Tags Posts tagged with "Flowers"


By Tara Mae

The Antiques and Garden Weekend show, a fundraiser for the Port Jefferson Historical Society, returns after a two-year COVID delay to the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A East Broadway, Port Jefferson on Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Transformed into an organized maze of goods and greenery, all three floors of the Village Center will be utilized to host approximately 25 vendors from across Long Island as well as a café. In conjunction with the society, the Suwassett Garden Club of Belle Terre will host a bake sale and provide a verdant trellis of plants, flowers, annuals, and herbs.

Many of the vendors are annual participants who set up shop to sell their wares, including but not limited to rare books, linens, vintage handbags, prints, garden tools and “every kind of jewelry, from costume through the real McCoy,” according to event co-chair Catherine Quinlan.

New vendors are recruited by word of mouth. “Dealers recommended other dealers for the show; a lot of them helped me find vendors for this show. They want the show to maintain its quality,” Quinlan said. Buyers and sellers alike are drawn to the show’s unique setup. Situated along the water, with views that overlook the harbor, the Village Center offers a singular experience for both vendors and attendees alike. “Vendors are able to set up their stands so that the scenic views are their backdrop, which both they and the patrons enjoy. I want people to come and enjoy the lovely setting — the building on the water is so beautiful,” added Quinlan.

Quinlan and fellow co-chair Sandra Swenk, both members of the Port Jefferson Historical Society, connected 14 years ago to raise money for the upkeep of the Mather House Museum, the society’s historic property on Prospect Street.

“Year round maintenance of the Mather estate is a costly undertaking so this show as well as a fall auction are key functions that enable the Society to maintain the buildings and grounds, keep the Museum open for exhibits, and offer tours as well as a consignment shop that is open during the Museum season which begins Memorial Day weekend,” said Swenk.

The women drew inspiration from touring other antique and garden shows on Long Island and observing their practices. “We visited shows scheduled on Long Island and made contacts with vendors who presented a variety of interesting antiques and collectibles that would be appealing to visitors and buyers. We arranged with the Village to hold the show at the Village Center each April,” Swenk said.

Truly a community event, in addition to the support of the garden club and village, the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company has special rates for ferry riders traveling to the show. “Fred Hall, general manager of the ferry, hangs a banner in Bridgeport to advertise the show and offers discounts to people who are coming for the show: 2 for 1 deals for same day passengers. Mayor Margot Garant is very supportive. I like working with everyone from the village,” she said. “The event is a lot of work, but a lot of fun. It’s about the community coming together and helping us raise money.”

Tickets are $6 per person, $5 if a member of a party presents the event postcard or online ad. Children 16 years or younger, accompanied by an adult, are free of charge. For more information, or visit www.portjeff-antiques-garden.net.

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

Passerbys accept free flowers as part of the Society for American Florists Petal It Forward campaign from Flowers on Broadway. Photo by Kyle Barr

On a busy Wednesday morning, as people moved in between the parking lot and Planet Fitness along Route 25A in Rocky Point, two young women held fistfuls of flowers, arms outstretched. 

Carmen Pettus from Sunshine Barre Studio accepts flowers from Li Guo. Photo by Kyle Barr

As part of the trade association Society of American Florists’ Petal It Forward campaign, Rocky Point flower shop Flowers on Broadway looked to make people’s early day commutes a little more colorful. 

Taylor Wagner and Li Guo, who both work for Flowers on Broadway, handed out bouquets to those passing by. Some looked confused at them as they presented the flowers, others questioned if the pair wanted anything for the flower arrangements. They were free, they said, and would get two so they could pass one onto the next person they see.

One man offered a bouquet said, “I don’t do flowers,” while others, like Carmen Pettus, the owner of SunShine Barre Studio in Rocky Point, said the flowers “made my day.”

Wagner, a junior designer at the flower shop, said she’s often surprised how many people seem estranged by the thought of free flowers.

