What Is The Best Type of Manure?

In order to have a healthy, flourishing garden- you need to take good care of it. One way to ensure your garden grows big and strong is the addition of fertilizer. Fertilizer (or manure) is a way to return nutrients into the soil that may not be present; such as nitrogen. Different types of animal manures provide different types of nutrients, so how do you know which one is right for you? How do you distinguish what is too much of a good thing, from just the right amount for your soil? 

First, let’s start by learning what manure is, and what the different types of it are. Manure is a waste product made by animals (both domestic and livestock,) that have undergone the composting process to remove any harmful pathogens and to break it down even further for quick absorption by plants. You are able to purchase un-composted manures; However, they must be used with caution because they take longer to break down and be absorbed, and they may also contain weed seeds or pathogens that can seep into the surrounding landscape. Since the early days of cultivation, people have been using manure as a fertilizer. It is no surprise that manure has been used for this long, it is a rich source of nitrogen and other beneficial nutrients that plants need to survive.

While using raw manure has its benefits, it also has its downfalls. There is a stagnant odor associated with the unbroken down waste, which also attracts flies. Sometimes the manure can be too ‘hot,’ which is when there is too high of a concentration of nutrients present- this burns or kills plants. Raw manure can also lead to plants growing too quickly, not allowing proper stem growth to occur. This will leave you with thin and stringy looking plants. If you choose to use raw manure, apply it to the garden late in the season. This way it has time to break down before the next planting season.

Manure can come from any animal, but not all manures are equal. For example, cat or dog manure must be composted for a minimum of two years before it can be used (however, it cannot be applied on any food crops.) Human manure, should never be used. There are too many drugs, pathogens and other potential problems sitting in our waste that cannot be safely composted (unless you have very specific knowledge and tools.) Traditional domestic livestock all contain different levels of nutrients such as nitrogen. The most common types of livestock manure used in gardening is:

  • Chicken – Chicken manure is ideal for most gardens. It has a very high nitrogen concentration, but must be composted and aged well to prevent burning from occurring. It is best applied during the spring and fall.
  • Cow
  • Goat
  • Horse – Horse manure takes a long time to compost due to its large size, with the addition of weed seeds that the animal digests this adds more time to compost.
  • Pig
  • Sheep – Sheep Manure has a high level of nitrogen, but low levels in most other nutrients. Its small pellet size allows for a quick compost.

To find the best manure, it depends on your specific soil type. Any common variety of manure is beneficial to all soils, because it has the basics that all plants need. If you are composting your own manure, remember that it has to compost for at least 6 months (or longer.) Or you can add it raw, tilling it into the soil at least 1 season prior to planting.

Thank you to Gardening Know How for the original information. You can read more here.

How to Dry Flowers

Dried Flowers are beautiful to look at and can be used for many crafts and decorations. Many people buy their flowers already dried from the flower shop, but here is an easy way to dry your own flowers at home (saving you money.) If you want your flowers to retain their color, you should cut them when their color is at peak; this is usually in the morning. A classic way to dry your flowers is to let them sit in a vase with no water then let nature and the environment take its toll. Some people like to hang their flowers upside down to keep the strength of the stems (but this is unnecessary.) The one downfall to air drying your flowers is their color will fade from its original beauty. 

One trick to use, so your flowers retain their color- is silica gel. You may say “Silica gel? You mean the stuff you find in new coat pockets?” Yes! Those small crystal packets absorb moisture, which is great when drying flowers. Silica gel can be found at local craft stores in large quantities. How do you use it? In a plastic food-storage container, lay down about an inch or two of the silica pearls. Depending on how large your flowers are, depends what crystal size you need to buy. Place your flowers upside down on top of the crystal bed- making sure not to crowd them. Crowding your flowers can cause distortion in their original shape. You many need to use multiple containers, with one bloom in each. Cut the stem down to 2 inches or so, then scoop some more crystals over the underside of the petals. Continue to fill the container with silica gel until either the container reaches half full or your flowers are completely covered. Snap on the lid and leave undisturbed for four days. 

After your flowers have dried, carefully pour out your silica gel and remove your flowers. You can now use your dried blooms for decorations or crafts!

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

How To Care for Poinsettia Plants

Every December, poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are given or received as gifts. These beautiful red plants have become a sign of the holidays, but usually are thrown out as soon as the holidays are over. They are specifically grown for the holidays (those bright red leaves just scream Christmas,) but what if you could keep them growing all the way into the summer season? 

Lets start at the beginning. When poinsettia plants are first purchased they should be in prime condition; dark green foliage, be well shaped and have bracts free from defects. The soil should be kept moist at all times, but not excessively wet. When the soil begins to feel dry, apply enough water so it dampens the surface but also runs through the drainage hole. In between waterings do not let the leaves begin to wilt. Poinsettia plants should also be kept away from cold drafts and excessive heat- this can also cause the foliage and bracts to rapidly wilt.

Thank you to CCE for the original information. You can read more here.

7 Ways to Minimize Your Carbon Footprint

  1. Stop Eating (Or Eat Less) Meat – When you think of climate change, you don’t automatically think of cows and chickens being responsible. But raising livestock for consumption creates a large amount of fossil fuels and emissions. Red meat is more responsible for these emissions than their poultry counterparts. Animals that are categorized as red meat consume 11 times more water and produce 5 times more emissions then poultry. To get a single pound of beef, it takes over 5,000 gallons of water. (Animal Agriculture is the number one consumer of fresh water in the world- which is a leading problem for water scarcity.) The average american eats 8.5 pounds of meat per day, by cutting this number by nearly half you are making a huge difference in the environment. While the best option is to cut meat out of your diet completely (not just for your carbon footprint but also for health benefits) it is not an option for everyone. Small changes in your diet, like eating meat only twice a week rather than 4 or 5 times a week is a step in the right direction for saving the environment.
  2. Unplug Devices – What if I told you ‘Vampire Power’ was a real and scary thing. Every year (in the U.S. alone) $19 billion of energy is drained from vampire power. What is it? Whenever a plug is plugged in a socket, it is draining power. The cord doesn’t necessarily have to be plugged into anything either. By leaving your electronics unplugged if you are not using them you are saving energy. So even if your phone is powered down and plugged into the wall, its sucking energy and using the infamous vampire power.
  3. Drive Less – For years people have been urged to not use their cars as their number one means of transportation. Using public transport, walking or riding a bike has always been the solution to lowering fossil fuel emissions in the atmosphere. Currently there are over 65 million cyclists in the United States (a number that has risen in the past 5 years.) Many people opt to bike to work, especially with the addition of bike lanes. Major cities are also making it easier to not own a car. Populations are continuously rising in cities, which forced public transportation such as buses, trains and subways to become more effective. U.S. public transport saves roughly 37 million tons of carbon emissions every year. 
  4. Don’t Buy ‘Fast Fashion’ – Everyone loves a good sale, $5 for a t-shirt? Count me in! But what if I told you that $5 tee will end up in a landfill by next year? Mass production of clothing in the fashion industry allows for cheap prices, but with the ever changing fashion “cycles” it becomes outdated quickly. To justify buying the latest trends in clothing, we tend to go through our wardrobes and dispose of old pieces that are off-trend. Clothing that costed less is more justified to be thrown out, because “I only payed $5 for it- I got my use out of it.” When clothing sits in a landfill, it can cause water contamination from the dyes and carcinogens in the fibers, reduce biodiversity and have negative impacts on health. Not only clothing sitting in the landfill is harmful, but the shipping and production step is too. Chemical runoff from garment factories and the oil required to ship products overseas creating fossil fuels is detrimental to the environment. To combat this clothing dilemma, try re-purposing old clothing for rags, buying local and handmade pieces, buy vintage or secondhand, host clothing swaps with family and friends and donate old clothes you don’t want.
  5. Plant A Garden – A quick way to reduce your carbon footprint is to plant greenery. Plants absorb CO2, which is beneficial for humans and the environment. Planting a garden in a city setting is even better. Large cities often have the “urban heat island effect” which needs to be reduced. This effect is when heat is trapped in the surrounding areas from vast amounts of concrete, buildings and large groups of people. Creating green spaces, leads to better cooling which is a necessity with the climate change happening.
  6. Eat Local (And Organic) – Eating local foods that are in season are the best option. Food purchased from a store has been grown in an area far from you, and was picked and packaged early (to ensure it wouldn’t go bad before reaching the store.) Not to mention the fossil fuels emitted from the transportation it took to get there. Buying local also supports the local economy and promotes food security. 
  7. Line Dry Clothing – You can save 1/3 of your carbon footprint by simply line drying your clothing. A single load of laundry in the dryer uses 5 times more electricity than washing. Running the dryer is equivalent to turning on 225 light bulbs for an hour. The Tumblr dryer is one of the top energy-consuming appliances in a household. 

These 7 tips are a simple and easy way to lower your carbon footprint. They are all immediately effective and can be accomplished by everyone. Get out there and save the environment!

Thank you to Huffington Post for the original information. You can read more here.

Mosquito Mate

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have given permission to a company that says they want to “breed the worst mosquitoes out of existence.” Known as Mosquito Mate, the company intends to release nonbiting male mosquitoes into the environment. These males are infected with a strain of bacteria that kills eggs; The goal is for these males to mate with the female mosquitoes that bite during the summer. By eliminating eggs, this will reduce the amount of biting-disease carrying mosquitoes. Trials have been done with great success in Kentucky, California and New York. After introducing the new males, there was an 80% reduction in biting mosquitoes. These highly engineered insects are licensed to sell in 20 states, including New York. Eventually they will be offered for sale to property owners. 

Thank you to Constance Gibbs from The Daily News for the original information. You can read more here.

Lone Star Tick

Long Island is no stranger to ticks. Since our last post on the summer tick outbreak (which you can read here), a new contender has rose to the top of the pest pyramid; The Lone Star Tick. This tick has brought on a new symptom to occur after being bitten by the pest. The symptom is forming an allergy to red-meats. These ticks can be identified by having a white spot in the center of its back in adult form.

When Lone Star Ticks bite, they transfer a sugar in their saliva called “alpha-gal.” The human body develop antibodies and then develop severe allergic reactions when consuming red meat. The only cure for this allergy is to avoid eating meat until it goes away. This can take years. So be on the lookout while going out east to apple and pumpkin pick this fall season, in case there are any stragglers hanging on. 

