Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont
Take your home from drab to fab! 7 tips from interior designers to refresh your home this spring
Made in Bennington? 5 nationally known products you probably didn’t know were made here Ellen Ecker Ogden wants you to grow an heirloom garden
TABLE OF CONTENTS
5 nationally known products you probably didn’t know were made in Bennington
New and on view: Art to see this spring
4 From the editor 5 Contributors 21 UpCo Homes 46 Be-a-Better-Gardener 48 5 tips to get your garden started
7 tips from interior designers to refresh your home this spring
Ellen Ecker Ogden wants you to grow an heirloom garden
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FROM THE EDITOR
Is it mud season yet? I’m asking for a friend who has terrible cabin fever but can’t bring herself to ask if it’s spring yet. If the thought hadn’t already crossed your mind, I’ll admit. It’s me. I’m the one with cabin fever. With that said, I’m hoping you’ll excuse me as I head out the door. I’ve been inside for the winter (and almost all of 2020) and am looking forward to seeing some of the art that’s arriving and shows opening at our museums (Pages 13-18). I’m also ready to get outside and start working on my garden. Need some guidance when it comes to garden planning? Or recipes for the vegetables you’ll be growing? Then you’ll be happy to read our Q&A with Manchester’s Ellen Ecker Ogden, pages 41-44, whose latest book is one-part garden guide, one-part cookbook. For those of you who are not only tired of being in the house but are also tired of looking at the same old decor (me again!), starting on page 30, we have plenty of tips from local interior designers, flooring specialists and color experts to help you start planning your next home project. And for those of you who love to learn new things about the area you live in (me again!), you’re sure to enjoy our story on pages 7-10 about some nationally and internationally known products that you didn’t realize are made right here in Bennington. Stay safe! Jennifer Huberdeau, Editor email@example.com
Publisher Fredric D. Rutberg
Vice President Jordan Brechenser
Executive Editor Kevin Moran
Editor Jennifer L. Huberdeau
Proofreaders Margaret Button Lindsey Hollenbaugh Tim Jamiolkowski Art Director Kimberly Kirchner
Regional Advertising Managers Berkshire County, Mass.: Kate Teutsch firstname.lastname@example.org
Bennington County, Vt.: Susan Plaisance
Windham County, Vt.: Lylah Wright email@example.com
UpCountry Magazine is a publication of New England Newspapers Inc.
On the Cover: A butterfly rests on a flower at Hayward Garden, in Putney, Vt. Photo by Kristopher Radder
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Article sparks fond memories of Otis Ridge Thank you for the great article about Otis Ridge!! My father, David Judson, owned and operated Otis Ridge from 1946 until the early 1970s, on the 200-acre parcel my parents owned. He was elected the first President of the National Ski Area Operators Association and was inducted into the U.S. Ski-Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1997. My father was the second or third in the U.S. to open a rope tow to the public and helped pioneer snow-making, which was exciting because when the nozzles froze up, all the water in the steel pipes froze solid. I have fond memories of carrying frozen pipes into a warm building in the middle of the night. When my father installed the second Poma-lift in the U.S., Mr. Pomagalski and his wife came from Grenoble, France, and joined us for dinner! My siblings and I had about 40 babysitters: the entire staff ! We had to ski every day, so the staff could keep an eye on us. Right near our family home on Judd Road was a farm my parents leased out. In 1950-51, my parents converted it into a ski camp for kids — the only one in the nation. My mother, Hooker Judson, ran the ski camp, eventually adding another dorm, so she welcomed 90 kids every weekend, plus multiple sessions on holiday weeks. She handled all the marketing, reservations (phone # 20-ring-2), arranged buses from New York, supervised all the ski instructors, counselors, and cooks, and cheerfully kept all the details in her head. Whenever two families from Greenwich made reservations, she invited them to car-pool, before it was cool. Each camp session ended with an awards ceremony where kids were awarded stars based on their accomplishments — one silver star for a snowplow, three gold stars for a "parallel christie" — to be sewn onto kids' parkas. At many resorts, you'd see the Otis Ridge Junior Ski Camp shoulder patch with hard-earned merit stars, worn with pride. After selling Otis Ridge, my parents retired to Mad River Glen. Stephen Judson Laguna Beach, Calif.
Crocus flowers just barely push out through the snow on West Street in Pittsfield, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
CONTRIBUTORS Telly Halkias [“‘5 nationally-known products you probably didn’t know were made here,” page 7] is a national award-winning, independent journalist. He lives and writes from his homes in Southern Vermont and coastal Maine.
Jennifer Huberdeau [“Take your home from drab to fab,” page 30] is editor of UpCountry magazine. She also pens the column “Mysteries from the Morgue” for The Berkshire Eagle.
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Mount Anthony Union High School students learn about power steering column parts manufactured by NSK Steering Systems Americas - Bennington, during a tour of the plant in April 2015. Bennington Banner File Photo
MADE IN BENNINGTON?
5 nationally known products you probably didn't know were made here By Telly Halkias BENNINGTON, Vt.
Don’t try to convince Matt Harrington that Bennington no longer has what it takes to attract national and global companies. Not only will he tell you you’re wrong, but he’ll also take it as an invitation to offer up the names of a number of companies, with national and international ties, that make their homes within the community.
