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  • 10/01/2022 11:37 PM | Innes Mercean (Administrator)

    What an exciting day!!! We had our first Garden Jr's event today. We took the children out to check on the plants ( from the spring) . The children found 2 caterpillars!! ( the library suggested naming them "Macadamia" and "Cashew" - lol) on the milkweed the CGC planted. Then, Melanie opened up a pod. We looked at the seeds and the kids let them fly away. We checked on the pussytoes which are nice and healthy. Then, we walked back to discuss annuals, biennials and perennials. 

    While Melanie searched for jewelweed, the kids learned about the differences and sorted seed packets into baskets ( annual /perennial). They looked at the aster plants to see which flowers were pollinated. Melanie returned with the jewelweed pods. Parents, kids and staff delighted in bursting open the pods. Those corkscrews are so cool. We ran out of time. We handed each child an aster plant and shovel ( I had leftover from a few years ago - what do you do with 40 kid shovels, lol) Melanie distributed a sheet with aster information. We invited the parents to attend the Community Day celebration. Many said they would attend! Hooray! A GREAT DAY!! Thanks - many, many thanks to Melanie - that expertise makes the event great! Thanks to the garden club for your support!! 

  • 10/01/2022 11:35 PM | Innes Mercean (Administrator)

    Submitted by Judy Leheny

    -If you are planting shrubs or trees this Fall, remember that “First year,  they sulk; second year, they settle; third year, they sprint!”  So please allow room for them to sprint!

    - Deep water your gardens now to prepare them for the winter.  The drought this summer has left them with roots near the surface looking for water, and those roots will freeze and die during what is predicted to be a very cold winter.  Let those roots go deep now.

    -Daffodils should go in the ground now; Tulips do best if planted closer to Thanksgiving.

    -Deadhead your perennials so strength goes to the roots and leaves and not to seed formation.  If you want to prune them now, (phlox, etc.) prune them to about 12 inches so that falling leaves will “catch” in the dead stalks and help insulate the roots.

    - Prune deciduous (lose their leaves) peonies down to the ground and throw the leaves away, do NOT compost them!

    - Delicately prune the leaves off the Tree Peonies to the next year’s growth (you’ll be able to see it) and throw those leaves away as well.  You’ll wind up with the woody structure of the plant which is what you want.  If you want to move Peonies, do it now - not in the spring - and be sure to give them a good size hole with plenty of compost and be careful not to plant them too deep or they won’t bloom!

    -Begin to spray against deer and rabbit damage.  Besides the usual fare, they love Grape Hyacinths which has lucious foliage through the winter.

  • 08/01/2022 11:31 PM | Innes Mercean (Administrator)

    Submitted by Judy Leheny

    Last Spring about ten members signed up to work on the Pocket Park in downtown Chappaqua. It quickly evolved into a tight core that met every Thursday at 9:30 and worked until noon. There were as many as 10 on a day but never fewer than 5 and people came according to their own schedules. One day one of the group who hadn’t been expected because of medical problems came anyway because “I miss everyone”.  

    We worked hard even in the intense heat of the summer and came to be known as the “summer sweaters”. But, most of all, people got to know and care about each other and, as a bonus, learned what was a weed and what was a plant, how to prune, when to deadhead and when not, the proper way to transplant and all sorts of other garden knowledge.  Each day we worked, people stopped by, admired what we were doing and said how much they used and loved the Park. One day, Board members from the Pleasantville Garden Club visited to inspect and admire and take away ideas for their own public garden. And each day, as we were finishing, we would look around and admire the difference we had made that day.  And what was needed the following week!

    Among the things we accomplished: ivy and Climbing  Hydrangea were removed from the neighboring walls, bags and bags of weeds and pruning’s taken to the dump, Paulo Carvao (Maria’s husband) excavated a bronze plaque honoring the CGC which had been hidden by overgrown plants and moved it to a prominent place near the benches, Brian Wigley and a friend removed a hornet’s nest the size of a basketball that we hadn’t noticed until August, a stone from the garden was carved as a memorial to Maria Carvao who had worked on the Park but died suddenly in December, poison ivy was eradicated, and much more. And throughout the summer Alwyn Boyd (Anne’s husband) weed-whacked the grass. Along the way, we gratefully drank water brought over from the cleaners across the street, enjoyed lemonade Emma purchased, and devoured goodies from Brian and Judy. The end of summer was celebrated with lunch on Judy’s patio where the now-experienced gardeners tactfully avoided mentioning the weeds!

