Lake Ronkonkoma Beach

Recently, there was a cleanup/ beautification happening at Lake Ronkonkoma Beach. We were so excited to be a part of another project like this through Keep Islip Clean. There was many volunteers from the Lake Ronkonkoma Beautification Group and Nature’s Bounty. All the before pictures were taken on April 1st, and all the afters were taken on April 18th. From all the wind, there was so much sand blown up around the garden. A big thank you to all the volunteers that removed all the sand by hand. The volunteers that participated at this cleanup/ beautification also tended to another memorial garden area, and cleaned the rest of the Lake Ronkonkoma Beach! All of the flowers for this project came from Stables Nursery in North Babylon. Thanks Ken! 

Great Garden Awards 2016

Great Garden Awards were just awarded! Volunteer Gardeners plant our Project Bloom seedlings in gardens around Islip. This year, we honored six Project Bloom garden groups with Great Garden Award signs and plants. You can click on their names to see each garden! The groups which were recognized at the last Keep Islip Clean meeting were:

Great Garden Award – Rotary Park

Nancy Angermaier received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for The Common Ground at Rotary Park in Sayville in 2016. All of the flowers were very bright and colorful. Flowers that were growing included Zinnias, Marigolds, Snapdragons and Alyssum. The flowers were in beds surrounding a large circular patio, where there was benches as well.

Great Garden Award – Slocum Elementary

Justina Rote of Edith L. Slocum Elementary School received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for two garden courtyards and an accompanying educational program at the school. It is so lovely seeing gardening being implemented into after school activities. It gives children something constructive to do while being outside, and it’s fun! There was even homemade steeping stone that the children made, in the underbrush. How cute! 

Great Garden Award – North Great River Civic Association

Sue Pellegrino and Neil Finnin of North Great River Civic Association received two Great Garden Awards from Project Bloom for two locations in Central Islip. One is a large traffic island on Windsor Place and a separate location near Maple Place and Sportsmen Street. Here is the photos for Maple Place and Sportsmen Street. This garden was very patriotic themed.

Great Garden Award – North Great River Civic Association

Sue Pellegrino and Neil Finnin of North Great River Civic Association received two Great Garden Awards from Project Bloom for two locations in Central Islip. One is a large traffic island on Windsor Place and a separate location near Maple Place and Sportsmen Street. Here is the photos for Windsor Place. The bed was very patriotic themed. 

Great Garden Award – Northeast Neighborhood Committee

Doris Davidson and the volunteers of the Northeast Neighborhood Committee have received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for the community garden at Fulton Street and Commercial Boulevard in Brentwood. The bed was lush and tended to nicely. Some of the flowers planted in the garden were Black Eyed Susans, Zinnias and large hostas. 

Great Garden Award – Jacob Clock

Eagle Scout Jacob Clock has received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for the plantings he did at the American Legion Hall in Islip. His garden was beautiful and carefully tended to. In the center of the garden was a plaque in memoriam to past american legion members. Some of the flowers planted include Marigolds, Zinnias and coleus. 

Project Bloom Greenhouse Update

We had a Project Bloom tree-planting photo-op at the greenhouse on 9/1616, and Trish Bergin and Alexis Weik came. When they saw the bad condition of the greenhouse, they mentioned that there might be an opportunity to get funding for greenhouse repairs or restoration from another source. In a follow up email, Trish asked if there was any quotes available. We contacted the vendor who supplies Greenhouse products and asked them to give a quote. He came out that day. The following day, I went out and saw the greenhouse restoration project over at Meadow Edge at the West Sayville Maritime Museum. It was amazing!!! I called and got the name of the company that did that job, and they came out and met with me and Bob this week. We are waiting for a final labor quote which we will present to a contact at the Parks Department. This is the PDF file with historic and current photos of the greenhouse and examples of other options.

We had a few ideas for the greenhouse:

The first plan would be to remove the old glass from the greenhouse, and install a new metal framework with polycarbonate panels to replace the glass. Photos of similar polycarbonate greenhouses are included in the attached pdf file of photos. This would make use of the existing natural gas heater, which is still in good shape, and the existing brick foundation.

Another option would be to turn the existing greenhouse into a Butterfly & Pollinator House / Environmental Educational Center and build a new polycarbonate greenhouse adjacent to the old one. This would further our goal of creating a teaching garden, and the new greenhouse could be ADA compliant.

