Tags Posts tagged with "Garden"


Friends of Port Jefferson village resident, Ana Hozyainova, reflect on her work as a local change agent

Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By Lynn Hallarman

Ana Hozyainova’s house in Port Jefferson village sits nestled among the native garden she has been coaxing into maturity. The garden reimagines a former suburban lawn, once jammed with ornamental flowers and bushes meant for show. She points to a thicket along the perimeter. “You see that shrub, it doesn’t belong here, and its berries are junk food for birds — they have no nutrition,” she tells me on a walk around her property.

I met Hozyainova about two years ago, shortly after her failed bid to become a Port Jefferson Village trustee. After hearing her speak at a campaign debate, I was impressed with her approach to village issues and wanted to get to know her. We met for coffee and talked. As it turned out, this first meeting began a series of conversations between us about her vision of the village as part of, not instead of, the surrounding natural world. “When you talk with people about the natural landscape, it is difficult to turn the thinking away from the land as a commodity from which wealth is to be extracted,” she said. She wants to help people get out of their heads to connect with others and nature.

Her campaign platform for village trustee translated this vision into a practical plan — she wanted sidewalks, lots of them, in smartly configured networks. She wanted to redesign village roads to heal a long-standing safety problem with speeding vehicles. She wanted, in other words, for the village to slow down.    

Hozyainova, 43, seems taller than her 5-foot-6-inch frame, with lanky arms and legs and shoulder-length blond hair, almost always tied with a scrunchy. She is the kind of person who prefers to walk barefoot. She has, it seems, an encyclopedic knowledge of local flora and fauna. Ask her about her choice of plantings for her garden, and she will tell you it is designed to be undisturbed and native, producing some food but “mainly functioning as a sanctuary for insects, birds and small mammals.” She offered me a starter planting for my garden.

Hozyainova emigrated to the United States 20 years ago to attend the Columbia School of Social Work, where she graduated with a master’s degree. Sometime after, she met her now-spouse, and they moved to Port Jefferson for her to pursue a career as a clinical social worker. She is fluent in five languages: English, Russian, Farsi, Uzbek and Kyrgyz — the native language of Kyrgyzstan, where she was born. Some describe her vocal cadence as a calming balm when speaking at contentious village meetings. She never voices an opinion without doing her homework and brings data into any discussion to back up her arguments.

This quality of critical thinking impressed her neighbors. So much so that Michael Mart and Myrna Gordon, longtime residents and regular village government gadflies, volunteered to help her with her trustee campaign. They were drawn to her ability to think beyond the immediate issue to see a solution in a broader context. “She can think forward and not accept, without questioning, unexplained government actions,” Mart said.

Hozyainova, about a year ago, brought the long-dormant Port Jefferson Civic Association back to life. I asked her, on another walk, why she wanted to restart the group. She paused momentarily to pull out an invasive weed, seemingly contemplative. The civic association, she tells me, is her attempt to do what other actions have failed to produce for resident engagement — consensus building around local issues of concern. 

“I wanted people in the village to believe again that they have a say in how the government conducts itself,” she said.

The group is growing, even attracting younger people and recent village transplants. Almost everyone showing up will tell you Hozyainova is bringing them. “We shall see if the civic takes hold,” she tells me. The group, she muses, still needs its walking legs.

For her dedicated work in building the Port Jefferson Civic Association and for environmental preservation, TBR News Media makes Ana Hozyainova a 2023 Person of the Year.

Progress is being made at the Beach Street community garden in Port Jefferson. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Nearly three-dozen volunteers spent their Saturday building metal beds that will soon be home to veggies and other plants at Port Jefferson’s new community garden.

On May 22, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., 32 volunteers contributed between one to nine hours of volunteer work toward the building of the Beach Street Community Garden. 

The build comes after months of planning, spearheaded by trustee Rebecca Kassay and the PJV Community Garden Committee — a group of volunteers who helped scout out a location that would be beneficial to gardeners young and old. 

“While I planted the seed, it could not have sprouted, thrived and borne fruit like this without the time, efforts and support of so many individuals and groups,” she said.

Kassay said the garden will be able to give residents an opportunity to grow local, organic food and enjoy outdoor recreation together, while creating learning opportunities for its villagers and maintaining parkland. 

The pilot project was approved unanimously by the village during its March 15 board meeting, and $4,000 of village beautification funds was contributed specifically for irrigation and raised-bed materials.  