    We are not an exclusive group and would enthusiastically welcome anyone who wanted to show up on Thursday mornings. Contact Anne Boyd or Judy Leheny if you would like to join us.

  • 05/01/2022 11:42 PM | Innes Mercean (Administrator)

    Submitted by Judy Leheny

    New York City has its Central Park – an oasis of flowers and green where one can escape the noise and busyness of the city.  Chappaqua has its own Central Park called the Pocket Park, located right in the middle of downtown. It, too, is an oasis that a surprising variety of people visit to rest, look at the garden, eat their lunch, enjoy their coffee, meet friends.  

    The Pocket Park was planned nearly thirty years ago by one of the Chappaqua Garden Club members who was a professional garden designer. It has been tended by CGC members, most faithfully, by Anne Boyd and her husband. A number of club members have helped over the years but now it is time for a systematic overhaul of weeding, pruning and planting.  

    We need a dedicated crew of “park rangers” who will commit to just two (2) hours a month from spring to fall.  We anticipate that small groups of 2-4 will mutually decide which day of a particular week and at which hour they will meet to do what is needed.  There is a lot of FLEXIBILITY to accommodate the members of each mini-group.  There will be an experienced gardener on tap to indicate what needs to be done and to help novices to identify plants and weeds. No experience is necessary. Think of it as a free horticultural course where you can have fun and conversation while you are sprucing up a community gem. Think of the pride you will feel as we complete different phases.

    There will be an organizational meeting at the Park after the Plant Sale. Please contact Anne Boyd or Judy Leheny for further information as to how you can help.

  • 01/13/2021 12:40 PM | Julie Sootin (Administrator)

    Book review from Nance Greenberg: Planting Native to Attract Birds to Your Yard by Sharon Sorenson

    A few years ago, Sorenson decided to do a “full-year bird count”. Rather than focusing exclusively on birds that visited her feeders, she spent a lot of time outdoors recording the species she observed (or heard) each week on her three acres of property. What she learned was very interesting:

    She counted 114 species of birds but only 29 of them (about one-quarter) visited her feeders

    Of the 114 species, 76 were migrating through the area, with a need for high-protein nutrition in spring (i.e., insects) and fats in the fall

    Year-round residents were typically raising nestlings, who eat insects rather than seeds

    She realized that there is more to attracting birds than simply putting out feeders and feed. Birds utilize plants not only for food but also for shelter, nesting sites, nest materials, safety from predators, and more. Each type of bird she observed needed a particular habitat: the right plantings plus a source of water. She concluded that the more diversified the plantings in a garden, the more species will come to make use of it.

    For sure, we should add plants that provide food in the form of berries, seed, fruit and nectar. But the most vital nutrient for birds (just like humans) is protein. Plants cannot provide protein directly. Instead, animals must create it. For us humans, protein comes from cows and sheep munching on grass. For birds, insects provide the equivalent transformation, turning leaves into caterpillars, butterflies, beetles, etc.

    Some 96% of songbirds feed their babies bugs (the exceptions being Mourning Doves and American Goldfinches). Experts have found that one brood of babies needs 300 caterpillars per day, so that if the average couple feed two broods over a typical nesting period, that adds up to 8,000 caterpillars! Adult birds also eat bugs during breeding season.

    Why native? Turns out that 90% of bugs are plant-specific, breeding and feeding on sometimes a single native plant species. Often non-native plants contain toxins that kill bugs (which is why we buy them in the first place). Native berries, especially in the fall, have more fat content for migrating birds. Native evergreens such as hemlock, pine, cedar, fir and juniper (with American Holly being the best) provide shelter from predators and winter weather.

    In Chapter 3 she answers our questions about native plants. A few of them:

    What to do when we’re all starting with gardens full of non-natives, including “heritage” plants from relatives and friends? (One answer: reduce that lawn!)

    Won’t the garden be too messy? (“Native” does not mean “untended”!)

    Aren’t non-natives harmless?

    Early leaf-out of non-natives can cause cardinals to establish their territories too early, making them an easy target for predators

    Early leaf-out shades out (thus killing off) native plants

    Berries low in fat and protein cause poor health and less colorful plumage, making birds less attractive to potential mates

    Some non-native berries are actually poisonous (e.g. Nandina berries which kill Cedar Waxwings)

    Some non-natives can actually poison the soil around them

    Lawn is non-native and may even be toxic to birds if maintained by a lawn service

    What type of native to buy?

