Backyard Snow Drops

Our Snow Drops are in full bloom in our backyard right now! Here are some photos of how they look. 

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.

2018 Nassau County Master Gardener Application

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County Master Gardener Program.

The Master Gardener program is a volunteer program  developed by the Cooperative Extension System. Volunteer involvement is critical to the program as Master Gardeners serve an important role by interacting with and educating the community, maintaining the demonstration gardens at East Meadow Farm and providing accurate research and science based horticultural information throughout Nassau County.

The term “Master Gardener” has become synonymous with a knowledgeable individual, provided with  in-depth horticultural training, working to enhance their community and share their knowledge with others. To prepare Master Gardeners for their role in the community, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County provides an in-depth training program. Staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University faculty and local horticulturists serve as the training team for the program.  The cost of the course is $350.00 plus $70 for materials, includes trips, CCE-NC membership & training fees. The non-refundable fee is to be paid upon notification of acceptance with an additional $125 deposit, refunded upon completion of 150 hours of volunteer service.  Application deadline is February 28, 2018.  Scholarships are available, please contact us for details.   Contact us at: Horticulture Center, Demonstration and  Community Gardens at East Meadow Farm 832 Merrick Avenue East Meadow, NY 11554 (516)565-5265 Ext. 14.

To access the application and for full details, visit

Thank you to mjigarden for the original information and email. 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.

Free Admission to State Parks on Black Friday

This year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced free admission to all New York State parks this Black Friday (November 24th.) He wants to encourage New Yorkers and their families to take advantage of the 335,000 plus acres of state-owned land. During Thanksgiving weekend, State parks offer many different events and programs that are great for all ages. To see a full list of state park programs happening on Black Friday and the holiday weekend, click here. “On Black Friday this year I urge New Yorkers to get outside and to take advantage of the world-class parks in every corner of this state, By offering free admission, we encourage families, nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike to enjoy the unparalleled natural beauty right in their backyards.”

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.

Morning Glory Mural

Here is a mural of Morning Glory flowers I painted on the side of our shed in the backyard. I love how it came out! The blue is so vibrant against the green background. 

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.


Long Island Garden Events, September 2017

September is here on Long Island, that means it is time to clean up your garden beds and get out and enjoy the start of the crisp fall air! There will be many tours and public events happening all over Long Island to celebrate the upcoming autumnal season. Here is a list of some of the events going on. 

Ongoing Events

  • Tai Chi & Yoga at Old Westbury Gardens – throughout Autumn at Old Westbury Gardens, Click here to learn more.
  • Free Guided Tours of Bayard Cutting Arboretum – Saturdays at 11AM at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Click here to learn more.
  • Madoo Garden – Every Friday and Saturday from 12PM-4PM at Madoo Garden, May 15th until September 15th. Click here to learn more.
  • Free Lawn Care Advice (in person or via email) at Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton – Tuesdays through the end of October 2:30PM-5PM, Click here to learn more.
  • Pallets in the Park – Wednesdays and Saturdays through October at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Click here to learn more.
  • What in the World is a Herbarium? – Through October 29th in Ross Gallery, Click here to learn more.
  • CHIHULY Nights – Thursdays to Saturdays through October 6:30PM-10:30PM at New York Botanical Gardens, Click here to learn more.
  • LI Dahlia Society Volunteers Meet – Saturday Mornings through November 9AM at the William Wolkoff Garden at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Click here to learn more.

Dated Events 

  • Then and Now Tour: Garden Styles at Brooklyn Botanic Garden – September 9th, 11AM-12:30PM. Click here to learn more.
  • Late Summer Seasonal Stroll (Adult Program) – September 9th, 11AM-1PM at Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve. Registration Required. Click here to learn more.
  • Talk & Tour: Tranquility in the Garden – September 11th, 2PM at Old Westbury Gardens. Click here to learn more.
  • Fall in Love with Composting – September 13th, 6PM-8PM at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. PreRegistration Required. Click here to learn more.
  • Greenwich Village Walking Tour of Urban Gardens & Parks – September 16th, 8AM-4PM. Click here to learn more.
  • Bird Walks with New York City Audubon – September 16th, 9:30AM-10:30AM. Registration Required. Click here to learn more.
  • Afternoon Tea & Tour – September 20th & 21st, 1PM at Orchard Hill in Old Westbury Gardens. Advance Tickets Required. Click here to learn more.
  • Stargazers Skywatching Session at Old Westbury Garden – September 28th, 8:30PM. Click here to learn more.

