Gardening

Pixabay photo

By Martina Matkovic

The Three Village Garden Club welcomes you as their guest on Friday, September 17th, when members will have an opportunity to display their creative talents in floral design and horticulture. Many hours of careful preparation and planning will culminate in a Small Standard Flower Show at the Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. No charge to the public, doors will be open from 2 to 6 p.m.

The following quotation from Sandra H. Robinson, past President of the National Garden Club, eloquently states the purpose of executing a flower show: 

An award winning design from the TVGC’s June 2017 flower show. Photo by Karin Steil

“One of the basic urges of mankind is the desire to create. Creative flower arranging is an art form in which the artist’s vision is expressed through the use of plant materials. Using the elements and principles of design, the artist strives to achieve the following attributes- beauty, harmony, distinction and expression. Flower shows provide a unique opportunity for floral designers, horticulturists, judges and the viewing public to become an integral part of the creative process.”

The show, titled “See You in September,” promises to be a spectacular visual experience. It is an opportunity to  find out about the club’s contributions to the community, with its emphasis on the importance of the use of native plantings and gardening techniques that help to protect the environment. Guests are encouraged to take a short walk to Frank Melville  Memorial Park where they may access the Arboretum, acquired by  the garden club in 1985 and maintained for the past 36 years. A map of the Arboretum will be available.

As guests arrive they will receive a printed guide to help navigate through the three parts of the juried show. Division 1, Horticulture,  will display cut specimens from the garden, fruits and vegetables, cut specimens from fruiting or flowering trees and shrubs, and container plants. Come see what a Blue Ribbon cucumber looks like!

An award winning design from the TVGC’s June 2017 flower show. Photo from Karin Steil

Division ll, comprised of four classes, will highlight members’ creative talents in floral design. Class 2 of this division, aptly named “Reflections and Inspirations,” will challenge those members who choose to enter by  creating a floral design that interprets the subject of a painting. The actual paintings will be hung nearby the corresponding design, inviting the viewer to observe. The artists who have loaned their works for this class are Patty Yantz, “The Sentinel”; Renee Caine, “Approaching Storm”; Eleanor Meier, “Winter Pears and Kimono”; and Robert Roehrig, “Dock Reflections.” 

Finally, but certainly not least, in Division lll guests will enjoy an exhibit that displays the club’s many contributions to the community with an emphasis on education and respect for our environment. This section also includes invitational exhibits solicited from florists and businesses in the community.  

Members who decide to participate will be judged for their entries, receive points and be awarded ribbons according to the National Garden Club System of Awarding.  The judging will be done in advance of the opening to the public and ribbons will be on display.

Please come and enjoy the beauty of the show, see what your neighbors and friends in the garden club are doing , and perhaps be inspired to join us. Our membership is open to all. For further information, please call 631 751-2743.

Author Martina Matkovic is a member of the Three Village Garden Club.

KEEP OUT OF THE GARBAGE CAN: Spoiled fruits and vegetables along with eggshells, coffee grounds and used tea bags make wonderful garden soil if composted. Pixabay photo

By John L. Turner

Pretend for a minute that you’ve just bought five spiffy new shirts and, pleased with your purchase, proudly place the shirts on the closet shelf. Three days later you visit the closet, pull two of the never-worn shirts off the shelf, walk outside and throw them into the garbage can. Sounds odd, strange, and disturbing, no? Well, welcome to the world of food waste, a huge, yet little recognized environmental problem. 

To put numbers around the problem, the average American family throws away roughly 240 pounds of food annually, between one-third and two-fifths of the food they buy, costing them about $1,800. That’s 50% of the seafood they bought, about 40% of the fruits and vegetables, 25% of the meat and 20% of the milk, and one-third of the grain. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, enough food is wasted nationally to annually fill 450,000 Statue of Libertys!

Why should we care about food waste? Because food production, consumption, and associated waste has relevance and is connected to so many important and interrelated issues: environmental degradation, hunger and food insecurity, economic inequality, and ethical use of animals, to name just a few.