Thank you to Ali Gorman from ABC News 6 for the original information. You can read more here.


14 Garden Tips and Tricks

Gardening is a fun and leisurely activity, but having tips and tricks can make it a even more stress-free pastime. Here is a list of 14 tips and tricks as presented from HGTV.

  1. Salt Deposits – Combine equal parts of white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to clay pots and scrub with a plastic brush to remove salt deposits. Let the pot fry before you plant anything in it. 
  2. Dirty Fingernails – The worst part of gardening is the dirty fingernails, sure you can wear gloves- but it gets hot during the summer to wear thick garden gloves. Next time try dragging your nails across a bar of soap to create a barrier. After you are finished, use a nail brush to remove the soap from under your nails and voila! Clean nails! 
  3. Jammed Trimmer – To prevent the line on a string trimmer from jamming up or breaking, treat it with vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer. This creates a slippery surface that wont cause friction to happen, which causes the jam or breakage. 
  4. Measuring Stick – Instead of carrying around an extra measuring stick with you when gardening, put markings on your tools! Write inch and foot marks on the handles of tools so next time you need to plant a specific distance away, you have a measuring tool in your hand! 
  5. Handy Twine – To have handy twine always available in the garden use a clay pot! Stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole and set the pot upside down. Secure the end of the twine so it doesn’t fall back through. 
  6. Protect the Babies! – Small clay pots also make a great cloche for protecting young plants and seedlings from any sudden overnight frost or freezes.
  7. Hose Guide – Clay pots are so handy!  Stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.
  8. Plant Markers – To create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants.
  9. Pest Control! – By using a strong blast of water from the hose or using insecticidal soap, you can knock Aphids off the leaves of your plants. Another innovative way, would be to use tape. Wrap a strip of tape around your hand, and pat the underside of the leaves to capture Aphids in a sticky trap. 
  10. Veggie Soup – The next time you steam or boil vegetables do not get rid of the water. Pour the cooled “vegetable soup” onto potted patio plants and see how well the plants respond. 
  11. Morning Joe – If you have plants that thrive in acidic-soil, add one-quarter inch sprinkling of leftover tea and coffee grounds to the soil. This will change the pH to a slightly acidic number. Some plants that thrive in this condition are Azaleas, Gardenias and even blueberries. 
  12. Fungus – Chamomile tea can be used to control damping-off fungus, which attacks young seedlings. Once a week add a bit of tea to the base of seedlings, or use as a foliar spray to combat fungus.
  13. Makeshift Table – If you need an instant table for tea service, look no farther than your collection of clay pots and saucers. Just flip a good-sized pot over, and top it off with a large saucer. And when you’ve had your share of tea, fill the saucer with water, and your “table” is now a birdbath.
  14. Dry Herbs – The quickest way to dry herbs during the summer, is by using your car! Lay a sheet of newspaper on the seat of your car and arrange herbs in a single layer. Roll up all the windows and close the doors, the herbs will quickly dry and your car will also smell fantastic! 

Thank you to Paul James and HGTV for the original information. You can read more here.

12 Ways to Save on Your Summer Garden

Every Spring, everyone has the same idea- create a garden that is show-stopping and award-worthy. However as you sit on your back porch with friends enjoying the August heat, you realize your plan has failed. But it’s not too late! Here is a helpful list of tips for saving money on summer upgrades from garden pros, as presented from Huffington Post. 

  1. Buy Small – Yes its true, large plants look majestic and impressive. But start small, not only are they economical but easy to care for. Small plants will also grow to a larger size over time (if taken care of properly.) 
  2. Reuse & Recycle – A great way to start new seeds is by using K-Cups! Instead of throwing out the cups, reuse them! These cups are the perfect size for single seeds, and already have a hole in the bottom from being used. This is a great way to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. Another great way to save money on starting new plants is to see if any of your friends have cuttings or seeds they could give you! 
  3. Team Up – You can create a “purchasing pod” with neighbors. This can save you about 20% when buying flowers in flats (bulk) rather then individual cell packs. There are also many online communities where you can swap seeds and plants with other garden enthusiast’s instead of purchasing new ones! 
  4. Grow Your Groceries – Not only are gardens pretty, but functional. Kick it back to the victory garden days, and grow your own groceries! By investing a little bit of money in the beginning to start growing herbs, fruits and vegetables it will save money in the long run. The plants are able to reseed and grow from cuttings, which means you will have plants year round (if taken care of properly.) 
  5. Spend to Save – Like mentioned before, investing a little bit of money in the beginning will pay for itself in the long run. By purchasing a drip-irrigation or soaker hose, you will save on water and energy later down the road. The more money you spend on quality equipment (like shovels, trowels, wheelbarrows etc.), the longer your equipment will last.
  6. Slow Down! – Buy your materials in small phases. If you purchase too much at once, you can get overwhelmed (and not to mention- it will be very expensive.) By buying in small sections, you can do a little at a time and accomplish tasks faster.
  7. Self-Seed – A successful garden is made up of a mix of self-seeding plants and annuals. By purchasing self-seeding plants, the garden will be self-sufficient (for the most part) and will take the pressure off of your shoulders. Self-seeding plants do half the work for you when a new growing season begins. Some plants that self-seed include Forget-me-not, Verbena bonariensis and Chrysanthemum parthenium. Always check your growing zone for information on special growing attention. 
  8. Water Wisely – A great way to save money when watering your garden, is investing in a rain barrel! (You can read our post here on how to make one!) By watering your garden in the morning, it also reduces water loss to evaporation during the day. Remember to water the roots and not the foliage of the plants. The roots need the water more then the leaves. 
  9. Keep the Trees – Did you know that a tree canopy can cool a garden as much as 20 degrees? This will keep your plants from getting dehydrated and burnt in the direct sunlight, it also helps with water evaporation from the soil. 
  10. Make the Most of Space Instead of planting out horizontally and covering your entire yard with a garden, think vertically. Space saving gardens have been shown to be very successful in urban areas, so give it a try! You can fit more plants too, by gardening both vertically and horizontally. 
  11. Shop Around – Don’t buy the first garden tool you see, shop around and compare prices. 
  12. Prep for the Pro – If using a landscaper, prepare ideas before meeting for the first time. Do a little bit of leg-work before showing them around the yard as well. 

Thank you to Trae Bodge and Huffington Post for the original information. You can read more here.

Black Wasps

Its a known fact that people do not like wasps, and with good reason. All they do is fly around bothering you while you are trying to enjoy the great outdoors. But there is one type of wasp you should keep your eye on– The Black Wasp. This wasp has a big black body with blue wings (looking similar to a flying ant.) Other names that this wasp goes by is “Katydid Hunter” and “Steel-blue Cricket Hunter.” The black wasp is a non-aggressive species of the digger wasps, and is an excellent pollinator and predator of harmful insects. Living out of solitary nests in the ground, adults feed from nectar and pollen mid-summer to early fall. Some of their favorites include milkweed, Queen Anne’s lace and white clover. Females will fly around looking for prey, then paralyze it and bring it back to the nest to feed larvae. These wasps will not sting unless provoked, so leave them be! 

Gardening Clubs on LI

All over Nassau and Suffolk County are garden clubs where people can get together and discuss their favorite gardening tips and chores. You are bound to find one that is perfect for you, here is a list of the garden clubs located around Long Island. 

American Rhododendron Society

Meets: September – May 

Planting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay 

Dues: $40

Bonsai Society of Greater New York

Meets: Monthly

William C. Odol Community Center in H. Garrick Williams Park in Massapequa

Dues: $17 for students, $40 for single, $45 for joint membership

Eastern Suffolk Bonsai Society

Meets: 7PM Second Tuesday all Year

Bellport Community Center

Dues: $40

Fort Neck Garden Club

Meets: 12:30PM First Wednesday of the month

Bar Harbour Library, Massapequa Park

Dues: $20

Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons

Meets: Monthly lectures (Except July and August)

Bridgehampton Community House, Montauk Highway

Dues: $45, $75 family, $10 nonmembers

Long Island Bonsai Society

Meets: 7:30PM Second Monday all year (Except October when the meeting is the third Monday)

Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay

Dues: $40, $45 couples, $10 students

Long Island Cactus and Succulent Society

Meets: 7:30PM third Monday

Kellenberg Memorial High School, Uniondale

Dues: $20

Long Island Dahlia Society

Meets: 6:30PM third Thursday (at the library) 9AM-12PM every Saturday (at arboretum)

East Islip Public Library, East Islip or Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Oakdale

Dues: $20

Long Island DayLily Society

Meets: Call or check website

Planting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay

Dues: $35 ($10 local, $25 national)

Long Island Horticultural Society

Meets: Check website for meeting schedule 

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay

Dues: $35 per family

Long Island Orchid Society

Meets: 7:30PM second Thursday of every month

Knights of Columbus, Hicksville

Dues: $20

Long Island Rose Society

Meets: 7PM second Friday March – December

Plainview – Old Bethpage Library, Plainview

Dues: $25

Merrick Garden Club

Meets: 12:15PM the third Monday of the month (Except August and December)

St. John Lutheran Church, Bellmore

Dues: $40

The Long Island Master Gardeners

Meets: 8:45AM the third Wednesday of the month 

Brookhaven Ecology Site, Holtsville

Dues: $25

Long Island Chrysanthemum Society

Meets: Call for monthly meeting location

Dues: $30

Mid Island Dahlia Society

Meets: 7:30PM First Monday, February – December

Church of the Advent, Westbury

Dues: $15

The Long Island Gesneriad Society

Meets: 12PM the second Saturday, September – June

South Lounge of Hay Barn at Planting Fields Arboretum

Dues: Check Website

Sweet Water African Violet Society

Meets: 7:30PM the first Wednesday, September – November and January – May

West Sayville Fire Department, Montauk Highway

Dues: $10

Suffolk Orchid Society

Meets: 7PM the second Monday, September – June

Emma Clark Library, Setauket

Dues: $15 single, $22 family

Thank you to Newsday for the original information. You can read more here.