A third option would be a complete renovation similar to the amazing work done on the antique greenhouse restoration at the Sayville Maritime Museum/Meadow Edge. 

Our goal was just to keep the Project Bloom operation going next year since a full-blown restoration was likely too expensive. With the polycarbonate option or the option of putting a Butterfly House screen on the old frame, it would not prevent a full restoration in the future. 

BELOW ARE SOME OF THE PHOTOS IN THE PDF FILE:

Built in the early 1900’s, the greenhouse at Brookwood Hall was part of the original South Shore Estate. When the mansion was used as an orphanage in the 1940s – 1960s, children would help in the gardens, as seen in the photo below.

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This photo was dated to 1953 from the East Islip Historical Society.

In the next photo you can see a hedge-lined driveway leading to the carriage house at Brookwood Hall. In the background, the greenhouse sits in front of the fields with overhead irrigation.

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Restored in 1993, the first Project Bloom Season was in 1994, with 6000 plants being distributed throughout Islip.
Brookwood Hall Greenhouse has been at the heart of our community gardening program ever since.

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Due to lack of maintenance, the greenhouse is falling apart. It has not been painted since the 1993 restoration.  This past year has been the worst with broken panes and rotted wood. Because of the bad framing structure, glass panes have been falling out. This past June, the top roof panel which was loose in April, had finally collapsed into the gardens.

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This is what the top roof pane looked like before it fell into the vegetable garden.

The caulk is so worn and weak, that when the wind blows, panels of glass are just blown out.  This photo below was taken on September 21st, 2016. It shows a different roof panel about to come off the building.

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Due to the missing panes of glass, one of our gardeners (aged 89) had to makeshift repair with a panel of styrofoam and an office chair for support. This was used to block freezing air from killing our seedlings this spring. This pane of glass is still missing 9 months later.

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Thank you to all the volunteers who took seedlings and planted gardens in Islip. Here is a small but beautiful spot.

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We are hoping for a replacement greenhouse, and this is what we are being quoted for by one vendor. This example shows the building installed at ground level.

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We recently visited the greenhouse at Meadow Edge in Sayville. Their greenhouse was just totally restored. Here are before and after photos of the restoration. This is what we dream of for Project Bloom, but small steps first!

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Before

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After

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To see more photos of the Project Bloom Greenhouse, click the link below to view the complete pdf file.

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KIC Award

Bob and I were honored at last night’s Keep Islip Clean (KIC) meeting with a nice certificate of appreciation for our efforts with Project Bloom

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Project Bloom Update 8/9/16

Here’s what is growing in the children’s garden at Project Bloom right now! We have Sugar Baby Watermelons, Birdhouse Gourds, Pumpkins and Gallardia. We have also set up a tic-tac-toe board that we made. The game board is made from an old tree stump, and the cute game pieces are painted rocks. The rocks are painted to look like lady bugs and turtles! 

Project Bloom Update 8/3/16

There are many flowers in full bloom right now at Project Bloom The flowers that are growing include white, light and dark pink Cosmos, Black Eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, Yellow Coreopsis, blue and white Delphiniums, Red Canna Lillies, Pink Hibiscus, Large and cherry tomatoes. Everything is so vibrant and beautiful. August is the perfect time for viewing flowers! 

‘Birds and the Bees’ Project Bloom Report

Expansion of Children's Garden

A team from the KPMG accounting firm, celebrating the company’s 50th Anniversary through community service at the new Project Bloom children’s garden. They were planting in the pumpkin/watermelon bed.

Project Bloom Garden Project

A children’s garden and pollinator garden created by Project Bloom volunteers will expand and thrive thanks to a recent $500 grant designed to support community “greenspace” development. Project Bloom, a community beautification program, was one of approximately 100 organizations across the U.S. chosen for the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company’s GRO1000 initiative encouraging garden builds. It is part of a broader initiative designed to create 1,000 gardens and greenspaces throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe for the Company’s 150th anniversary in 2018.

Keep Islip Clean (KIC) and the Islip Parks Department launched Project Bloom 23 years ago under the direction of volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Program. Volunteers still meet each spring at the circa 1920 greenhouse on the grounds of Brookwood Hall in East Islip. Volunteer gardeners grow and supply about 30 local KIC volunteer groups with over 6,000 free plants that are used to beautify public spaces throughout the Town of Islip.

