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Reseeding Your Existing Lawn

If your lawn is thin or full of weeds it is time to reseed. Spring or fall is the best time of the year to renovate your lawn. There is usually plenty of rain and the temperatures are cool which is ideal for grass seed to germinate and establish.

Step 1- Test the pH of Your Soil
The first step to successful lawn care is to make sure the pH of your soil is in the correct range for optimum growth. When soil is too acidic nutrients get trapped in the soil and cannot be used by the grass plants. Applying lime helps to release these nutrients so the grass can easily extract them from the soil. The best range is a 6.5 to 7 on the pH scale. Dees’ has easy to use kits that will allow you to perform the test at home. You may also bring in a cup of dry soil to our lawn & garden experts and we can perform a FREE test while you wait. 

Step 2- Remove Weeds
All weeds in your lawn should be removed before you reseed. Do this by pulling them out by hand. If there are too many weeds in your lawn then consider spraying a safe and effective lawn weed control such as Bonide Weed Beater Ultra. This weed control does not harm your established grass and is highly effective in cool weather. You can reseed 2 weeks after the application. Always refer to the application rates on the bottle of weed control.

Step 3- Thatch & Remove Leaves and Debris
Thatch is a layered mass of dead grass blades and roots which accumulate between your actively growing turf and the soil. This layer can restrict the movement of air, water and fertilizer to the roots of the grass plant. This layer will also inhibit good seed germination because new grass seed needs to be in contact with the soil to germinate. Remove thatch by using a specialized thatch rake or rent a gas powered thatcher. These tools will remove this layer and expose the soil but will not remove your established turf. Rake up this thatch and any leaves or debris and add it to your compost pile or discard in the trash.

Step 4- Mow Your Lawn Short
Mow your lawn very short prior to applying your seed. This will make it easier for the seed to make contact with the soil. It will also make the final step of top dressing more effective. This cut will also help remove any small debris that you were unable to rake up after thatching

Step 5- Aerate Your Lawn
Oxygen in the root zone is just as important as water for your lawn. Compaction of the soil eliminates air pockets of oxygen and results in shallow rooted plants that are more susceptible to drought, weeds and insects. Compaction will happen over time due to lawn mowing, foot traffic, pets and heavy snow. Use lawn aerator shoes while you cut the grass or rent a lawn core aerator to correct this problem.

Step 6- Apply a Seed Starting Fertilizer
Apply Jonathan Green New Seeding Lawn Fertilizer which is great for root building. This will help the new grass seedlings develop a good root system as well as re-establish your existing lawn. Always use a fertilizer spreader and follow the spreader application settings on the back of the bag. Remember that more is NOT always better when applying fertilizer.

Step 7- Seed Your Lawn
Determine the type of grass seed you will need based on your light conditions, availability of moisture and amount of traffic your lawn receives. Do not ruin all of your hard work in the previous steps with a low quality “bargain” seed. Let us help you select the best grass seed for your lawn. To apply the seed evenly we recommend using a spreader to sow the seed as opposed to broadcasting it by hand. Don’t be concerned when you notice very little seed going down on the ground. Remember that one seed does not equal one blade of grass, each seed germinates and becomes a large clump of many grass blades. Spreader settings are on the back of all quality bags of grass seed.

Step 8- Apply a Top Dressing to Seed
Spread a thin layer of good top soil or compost over your newly reseeded lawn. This will not only help protect the new seedlings but also helps keep them moist during the early stages of their development. Bumper Crop Soil Conditioner or Scotts Lawn Soil are perfect for this application. The easiest way to do this is by spreading it with your hands then running a rake over the entire area to settle it below the established turf blades.

After you have completed the work it is important to water your lawn properly to keep the seedlings moist. Water frequently but do not let puddles form. Puddles will cause seed runoff and an unevenly seeded lawn. Keep children, pets and heavy traffic off the lawn until it matures into an established turf.