Volunteers putting the garden beds together. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Looking at how far this project has come in such a short span of time — only five months — I am overwhelmed by gratitude for this community, the passionate individuals who stepped up to the Community Garden Committee, and community stakeholders who didn’t hesitate to ask how they could help make it happen,” Kassay said. “On Saturday, we kept saying ‘many hands make light work,’ and that was true for the day as well as the project at large.”

While Saturday saw hot temperatures and slight humidity, that didn’t stop the group from prepping the land for its new life. For years, the space on Beach Street was home to a playground that eventually fell into disrepair. As of late, it was an empty lot.

According to Kassay, the volunteers assembled 24 raised-bed kits — each with about 150 pieces in the kit; lined the bottoms of each bed with cardboard; installed 25 fence posts; dug a 12-inch trench around the perimeter of the garden; stapled up deer fencing; installed a poultry netting rodent guard; and moved about 9 cubic yards of topsoil into the raised beds — thanks to Holmes Irrigation which donated company time to help.

“I think it’s an excellent use of property that has sat vacant for too many years with really not a good function,” said Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “I think this will add another dimension to our community. It’ll engage our residents … maybe assist with businesses that want to do organic gardening. It’s really a win-win.”

Resident Kelly DeVine came down to help out because she was excited for the cause.

“I’ve watched this piece of property go from a playground to this disused lot,” she said. “And when I heard about the community garden, I was really thrilled because I like the environmental aspect of it and the opportunity to start encouraging people to compost, but also the community building. I’m meeting so many of my neighbors out here on this beautiful day and that’s what is so special about living in Port Jeff.”

If the pilot garden project is successful, the committee expects to expand with more raised beds at the Beach Street site in 2022, and in subsequent years create a second garden site at the Highlands parkland uptown.

In order to become a part of the garden’s community, there is a lottery system to obtain a raised bed. There are 20 total raised beds available for rent, with four communal herb/flower beds for registered gardeners. Four of the raised beds have higher sides for gardeners with different abilities.

Submissions are due to Village Hall by June 4 and recipients will be notified via email by June 10.

Those interested can apply at portjeff.com/communitygarden, or may drop off the lottery form to Port Jefferson Village Hall, Raised Bed Lottery, 121 W. Broadway, Port Jefferson, NY 11777.

Members from the Port Jefferson Community Garden Committee at the Beach Street location. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Just in time for spring, Port Jefferson’s community garden is planned and ready to get started.

On March 15, the Village Board of Trustees voted an overwhelming “yes” to the new pilot community garden program. 

The idea behind it, Trustee Rebecca Kassay — who “planted the seed” on the project — said it would be able to give residents an opportunity to grow local, organic food and enjoy outdoor recreation together, while creating learning opportunities for its villagers. The garden would be dedicated to maintaining parkland and be a staple to the community.

And she felt that this quaint area could benefit from its own garden.

“I’ve been around vegetable gardens since I was born,” she said. “My father kept — and still keeps — an impressive half-acre in St. James.”

After completing a degree in Environmental Studies, she moved to Harlem where she found a tense neighborhood being gentrified had one common ground — Jenny Benitez’s community garden in Riverside Park. 

“It was in my time volunteering there that I most clearly saw how this simple human tradition humbles, delights and invites unity between people from all ages and backgrounds,” she said.

Since November 2020, a group of 11 residents volunteered their time to become part of the Community Garden Committee, hoping to launch the garden on an abandoned, vacant plot of land on Beach Street. 

Village gardener Caran Markson said that a long time ago, the land was once a playground with broken-down equipment. Since it was removed, it has been bare, looking for a new purpose.

“The property has been empty for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It was very underutilized.”

For months, the group researched, planned and eventually implemented a design for the village’s first community garden. 

A rendering of the potential community garden located on Beach Street in the Village of Port Jefferson. Photo from Rebecca Kassay

According to Kassay, the garden will initially consist of 16 raised beds, with some being double-high beds for residents with different abilities. The garden will be accessible to all.

“Beach Street is a great little spot for Port Jefferson Village’s first community garden,” she said. “It is a flat piece of underutilized village parkland with plenty of sun for residents to grow some organic veggies.”

But the best part is, the Beach Street plantings are set to begin this summer, and if the pilot garden project is successful, the committee expects to expand at the Beach Street site in 2022, and in subsequent years, create a second garden site at the Highlands parkland uptown.