As the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, Harrington spends his waking hours cheerleading the region’s economic development potential. “Bennington has long been an innovation and entrepreneurial community,” he said during a recent interview. “Whether it's the small Mason jar — often called a lightning jar — created by Henry Putnam or world-renowned pottery, once featured in the
White House, from Bennington Potters, Bennington has often punched above its weight in famous innovation, design and production for generations.” And that continuous diverse economic makeup has allowed Bennington to retain its appeal and reputation as a location that fosters all types of innovation, manufacturing and creativity. “Now, with aerospace, composites, tactical gear, automotive, and other advanced
manufacturing being the primary products and industries shipped from Bennington, this community of hard workers, creators and a new entrepreneurial ecosystem is still worthy of its heritage,” Harrington said. Not only are these manufacturers the backbone of Bennington’s continued innovation, but they also are some of its best-kept secrets. Here are a few you might not know about ... UpCountryOnline.com | 7
R. John Wright Dolls
2402 West Road, Bennington, Vt. • rjohnwright.com
Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! That’s right, an exclusive line of “The Wizard of Oz” dolls, including Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch of the West and more, was created in Bennington by R. John Wright Dolls. Some of its more notable character dolls and plush lines include Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Raggedy Ann, Paddington Bear, and animals from the Beatrix Potter books. Company namesake R. John Wright and his wife, Susan, founded the doll company in Brattleboro, Vt., in the early 1970s, after John unexpectedly was laid off from his job at a hardware store. In 2005, the production workshop moved to the former Hemmings Motor News building on Route 9. Since then, the company, which produces limited numbers of each doll it crafts, has continued to flourish, in some years producing as many as 10,000 dolls. Susan and R. John Wright in the showroom of the R. John Wright Dolls workshop in Bennington, Vt. Bennington Banner File Photo
Kaman Composites - Vermont
25 Performance Drive, Bennington, Vt. • kaman.com
Kaman Composites - Vermont, a leader in the design and manufacture of composite aerostructures and advanced composite medical equipment, has a long history of creating carbon fiber parts for military aircraft, along with other aerospace programs, including helicopter and fixed-winged aircraft. It produces parts for Kaman’s Kmax helicopters and for Rolls-Royce’s line of airplanes. The company, founded in Bennington as Oak Fothergill in 1979, became Vermont Composites in 1996, after an employee buyout led by General Manager Daniel Maneely. In 2011, Kaman Aerospace Group, a subsidiary of Kaman Corp. in Connecticut, purchased Vermont Composites and since has expanded its footprint in Bennington. Joel Peckham, a Kaman Composite employee, inspects the small interior of a Kaman K-Max K-1200 helicopter during a 2017 company picnic. Bennington Banner File Photo
160 Benmont Ave. Suite 100, Bennington, Vt. portabrace.com
Since Robert Howe founded Porta-Brace in 1972, armies of broadcast journalists have toted video cameras large and small, lenses and other such related paraphernalia, in cases both soft and hard, proudly bearing the name of the little Vermont town where they are produced. The array of offerings since those humble beginnings has grown to include protective storage and carrier solutions for cameras, production gear, lenses, audio equipment and monitors. To say that Porta-Brace — it’s coming up on its golden anniversary in 2022 — has become the industry standard is not an exaggeration. Porta-Brace camera bags are used widely by the film industry. Photo courtesy of Tony Dunne
NSK Steering Systems Americas 110 Shields Drive, Bennington, Vt. • nskamericas.com
If you drive a car, truck or SUV, a very significant part of your vehicle might have been made in Bennington. NSK Steering Systems Americas - Bennington manufactures steering columns and other automotive parts, including roller and ball bearings, direct-drive motors and ball screw support bearings for the global automotive industry, with large contracts currently active for Nissan and Honda. Past and ongoing customers include big auto industry players Chrysler, Ford, Subaru and Mercedes-Benz. It also produces component parts for the Toyota Rav4 and Highlander. The Shields Drive facility was opened in 1988 by NSK Ltd., a global automotive parts company headquartered in Japan. Mount Anthony Union High School students learn about the parts manufactured by NSK Steering Systems Americas Bennington, during a tour of the facility in April 2015. Bennington Banner File Photo
NAHANCO (National Hanger Co.)
276 Water St., North Bennington, Vt. nahanco.com
Have you ever found yourself in a retail dressing room, wondering where the store gets its hangers from? Probably not. But, there’s a pretty good chance those inauspicious, yet practical and durable, hangers came from the National Hanger Co., also known as NAHANCO. NAHANCO, headquartered in North Bennington, is the largest producer of retail garment hangers in the United States and has been the prime wholesaler to the retail industry since opening in 1925. The company also is the largest domestic importer of retail supplies and display fixtures. And because it manufactures its own hangers, it can produce them in a variety of custom colors, sizes and styles. • The National Hanger Co., also known as NAHANCO, is the largest producer of retail garment hangers in the United States. Bennington Banner File Photo
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NEW AND ON VIEW
Just in time for spring, new art exhibitions fill UpCountry museums Have you taken in an art exhibition lately? After a year of limited access to art, museums throughout UpCountry’s coverage area are filling their galleries with new shows, just in time for spring. Here is a look at what’s open or opening soon ... This page: “Neveruses à Table (me and LP), 2018” by J. Stoner Blackwell, plastic, wool, silk, paper, paint, wood. Photo by Art Evans, courtesy of the J. Stoner Blackwell via the Bennington Museum.
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Bennington Museum 75 Main St., Bennington, Vt. 802-447-1571; benningtonmuseum.org
WHAT’S NEW Opening April 2:
“Robert Frost, ‘At Present in Vermont’” Renowned poet Robert Frost lived and worked in Bennington County from 1920 to 1938. During that time, he wrote three of his four Pulitzer Prize-winning works. The exhibit, Robert Frost, ‘At Present in Vermont,” examines his life and work in the context of the landscape and culture of Bennington County and includes works from his circle of friends and colleagues.
“Neveruses: Beyonder” Artist J. Stoner Blackwell repurposes single-use plastic shopping bags, which were banned in Vermont on July 1, 2020, to create works of art. Blackwell’s work highlights the plastic bag’s significance as “an emblem of consumer culture” and the “persistence of environmental exploitation.”
“Performative Acts: Dona Ann McAdams” “Performance Arts” celebrates the career of award-winning and internationally recognized photographer Dona Ann McAdams with a retrospective of her work, including her photos of anti-nuclear, pro-choice, anti-war, feminist, queer liberation and AIDS activism protests.
“Love, Marriage and Divorce” This exhibit explores the highs and lows of love and heartache, from gorgeous Victorian wedding gowns to scandalous tales of sexual harassment.
UPCOMING “Boundless,” works on paper by artist Dusty Boynton, will be on view from August through December. This page, from top: “Apple Tree & Grindstone, 1923,” by J.J. Lankes, a contemporary of Robert Frost, from the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Photo provided by the Bennington Museum “Neveruses à Table (me and LP), 2018” by J. Stoner Blackwell, plastic, wool, silk, paper, paint, wood. Photo by Art Evans, courtesy of the J. Stoner Blackwell via the Bennington Museum. “Madrid, 1988,” Dona McAdams, Silver Gelatin Photograph. Photo provided by Bennington Museum.