Let’s take environmental degradation as one example. The environmental impacts resulting from the foods we eat (and waste) are nothing short of enormous: water depletion and water quality impacts, methane (a potent greenhouse gas) production from landfilled food items, loss of habitat (including wetlands) due to lands being converted to agriculture, widespread use of energy intensive fertilizers and agricultural poisons from pesticides, and a decline in abundance of marine life are several of the many results stemming from food production.  

If we reduce the amount of food we waste we proportionately reduce these impacts because we would not need to produce as much food as we do. That could mean more parks, forests, wetlands, grasslands and prairies and more food for the 57 million Americans who are food insecure.

Food waste constitutes a large fraction of garbage (about 24% of the garbage in a landfill is food). As it decomposes in landfills, food wastes generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas (according to the Environmental Protection Agency methane has 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide during its first several decades of circulating in the atmosphere). Rotting food in landfills is estimated to generate about 8% of the annual greenhouse gases released into the global atmosphere.

Water use stands out as another significant environmental impact made worse by food waste: fifty-six million acres of crops are irrigated in the United States, making agricultural water use the single largest consumer of water with eight out of every ten gallons of water used in the United States directed to agriculture for growing food — a total of more than 27 trillion gallons of water used annually. Unfortunately, pumping this amount of water to irrigate crops is depleting groundwater aquifers and drying reservoirs, rivers and streams.

And we could, of course talk about the amount of chemicals in the form of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides — and their impact to human and wildlife health — applied to our centralized food production system, but you get the picture.

Food waste occurs throughout the food production process from the point of harvest to consumption by consumers, from “farm to fork,” as the saying goes. For example, crops are often left unharvested due to changing market conditions, weather events, etc. This result was brought to bear with the COVID pandemic as millions of tons of various produce rotted on farms due to changes in the national food chain.

More food is wasted at the retail level, a fact made clear to me on a recent trip to a local Setauket supermarket. I was walking along the frozen/refrigerated food aisle and watched as an employee took packages out of the cabinets, gently tossing them into a shopping cart. Curious, I asked what he was doing. “I’m tossing them,” he said, “They’re past the expiration date.” While there’s no evidence that a food item a few days past the “expiration date” is not safe, I suspect the employee was simply following company direction.

Food waste is, of late, being addressed as lawmakers nationwide have started to grapple with the significance of the problem. New York State has already responded with the adoption of a law which becomes effective in January of 2022: the New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law. This law requires large producers of food waste (averaging more than two tons of food weekly) to donate edible food and to compost food that has perished. These efforts can have a very positive result. For example, in the United Kingdom food waste has dropped by about 21% due to a similar coordinated public-private effort.

And now to the stage where most food is wasted — at the family or consumer level caused by throwing out leftovers or unused foods that are past their “sell-by or best-used-by” dates. If you’ve read this far in the article you’re probably thinking of ways you might be able to reduce the amount of food waste you and family members throw in the garbage. There are many ideas to reduce the amount of food waste and to be part of the solution. Here are five to get started:

Love your leftovers ­— Save uneaten food and once in a while, consciously and specifically, plan your dinner by “loving your leftovers.” For dinner target various leftover dishes that are patiently biding their time on your refrigerator’s shelves.

Your nose knows — As one website notes: “Expiration dates are misleading and nonstandardized, leading many to toss out perfectly good food.” Foods generally don’t go bad instantly and you have a very sensitive and accurate tool to determine if food is still edible and its conveniently located in the middle of your face. Your nose is quite adept at picking up scents or whiffs of food that’s gone or going bad- don’t hesitate to use it. Trust your sense of smell!

Buy “ugly” fruits and vegetables —Consumers want the perfect apple with no spots or blemishes, yet that imperfect, slightly-spotted apple is perfectly fine to eat. Purchasing imperfect but healthy and safe produce is a sure way to prevent food from being deep-sixed in the supermarket’s garbage dumpster.

Say no to the garbage can, yes to the compost bin — If food has gone bad, compost that spoiled salad lettuce rather than disposing of it in the trash. This same lettuce, which in the landfill generates dangerous methane, makes wonderful garden soil if composted.

Buy a smaller turkey at Thanksgiving — one-third of turkey meat (that’s 204 million pounds) is thrown away each year, created by a mismatch between the size of the store-bought turkey and peoples’ appetites for it. The solution is simple: buy a smaller turkey.