Kassay added the group is also looking to pilot Port Jefferson’s first composting program at Beach Street, after some research of area-appropriate methods, pending community response.

“This large effort is anticipated between 2023 and 2024,” she said.

Markson said the 16 beds will be planted with vegetables.

“Outside of the raised beds, we’re going to hopefully a whole bunch of berries, maybe grapes, and we can plant native flowers just to beautify this village,” she added. “It’s going to pull the community together.”

On March 15, Mayor Margot Garant and the village board contributed $4,000 of village beautification funds toward the project, specifically to irrigation and raised bed materials. 

Committee members have already begun collecting in-kind and monetary donations from community members to meet the project’s $8,600 2021 budget and will be circulating donation material mid-April.

“No contribution is too small,” she said. “You can find a committee member for more information and/or to give a donation at the weekly Village Farmer’s Market starting May 2.”

Once established, the garden committee will raise money throughout the year with suggested-donation programming and fundraisers.

Kassay said they are looking to break ground on the project May 1, with a ribbon cutting July 10.

“I’m really looking forward to giving fellow residents the ability to grow their own produce,” Kassay said. “Whether it’s a fun family project, a way to cut down on grocery bills, a way to meet new people, part of a journey to better health … I’ve been fortunate to have access to gardens throughout my life, and now I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this with my community.”

A peek into the closed garden along Terryville Road, currently covered in weeds. Photo by Kyle Barr

Overgrown with weeds, the lone park on Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station looks forsaken. Where students once grew plants for harvest, now the only thing cultivated there are weeds.

A peek into the closed garden along Terryville Road, currently covered in weeds. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though that could change, if local civic leaders manage to get the community involved.

“One day, I said to myself, maybe we can get this going again,” Sal Pitti, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association said.

The community garden, as it’s known, is owned by the Comsewogue school district, though it has been unused for years, according to Pitti.

The civic has asked community members for aid in repairing the garden, located just north of St. Gerard Majella Church on the other side of the street. The garden already contains an existing greenhouse, planter boxes, a gazebo and shed, though they have been unused for several years.

Susan Casali, associate superintendent at Comsewogue, said the property had been taken care of in the past by the Comsewogue Youth Center for years, but suddenly ceased operations several years ago. She added the district is looking forward to having the community revitalize the small patch of greenery along Terryville Road.

“The school district is very excited to have the community revitalize the garden and we have spoken to Sal and Ed about what we can do to help make the project a success and beautify the community,” she said.

Pitti and the civic are looking for a rotating cast of aid, with the civic president saying he did not wish for “the same five people to be doing the work every two weeks.”

The garden has been mowed enough to keep the grass from getting too long, but vines currently strangle the garden’s surrounding fence. On the inside, the greenhouse stands intact along with flower boxes, but those have similarly been surrounded by weeds.

Ed Garboski, the vice president of the civic, posted to the Comsewogue Community Group Facebook page asking if any community members would be interested in volunteering. Jennifer Dzvonar, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, said she would look into ways her group could help, while Rob DeStefano, school district board member, said he would look into getting Cub Scout Pack 354 families involved in aiding the project. Other community members mentioned getting local Girl Scout troops on board as well.

While Garboski expects they will gather enough interest and volunteers for the initial cleanup, what they truly require is people dedicated to weekly maintenance.

“Our future hope is to create a location our kids can use for school-related activities of all capacities, as well as a place our senior community members may relax,” Garboski said.

Once the project is up and running, Pitti said they could potentially donate the food they produce to local churches for soup kitchens or other such outreach programs.

Those who are interested in assisting in the project can visit the civic’s website at www.PJSTCA.org and send an email with one’s information and availability.

Linda Nuszen, Maryann Natale and Janet D'Agostino, parents who have lost children to opioid addiction, during an event dedicating a new garden at St. Charles Hospital May 18. Photo by Kyle Barr

They say it’s becoming impossible to walk through a crowd and not find at least one person who hasn’t been affected by the opioid crisis. On May 18 a group of more than 50 people, nearly all of whom have lost loved ones, or at least experienced the strain of a loved one having gone through the throws of addiction, gathered at St. Charles Hospital for the unveiling of a new “Remembrance and Reflection Garden” just outside the Infant Jesus Chapel on hospital grounds.

