Friday, May 17, 2024

Time has arrived to get your spring bedding plants

By Kendra Raymond

Most everyone in our area can agree, it has been a tough winter. From early to late-season storms and the damage that ensued, it is time to recoup our losses and move forward with yard beautification.

A mother and her daughter select plants for a
window box in Raymond at a local greenhouse.
PHOTO BY KENDRA RAYMOND
The storm damage clean up continues in our area and neighbors are coming together to help each other regain some sense of normalcy on their property. The Town of Windham brush disposal area on Enterprise Drive has extended their closing until 6 p.m. June 9.

Now it’s time to think about adding some color and pizzazz to your yard with flowering annuals, vegetables, and perennials. The chance of frost has passed, and local garden centers and big box stores are brimming with colorful options ready to plant.

As a horticulturist, I have spent plenty of time in greenhouses during the spring season. Most customers arrive, list in hand with a laser focused expression on their face. They wander through the rows of colorful annuals, fulfilling the “mandatory” bucket list.

I am pondering the question, why does this seasonal rite of passage hold such reverence for us Mainers? To look for answers, I spoke to a couple customers at a local greenhouse who were purchasing contents for planters which are often located on steps or decks.

The two said that they plant the same annuals every year and they wouldn’t consider changing up their yearly purchases. Both explained that there is no need to deviate as the planters have always flourished.

Another group had a different opinion, telling me that they are willing to try anything new, and that they “like surprises.” The shoppers also expressed interest in the new farm to table trend, as well as untraditional container plantings like herbs or vegetables.

The Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association reminds home gardeners to stay connected, listing their mission as: “Our goal is to help you find the right plants to get the most out of every flower bed, vegetable patch and patio pot - because we grow the plants we sell.”

Containers or gardens

For container planting, that is anything being placed in a hanging basket, plant pot, window box, or other receptacle – it is important to think ahead. Most seedlings are sold in 4- or 6-packs and are often root bound and still immature. Most of these plants will expand substantially when transplanted into a larger space, so make sure to allow room for expansion. I learned a little trick, which I will share here: mix up a bucket of fertilizer, remove the seedlings from the packs, dip the roots into the solution, and then plant into new soil. This gives the plants a boost of energy.

If your bedding plants are being moved into a garden, the fertilizer dip can also be used in this application. You may also want to consider a soil test just to make sure the garden will provide the necessary conditions for growth, including the proper pH and nutrient content. Before planting, it is a good idea to turn over your soil with a rototiller or pitchfork, amend with manure and peat, and rake flat.

Sun or shade

Before purchasing annuals, I would recommend considering the destination for the plants. Once this is determined, simply ask an employee at the greenhouse which plants like sunny or shady locations. There are also many plants that thrive in both sun and shade.

Maintenance

Another important factor to keep in mind is the time you are willing to invest in caring for your annuals. Most container plantings are quite low maintenance, and only need watering about once a week. Gardens are usually watered by the rain, with just a bit of supplementation during dry spells or when the plants are first moved.

The University of Maine’s “The Garden Pro Answer Book” by Dr. Lois Berg Stack, is filled with copious amounts of information for home gardeners, landscapers, and garden center owners. It provides information on challenging sites, gardening, and many tables and charts.

Check out the Maine Landscape and Nursery Association website at: https://www.melna.org/

The University of Maine bulletin, “Annual Flowers for Special Uses” is a great resource and can be visited at: https://extension.umaine.edu/gardening/manual/annual-flowers-special-uses/

The Real Maine website provides a useful directory of greenhouses and nurseries here: https://www.realmaine.com/horticulture/annuals-bedding-plants/page/2/?listing%5B0%5D=nursery-greenhouse-garden-center <

Friday, May 10, 2024

Raymond Village Library to host presentation by Maine crime novelist

By Kendra Raymond

Whether you’re an outdoorsperson, bookworm, or just interested in a night out, a presentation by a noted crime novelist may be just the ticket. “A Night with Paul Doiron” will be offered at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 at the Raymond Village Library.

