Gardening by the Month

pegi-ballister-howells-october-2On Wednesday, October 12, Pegi Ballister-Howells, author and host of WCTC radio’s Garden Show ((1450 AM www.WCTCAM.com), gave a lively and entertaining presentation of gardening tips and insights by month to keep a New Jersey garden growing and beautiful. The presentation was the monthly installment of the State Library’s free lunch-time Author Talk series.

Drawing experience from her own life as well as two of her books, New Jersey’s Gardening Guide and Month by Month Gardening in New Jersey, Ballister-Howells counted down the monthly duties necessary to make our gardens grow, beginning with October’s chores of dividing peonies and irises, planting spring bulbs and applying weed control for your lawn. Some were common sense measures for the experienced gardener, such as bringing in houseplants before a frost in November and putting weed killer on the lawn when the forsythia blooms, while others expanded knowledge for all, whether beginner or long-time grower, such as removing window screens so those houseplants get more sunlight; the time to plant potatoes and prune roses is March; or deadheading pansies will produce more flowers.

Ballister-Howells has a master’s degree in Horticulture from Rutgers University. She speaks locally on a wide range of gardening topics. For 20 years she did the cable production “At Home with Pegi,” and has served as County Agricultural Agent with Cooperative Extension, as well as working with the Vegetable Grower Association of NJ and the NJ Farm Bureau for several years. She works with many agricultural organizations in promoting the industry and is the founder of the reopened Ocean Grove Woman’s Club which recently sponsored the People’s Garden Tour of Ocean Grove.

For 15 years she was the gardening columnist for the Home News Tribune. She authored the NJ Sales Tax Manual for the NJ Nursery and Landscape Association, and wrote two books on gardening. The New Jersey Gardener’s Guide features ornamental plants selected specifically for the New Jersey garden and Month by Month Gardening in New Jersey guides individuals through the year to help plan for gardening projects according to season.