The GRO1000 grant will help expand a newly renovated community vegetable garden to include 100 square feet for a children’s “Victory Garden,” a new pumpkin/watermelon patch and a new berry bed with a bird bath. The flower beds surrounding the children’s garden have been filled with plants to attract pollinators.

In addition to the children’s garden, other improvements include replanting an existing meadow bed as a 200 square foot pollinator garden. Ultimately, these special plants will be distributed to Project Bloom groups with the goal of establishing 30 more pollinator gardens. Informational signs installed in the gardens will educate the public about the role these types of plants play in maintaining a healthy environment by supporting the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators.

The last several years have seen an ambitious expansion of Project Bloom under the stewardship of Master Gardener Kathy VanDyke and her husband, Bob. With their knowledgeable direction, scores of volunteers have donated many hours to create a new landscape for the benefit of the public.

“We were thrilled to receive the grant from Scotts to support our garden projects at Project Bloom,” said Kathy. “As a volunteer organization with very limited funding, this grant award will go a long way towards establishing new gardens and creating educational signs.”

The public is invited to visit the gardens located on the Brookwood Hall property at 50 Irish Lane, East Islip. For more information about volunteering, call Keep Islip Clean at 631-224-2627.

 

Glover Farm

Here are some photos from when we visited Glover Farm! Jim Glover was kind to give the Master Gardeners a private tour. Jim is the guy in the center of the photo, wearing the straw hat. They have 23 acres on their nursery grounds in Cutchogue. They grow out of the ordinary varieties, and the gardeners were excited to be able to shop there. Jim is also focusing on growing natives for our Long Island area. I was smitten with this colorful sedum.

Project Bloom Vegetable Garden Update 7/20/16

Heres what’s going on in the vegetable garden at Project Bloom right now! We have pumpkins starting to flower, and watermelons starting to grow. There is also vines of tomatoes, peas and rainbow swiss chard growing. Everything is coming in so nicely and lush. This is going to be a great season in the vegetable garden.

Project Bloom Memorial Garden

Look at the Memorial Garden at Project Bloom! A new fence made from Curly Willow and Cyprus Branches has been put up in front of the Memorial Garden. There are also some flowers growing inside the Memorial Garden. They include Carpet of Snow Alyssum, Red Rocket Snapdragons, Shasta Daisies, Coleus, Evening Primrose and Liriope. 

Project Bloom Pollinator Bed

Heres whats going on right now at Project Bloom in the Pollinator Bed. Many flowers are in full bloom, including Moroccan Sun Rudbeckia, Milkweed (which is the only plant Monarch butterflies will lay eggs on,) Bee Balm, Red Geraniums, Forsythia Hedge, Spiderwort, Blue Star Amsonia, Sensation Cosmos, Violet Queen Alyssum, Painters Pallette Gallardia, Lancelet Coreopsis, Red Oxalis, Bright Lights Cosmos and Cappuccino Rudbeckia. 

Project Bloom Children’s Garden

Heres whats going on at Project Bloom right now in the Children’s Garden. Pumpkins and the Sugar Baby Watermelons are flowering and growing nicely. Zinnia and Brazzleberries are growing, all of the strawberries that grew were eaten by animals. The beans are starting to climb up the arbor we had built, and cosmos are beginning to bloom as well. 

Project Bloom Fence Perimeter Bed

Heres whats going on at Project Bloom right now in the Fence Perimeter Bed. Flowers that are growing include pink and red Hollyhocks, Gallardia, Helianthus, purple Coneflower, Zinnias, Snapdragons, Marigolds, Coreopsis, Daylillies, Double Hollyhocks, pink Cosmos, purple Alyssum and red Canna Lillies. We also put up a photo board for children to take pictures in. How fun! 

Joan’s Daylilies

A group of Project Bloom Gardeners toured Joan Turano’s beautiful home garden. Here are some photos of her amazing Day Lilies! All of the lilies were in full bloom, and were bright and boisterous. My favorite Day Lilies are the type that are two toned, and fade from one color into the next. Like the pale yellow fading into royal purple towards the bottom of the gallery. 

Joan’s Garden

A group of Project Bloom Gardeners toured Joan Turano’s beautiful home garden full of Day lilies, Hostas and Hydrangeas. All the flowers were bright and gorgeous. I loved the color on all of the blooms. Her entire yard was super lush, and full of greenery. All gardeners should strive to have their yards look like Joan’s. The purple hydrangeas were my favorite to look at. 