    The straight species from your general region of the country is best

    A “cultivar” (sometimes termed “nativar”) is produced by cloning, meaning it has no genetic diversity; sometimes its bird-friendly characteristics have even been bred out

    Avoid man-made hybrids – often they don’t produce nectar or seed

    Chapter 4 describes how to add natives to an existing garden. Sorenson suggests we start with an inventory of what’s already there, pointing out that many gardens have been invaded by a “Dirty Dozen” of non-natives that should be eliminated immediately. The inventory identifies what is missing, such as shelter or nest materials. Finally, water must be available (and ice-free) all year round. This is a difficult one, but it appears that a neighbor’s pond or stream could suffice.

    Chapters 5, 6 and 7 provide descriptions of native trees, shrubs and perennials along with their growing requirements. It’s best to plant shrubs and perennials in masses so that birds can spot their blooms from above. She notes that shrubs are good for small lots, providing nest space, shelter and roosting in winter.

    Additional chapters detail how to add water sources, how to eradicate invasives, how to sort through misleading plant labels, and more.

  • 10/01/2020 12:37 PM | Julie Sootin (Administrator)

    Submitted by Sue Meany - October 2020

    It’s time to plant alliums to harvest in the spring! Kent and I both enjoy growing and cooking with both garlic and shallots. Tradition dictates that the appropriate time to plant these bulbs is between Halloween and Thanksgiving while more recent studies indicate that the planting time can be moved into early October if the soil is mulched heavily, 6 inches or so. Hard neck varieties grow best in our planting area (6a). Soft neck garlic is generally not hardy enough to grow successfully here. We recently purchased three new garlic varieties: Music, German Extra Hardy, and Chesnok Red from Hudson Valley Seed Co. We saved bulbs from last year’s harvest of Siberian and Polish Hardnecks. Alliums prefer well drained soil in a sunny area. Be sure not to grow alliums where they were planted last year. Planting garlic is relatively simple:

    Add compost to the prepared beds. If you have raised beds, use them. (we are proponents of no till gardening whenever possible)

    Separate the cloves from the heads of garlic.

    Plant the cloves 4” to 6” apart, and push each clove with the pointed end up and the blunt end down approximately 1” to 2” deep. Fill in the holes and firm the soil.

    Water the area thoroughly. Water when soil dries out.

    Spread 3” to 6” of salt hay or other mulch to cover the planting area. Note: Salt hay does not have viable seeds and will not sprout in the soil.

    In several weeks if you carefully look under the mulch, you will begin to see green shoots sprouting. It is important that the green sprouts remain covered by mulch throughout the winter as winds can wick out moist and desiccate the cloves. In spring, when the weather warms, much of the mulch can be removed and used for some other purpose. Leaving and inch or two of mulch will aid in weed suppression. Garlic likes the soil to remain moist but make sure it is not soggy.

    In approximately June, the plants will send up a curled sprout with a pointed top known as a scape. The scapes will take energy from the developing bulbs and so should be removed once the seed head forms (the seeds are not viable). But do not discard them as they are a yummy treat! The tender portion of the neck of the scape can be sautéed in butter or olive oil, made into pesto or pureed.

    In July, when a few of the lower leaves turn brown, remove any remaining mulch to allow the soil to begin to dry out. When approximately half of the leaves have turned brown, dig and prepare for curing.

    After harvesting the garlic and shallots, hang each variety in smallish bunches in a warm, dry location out of direct sunlight to cure them. We suspend them underneath the roof our gazebo, but a porch or other covered area will serve you well. Once necks and outer skins are completely dry, they are cured. This can take two weeks or even more depending on temperature and humidity. Clip the necks off leaving about ½-1 inch of the neck intact. At this time, also remove the roots from the bottom of the bulb. Use any damaged bulbs in cooking and store the rest in a dark and dry location, providing plenty of air flow. We place them in net bags and hang them in our basement which is equipped with a dehumidifier, but somewhere even cooler which does not freeze would be ideal. The garlic will store for 4-6 months before beginning to sprout. Be sure to save the biggest cloves for next year’s crop. Bigger cloves grow bigger heads!

    We also purchased Dutch Red Shallot bulbs to plant in the fall which we will harvest in early summer. The process of planting the shallots is similar to that of the garlic. Make sure to mulch them as well. Like other bulbing onions, they should be harvested when the green shoots fall down, usually in July.

    Please contact me at with questions or suggestions.