“We went to the Blue Grass concert last weekend, and we were handing out flowers, and most of the guys said, ‘No, I don’t want flowers,’ while a lot of the women said, ‘Oh yes, flowers,’ she said, laughing to herself. “It’s amazing, it’s just a bunch of daisies guys.”

Passerbys accept free flowers as part of the Society for American Florists Petal It Forward campaign from Flowers on Broadway. Photo by Kyle Barr

Over the course of the day, the duo stopped at three places, the RP Planet Fitness, outside the Pompei Pizza in Rocky Point and by Branchineli’s Pizzaria in Miller Place. By the end of the day, they had given out 300 bouquets to around 150 people.

Stephanie Navas, the owner of Flowers on Broadway, learned about the yearly event being put on by the flower society the past several years.

“We wanted to give back to the community that’s supported us all these years with a small act to brighten their day,” Navas said. “Through the positive effect of flowers, we hope to make someone’s day special, and provide a much-needed moment of calm amidst the hectic pace of life.”

Flowers from a boxwood hedge. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

When botanists speak of flowering plants, many people think of really showy plants such as rhodies or Kwanzan cherries or Montauk daisies. But most of the plants we commonly grow are all flowering plants; it is just the flowers are really tiny, sometimes so tiny we hardly notice them — really inconspicuous. Nonflowering plants include ferns (reproduce by spores), conifers (cones) and moss (spores).

Oak trees

Like many flowering plants, the oak has separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Note that this is true of squash. Some flowering plants, like holly and gingko, have male flowers on one plant and female on another. To get those beautiful red berries on holly, you must have at least one male plant in the area. And, some flowering plants have male and female organs in the same flower, like tomatoes. Now, back to the oak tree. There are hundreds of species of oak trees. The long-lived tree is a symbol of strength.

In 2004, the oak was adopted as America’s national tree following a vote hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation. Oak trees do extremely well in Long Island’s acidic soil so grow here natively. Oak trees produce male flowers known as catkins, a string of tiny flowers hanging off the branches, before the leaves appear, usually in April. People allergic to oak pollen soon begin to have symptoms. The female flowers, which are incredibly tiny, come out after that. They are so small, notes the University of Tennessee Extension Service that they “require a magnifying glass for identification.” Then, the fruit of the flowers, that is the acorns, form developing over the summer and falling to the ground in fall. Very few acorns survive to sprout since they serve as food for wildlife. Unprocessed, acorns are rich in tannic acid and are not edible by humans. They can be processed and made edible, however. I once had acorn cookies, made by an expert. To my taste, they were dry and not very tasty, but definitely edible.


Looking at dogwood, the white (or pink) flowers we see are actually not flowers but modified leaves known as bracts. The flowers are the really tiny yellow centers. This is also true of poinsettias. The showy red petals are not petals at all but modified leaves. A hint, when selecting poinsettias, look for ones with the yellow centers (the flowers) still tightly closed. Ones that are open and spreading pollen are more mature and won’t last as long in the house.


Another plant that has really tiny flowers is the boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) hedge. The cold hardy, evergreen varieties are native to Europe.

According to the American Boxwood Society, the first planting of boxwood in the Americas was on Long Island’s own Shelter Island at Sylvester Manor in 1653. Boxwood plants are usually used as hedge plants due to how easily they can be pruned to keep them at a given size. Without pruning they can easily reach 15 or more feet. Because boxwood are usually pruned to a given height or shape, we rarely see the flowers that develop in June. Boxwood are so easy to prune, that very overgrown and woody hedges can be cut back almost to the ground, usually a foot or so, and they will grow and fill in nicely, rejuvenating them. The society notes that they do best in a soil pH that is only mildly acidic (6.5 to 7.2) through neutral to mildly alkaline. Despite this, it’s been my observation that boxwood planted near me do extremely well in any soil pH.