Food waste is a significant problem. The good news is that each of us can play a role in solving it.

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

Volunteers are always needed at Bethel Hobbs Community Farm, 178 Oxhead Road, Centereach. Help with planting, weeding, harvesting, working in the greenhouse, property maintenance and more. Volunteer hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (hours subject to change) and Sunday by appointment. For more information, call  631-774-1556 or visit www.hobbsfarm.info.

Photo from Pixabay

The Northport Historical Society will present its Summer Splendor garden tour on July 18 from noon to 4 p.m. Held rain or shine, the event will feature an outdoor, self-led tour of six beautiful gardens in Northport, Fort Salonga and Asharoken. Each garden reflects a personality, family history and style unique to each property.

Tickets are $35 for members, $45 for non-members, and $50 on tour day and can be purchased on the Events page on the historical society’s website, northporthistorical.org.

Proceeds from the event will support the Society’s important work preserving, interpreting, and presenting the unique stories of  communities represented in Northport, East Northport, Fort Salonga, Asharoken, Eaton’s Neck and Crab Meadow.

For more information, please call 631-757-9859.

Pixabay photo

The Rocky Point Civic Association (RPCA) hosts its 10th annual Rocky Point Garden Tour on Saturday, July 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Held rain or shine. Tickets are $15 per person and are available for purchase at Heritage Paint, 637 Route 25A; Flowers on Broadway, 43 Broadway; and Heart, Mind & Spirit, 106 Prince Road, Rocky Point through July 17. All proceeds will benefit the RPCA. Questions? Call 631-521-5726 or email [email protected]

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Summer is a season to relax and enjoy the warm weather. Basking in the summer sun is a great way to relax, but only when the temperatures are safe. Summer heat waves can compromise the health of human beings as well as their pets. Gardening enthusiasts also may need to go the extra mile to keep their plants and gardens from wilting under harsh summer sun.

Extreme heat stress can be very harmful to plants. The online gardening resource Gardening Know How notes that some plants can withstand summer heat waves better than others. For example, succulents conserve water in their leaves, helping them to withstand heat waves when the dog days of summer arrive. But succulents are unique, and many plants will require a little extra help to withstand a heat wave.

· Take a proactive approach with mulch. Gardeners need not wait until the heat arrives to protect their plants from searing summer heat. The sustainable living experts at Eartheasy recommend utilizing light-colored mulch during heat waves. Such mulch will reflect the sunlight and help to maintain cooler surface soil conditions. Eartheasy even notes that grass clippings, once they’ve turned from green to light brown, can make for the perfect mulch to protect plants from the heat. Clippings also are free, making them a cost-effective solution.

· Water wisely. The horticultural experts at Yates Gardening note that water only helps plants withstand heat waves if it’s applied effectively. If water is only applied in short bursts and not long enough so it can penetrate all the way to the root zone, roots will then stay near the surface. In such instances, roots will dry out during a heat wave and plants won’t make it through the season. Timing also is essential when watering. Eartheasy recommends watering in the morning to avoid heat scald and also ensure as little water is lost to evaporation as possible. When watering during a heat wave, do so by hand rather than through a sprinkler. Hand watering allows gardeners to direct all of the water onto the plants that need it most during a heat wave.

· Let your plants pitch in. When planting new plants, it’s important that gardeners recognize it takes time for these plants to establish their roots so they’re strong enough to withstand heat waves. In the meantime, strategic planting can help them make it through their first heat waves unscathed. Eartheasy notes that planting by taller, more established plants can provide new plants with shade that can help them survive heat waves. Just make sure new plants can still get the sun they need to thrive.

Heat waves are inevitable and potentially harmful to gardens. Gardeners can help their plants beat the heat in various ways.

On Saturday, June 5, the Sound View Garden Club gathered to weed  and rake, prune and plant at the St. Charles Hospice Garden in Port Jefferson.

Flowers donated by Connie at GardenWorx in Miller Place were lovingly planted by the ladies of this club who have undertaken this project for over ten years. Their hands were blessed with water by the hospice chaplain who shared scripture and prayer with the gardeners. 