Project Bloom Update 7/5/16

Everything is looking great at our Project Bloom garden at Brookwood Hall. Flowers are blooming everywhere and the vegetable gardens are full of produce. Here’s what’s growing in the Project Bloom Gardens right now! What’s growing includes Strawberries, Brazzle Berries, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Shallots, Dill, Nasturtium, Sage, Lavender, Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Chives, Pumpkins, Sugar Baby Watermelons, Sunflowers, Peas, Tomatoes, Beans, Coreopsis, Zinnias, Marigolds, Cosmos, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Cannas, Hosta, Double Pleat Columbine, Dianthus, Delphinium, Dwarf Iris and Coneflower. 

Hollyhocks

Look at the beautiful Hollyhocks that are in bloom at Project Bloom! Thank you to Maria G. for the seeds! These hollyhocks are biennials, so we planted these seeds last spring. They were worth the wait!! The colors are so vibrant, and the flowers are beautiful. They are planted in the corner of the garden by the greenhouse. We grew two types of Double Hollyhocks and one type of Single. 

Islip Historical Society Garden Walk 2016

This weekend on June 25th at noon, the Islip Historical Society will be hosting a garden walk. You can either purchase tickets online or at Caroline’s Flower Shoppe on Main Street (between 11AM and 1PM.) Once you have purchased your ticket(s) you must redeem your Garden Walk Booklet at Caroline’s to know where the gardens are located. Tickets are $15, and are non-refundable. The rain date is set to be June 26th from 12PM-4PM. Project Bloom will have a booth set up at one of the gardens with loads of free plants grown for the garden visitors. Stop in and say hi!

You can buy tickets here!

To see pictures from last year, you can visit Islip Historical Society’s Facebook page! Click here!

KPMG Volunteers

KPMG Accounting celebrated their 50th anniversary by donating time to our Project Bloom garden. It was a gorgeous day out, and they did a tremendous amount of work. We really appreciate their efforts! They dug out a new herb garden for us, added compost and brick edge to the newly created garden, created a new pumpkin patch by cutting into the old grass, pulled weeds, and planted many new seeds! 

Planting Fields

On Tuesday June 21st, we attended the Summer Twilight Tour at Planting Fields Arboretum. It was hosted by LINLA (Long Island Nursery & Landscape Association.) We were taken on a tour of the gardens, with Vincent Simone as our tour guide. After the walk through the beautiful gardens, we were treated to a light dinner and learned how Vincent and his staff are improving the gardens and their own practices to become more sustainable. It was a great way to spend the Summer Solstice with an incredible tour and spend time among fellow garden lovers.

Project Bloom Presentation

Here is the display board we made for a presentation done at Project Bloom. It showcases everything Project Bloom stands for and shows photos of our gardens, greenhouse, and all of our lovely volunteers. We use it for the Spring Gardening School and also use it for lectures. We also showcase the history of Project Bloom and of Brookwood Hall as well. 

Greenhouse Seedlings

Here are some photos of the seedlings currently growing at the Greenhouse for Project Bloom. We are starting Tomatoes, Shallots, Mint, Rosemary, Painted Daisies and Hostas that got overwintered at my house. We housed many seedlings for the Greenhouse at our house in our personal greenhouse. This is going to be one successful growing season! 

Painted Daisy Seedlings

We planted these Painted Daisy seeds last year, and transplanted them into the garden in early fall. I wanted to share these photos of the painted daisy seedlings from this week.

We gave a lot of these perennials out at Project Bloom last year, and now that they are coming up, I want to help prevent them from being accidentally weeded!

The Latin name is Chrysanthemum coccineum. The flowers are great, showy and cheerful. The foliage is feathery and ferny.

Project Bloom Update – Rainwater Garden

Project Bloom started again without a hitch! We have so many new ideas for this upcoming season. One idea that we’ve started working on is our rain garden. What is a rainwater garden? By definition it is “A garden that is a planted depression or a hole that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas, like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, etc.”

At Project Bloom, there is a very large parking lot. When it rains, a lot of run-off from that parking lot goes right into the lake, including oil from cars and garbage. We are trying to help clean out the rainwater before it reaches the lake using underground filtration provided by plants. We are turning some old platform steps that were becoming dangerous to walk on into the new rain garden. In each step tier we will plant grasses and other plants that can handle a lot of water at once, and also can withstand being dry for a long period of time. This will slow down the flow of rainwater and allow the water to be naturally clean before it goes into the lake.