Although boxwood can be propagated from stem cuttings, I’ve had a number seed themselves on my property despite the fact that I’ve planted none. For more information on boxwood, go to The American Boxwood Society at www.boxwoodsociety.org. Many other trees and shrubs have very inconspicuous flowers including that of the maple (which sheds its seed pods, the “helicopters” or “whirlybirds” that seem to be everywhere) and mulberry. A really strange flower is that of the fig tree — the figs actually form around the flower so you virtually never see the flower itself. How’s that for tiny?

Next week, not only inconspicuous but unwanted flowers on common plants will be the topic.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected]. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

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Fungus on dead tree stumps helps to break down the dead wood, returning the nutrients to the soil. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

One of the things that a gardener needs to do is to identify fungi on plants and take appropriate steps to control the fungi (if possible) if it is detrimental to the plant. But not all fungi will kill plants. Some just make the plant look bad. And some actually are beneficial.

In the past, I’ve had several trees which didn’t survive because of fungus. My beautiful mimosa trees died due to a fungus (mimosa wilt) which could not be stopped at the time. Leaves turned yellow in midsummer and dropped. The tree never sprouted the following growing season. The trees literally died within a few weeks.

A rust killed a mountain ash I had. I was really disappointed, and missed the beautiful orange berries the tree bore and which persisted on the tree well into winter. Mountain ash is a native of North America and has white flowers in spring.

Cedar apple rust can also be found on trees on Long Island. It particularly attacks cedar, apple and crabapple trees. The fruiting body develops as a brownish growth on the tree. Then orange tentacles emerge from the growth. The rust is not fatal to the tree but definitely unsightly, almost looking like something out of a sci-fi movie. Remove the growth making sure to sterilize gardening tools afterwards, so as not to spread the pathogen to other trees.

Orange ‘tentacles’ emerge from the cedar apple rust fungus. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Orange ‘tentacles’ emerge from the cedar apple rust fungus. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Now for some generalities on fungal diseases and their prevention:

First of all, weak plants are more prone to getting a fungal disease than strong ones. So, make sure you feed and water your plants appropriately.

Plants that are crowded with no air circulation are also more prone to fungal diseases.

It’s better to water plants at ground level, especially in the evening, so leaves don’t stay wet overnight. A drip irrigation system works well sending water to the roots and not the leaves.

Look for fungus-resistant plants such as rust resistant apple and crabapple trees, tomatoes which are resistant to tomato blight, roses resistant to black spot, etc. The tomato blight, for example, will prevent you from getting a decent crop of tomatoes. So this one definitely falls in the bad category.

Know that some trees are prone to the fungal disease anthracnose, but generally it is more unsightly, than dangerous. Maples and catalpas in particular develop it in humid weather. The leaves look like they are covered with a white power. Unless the tree is very old and weak it will usually survive with no treatment at all. So, this is a case of ugly, but not really dangerous. When anthracnose develops on the native dogwood (Cornus florida), however, it is much more serious. This is why some recommend planting other varieties of dogwood.

Replace plants that are prone to fungal diseases with those with similar attributes but which don’t contract certain diseases. For example, impatiens in recent years have been attacked by a fungus. They are annuals that do well and bring color to shady areas. Instead, plant coleus which are also annuals that do well and bring color to shady areas but are not prone to fungal diseases.

If you see a fungus growing on a live tree, check out that tree carefully. Usually large fungi only grow on dead or dying trees. I missed this important sign a number of years ago. An enormous section of one of my maple trees broke off the tree and landed across the street. An arborist gave me the bad news that my tree was dying and needed to be removed. I now check periodically to see if any large fungi are growing on my trees.

Now for the good: Some edible fungi, such as chicken fungi (Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus), grow on dead or dying trees or tree stumps. Be very careful here, as most fungi are not safe to eat. Make sure you check this out with an expert. Also, fungi with large, visible fruiting bodies help to break down dead wood, i.e., the cycle of nature, returning nutrients to the soil. Toad stools growing in the grass help to break down organic matter as well.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected]. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

‘Lily,’ Oil on Linen Board, by Daniel van Benthuysen of Huntington

By Talia Amorosano

On the sunny afternoon of Saturday, June 18, in conjunction with the beginning of summer, the juried art exhibition, Of a Botanical Nature, organized by the Smithtown Township Arts Council, opened at the Mills Pond House in St. James. For the first time this year, the general public was afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a gallery full of art representative of the intricacies of local and nonlocal flora. 

‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven
‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven

The exhibit, which will run through July 20, features 60 works of art from 49 artists, 22 of whom hail from various nonlocal areas of the country including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and California. The remaining 27 represent the Long Island and New York City area. 

The artists
Mark Attebery
Ross Barbera *
Arthur Bernstein *
Stephen Brucker
Carol Ceraso *
Lisa Conway
Caryn Coville *
Debra Crawford
Audry Deal-McEver
Granville C. Fairchild *
Margaret Farr
Beverly Fink
Ingrid Finnan
Kathy Folino
Elizabeth Fusco *
Janice Marie Gabriel *
Kristine Gaier
Kelsey Gallagher
Vivian Gattuso *
Maureen Ginipro *
Patricia Greenberg
Stella Grove
Jillian Hauck *
Katherine Hiscox *
Kathleen Hollan
David Jaycox Jr. *
Lynn Kinsela *
Amanda Lebel
Katherine Lechler *
Madeline Lovallo
Patricia Luppino *
Louis R. Mangieri *
Lucy Martin
Kelly McLeod
Gary Mulnix
Lois Perlman
Pat Proniewski
Judith Scillia
Irene Paquette Tetrault *
Monica Ray *
Lynne Rivellese *
Robert Roehrig *
Alisa Shea *
Gisela Skoglund *
Gunter Stern *
Susan Tango *
Daniel van Benthuysen *
Camille Warmington
Sharon Way-Howard *
*Long Island artists

The works that appear in the show were chosen by Juror Wendy Hollender, a botanical artist, illustrator and author who currently instructs botanical drawing classes at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. An accomplished illustrator, her work has been published in The New York Times and Good Housekeeping magazine and exhibited at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 

Regarding Hollender’s selection process, the executive director of STAC, Allison Cruz, said, “She really picked a broad range of artwork based in reality. She was looking more for realism, but she did take a couple of pieces that are more abstract.” Accordingly, Hollender awarded first and second place to artists whose works exemplify a command of a photorealistic style of portraying traditionally botanical subjects: respectively, Colorado-based artist Patricia Greenberg for her pencil drawing, “The Flower Loves the Rain,” and New York City-based artist Ingrid Finnan for her color illustration, “Blue Hubbard Squash.” These two artists will go on to participate in a winner’s show next year,  which will also be held at the Mills Pond House.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Margaret Farr for various botanical illustrations, Gary Mulnix for a larger-than-life wooden sculptural representation of “Lupine” and Lois Perlman for a richly saturated color illustration of a “Parrot Tulip.”

‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai
‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai

According to Cruz, this exhibit features a particularly wide range of artistic mediums. In addition to two-dimensional works in watercolor, acrylic, oil, wash on paper and colored pencil, the show includes six three-dimensional sculptural works made of bronze, black walnut wood, glass mosaic, steel and clay, among other materials.

Subject matter depicted ranges from close-up, scientific-looking views of individual flowers or plants with monochromatic backgrounds (Kelly McLeod’s “Wilted Alstroemeria,” Kathleen Hollan’s “Autumn Leaves”), to still life images of staged indoor plants (Katherine Hiscox’s “From the Garden,” Granville C. Fairchild’s “Reaching to Heaven”), to garden landscapes (Pat Proniewski’s “Morning Azaleas,” Carol Ceraso’s “Spring Affair”), to abstract representations of natural subjects (Lisa Conway’s “Grey Swan,” Arthur Bernstein’s “Sprout”).

However, all of the pieces in some way reflect the organic spontaneity of life in the natural world within the ordered structures of scientific classification, together forming a show that fosters an appreciation for the small examples of natural beauty that often go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives.

