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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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! 

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.

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. 

New and Unusual Plants To Grow!

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


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

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)

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.

What’s In Bloom for Early July

There are many plants blooming in our yard right now. We also had a visit from a woodpecker that flew into our back door, he took some time after impact to collect his bearings on the back steps. The large flowering quince from the corner of the yard was chopped down, it made room for many small plants and now we can see the street from that side of the yard! And we also found a nest in the Dwarf Alberta Spruce in the center of the front yard, there was 5 tiny eggs inside. Some of the plants in bloom are Asiatic Lilies, Black Eyed Susans, Blue eyed Mist and Thyme in the pathway.

Adventures in the East End

While out in the East End, we visited some farms, Lavender By The Bay, Catapano Goat Farm, Custer Institute Observatory  and Garden of Eve. The Lavender Farm has been on Long Island for the past 15 years, and is still thriving. With 17-acres of farm land and 20 varieties of Lavender, the cultivation yields over 50,000 plants. They offer many products from dried lavender and body soaps, to lavender for tea! The Garden of Eve is an organic farm that is set on helping the community eat well through their CSA program. It is a colorful and fantastic place. I would definitely go back to each farm and suggest you visit soon!

Project Bloom Gardens Late June

Here are some before and after photos at the Project Bloom Community Garden. It is coming along beautifully, and I am so proud of our progress. We also received a brand new sign for the garden from KIC! There are many plants in bloom at the moment as well. Check out how pretty the roses along the Greenhouse wall are! 

What’s In Bloom Early June 2015

Here’s currently what is in bloom in our garden. There are many plants including: Columbine, Snapdragons, Rhododendron, Lupine, Tree Peonies, Geum, Blueberries, Thyme, Strawberries, Spiderwort, Rose Campion, Snigle Mock Orange Shrubs, Foxglove, Lavender, Kousa Dogwood Tree, Irises, Houttania, Hens and Chicks, Euonymous Lilac, Painted Daisies, Double Mock Orange, Knockout Rose, Our Vegetable Garden, Marigolds, Gerber Daisies, Dusty Millar Hosta, Blue Mist Hydrangea Shrub, Snowmound Spirea and Azalea. 

Project Bloom Update Late May 2015

These photos were taken on May 20th at Project Bloom’s gardens at Brookwood Hall, in East Islip. The vegetable beds are nearly completed and most are planted for the season. We’ve added a Kid’s Garden and a fun fence from reclaimed wood. Once the vegetable garden is done, our focus will be the memorial garden. We will continue to meet throughout the summer on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings at 9:30 to plant perennials and to maintain our new garden beds.

May 7th, 2015

Beautiful flowers are in bloom in our yard at the moment! We have many different types of flowers including English Daisy (Bellis), Our Spring Bed which has Betty Boo Dwarf Iris, Inky Dink Iris, Double Cowslip Primrose, Basket of Gold which is a perennial allysum, Spice Bush Vibernum, Tulips, Daffodils and Creeping Phlox. In our Mailbox Bed we have hostas. In our yard we also have Asiatic Lilies, Tulips, Iris, more Daffodils, Chierianthus (Wallflowers), Foxglove (from last year seedlings), a cool variety of daffodil which is white with an orange center, and we also have Chinese Dunce Caps (Orostachys iwarenge.)

What’s in bloom for May

Take a look at what’s growing in our yard at the moment. All the colors are so beautiful and vibrant. The flowers blooming this month include Johnny Jump Ups, Yellow Tulips, Red Double Tulips, Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles), A pathway made of Thyme, A Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Callery Pear Tree (Pyrus calleryana), Purple Tulips, Weeping Cherry Tree, Orange frittalaria, Japanese Andromeda (pieris) and Creeping Phlox. I said it last month, and I will say it again– this is by far my favorite time of the year!