The idea started with Port Jefferson resident Marcia Saddlemire, whose daughter Nicole passed away as a result of opioid addiction in 2015. She said she didn’t want to leave the memory of her daughter as just an opioid addict.

“I was getting angry watching the news, when they say so many died from overdose in Suffolk County this year, I said dammit, she’s not a statistic, she’s a person, she has a name and a life,” Saddlemire said. “All the mothers agree with this, they don’t want to grow up to be addicts. This is not what they wanted from their lives, they had dreams, they had goals.”

Stones dedicated to families affected by opioid addiction in a new garden at St. Charles Hospital. Photo by Kyle Barr

Saddlemire said she didn’t have the connections or know-how to create such a project, so she managed to get in contact with three women — Janet D’Agostino, Maryann Natale and Linda Nuszen — all of whom belong to multiple anti-opioid organizations and support groups. They gathered together to plan and create the new garden.

“We want it to be public — we don’t want to hide it,” said Natale, whose son Anthony died of an overdose. “We want them to know it’s an epidemic. This garden also helps those families who are going through such time with an addict.”

St. Charles Hospital was chosen as the location for the garden because of its existing programs fighting opioid addiction, according to the mothers. The hospital has 40 beds that are allotted for chemical dependency rehabilitation, 10 for supervised detoxification for adults and four for detoxification of adolescents age 12 to 18. Jim O’Connor, the executive vice president of St. Charles Hospital, said administration expects to receive another 10 beds for detoxification services. He said he also expects to develop an outpatient center at the hospital for addicts who need ongoing, comprehensive care in the next several years.

“We are honored that these families have chosen St. Charles Hospital as the site for this very special garden, as St. Charles is committed to hosting hospital programs which combat Suffolk County’s current addiction crisis,” O’Connor said.

Stones dedicated to families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction in a new garden at St. Charles Hospital. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nearly all work for the project was donated by local businesses. The garden includes stones engraved with the names of victims of opioid addiction and quotes from their families. Ron Dennison and his son Alan from Bohemia-based Long Island Water Jet donated their time to create a heart sign featured in the garden. The sign features large words like “forgiveness” and “understanding” along with small words like “pain” and “fear,” to show positive emotions overcoming the negative.

Dennison’s daughter, Sarah, went through the St. Charles rehab program when she became addicted to opioids. She is out of the program now, and she has a daughter named Serenity.

“When your kids are addicted, you deny it, you deny it, you deny it,” the elder Dennison said as he fought to speak through tears. “And then one day you wake up you say, ‘what is going on here.”

Nuszen and her family founded Look Up for Adam, a foundation dedicated to her son who died from an overdose in 2015. Her organization helps to raise awareness.

“So many people don’t know how to show up for our loved ones,” she said. “So many people don’t know how to be themselves, or how to be here for each other. So now that we can come here and have a place where we’re not isolated — so they come here and know they’re not alone, that there are people who care about them.”

Tranquility Garden owner Walter Becker sits on a bench in his Mount Sinai backyard. File photo

On July 9, visit private gardens in Mattituck and Mount Sinai, open to the public rain or shine, through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to each garden is $7, benefiting the Garden Conservancy, and children 12 and under are free.

Tranquility Garden is located at 42 Jesse Way, Mount Sinai.

The Becker garden can be described as an explosion of color, fragrance, sound, and texture. Hundreds of perennials, shrubs, trees and annuals are combined with water features, lawn art and recently relocated garden trails that allow the visitor to enter the owner’s vision of an impressionistic garden painting. Unique shrubs and flowers and winding paths permit the visitor to stroll and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Visit www.opendaysprogram.org, or call 1-888-842-2442 for more information.

Volunteers from National Grid worked to improve the community garden in Huntington Station on Wednesday, April 20. Photo from Wendy Ladd

Everything’s coming up roses in Huntington Station, thanks to volunteers who spent last Wednesday afternoon working on improvements to the Gateway Park Community Organic Garden.

In honor of Earth Day, more than 70 volunteers from energy company National Grid’s Power to Serve program worked to develop a drainage system, clean up debris and plant flowers.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) thanked the volunteers for their efforts, including a new rain garden “that will make the garden more environmentally efficient and enjoyable for the many gardeners and children who attend the educational programs there.”

Many other local legislators were present at the scene, including Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) and Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport). Lupinacci also gave National Grid’s President Ken Daly a proclamation for the volunteer work.

