The battle between the mower and the grower

How the caretakers of lawn and garden can help each other

In most households, one person is the gardener, and another takes care of the lawn. Or perhaps a hired service or teenager does the mowing and string trimming. But it is common that there is conflict between the two parties. There are ways to minimize the problems if both parties are willing to compromise — and perhaps do a little extra work.

The mower generally wants to get the job done quickly. There are other things to do in summer — other lawns to mow, ponds to swim in, or hammocks to doze in. What can the gardener do to help the mower?

tree trunk in the middle of a circle of mulch, separating it from the lawn
Keep mulch from touching the tree. This ring will keep mowers and trimmers away from the trunk. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

First, create a nice mulch ring around trees and shrubs. This will accomplish a couple of things: It will protect the bark of a tree from damage by a string trimmer, and it will hold in moisture and keep down weeds, benefitting the tree. For the mower, it will speed up the process of mowing around the tree and may even obviate the need to use the string trimmer. But never let the mulch touch the tree — it can cause it to rot, eventually killing it.

What else can the gardener do to help the mower? Remove low hanging branches. Apple trees, among others, often have low branches that reach out way beyond the circumference of the mulch ring. And yes, it is nice to be able to pick apples of those low branches, but do you really need them at the 3 or 5-foot level?

Quite frankly, I think trees look better if the lower branches are removed and the bark of the trunk is on display. Many trees have nice-looking trunks with interesting bark. I like to see the “legs” of a shrub or tree.

And what can the mower do to help the gardener? Blow the grass away from the flower or vegetable beds. There are few things more annoying than weeding and mulching a flower bed, only to have a person with a mower blow grass and perhaps dandelion seeds into the bed. And yes, I have seen professionals then blow the grass off the bed, but it is so much easier (and quieter) to just point the mower so that it blows the grass away from the beds.

Then there is the issue of hoses. Mowers generally do not want to be bothered disconnecting hoses that cross the lawn. They say that a mower with blades set at 3 inches should clear the hose, running right over it safely. But sometimes the front wheels of the mower will somehow push the hose up. And then the hose can be damaged.

clover growing in the grass
Clover in the lawn is good for bees and pollinators. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

So what can you do? If you are depending on a hose for regular watering of new trees or perennials, you probably need the hose to cross the lawn so it can be used every day or two. Think about burying the hose. If you are crossing a section of lawn that is heavily traveled, you may wish to dig a 6-inch-deep trench and slide the hose inside a section of plastic pipe.

To avoid having to re-seed the trench, use an edging tool to slice through the grass and lift strips if sod out carefully and set them aside. Dig a shallow trench and after pushing the hose through the pipe and placing it in the ground, cover the pipe with some good top soil. Then take the sod and fit it back where it was before.

The advantage of the pipe system is that you can pull the hose out of the pipe if it develops a leak, or if you want to put it in the barn for the winter. Quite frankly, I don’t think you need to bother with a pipe — or even burying it completely. Just take your edging tool or a straight-bladed shovel and slice into the lawn. Pull the handle back and forth, creating a “V” in the grass. Push the hose into the “V” and step on it. Push hard enough so that the top of the hose is not sticking up into the grass, but is right on the soil line. As the grass grows, you will not see the hose. I have done this, and left hoses in the ground for years with no ill effects.

People who mow, generally, also like to string trim the edges of beds and around trees. A common mistake is to trim the edges too close to the ground, “scalping” the grass near the flower beds. I have no suggestions on how to avoid this, except to politely ask the mower not to trim so darn close. Maybe growl a little.

Then there is the question of how often to mow. People who mow commercially like to have a regular schedule, and as often as possible. But if your spouse or child is the mower, point out to them that you want to let the grass get a little taller before mowing. Explain that the Dutch white clover that only blooms when the lawn is a little long is much loved by the bees and pollinators. Get them to think of the lawn as the lunch buffet for bees.

If you set the mower at 3 or 4 inches, your lawn will thank you. Yes, I know that the infield of Fenway Park is cut at less than an inch, but your half acre of lawn need not be. Grass plants need to feed their roots so they can grow deep into the soil — where the moisture is in dry times. The longer each blade of grass, the more food it can make by the miracle of photosynthesis.

If you keep your lawn longer, it will compete better with crabgrass and weeds. And you will get used to seeing it longer, and like it — or at least I do. You should not think it is a sign of indolence to have a lawn that doesn’t look like a green buzz cut.

Featured photo: Keep hoses off the lawn where you can. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

A rocking fundraising celebration

Two to Lou raises money for collegiate football and music industry hopefuls

By Katelyn Sahagian

Live music for a good cause and to remember a good man; that’s the mission of Two to Lou, an all-day music festival in Sandown on Saturday, July 16.