Cruz said, “There are a lot of watercolors by the nature of most of the flower illustrations, but it really is a broad range … I have everything in this show except photography and digital art. It’s a beautiful mix of media.”

The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present Of a Botanical Nature at the Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James through July 20. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. (closed July 3). Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.

‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit
‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit

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A healthy crape myrtle in full bloom. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

There’s an old saying, “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” When the weather turned cold last autumn, I believed in tomorrow, that is, next spring, and believed that my plants going dormant would grow again as the weather warmed.

Well, going outside this spring, and looking at my plants with their new little green buds, I was particularly concerned that my beautiful crape myrtle showed no signs of life. As time went by, it became obvious that the plant didn’t survive. Although associated with the southern part of the country, the variety I planted was supposed to be cold hardy on Long Island, as it was rated for U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 6 and Long Island is zone 7. In addition, it had survived the previous two extremely cold winters — remember the polar vortex? So, why did it die?

The most likely answer is cold damage. I had noticed last summer that the plant didn’t look as healthy as it had in previous years. When temperatures drop below 10 degrees for any length of time, crape myrtle tends to die back down to the ground. By mid-May the plant should have begun sprouting, at least from the ground, but, it’s been a cool spring, so it’s possible that the recovery was just slow. As the warm weather really arrived, however, it still showed no signs of growth. That means that the roots died and the plant needed to be replaced.

To replace crape myrtle with more cold-tolerant varieties, there are some which are cold tolerant to zone 5. Consider:

— Pure white: ‘Natchez,’ which reaches 18 feet, or ‘Kiowa,’ which is considerably smaller at six to eight feet

— Deep red: ‘Okmulgee’ at eight feet; ‘Cherokee’ also at eight feet; ‘Tonto’ at just six to eight feet

— Lavender: ‘Zuni’ at 10 feet tall; ‘Blue Lavender’ at 16 feet; ‘Catawba,’ darkest violet purple; and ‘Apalachee, 20 feet, a pale lavender

— Watermelon or coral: ‘Tuskegee’ reaches 25 feet; ‘Miami’ also at 25 feet; ‘Comanche’ at 16 feet

— Pink: ‘Choctaw at 20 feet; ‘Hopi’ at just 8 feet tall

A close up of crape myrtle flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel
A close up of crape myrtle flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Note that the maximum heights indicated above refer to plants that have not died back to the ground over the winter. A crape myrtle that has the potential to reach 20 feet, will only do so if the top part of the tree doesn’t suffer from winter-kill.

Crape myrtle bloom in mid to late summer with a stunning array of flowers. Some varieties are bushier and some more tree-like. Once established they can tolerate some drought, but prefer a warm, humid climate. You’ll get the most flowers if planted in full sun. They do well in most soil types but prefer slightly acidic soil. Prune your crape myrtle in spring, removing any dead branches. Also remove succors during the growing season if they develop on tree-like plants. Some develop fungal diseases (powdery mildew or leaf spot). If yours develops any of these diseases, use an appropriate fungicide. The problem of root rot is usually not anything to be concerned about with our sandy soil, which easily drains.

Winter-kill affects many other plants, particularly Hydrangea macrophylla, which frequently die back to the ground in a very cold winter. The older varieties produce flowers on old wood; so if yours has died back to the ground, you’ll have lots of green leaves in summer but no flowers. When replacing old H. macrophylla, look for reblooming hydrangeas like ‘Endless Summer,’ which blooms on both old and new wood.

In a future column, we’ll take a look at other reasons why plants die unexpectedly. So, where am I off to now? A local nursery to replace my crape myrtle.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected]. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

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Plant a row of beans every week or two to prolong bearing time. Photo from All-America Selections

By Ellen Barcel

Well, Mother’s Day has come and gone, a heads up that it’s time to start planting your more tender veggies. Plants that fall under this category include corn, tomatoes, certain herbs, beans, squash and melons.