The community garden on New York Avenue, at Lowndes Avenue, covers more than an acre and has 115 garden beds for families to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Food grown there is also donated to local food pantries.

According to National Grid, flooding had been an issue in the garden, so the company worked with the town to develop a drainage plan to capture the runoff and prevent flooding in the raised planting beds. Volunteers hand-dug a 4,000-foot trench to install an underground drainage system and put down rocks to capture runoff and direct that water into the newly planted rain garden.

Rain gardens provide environmental benefits, as they capture and clean rainwater before it enters the groundwater system.

Volunteers also planted colorful moisture-tolerant plants, removed litter and weeded the garden.

The effort came “at a perfect time for Huntington Station, with two redevelopment projects underway and renewed community support for revitalization,” Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a nonprofit geared toward smart growth, said in a statement. “Tangible improvements including a new rain garden were made from the National Grid volunteers and gave a lift to the garden and the Huntington Station community.”

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A fairy house (Bayport Flower House). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven’s annual Home & Garden Show welcomed spring early last weekend. More than 1,400 people visited the event at the Holtsville Ecology Site that featured over 30 local vendors offering a plethora of home improvement ideas. In addition, free adult educational workshops and hands-on classes for children were offered.

Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton
Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The event will continue on March 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and March 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 per adult, children 16 and under are free. For more information, call 631-758-9664, ext. 18.

Adult workshops, Saturday, March 19
11:30 a.m. — Guide Dog Foundation/America’s VetDogs with Susan Stevens, Certified Health Coach
1 p.m. — Tree Care & Organic Options for the Homeowner by Evan Dackow of Jolly Green
2:30 p.m. — Composting by Mike DesGaines of  TOB Dept of Waste Management
4 p.m. — Dahlias, the Bloom With Many Faces by Joe Lysik and Joe Bonomo
5:30 p.m. —  Caring for Your Houseplants by April Perry, Ecology Staff

Kids Workshops, Saturday, March 19
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Recycled Birdfeeder Activity by Nicole Pocchiare of TOB Dept of Waste Management
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Water Conservation Craft by Molly Hastings — Environmental Educator/Park Ranger, TOB

Adult workshops, Sunday, March 20
11:30 a.m. — Hydrangeas on Long Island by Judy Ogden, Ogden’s Design & Plantings Inc.
1 p.m. — Herbs in the Kitchen by Anne Marie O’Neil,  President of HALI
2:30 p.m. — The Carmen’s River: An Amazing Natural Beauty by John Cardone, author and photographer
4 p.m. — TBA

Kids Workshops, Sunday, March 20
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Kelly Smith, Ecology Site horticulturist
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Rosa Goncalves, Ecology Site horticulturist

Please note: Kid’s classes while supplies last and adult workshops subject to change.

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A cold frame is the perfect way to get a jump on spring gardening. Stock photo

By Ellen Barcel

When I was a kid, my father always started his tomato (and other) plants indoors as seedlings and then, as the weather warmed, gradually moved them outdoors to harden them off. He did this by first moving them to a cold frame and then finally out into the garden itself.

What exactly is a cold frame and how is it different from a greenhouse? A cold frame is a small structure, with a transparent roof, like a miniature greenhouse. It’s built low to the ground, just high enough to accommodate the new, baby plants. When the weather becomes unexpectedly cold or very rainy, the cold frame keeps the plants warm and dry.

On an unexpectedly hot day in early spring, my father would go out to the cold frame and prop the “roof” open so the temperature wouldn’t become too hot for the little plants. He’d make sure to close the cold frame at night so low night temperatures wouldn’t shock the plants. Once the weather had warmed enough, especially overnight, he’d then move the plants to their permanent home in the garden.

So, think of a cold frame as a transition from the protection of the house or greenhouse where the seedlings are started to the various weather conditions outside — a way of prolonging the growing season.

Cold frames can be bought from nursery supply stores or catalogues or can be homemade. The size depends on how many baby plants you hope it will hold. Usually, it is two or three feet deep by four or five feet wide, depending on the space available and six to 12 inches high.

To make one using leftover materials around your house, use leftover lumber to create the sides of the rectangle, placing them directly on the ground. Then use an old window and attach it to one of the longer sides in the back with hinges so that the window can be propped up to allow excess heat out. If you decide to build your own cold frame, there are a number of videos online that give you detailed instructions.