Tick Outbreak on Long Island

Scientists have predicted that this upcoming season is going to show an explosion in tick populations. With the mild winter we have had, and the warm weather becoming stagnant they have stated we will also see an explosion in acorns and mice. Ticks carry a deadly disease called Lyme Disease that not all ticks carry, but the majority do. 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported each year. According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York has the highest number of confirmed Lyme Disease cases nationwide. Ticks are among the family of crabs, so they have pincers that can latch onto clothing, skin or fur without a qualm. The most common type of ticks found on Long Island are the Deer Tick, The Lonestar Tick (brought up from the South) and the American Dog Tick. While Lyme Disease is the front-runner for deadly diseases carried by ticks, it is not all that they have. There are many other deadly pathogens and bacteria for both humans and animals. If you find a tick latched onto skin on you or your pet, remove it immediately, place it in a plastic baggie and bring it to your physician or vet to get checked for diseases. Here is a list of things you can do to protect you, your family and pets from ticks this summer. 

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Stay on center trails when hiking, while also wearing long socks, sleeves and pants. 
  • Use bug repellents with at least 20 to 30 percent DEET on any exposed skin and clothing for an extra layer of protection.

    Full Size Tick and Nymph

  • Examine yourself, your family and pets very carefully after being outside. A baby tick (or Nymph) can latch and is about the size of a poppy seed.
  • Ticks like warm parts of the body (e.g. armpits, bellybuttons, behind the ears, knees, groin, or buried under hair. 
  • Remove any ticks immediately with a pair of tweezers. The pincers and clawlike mouth, allow the pest to bury itself in your skin. Act quickly.
  • Wash any clothes that you have worn in tick infested areas immediately, then put in the dryer on the highest setting. It is impossible for the bugs to survive this. 
  • Check gear and toys you have brought with you thoroughly. 
  • Use a comb on pets, the ticks can burrow into fur and cause a plethora of infections in dogs regardless of size. 

Thank you to Newsday for the original information, you can read more here.


What to Plant for a Bee-Friendly Garden

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the bee population is rapidly declining. Most people dislike bees, they are scared of them and think they sting; when in reality they are super-friendly little guys who like the fly around from flower to flower  to pollinate! While it is true that bees can sting a human, they only do it when there is a justifiable cause (e.g. protecting their hive, swatting them away.) Unlike wasps who sting for the fun of it. Gardeners are a bees best friend, and here are some flowers that you can plant in your garden to give them a home and be safe. 

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information, you can read more here.


How to Make A Bee-Friendly Garden

Without bees, everything we know would cease to exist. Bees are the reason why we have vegetables, flowers, and many plants. They travel from plant to plant, cross pollinating and making new life grow. Many people have misconceptions about bees, they are not out to harm. Bees are not aggressive, unless threatened or being attacked. Unlike wasps, bees cannot retract their stingers, so once they use it- they die. Which makes sense, since they don’t go out of their way to sting people. Recently, bees have been on the decline- which isn’t good (for anyone.) So here is a list of plants that you can put into your garden to attract bees, and keep them safe.

  • Bee Balm
  • Borage
  • Cosmos
  • Dill
  • Milkweed
  • Nasturtium
  • Orlaya
  • Penstemon
  • Zinnia

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. For more information, and how to plant and take care of the plants listed above, click here.

Plants to Grow For a Healthy Garden!

Here is a list of 16 plants that you can plant to have a healthier garden at home! These plants are very helpful, most repel pests like aphids, mosquitos, moths and worms, Some can even trap pests like beetles! Having these plants in your garden will create a healthier soil, and allow you to have a bountiful growing season. Give some a try! 

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Add Some Color To Your Garden!

For a long time, dietitians have advised to eat a colorful diet. Many yellow and orange plants are rich in Vitamin C and Betacarotene, Green plants are rich in Iron, Calcium and Folic Acid, and Red plants add Lycopene and other important nutrients to your body. Filling your plate with an array of colors creates a balanced diet. It is no surprise that recently people have been following the “color diet” fad. However, one color that is only starting to gain recognition is purple. Purple plants contain a pigment called anthocyanin (the same antioxidant found in red wine.) Antioxidants are good for the body, because they protect human cells from oxidation (which causes disease.) So you may now be asking ‘how do I include purple in my diet?’; Thankfully, a new fad in the gardening world is bringing purple into a new spotlight. Don’t worry- these plants aren’t genetically engineered to be this crazy color, they are actually heirlooms and hybrids. Here is a list of some purple plants that you can grow in your garden this upcoming season to create a well rounded (and colorful) diet! 


Depurple Hybrid Cauliflower – Recently, cauliflower has been everywhere. It is the superstar for gluten-free and low-carb dieters. It can be substituted for many foods that we love to eat. It is being turned into rice, mashed potatoes, pizza crust and even hot wings! Unlike it’s smelly white counter-part, Depurple cauliflower has a buttery-sweet flavor with lavender-blue florets. It can be started indoors and transferred out into full sun in the Spring.



Purple Dragon Carrot – Parents everywhere have been giving the party line of ‘If you eat your carrots, your eye-sight will get better’ to coax their children into eating vegetables. But why not just give them a funky colored one instead? Did you know that before the 17th century, all carrots were either purple, white or yellow? These purple carrots have the same taste as their orange counterparts. After the danger of frost has passed, you can directly sow the carrots seeds in deep well-cultivated soil. 


Molokai Purple Sweet Potato – This sweet potato is commonly found in Hawaii and is similar to the Filipino purple yam ‘Ube.’ Ube has recently been a trend because it has been used to create desserts from this starchy vegetable. Ice cream being one of the popular desserts. Molokai is much higher in antioxidants than normal orange sweet potatoes. The flesh is sweet and creamy, and has overtones of chestnuts. It can be grown in well-drained soil in a sunny spot.



Purple Beauty Pepper – The purple beauty pepper, are a mild flavored bell pepper. They are heat-tolerant and can be grown in full sun.



Red Fire Broccoli – Red fire broccoli is a mini-broccoli plant. It creates 6 to 8-inch bright purple florets. This is another great way to make eating vegetables fun for kids! They have the same taste as their green cousins. Plant in well-draining soil.


Scarlet Runner Bean – This purple bean plant is not only edible, but ornamental! It creates long fire-red edible flowers, and follows up with bright pink beans that mature into lavender.  Plant in part sun, let the vining commence. 


Indigo Rose Tomato – These tomatoes grow to be 2-inch rounds. The fruit exposed to the sun turn a blueish-plum color, while the shaded portions turn dark red. Sow the seeds indoors and set outside after the danger of frost has passed. Grow in an area with at least 6 to 8 hours of  direct sunlight daily.


Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here. 

How To Start A Rain Barrel

For every inch of rain that falls on 500 square feet of roof, you can collect upwards to 300 gallons of water in a rain barrel. Using a rain barrel can save you significant amounts of money in one season! In most areas of North America, this means you can collect over a thousand gallons of water each year to use in containers, houseplants, the garden or even the lawn! Before you start, check  you local regulations. Rain barrels are illegal in certain areas. Making a rain barrel is more simple than you probably think. Here is what you need to get started: 

  • 1 Large plastic garbage can (the larger the pail, the more water you can collect.)
  • 1 Tube of watertight sealant (or roll of Teflon tape used in plumbing.)
  • 2 Rubber washers
  • 2 Metal washers
  • 1 Hose clamp
  • 1 Spigot
  • A drill
  • Landscaping fabric
  1. Start off by using your drill to create a hole near the bottom of the garbage can. This is where you will end up installing the spigot. You want to use a drill bit that is a little smaller or the same size as your spigot. Keep in mind not to drill a hole that is too low, you want space underneath to fill up water cans, or buckets.
  2. Place a metal washer onto the threaded end of the spigot, then snugly fit a rubber washer over the threads to hold the metal washer in place. This will prevent any leakage that may occur.
  3. Apply a bead of the waterproof sealant over the rubber washer and insert the spigot into the drilled hole. Wait for the sealant to dry and then run another rubber washer followed by a metal washer onto the threads inside the barrel of the spigot. Secure the spigot in place inside the barrel with the hose clamp. This will keep the spigot from coming loose. If you want double protection, you can also run watertight Teflon tape to seal the spigot hole.
  4. Carefully cut a hole in the lid of the garbage can. This hole should sit under your home’s downspout so the water runs right into your new rain barrel. Make sure you cut the hole large enough to accommodate the water flow from the downspout. You also want to drill a hole or two near the very top of the rain barrel, this will allow for overflow. If you want, run a short length hose or pipe from the overflow hole to another rain barrel to connect them! 
  5. Cut a piece of landscaping fabric to sit over the top, and put the lid on top of the garbage can. This creates a barrier that prevents any bugs like mosquitos from getting into the water.
  6. Position the rain barrel directly underneath the downspout of your home, in a convent spot. Now just wait for the rain! You can even set your rain barrel up on a platform to help give more pressure if you connect it to a hose. This will also make fill-up easier.

Thank you to Better Homes and Gardens for the original information. You can read more here.

Buy once, Grow forever!

Most people cut off the root portion of fruits and vegetables and throw them in the trash or compost. However, if you are resourceful enough you can regrow them over and overHowever, if you are resourceful enough you can regrow them over and over! Certain fruits and vegetables are prime for planting and re-growing. While some talk much longer then others (pineapple,) some will take minor days to regrow in a cup of water (green onion!) Here is a list of plants that can be cut and regrown forever!

  • Pineapple 
    • To regrow a pineapple, separate your fruit from the leaves just at the base of the leaves (this area is known as the crown.) Remove the bottom section of leaves, exposing the crown. Stick the leaves in a cup of water, you only want to submerge the crown. By three weeks, you should have long roots that extend to the bottom of your glass. Now is the time you can plant it in soil, and it will be harvest ready in about 18 months.
  • Celery
    • Cut three inches up from the bottom of the celery stalk. Place root side down in a cup of water, only submerging about half an inch. By three days, visual stalks have began to shoot up. At ten days remove the outer ribs to allow for more root growth. It is at this point that you can plant the celery outside, and it will be harvest ready in about 3-4 months.
  • Ginger
    • When originally buying ginger, search for a root that has a lot of “nubs.” Plant in a pot with the nubs facing upwards. Your ginger will be harvest ready in about 4-6 months.
  • Garlic
    • To regrow garlic, choose the largest cloves from the bulb. Peel back the paper from the sprout end. You can stick the cloves in soil at this point to initiate regrowth. Space the cloves 6-inches apart with the sprout end facing upwards. Within two weeks, garlic sprouts will have broke the soil. Your garlic will be harvest ready in about 9 months. 
  • Green Onion
    • Cut 4-inches up from the base of the plant. Place in a glass of water near a sunny window. By day seven you can either plant outside in the soil or keep growing in the water. By two weeks, you have green onions ready to harvest!
  • Round Onion
    • For round onions, cut about 1/4 of an inch up from the root. Place root side down in a pot of soil or cup of water. By day three, a tiny onion sprout will be growing. In about 4-5 months, your onion is ready for harvest! 
  • Other vegetables, herbs and fruits you can re-grow include:
    • Basil
    • Avocado
    • Carrots
    • Lettuce
    • Cilantro
    • Bok Choy
    • Lemongrass
    • Potatoes
    • Leeks
    • Rosemary
    • Bean Sprouts
    • Peppers
    • Fennel
    • Tomatos
    • Cherries
    • Apples
    • Peaches
    • And many, many more!

Thank you to Huffington Post and Veggietorials for the original information. You can read more from Huffington Post here and Veggietorials here.

What Is The Best Rock Salt?

It’s winter- which means cold weather, snow and ice. To avoid slipping and seriously hurting you or your family, it is necessary to melt that ice. Although all salts and de-icers work in the same way, they are not created or contain the same materials. Some of which, are harmful to the environment and pets. So what is the best rock salt/de-icer to use? 

Sodium Chloride- This is the cheapest rock salt you will find available. However, it is also the worst kind you can purchase. It has the ability to kill plants and trees, corrode cars, crack concrete and asphalt, and poison wildlife (this means your pets too!) 

Calcium Chloride- This is a better option compared to Sodium Chloride, but it still isn’t the best. It is effective in cold temperatures, and usually is sold as “pet safe.” However, being deemed as pet safe, isn’t all it should be. It can still irritate the paws of your four legged friends. If you use this, be sure to rinse and wipe off their paws after trekking over it outside. Protect your own hands as well by wearing gloves while handling. 

Potassium Chloride- This is exactly what you think- its the component of all those balanced fertilizers (its the K in the N-P-K ratio.) At amounts high enough to melt ice, it can also harm or even kill plants. 

Magnesium Chloride- This works well in colder temperatures (about 10 degrees below.) It dissolves to coat and melt ice quickly, and as a plus it isn’t as likely to hurt your pet’s paws. The only downside is that it can cost up to twice as much as Calcium Chloride. 

Always apply the least effective amount of any Chloride product when melting ice. All of them have the potential to damage driveways and sidewalks. Over the summer, apply a waterproof seal to the drive and walk ways can offer protection from ice cracks for a few years. 

Natural Products- A method that seems a little unorthodox is by using products that can be found in your cabinets. Mixing sugar, beet juice and molasses with smaller amounts of any of the rock salts listed above can be effective in even lower temperatures. The syrup mix is supposed to lower the salts melting point farther then listed on the packaging! Since the mixture is sticky, it adheres to the ground- which eliminates any kick back. Sure it may not be the best option for your driveway, but its worth a shot.

Kitty Litter/Sand- This is the most environment-friendly/green option. Its the best for plants, pets and groundwater. Buy the non-clumping clay litter or buy sand. It wont melt your ice, but it will provide that necessary traction to minimize slippage. 

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Mystery of the Monarchs

Marc Morrone writes a Question and Answer based column in the pets section of Newsday. He recently received a question on why there has been a lower and lower population of Monarch Butterflies on Long Island. Here is the question and answer, and helps solve the mysterious problem of the Monarchs.

Question: “I have lived on the south shore for the past 40 year. Each year I notice that there are fewer and fewer monarch butterflies that migrate through my yard in fall. I have planted butterfly bushes and other flowering plants for them to feed off, but each year there are fewer anyway. Is there anything else I can do to help them increase in population?”

Answer: “Flowering plants help, of course, but what the monarch butterflies really need are more patches of milkweed to lather eggs on as that is the only thing their caterpillars eat. No milkweed, then no monarchs. Milkweed is a native plant and not a weed. It is not invasive and looks quite pretty. If everyone planted some in their yards or in pots on their patios, life would be a bit less hard for the monarchs. There are lots of companies such as live monarch.com that offer milkweed seeds to people like you who want to be sure that future generations will still be able to experience the monarch butterfly. I will be sure to bring this subject up again in late winter when people are buying seeds for their spring gardens.” 

Thank you to Marc Morrone and Newsday for the original article. If you have any pet related questions, you can send them to: Marc Morrone, c/o Marjorie Robins, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4226, or email them to petxperts2@aol.com

Don’t Refrigerate My Tomatoes?

canstock11415091If you have ever bought tomatoes from a farm stand, you probably heard to keep them out of the fridge, or they will lose their flavor. Have you ever wondered why? Well scientists have too, and concluded its all in the genes. One study concluded that when the tomato plants genes “chill out” in the fridge, they begin to lose some of the  substances that contribute to their fresh taste. Once the tomatoes in the study reached below 54 degrees, they were robbed of flavor. However, this doesn’t just happen in the refrigerator at home. Tomatoes can be compromised at home or even in cold storage before the fruit reaches shelves at a grocery store. Now that scientists have a knowledge of how and why this happens, “maybe we can breed tomatoes to change that,” said a researcher from the University of Florida. She and colleagues, as well as in New York and China have all reported their findings in a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Reports found in this journal showed that at a week of storage at 39 degrees, the tomatoes lost some of the substances that are responsible for that characteristic aroma, which is a key part of flavor. The control of te experiment had a second set of fruit sit at room temperature for the same amount of time. After a taste test, it was shown that the refrigerated fruit was much less desirable to eat then the room temperature ones. The tomatoes that sat at room temperature still retained their freshness, unlike their chilled partners. Further research showed that the longer chilling time, made certain genes responsible for taste to slow down and ultimately stop making those compounds. There are currently scientists figuring out how cross-breed tomatoes to make a cold-resistant tomato for the world to enjoy.  


Thank you to The Associated Press at Newsday for the original information. You can read more here.


Stink Bugs!!


Halyomorpha halys

Chances are you have had the luck of finding stink bugs in your garden or worse- your home this past summer. Hopefully, you haven’t squished any and if you have already done so, you have gained a full understanding on the reason behind their name. When you crush one of these 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch shield shaped insects, they release a foul and pungent odor that one does not forget about. Originally from Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) are believed to be brought to the United States around the 90’s in Pennsylvania. They were first spotted in Maryland in 2003, reproducing prolifically and destroying crops in their wake along the mid-Atlantic coast. An entomologist and senior extension associate for Cornell University’s NYS Integrative Pest Management Program in Babylon has expressed fear that within a few years, we “could be dealing with large numbers. They’ll eat anything- trees, seeds, holly berries- but they prefer peaches, apples, beans and developing ears of corn, so we’re seeing higher numbers in agricultural areas, including out east, near orchards and crop fields. They are generalist feeders, so we won’t see the true impact for a while.” Good news is stink bugs don’t bite, cause any structural damage, or pose any human health hazard. But like any other pest, they are seeking indoor shelter as of now (since the temperature is dropping.) Without you even knowing, you could be harboring the pests already! They may be under base boards, in window and door frames and other hiding spots without your knowledge. They will become noticeable once they come out to warm up on that first chilly night. The best line of defense for these bugs is a vacuum. Suck them up, and seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag, then dispose in the trash outside. Pesticides are not recommended, because who would want that in their house? Whether or not you have experienced these little critters, we recommend repairing holes in screens and sealing gaps around windows and doors. Remove window air-conditioners as soon as possible, and cover wall mounted units. You can even check the attic eaves during the day, so you can see where gaps are apparent. You should even check under the siding near the top of the foundation outside. Brush away any debris and check for gaps. Seal out any gaps and have a warm winter inside, with your family- not stink bugs. 


Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

How to Plant Bulbs in the Yard for a Colorful Spring!

It’s almost time to plant bulbs for the spring, which means figuring out a design plan for where all your flowers will grow. Neat rows and clusters are most popularly envisioned. But have you ever thought about naturalizing them? To naturalize bulbs, means to plant them in such a way that they appear to have grown without any rx-dk-lgc05602_plant-bulb-hole_s4x3-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-725human intervention. (Which means
neat rows and clusters- you’re out!) You can accomplish naturalizing in already established beds and borders, barren sections of the yard, and if done correctly even in the lawn. The overall goal is to keep the illusion that it was unplanned. If growing bulbs in the lawn sounds like fun, there is important information to be aware of. Only select bulbs that bloom early, their foliage must not be just down until it withers and browns on it’s own. This is because leaves serve a great purpose, working hard to synthesize or produce food for energy in the following year. Cutting back too early will starve your plants. (Since you don’t want to be that neighbor on the block with foot-tall grass waiting foryour plants to die back, it is best to avoid growing plants that will grow into lawn season.) The best plants to naturalize, are the ones that will multiply and gradually spread out over the years. Some great options include snowdrops, white squill, crocus, grape hyacinth, glory of the snow, blue squill and early daffodils. The most fun way to “plan” your unplanned garden if to toss bulbs in the air and plant them where they land. If a little re-adjustment is needed, thats okay. The goal is to create drifts instead of rows or clusters. If you crocus4want a bit more control of the operation, you can outline an area with a garden hose or rope and toss your bulbs in that general area. If mixing bulbs sounds like fun, throw the larger bulbs first, and work down in size until they all are on the ground. To ensure some extra informality, place a few bulbs outside of the boundary for good measure. When all the bulbs are in place, dig them in the ground. You should add a teaspoon of fertilizer to each planting hole, along with a small handful of crushed oyster shell. This discourages squirrels and other critters from digging up the bulbs. They find the texture of shells to be irritating and unpleasant when digging, and as a bonus the shells will release nutrients into the ground that will help nourish the bulbs! Happy planting!



Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Cover Crops

By now, you have started to overwinter some of your favorite plants. With your garden bare, it is the time to plant cover crops. What are cover crops you ask? These are plants used to help protect and renew your soil. Cover crops can:

  • Suppress weeds
  • Protect soil from rain or runoff
  • Improve soil aggregate stability
  • Reduce surface crusting
  • Add active organic matter to the soil
  • Breaking hardpan
  • Fixing the nitrogen levels
  • Scavenging soil nitrogen
  • Suppressing soil diseases and pests

Most plants can be used as cover crops, the most popular being Legumes and grasses (including cereals.) More and more people are gaining interest in using brassicas (such as rape, mustard, and forage radish) and continued interest in others, such as buckwheat.