Sponsored by Friends of the Raymond Village Library partnering with Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops, the groups are pleased to offer this rare opportunity to the community. The event is free and pre-registration is required.

Don’t jump in the car just yet; Librarian Rachel Holden says that there is a lot of interest in the event. In fact, Holden says there has been so much hype that the house is already full. As a backup plan, she has started a wait list in case of cancellations.

Doiron enthusiasts are encouraged to call the library to be added to the list.

The hour-long event will feature a reading by Doiron from his upcoming novel, “Pitch Dark,” the 15th book in his Mike Bowditch series.

Following the reading, Doiron will accept some questions from attendees.

“The reading will be followed by a Q&A and a book signing. Sherman's Maine Coast Bookshop of Windham has agreed to partner with us and will send a representative for onsite sales of Mr. Doiron's currently published books and to take pre-orders for Pitch Dark before and after the event and these sales will be cashless for simplicity's sake,” said Holden. “Additionally, Mr. Doiron will bring an advanced reader copy of “Pitch Dark,” which one lucky attendee will win.”

Holden explained that an advanced reader copy, or an ARC, is a copy of the book that publishers send out for free to booksellers, librarians, book reviewers, before the book is printed for mass publication and distribution.

According to the Goodreads website, Paul Doiron is the best-selling author of the Mike Bowditch series of crime novels set in the Maine woods.

His first book, “The Poacher’s Son,” won the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award and was nominated for an Edgar for Best First Novel. His second, “Trespasser,” won the 2012 Maine Literary Award.

His novelette “Rabid” was a finalist for the 2019 Edgar in the Best Short Story category. Paul’s 12th book, “Dead by Dawn” won the New England Society’s 2022 Book Award for Fiction, as well as his second Maine Literary Award. It was also a finalist for the Barry Award.

His books have been translated into 11 languages. He is the former chair of the Maine Humanities Council, Editor Emeritus of Down East: The Magazine of Maine, and a Registered Maine Guide specializing in fly fishing.

Doiron attended Yale University, earning a degree in English. He also earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Emerson College. He resides in coastal Maine with his wife, Kristen Lindquist.

Doiron has been featured in stories by News Center Maine, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, Maine Voices Live, and the Portland Press Herald, to name a few. He’s also been interviewed by numerous library representatives and bookstores, and many of Doiron’s recordings are available on You Tube.

A prolific author, Doiron manages to keep fans engaged by releasing a new book most years, usually in the early summer. He has also been known to publish two in a year’s time.

The prestigious Kirkus Reviews heralds “Pitch Dark” as “A perfect beach read that will make you hug yourself in pleasure and excitement and search for a little more warmth.” It follows Warden Service Investigator Mike Bowditch as he embarks on his next adventure that is sure to have you on the edge of your seat.

"Pitch Dark" goes on sale June 25 from Minotaur Books and MacMillan Audio.

The Raymond Village Library is at 3 Meadow Road in Raymond. Visit the website at: https://www.raymondvillagelibrary.org/

Registration for the free event is required by calling the library at 207-655-4283. Fans are reminded that the event is presently full. However, people can be added to a waitlist by calling the library. <

Friday, May 3, 2024

Lake Region Community Chorus spring concert nears

It is concert time again for the members of the Lake Region Community Chorus. Performances of the group’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” spring concert will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17 and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at the Bridgton Academy’s Twitchell Chapel in North Bridgton.

The Lake Region Community Chorus will perform its spring
concert 'Sing, Sing, Sing' at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17 and at
3 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at Bridgton Academy's Twitchell
Chapel in North Bridgton. SUBMITTED PHOTO
This enthusiastic singing group is made up of 60 members from 12 surrounding towns who will present a varied program made up of traditional Classical pieces, folk songs, show tunes, medleys of hits by The Beatles and John Denver and lots more.