The festival, which honors Louis “Lou” Festo, who died from liver cancer in 2012, is put on every year, rain or shine, by his fiancée, Karen Jortberg, and his former bandmates. Proceeds from the concert are given as scholarships to students from Newburyport High School and Timberlane Regional High School.

Festo was a professional musician, Jortberg said. He played in many cover and original bands across New Hampshire. The last band he played with, Perciphist, even cut an album. When he was diagnosed with cancer, Jortberg said, he continued playing music his final show in 2012 was a fundraiser to help pay his medical bills.

“He got up and performed,” Jortberg said. “The place was packed because he knows so many people. He was an influence on so many.”

When the bills were paid, Jortberg said that she still had a lot of money left over from the first fundraiser that she didn’t know what to do with. Festo told her to take the money and go to Hawaii. Jortberg said she told him it wasn’t her money to spend.

“I said what should be done is we should make it into a scholarship for Newburyport High School, where he graduated from,” Jortberg said.

The festival has awarded more than $24,000 in scholarships since its creation in 2014, she added. Jortberg would soon expand the scholarship to Timberlane students after the first few years, saying that New Hampshire was just as much a part of Festo’s home as Newburyport was.

Students applying for the scholarship must either be pursuing a college degree in the music industry or planning on playing college-level football. This year, the two recipients from Timberlane will pursue a music degree and the two from Newburyport High will go on to play collegiate football.

The scholarships are usually given out in $1,000 increments to two graduating seniors from both high schools, but Jortberg admitted to giving smaller scholarship awards to applicants who didn’t fully meet the requirements. She said if they took the time to apply even without meeting all the qualifications, she felt that the students deserved something for their effort.

“Every little bit helps,” she said. “We know we’re doing the right thing. We get thank you notes from these kids; they are so appreciative.”

The show will be headlined by Whammer Jammer, a J. Geils Band tribute band from Massachusetts. All of the artists playing will be from northern Massachusetts or New Hampshire.

Recent scholarship recipient Galen Walton is coming back to Two to Lou to play the drums in his band, Whoever’s Around.

Jortberg said that there will be food trucks and beer and wine for sale. ReMax is going to be having tethered hot air balloon rides, and lawn games like cornhole will be set up.

Jortberg said that the festival is more than just a celebration of Festo’s life now. It’s a celebration of local musicians, new musicians, sports, and everything Festo had held dear. She said that encouraging people to play music professionally is one of the best ways to honor Festo’s life.

“Music is a big part of everyone’s life,” Jortberg said. “You always have to have music in the background. It helps along whatever mood you’re in.”

Two to Lou Music Festival
When: Saturday, July 16, noon to 10 p.m., doors open at 11 a.m.
Where: Sandlot Sports and Entertainment, 8 Sandlot Way, Sandown
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door; $12 for seniors between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
More info:

Local bands playing:
Baby Girl Aden
Diamond Edge
Souled Out Showband
Stumpy Joe Band
Damaged Goods
The Experiment
The Moonlighters
Hot Pasta
Dave Amato
Casey Clark
Whoever’s Around featuring last year’s scholarship winner, Galen Walton
Preciphist, Louis Festo’s last band
Whammer Jammer
Shot of Poison

Featured photo: Lou Festo’s band, Preciphist. Courtesy of Karen Jortberg.

Kiddie Pool 22/07/07

Family fun for the weekend

Farm fun

• Get some family fun, farm-style, at J & F Farms (124 Chester Road in Derry; on Friday, July 8, at their Friday Family Fun event from 4 to 7 p.m., with a petting farm, food truck, live music and $5 per person hayrides, according to the farm’s Facebook post. A Sunday Funday event will feature many of the same attractions from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a post said, and of course at both events you can load up on farm goodies from the farm stand.

Brand-new play center

• The American Independence Museum (1 Governors Lane in Exeter; has a new interactive space, the Foy Family Children’s Library. The library has a reading nookfilled with books about American history, a dress-up area where kids can wear 18th-century-style clothing, a play kitchen area and historic games. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum costs $8 for adults; $6 for seniors, students, educators and first responders; $4 for children 6 to 18 years old; and free for children under 6.

Movie time

• O’neil Cinemas’ Summer Kids Series continues on Monday, July 11 with a 10 a.m. showing of Hotel Transylvania: Transformia(PG, 2022). The movie will also screen on Wednesday, July 13, at 10 a.m. Tickets cost $2 for attendees age 11 and lower, $3 for ages 12 and older, and the cinema is offering a $6 popcorn-and-drink combo pack. See

And for the older crowd that might need a more relaxed movie-going environment, the theater’s weekly Sensory Friendly Flix film on Saturday, July 9, is Thor: Love and Thunder(PG-13, 2022) at 10 a.m., when house lights will be higher and noises will be a little less loud, the website said.

