From the Soil with Sollecito

  • Hosted by Jim Sollecito

Upstate New York offers an extraordinarily diverse panorama of spectacular landscapes. And, creating a personal landscape around the home can bring a deep sense of accomplishment while providing a constant source of inspiration throughout the year.  Whether a patio garden, terrace, flower bed, or simple hedgerow, there are best practices that, when followed, will go a long way to assuring long-term success of any home landscape in upstate New York while protecting the environment.

In this growing series of podcasts, Jim Sollecito of Sollecito Landscaping Nursery on Howlett Hill Road on Onondaga Hill provides a series of helpful talks to help navigate the seasonal shifts that impact plants, shrubs, trees, flower beds, and garden plots.  Jim focuses on the use of natural products and cultivation methods specifically adapted to this region's climate, soil composition, geology, and native ecology.  Sollecito Landscaping Nursery is the first Be Green garden center licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

About Jim Sollecito:

Jim Sollecito graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture from Cornell University in 1976 and has traveled to 39 countries studying plants and landscape design.  He recently visited Cuba to work with organic farmers, introducing them to new seed varieties and exchanging ideas for natural fertilizing techniques.  He has the distinction of being the first Lifetime Senior Certified Landscape Professional in New York State.  Founder of Sollecito Landscaping Nursery 45 years ago, Jim's company has won First Place in the New York State Nursery and Landscape Association Landscape Awards Competition 24 times for residential projects.  Jim owns and operates a six acre garden center and a 170 acre nursery.  Megan Sollecito, Jim's wife and partner in business, is a Senior Certified Landscape Professional in her own right.  The Sollecitos have been loyal supporters of WRVO for many years.

If you have questions about any topic related to landscape management, or if you would like to suggest a topic to explore in a future podcast, please contact Jim.

Bee Smart or Be Smarting

Sep 1, 2012

Knowledge may be power, but wisdom is the real deal.  Wise weekend warriors read the label - and follow the directions.  In this commentary Jim talks about how we sometimes get in the way of Mother Nature and, that when we need to nudge her a bit, we should do so wisely.

Fruits of Fall

Aug 31, 2012

If you think Weeping Louisa is a character from the board game 'Clue,' think again.  Think ornamental flowering apple tree.  Think pink buds, yellow fruit.  Think how great such a tree would look in your landscape in relief against winter snow.  In this commentary learn how a little planning - and a little tree - can add interest and value to your little piece of heaven through four seasons.

Rachel's Coffee Filter Fixes

Aug 29, 2012

In this commentary, Jim's daughter Rachel describes lots of uses for disposable coffee filters in addition to filtering what she calls her vitamin 'C.'  Rachel will have you asking yourself 'Why didn't I think of that!"  She's a chip off the old block, and serious about taking care of the only planet we have.

Oh Deer

May 25, 2012

Question: Name a woodland creature that will leap a six foot chain link fence in a single bound to get to that luscious-looking vegetable garden on the other side but will not leap a four-foot slat-sided fence through which it cannot see.  If you said 'hippopotamus,' please review your field notes more thoroughly before attempting our next quiz.  If you answered 'deer,' you are correct.  Deer are smart - but you can outsmart them.  Here's how.

Water Those Plants

May 25, 2012

As the summer roles on, landscape and garden soil becomes drier from constant sun at its most intense.  Many plants go dormant, but that does not mean they are dead.  They are very much alive and will appreciate your occasional offer of liquid refreshment.  Water your plants during the cool part of the day to keep them happy.

Light and Shade

May 25, 2012

Which is better, morning sun or afternoon sun?  And where does mid-day sun fit into the growing cycle?  Well... it all depends.  To learn how and why, grab your polarized sunglasses and tune in as Jim sheds light on the many shades of sunlight.

Slugging It Out

May 25, 2012

Slugs.  They creep while you sleep, often wreaking havoc on garden plants along the way.  Fortunately there are ways to fight back.  Maybe a slug mug filled with beer or a solution of ammonia and water that kills slugs on impact while fertilizing your plants at the same time.  Learn how you can slug it out with slugs and snails.

Plastic is Forever

May 25, 2012

Remember that old adage that diamonds are forever?  Well so are styrofoam cups, plastic liners, disposable diapers, even cigarette butts.  Paper and wood products break down in a matter of weeks, returning to the soil from which they came.  Plastics are a different matter.  Here's a sobering commentary on the importance of staying natural.

Garden Gloves

May 25, 2012

That ugly green sheen on your favorite weekend boat shoes... 'grass' stain from walking behind the mower, right?  Not so.  Grass does not stain.  Weeds do.  Here are handy tips for getting gardening stain off your hands.  And, when weeding, be SURE to wear gardening gloves. You never know when you might find yourself pulling pigweed, poison ivy or other noxious plants.

Read The Label

May 25, 2012

Take Control!  Rage against the Machine!  Power to the Peonies! The 'Machine' we refer to is, of course, the lawnmower.  Ever feel like it's holding you down, keeping you from reaching your full potential on, say, the golf course or the trout stream? Here are tips for cutting down on the cutting down and, in the process, bringing a more verdant and sustainable approach to maintaining your landscape.