We have a student from Suffolk County Community College interested in doing part of their internship with us by working on turning these steps into a raingarden. She is attending the school for Environmental Science, and we can’t wait for her help!

Here are some photos of the beginning of the new garden area.

Spring Blooms – March 17, 2016

This week is all about the crocus in bloom, but there are other things popping up in the garden too. Flowers include Snowdrops, Daffodils, Vinca Vine, Crocus, Reticulated Iris, Tulips, Day Lilies, Lily of the Valley and Lenten Rose. The Reticulated Iris is such a deep royal purple, its just lovely to look at. 

Project Bloom February Update

Hello Project Bloomers! February is here, which means that Project Bloom has started up again! Seeds have already been planted for the coreopsis, gallardia, andno_dogs1200 rudbeckia. We also planted 20 flats of Alyssum in Royal Carpet (purple) and Carpet of Snow (white.) I painted two new signs to be put up at the garden, this “No Dogs” sign that will be mounted on the fence later this week, and also one that says “Seeding is Believing” to be put above the Greenhouse entry.

We got 2 checks from the Master Gardeners after our presentation to the group last week. One from the group and one from Judy S. (Very big thank you!) Bob and I went to Job Lot and got 2 birdbaths for the gardens. The big one will go in the main Pollinator Garden area, and the little one will go in the children’s garden. They are glazed terra cotta, so we will store them indoors until after last frost. Wth the rest of the money, I got a few more perennial seeds, and Bob is going to go to Home Depot anseeding1200d buy 2×2 posts and enough wire to complete the “deer proofing” of the vegetable garden, around the new fenced area.

birdbaths1200Project Bloom meets every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from 9:30 to 11 am at the Greenhouse. We welcome new people, and you don’t have to RSVP! Just show up! We can always use the extra hands and friendly gardeners!

Vegetable Garden Expanded

On Saturday 1/16/16, Bob and I took advantage of the warm weather and relocated the fence line. The picket fence surrounding the vegetable garden was shifted toward the parking lot, and had sections added to extend the garden perimeter. This adds between 800 and 900 square feet of space to our garden. We will relocate the flower photo board to outside the fence when the ground thaws again. The children’s garden will move from the corner near the greenhouse to the corner closest to the playground. Following the photos of the Fence project are some flowers in bloom in the greenhouse in mid-January.

Seeds for 2016 Greenhouse Season

This year for 2016 we plan to grow only varieties of plants that the deer don’t like and that are drought resistant. The only real exception to this are the sunflowers. Deer love them, but I do too! Most of our community volunteer gardens are dealing with either deer or problems getting water or both, and this should improve their chances for success with our plants. When determining our plants for this year, I chose varieties that we have had good luck growing from seed in the past.  This year I have it down to 17 varieties of good old standards: 10 annuals, 2 edibles and 5 perennials.  

Extending the Vegetable Garden

Great News Project Bloomers!

The Islip Parks Commissioner has approved our plan for extending the fence at the Vegetable garden. This will allow us to add additional garden plots and to move the dedicated children’s section to the corner of the garden nearest to the playground.

Here’s the sketch and explanation of the plan we submitted to the Parks Department:

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The pink is the existing chain link and the white is the existing picket fence. We want to move the 4 sections of picket fence from the green line, to the new line shown in red, adding in the 6 leftover sections of picket fence. This will allow us to extend the vegetable garden, adding 6 to 7 new garden plots, and to relocate the Kid’s Corner Garden to the front, closest to the playground. We think this is the best use of the remaining fence sections and also the unused section of lawn. The new fence would still allow for easy access to all landscaping equipment to maintain the area.  We would keep the lawn paths in the kids area, to keep it cleaner for play, and we would maintain those paths ourselves.

Since this weather has been so mild, we are hoping to work on moving the fence sections before it gets really cold out and the ground freezes. Right now the forecast is calling for temps in the 50s for the next few weeks. We would like to get started as soon as the town has had the “No-Cuts” guys come and mark out the area. If you are interested in helping out that day, I will send every one a quick email once it’s scheduled.

Thanks to Chris Cacoperdo of the Parks Department for taking the time to review the plan, and visit the site with us, and then visit again with the commissioner. Chris has been a great supporter of Project Bloom.

November Project Bloom Photos

Here’s a photo gallery of the Project Bloom gardens from last month. I am so impressed with the alyssum, snapdragons and gallardia that won’t stop blooming! The Geraniums in the greenhouse are ready for cuttings, and the vegetable beds are all cleaned up for the season. We are glad that the deer ignored the columbine this year, so it will come back as a strong perennial next year.