• After a fun-filled day in the sun, relax with Movie Night Mondays on Hampton Beach (next to the playground) on Monday, July 11, starting at dusk. The movie lineup will run through Aug. 29. Bring a chair or a blanket to set up for the free show. The first in the family-friendly movie series is Paw Patrol (G, 2021). For more information and for a full lineup of all the summer shows and approximate dusk times, visit Rain dates are Tuesdays.

• And while you’re not watching a movie you do get to enjoy some movie theater candy at Theater Candy Bingo, which will be held at Chunky’s in Manchester (707 Huse Road) on Wednesday, July 13, at 6:30 p.. and in Nashua (151 Coliseium Ave.) on Thursday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. The event, described as family friendly and offering chances to win movie theater candy and other prizes, costs $10 per person to reserve a seat ($5 for a food voucher plus the candy). See

Story time!

• Petals in the Pines (126 Baptist Road, Canterbury) is bringing Peter Rabbit to life with an in-garden reading of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” on Saturday, July 9, and Sunday, July 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. and on Monday, July 11, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Children will get to participate in activities like seed starting and gardening, play in the award-winning outdoor classroom, and pose for a character photo. The event requires registration and tickets are $12 for adult and one child, $6 for each additional child, and infants are free. Reservations can be made at

• New Hampshire Boat Museum (399 Center St., Wolfeboro) is hosting an outdoor story hour for kids ages 2 to 6 on Friday, July 8, at 10 a.m. The Wolfeboro Public Library children’s librarian, Jeanne Snowdon, will read stories and lead kids in a craft. This event is free for one child with an accompanying adult. For more information, visit

Play ball!

• The New Hampshire Fisher Cats run of games against the Hartford Yard Goats continues with games daily through Sunday, July 10 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Downtown Manchester. Games Thursday, July 7; Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9, start at 7:05 p.m. and Thursday and Saturday games feature post-game fireworks. Friday is North Woods Law night with a jersey giveway, according to the website. Sunday’s game starts at 1:35 p.m. See

• The Nashua Silver Knights have home games Thursday, July 7, and Friday, July 8, at Holman Stadium (67 Amherst St. in Nashua). Both games start at 6 p.m. and are against the Vermont Lake Monsters. Friday’s game features post game fireworks. See

Katelyn Sahagian

There is a free lunch!

Veggies for the lackadaisical gardener

My father, may he rest in peace, always told me that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Wrong, Dad. I grow at least three tasty vegetables that require no work to speak of: I just plant, mulch and harvest. If you are a lackadaisical gardener and like garlic, rhubarb and horseradish, you are in luck.

Let’s start with horseradish: It’s in the broccoli family, and once planted, it will never ask anything of you. Yes, it does slowly expand the patch of ground it claims as its own, so you may want to dig some up each year and make horseradish sauce. But if you plant it bordering a lawn on one side and a barn, house or path on the other, it won’t travel far.

The roots of a mature horseradish plant will grow deep, probably all the way to China. So when you dig it, some will always be left in the ground to come back. I have extracted roots longer than 18 inches. The plant is tall, easily 3 or 4 feet, and the leaves are wide and a bit coarse-looking. Not a particularly pretty plant. And although it produces little white flowers, it doesn’t produce viable seed. You can start it from a scrap of root you get from a friend at harvest time.

The sauce can be very powerful or more mild, depending on how you make it. Wash the roots with a scrub brush, then peel with a potato peeler. Chop into chunks under an inch in size, and put in a food processor or blender. A cup of chunks will make all I need for a year. I blend the chunks with half a cup of water or so. It takes a few minutes of blending to get it to the right consistency as this stuff is fibrous and tough to break down. Don’t overheat your blender, so stop and start.

horseradish plant in garden on sunny day
Horseradish is a big plant. The roots can be used to make a spicy condiment for sandwiches. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

If you want mild horseradish add a third of a cup of vinegar pretty much right away. If you want it hot (which I do), wait a few minutes after blending, then add it. The mix should be spreadable with a butter knife and juicy. Store it in a glass jar, preferably with a plastic lid. Metal lids rust and dissolve from the fumes in less than a year.

The fumes when blending are powerful, so don’t get your eyes and nose by looking into the blender. You may even want to do the job outside on the deck.