Bloomerang Lilacs

May 25, 2012

We just can't stop talking about lilacs.  They are easy to grow, generate a fragrance to die for, and add terrific, showy color to the spring landscape.  If only they were not so quick to drop their blooms.  But wait!  Here's news about a new variety called the Bloomerang that Ted Collins, dean of the Rochester Lilac Festival, calls the 'ever-bloomer.' Amazing.

Plant with Compost

May 25, 2012

Hey, Vets. Remember that fun drill back in boot camp?  'Dig a hole; fill it in. Dig a hole, fill it in.'  Didn't realize Ol' Sarge was preparing you to become a weekend warrior, did you?  Next time you dig a hole to place a tree, or shrub, or bedding plant, make sure 30 percent of what goes back into the hole with that plant is compost.  Then, stand back and watch the plant take off.  Compost is full of the best nutrients nature has to offer.

Feed Flowering Bulbs

May 25, 2012

Flowering bulbs bring joy to springtime - and then are forgotten.  Remember to feed them, even when they are dormant.  You will see the difference next spring and beyond.  And don't cut those green stems just because the flowers are gone - let them go brown before you cut them down.

Super Soil

May 17, 2012

Remember what Grandma used to say... 'If the soil ain't happy, ain't no tree, shrub or clingin' vine happy!'  Okay, so that's not what she said, but it IS the point of this commentary on building high quality, highly productive soil.

Lively Lilacs

May 17, 2012

A rose is a rose is a rose...  or so they say.  The same cannot be said for lilacs.  There are all kinds of lilacs, and some are better for your landscape than others.  And, if you thought lilacs came from France, grab a lilac muffin and have a listen.  You might be surprised.

Cool Cultivars

May 17, 2012

Has that old stand of Burning Bush flamed out?  Looking to add some pizzazz to your landscape? Don't settle for same-old-same-old.  Check out Jim's list of high quality cultivars from growers with reliably high standards.


May 17, 2012

Two things required to get your landscape plantings off to a good start - and keep them happy - are fertilizer and water.  Landscapes look great and stay healthy where natural fertilizer and water work together in a process Jim refers to as 'fertigation.'  Don't just irrigate... fertigate!

More About Mulch

May 17, 2012

As Jim has said before, you can never have too much mulch.  Just make sure you have nature's mulch,  free of chemical additives that leach into the ground and spoil soil.  Be natural.  Mulching is not rocket science, but it can launch a great new look and feel across your landscape.


May 14, 2012

Delicious right off the shrub and spread on toast or ice cream right out of grandma's preserve jar, Juneberries are a real treat, full of flavor and good for everyone.  Juneberry shrubs make a terrific addition to any landscape.  If you have never heard of them, stay tuned. The word is out.

Mulch More Than You Think

May 10, 2012

Take an inventory of your home landscape.  Chances are each of those shrubs and trees you planted long ago fall into one of three categories: the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. Now may be the time to clear them out, select hardy varieties that will be happy in your yard for many years to come.

Make a View Space

May 3, 2012

For centuries the Japanese practice of shakkei has enlived landscapes by framing what is already there.  The idea is to 'borrow from the scenery around you.'  Why build it if it the space around you is already a breathtaking masterpiece?  Words of wisdom from the master landscaper on how to make the most of your space, whatever the condition of your surroundings.

Is your green space a lawn, or a yawn?

Apr 24, 2012

Snappy lawns do not just happen - they result from thoughtful planning, regular maintenance and a bit of friendly competition from that neighbor with the green thumb - and the perfect hedge.  If your lawn is looking a bit retro, think makeover. You can bring your lawn into the 21st century with these simple tips.

Trim Those Leggy Plants

Apr 17, 2012

When your landscape plants begin to get a bit long in the limb, do them - and yourself - a favor.  Trim them back, and don't be shy.  If you do it right, they will come back better and healthier than ever.

A talk with the Lawn Arranger

Mar 30, 2012

"Hi-yo, Silver Maple, away!"  or so the 'Lawn Arranger' might have said in a particularly bewildering fit of pun-itis.  Early spring means a return to lawn care - and all those fancy bag products that promise what nature already provides.  Listen to why you can 'bag' the heavy lifting and spreading this year.

Build your landscape management skills

Mar 30, 2012

Maintaining an attractive and rewarding landscape is not rocket science - but it does require constant effort toward improving management skills.  Here are some tips on how to keep those landscape challenges from getting you down.

Fishy plant tonic makes all the difference

Mar 30, 2012

The Iroquois had it right when they planted the 'three sisters' - corn, beans and squash.  They added something fishy to the soil, which made all the difference.  Listen to this 'fish tale' and learn how 'shadbush' got its name.

Spruce up your dormant landscaping

Mar 30, 2012

Spruce up your dormant landscaping with attractive - and deer proof - plants and accent objects that show well against gray skies and winter snow.  Use these techniques to cheer up your yard in winter and early spring.