Yes, you should place your cold frame in a sunny location (a south-facing location is ideal) or you’ll find that your plants will become very leggy. Since it will also protect against heavy rain, make sure the location is one where water doesn’t pool.

Does every gardener need a cold frame? Not necessarily — only if you like to start seedlings indoors to get a jump on spring gardening. If you prefer to buy from your local nursery, then it will have plants out when it is warm enough to plant them directly in the garden.

What’s the difference between a cold frame and a greenhouse then? A greenhouse is a much larger structure, usually designed to grow plants year round or at least overwinter them. A hothouse is a greenhouse with temperature control (heat in winter) to keep plants warm enough while a cool house is a greenhouse used in a hot (desert) environment to protect them from the hot outside temperature, cooling them as needed.

The temperature in a greenhouse is adjusted (frequently automatically with a thermostat) to make sure that the plants are kept at a given temperature. The only adjustment the gardener does to a cold frame is opening the glass to let out excessive heat on a warm spring day. It’s a transition and not intended for long-term growing of plants.

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

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Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Holidays are a time when people enjoy a rest, take a vacation from work and like to celebrate special occasions. But, holidays can also serve as markers for gardeners, a calendar of sorts, reminding them what needs to be done and when.

February 2 is Groundhog Day, a day in midwinter where whimsy takes over and the rodent “predicts” either an early spring (as this year) or six more weeks of winter. In any event, February is the perfect time to check out the gardening catalogues, plan your future garden and start your hardier crops indoors in a sunny location. Check the seed packages to see how many weeks before moving them outdoors you should sow the seeds. Cuttings from early flowering shrubs, like forsythia, can be made in February and brought inside to force early flowers.

Poinsettias can be toxic to children and pets, so place them out of reach during the Christmas holidays. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Poinsettias can be toxic to children and pets, so place them out of reach during the Christmas holidays. Photo by Ellen Barcel

March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, is the traditional start of the pea planting season. Of course, it’s really important to check the weather and the soil conditions. Peas are one crop that prefers cool weather but can’t grow in the extreme cold we usually have on Long Island in mid-March. Think of this as a heads-up to get ready to plant as soon as the soil is workable and warm enough.

Easter is a holiday when people tend to bring forced plants, grown in nurseries, into the house. Be really careful here as lilies, while traditional for the season, are toxic to cats. Even the water that the cut flowers are placed in can cause series health issues for them if they drink it; so keep lilies away from your cats. Generally, plant Easter gift plants in the garden as soon as possible but usually after the blooms have faded — so you can enjoy them in the house.

Memorial Day (some people say Mother’s Day, which is a bit earlier) is usually the start of really warm weather, so that tender annuals, such as tomatoes and herbs such as basil and dill can be moved outdoors. Marjoram and summer savory will also die in a late frost; so wait till the weather is warm enough.

Fourth of July is usually considered as the last date in the growing season that perennial flowers, like Montauk daisies and mums, can be pruned back and still complete a flowering cycle, blooming in very late summer to autumn. The rule of thumb is to start pruning them when green buds appear in spring, and stop 100 days before bloom time. That is usually July 4.

Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Labor Day is generally the last day in the growing season that second (or third) season crops can be planted. The first frost day on Long Island is generally considered to be early to mid-November; so count backward from that day for the exact planting time, based on the number of days each plant takes to mature. Some varieties of bush beans will produce a crop in 50 to 60 days, which means plant them in early September, that is, Labor Day for a crop before frost. Also, very tender houseplants should start to be brought indoors if they have summered outside. Particularly watch the low night temps.

By Columbus Day all your houseplants should be indoors. Move tender shrubs or small trees like figs to an unheated garage once the leaves fall. Lift tender bulbs and store them in a cool dry place once the leaves have all died back to the ground.

Thanksgiving, late November, is usually the last time you can plant spring bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, etc, outside. Those and other spring bulbs can actually be planted as long as the ground is not frozen. If you miss the cutoff date, consider storing them in the fridge till spring.

Christmas is a time when many decorative plants are used in the house. Be particularly careful with indoor plants, such as poinsettias, which can harm both young children and pets if ingested. And we all know that little kids and pets put everything in their mouths.

While the above are generalities, always take into consideration the actual conditions at any given time. If a sudden cold front is predicted for mid-September, make sure that your houseplants are indoors. If the ground is still frozen in early April, then you just can’t plant your early/cool weather plants yet.

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