There's not much out there prettier than an amaryllis. Amaryllis offer some of the most beautiful flowers for the holiday season. For the first season the bulb has everything in it that the flower needs. The job of the gardener is to treat the plant right to get blooms next season. I've got about a 50/50 record for re-blooming. I never throw them away and they will bloom when they are happy. Sometimes that's every year, sometimes it takes three.

After the plant is done blooming remove the flower stalk leaving the tall, floppy foliage. Grow it as a houseplant all winter and start fertilizing in March. Mid-May it goes outside in the shade. Sometimes transplanting to a pot one size bigger will help. Keep feeding the plant every couple weeks through the season.

In August stop all watering and fertilizing and bring the amaryllis back inside. I put mine down in the basement for six  to eight weeks until they go into dormancy. The leaves will turn brown, which feeds the bulb. Then bring the plant back to the windowsill add a little water and hope for buds to emerge.
I rarely get them to bloom at Christmas, but anytime they flower, it's wonderful. Usually it's about being too busy at the end of the season and not getting them into dormancy fast enough.

Others never make it outside, are forgotten about and bloom after given a little water.

It's fun to have something blooming in the winter and even though the holiday season is winding up, ordering a few bulbs will make your favorite gardener happy until they can get their hands dirty again.

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Local seedsman offers tastiest and most unique tomatoes along with other heirlooms

Written by Doug Oster on .

grungybi'Grungy in the Sky Bicolor' is tasty, beautiful and has a great name too. Photos courtesy of Good Mind Seeds

Phil Seneca's Good Mind Seeds is a local company offering some of the most unique tomatoes and other plants too.

One tomato with an interesting name won first place in the annual Buffalo/Niagara tomato tasting competition. 'Grungy in the Sky Bicolor' is not only filled with flavor, it's also late blight resistant. The tomato is a vigorous grower which can reach eight feet in a season. The flesh under the skin is red, but the rest of the inner flesh is pure yellow.

Phil does not baby his varieties, most are left to fend for themselves in the field. It's survival of the fittest. I've grown many of his introductions with wonderful results, they don't need to be babied. Not only is the catalog filled with interesting varieties, I love the beautiful photography too.

The catalog is filled with plants you can't find anywhere else, I wish I had more room to grow the weird and wonderful plants listed.

queenslice2'Queen Aliquippa' is green when ripe, prolific and disease resistant.

I'm intrigued with 'Queen Aliquippa.' named for the last Native American matriarch of Phil's people. The tomato is green when ripe and is pear shaped. It's disease resistant and has an interesting sweet and fruity flavor, one of Phil's favorites.

lostmarbles2'Lost Marbles' is sweeter than 'Sungold,' I can't wait to try it.

'Lost Marbles' is sweeter than 'Sungold,' which happens to be my wife's favorite tomato. I can't wait to grow them side by side to see if the new variety supersedes the older one. This one is another variety which is highly disease resistant.

pb'Punta Banda' doesn't need much water at all during the growing season. It's one of my favorites.

'Punta Banda' is the first one of Phil's tomatoes I ever grew. I also gave away hundreds of seeds to readers for them to try. It was a huge hit as this variety is tasty and drought resistant. It can grow all season with much water at all. I highly recommend this tomato. Every once and a while I'll run into a reader which has grown the variety and they rave about this tough, but flavorful tomato.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, dig into the catalog here and you'll find garden wonders at every click. This is the perfect time to plan for next year's garden.

We all start gardening with the hope things will live, when they do, we're overjoyed. Once you get past that point, there's often a longing to grow something different from the neighbors. That's what you'll find in Phil's catalog.

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Last minute gifts for gardeners

Written by Doug Oster on .

 

Good tools will last a lifetime or even longer. The stainless steel potting scoop from Joseph Bentley Tools is great for moving planting mix. The business end is made of polished stainless steel and the handle is contoured oak. It’s perfectly sized, filling a 6-inch pot with one scoop. $15.99 and available at independent garden centers, Home Depot and through Amazon.

Dramm’s Touch ’N Flow Pro Rain Wand makes watering easy. A soft stream of water won’t overwhelm plants and it has a lifetime warranty. The Rain Wand comes in three lengths: 16, 30 and 36 inches. From $20 to $28 at independent garden centers and hardware stores and through Amazon. www.rainwand.com.

My son gave me a Plant Nanny last Christmas and I love it. It’s a terra cotta watering stake that uses recycled wine bottles to water your plants. The bottle is filled with water and just dropped into the Plant Nanny. It will slowly release the water into the pot. Great if you’re out of town and can’t get anyone to water your precious houseplants. A set of four is under $20. Locate a retailer at www.plantnannyinc.com.

If you know an adventurous gardener who likes to cook, let them try growing mushrooms indoors. The Shiitake Mushroom Kit is $19.95 and comes with two small logs inoculated with mushroom spores. They will grow just about anywhere inside. Available from Gourmet Mushrooms at www.gmushrooms.org.

Radius Garden Tools are all built with ergonomic handles and are virtually indestructible. Their PRO Edger has a sharp stainless-steel blade, is lightweight, balanced and offers a durable encased steel core shaft. For about $50, it’s a steal. Radius products are available at garden centers and online at www.radius.gostorego.com.

Just about every garden center or nursery carries bulbs for indoor growing (called forcing). Paperwhites are small, easy-to-grow, fragrant daffodils. Be careful though, not everyone likes their aroma. Hyacinths will fill a room with their magical perfume. The queen of holiday bulbs is amaryllis. Its giant flowers are spectacular in shades of red, pink and white. Bulbs can be purchased ready to go in pots, or alone for a gardener to plant. One word of caution about amaryllis, they are poisonous to cats and dogs. It's cats that seem most interested in them, so be careful.

Cole’s Wild Bird Feed offers some of the best seed and other products to keep birds happy in the winter. Once they find the seed, and you keep the feeder full, they will use the area on their foraging routes this spring. Hot Meats are seeds covered with a hot pepper concoction that the squirrels detest, but the birds can’t taste. The Blue Ribbon Blend is a real treat for the birds, filled with a mixture of their favorites. Find the products locally by searching at www.coleswildbird.com.

George Wiegel’s “Pennsylvania Getting Started Garden Guide” (Cool Springs Press, $24.95) is great for both beginning and experienced gardeners. It’s filled with great regional information about growing just about anything. It’s the perfect book to enjoy by the fire planning for next year’s garden.

 

 

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