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Brattleboro Museum and Art Center 10 Vernon St., Brattleboro, Vt. 802-257-0124; brattleboromuseum.org
WHAT’S NEW Opening March 18:
“Glasstastic 2021” What happens when children in kindergarten through sixth-grade are invited to dream up and draw imaginary creatures that could be turned into glass sculptures? The result is “Glasstastic 2021,” which features 26 glass sculptures created from those drawings.
“All Flowers Keep the Light” Flowers have been seen for millennia as spiritual and emotional touchstones. In “All Flowers Keep the Light,” seven artists explore the symbolic potential of flowers using a variety of artistic media and means.
“Jennifer Mack-Watkins: Children of the Sun” Jennifer Mack-Watkins’ works on paper draw from the illustrative imagery found in “The Brownies’ Book: A Monthly Magazine for the Children of the Sun” — a first-of-its-kind periodical for Black children that ran from 1920 to 1921. Also opening March 18: “Adria Arch: On Reflection” and “Kenny Rivero: Palm Oil, Rum, Honey, Yellow Flowers.”
UPCOMING Opening June 19: “Novelties,” by Delano Dunn; “Expedition,” by John Newsom; “Double Take” by Erick Johnson; “Sequences: Ode to Minor White.” “Pegmellow” by Josie Clough and Dominique Caissie. Photo provided by the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center “One Day,” 2020, Cathy Osman. Photo provided by the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center “Harriet,” 2020, Jennifer Mack-Watkins, silkscreen.” Photo provided by the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center
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The Clark Art Institute 225 South St., Williamstown, Mass. 413-458-2303; clarkart.edu
WHAT’S NEW “A Change in the Light: The Clichéverre in 19th-century France” On view through May 16
“A Change in the Light” features the works of five French artists — Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, Charles-François Daubigny, Eugène Delacroix, Jean François Millet and Théodore Rousseau — drawn from a portfolio of clichés-verre (the glass print technique) plates. The portfolio, printed in 1921 and recently acquired by The Clark, is a special edition of just five that includes two variant paintings of each plate.
“Erin Shirreff: Remainders” On view through Jan. 2, 2022
Working across mediums, Erin Shirreff uses photography, sculpture and video to shape and reshape two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art as she explores what happens to an artwork once it enters the public record and is interpreted and re-interpreted by society and art historians. Also on view: “Ground/work,” the museum’s first outdoor exhibition of site-specific sculptures is on view through Oct. 17.
UPCOMING “Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne: Nature Transformed,” May 8 through Oct. 31. “Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway,” June 19 through Sept. 19. “Dürer and After,” the museum’s first exhibition of Albrecht Dürer’s works from its permanent collection in more than a decade will open in July. “Cherry Tree at Plante-à-Biau,” Théodore Rousseau, 1862, printed 1921. Cliché-verre, gelatin printing-out print. Photo provided by The Clark Art Institute “Four-color Cafe Terrace (Caro, ------, Moorhouse, Matisse),” Erin Shirreff, 2019, dye sublimation prints on aluminum and archival pigment print. Photo courtesy of Erin Shirreff and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
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Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, Mass. 413-662-2111; massmoca.org
WHAT’S NEW Opening April 3:
“In the Light of a Shadow” Glenn Kaino’s “In the Light of a Shadow” will fill the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Building 5 gallery with four new large-scale installations addressing global protest. The exhibit will allow viewers “to look at the intersectionality between the history of civil rights and the racial and ecological implications of the global pandemic.”
“Close to You” “Close to You,” conceived in the wake of a pandemic, invites viewers to reflect upon physical, emotional and spiritual proximity The exhibition features “the voices of BIPOC and queer artists, who — in spite of marginalization and disenfranchisement — have imagined divergent modes of kinship in the form of chosen families, safe havens and shared languages.” Also on view: Blane De St. Croix’s “How to Move a Landscape,” “Kissing Through A Curtain” and “Wendy Red Star: Apsàalooke: Children of the Large-Beaked Bird,” as well as several smaller exhibitions, including Richard Nielsen’s “This is Not a Gag.” Image courtesy of Glenn Kaino via the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Kang Seung Lee, “Untitled (List),” 2018-2019, 24k gold thread on Sambe, hemp rope and wood. Courtesy of Kang Seung Lee and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles.
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Norman Rockwell Museum 9 Glendale Road/Route 183, Stockbridge, Mass. 413-298-4100; nrm.org
WHAT’S NEW “Pat Oliphant: Editorial Cartoons from the Nixon and Clinton Eras” On view through May 31.
“Pat Oliphant: Editorial Cartoons from the Nixon and Clinton Eras” highlights works of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Patrick Oliphant, from a collection of his works donated by the Louis and Jodi Atkin family. The overall collection features three prominent aspects of the artist’s work — his editorial drawings from the Nixon and Clinton years, as well as personal drawings, paintings and sculptures. Also on view: “Norman Rockwell: Telling Stories,” “Norman Rockwell: The Art of Persuasion,” “Norman Rockwell: Covering the Post,” “Selected Works from Norman Rockwell: Imagining Freedom,” “The Unity Project,” “Pops Peterson: Rockwell Revisited,” and “Norman Rockwell: Murder in Mississippi.”
UPCOMING Opening June 12: “Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration” and “Land of Enchantment,” a juried exhibition of outdoor sculpture installations accompanying the fantasy art inside the galleries. • Patrick Oliphant (b. 1935), [Nixon giving victory sign], 1994, Editorial cartoon for Universal Press Syndicate, 1994, Ink on Bristol board, Norman Rockwell Museum Collection, Gift of the Louis and Jodi Atkin Family. Photo provided by the Norman Rockwell Museum
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38 Richards Road, Grafton, Vt. 3 bedrooms • 2 baths • 2,054 sq. ft. • 5 acres • $339,900 Sweet! Located on a dead end road, bordered by a sweet stream, just off a pavement, with a private rear deck and backyard! This home features a light filled sunroom right off the deck that you could fill with plants, comfy chairs or use as a formal dining. The open concept is wonderful, spreading not only the light, but the room for the company of family and friends. All new appliances bring the kitchen to a new level in the joy of cooking! Add an island for more countertop and storage or leave the center open for a free flow! Contemporary in design with a soaring living room ceiling but comfortable and warm by nature, bringing the best of design and livability all in one package. Great set up with two bedrooms and a bath on the living level and an exciting private main bedroom on the second floor. Minutes to Grafton Village, the highway, and all of Vermont’s four-seasons recreation!