“It is with great pleasure that the garden club undertakes this endeavor that is greatly appreciated by the families who visit this very special place,” said Patrice Perreca, Vice President, Sound View Garden Club.

Photos from Patrice Perreca

 

Sup. Losquadro with Jen Carlson

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro recently assisted with the distribution of donated flowers and plant material from the Holtsville Ecology Site to be used for beautification projects across Brookhaven Town.

Bea Roberto with Sup. Losquadro

Grown in on-site greenhouses, the flowers and plant material are requested by local non-profit organizations, civic groups, school districts and hospitals. Some groups choose to borrow the plants for decoration at specific events; others use the plants to enhance community gardens or beautify local parks. Each year, Mather Hospital requests a donation of seasonal and sensory plants which are used in hands-on gardening experiences to advance healing among patients.

“The Ecology Site staff do such a wonderful job propagating, growing and caring for a beautiful variety of flowers, from annuals and perennials to flats and house plants,” said Superintendent Losquadro. “We are happy to provide them to assist local groups and organizations in their efforts to beautify our Town.”

Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto said, “This program allows us to put color in our community and beautify our parks. Especially now, a program like this means a lot. Being able to again plant flowers in our public spaces shows that Brookhaven is coming alive after more than a year that’s been hard.”

Rocky Point Civic Association President Jennifer Carlson said, “Two years ago, I became the park steward to the park behind Tilda’s Bakery (Veteran’s Park) in Rocky Point. I requested flowers and it makes a huge impact on the park. The addition of the flowers welcomes visitors and makes the park look more cared for. When the park looks cared for, people are more respectful of the space.”

Flower and plant donation requests can be sent to Superintendent Losquadro, 1140 Old Town Road, Coram, NY 11727. Requests are approved based on availability.

Photos courtesy of Town of Brookhaven

Sweetbriar Nature Center's Habitat Garden

The Four Harbors Audubon Society will host a Habitat Garden Maintenance Volunteer Day event at Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown on Friday, May 28, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Join 4HAS and Nature Initiative as they maintain the Center’s Habitat Garden, located across from the Eagle enclosure behind the main building at Sweetbriar Nature Center.  They will be weeding, planting, and dividing perennials, plus learning about insects, the local ecosystem, and how plants and animals co-evolved.
Contact Joy Cirigliano to volunteer: [email protected] or (631) 766-3075

Green Thumb

Would you like to try eating some delicious, fresh, local, certified organic vegetables, herbs and fruit? How about getting all this, and organically grown flowers too, at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington before or after seeing a movie? (The Cinema will be announcing a reopening date soon)

Green Thumb Community Support Agriculture (CSA) – Huntington is coming to the Cinema Arts Centre’s Sky Room Café starting Thursday, June 3 (and every Thursday till December 10th), between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Green Thumb CSA

And for first-time CSA members, who are members of the Cinema, Green Thumb CSA – Huntington is offering $55 off the initial sign-up cost of joining! (Plus, if you make an appointment just to visit the CSA at the Cinema, you’ll leave with an edible parting gift (a sample from the CSA share for that week). Join by May 30 to be able to begin picking up your organic veggies on June 3rd. There just might be some strawberries!

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it’s a great way for a group of people (Community) to support (Supported) a local farm family (Agriculture), while also getting fresh, local, certified organic produce at a fair price. Green Thumb CSA – Huntington is great for families (kids that come to the CSA are more likely to eat veggies THEY pick out), great for seniors (if you’re interested in eating healthy on a budget this is a mighty good investment), great for singles (if you want to share a CSA share with someone we provide a matchmaking service), and great for everyone who’s interested in eating better (and tastier), saving money, keeping our Long Island agricultural heritage going strong, and helping to clean up our environment.

All the food in the CSA share is from Green Thumb Farm in Water Mill, NY. They are an 11th generation family farm that’s been farming on Long Island since the 1640s. Almost half of what they grow is sold to CSA members so CSA helps keep this family doing what they love, and what they’re very good at doing.

Join now and tour the farm and come Strawberry picking on June 26 (free and for CSA members only)!

For more information, and to make an appointment to visit Green Thumb CSA – Huntington for some free organic produce, call 631-421-4864, or email [email protected]