The Lakes Region Community Chorus is directed by Jan Jukkola and Susan Stockwell and accompanied by Patrick Speckamp. The program will also include accompaniments by these very talented musicians, Rusty Wiltjer, percussion, Mark Priola, electric bass, Ian Smith, trumpet, Liz Rounds, flute, Glen Jukkola, violin, Pam Ward, guitar, Brian Sprunger, guitar and Jacob Kuvaya, bass.

The chorus is a vibrant and dynamic non-profit organization providing choral programs for the Lakes Region of Maine community.

Its history is short because it’s a relatively new organization.

The chorus had its first meeting in February 2013 to discuss the possibility of forming a choral group in the Lakes Region.

It was amazing how quickly everything seemed to come together, and with Laurie Turley as its original conductor, chorus members performed their first concert in June 2013.

Since then, the original group of 36 singers has grown with each season, and now has 58 members from 14 communities, including Bridgton, North Bridgton, Naples, Sebago, Harrison, Waterford, Stoneham, Raymond, Casco, Windham, Denmark, Lovell, Hiram and Fryeburg.

The LRCC is a community of voices joined together in song.

Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for individuals with an interest in singing to share their love of choral music through regularly scheduled rehearsals that will culminate in community and outreach performances. It also strives to enhance each member’s ability to sing by teaching vocal exercises and techniques and to enrich their choral experience by providing a wide variety of musical selections that will increase their knowledge and appreciation of choral literature.
 
Lakes Region Community Chorus performs two concerts each year. One falls in early December and features holiday music. The other is a springtime concert generally falling in mid-May.
 
With the generous support of Bridgton Academy, concerts are performed in the Twitchell Chapel on the Bridgton Academy campus in North Bridgton. Rehearsals are held on Monday nights at Twitchell Chapel. For the December concert, rehearsals start around Labor Day, and for the Spring concert, they start around the end of January.

Chorus members would like to thank the Bridgton Academy for all their help and support and providing them with rehearsal space and a concert venue. They would also like to thank their enthusiastic audiences and local sponsors.

Each concert is free but donations to help cover the expense of music and operating costs will be gratefully accepted.

If interested, come and join the Lake Region Community Chorus as they lift their voices and sing, sing, sing. This year’s concert is sure to be remembered long after the final chords are sounded.

Please visit the Lake Region Community Chorus website for more details or call 207-647-2584. <

Friday, April 26, 2024

Legislature approves trails bond as proposal heads to November ballot

The Maine Legislature has approved the Maine Trails Bond that will provide $30 million over four years to invest in the design, development, and maintenance of trails statewide. In a strong show of bipartisan support, the Maine House voted, 133-6, and the Maine Senate voted, 29-3, far surpassing the two-thirds majority votes required to pass bond measures. The measure was signed by Gov. Janet Mills and will appear on the November ballot for approval by Maine voters.

Loon Echo Land Trust Executive Director 
Matt Markot walks with State Rep. Jessica
Fay at Pondicherry Park in Bridgton last fall.
Fay's bill to invest $30 million for state 
trails was approved by the Maine Legislature,
signed by the governor and will be on the
ballot statewide for voters in November.
SUBMITTED PHOTO 
This will be the first time that Maine voters will have an opportunity to vote for a trails bond. At a time when outdoor recreation activities, including on trails, represent a growing segment of Maine’s economy, the Maine Trails Bond has garnered broad, bipartisan support across the state.

“This is terrific news,” said Pete Didisheim, the Senior Director of Advocacy at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We’re thrilled that Maine voters will have their first-ever opportunity to support a bond that would invest in new and improved trails statewide. These investments in trails will deliver benefits for generations to come.”

The remarkably broad coalition of 520 Trails Bond supporters includes 75 cities and towns, 168 businesses, 41 ATV and snowmobile clubs, 43 statewide organizations, and 193 local organizations. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, L.L. Bean, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Snowmobile Association, ATV Maine, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, New England Mountain Bike Association, Maine Tourism Association, and Maine Outdoor Brands are but a few of the entities supporting the bond.