More information: Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI
Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com
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174 Shirley Circle, Townshend, Vt. 2 rooms • 280 sq. ft. • 1.3 acres • $69,900
SWEET! Are you tired of pitching a tent? Want to be warm and dry when you come in from skiing or swimming? Treat yourself to a tiny house, just right for the weekend get away, just right for stepping up to comfort! The sweet screened porch with gas lights will be a welcome refuge from the insects, and will be a great place to catch a breeze on a hot summer night. The cute wood stove will add warmth and ambience when it is chilly. There is no water or sewer, but it does boast a compost john and has electricity. Camp here while you build your dream home. This is such an inexpensive way to become a Vermonter, it is a must see. MLS #4765931
209 Hill Road, Brookline, Vt. 2 bedrooms • 1 baths • 1.92 acres • $139,900
Affordable! Looking for a winter project? This single level with second floor potential may be the right get away for you! Fringed by forest, this open meadow is just right for raising a few animals, having a horse, or just a great place to toss the ball. Slightly rolling, mostly level, featuring a traditional stone wall — on pavement (no mud season here) — this is one sweet piece of Vermont. The private back porch is just off the huge kitchen so you can grill all year and entertain in the formal dining. Now, this home is waiting for someone who has the skills to bring it to the next level of special. MLS #4828697 Sponsored Content
Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI
Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 * Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com
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382 Dover Road, Newfane, Vt. 5 bed • 3+ bath • 3.984 sq. ft. • $595,000 THE VILLAGE HOUSE c. 1904, was said to have been built for the daughter of a wealthy merchant. This life size dollhouse can now be yours. The current owners have been diligent caretakers of this historic property. The beautiful birch woodwork is pristine and the original doors and hardware are lovely. As one enters the front door, the scale and beauty of the grand staircase is breathtaking. A lovely stained glass window is at the top of the stairs. The entire property received a huge renovation around 2000, when all the windows were replaced, insulation added, new radiant floor heating (8 zones), new floors on the first level and there is also a studio apartment is on the second level. In the backyard you will find a blue stone patio overlooking the beautiful Rock River. A historic barn has great space and potential. The Village of South Newfane is a close knit community with many local artists. Conveniently located near everywhere. Mount Snow is 20 min. away. 2 1/2 hrs. to Boston, 3 1/2 hrs. to NYC, 3 1/2 hrs. to Montreal. $595,000 MLS #4809142
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42 Beau Ridge, Wilmington, Vt. 5 bed • 3.5 bath • 5,700 sq. ft. • $1,295,000
Nestled on a private road sits this spectacular country chic farmhouse with breathtaking views of the ridge line and ski trails. Experience the splendor of Vermont, basking in the sunset exposure from almost every window. This beautifully cared for home has been updated top
to bottom, including high end furnishings included in the price, so that the new owners may experience true turnkey enjoyment. The 10 acres ensures that despite the amazing exposure, you have true privacy, and there is tasteful yet easy to maintain perennial landscaping across the property.
Inside you are greeted by a truly open concept living, kitchen and entertaining great room space, with vaulted ceilings, plus an office/bedroom. The chefs kitchen has a large island, stainless appliances, and flows nicely into the entry off the 2-car garage. Upstairs you will find spectacular
master suites with walk-in closets and large bathrooms, as well as two guest bedrooms that share a beautiful marble appointed bathroom withsoaking tub overlooking the view. Additionally there is a large family room, billiard, fitness area and wet bar. $1,295,000 • MLS # 4788636
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2758 County Route 9, East Chatham, N.Y. 3-4 bedrooms • 4 baths • 3,290 sq. ft. • 134.22 acres • $1,895,000
Set back and overlooking 134 acres of rolling fields, this classic 1840 Greek Revival farmhouse captures that luminous sense of place we call rural life. This authentically restored homestead features 3-4 bedrooms, 3 fireplaces, rocking chair front porch, 9 ft. ceilings, large eat-in kitchen with charming kitchen garden, state of the art mechanicals and original hardwood floors. A 19th century post and beam barn adds an additional 3,000 sq. ft. of finished space including a workshop/studio with radiant heat on the first level. On the second level is a private three-room guest space, work-athome office or rental. The land is suitable for organic farming, horses (4-bay horse barn), or cattle grazing (cattle and utility barns.) The property has frontage on two roads for possible sub-division. New Concord is a pristine hamlet with a strong sense of community.Conveniently located 2.5 hrs from NYC or Boston, 6 min. to Chatham Village, 25 min. to Hudson, 25 min. to Tanglewood and 30 min to Great Barrington. 28 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2021
More information: Nancy Cuddihy Stone House Properties 518-929-5627 stonehouseproperties.com
Take your home from drab to fab! 7 tips from interior designers to refresh your home this spring By Jennifer Huberdeau
After a year of spending more time in our homes than ever before, most of us are ready for a change. And what better time of year than spring to refresh a room or your entire home? To get you started, UpCountry asked local experts for seven simple tips to refresh a space, as well as tips to help get you started on larger home projects. Photo by Orlova Maria/UnSplash
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Don’t ignore your mudroom It’s not the formal entryway into the home, but this functional, secondary space is just as important and one you probably use almost every day. Just because it’s the spot to shed your winter gear and muddy spring boots doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Jess Cooney, lead designer and CEO of Jess Cooney Interiors in Great Barrington, Mass., suggests simple, seasonal changes to this space that not only will make it feel new again, but also will play a role in organizing it. The big ‘to-do’ item in the spring and again in the fall, she said, is to clean everything up, air the room out and shake out the rugs. “I like to do a big mudroom refresh by taking everything off the shelves, out of the closet and baskets and off the hooks and dump it into the center of the room. I put back what is seasonally appropriate and put the rest in bins and store it in the closet,” Cooney said.
Do: • Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. • Spruce up the space with new storage baskets and bins. • Change the fabric of your bench cushion. “It’s something inexpensive that you can buy or make yourself and a great way to add a pop of color into a room.”
Photo provided by Lisa Vollmer Photography via Jess Cooney Interiors
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Meet the designers Amy Krane Color Amy Krane, architectural color consultant Ghent, N.Y 917-843-3553; amykranecolor.com
Old Brick Furniture and Mattress Co. Interior Design Services (Formerly Bennington Furniture) Tara Duncan, interior design and sales director Locations include Bennington and Manchester, Vt., and Pittsfield, Mass. oldbrickfurniture.com
Jess Cooney Interiors Jess Cooney, lead designer and CEO Great Barrington, Mass.
Photo courtesy of Old Brick Furniture and Mattress Co.
Schonfeld Design Associates Alan Schonfeld, founder and chief consultant Offices in Richmond, Mass., and Long Island, N.Y. 631-484-7349; schonfelddesign.com
Studio Riggleman Christopher Riggleman, principal, and Jonathan Loy, COO Monterey, Mass. 413-300-4006; studioriggleman.com
Tallon Lumber Brion Tallon, vice president Canaan, Conn 877-532-5007; tallonlumber.com
Prioritize your floor Your floor is more important than you realize. It can impact everything from the lighting in the room to the overall design aesthetic. Selecting the right flooring for your home is key. And details matter, especially when choosing wood flooring. “Lately, people are choosing wood flooring that is wider and lighter in color,” said Brion Tallon, vice president of Tallon Lumber in Canaan, Conn. “The texture or grain of the wood is where you want to start.” One thing to consider is whether you’ll be staining it. Woods like cherry, walnut, maple and birch have very tight grains, or little space between their tree age rings, and don’t take stains well, while white oak and ash have loose grains and accept stains well. “Ash and white oak woods are the most popular now,” Tallon said. “After that, you need to decide if you want a clear or rustic finish. Rustic is wood with more knots and character marks. Right now, nine out of 10 homes in the area have rustic floors.”
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Do: • Buy area rugs that are the correct size for your space. Tara Duncan, an interior designer and sales director with Old Brick Furniture and Mattress Co. (formerly Bennington Furniture), says a rug that’s too small “draws the eyes down and makes the space feel smaller.” To create a more proportional feeling, purchase a rug that stops just behind the front legs of your furniture. • Choose between finished and unfinished wood. Finished wood already is sealed and stained, making installation faster. Unfinished wood will need to be sanded, but can be stained to your liking. • Wall-to-wall carpeting is expected to make a comeback in 2021. The trend is attributed to the availability of bolder colors and new plush fabric choices.
Hang art in your public spaces There are walls meant for art and walls meant for family photos, according to Alan Schonfeld of Schonfeld Design Associates, a New York City-based full-service design studio that soon will have weekly hours in the Berkshires. Schonfeld, whose parents owned a second home in Hillsdale, N.Y., is renovating a home in Richmond, Mass. “Your living room walls are for artwork,
not a gallery of family photos,” he said. “Family photos are meant for more intimate spaces — your den or family room, an upstairs hallway, even bedrooms.”
Do: • Make an effort to hang art and decor at a level where it can be viewed easily by individuals of every height.
• Display your artwork asymmetrically. This allows you to hang pieces in a variety of sizes and shapes together. • Don’t be afraid to seek out an expert. Many home designers either offer installation services or can direct you to one.
Photo by Sidekix Media/ Unsplash
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Contemplate adding color
“When refreshing a room, the first things to consider are the existing colors that you’ll be working with. What color is the floor, the fixtures and the furnishings which will remain?” says Amy Krane, architectural color consultant at Amy Krane Color in Ghent, N.Y. “Determine whether
you prefer wall color to blend or contrast with the existing colors. Take note of colors in adjoining rooms, keeping flow, cohesion and balance in mind.” It might seem like a lot to think about, but don’t be intimidated. “Paint is always a very easy change to make,” says Christopher Riggleman, principal of Studio Riggleman in Monterey, Mass. The key to making the right color
choice, he said, is living with the color for a few days by purchasing small sample cans and painting 2-inch sample squares on the wall you intend to paint. “This way, you can look at it during the day and at night,” Riggleman said. “You should view it with natural and artificial light.”
Do: • Use color. The fear of making a mistake when choosing paint colors often leads people to opt out of color and go the white or beige route, Krane says. “There is certainly a place for those neutrals, but they should not be employed just out of fear.” • Seek out peel-and-stick adhesive samples (made from real paint) that can be purchased online from companies such as samplize.com, which offer the latest colors from most major brands. This will allow you to test colors in multiple rooms and lighting conditions, Riggleman said. • Remember that colors seen on a screen won’t be the same as the color you see on a wall. Something that looks great on a website or even a 2D rendering could look dramatically different in real life. Photo courtesy of Amy Krane Color
Thinking about adding color? “The first thing to know about color psychology is that an individual's experiences and color predilections always supersede any color dogma. A particular color may be wellloved by many but could elicit a negative emotion for a few people. Blue is the world’s favorite color, but a select few find it melancholy.” — Amy Krane, architectural color consultant at Amy Krane Color When considering colors, Krane says: Use muted and light, cool blues and greens, which are relaxing colors, for bedrooms and bathrooms. Warm colors, like yellows and oranges, are inviting and should be considered for places where we gather, eat and socialize. Green is known to enhance creativity and productivity. Red should be used in small doses, as it's both exciting and aggressive. Photo by Metro Creative Graphics
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Start with the kitchen cabinets The place to start when considering a kitchen renovation? The cabinets. “I always assess the cabinets to see if they really need to be replaced or if they can be refreshed by resurfacing them or painting them. Cabinets are one of the most expensive items to replace,” Cooney said. Another essential piece of the design is the kitchen layout. Appliances should be placed so the workflow of the room isn’t constantly being interrupted. Cooney suggests placing high-traffic appliances and items — refrigerators, microwaves and snack drawers — on the periphery of the kitchen, out of the main cooking zone.