Rhubarb is a wonderful vegetable, even if old-fashioned. Like horseradish, it is a forever plant that once planted should provide you with treats for the rest of your life. You can buy a plant or get a friend to divide and share some roots. Some rhubarb has red stems, others green stems. They taste the same, but I like the red color. The leaves contain oxalic acid and are not edible.

Since rhubarb is going to live forever, I recommend adding lots of compost and some slow-release organic fertilizer at planting time. If dividing rhubarb, early spring is the best time to do it, but anytime is all right. It grows best in full sun, but as a leafy green it will thrive in part sun, too.

I like making rhubarb punch as an early-summer refreshing drink. Pick a few stems, and cut into one-inch chunks. Add an equal amount of water, and boil until the rhubarb is falling apart. Sieve through a colander or sieve. The add water — a cup of fruit will easily make a quart of punch, or even two, depending how you like it. Add sugar to taste and serve cold.

rhubarb plant in garden
Rhubarb does best in rich, moist soil but will grow most anywhere. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

Garlic should be planted in October, and it is ready to harvest in July. This year mine started to blossom in late June, sending up curly stalks called scapes that are edible and decorative. I will resist picking any bulbs of garlic until mid-July or later so it can reach maximum size. But don’t wait too long; if you do, the outer layers of leafy material that cover each bulb will start to break down, and it will not store as well.

OK, I looked at mine today and did see a few weeds I should pull. But it really is essentially a work-free crop. I plant cloves 3 inches apart and 3 inches deep in rich, compost-containing soil. Full sun is best. Once planted, I mulch it heavily — up to a foot of fluffy mulch hay or straw. Over the winter it will pack down to just 3 or 4 inches. In the spring the leaves will grow right through the straw, but weeds do not.

Garlic stores well in a cool, dry place. By now, some of last year’s garlic is starting to sprout in the kitchen. I have made garlic powder by drying it in a food dehydrator, then grinding in a coffee or spice grinder, but normally I just store it. I have read that one can freeze it, too, but haven’t done so yet. Don’t store it at room temperature in oil — as a root crop there is always the possibility of getting botulism.

Whatever you plant in the garden will reward you well beyond the work it involves to grow. To get good results do these things: prepare the soil well, and add compost. Provide plenty of sunshine, even if it means planting in the front lawn. Water regularly in hot times, especially early in the season. Pick your veggies when they are small and tender — that’s when they will taste best. And lastly, don’t let the weeds get ahead of you. Never let weeds blossom and distribute their seeds. Mulch is an easy way to keep weeds at bay, particularly if you put down a few sheets of newspaper under the straw or hay.

Featured photo: Garlic scapes can be sauteed and eaten, or put in a vase like flowers. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

Hillsboro Summer Festival returns

Fun times to support firefighters

By Katelyn Sahagian

Hillsboro Summer Festival is back for its 32nd year, celebrating the firefighters and community that started it all those years ago.

“The event has evolved a lot in the past 32 years,” said Katherine Charette, the co-chair of the Hillsboro festival committee. “It started out as something put on by the fire department and had different events to raise money for the community and their organization.”

Back when it started, Charette said that there would be Fireman Musters, or competitions between fire departments. Back in the day, firefighters would work to see who was fastest at unraveling hoses and winding them up again, do obstacle courses, and compete in other tests of their skill. Charette said that firefighters from across the country would come to compete.

Now, the event is filled with local artisans selling their wares, live music performances, carnival rides and games, and an impressive fireworks show. Even with the changes, the festival still honors firefighters.

“This is our second year back since having that time off from the pandemic,” Charette said. “We have the most events we’ve ever had for every single age.”

Hillsboro Fire Chief Kenny Stafford said that while the event is time-consuming for him and his volunteer firefighters, who set up and take down everything for the event, he is glad that it brings the community together.

“It brings people to town, and this weekend shows you exactly who we are,” Stafford said. “[The festival] shows what our town is all about.”

Charette said that she wanted to try to make the festival as low-cost as possible so that families could plan to have fun throughout the day without breaking the bank. Besides the $25 wristbands that gain access to all the rides, the only other part of the festival that costs money is donating to the fire department for parking.

From pie and cupcake eating contests to a warrior obstacle course, Charette said, “it’s all free and a really great event for the whole community.”

For Stafford, seeing the community recognize the sacrifice and dedication of his firefighters is what makes the event special.

“It’s awful nice to have someone come up and say, ‘Thanks for all you do,’” Stafford said. “We couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t have that support.”

