Sunday, May 8, 2016

What Should I Do as a Senior Project?

Here's what a student at Westhill HS in Stamford, CT decided to do. Nancy Juarez wanted to create a vegetable garden for the school community, something that she could "give" to her school as a parting gift. So she and her Dad built 9 large raised beds- about 4' by 13' by 10" deep. She  got rich soil to fill them, black fabric mulch to prevent weeds between the beds, and lots of wood chips to cover the fabric. Then she framed in the whole area to prevent the wood chips from spilling out onto the adjacent grass and road surfaces and to provide an area for a flower border as well. Next step: planting the beds- the fun part and the most creative element yet. Kudos to a young woman with great heart and great energy. What an honor to know her. Let's keep growing.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Seeds and Seeds and More Seeds

What would you do if someone said, "Give Designs by Lee a call. They have seeds left over from last year and are happy to give them to you to distribute to the schools' vegetable gardens." YES! I went over to the nursery - different feeling at this time of year- expecting to be given a small basket of seed packets. What I was offered was the equivalent of a full bushel.  I asked if they were to be shared with anyone else. "No, they're for you." Merci Beaucoup! How wonderful to know that others think of our school project and let us enjoy their kindness and generosity. I spent about 3 hours sorting, alphabetizing, and bagging them up for distribution. My dining room table is bursting with seeds. What a happy feeling!
Bottom Line: ask your local nurseries if they have leftover seeds. They can't sell them but most seeds will be viable for much longer than the year stamped on the packet.
Snow outside. Seeds on the table. Spring will come. Life is good!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Birds in Winter

From the Bartlett Arboretum's weekly newsletter, I am happy to share the following:

Over Wintering Birds

Food is scare for all wildlife in winter. Many species depend upon supplements from their human hosts. Finding bird feeders that only feed birds is difficult as their competitors, squirrels and chipmunks are creative foragers.  Bartlett Arboretum friends, Designs by Lee, Keough's Hardware and Wild Birds Unlimited in Bedford & Darien offer bird feeders that are less likely to become squirrel feeders.

Birds need high protein foods in the winter to help maintain their body temperatures. Look for suet mixes and feeds that contain nuts.  Shell free feed is available if you are adverse to the mess.

Providing shelter also give the birds in your garden a better chance of surviving winter. Cleaning out the birdhouses in your garden will keep them disease free while providing an attractive home for overwintering birds.  Fall is the perfect time to clean.   If you are interested in learning how to clean your birdhouses, please click here: Birdhouse

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ready for Spring Planting

Are you ready?
Here are a few photos to illustrate how good basic design will enhance your garden's appearance and productivity. This beautiful garden is at Davenport Ridge ES in Stamford,CT. Beds for early vegetables, for herbs, edible flowers, and more flowers for their beauty and fun. Sunflowers anyone?
Notice the beds of varying shapes and heights and angles. And birdhouses to bring in nature and additional visual appeal and the "ooh" factor. 
Time to: clean-up, amend the soil, set out the first tender plants or seeds: peas, lettuces, radishes, carrots, chards,  etc. Let's get growing!  'Tis the season.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Winter Door Decoration

An easy, fun, and beautiful activity for children and adults, too - clusters of evergreen branches, secured tightly with a rubber band, then with green wire. Create a loop with the wire so as to hang it easily on an outside door. We added our own wired ribbon bows, some pine cones we had gathered and voilĂ  -  a lovely door decoration created during our middle school Garden Club activity. You can use any kind of evergreen as well as dried stems from perennials like artemesia and sea grasses. Be whimsical. 'tis the season.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

How to Get Vegetables to an Urban Population

Just came across DC Greens. How to get vegetables to an urban population- compliments of Lauren Shweder Biel.
Produce Plus
Over the summer months, DC Greens worked with the Department of Health to implement their Produce Plus program. Operating with municipal funding, Produce Plus allows any DC resident on Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, and other federal benefit programs to get $10 in market dollars per week to purchase produce at the city’s farmers markets. The demand for this program was astonishing. Markets across the city saw lines around the block on a weekly basis!

DC Greens spent the fall analyzing the data for the program, and we are thrilled to report that $167,000 went out to help low-income customers buy local produce. In addition, the program brought new customers to markets, resulting in a city-wide increase in SNAP (food stamp) purchases at farmers’ markets. We are so proud of the city for investing in nutrition incentives at farmers' markets, and thrilled that the program was met with unequivocal demand from the customers who need it the most.

Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program

This week marks the end of our 2014 Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program season.  For the past six months, patients at four Unity Clinics across the city have received prescriptions from their doctors to redeem for free produce at any of 40 farmers markets across the city. This season, 78 patients and their 173 family members benefited from the program, which DC Greens runs in partnership with the Department of Health and Wholesome Wave. We’ll be analyzing the health data in the coming months, but from our initial review we expect the same strong results that we’ve seen in past years, with drops in Body Mass Index (BMI) and increases in well-patient visits among patients at high-risk for obesity related chronic illnesses.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Planting Now for a Fall Harvest

An article perfectly timed to get us thinking about succession planting. Try it, you'll love it. In fact, if you never got around to planting a summer garden, now's your chance. It's always time to garden.  Picture lettuces, beets, broccoli, kale, chards, cabbage, beans, peas, be  harvested into early November. Imagine!  Plant what you and your students love to eat
Harvested potatoes leave room in the beds
 for lettuces, kale, etc.

Out with the cucumber plants, cherry tomatoes, 
peppers, etc., to make room for cool weather crops. 
And remember to leave space for garlic in October.