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Trees for the Troops Mission

Trees for the Troops

It has been 15 years since the mystery woman came into Dees' back in 2003 and asked Tom Sr. if he could get a Christmas tree sent to her son, who had just been sent over to a very dangerous part of the world. It has been 15 years since our great customer Jim Adelis, whose own son was soon to be sent to the war zone, was told of the mystery lady. Luckily for us, he and his company Adelis International Security, based out of JFK, knew Cathy O'Reilly and the team at DHL Logistics and Freight Company.

After that conversation, Jim contacted Cathy O'Reilly of DHL and the ball started rolling. He called us back the next day and asked Tom Sr. how many trees he could send over. The number was 75 balsam fir Christmas Trees from our farm in Maine. I can still remember the first night I met Cathy O'Reilly and Maureen Cori. I laughed at the cardboard boxes they brought to put the trees in. They were a 5-foot high 8-inch square box. I thought there was no way we were going to get these trees into them. Sure enough, they fit and off they went to the war zone. A week or so later, we got another call from Jim. He said the trees were a huge hit with the men and women serving and asked if we had any more that we could send. So we have another 75. The rest is history. 15 years have passed and over 6000 plus Christmas trees and countless items have been donated from far too many people to mention--and you have an amazing story of a community coming together doing something positive for the men and women who serve the people of the United States.

It isn't just us at The Dees' Nursery and DHL or Adelis International Security that do this every year. To try and mention all who have participated in this great event year in and year out would take days, but a few who have stood out over the years need to be mentioned:

  • Mr. Dan Carbonara of the Port Authority Police Department.
  • The NYPD and Nassau County Police Dept.
  • Ben Thompson of the New York State Veterans Association.
  • All United States Veterans
  • The Oceanside Fire Dept.
  • Local Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops.
  • Many local schools who wrote cards including the Oceanside, Herrick's, Hewlett and East Rockaway School Districts.
  • Many local businesses have participated every year.
  • Our loyal customers who came each year to help celebrate the Trees for Troops send-off.

The four most important people in this 15 year endeavor:

  1. The Mystery Woman. We cannot forget the woman who initially asked if we could send a tree to her son. To this day, we still don't know who she is.
  2. My father, Tom Sr., who thought to himself we should try to send some of our Christmas Trees to the Soldiers, and started the conversation with Jim.
  3. If there ever was a person who is considered a connector, then Jim Adelis certainly fits the bill. He was the person who listened to my Dad that one day and made the phone call to his connections at DHL. He is also the person who started the organization "Citizens for Soldiers in Service." Without him, I would not be writing this email today and sending you the pictures of the soldiers receiving the trees. He is a true friend.
  4. And last, but certainly not least, Cathy O'Reilly. She is the unsung hero who doesn't get enough credit. Cathy and her staff at DHL, really do all the hard work. Cathy works tirelessly to make sure all these trees and packages are sent to the proper units within the US Military. The work it takes her and the staff to get these things sent into a war zone still amazes me. I am proud to know her and consider her my friend. If anybody deserves accolades, she is the one. I also know that without the generosity and hard work of her company, DHL, then this wouldn't happen.

Over the years the media attention for this event has been tremendous. It is something that my family and I had felt very uncomfortable about because we never want people to feel that we are doing this for the glory. I made mention of this to General Colt of the US Army the 3rd year our group was sending the trees over, and he told me to never feel uncomfortable about getting attention for such a great cause. He said he wanted Trees for Troops to be seen all over the country, so not only will the Military know we are supporting them but also their families. General Colt felt that if people across the country saw what we were doing, it would make others join in and participate. He said it was great for morale and a call to action for all US Citizens to do something to support the men and women who serve our great Nation. After that conversation, I felt different about the cameras at our store.

For all of you reading this email that has participated in any way over the years, please enjoy the pictures of your hard work. Without you, this may never have happened. I also want to thank our first responders who help us every year at this event. Members of the NYPD, Port Authority Police, FDNY, Nassau County Police Dept, and Local Police Forces and Oceanside Fire Dept help every year in this great cause and we know you are the first line of defense for our country.  As you look through the pictures, you will see all of us smiling and having a great time--which we certainly did. We must not forget that there are many men and women who are in harm's way every day as they serve our country. Let's keep this in perspective--and keep them in our thoughts as we enjoy our holiday season at home with our families.