Do: • Consider easy changes, such as swapping out dishes or chair cushions, to freshen up the room. • Avoid trends, such as bright yellow walls in the kitchen. Certain shades of yellows, Cooney says, are associated with anxiety. “It’s the room people argue the most in and it’s already a very chaotic place.” • When selecting new cabinets, Cooney suggests purchasing the best quality in your price range. She also recommends buying cabinets that will be easy to paint or refinish.
Photo by Kam Idris/ Unsplash
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Photo by Febrian Zakaria on Unsplash
Choose the right lighting Lighting is probably one of the most important elements of a space, Riggleman says. But, how many of us are thinking about the “color temperature” of a light when purchasing a fixture or picking up new bulbs? “It’s the most common mistake when purchasing new lighting fixtures,” he said. “Warm light” has a red to yellowish appearance, while “cold light” has a white to bluish appearance. It’s easy to purchase
fixtures of varying temperatures if you are not paying attention.
Do: • Make use of natural light in a room when you can. Mirrors placed strategically on walls can reflect natural light into darker areas of a room. • Pay attention to LED color temperatures and lumens when
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purchasing bulbs and fixtures. It’s best not to mix them. • Choose fixtures and lamps that are dimmable. You’ll have control over the “mood” of the room. • Table lamps and task lamps are not only in vogue, but they also offer a reprieve from the harsh overhead lighting of offices and stores.
The Must List
that our living spaces are well, a little more lived-in and a little messier.
Before you decide to refresh or fully redecorate a room, here are few items everyone should be doing:
Riggleman suggests “an easy way to hit the reset button on your space” is to make tidying up the clutter a priority by setting aside a day to deal with it by putting it on your calendar every three months.
Set a budget Our experts agree the most important thing about interior design is setting a budget “A faucet is a faucet. You can get one at Home Depot for $49.97 and you can buy one for $4,000. At the end of the day, water still comes out of it — hot and cold,” Schonfeld said. “What people have to decide is where they are putting their money.” Riggleman says it’s essential to consider the full scope of a project before diving in. “If you’re on a tight budget or any budget, think about the sequence of design,” he said. “Come up with a wishlist of things you want to do. Maybe start with one thing, such as painting the room and once that is done, install new lighting or redo the furniture. It’s very easy for a budget to snowball out of control. ”
Declutter your space With everyone spending so much time at home, working or attending school remotely, it’s not surprising
But what about clutter that isn’t caused by extreme circumstances? Schonfeld says it’s created by having “too much stuff in a room.” “I find that it’s easy to have one more piece of furniture than you need,” he said. “It’s easy to place stuff on the corner of the counter or dresser and forget it. Simple is the way to go. I’ve been doing this for 40 years and can tell you do not need everything in one room. You don’t need to have your first tooth out on display.”
Let it go Did your great aunt leave you her buffet cabinet? Don’t have room for it, but feel obligated to keep it? Don’t. It’s OK to let it go, Schonfeld says. Instead of letting it collect dust in the corner: sell it, donate it or give it away. “People end up cluttering rooms with stuff that in no way works in their house,” he said. “If you really want to keep something, make it work: reupholster it; restore it.”
Make sure you have enough space “Buying furniture can be harder for couples than buying a house,” says Tara Duncan. One way to alleviate some of the stress is to make sure the furniture you’re buying fits the space you plan on putting it in. Once you find the piece you want, Duncan recommends going home and mapping out the furniture with tape and newspaper. This way, she says, you’ll have an accurate idea of what the piece will look like in relation to other furniture and how it fits with baseboards and other architectural features.
Ask about alternatives One way to keep within a budget, Duncan said, is to ask about alternatives. “Designers are more than happy to go through that with you,” she said. “Our job is to help you achieve the goal of making your house into your home. There’s always an alternative.” She said many furniture lines are designed with items that coordinate with items of higher or lesser price points, allowing clients to purchase the sofa and loveseat they really love and coordinate it with end tables that won’t put them over budget.
Photo by Sidekix Media/ Unsplash
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The dos and don'ts of accent walls It’s no secret that an accent wall is a popular way to add a pop of color to any room. But, it’s important to use this flexible and popular decorative mainstay in the right way. DO select a wall that already is a focal point because of its architecture or function, says Amy Krane. Try it here: the fireplace wall, the wall behind your headboard, a wall at the end of a hallway, a wall highlighting artwork. DON’T be afraid to paint it a dramatic color, says Alan Schonfeld. But, be sure to balance strong colors with neutral wall colors on other walls in the room. DO coordinate your accent wall with the decor of your room. Throw pillows that have the same color in their design are an easy way to tie the room together. DON’T limit yourself by only using paint. Chris Riggleman suggests trying a decorative wallpaper or creating a texture or pattern on the wall. DO consider painting a mural on a wall. Jess Cooney says “It’s easy to do and it can be changed so easily. You can paint over it in a year or two.” Need a change but don’t want to commit to changing the entire color scheme of a room? Interior Designer Jess Cooney suggests painting a mural. Photo provided by Lisa Vollmer Photography via Jess Cooney Interiors
Don’t forget the windows
Window treatments can serve practical purposes, adding a layer of privacy or blocking out unwanted sounds from the neighborhood or offering thermal protection in homes with older windows. But, they also can help alter a room in an aesthetically pleasing way. “You can elongate a room, make it feel taller, by placing your hardware higher than the window, which allows for longer drapes and curtains,” Duncan said.
Do: • Panels and drapes can be used to soften and balance a room. Window treatments don’t have to be functional. • Explore the myriad options available when it comes to window coverings. A valance could be all that’s needed in one room, while another might be better suited by longer drapes. • Expect that sometimes the best option is to have no window treatment at all. •
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Photo courtesy of Old Brick Furniture and Mattress Co.