Thank you to Mjlgarden for the original information. Click here to view more events!

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.

Swallowtail Caterpillar

A Swallowtail Caterpillar makes breakfast out of the parsley seedlings still in cell packs in the backyard. It’s worth the sacrifice to get a Swallowtail butterfly!!

Longhouse Reserve Garden Tour

Located in East Hampton Township, Longhouse Reserve covers 16 acres of property. Jack Larsen has owned the property since 1970, and has turned it into a work of wonder. Every inch of this land is covered in gardens, established lawns, sculptures and artwork. Longhouse Reserve is open to the public a few times a year, showcasing all this beautiful art. Pieces include Dale Chihuly’s Cobalt Reeds, An infinity pool entitled Black Mirror by Ray Smith & Association, A cinderblock sculpture called Irregular Progression High #7 by Sol LeWitt and Study in Heightened Perspective by Jack Lenor Larsen. Study in Heightened Perspective was interesting to look at; the garden posts were deliberately shortened in height the farther in to the garden they went, creating an illusion that the path was longer then it actually was. All of the posts were created from recycled materials. Here are some photos from our day at the Reserve. 

July 26, 2017

Here is what’s currently growing around the yard, all of the colors are so wonderful. The first photo is all the plants that we bought to transfer into the ground. I love the orange lilies, the way they hang and the speckling on the petals is so interesting. We also have coleus growing inside of an old water fountain towards the back of the house. 

Islip Historical Society Garden Walk 2017

On July 15th, the Historical Society of Islip held their annual garden walk. Bob and I had a booth for Keep Islip Clean, where we shared information about the KIC message of anti-littering and gardening/beautification. We also gave away hundreds of plants grown from seed in our little backyard greenhouse. We were able to visit four local gardens which were beautiful and colorful. I couldn’t get enough of those big and beautiful hydrangeas! 

LA Arboretum

I had the chance to visit the Los Angeles County Arboretum in late May. The place was over-run with Peacocks! Showing off and trumpeting loudly. The LA Arboretum is 127 acres and is located just off Route 66, just east of Pasadena.  All of the gardens were beautiful, it was breathtaking to see, even though it was a rainy day. 

Clark Botanic Garden Tour

Clark Botanic Garden is located in North Hempstead, NY. It is 12 acres of lush plant life, rock gardens, and a pond. They even have bees! While walking we found a turtle roaming in the grass, as well as a bunny. The blue hydrangeas were so beautiful to look at! Here are some photos from our visit in late June! 

Eisenhower Park Memorial

On June 24th, Bob and I visited Eisenhower Park Memorial in Nassau County. The memorial was erected in 1947 as a tribute to those who died in World War II. The grounds surrounding the memorial were very beautiful and maintained. We went there to see the synchronized swimming international competition. We had fun watching. 

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.

July 2017 Garden Events

This July there are many gardening events happening around Long Island. Here’s a list of things you can do this month and get outdoors! 

Farmers Markets – There are many farmers markets happening around the Island, click here to read our article on where you can find them! 

Tai Chi & Yoga – Throughout the Spring and Summer, at Old Westbury Gardens. For more information, click here. 

Bayard Cutting Arboretum Guided Tours – Free guided tours around the gardens every Saturday starting at 11AM. For more information, click here.

Talk and Tour at Old Westbury Gardens – Every Sunday and Wednesday throughout July, “Experience Art in the Landscape at Old Westbury Gardens.” For more information, click here.

The Lawn Expert! – Free lawn care advice in person or via email, Tuesdays through the end of October at Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton. For more information, click here.

Botanicals with Watercolor and Colored Pencil – Thursday mornings throughout July and August, sponsored by the Peconic Land Trust. Class size is limited ($20/ class.) For more information, click here.

Visit Madoo Garden! – Open every Friday and Saturday from Noon to 4PM through September 15th. For more information, click here.

Seasonal Highlights at BBG – Throughout July, enjoy a free garden wide walk at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. For more information, click here.

Visit Longhouse Reserve – Come visit Longhouse Reserve Gardens in East Hampton on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For more information, click here.

Birds, Butterflies and Dragonflies tour at NYBG – Saturdays through August 26th, visit New York Botanical Gardens for a colorful tour watching butterflies, birds and dragonflies in their natural habitats. For more information, click here.

Recycle the Rain – Open to North Hempstead Residents ONLY. For more information, click here.

Learn How to Compost – Open to North Hempstead Residents ONLY. For more information, click here.

CHIHULY – Through October 29th, World-Renowed Sculptor Dale Chihuly will be featured in NYBG. For more information, click here.

LI Dahlia Society – Saturday Mornings through November, LI Dahlia Society volunteers will meet at Bayard Cutting Arboretum. For more information, click here.

Smart Garden Exhibit – Through January 2018, visit the smart garden exhibit at BBG. For more information, click here.

Thank you to Long Island Garden Events for the original information. To read more,  click here.

Garden Walk – “Secret Gardens of Islip”

On Saturday, July 15th (rain date July 16th) the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet will have their 5th Garden Walk – “Secret Gardens of Islip” – from 12 noon – 4:00 p.m.  Come enjoy a beautiful summer day as 5 friends of the society open their gates for guests to stroll through and enjoy these unique gardens; entertainment by Carols for Causes and light refreshments served at each location.  Tickets can be purchased, in person, starting June 1st, at Caroline’s Flower Shoppe, 341 Main Street, Islip (631) 581-3464, or through Eventbrite, starting May 12th (there will be a small processing fee).  Tickets are $20/adult (no one under 16) pre-purchase and day of tour.  The 2016 Garden Walk was highlighted in Newsday’s “weekend top 10 things to do”.  For more info call, (631) 245-0675.

Click here to purchase tickets from eventbrite. 

To purchase tickets from Caroline’s Flower Shoppe visit:
341 Main Street, Islip – 11751

May 23, 2017

Here are some of the plants that are currently growing around the yard. All of the colors are so beautiful and vibrant. I love how the hanging plants colors all mix together. Look at how large the hosta in the front plant pot grew! The red daisies against the lush green of the leaves is a sight to see. There are many seedlings also growing in the greenhouse. I can’t wait to plant them all! 

State Parks in Your Backyard!

Did you know that out of the 180 state parks in New York, 24 of them are located on Long Island? State Parks are a great way to get out with the family or friends and have a day surrounded by nature and taking in the natural beauty of the great outdoors. How many of these parks have you visited?

Bethpage State Park
99 Quaker Meetinghouse Road, Farmingdale
Fee: $8 per car

Hempstead Lake State Park
Off the Southern State Parkway in West Hempstead
Fee: $8 per car

Jones Beach State Park
2400 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh
Fee: $10 per car during the week, $8 weekends and holidays

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
1395 Planting Fields Road, Oyster Bay
Fee: $8 per car

Trail View State Park
Jericho Turnpike (Route 25), 1/4 mile west of Woodbury Road, Woodbury
Fee: No Fee 

Valley Stream State Park
Exit 15A, Southern State Parkway, Valley Stream
Fee: $8 per car

Belmont Lake State Park
Exit 38, Southern State Parkway, North Babylon
Fee: $8 per car

Brentwood State Park
375 Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood 
Fee: No Fee

Caleb Smith State Park Reserve
Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown
Fee: No Fee

Camp Hero State Park
1898 Montauk Highway east to the end, Montauk
Fee: $8 per car

Captree State Park
Off Robert Moses Causeway, West Islip Captree Boat Basin
Fee: $8 per car

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve
25 Lloyd Harbor Road, West Neck Road north from Huntington Village, Lloyd Neck
Fee: $8 per car

Cold Spring Harbor State Park
Route 25A across from the harbor, Cold Spring Harbor
Fee: No Fee

Connetquot River State Park Preserve
Sunrise Highway, Oakdale
Fee: No Fee

Gov. Alfred E. Smith/Sunken Meadow State Park
North End of the Sunken Meadow State Parkway, Kings Park
Fee: $10 per car, $8 weekends and holidays

Heckscher State Park
Southern State Parkway east to south end of Heckscher Parkway, East Islip
Fee: $8 per car

Hither Hills State Park
164 Old Montauk Highway (Route 27), 4 miles west of hamlet of Montauk
Fee: $10 per car

Montauk Downs State Park
50 S. Fairview Avenue, North of Route 27, Montauk
Fee: No Fee

Montauk Point State Park
2000 Montauk Highway, Route 27 East to end, Montauk
Fee: $8 per car

Nissequogue River State Park
799 Saint Johnland Road, Kingspark
Fee: $8 per car 

Orient Beach State Park
40000 Main Road, (Route 25), Orient
Fee: $10 per car

Robert Moses State Park
Sagtikos Parkway South to Robert Moses Causeway to western Fire Island
Fee: $10 per car

Shadmoor State Park
900 Montauk Highway, Montauk
Fee: No Fee

Wildwood State Park
790 Hulse Landing Road, north of Sound Avenue, Wading River
Fee: $10 per car

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.


Poppy Mural

I visited my sister last week in Phoenix, while I was there I painted this beautiful mural of poppies. 


April 14th, 2017

Spring is in full effect around the yard, here is some photos of what is growing around the yard! Flowers include Daffodils (both white and yellow), our beautiful Callory Pear Tree, Red Tulips, Lentin Rose, Cowslip Primrose, Mini Grape Hyacinths, our snowdrops are beginning to fade out and powder blue Chionodoxa is coming in nicely. 

Best Hiking Trails on Long Island

Summer is nearly here, which means getting out of the house and having some fun with friends and family in the sun. Want something to do other then go to a beach? How about hiking! It’s something fun that any age can do! Here are the best hiking trails on Long Island (that are family friendly): 

Connetquot River State Park Preserve
4090 Sunrise Hwy., Oakdale (Open Wednesdays – Sundays)
Price: $8 Parking Fee

Sunken Forest National Park
Sayville Terminal, 41 River Rd. (Ferry ride to Sailors Haven, next to park)
Free Guided Tours are available Wednesdays through Sundays
Price: $13 adult ferry fee, $7.50 children younger then 11

Quogue Wildlife Refuge
3 Old Country Rd., East Quogue (Open Sunrise to Sunset Daily)
Stroller friendly
Price: Free

Sagamore Hill
20 Sagamore Hill Rd., Cove Neck (Open Sunrise to Sunset Daily)
Price: Trails are free, Museum $10 for ages 15+

Southhampton Trails
377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpke., Bridgehampton
Price: Trails are free, Guided tours available, Museum $7 ages 12+, $5 ages 3-12

Blydenburgh County Park 
Northern Entrance is located at the end of New Mill Road, Hauppauge (Open Dawn to Dusk Daily)
Price: No Parking Fee on Northern Entrance 

Tackapausha Preserve 
2225 Washington Ave., Seaford (Open Sunrise to Sunset Daily) 
Price: Trails are free, Museum $3 for ages 13+, $2 for ages 5-12 and seniors, free for 4 and younger

Planting Field Arboretum State Historic Park
1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay (9AM-5PM Daily)
Price: $8 per carload

Richard D. Fowler Preserve
Wickapogue Rd., (East of Narrow Lane) Southhampton
Price: Free 

Downs Farm Preserve 
Route 25, Cutchogue (Open Dawn to Dusk Daily)
Stroller Friendly
Price: Free


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

April 11th, 2017

Spring is here, which means flowers are popping up all over the yard! Here is what is currently growing in our yard. The flowers include Chionodoxa, Pink and Purple Hyacinth, Crocus, Flowering Quince, Dark Purple Hyacinth, Lots and lots of Daffodils, and Mini Grape Hyacinths. This is gonna be a good spring for growing flowers! 

2017 Spring Garden and Flower Show at Hick’s Nursery

Here are some photos from the 2017 Spring Garden and Flower Show at Hick’s Nursery in Westbury, NY. There were so many bright colors and beautiful displays. My favorite display was the “Under the Sea.” The waterfall, and all the hanging jellyfish from the ceiling really captured the feeling of being underwater. All of the flowers were incorporated beautifully, they didn’t seem like an afterthought. 

Best U-Pick Farms on Long Island

Spring is coming- which means warm weather, sun and picking your own fruit as a family. Long Island has the best farms on the east end to pick fresh fruits and vegetables. Here is a list of some of the best.

U-Pick Strawberries

  • Lewin Farms – 812 Sound Avenue, Wading River (phone: 929-4327)
  • Wickham Fruit Farm – 28700 Main Road, Cutchogue (phone: 734-6441)
  • Fox Hollow Farm – 2287 Sound Avenue, Calverton (phone: 727-1786)
  • Anderson Farms – 1890 Roanoke Avenue, Riverhead (phone: 727-1129 or 727-2559)
  • Hank Kraszewski – 324 Co Road 39, Southampton Bypass, Southampton (phone: 726-4667)
  • Patty’s Berries and Bunches – 410 Sound Avenue, Mattituck (phone: 655-7996)
  • Hodun Farms – 4070 Route 25, Calverton (phone: 369-3533)

U-Pick Vegetables

  • F & W Schmitt Farms – 26 Pinelawn Road, Melville (phone: 271-3276)
  • Krupski Farms – Route 25, Peconic (phone: 734-6847)
  • Doug Cooper Farms – Breakwater Road, Mattituck (phone: 298-5195)
  • Lewin Farms – 812 Sound Avenue, Wading River (phone: 929-4327)
  • Fritz Lewin Farms – Corner of Sound and Edwards Avenue, Calverton (phone: 727-3346)
  • Hodun Farms – 4070 Route 25, Calverton (phone: 369-3533)
  • John Condzella – Route 25A, Wading River (phone: 929-5058)
  • Seven Ponds Orchard – 65 Seven Ponds Road, Water Mill (phone: 726-8015)

U-Pick Fruit

Thank you to Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) for the original information. Click here to read more.

How to Create a Spring Wreath

During the months of November and December, and even the entirety of the fall- wreaths can be found on every door. But what about the rest of the year? Why do we not adorn our doors with wreaths for June? Well, this article is here to tell you how! By adding a wreath to a door, it brings a touch of brightness. Wreaths can showcase flowers that are in bloom, and colors that you associate with that month (or week if you’re ambitious!) There are many types of wreaths, ranging from simple and reserved to over the top and loud. Here are some things to take into consideration when choosing your ornament. 

  1. Wreath Size – When choosing a size, try to think of the scale of your wreath to the door. If you have a small wreath on a large door, it gets lost; If you have a large wreath on a small door, it will be overwhelming. If you have double doors, hang a wreath on both doors so it looks balanced.
  2. Door Color – The color of your door should help determine the colors in your wreath. If the colors aren’t right, you can risk it looking washed out. For example, on a dark door you want to use a wreath that is bright or has whites and ivory in it for a more subdued look. Light colored doors require a bold color so the wreath stands out. 
  3. Shape – A round wreath is traditional, but why be traditional? Use something unusual! Maybe an oval, or square shape! If you want a simple and unexpected ornament, paint a picture frame in a bold color and create a bouquet to anchor one corner.

Who said that you had to make it from scratch? You can always buy a pre-made wreath from an arts-and-craft store like Michaels or A.C.Moore, then add your own decorations to it like flowers or satin bows! For those people that can put a wreath together, you can always buy a bow to finish off your adornment. You don’t even have to buy a whole roll of ribbon- a little goes a long way! 

Thank you to Kathryn Weber from Newsday 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.

Sign Up For Spring Gardening School 2017!

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County will be holding the 35th Annual Spring Gardening School on April 22nd, 2017! It will be held at Longwood Senior High School in Middle Island from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. This event is a popular was to kick-off the new gardening season; Providing up to date information in all areas of horticulture. Classes are taught by Master Gardener Volunteers and Extension Educators! This year we will have a keynote speaker, her name is Polly Weigand and she is Executive Director of the Long Island Native Plant Initiative. Three classes of your choice are also available for every level of gardener (ranging from beginner to advanced.) Class topics include Low-water gardening, Gardening in deer country, Designing drip irrigation, Creating a rain garden, Organic landscape maintenance, and many more! The fee is $65 per person; early bird registration is $60 before March 1st. Included in your fee are free soil pH testing, plant diagnostic clinic, plant sales from some of the finest nurseries, continental breakfast, delicious boxed lunch, Long Island Gardening Calendar, raffle prizes and door prizes.
Register early, because classes fill quickly! Registration is mandatory; there are no walk-ins. A full listing of classes can be found on the registration form for download here! 

Hope to see you there! 

Prune Your Oak Trees Over the Winter

Cornell Cooperative Extension has sent out another notice about Oak Wilt, which was found earlier this summer in the Town of Islip. Since the original notice over the summer, more and more accounts of Oak Wilt have been happening in other towns within Suffolk County. The DEC is urging homeowners to prune their oak trees during the winter and not during growing season.  “One way that oak wilt spreads is through insects (sap beetles are one of the main culprits), which can move the fungus from an infected tree to a healthy tree. During the warmer growing season sap beetles are active and attracted to the fresh wounds, increasing the chances of disease spread.” So be on the lookout! You can read more on the DEC’s website 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 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

Thanksgiving 2016

This Thanksgiving, Bob and I took a walk at the Arboretum; we walked the Greenbelt Trail. Look at this cool tree we came upon! Later that day Bob made a centerpiece from flowers he found in our yard. Our friend Margie also sent us a photo of a similar idea for a centerpiece that she made from flowers in her yard. 

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.


Islip Beach Planters

Here is some photos of the beautiful planters that are at Islip Town Beach. The large planters are located along the boardwalk by the sand. I love all the colors from the flowers against the sandy beach background. There are two planters which consist of mainly dry grasses and perennials. It is such a wonderful addition to the beach. 

Long Island Garden Events, Winter 2016-17

Winter is here on Long Island, that means it is time to clean up your garden beds and pull out that garden catalog to plan for next year! There will be many tours and public holiday events all over, but don’t fret- there will be some outdoor events and classes going on. Here is a list of some of the events going on. 

Ongoing Events

  • Seasonal Highlights Tour at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens –  Throughout November and December, 1PM-2PM. Click here to learn more. 
  • Holiday Train Show at NY Botanical Garden – From November 19th to January 16th, Click here to learn more.
  •  Wild Medicine in the Tropics at NY Botanical Garden – From January 21st to February 12th, Click here to learn more.
  • The Orchid Show at NY Botanical Garden – From February 18th to April 9th, Click here to learn more.
  • Training Course for New Suffolk County Master Gardener Volunteers – Starting February 1st and ending June 28th. Click here to learn more. 

Dated Events 

  • LI Dahlia Society Meeting and Talk: Dahlia 101 “Storing Dahlias Over the Winter” – Thursday November 17th, 6:30PM at East Islip Library. Click here to learn more. 
  • Gardening Lessons: Designs for Easy Maintenance – Saturday November 19th, 10AM-2PM at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Click here to learn more.
  • Thanksgiving Floral Design – Saturday November 19th, 10:30AM at Old Westbury Gardens. Click here to learn more. 
  • Floral Design Workshop: Holiday Centerpiece – Sunday November 20th, 1PM-2:30PM at Queens Botanical Garden. Click here for more information.
  • Holiday Wreath Workshop – Saturday December 3rd, 11AM-12:30PM at Cornell Cooperative Extension. Call 631-852-4600 for more information and to register.
  • Introduction to Ikebana – Sunday December 11th, 10AM-1PM at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Click here to learn more. 
  • The Camellia Festival – Sunday February 19th, 1oAM-4PM at Planting Fields Arboretum. Snow Date: Sunday February 26th. Click here to learn more. 

Thank you to Mjlgarden for the original information. Click here to view more events! 

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.