The Loon Echo Land Trust was one of the organizations that signed on to support the bond.

"Trails are integral to our way of life here in Maine. Our communities have long enjoyed access to this critical infrastructure, but we can't take it for granted," said Matt Markot, LELT Executive Director. "LELT manages over 35 miles of trails across the Lake Region and a Maine Trails Bond will enable us to better invest in these important community resources."

Enock Glidden, an Outdoor Accessibility Consultant and a disabled athlete, shared his support of the Trails Bond.

“As a wheelchair user and lifelong resident of Maine, I grew up in a time when accessibility was not at the forefront of most people’s minds,” Glidden said. “That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about the Maine Trails Bond. If passed by Maine voters, this bond will help provide new accessible opportunities for people like me to be surrounded by nature and reap the benefits of what Maine’s outdoors has to offer.”

LD 1156 was introduced by State Representative Jessica Fay (D-Raymond), with cosponsor support from three other Democrats, five Republicans, and one Independent.

“Now more than ever, trails are critical to our quality of life and the health of Maine people. I am confident that Maine voters will embrace the Maine Trails Bond this fall, which will help fund trail projects across the state that enrich our lives, communities, and economy,” Fay said.

Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford and Northern Cumberland County) was a co-sponsor of the bill.

“Local economies across Maine will benefit enormously from this bond,” Bennett said. “I support the amazing number of organizations across the state who have called on the Legislature to place this measure on the November ballot," Bennett shared. "This is too good an opportunity to pass up.”

The Maine Trails Bond, or LD 1156, will provide $30 million in competitive grants over four years to organizations and towns for motorized, non-motorized, and multi-use trail projects. Funds will be managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands for the design, maintenance, and construction of trails statewide.

Al Swett, President of the Maine Snowmobiling Association, shared his support for the bond.

“Maine’s trails and trail clubs bring people together and help them access some of Maine’s most spectacular places,” he said. “For too long, we’ve been underinvesting in our trails. But that could soon change, if Maine voters endorse the Maine Trails Bond this November – which I think and hope they will.” <

Friday, April 19, 2024

Raymond Community Garden prepares to kick off growing season

By Kendra Raymond

With spring well underway, many Mainers are developing a case of spring fever. This usually includes migrating outside, the smell of food grilling, people walking in neighborhoods, and sounds of motorcycles hitting the roads. As the risk of the last frost approaches, traditionally around Memorial Day weekend, Mainers look forward to planting flowers and vegetables in home gardens.

A portion of the Raymond Community Garden during the
2023 season is shown. The sunflowers are repeat
residents of the garden and re-seed themselves every year.
PHOTO BY LINDA PANKEWICZ 
While some property owners are lucky enough to have perfect soil and light requirements, others face growing challenges in their yard. Thankfully, Raymond residents are fortunate to have access to the Raymond Community Garden right at their fingertips.

The Raymond Community Garden was started about 10 years ago with the help of federal stimulus funds. It has grown from a tiny plot beside the Raymond Village Library to a sizeable area where community members can gather. The garden provides green space for residents of all ages to enjoy, learn, and work. Best of all, a significant portion of the crops grown are donated directly to the Raymond Food Pantry.

Garden Coordinator Linda Pankewicz says that the RCG employs a type of sharecropper rule where one row of each gardener’s plot provides vegetables for the food pantry. Many gardeners grow garlic, pole beans, onions, and tomatoes to donate. However, creative crops are welcomed and encouraged.

The garden is part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Hunger Project. The Cooperative Extension donates seedlings and Raymond resident Nate Rand donates his time to grow tomatoes and pole beans to contribute to the food pantry.

The Cooperative Extension says that the community garden contains both rental plots and a large common plot. The produce grown in the common plot is donated to the food pantry and provides quality, healthy food for families that need it.

For a nominal fee of $15, residents can purchase a plot to use for the season. Plots are about 12- to 15-feet square. It is common for residents to purchase a double plot. Garden coordinator Leigh Walker manages the plot purchases and oversees activity at the garden.

“Some people have a shady yard, like me, so the garden provides a great place to grow,” Pankewicz said. “Other residents may face challenges on their property such as soil quality concerns while others may have a heavily wooded property, extremely wet or dry soil. Let’s not forget the social aspect, a visit to the garden can put you in touch with neighbors and even some new friends.”

Pankewicz said that the garden area is maintained by volunteers with the Cooperative Extension, but additional helpers are always welcome. She explained that the garden area consists of two sections, the Children’s Garden with the pergola nearer the library and the back section of the garden, located on property owned by the Plummer family and used through their generosity.

The community effort doesn’t stop there. A local summer camp is a member of the garden, providing opportunities for kids to learn about gardening. The camp donates their yields to the food pantry, further continuing the enriching experience as campers learn about the importance of community involvement through volunteering.

The Raymond Community Garden is committed to being friendly to the environment requiring that all plots must be organic and chemical-free, said Pankewicz. Water conservation is also encouraged by using mulch and provided rain barrels.

Sunflowers are abundant in the garden and are well-established through re-seeding, especially in the Children’s Garden. “The original sunflower seeds were planted by the children attending a special program on the Native Americans who lived in the area.

“The sunflowers growing now are all from the original planting, but garden members have sometimes added their own varieties,” said Pankewicz.

The Raymond Community Garden is located next to the Raymond Village Library at 3 Meadow Road in Raymond.

To learn more about purchasing a plot or volunteering at the Raymond Community Garden, contact Garden Coordinator Leigh Walker through the library at 207-655-4283, or feel free to drop in. An information board is located at the entrance to the garden and provides pertinent information as well.

Community Garden updates are available on the Raymond Village Library website at: https://www.raymondvillagelibrary.org/ and on the Raymond Village Library Facebook page. <

Friday, April 12, 2024

It’s time to think spring with plants

By Kendra Raymond

With the possibility that spring has sprung, it is time to turn our focus outside and think about early season garden preparations, bedding plants, and what might be new for 2024 in the gardening world. Despite the recent late-season nor’easter, the flora and fauna know that April has arrived. That means the return of robins, spring peepers chirping, sprouting flower bulbs, and flowering trees.

A friendly garden gnome overlooks some
daffodils emerging through the snow at
a Raymond home.
PHOTO BY KENDRA RAYMOND 
I am reminded of Charles Dickens quote in “Great Expectations”: “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Maine winters are long, but when spring arrives, it is well-worth the wait. We are usually eager to jump into spring feet first and enjoy the wonders of springtime in the northeast.

Early season garden preparation

The warmer temperatures and longer days entice us to get outside and perhaps get our hands dirty in the garden. There are some basic maintenance steps that should be addressed to ensure good garden health through the future growing season.

If temperatures are above 20 degrees, it is safe to remove dead plant material, unless you are interested in preserving a habitat for pollinators. In this case, it is a delicate balance. While some beneficial insects can live in the dead plant material, fungi and bacteria can also lurk there. Consider leaving a few hollow stems for insects and removing the remaining decomposing plant matter, just to be safe. Simply place it in a separate area of the yard and you will likely see a clientele of bird couples choosing nesting materials from your debris.

This is also a great time to prune fruit trees or shrubs. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes the Maine Home Garden News, a monthly newsletter containing pertinent seasonal information written by educators, Extension specialists, and Master Gardeners.

The April 2024 Maine Home Garden news says that it is time to maintain tools, eradicate brown tail moths, and possibly transplant shrubs. Once perennials begin to emerge in early May, those too can be divided and transplanted.

Start seedlings indoors

For ambitious home gardeners, it can be rewarding to start seedlings indoors. The Extension bulletin, “Starting Seeds at Home #2751” suggests that peppers, eggplant, tomato, broccoli, cabbage, inpatiens, larkspur, and marigolds can be started at this time. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners also suggests starting beets, carrots, cilantro, dill, lettuce, peas, turnip, spinach, and onions indoors.