Thank you to Cornell Cooperative Extension  and SARE for the original information. You can read about Cornell more here, and SARE here.

4 Ways To Keep Cut Flowers Alive Longer

Everyone loves fresh cut flowers from the garden, but they wilt and die so quickly. Even flowers bought from a florist or grocery store have the same results after a mere week. Here is a list of 4 tips to help you keep your flowers alive longer.

  1. Sear the stems. Searing has a miraculous effect on vase life, even if flowers have flopped- many flowers have a total recovery after searing. To sear, put 1 to 2-inches of boiling water into a mug to dip your stems in. The amount of stem that you keep in the water depends on the overall length. Putting 10 percent of the plant in is usually the beat amount. Any plant that looks floppy should have the stems seared for about 30 seconds, woody stems need a bit longer. Therefore, bluebells only need 10 seconds while lilacs need 30. With short-stemmed plants, wrap the flower in newspaper to keep away from the steam.
  2. Add flower food to water. This is an important step. You can buy proprietary brands in sachets to sprinkle in the vase at stores, or you can make your own. Tap water is alkaline, which is an ideal breeding ground for many bacteria. The flower food provides nutrients for the plants but also makes the water inhabitable for bacteria.
  3. Make your own flower food. In a 1-foot tall vase, use one teaspoon of bleach or about five tablespoons of cheap clear vinegar. One old wives’ tale suggests that you add aspirin, or half a cup of lemonade to your cut flower water. The aspirin contains salicylic acid; lemonade contains sugar and citric acid. Proprietary flower food also includes sugar. The sugar feeds the flowers but can also feed the bacteria. It is always a good idea to put a drop of bleach in water with strong smelling plants such as alliums, cleomes, and any brassicas to prevent their characteristic pong from developing.
  4. Give your flowers a break. All plants picked from the garden benefit from a rest before arrangements. This means giving the flowers a few hours , or even a full night, in a bucket of water in a cool dark place. Fill the buckets with tepid, not ice-cold water. The plants are more susceptible to absorb it more easily at this temperature. Giving plants a rest, increases vase life by a quarter or more.

Thank you to Sarah Raven from The Telegraph for the original information. You can read more here.

Combat Fungus Gnats In a Pinch!

The first frost will be upon Long Island soon, so it’s time to start over-wintering your plants. One issue that arises during the process of moving your beautiful plants inside, is fungus gnats. These little buggers fly everywhere once inside, and always seem to be right by your face. Born in damp soil, the larvae are 1/4-inch with a shiny black head and a long white, transparent body. They feed on root hairs, fungi and other organic materials which can damage tender plant roots. Larvae need two weeks of feeding in the soil before reaching the pupal stage and finally full adulthood. Symptoms that indicate fungus gnats (besides the adult gnats flying around) include sudden wilting, loss of vigor and yellowing. Some plants that are especially prone to gnats are Geraniums, African Violets, Carnations and Poinsettias. Here is a list of tips that you can use, to combat these minuscule pests for good.

  1. First figure out which plant is hosting the gnats. You can do this by sticking yellow sticky traps in each plant. After a couple of days it will be crystal clear where the epicenter of your problem is.
  2. Since fungus gnats do well in damp soil, it is best not to overwater. Especially in the winter when plants use much less water. Allow the soil to dry to a depth of one to two inches between waterings to help eliminate larvae and eggs. Not only will this kill any preexisting gnats, it makes the soil un-appealing to egg bearing females.
  3. Another way to use that magical yellow sticky tape is to place strips horizontally at the soil surface to capture any egg laying adults. Gnats are attracted to the bright yellow color.
  4. If letting your plants dry out isn’t doing the trick, you can try using a sprinkle of either Gnat Nix or Mosquito Bits along the top of the soil. This will disrupt the gnats life cycle at any point in their life-cycle.
  5. An all natural and home-made remedy gnat insecticide also can work. To make this, mix together peppermint, cinnamon and sesame oil. This also works for other types of insects that gather around windows.
  6. If you are not about putting any dressings into your plants, another option is to put Beneficial Nematodes in the soil. Nematodes are microscopic round worms that penetrate fungus gnatlarvae (as well as harmful lawn and garden grubs, fleas, and other soil-borne pests) and then release a bacterium that consumes the pe

    Hypoaspis Aculeifer

    st from the inside out. The long-lasting Nematodes are safe for use around pets, plants and of course- your family.

  7. You can even buy the natural predator of fungus gnats. It’s name is Hypoaspis Aculeifer and is a tiny and effective killer of the gnats. Upon release, they create a slow and steady decline in
    pest numbers. This insect attacks the larvae and feeds on their contents. Release 10,000 predators per 200-1,000 square feet depending on pest levels.

A helpful tip when buying potted plants from the store, carefully turn up the soil near the base of the plant and look for glossy,  clear larvae. Reject any plant that sends up flying gnats.

Thank you to Plant Natural for the original information. You can read more here.


Intercostal Cleanup at Knapps Lake

Photos attached of our day on Knapps Lake at Brookwood Hall for the Intercostal cleanup.
I filled out the “Citizen Scientist” sheets and sent them in the provided envelope so our debris could be counted as part of a global coastal cleanup inventory.

We found stuff we couldn’t get out of the lake:

  • A picnic table floating upside down in middle of lake
  • Construction lumber near Union Blvd. culvert.
  • A Rolling desk chair
  • Cabinet door
  • 4 Tires
  • Full sized garbage can
  • Large amount of landscape fabric at shoreline of new esplanade.

We should probably go back. We weren’t able to cover a lot of ground, because the lake is so shallow in some areas, it was hard to navigate. We only did the area north of the fishing dock, along the east side.

Wasp Nests!

A couple of days ago, I noticed a large almost bee-hive looking ball in my front yard Dogwood. Upon closer examination- it turns out to be a giant wasps nest! Not only was there one wasp nest- there was two. Right above where I park my car to boot! We have called an exterminator to help us deal with this problem and remove the nests, but for now they stay. You can capture wasps just like yellow-jackets, if you are worried about them flying in your backyard and potentially stinging someone. You can read our article on How To Make A Yellow-Jacket Trap to help guide you through building a trap. Heres what the nests look like in our tree.

Plant now, enjoy later!

Picture this- the weather is crisp, the fireplace is lit, you are surrounded by friends and family in a perfectly decorated house. Everyone is sitting down for dinner when-oh no, there are no fresh vegetables. How do you solve this conundrum now? By planting your seeds early. It’s true, planting winter vegetables are probably the last thing on your mind right now. You’re most likely too preoccupied getting that perfect tan while sipping a cold refreshing drink. But, if you want a tasty and bountiful fall harvest, start planting now! Root vegetables and Leafy greens grow best in cooler weather. Cole crops such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale and kohlrabi actually benefit from a touch of frost. Lettuces wither under the hot summer sun, but by starting them now means you will be having garden fresh salad well into October. Plant arugula, mustard greens, radishes and spinach now and they will be ready by September. Chinese greens germinate and grow much more quickly than other greens in the garden. Scallions and parsley can survive most of the winter outdoors. Beets, Swiss chard, parsnips, and peas are also great to have in your fall garden. A way to further extend the season of root vegetables is to mulch heavily when frost threatens.

Plants that can withstand a hard frost (below 28 degrees) include:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Leeks
  • Sorrel

Plants that can withstand a light frost (28-32 degrees) include:

  • Artichokes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Endive
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnips
  • Swiss Chard
  • Escarole
  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy
  • Mache
  • Radicchio

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Blossom End Rot

If you grow tomatoes, you are familiar with Blossom end rot. This disease can cause severe loss in both garden and home tomatoes if precautionary measures are not taken. Symptoms can happen at any stage in the development of the fruit. Most often however, it can be seen when the fruit is one-third to one-half of its full size. As implied by the name, symptoms will only occur at the blossom end of the tomato. First you will see a small, water soaked spot which will eventually grow and darken rapidly. This spot can grow until it covers as much as one-third to one-half of the full fruit. However, the spot can stay small and superficial. Large areas will quickly dry out and become flattened, black and leathery.

The disease doesn’t spread from plant to plant in an area, nor from fruit to fruit in transit. Therefore, since to the physiological nature fungicides and insecticides are useless. The occurrence of the disease is reliant on environmental factors. Factors that influence the uptake of water and calcium through the plant have an effect on the incidence and severity of the disease. Blossom End Rot is most common when there is rapid growing and then a sudden period of drought. What happens when the roots fail to obtain sufficient water and calcium that need to be transported up to the fruits- they become rotted on the ends. Another common predisposing factor is cultivation too close to the plant; this practice destroys valuable roots, which take up water and minerals. Tomatoes planted in cold, heavy soils often have poor root systems. Since they are unable to supply the necessary amounts of water and nutrients to plants during times of stress, blossom end rot may happen. Soils that contain excessive amounts of soluble salts may lead tomatoes to the disease, for the availability of calcium to the plants decreases rapidly as total salts in the soil increase.


We are starting to notice Blossom End Rot at the greenhouse in beds. Here is an organic way to control the disease. Use Epsom Salt!

To prevent blossom end rot, work Epsom Salt into the garden soil before planting tomatoes. Apply one pound of Epsom Salt to the standard sized raised bed garden (4 x 6-8’) or one cup of Epsom Salt per container that tomatoes will be grown in and work into the soil. The Epsom Salt will then be a readily available source of calcium and magnesium for the tomato plant.
Epsom Salt also promotes root growth and development for all garden vegetables and flowers and should be worked into the soil along with organic matter at the beginning of spring. A side dressing of Epsom Salt or watering gardening vegetables with a mixture of ½ cup of Epsom Salt dissolved in one gallon of water a couple of times during the growing season will keep plants healthy and growing vigorously. When applying dry Epsom Salt as a side dressing, be careful not to allow the Epsom Salt to touch any part of the plant.

Thank you to Twin Oaks Nursery and Cornell University for the original information! You can click on their names to read more!

Invasive Toxic Plant Here For the Summer


How to Identify

According to environmental officials, a giant invasive plant that contains toxic sap has turned up on Long Island. This Sap has the ability to badly burn human skin. Brought to the United States in 1917 as an Ornamental Plant from the Caucasus Region of Eurasia, this plant can grow as high as 20 feet and sprout 3 feet wide leaves.