Ellen Ecker Ogden wants you to grow an heirloom garden UpCountryOnline.com | 41
By Telly Halkias Photos by Matthew Benson courtesy of “The New Heirloom Garden”/Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
When Ellen Ecker Ogden moved to a 10-acre farm in Landgrove, Vt., in 1980, she didn’t envision herself as a nationally respected author of gardening books and cookbooks. Since then, the Manchester Village resident has authored several garden- and cooking-related titles, with her latest release, “The New Heirloom Garden” a garden design and cookbook all in one. Available at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, as well as online, “The New Heirloom Garden” debuted on Amazon at No. 1 in garden design book sales. Ogden has been featured in national magazines, teaches classes and regularly speaks on the subject. She also offers online classes on garden design and writing via her website, ellenogden.com. Recently, Ogden had an opportunity to briefly chat with UpCountry about life in the garden, the kitchen and her book:
Q: How did you get started with gardening? A: I was raised in Weston, Mass., graduated from college with a degree in fine arts and art history, married and moved to Landgrove in 1980. We built our post-and-beam house, raised livestock and a big garden, plus two children. In the early years, I had a fashion design business, and my husband grew organic vegetables for the local chefs. We tended a 10-acre farm, which supplied a farm stand. In 1984, we started a seed catalog called The Cook’s Garden. He was the gardener and I was the cook, based on hard-to-find heirloom salad green seeds from growers in Italy, France, Holland and England that we imported. 42 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2021
Q: Could you describe your rookie days in the garden, and how you moved on from there? A: My role in our business was to taste everything in the garden, write about it for our catalog, because we did not have color photos, and develop recipes to encourage our customers to try to grow something new. At the time, arugula, chicories and mesclun greens were fairly unknown salad greens, unless you had traveled to Europe, and we sold the seeds for gardeners who wanted to grow unusual and out-of-the-ordinary varieties in their home gardens.
Q: It sounds like you got more serious; what were your next steps? A: Eventually, I grew cut flowers for our farm stand, and also planted a large herb garden with both culinary and medicinal herbs. In 1998, I traveled to Venice, Italy, to study cookery with Marcella Hazan, and in 1999, I studied cookery at the Ballymaloe School in Shanagarry, Ireland. These experiences piqued my interest in learning to grow a beautiful European-inspired potager-style garden, which we did as a show garden.
Q: What is heirloom gardening, and how did it originate, historically? A: The word “heirloom” is two words: heir [equals] inheritance and loom [equals] tool. Heirloom seeds are what everyone grew before plant breeding hybrids, which is a cross between different varieties and the seed does not always grow true to the parent plant. My new book was inspired by a seed. Like many other gardeners, I love to order seeds, and one day was ripping open the packets and pushing the seed into the ground. I stopped, and began to look more closely UpCountryOnline.com | 43
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at the colors, shapes and sizes of the seeds, and became totally fascinated by seeds. I started to research more about how they were grown and then began to save plants in order to grow my own seeds. This led me to learn about heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, the stories behind the seeds, and the people who save seeds. (In my book, there are interviews with expert seed savers.) Many seeds have been handed down from families with names of either the person who grew them or the place where they were grown.
Q: You mentioned hybrids; what is the difference between heirloom, hybrid and GMO vegetables? A: Heirloom seed is also open-pollinated, which means that if you allow the plant to set seeds and save the seeds, you can grow it again the following year. Of course, there are all sorts of variables, such as cross-pollinating, and an art and science to save seeds so they are viable, yet, this is the basic idea. Hybrid are seeds that have been bred for certain favorable attributes – disease resistance, strong stems, ripening early, later or all at the same time, etc. The seeds from these plants may either be sterile or not grow true from seed a second year. GMO is available for largescale farmers and not for home gardeners, and is a separate topic and discussion. GMO means genetically modified, and they are protected by patents, and contracts are issued in order to grow the seeds.
Q: And from the book, you seem to have a great affinity for flowers in a garden. A: Agreed! Flowers and food should always be grown to-
“The New Heirloom Garden: Designs, Recipes, and Heirloom Plants for Cooks Who Love to Garden” By Ellen Ecker Ogden 256 pages Published by Rodale Books Paperback | $24.99
gether. I am not sure why we have separated them in our minds and our gardens. The best gardens always contain both, which is good for pollination and also to establish a lovely aesthetic.
Q: What are some of the things that people who want to pursue heirloom
gardening should know before they start? A: “The New Heirloom Garden” offers designs that serve as templates for gardeners to create a garden that’s an alternative to basic raised beds, or a standard square box shape. As an artist, a cook and a garden designer, my goal was to inspire gardeners to design their gardens to be more fun, whimsical,
engaging and artful. I encourage gardeners to grow heirlooms, because heirloom vegetables generally have better flavor, the flowers are more fragrant, and the herbs and fruits are more interesting than standard fare. I wrote this book to encourage appreciation of heirloom varieties, and to encourage all gardeners to seek out plants that will fill up all of the senses. • UpCountryOnline.com | 45
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A Healthy Start for Seedlings:
The Peat Dilemma By Thomas Christopher
For me, this season brings with it an ethical dilemma. This is the time of year when I start sowing seeds indoors. Every late winter through spring I grow 400-odd seedlings under lights in my basement to plant out, once the weather warms, in my vegetable and flower gardens. Indeed, I would say that the success of my gardening year depends on whether these seedlings thrive. That’s why I am very particular about the growing medium into which I sow my seeds. When I was a student at the New York Botanical Garden more than four decades ago, we used a mixture of equal parts screened loam, leaf mold (composted leaves), and coarse sand. To kill any weed seeds and purge the soil mix of harmful organisms, we would pasteurize the mix before we used it by heating it with steam. This may sound impressive, but the process was commonly ineffective. Often enough, the seedlings we started would succumb to a group of pathogenic fungi known collectively as “damping off.” These fungi produce a number of symptoms. Seedlings may fail to emerge from the soil, or if they do, the cotyledons, the first leaves, may be mushy and discolored gray or brown. The roots of the seedlings may be stunted, causing the seedlings to wilt.