November Update: Project Bloom

Here is an update for November 2015, for Project Bloom. Lacrosse Players from Dowling College came and volunteered. They helped put down wood chips, fix up one of our beds and they connected two separate beds into one big one. Big thanks to them! The memorial garden is also in full bloom, the Alyssum and Snapdragons look beautiful along the perimeter. If you look closely you can see the water peaking through the trees behind the memorial garden. 

Garden Cleanup by Lacrosse Team Volunteers

Dowling College sports teams have a tradition of supporting the efforts of Keep Islip Clean. This year, our Project Bloom gardens were the lucky benefactors of the efforts of the Dowling Lacrosse team on October 9th 2015. We were told it would be 35 guys, but it seemed like at least 50, and they were all huge!! I will post photos of the guys next week. Thanks to our Project Bloom Volunteers: Ed Q., Bruce L. and Dottie O. for coming out to help Bob and me supervise the work. Thanks to Nancy Cochran of KIC for arranging this volunteer day for us. And a Big Thanks to the Lacrosse Team for all their hard work with the cleanup. Their efforts are truly appreciated!

Volunteers and hopeful future plans

On the morning of September 19th there was a volunteer group generously helping out at the project bloom garden. The volunteer group was called “NextGen,” this group consisted of young CPAs who wanted to help in the community and give back their time for a greater good. A big thanks to Stephanie Angel, who helped coordinate the volunteers group. Also, a big thanks to KIC’s Executive Director, Nancy Cochran, who supplied water, gloves and other supplies. The group helped with finishing up planting the rose bed, and corner beds along the greenhouse with perennials, spreading woodchips in the memorial garden, and edging the flower beds. They were a big help for the several hours they were in the garden, and got a lot of work done.

I also included photographs of two garden pieces which will hopefully be going into the children’s garden. We are hoping to expand the vegetable bed to the south and create a larger kids garden near the playground. The ceramic clay pot sculpture will look adorable sitting in that garden. And the ladybug/turtle tic-tac-toe pieces will be a sweet game that can be played while the kids are spending time in the garden.

State of the Project Bloom Beds

Here are what the some of the beds look like right now at the Project Bloom Garden at the end of summer 2015. Some deer to caught in the fence while no volunteers were around. Thankfully the landscaper, Gary was there to save the day! Thanks Gary! There is a bunch of flowers in bloom too, they include Gallardia and Aster. Some people have cleaned out their beds, while others have started Lettuce and other vegetables. 

Flowers Growing at Project Bloom!

Come take a look at the flowers that are currently growing in the Project Bloom Garden in September 2015! The flowers growing include White Cosmos, Marigolds, Pink Zinnias, Spirea Hedge, Alyssum, Red Sunflowers, Lupine, Basket of Gold, Painted Daisy Seedlings, Purple Asters, Rose, Chinese Dunce Cap, Gallardia and California Poppy. Everything is so colorful! 

The Vegetables growing in Project Bloom’s Garden!

Here are some photos of the vegetables growing in Project Bloom’s garden! The plants include tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, Swiss chard, tomatillos, eggplant, squash, parsley, sage and thyme. They all are doing fabulously! The garden smells fabulous from all the herbs that are growing as well. The tomatoes and watermelon are growing so large as well! 

Squash Lady Beetle

Attention! Our garden is under attack! While wandering through the garden one day, I noticed that the leaves and stems of our cucurbit plants were damaged. Upon closer inspection it looked as if they were being chewed on and were seriously damaging the growth of the plants. I noticed a small lady bug-like insect on one of the plants and also a small yellow spiny insect as well. I could not figure what they were because I have never seen them before.

After a little research, I found that they are a part of the Lady Beetle family, and are called Squash Lady Beetle’s (Epilachna borealis.) Unlike their siblings, the Squash Lady Beetle feeds on cucurbit crops instead of pests. They use their mouths to bore into stems to consume the liquids found inside. The larvae are a bright yellow color and have black spines on them. The larvae feed on the leaves of the plants. They show up in the mid-summer to reek havoc. In large enough numbers, this bug can seriously damage your summer crop. They are one of the largest Lady Beetles in Eastern North America where they originate. Keep a mindful eye on your summer cucurbits for these little insects. Below are pictures of the pests in our garden.