This plant is fast-growing and has been invading everywhere it can grow. This includes roadsides, edges of forests and along empty lots as well. The plant known as Giant Hogweed produces thousands of seeds which get dispersed by flowing water and animals. However, the most common way of getting spread is by people who decide to plant it. Hogweed is commonly a problem in central and western New York but it has recently been found in 13 places between Suffolk and Nassau County.

What makes Giant Hogweed invasive is it did not originate in the United States. So when it grows here, it crowds out native species taking away any competition besides itself. Sometimes referred to as Giant Cow Parsley, this species is listed as prohibited in the U.S. Which means the plant is not widespread and so far has only been located in isolated areas. But it most likely will spread if not controlled.

The sap found in the plant contains glucosides that react with the sun’s ultraviolet rays which can severely burn the skin, cause blisters and even temporary blindness. The stem of the plant is spotted with purple sap and can cause what feels like a blistering burn that can take months to fade and will make your skin forever sensitive to the sun. John Wernet of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation says “If you do think you have it, wash immediately with soap and water. If you get it in your eyes, it could cause blindness.”

If you have any reason to believe you have Giant Hogweed, you can email photos to: hogweed@dec.ny.gov or call 845-256-3111.

Thank you to ABC 7 News New York for the original information. You can read more here.



Nutsedge Tubers

It comes around every summer, everyone has it, can you guess what it is? It’s Nutsedge!

What exactly is Nutsedge? It is a grass-weed that isn’t really a grass, its a sedge. Nutsedge is a perennial and grows in moist, poorly drained sections of your yard or garden. It also grows faster in hot weather. The leaves are grasslike and yellow-green.

This may be one of the toughest weeds to control because they grow small nutlets (otherwise known as tubers) on their roots that can grow anywhere from 8 to 14 inches deep in soil. When you pull the roots, the nutlets will detach and stay in the ground to grow again. They can live for years!! Individual plants can form patches of 10 feet in diameter or more if not treated.


Nutsedge in the Project Bloom paths

The nutlets also can end up back in the soil from shaking the weeds to get rid of excess dirt. So be careful and don’t shake them when you pull them!

You can control Nutsedge in a few ways: in a lawn, mow higher so the grass crowds out the other weeds. In extreme situations, a weed preventer or turf builder, may help.

For us at Project Bloom, just weed carefully! It’s best to weed after a rain, when the ground is softer and the weeds come out more easily. For greater success, weed one plant at a time, and pull gently and straight up, to get as much of each root as possible. Don’t shake the weeds to avoid sending seeds or nutlets back into the garden.  Dispose of weeds in the corner of the compost area across from the greenhouse.

Hosta Virus X (HVX)

After being dormant, the virus known as HVX has re-emerged this year. HVX otherwise known as “Hosta Virus X” is a disease that effects most to all varietals of the Hosta plant. It can be transmitted from having infected sap on your hands then touching another plant, or even sharing tools between plants. Now, we’re not telling you to wash your shears after touching each HVX_collageplant- but you should be knowledgable in what HVX symptoms look like. Its also good to keep in mind that symptoms don’t always show up after infection. Symptoms include:

  • Dark green mottling
  • Yellow-green patterns
  • Leaf distortion
  • Ink bleed coloring (that is distinctly different from surrounding tissue; such as blue-green markings spreading out from the veins in a feathery pattern.)
  • Tissue collapse (leaf tissue looks indented and wrinkly or even puckered like a deflated balloon.)
  • Solid colored leaves can also develop a white waxy coating that makes their shiny leaf appearance dull and hazy.
  • When exposed to strong sunlight, infected tissues are prone to sun-scald and drying out.

When you have an infected plant, all tissues will contain the virus. The entire body of the plant becomes infected by sap circulation. If you have one or many hostas infected with HVX, the easiest thing to solve your problem would be to dig them up. Make sure that you get most to all of the roots out of the ground, and give a long enough period for all the any remaining roots to dry up and die before planting in the same spot again.

Thank you to NC State University, A&T State University Cooperative Extension and the Crossville Chronicle for the original information. Click on these links for more information!

Controlling Snails and Slugs In Your Garden


Egg Cluster

If you live in an area that is damp, you are more then aware of snail and slug damage in your garden. A single snail or slug can successfully get rid of an entire row of seedlings from your garden in no time at all. They can turn pretty green leaves into small slices of swiss cheese overnight. Several times a year, a slug or snail can lay two to three dozen offsprings at a time! Egg clusters look like small white spheres (similar to the size of a ‘BB’.) Eggs will begin to hatch in anywhere from 10 days to three weeks. Newly hatched snails and slugs will eat many leaves and plants as they mature from eggs to adulthood (This can take as little as six weeks!) To eliminate your problem you want to destroy the eggs when you see them. So they don’t have a chance to hatch and eat your garden. However, this isn’t always an option- you realize you have a snail/slug problem once its too late. Here are some methods to help cope with mature snails and slugs in your garden.

  • Keep all decaying matter from your beds. While leaves make a good mulch once they have died, they also become a good home and food source for snails and slugs. This also means, keeping out leaves from underneath shrubs that are near to the ground.
  • Cultivate your soil regularly, to keep clods of dirt from building up (This also unearths slugs which have burrowed under the surface!)
  • Keep shaded areas beneath decks clean (i.e. remove weeds and litter.)
  • Anything that can be used as a home for these pests should be kept out of the garden. These include boards, large rocks, pots ect.
  • Keep edges of your lawn trimmed. Slugs are known to congregate under the shade of unkept grass.
  • You can keep slug pokers around your garden, so when you come to face your nemesis you have the upper hand.
  • There is the option to fill a small bowl with stale beer and keep it in areas where slugs are active. They are attracted to the drink, and when they climb in they drown. Besides beer, you can make a mix of yeast, honey and water or even use plain old grape juice!
  • An old fashioned method heard from everyone is to take an early morning walk around the garden and shake some salt on the suckers (this is not always the most humane way however.)
  • Enlisting animals even works! Snakes, ducks, geese, toads, and Rhode Island Reds enjoy dining on slugs.
  • You can set a pile of slightly dampened dry dog kibble in a busy area, and check every morning with slug poker in hand.
  • Natural Barriers can work, and they include:
    • Cedar bark or gravel chips around your plants will irritate and dehydrate slugs.
    • Putting crushed eggshell around plants will also help by not only cutting and killing slugs, but by adding necessary calcium to your soil!
    • Certain herbs will repel slugs. They are rosemary, lemon balm, wormwood, mints, tansy, oak leaves, needles from conifers and seaweed.
    • Oat bran will kill slugs if ingested, so you can sprinkle some of that down. Natural barriers do exist, and work they include
  • Traps can also be helpful. You can create a slug trap by using a simple plastic bottle. Heres how!
    • Cut a plastic bottle in half and then invert the top part of the bottle into the bottom part to create a no escape entryway. The slug bait can be placed inside the bottle and will draw the slugs in where they will die.


      Slug Trap

Thank you to The Garden Helper for the original information. You can read more here.

New and Unusual Plants To Grow!

Here is a list of new and unusual plants (Annual and Perennial) that will not only do well, but look fabulous in your garden this summer!


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Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Late Blight? What to do now!


Infected Potato Plant Leaves

One of the worst problems that could happen in your garden isn’t pests- its a late blight. Late blight is a destructive fungal disease, and did we mention it is highly contagious? Tomato and Potato plants are the most susceptible to this disease. Action is needed to be taken immediately to prevent the destruction of your harvest. The epidemic of this diseases that occurred between 2009 and 2011 was started with just a few infected plants. There are many steps that can be taken to prevent Late Blight, here is a list to help you.

  • Select plant varieties that have resistance to late blight. One type of tomato that is resistant is the Jasper Tomato.
  • When planting potatoes, Do not plant from last years garden or even from the grocery store. There is a higher chance for the late blight pathogen (Phytophthora infestins) to be in “table-stock” potatoes.
  • Get rid of any potatoes that have grown as “volunteers” in compost piles or from un-harvested potatoes from last year.
  • You always want to inspect your tomato seedlings carefully for blight symptoms before purchase. Seedlings will only become infected by growing near other infected plants. The seeds do not carry the disease within.
  • Learn the different symptoms of Late Blight and its imitators. Also monitor the occurrence of Late Blight in the United States by visiting usablight.org
  • Inspect your tomato and potato plants at least once weekly. Happy planting!

What to do when late blight symptoms are found: Immediately call our Horticulture Diagnostic Lab at our hot line at 631-727-4126 from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Alice Raimondo and Sandra Vultaggio, our Horticulture Consultants, can help determine whether you do, indeed, have late blight, and answer questions about proper handling of an outbreak.

Thank you Cornell University for the original information. You can read more here. 

Identifying Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

Here on Long Island, we have many varieties of fauna. Some are beautiful, some are edible, and some are even poisonous. We have three varieties that are irritating to our skin when touched, they include Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac. Here are some ways that you can differentiate these plants in the outdoors from each other and other plants during the summer months.

Poison Ivy

We have all heard the rhyme “Leaves of three, leave them be.” This is a great way to identify the leaves of Poison Ivy. This strand of Ivy can grow almost anywhere on the East Coast. But lets start with visual identification. When young, Ivy leaves
are small and red, while older leaves are large and bright green. It has been seen that with increased levels of CO2, leaves are getting larger and rashes are becoming more prominent from the stronger irritant. Poison Ivy can mimic other plants, it can have deep notches which make it look like Oak leaves to the unsuspecting. Poison Ivy will never have thorns on ts stem. They will also never have scalloped or sharp and pointy edges. They tend to draw left and then right, never directly across from each other on the stem. On the east coast, Poison Ivy can grow well near salt water, when living in these conditions the leaves take on a curly waxy appearance. However, Poison Ivy can live in wet or dry conditions. Poison Ivy can grow into shrubs, and overtake the area. They climb up the trunk of a small tree or bush and then “explode” in every direction trying to get every leaf in the sunshine. The Ivy can even grow up into tall tree lines, so watch your head when walking through a canopied area. Poison Ivy can even be found living along the side of the road (which is common), or even on the rocks.

Posion Sumac

Poison Sumac is a less common variety in the Poison Ivy family. However, it can still be found growing in wetland type areas. Sumac loves living in ankle deep water and mud. Like Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac can cause an irritating rash much like Ivy. Sumac grows as a tree. Its leaves are wider at the bottom and come to a point at the top, they have smooth edges. The stems on these plants are a bright red. Unlike Poison Ivy, Sumac grows directly across from each other on the vine. Some varietals of Suma
c grow tightly bunched berries that hang down from the stem.