Hillsboro Summer Festival

Where: 29 Preston St., Hillsboro
When: Thursday, July 7, from 6 to 10 p.m.; Friday, July 8, from 5 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, July 9, from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday, July 10, from noon to 5 p.m.
Price: $10 per car, $25 for rides wristband.
Events include:
• Friday, 6 to 8 p.m. — Cub Scouts host the mobile basecamp (with gaga, archery, bb range and more)
• Friday, 6:30 p.m. — 5K Road Race (register in advance or onsite at 5:30 p.m.)
• Friday, 7 to 9 p.m. Superbug performs
• Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Warrior Obstacle Course
• Saturday, 1 p.m. Women’s Skillet Toss
• Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m., Interactive Juggling
• Saturday, 10 p.m., fireworks
• Sunday, noon, Hometown Parade
• Sunday, noon to 2:30 p.m., Car and Truck Show
• Sunday, 1 p.m. 10-and-under cupcake eating contest
• Sunday, 2 p.m. Pie Eating Contest
• Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. Mary Poppins Balloon Artist
More:, 464-0377

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of Katherine Charette of the Hillsboro Festival.

Kiddie Pool 22/06/30

Family fun for the weekend

Shows galore

• O’neil Cinemas’ Summer Kids Series starts on Monday, July 4, with a 10 a.m. showing of Trolls: World Tour (PG, 2020). The movie will also screen on Wednesday, July 6, at 10 a.m. The series continues through the week of Aug. 8, with a new family-friendly film screening Mondays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Tickets cost $2 for attendees age 11 and lower, $3 for ages 12 and older, and the cinema is offering a $6 popcorn-and-drink combo pack. For movie times, visit

• The Belknap Mill (25 Beacon St. E. in Laconia) continues its kicking off its Kids in the Park Summer Series on Monday, July 4, with live production ofSleeping Beauty by professional acting troupe Impact, will have an hour long runtime, and will begin at 10 a.m. A prince must work with a good fairy to wake up the princess and save her kingdom from the sleepy spell it was put under, according to the website. Attendance is free. The line-up of events includes storytimes, live dance, nature events and more. See

• The Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester;, 668-5588) begins its Children’s Summer Series with magician BJ Hickman, Tuesday, July 5, to Friday, July 8. Hickman, a Manchester native, is a member of the Academy of Magical Arts, Hollywood Magical Castle, and the International Brotherhood of Magicians, according to the website. His one-man shows are filled with comedy, audience interactions and mystifying illusions, the website said. Showtimes are at 10 a.m. on all days and 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday. Tickets cost $10.

Fairs for the crafty

• Artisans from across New England will be selling their homemade goods at the Hampton Falls Liberty Craft Festival, in the Hampton Falls town common (4 Lincoln Ave.) this weekend. There will be more than 75 juried artisans selling everything from custom smartphone cases and handmade beef jerky to decorative throw pillows and paintings. The festival will run Saturday, July 2, deom 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, July 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. See

• Celebrate Independence Day with American-made and handmade products at the Gunstock 4th of July Weekend Craft Fair on Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Gunstock Mountain Resort (719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford). More than 90 artisans will be selling carefully crafted goods, including cedar wood furniture, wildlife photography, gourmet oils and vinegars, New Hampshire maple syrups, and much more. The event is rain or shine and free to attend. Leashed dogs are welcome. Visit

Children’s Museum fun

The Children’s Museum (6 Washington St., Dover) has a whole host of activities for families to do in July. Every Tuesday and Saturday at 11 a.m., the Learning Garden will have Edible Education to help teach children about healthy food options and what is healthy for the environment. Wacky Art Wednesdays will run at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Wednesday of July. Kids will get to create a unique art project that fits the museum’s weekly theme. Every Thursday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is World Culture Thursday. Kids will do a craft, play a game, or make some art that celebrates a different culture from around the world. Science Fridays will have curious kids conducting experiments that launch into larger lessons about different topics in science. All of the programs above are drop-in and are included when families sign up for playtime at the museum. For more information visit

Pick your own

• Have big berry fun over the long weekend at area pick-your-own strawberry farms. In last week’s (June 23) issue of the Hippo, Matt Ingersoll and Jack Walsh took at look at this year’s strawberry harvest, including a list of farms where you can pick your own or just buy berries and get right to the shortcake eating part of your day. Go to and look for the e-edition version of last week’s issue; the story is on page 22.

• Pumpkin Blossom Farm’s annual U-Pick Lavender is slated to start Wednesday, July 6 and will run through Sunday, July 24, at the farm at 393 Pumpkin Hill Road in Warner. Participants will receive sanitized picking supplies and will get instructions on how to bundle their freshly cut flowers. Picking is daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bundles will be discounted on Monday through Thursday, costing $10; Friday, Saturday and Sunday the bundles will cost $12. Visit or call 456-2443.

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