The most common symptom, though, in my experience, is a constriction at the base of the seedling stems, which causes the seedlings to topple and then wither. There is no effective cure for damping off. Prevention is the key. This involves a number of precautions. If you are reusing old pots or trays for seed starting, it’s important to wash them thoroughly first in a disinfectant bath such as a water and Lysol solution. When doing this, make sure to scrub off all the old seed-starting mix. Be careful, too, how you water the newly sown seeds and emerging seedlings; over-watering — soaking the seed starting mix rather than just moistening it — encourages damping off. The crucial measure in preventing damping off, however, I have found, is using a seed starting mix that includes no soil or compost, both of which naturally harbor fungi. Instead, I suggest using one of the commercially available, sphagnum peat-based seed starting mixes. Sphagnum peat, the crumbly brown product of decomposed sphagnum moss that is harvested from northern peat bogs, is naturally antiseptic. Indeed, sphagnum moss was used as bandaging in World Wars I and II because it naturally discourages bacterial and fungal infections. The same thing is true of the peat it produces. Since I began using a peat-
based seed starting mix, I don’t recall ever having my seedlings fall prey to damping off. This brings me back to the ethical dilemma that I mentioned in the first line of this column. Environmentalists warn that peat bogs, which take centuries or even millennia, to form, are being strip-mined at an unsustainable rate. Canadian peat producers, who contribute 95 percent of North America’s annual sphagnum peat harvest, claim to be using only .03 percent of that nation’s bogs. That, however, constitutes more than 84,000 acres, and the harvesting process involves scraping off centuries’ worth of deposits. Accordingly, I try to minimize my use of peat. I don’t use peat moss as a soil amendment in the garden, and I don’t use peat-based potting mixes for container plantings. But I still use peat-based seed starting mixes. I have experimented a bit with the use of coir, coconut fiber, for seed starting, and did not find the growth of the seedlings as robust. I’ve also read one peer-reviewed study that found that the addition of commercially produced compost to a soil-less seed starting mix can actually help to suppress damping off. Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, who cited this study in The Garden Professors blog suggested that the difference between commercially produced compost and the homemade
product such as we used at the New York Botanical Garden may be that the commercial product heats up to 140 F or more for several days during decomposition, whereas, the homemade compost typically does not. One last point I should mention about the sphagnum peat-based seed starting mixes is that typically they are sterile, without nutrients, so fertilization should begin as soon as the seedlings appear. I like to use a water-soluble fertilizer, mixing it half strength but applying it twice as often as recommended on the product label. This more gradual feed seems to produce better seedling growth in my experience. Be-a-Better-Gardener is a community service of Berkshire Botanical Garden, located in Stockbridge, Mass. Thomas Christopher is a volunteer at Berkshire Botanical Garden and is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books, including “Nature into Art and The Gardens of Wave Hill.” (Timber Press, 2019). He is the 2021 Garden Club of America's National Medalist for Literature. His companion broadcast to this column, Growing Greener, streams on WESUFM.org, Pacifica Radio and NPR and is available at his website: thomaschristophergardens. com/podcast. •
Previous page: Sphagnum peat, the crumbly brown product of decomposed sphagnum moss that is harvested from northern peat bogs, is naturally antiseptic, making it an excellent starting medium for seedlings. However, its use presents an ethical environmental dilemma. Image courtesy Pixabay.
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5 tips to get your garden started The first day of spring arrives on March 20 this year and what better way to celebrate than by sowing some seeds? You’ll need to start most of them inside, as it’s still too cold out for most crops to survive. We’ve culled together a few tips from New England Newspapers Inc. columnists Ron Kujawski, author of The Berkshire Eagle’s “Garden Journal,” and Henry Homeyr who pens the Brattleboro Reformer’s “Notes from the Garden.”
Prepare a planting plan for this year's vegetable garden. The plan should indicate what, when and where each vegetable is to be planted. This is especially useful in doing crop rotations from year to year. Crop rotation is an important step for reducing pest and disease problems. Don't bite off more than you can chew. A good starter size is a bed is 10-feet-by 12-feet. Mound up the soil to build two wide beds — 30 to 36 inches wide — with a walkway down the middle and a bare strip along the outside edge of the plot. You will need to improve the soil with composted cow manure as lawns are notoriously devoid of minerals and organic matter.
light bulbs will work well and are much cheaper than using grow-lights. Egg cartons, the clear plastic containers in which berries are sold, and clementine crates make useful seed-starting containers. Wooden popsicle sticks work well as plant labels. Cover seeded containers with plastic wrap or other transparent material to prevent drying of the growing medium. Once seedlings are up, the cover may be removed, but check the moisture level in the soil daily to prevent wilting of seedlings.
Know which seeds to start indoors Start seeds of peppers, eggplant, head lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower indoors. Always use a soil-less mix for seed starting as this will lessen the chances of infecting seedlings with plant diseases often found in soil. Try direct sowing seeds of radish, carrots, beets, leaf lettuce, kale, spinach and other hardy leafy greens in the garden if soils are workable. Those who have raised bed gardens should be able to do this seed sowing
Harden off seedlings
Sudden changes in climate conditions can cause damage to the seedlings. To harden off seedlings, wait until outdoor temperatures reach at least 50 F and then move them out to a shady spot protected from heavy winds. Do this for an hour on the first day and then gradually increase the time outdoors by an hour each day. Also, gradually increase the amount of sunlight the seedlings receive.
Don’t forget the flowers
Use what you have on hand Although you can buy seed-starting kits, use your creativity and adapt some household items for seed starting. Place seedlings near a sunny window or set up fluorescent lights above the containers. Ordinary LED fluorescent
around March 20. Sow seeds of herbs that you use most frequently in cooking. Parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, chives, cilantro and tarragon can be started indoors now and grown on in the same pots, or transplanted in mid-to-late May to the outdoor garden.
Photo by Markus Spiske/UnSplash
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Grow flowers alongside your vegetables. Not only will it help attract numerous insects that are involved in pollination, but it will also provide cut flowers for indoor arrangements. Annuals to start in March include ageratum, alyssum, aster, calendula, celosia, coleus, cornflower (bachelor button), dahlia, impatiens, marigold, nicotiana, petunia, portulaca, salvia, snapdragon, stock, sweet pea, sweet William and zinnia. Consider lily-of-the-valley, instead of the overused pachysandra, when looking for a groundcover in a sunny or lightly shaded area. They form a dense cover that crowds out weeds. Best of all is the sweetly scented flower spikes they produce in May.•