Posion Oak 

Poison Oak is used almost interchangeably with Posion Ivy, however they have two major differences.Poison Oak only grows in dry sandy areas. The shape of Poison Oak is also different, the leaves have more of a wavy look to it rather then smooth and pointy. The leaves of Poison Oak are just as irritating to human skin as Posion Ivy. They also grow in sets of three and left then right like Ivy. Some strands of Posion Oak can grow berries, that look green and fuzzy.



Thank you to PoisonIvy.org for the original information and photos. You can read more here. 

Why You Should Be Vertically Gardening

Urban gardening has been on the rise lately, it allows people to grow a bountiful crop in a small area of space while still living comfortably. For vertical gardening, you don’t need a large plot or a huge backyard, you just need a small strip of soil, or a space to incorporate a flower tower. However, there are more benefits to having a vertical gardening besides being a space saver in your tiny home. Here is a list of why you should be vertically gardening.

  • Rosenbaum-Recycled-Vertical-Garden1Vertical gardens placed on the exterior of your house, can help lessen the damage of harsh weather conditions. By creating a “green wall,” you can even protect your paint job if you live in an area that is exceptionally rainy.
  • Placed on the outside of a window, it will shade a room from strong and excessive sunlight, and also from outside passerby’s if you live in a crowded urban neighborhood.
  • Indoor vertical gardens, can even act as a room divider. It is recommended that they be planted in wheeled containers, for easy access to move around your planters to fit your aesthetic and daily needs.
  • Its no surprise that adding plants inside the home will improve the air quality. (You can read more about what plants work best here!) They can also use up old materials, such as soda bottles or shoe organizers to create a unorthodox planter.
  • Vertical gardens can be beneficial to individuals who suffer from arthritis or fibromyalgia. There would be less stress on the back and lower body by being hunched over on the ground, all you have to do to prune is stand on your own two legs!
  • If your yard has poor soil conditions, vertical gardens can also help. This will give the opportunity to grow plants in easy to use potting soil, rather then fighting with your own land by adding nutrients and keeping up a close watch on the ground.
  • Vertical gardens also tend to have less weeds growing, so there is now less time of doing the unwanted side of gardening- pulling weeds.
  • Growing in a vertical container is not only beneficial to the grower, but to the plants. The surface of the plants gain more sunlight exposure and increased air circulation which leads to happy plants growing.

Thank you to Mother Nature Network for the original information. You can read more here.

Prescription Gardening?

Its no surprise that people who get down in their gardens, lead a healthy lifestyle. One report entitled Gardens and Health claim that gardening should be prescribed by doctors for patients that show early signs of dementia and heart disease. Many authors cite reports on the health benefits of gardening and say it brings many important benefits for a healthy life.

Gardening has been shown to reduce the rate of heart disease, cancer, obesity, improve balance, and also can reduce depression and anxiety. One trial showed that it can even reduce dementia. Six months of gardening within the trial showed a slow-down of cognitive decline over 18 months. The National Garden Scheme has been quoted saying “Gardens and outside spaces also give people living with dementia access to natural light, which is important for the maintenance of circadian rhythms.”

So next time your feeling ill, or down in the dumps- get out there and pull some weeds! Plant a new crop for the season!

Thank you to The Telegraph for the original information. You can read more here. 

Are your plants purifying your air?

Its no surprise that plants have been shown to reduce stress levels. Many people turn to gardening because it gives them a sense of calmness, which lowers stress and ultimately has a positive effect on health. For example, having low levels of stress goes hand-in-hand with low blood pressure.

While the most effective way of clearing the air of pollution is to open windows, it is not always practical or possible. Many offices and other buildings have stationary windows that are meant to stay shut. However, most of these buildings have indoor plants. This isn’t just for aesthetic’s. Since NASA conducted a research project in 1989 on how plants are a very efficient and cost effective method of reducing indoor air pollution- plants have become a household thing. Many commercial buildings have incorporated plants into the floor plans inhales of avoiding “sick building syndrome,” which is a condition when there is poor ventilation and causes headaches and respiratory problems amongst workers.

The science behind having plants in the office is simple. Like you learned in middle school, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen. What they didn’t teach us, was they are also very good at removing toxins from the air as well.

You would be daft to think you don’t have indoor air pollution. According to NASA, if you have carpeting, vinyl flooring, upholstered furniture, plastic grocery bags, cigarette smoke or even a roll of paper towels laying around- you may be inhaling toxins on a regular basis. As an ironic side note, many scented air refreshers even release chemicals that may be harmful.

Here is a list of plants that are great at taking toxins out of the air and making the environment a nicer place to breathe.

  • Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)
  • Chamaedorea (Bamboo Palm)
  • Chlorophytum (Spider Plant)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Dracaena Spp.
  • Epipremnim (Golden Pothos)
  • Ficus Spp. (Weeping Fig)
  • Gerbera (Gerber Daisy)
  • Header Spp. (English Ivy)
  • Philodendron Spp.
  • Sansevieria (Snake Plant)
  • Spanthiphyllum (Peace Lily)

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.


There’s an app for that!

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.42.04 AMBurpee has came out with a free app for iPhones/iPads and Android systems to help you remember when to plant, and how to make your garden grow better. The app offers advice on how to sow your garden, and when to harvest your bounty of vegetables, herbs, fruits and other plants. The app is location oriented, so someone living out on Long Island receives different growing instructions then someone in Phoenix. There is also a “How To” feature which contains links to videos on the web about a wide range of plants and vegetables, ensuring your growing success.

You can download the iOS app here.


Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.40.17 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.40.07 AM

Rose Colors and Meanings

Each variety of rose has its own meaning. Here is a chart of each color and meaning, so you don’t give the wrong color (or impression) next time you hand out these faithful flowers.


























Thank you ProFlowers for the original information. You can read more here. 

Christmas Tree Safety

Throughout the month of December, it is important to check your Christmas tree for watering daily (if you always have a live tree.) According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Here are some tips to remember during the christmas season, to ensure your house doesn’t go up in flames.

  1. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  2. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1″ – 2″ from the base of the trunk.
  3. If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.Be sure to keep it at least three feet away from radiators or any heat source and to always turn off the lights before going to sleep.
  4. When decorating the tree, make sure there is no broken, worn, or loose bulbs on a string of lights.
  5. Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  6. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  7. Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  8. The holiday season is over, get rid of your tree when it begins to drop needles. Dried-out trees are just as much of a fire hazard than you think. Never keep it in a garage or placed outside against the home.

Thank you to the National Fire Protection Association for the original information. You can read more here. 

How to Overwinter your Dahlias

Dahlias are tropical plants, which means they will not survive the cold New York winter that is upon us. Since New York is in zone 7, they are treated as annuals or they are dug up and have their tubers stored in a frost-free environment (like your house) until the spring. Overwintering Dahlias is an easy task, and here is how to do it.


Wait until just after the first killing frost has passed, You will notice the top of the plants turning black. Cut the plants back to 4-inches and dig up a wide enough area to ensure including the entire root zone.


Remove the soil from root clumps by hand, but do not shake them; the plants are fragile.

Drying and Packing

Place the tubers in a dry basement, or outdoors on a screen rack or in a dry shady spot for a few days to dry. Gently wipe away any remaining soil from the tubers and tag them accordingly for different varieties, this way it will be easy identifying everything in the spring. Put four cups of vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, wood shavings or sawdust into a gallon-size produce bag. These bags have pinholes spaced about a half-inch apart to allow for air circulation. Add tubers, then pack the bags into a wood, cardboard or plastic box, and cover it to ensure complete darkness. Store at 40-45 degrees. Check your tubers monthly. If you begin to notice any shriveling, sprinkle water onto the packaging material. If any of them are more than slightly shriveled, you can put them in a pail of water overnight, if they plump up– pat them dry and return to the soil. Discard any rotted or molding tubers, and air out the bag and box they were in. Expect to lose 10 percent of all tubers stored.

You can plant your Dahlias outside around Memorial Day. Place them in a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily. To give them a head start, plant them in pots outdoors, kept by a sunny window, about a month before transplanting time.


Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.


How to Bring in Plants Without Bugs for the End of the Season

We are planning to bring geraniums into the greenhouse to winter over, and to use for cuttings for next year’s plant giveaway.  If you have plants you would like to bring in, let Kathy know. Before you bring any plants into the greenhouse please try and be sure they are insect-free. Here are some steps you can follow to de-bug your plants:

  1. You can spray foliage with insecticidal soap if you see any signs of critters
  2. Then I would pop the plant out of the pot and inspect around the bottom and outside edge for any hitchhikers.
  3. Flick them off or scrape them off.
  4. Then I dunk the entire plant and pot in a spackle bucket full of water for about 15 minutes to convince all the other insects to make an escape.
  5. If you have a bug problem in the soil (ants or any other burrowing critters) you may have to take the plant down to bare roots get rid of the them. You can rinse the soil off the roots with a hose and repot in fresh soil.

What the Deer Don’t Eat

We had a lot of deer come through the Project Bloom gardens this season, and we learned the hard way what deer will and won’t eat. We are going to be focusing our seeds for the 2016 season on things the deer don’t eat. Plus we have to grow those great branching sunflowers again, even though the deer nibbled on them, the flowers were amazing all season long.

Here are a list of plants that the Deer did not eat:

Agastache, Alyssum (white and purple, and the basket of gold perennial variety), Balloon Flowers, basil, Coleus, Columbine, Coreopsis Threadleaf, Cosmos Sensation, Cosmos Bright Lights, Dainthus (pinks), Epimedium, Forsythia, Foxglove, Gallardia, Geraniums, Helianthus, Lavender, Marigolds, Morning Glories, Painted Daisies, parsley, annual and perennial Poppies, Pulmonaria, Rose of Sharon, Roses, Rosemary, Sedum Autumn Joy, Sedum Creeping, Snapdragons, Spirea shrub, Sweet William, Verbena, Zinnias.

Here is a list of plants that the Deer did eat:

Beets, Coneflowers, Coreopsis Lanceleaf, Daylilies, Hollyhocks, Hosta, Jerusalem Artichokes, Lettuce, Shasta Daisies, Solomons Seal, Squash, Sunflowers, Tomatos

Although written info says the deer don’t eat coneflowers, ours were nibbled a bit…


Other plants that are supposed to be safe from deer are generally aromatic, fluffy (with small leaves or cut foliage) and bluish.