Corn does well on Long Island, if you have enough room. You need enough plants so that they can pollinate the ears. For the home gardener, plant the corn in a square format. Ears grown on the edge of the square may not fully pollinate.


Just about every gardener puts in a few tomato plants. When selecting plants put in several that are very early bearers, like Early Girl and Early Cascade (at approximately 55 days or so, you should have tomatoes by July) some that come in at a later time and some that bear fruit in late summer. Better Boy and Big Girl produce fruit in about 70 days — by the end of July. Beefstake tomatoes come in even later but are definitely worth the wait.

How soon you get tomatoes depends on how big the plants are that you select. If you buy plants that already have tiny green tomatoes on them, you’ve got a head start.

Remember that tomatoes are tender plants. They will not set fruit unless the night temperature is above 50 degrees, which is why the gardener is told not to put out tomato plants until after Mother’s Day (or better yet, Memorial Day). Night temperature above 75 degrees and day temperature above 85 to 90 tend to keep fruit from setting as well since high temperatures render the pollen no longer viable. Tomatoes are self-fertile so you can even grow one of each variety and not worry about having a second plant to pollinate the first.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders so apply fertilizer. Photo from All-America Selections
Tomatoes are heavy feeders so apply fertilizer. Photo from All-America Selections

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so make sure you either use sufficient compost or compost tea or a chemical fertilizer. Always follow manufacturer’s directions when using a chemical fertilizer. If a little is good, a lot is not necessarily better. You could burn the plants doing that.

Also remember to provide enough water for your tomato plants as well — not soggy, but evenly moist and well-drained soil is ideal. Don’t let the plants dry out.


Squash should also be planted now. There are many varieties, so consider what you and your family enjoy eating. There are two main groupings of squash, summer squash and winter squash. Summer squash are squash that are harvested in summer, when the rind is immature, soft. Summer squash include zucchini, yellow summer squash, pattypan squash and crookneck squash among others. Squash are low in calories and are great served with a tomato sauce. I steam them (sliced) in the microwave.

Squash can be grown in large containers. Since they are vining plants, they can grow up trellises or fences. They’re easy to grow in a variety of soil types and climates. They have both male and female flowers on the plant, so don’t be surprised if all of the flowers you see don’t produce fruit — the male ones just provide the pollen.

Winter squash are basically squash that are more mature than summer squash and have a hard rind that is not edible. Winter squash include butternut squash, acorn squash, hubbard squash, spaghetti squash (great served as a low-carb spaghetti replacement) and, of course, pumpkins. As with the summer squash, they are low in calories. My favorite way of preparing butternut squash is to cube it, simmer in chicken or beef broth with onions, thyme, salt and pepper and add in cooked sausage.

Green beans

It’s also time to begin planting your green beans. Don’t start beans inside as they don’t transplant well. Don’t plant them all at once, but row upon row every week or two until midsummer. This last planting should provide you with beans well into the fall. Plant them one-inch deep in full sun. Keep them evenly moist but in a well-drained area. A soil pH of 6 to 6.8 is ideal. Since this is only slightly acidic, you may need to add lime to your soil. Test your soil first.

There are basically two types of Phaseolus vulgaris, bush beans and pole beans. Pole beans need some sort of support, such as a trellis, while bush beans don’t. There are many varieties of each. In general, bush beans mature in 50 to 60 days while pole beans take 60 to 80 days. Like corn and squash, they are native to the Americas — particularly Mesoamerica and the Andes region. P. vulgaris comes in a variety of colors besides green, including purple and yellow. The yellow ones are commonly called wax beans or butter beans.

Tender herbs, like basil and cilantro as well as melons should be planted now as well.

All of these are ideal plants if you are gardening with children or grandchildren. They can check day by day to see how their plants are coming along. You may also be able to get them to eat more veggies — fresh and right out of their garden.

It is my personal preference to grow veggies and fruits organically and definitely without pesticides. If, however, you must use chemicals, read the package directions and follow them carefully. They will indicate how long before harvest you can still apply the chemicals and be safe eating the produce.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected]. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.