As a horticulturist, I would suggest a lot of planning and preparation before embarking on a seed starting project. This includes ample space, seed starting medium and containers, and growing lights. This hobby may not be economically feasible for everyone. However, for those interested in a rewarding challenge, indoor seed starting may be a great fit.

Early color can spruce things up

While we wait for the first bit of color in the garden, it can be exciting to incorporate some cold hardy pansies in the early spring garden. Pansies can be sown directly into the ground or placed in plant pots on a step or deck. The ideal temperature for pansies is roughly 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit, but they can survive in temps in the 20s and will live all summer.

Kale plants are also cold weather tolerant and can add some texture to the landscape.

2024 Gardening trends

Looking toward the summer growing season, it is interesting to recognize that just like fashion and food, there are trends in gardening. What’s all the rage this year? As always, container gardening is timeless. Containers are portable and work well for gardeners with limited space or seniors who find bending and digging difficult.

Gardening for wildlife is gaining popularity. Think of providing resources for butterflies, birds, bees, or small mammals. This can be a great learning experience for kids and requires little effort.

Here’s my favorite gardening trend for 2024: edimentals – ornamental plants that are edible. With the farm to table movement in full swing, why not join the craze and try it for yourself? This technique blurs the line between the flower garden and the vegetable garden, creating a pretty-yet-functional planting space.

Here is a link to the April 2024 Home Gardening News: https://extension.umaine.edu/gardening/2024/04/01/maine-home-garden-news-april-2024/ <

Friday, March 29, 2024

Maine unveils new auto license plate

AUGUSTA – Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Deputy Secretary of State for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Cathie Curtis have unveiled the design of the new Pine Tree Plate.

Maine has unveiled the design of its new Pine
Tree automobile license plates to replace the
Chickadee license plates which have been in
use for the past 25 years. COURTESY PHOTO 
“The new Pine Tree Plate is a fresh approach to a classic design rooted in Maine history, but the ultimate purpose of license plates is for vehicle identification to ensure public safety on our roads and highways,” Bellows said. “Damaged or worn-out plates on our roadways increase risks to the general public, and worn-out plates reduce law enforcement’s ability to be effective when handling crimes that could be prevented or solved through the identification of license plates.”

The current standard-issue plate, the Chickadee Plate, has been in circulation for almost 25 years.

“The Chickadee Plate will see over 900,000 replacements between May of 2025, and May 2026, a huge logistical undertaking coordinated by BMV staff, our municipal partners, and Waldale Manufacturing,” Curtis said. “Mainers who want to reserve their current plate numbers, including vanity plates and low-digit plates, should know that right now, they don’t need to act – but we’ll be starting a reservation process later this spring.”

In accordance with LD 1965, “An Act to Authorize the Secretary of State to Provide a New General Issue of License Plates,” which became law last year, there are two new plate designs: One with the Pine Tree and North Star and one plain plate with blue identification number and letter combinations.

Mary Catus, an employee in the Department of the Secretary of State, donated the design of the Pine Tree Plate to the State of Maine for use on the plate.

Waldale Manufacturing, a Nova Scotia company, has been contracted to manufacture the Pine Tree License Plates during this new general plate issuance.

Mainers who wish to replace peeling or otherwise deteriorating plates can, and should, do so, but too often scofflaws find that they can avoid doing so – and avoid paying registration fees or tolls.

The state BMV’s current registrations tracking system doesn’t have a mechanism to see how long a registration plate has been in use. Issuing a new design ensures fairness to law-abiding Maine drivers.

Mainers who have a specialty plate will not be impacted by the change to the Pine Tree Plate. Specialty plates include the Agriculture and Conservation plates, among others.

Chickadee Plates returned to municipal offices and BMV branch offices will be retrieved by BMV staff and recycled. <