Here’s a list of more deer-resistant plants from Susan K:

Perennials: Yarrow, chives, blue start anemone, wormwood, butterfly weed, astilbe, false indigo, bergeia, boltonia, butterfly bush, turtlehead, candytuft, tiger lily, bleeding heart, joe pye weed, mint, beebalm, evening primrose, oregano, ferns, ribbon greass, jacobs ladder, sage, soapwort, scilla, tansy, veronica, vinca and yucca.

Shrubs: barberry, forsythia, beautybush, lilac

Annuals: Ageratum, dusty miller, blue salvia, wax begonia, dahlia, hypoestis, lobelia, four o’clocks, forget me nots


You can read more in our other article on what plants discourage deer here. 

How to make your carved pumpkins last longer!

October is here, which means its time to gather those pumpkins and carve them! One downfall of carving pumpkins, is timing. It’s the constant worry that ‘Maybe I’m carving them too early.’ or ‘I really hope these last to halloween.’ You can carve a sprightly Jack-O-Latern but in a week or two you can have a decrepit ghoul sitting on your porch. There are a few factors to why pumpkins age like they do after being carved. Oxygen in the air can easily enter and break down the pumpkin through oxidation, Once you carve the pumpkin it is susceptible to fungi, bacteria and mold which can shorten the life and simple dehydration sets in as soon as you make the first carving. Here are some steps you can do that will extend your carved pumpkins life.

  1. Remove all dirt on the pumpkin using a damp cloth.
  2. Make a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach per quart of water and pour into an easy spray bottle.
  3. Spray inside and out of all the cut areas of the pumpkin with the solution (this will kill most of the surface bacteria that cause rotting.)
  4. Let it sit and dry for 20 minutes.
  5. Rub all of the carved surfaces with petroleum jelly (this keeps out new bacteria and also reduces dehydration rate dramatically!)
  6. Wipe all the excess petroleum away.
  7. Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it cool without freezing, and you should be able to extend your pumpkins life by about a week!

Happy Carving!

Thank you to Pumpkin Patches and More for the original information. You can read more here.

What to plant in the Summer for the Fall!

While summer is coming to an end, it doesn’t mean your gardening has to. There are many plants that should be planted now to insure they grow for the winter and fall season. Also many of the plants thrive better when exposed to the cold fall weather and frost. Some that benefit from the frost include Brussel Sprouts, Chinese Cabbage, Kale and even Turnips. But what do I mean by frost you ask? Frost is generally a light coating of ice that occurs overnight and is split into three categories of intensity. Light freeze is anywhere between temperatures 28 and 31 degrees, Moderate freeze happens between 24 and 28 degrees, and Severe freeze which occurs below 24 degrees. All of the previous plants noted should be harvested before the first frost. On Long Island, our first frost typically happens around October 15th. Here is a list of plants that can be seeded now, for a harvest in the upcoming seasons.

  • Beets (sow one-half to 1-inch deep and 1-inch apart in rows 12-18 inches apart)
  • Cabbage (sow one-half to 3/4-inch deep and 3-inches apart. Harvest when heads first feel solid)
  • Kale (sow one-quarter to one-half inch deep and 1-inch apart in rows 24 inches apart. Harvest when leaves reach full size)
  • Lettuce (sow directly into the garden one-eighth inch deep and 1-inch apart in rows 12 inches apart. Head lettuces should be harvested when head feels firm but before it bolts)
  • Radishes (sow directly into the garden one-half inch deep and 1-inch apart in rows 12 inches apart. Harvest before the ground freezes)
  • Spinach (sow one-half to 1-inch deep and 3-inches apart. Harvest when full sized or a few leaves as necessary)
  • Swiss Chard (sow 1-inch deep and 4-inches apart in rows 18-24 inches apart. Harvest by removing the outer leaves as needed)

How to make a Simple and Easy Yellow Jacket Trap

While it is true that yellow jacket are a beneficial insect in the environment. They are doing nothing beneficial while swarming around your sweet drinks and barbeque food. Yes- you can spray pesticides and numerous repellants but that gets into the ground water and cant be around children and pets. It causes more problems than solving them. So here is a simple, and easy way to trap those pests without hurting the environment or your family.

Here is what you need:

  • A large plastic bottle (2-liter preferiably)
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 banana peel
  • Roughly about 4 cups of water
  • Razor blade/ knife

How to make the trap:

  1. Pour a half-cup of water into the 2-liter bottle. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and shake until dissolved.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar and shake until combined.
  3. Add the banana peel (decaying fruit attracts yellow jackets)
  4. Cut a 3/4-inch hole in the top half of the bottle.
  5. Place the bottle near the hive, or in an area away from where you hang outside.

Thank you to Rodale’s Organic Life for the original information, you can read more here.

Kitchen Scraps, in your Garden?

Every day, we throw out all kinds of food scraps that we think are garbage. While many of these scraps are considered useless, they can in fact be put directly into your gardens! Non-Composters unite for these nifty tips to recycle kitchen scraps!


  • Use the empty shells as a place to start your seedlings! Once the seedlings become large enough to plant in the ground, gently crack the eggshell and place the entire egg into the ground.
  • Crushing eggshells can be used as a fertilizer in your garden. The eggshells add calcium to the soil, creating a strong place for plants to grow.
  • Eggshells can also be used as a pest deterrent. If there is a slug problem in your garden, crushed eggshells can do the trick. By creating a ring of crushed eggshells around your garden that is 1/4-inch thick and 2-inches wide, slugs and snails will be discouraged.

Coffee Grounds

  • Just as Eggshells can be used to keep away slugs and sails, so can coffee grounds. However, coffee grounds can be also used as mulch to keep away cats, rabbits and squirrels.
  • For a less-smelly option, coffee grounds can be worked into the soil. They are welcome around onions, lettuce, corn, and other nitrogen loving plants.
  • If putting the grounds directly into or onto the soil doesn’t sound like you, by adding the grounds to water and watering the garden with that it also adds nitrogen.

Banana Peels

  • Banana peels can be used to create a trap for yellow jackets, you can read more about that here.
  • By burying small pieces of banana around your plants, it will deter aphids. However by small, you have to have tiny pieces, if you plant the whole peel you will attract larger pests.
  • By adding banana peels to water (just like the coffee grounds) you will be able to water your plants with nutrient full water.

Orange Peels

  • Scattering small pieces of orange peel around the garden, will keep cats away, and also small aphids and ants. To keep the smaller pests away, use grated peel or shredded peel.
  • Dried orange peels can be used as a fire starter, and create an aromatic atmosphere.
  • By rubbing the peels directly to the skin, it can be used as a mosquito repellant. \

Thank you Lindsay-Jean Hard from Food52.com for the original information. You can read more here.

How to keep Squirrels out of your Garden

The warm weather brings new plant life, blue skies, gardening and squirrels. Squirrels are a gardeners number one enemy, sure they look cute and scurry from here to there, but they do serious damage to gardens. They eat freshly planted seeds, uproot bulbs, eat partially grown fruit and knock off the tops of flowers. Here are some tips to keep the unwanted pests from chewing up your hard work.

Here are some signs that squirrels have been scurrying in your garden:

  • Shallow digging spots in beds, The holes should be about gold ball or smaller sized holes. Newly planted seed beds are popular amongst the furry rascals.
  • Bite marks and missing fruit. Favorite fruits and vegetables of squirrels include but are not limited to beans, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplants and strawberries.
  • Dug up containers. If you have large planters that have been dug into, it’s a likely assumption a squirrel has been burying nuts and looking for seeds.
  • Flowers that are partially eaten are also a snatch for squirrels. They are fond to Daisy blooms, and also others like Daffodils. Missing petals and partially eaten center disk’s are a clue to a squirrel invasion.

There are many ways to help repel, or keep squirrels out of your garden. Here are some things you can do to control those pesky rodents.

  • Remove what attracts them. Fallen fruit, nuts and seeds can lure squirrels into your yard. Clean up the fallen plants and also clean beneath bird feeders and trees. Also make sure that trash can lids are secure, so you don’t have anything going through your personals in the hunt for food.
  • Repel them. There are many products online that can help cope with your squirrel problem. You can buy various sprays including capsaicin (what puts the hot in hot peppers), vinegar, essential oils like peppermint– even animal urines such as tiger and wolf!
  • You could also scare them. By training your pet to chase squirrels or just letting them run around in the yard it should frighten the pesky critters. You can also use randomized sprinkler systems or hang up aluminum pie tins to make noise.
  • By putting up chicken wire or fences, exclude the squirrels from even entering the garden. You can even put up a cage around the garden!
  • Protect any open soil from the digging of squirrels by covering it with cloth or chicken wire. You can also protect your plants by also wrapping them in chicken wire.
  • While many gardeners think that an effective method is to use squirrel traps, it is not the best idea. While its true you can just release them after catching in an open area, in many parts of the country they are considered a game species. Which means that trapping them alive, can get you into big trouble with your state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife or Game (So check with them first!)

Thank you to Julie Martens for the original information. You can read more here.

Mosquito Prevention and Control

It’s that time of the year again, yes the warm weather is great especially at night. But with warm weather and long summer days comes our number one flying enemy– mosquitos. Mosquitos can be harmless and just leave itchy bites, but can also carry West Nile Virus which can be deadly. There are many ways to handle the control and prevention of mosquitos by just a few simple steps.

1. Eliminate any standing water that shouldn’t be there (i.e. puddles, unused plastic pools, wet tires.)

2. Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week to eliminate larvae from growing.

3. Be careful when irrigating gardens and lawns, be cautious of using too much water.

4. If there are ditches near your home that contain stagnate water for longer than a week, report it to a Public Health office or Mosquito Control Center.

5. You can always purchase a trap like a bug zapper, to help with the control of adult mosquitos.

6. Reduce the number of spots where mosquitos can live such as weeds, tall grasses and vegetation. You can reduce these by cutting the lawn more often and putting down an herbicide for weeds or by pulling them out.

7. As a last resort you can always use pesticides, however the bugs can become immune to them after time. Also they can get into ground water and vegetation you grow which can be harmful.

8. Bug spray, Citronella candles, Oscillating fans, Tiki torches, amd even Listerine mouthwash can help keep them away when sitting outside as well.

You can read more about prevention of mosquitos and learn more information here.