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Garden Guru

Roots run deep

Jim Boxberger
Posted 4/12/24

So I got a call on Tuesday from one of my father’s past employees from way back in the 70’s, Chris (Crista) Ward. Back then the Liberty Agway store was more into selling power equipment, …

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Garden Guru

Roots run deep


So I got a call on Tuesday from one of my father’s past employees from way back in the 70’s, Chris (Crista) Ward. Back then the Liberty Agway store was more into selling power equipment, appliances and snowmobiles than it was selling plants, but that all changed in the 80’s as lawn and garden products started to dominate spring sales. Here are two pictures from an article written in the Catskill Shopper November 8th, 1972. The first is my mom, dad and I and the second is some of the staff at Liberty Agway in 1972, from left to right, Gordon Bedel, my Dad Jim Sr., Christa Ward and Jerry Black. Chris called not just to reminisce about the past, but she had a problem with something eating her daffodils. Daffodils are the one spring bulb that deer and rabbits will leave alone, but woodchucks will eat if the opportunity presents itself. She was thinking the same thing as she had seen a woodchuck nearby in recent days, she just wanted to get a second opinion to confirm her suspicions. As we chatted about the old days, I told her I had this article in my office at work. She will be very surprised to see this picture on Friday I’m sure. Now back to my regularly scheduled column.

Now even though the snow is gone and the fields are clear, my bird feeder is hosting more flights than JFK airport. The reason is that there are just more birds in the area right now and food is still scarce this early in the season. Migratory birds are heading north and need to fuel up for the trip, while others are just back in the area for the summer season. Feeding the birds can be fun, relaxing and educational if you have small children or grandchildren like me. The type of seed you use can determine the type of birds you will get. Black Oil Sunflower seed has the broadest appeal and will even attract wild turkeys and deer. Millet appeals to small birds like chickadees and finches and Safflower seed is the favorite seed of Cardinals. Birds also need a source for fresh water nearby, so if you don’t have a birdbath use a saucer from a flowerpot that you can fill with water and place out for the birds. Hummingbirds don’t eat seed, they eat fruit flies and nectar. They haven’t arrived here yet but they should be in the area around May 1st, so now is the time to be ready for them. Besides hummingbird feeders, you can plant hummingbird friendly plants to attract them and most of the plants that hummingbirds like, butterflies like too. Flowers with long throats are prized by Hummingbirds and butterflies so that they do not have to compete with other pollinators for the nectar. Certain perennials can be planted outside now but you should wait till mid-May for annual flowers as we will probably still have frost up till then. We have already had plenty of April showers, so now let’s see all the flowers. 

Lastly, I want to mention the No Mow May campaign that is going on again this year, so tune those lawnmowers up but keep them in the garage until Memorial Day Weekend. And the other is a tip from a customer that found a use for an old refrigerator that doesn’t work anymore. He has an old fridge in the corner of his shed that he uses to store liquid lawn and garden chemicals, fertilizers, etc. The insulation of the fridge keeps the liquids from freezing when the temps drop below zero so that the liquids do not freeze and get ruined. He kept a min/max thermometer in there the first winter just to see how cold it would get just to make sure the ideas would work. Now all the chemicals are stored outside of the house. Pretty good idea and a great way to recycle. 


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