But how do I get rid of them? There are many options to remove the bugs from your garden. Some ways include rotating your crops each year, removing plant litter (because that is where they live in the winter,) scraping away the eggs from beneath the leaves, or making an organic insecticide. A recommendation from a professor at North Dakota State University is to use garlic, onions, one spicy pepper like jalapeno or habanero, water and a little dish soap in a sprayer and coat the leaves when you see the insects.

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)

New Fence for Project Bloom!

Great News!!  Islip Parks Department came through for us, and delivered a white painted wooden picket fence for around the vegetable garden. And the drain at the greenhouse got fixed too!

Please join us on Saturday, August 1st from 9AM to 11AM at Brookwood Hall to help install the new fence! Don’t forget to wear a hat and use sunscreen!

Project Bloom Birdhouses and other Projects

All the seed packets were painted and are now complete! They will hang around the fence to discourage the deer from eating our veggies. Our volunteers Denise, Dottie, Nora and Janice helped us paint the 138 seed packets, so thank you so much! We had a purpose in using blue so much on the packets. Deer see colors in the ultraviolet spectrum (meaning they see in shades of blues and violets), so we used a bright blue color that could be seen by the animals to help keep them from entering the garden. We also mounted the birdhouses onto stakes in the garden. The large birdhouses were put on top of large metal poles, so now the birds have a place to go! Small ones were put on sticks in the cosmos bed.

Project Bloom Painting Projects

This Saturday July 25th, from 9:30 to 11:30, we will be finishing the painting projects for Project Bloom. We will be installing the birdhouses Bob built onto metal poles. They will be mounted behind the small birdhouses on stakes which were placed in the “cosmos garden” behind the curly willow fence. We will also be installing the fence/photo board sign facing the playground in the corner by the vegetable garden. We will plant snapdragons in front of it. Check out the photo of Bob V. and Kathy C. posing in front of the sign by the kid’s garden.

With a public garden there can be some unwelcome visitors and the deer have become a real nuisance eating our vegetables. To help with the deer problem we will be hanging blocks painted like seed packets from a wire around the perimeter of the garden. I located some simple drawings of vegetables that could be painted onto the plastic blocks. Bob cut 138 “seed packet” blocks from leftover Trex plastic lumber. I painted 16 really quickly with one brush and a small pallette. Then we outlined in black and added the lettering with a sharpie. We screwed metal straps to the back, and hung them from the wire that Bob had installed on 2×2 posts around the garden fence. We will need to paint about 8 more of each one to fill up around the fencing.

We also made and mounted new signs for the greenhouse, the vegetable garden and the memorial garden. The church volunteers did a great job cleaning up the new Stehling Rose Bed area. We have perennials that will be planted here, alongside the pathway of pavers with daisies on them.

Please come down on Saturday morning and help us finish up these fun projects.

Project Bloom Visitors!

We have lots of people that come and visit the gardens for Project Bloom. We even have some non-human visitors! Here are some photos of deer, and turtles that enjoy our garden. The types of turtles are Red Eared Sliders and Box Turtles. While the deer are nice and cute to look at, they are doing some damage to the garden so we will have to implement ways to keep them away. 

Church Volunteers on July 18th

This past weekend we had many volunteers that came from the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints to volunteer at Project Bloom. They were very helpful, and we loved spending the morning with them! They came with little kids and seniors and we also want to thank our volunteer Bruce who came to help.

Bob built birdhouses out of some scrap lumber and leftover paint. He cut out flowers, bees, butterflies and little birdhouses for the children to paint. It poured with thunder and lightning as soon as they arrived, so we piled into the greenhouse and painted. There were about 3 dozen church members painting, and everything came out so cute and colorful! We are so grateful for their help and they have offered to come back at some point to help again, maybe in September. Keep Islip Clean (KIC) gave us water and granola bars for the volunteers, and also donated cans of paint and brushes for the project.

In the first photo of the stuff piled up on the porch beforehand, you can see two birdhouses made to look like the Islip Train Station and a Barn. They will be mounted in the Kid’s Garden. Bob also built a sign/fence that kids can pose behind that will be installed facing the playground.

Once the rain broke, the church volunteers descended on the weeds in the vegetable garden and did an amazing job. The area along the greenhouse will be planted up as the Stehling Rose Garden. The area behind it, next to the Kid’s Corner has been planted up as a shade garden in honor of Marge O’Connor. We also painted signs for the greenhouse and the garden fence.