  • 09/01/2020 12:33 PM | Julie Sootin (Administrator)

    Submitted By Sue Meany - September 2020

    This is a wonderful time in the growing season to consider gathering some seeds from mature vegetables and herbs that have set seed for use in next year’s garden. There are a few things to consider as you move forward.

    First we must understand the difference between some of the traits of seeds and the plants that grow from them. There are four categories to consider.

    Open Pollinated Seeds:

    Open pollinated seed varieties are either self-pollinated or are pollinated by another plant of the same variety, resulting in seeds that are roughly identical to their parents. Open pollinated plants may produce seed which have small genetic variations from the parents, but is considered a benefit for biodiversity. Plants in which the pollen can fertilize the stigma of the same plant are considered self-pollinating. Not as good for genetic diversity, but good for gathering seeds true to the parent!

    Heirloom Seeds:

    Heirloom plants are open pollinated plants from which seeds have been passed down through generations. Generally 50 years is used as the standard. Vegetables in this category would include Cherokee Purple, Brandywine and Black Cherry Tomatoes, California Wonder, Golden Marconi and Serrano peppers, and many more.

    Hybrid Seeds:

    Hybrid seeds are result of the crosspollination between two different varieties of same type of vegetable to create a version which has more desirable traits than either of the parents. Some of the traits may include fruit size, plant vigor or disease resistance. The cross pollination is generally performed in the field or a greenhouse and is a completely natural process. First generation cross pollinated plants are referred to as F1 (Filial 1). Thanks go out to Gregor Mendel with his famous work on peas. Hybrids are produced for almost every type of vegetable but are very common among squash, melon, tomato and bell type pepper varieties. Vegetables in this category would include Sungold and Big Beef Tomatoes and Zephyr and Honey Bear squash. Seed produced from F1 plants are considered to be unstable and are unlikely to result in a plant that resembles either the F1 hybrid or either of its parents.

    GMO Seed:

    Most of us have heard of GMO seed which is created by genetic engineering. As is the goal of cross pollination to produce hybrids, GMOs carry desirable traits such as resistance to disease and herbicides (such as Glyphosate) as well as others. GMO seed is most commonly used in commercial settings but some has crept its way into consumer markets.

    Gather, Gather, Gather

    Now that we have discussed some of the ins and outs of various types of seeds, do not fret. The great majority of what you can gather in the garden will be perfectly usable to sow, sow, sow next year. Of course there are a few caveats!

    If you know the variety name, do an internet search to determine which of the above categories it falls in.

    - If it is an F1 hybrid, abandon hope all ye who enter!

    - If you grow only one variety of a given vegetable which is open pollinated, you are good to go unless you think a rogue bee has violated your flower and cross pollinated it with a neighbor’s foreign pollen! Unlikely. Give it a try.

    - If it is an open pollinated, self-pollinating variety such as tomatoes, peppers, peas, green beans, okra, etc. you have a very good chance of the seed being true, but it is not guaranteed.

    - If it is an herb such as dill, basil, fennel, cilantro, et al … you are golden!

    - The only way to be 100% sure of what you are getting is to pollinate it yourself as soon as the flower opens and then bag it, so that no pollinator will contaminate the stigma with foreign pollen, until the fruit starts to form. Make sure to label the fruit properly.

    - Easy peasy!


    Once the seed has been gathered, further treatment depends on the type of plant/fruit. For plants whose seeds are not contained in the fleshy part of their fruit, such as herbs, peas, beans and okra. They should be allowed to dry completely on the plant. When they are removed, place them in a dry, well ventilated space to ensure as much moisture is removed as possible to avoid mold. Seeds which are encased in moist fruit such as peppers and eggplant need to be extracted, rinsed and air dried. Seeds from fleshy fruits such as such as tomatoes and melons need to be soaked and rinsed in water repeatedly until the gelatinous membrane on the outside is removed. They also must be air dried completely. Here are a couple of links to the NYBG’s website on the subject.

    Neatness Counts

    Assuming you are not going to plant the seeds immediately, you will need to store them. There are two schools of thought here. As you may have noticed, most seed companies use packets made from paper. This allows moisture to escape and is a bit more environmentally responsible. The other tact is to place them in an airtight container such as a zip top bag or a film canister (wait, what?). Provided the seed is completely dry, this has the advantage of excluding moisture which can cause seed deterioration. Make sure to properly label the seed and store is somewhere cool, dry and dark.

    Got it? Great, you are ready to sow, sow, sow once the proper time arrives!

    Please contact me at with questions or suggestions.

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