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The History of Valentine’s Day

The history of Valentine’s Day originates back to the Catholic church; where Saint Valentine was martyred.  Saint Valentine was a priest whom served in the 3rd century in Rome.  It was Emperor Claudius II that decided a “single” man made a better soldier than someone who had a wife and a family.  He then went on to outlaw marriage for young men who would be a solider.  Saint Valentine realized that this was not appropriate and began to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.  When it was found that Saint Valentine was doing this, he was ordered to be put to death by Claudius.

A Valentine greeting dates back as far as the middle ages. Although a written Valentine did not appear until the late 1400’s.  One of the oldest known Valentines known to exist today is a poem that was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415 while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.  It is believed that several years later, King Henry V had commissioned a writer to compose a Valentine’s Day Note to Catherine of Valois.

Today we carry on the tradition of Valentine’s Day through cards, flowers, romantic gifts and special dinners.  This year let your Valentine know how much you love him/her with a very special gift of love!

Get in good with flowers at Dees’ Nursery & Florist.

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Planting and Growing Paperwhite Narcissus

There is nothing more fun & rewarding than having plants bloom in your house during the cold months when everything in your garden is asleep for the winter. Paperwhites are a variety of daffodil that are easy to grow and force into bloom. They are great to start now in Mid-November and have them ready for the holidays. They also have a beautiful fragrance.

Planting Your Paperwhites
Paperwhites can be grown in potting soil or gravel. You can grow them in any type of planter. When you grow them in gravel make sure your container is water tight so water does not drain out. Use gravel that is small enough for you to settle the bulbs in so they are supported. Bury ¾ of the bulbs into the pebbles with the pointed tip exposed. Plant them close to each other, just barley touching, using enough bulbs to fill most of the container.

Growing them in potting soil has the advantage of a better root system for sturdy plants. You will plant them in soil the same as in the pebbles by burying the bulb with the pointed tip exposed just above the soil. Make sure your container has a drainage hole and saucer. Since the planter will most likely be out for all to see, top dress the soil with Spanish moss or small pebbles for an attractive look.

Growing Paperwhites
Paperwhites require bright light but do not need full direct sun. Putting them near a bright window in a kitchen would be ideal. The perfect temperature would be 60-65 degrees. Warmer temperatures tend to make them grow too fast which results in tall weak plants.

If you have to, place them in a cool area of your house at night like an enclosed front porch or garage and that will help cool them down. On average it takes about 4 weeks to get them into perfect bloom.

Watering Paperwhites
When growing the bulbs in pebbles it is important to keep the water level just below the bottom of the bulbs. Having them too deep into the water can cause the bulbs to rot. When growing in soil keep the soil evenly moist and not sopping wet.

Extra Paperwhite Narcissus Growing Tips

  • Sprinkle a small layer of activated charcoal at the bottom of the container to keep the water or soil fresh. This is especially beneficial when growing the bulbs in pebbles.
  • For a better root system, place the container in a cool dark place for one week just after planting. This will get the roots growing quicker and stronger. After the one week place them in a cool bright area of your home.
  • Feed with water soluble fertilizer like Miracle Gro every 3 weeks. It may sometimes be necessary to support the plants with a flower stake kit.
  • Ask Dees’ for suggestions anytime!

When the bulbs finish flowering, prune off the spent flowers but not the leaves. Let the plant grow until the leaves brown naturally. After the leaves brown, cut them back to the tip of the bulb. Pull the bulbs out of the soil or pebbles and store them in a cool dry place. Stick them in a small bag of dry peat moss or vermiculite and place them in a cold garage.

The following spring plant them in your garden when the ground is not frozen. The bulbs can possibly make a comeback and grow like your regular daffodils.

Paperwhite Narcissus Supplies List:

  • Paperwhite bulbs
  • Containers
  • Dees’ Potting Soil
  • Pebbles
  • Activated Charcoal

One of the great ways to fill your winter season with flowering color and fragrance is to grow paperwhite narcissus. This would also be a great project to do with the kids on Thanksgiving weekend. They can watch them grow and have them ready by Christmas. Have fun!

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5 Reasons to Warm up to Cool Vegetables

  1. Start your garden early with fresh, homegrown vegetables.
  2. Save cold, hard cash vs. supermarket prices.
  3. Great way to extend the growing season.
  4. Fewer problems with insects and heat stress.
  5. Great way to get kids outside gardening and eating their veggies!

5 Cool Foods for Thought
You might think of the growing season as the time between frosts. But vegetable gardening doesn’t have to wait until warm weather to be in the forecast. Cool season vegetables are heartier varieties that tolerate, and even thrive, in the cold soil of early spring. For many gardeners, April marks the best time of the gardening season. What’s really important is soil temperature–it must be in the 40’s for cool season vegetable seeds to grow to maturity. The soil is starting to warm up.

Here are some come cool season vegetable suggestions worth trying:

  • Lettuce – Hail Caesar! Nothing like fresh romaine lettuce for your salad. It takes but a little time, space and energy. And lettuce always tastes best when it matures in cool weather.
  • Onions – They can be started 3 ways: sets, seeds, or transplants. Planting sets is easiest. If you can poke a hole in the ground, you can plant an onion set.
  • Carrots – For long, straight carrots, plant them in raised beds or sandy loam soil free of stones. Sweet, tender young carrots make a wonderful snack.
  • Peas – They need an early start to flower and set fruit before temperatures exceed 80 degrees. There is a world of difference in the way fresh peas taste–enough to make you plant them every year.
  • Broccoli – It might not be everyone’s favorite, but it ought to be. It’s really good for you and easy to grow in the Fall with seedlings.

Five Hot Tips for Success
1. To get the most vegetables throughout the year, plant cool season veggies now to extend your growing season this spring and increase your harvest.
2. Choose a well-drained spot that gets as much sun as possible. This kind of space is likely to provide warmer soil temperatures.
3. Start preparing the ground. Use a shovel to turn the soil. Add some organic matter such as Bumper Crop Compost along with some Espoma Plant-tone organic fertilizer as well as Espoma Bio-tone organic soil conditioner. If your garden has not been tilled then this is a perfect time. Turning in organics and loosening the soil adds fresh oxygen which the roots love.
4. Water deeply, but less frequently. Plants in general need less watering in cooler temperatures. If you can’t wait to get your hands dirty in the garden, there’s no reason to get left out in the cold. Give cool season crops a try!

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Growing vegetables for fall

As many of you know Fall is just a few weeks away and we need to figure out a way to continue that supply of homegrown vegetables & fruits!  Here at The Dees’ Nursery we have the perfect solution! You can now start your cool season vegetable seeds indoors!  That is right!  You can begin the process right now and enjoy all of the following bounty:

  1. Fall crops, choose to pick the hardiest and most frost tolerant seeds, so they can survive the first frost. Some of the Dee’s favorites include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots and spinach.
  2. It is important that you know your first frost date. Always check at the number of days to harvest on each packet. Use that number to count back from the first frost date, that way the  seeds have time to mature. Fill seed starting trays within ¼” of the top with a high-quality organic seed starter, like Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter. Cover with soil, press down, label and lightly water.
  3. Lightly cover the tray with plastic wrap. A sunny spot near a south-facing window is what we recommend for best results.
  4. Be sure to keep the seeds moist by placing the tray in a pan of shallow water until the water seeps up from the bottom. Refill as necessary when emptied.
  5. When the  leaves start to rise up from the soil, remove the plastic wrap. Feed them with an organic fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Plant-tone.
  6. A few weeks before planting outside, begin hardening off seeds. Move them outside for a few hours a day, increasing time outdoors daily.  Reduce watering without letting the soil dry out.
  7. Remove the  plants from the seed starting tray, plant in a prepared bed. Mix-in an organic starter plant food to help them adjust and grow strong, such as Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus.