Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Ending of another beautiful season

 We're coming to the end of the Kitchen Garden season—a time that involves a lot of clean up, storing tools, and looking back on our work together in this ever-changing and challenging world. 

Our last planting of kale, carrots, and lettuce will, we hope, provide some fall/early winter contributions for the food pantry. The lettuce is the most cold sensitive, so we covered it with plastic for the night when we had our first dip into freezing temperatures. 

We also hauled many wheelbarrows of wood chips to replenish the garden paths, thanks to the generosity of our neighbors at Zion Episcopal Church. 

In the late winter/early spring, we'll take stock of what the world is like, what's happening in our individual lives, and make plans for the next growing season. New gardeners are always welcome to work with us on the community/food pantry areas and, in the spring, we'll know if we have any individual beds to offer.

If you are interested in a plot, please be in touch with Iris at hisk37@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Ladybugs, groundhogs and other visitors

 As fall advances, things are winding down in the Kitchen Garden. Frustratingly, the groundhog has returned, and we fear for our fall harvest of kale, which it seems to like! We planted a last round of kale, carrots, and lettuce. Otherwise, it's time to begin thinking of putting the garden to bed: cutting back old plants, covering the bare soil with compost and mulch, putting the tools away, and maybe replenishing the wood chips on the paths. We'll leave the dead heads of flowers for birds and insects to feast on as their food gets more scarce. 

Separating the carrot seedlings: 

visiting ladybug


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

heirloom tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors

As we get into the heat of the summer, the tomato, tomatillo and tomato plants are getting heavy with fruit. This has required us to work on staking and re-staking them so they don't topple over. This past Saturday, we harvested eggplants, cucumbers, yellow squash, broccolini and a little lettuce as well as mint, sage, oregano, and lemon balm for the food pantry. 

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Natalia Prakhina (of Earth Nurture Farm), we are harvesting heirloom tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors as well.

As we do every week, we turned the compost and weeded--who knew that the best place to grow grass was in a garden bed, not a lawn?!  Soon we will pull out the rest of the crops that are finished and begin planting for a fall harvest.

Donna has inspired us to clean up and beautify the garden and the surrounding space. This week we moved some of our abundant thyme, sage, and anise hyssop to the area along the path to the gate. With careful tending, we hope it will flourish there. We also have two mulleins relocated by the entrance, which we hope will grow into tall flowering guardians of the garden.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The kitchen garden is really lush right now.

Many of us gathered today (masked and keeping social distances) to clear an area that had become a spot to throw whatever we weren't using. It's now a lovely open space, which we can use for more garden beds or for socializing, when that's feasible.

Our pollinator garden along the Oak Street wall  is not only beautiful with flowering milkweed, echninacea, and yarrow, but it's also alive with bees—right now, they are all over the plentiful yellow blooms on the St. John's Wort. 

We are growing kale, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, squash, tomatillos, onions, mint, lemon balm, sage, oregano, thyme, beans, broccolini. So far, we have harvested lettuce, bok choy, beans, broccolini, and herbs for the food pantry. As the summer goes on, we'll be donating onions, squash, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, and herbs. 

Thankfully, after all our work on the fence and gate, the groundhog seems to have found other spots for nourishment. (Fingers crossed!)

Spring at the Kitchen Garden

Gardening in the time of social distancing can still be fun! Dario (weeding the raspberries) and Akiko spontaneously gave the thumbs up sign and they, plus Laurie, said to mention they are smiling behind their masks.

Donna is almost hidden by the high cover crop that has been adding nitrogen to the soil since the spring. Some of it is blooming—white pea flowers and crimson clover flowers provided a cover crop Mothers’ Day bouquet. 

Natalia bringing us seedlings, lettuce and onion seedlings on their first day in the ground, a variety of other seedlings (bok choy, sprouting broccoli, kale, napa cabbage) protected from insects with a cover we'll keep on for a few weeks, and Marcelo in the compost
structure, strengthening the wire divider.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Native Perennials ZOOM with Peter Strom

Get a little guidance on figuring out what native perennials are right for you!

Attend a Zoom chat with horticulturist Peter Strom on Monday, May 4, 7 - 8 PM 
Peter is owner of Strom Horticulture LLC and known for his work at the O'Hara Nature Center in Irvington. He will talk about the plants on native plant plugs bulk buy that is being organized (see list below - more info in blog), what experience he has had growing them, and highlight his favorites for both shade and sun. In addition, there will be time for Q&A.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 811 3656 9762
Password: 693643

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Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcKdNNJlRS

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

purchase native perennials / order by May 4

For those of you I haven't had the pleasure of meeting in-person yet, I am Dobbs Ferry resident and a native plant enthusiast involved with the Dobbs Ferry Sustainability group.  My wife and I are currently working on a mixed sun/shade native perennial flower bed in our front yard, filling ~180 sq ft with 100+ plants in all. Though plugs are an economical way to plant en mass, it has been difficult to purchase native plugs outside of a wholesale purchase.

Would you be interested in being part of a group buy? If so, please read on. If not, let me know and I will promptly remove you from the distribution list.

This is a shortlist of the plants I'm most interested in: 

Latin Name
Common Name
Soil Moisture
Blue-Eyed Grass
10 - 12 in
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Big Leaf Aster 'Twilight'
30 - 36 in
Partial Sun
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Bluestem Goldenrod
2 - 3 ft
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Calico Penstemon, smooth beard tongue
2 - 3 ft
Partial Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry
Hairy Beardtongue
18 in
Full Sun to Full Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Sweet Goldenrod
2 - 4 ft
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Creeping Phlox 'Emerald Pink'
6 in
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Creeping Phlox 'Emerald Blue'
3 - 4 in 
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Little Blue Stem
2 - 4 ft
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium-Dry, Dry
New England Aster 'Purple Dome'
2 ft
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium-Wet, Medium
Butterfly Milkweed
1 - 3 ft
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Willowleaf Bluestar
2 - 3 ft
Partial Shade to Full Sun
Medium-Wet, Medium
Heath Aster 'Snow Flurry'
6 - 8 in 
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Thread Leaf Tickseed 'Zagreb'
12 - 18 in
Full Sun
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry

If you are interested in other native varieties, feel free browse these wholesaler's sites and/or their associated retailers to get a better idea of what might be available:

I'll purchase a flat of 50 or more plugs once there's a critical mass of committed gardeners for each variety.  In a few cases, potted plant purchases may become a smarter choice for specific varieties, TBD. Shipments will most likely occur between early-May and mid-July to coincide with plant maturity and availability from the wholesaler. For preliminary cost references, Asclepias Tuberosa (Butterfly Milkweed) is around ~$1.40/plug where as Mertensia Virginica (Virginia bluebells) is around $4.40/plug, not including shipping.

With respect to logistics and social distancing: if we do place an order, I strongly prefer repayment through PAYPAL or VEMNO with cash/check only as a last resort. Plug pickups will be left on our walkway within a prearranged 30-minute window with 30-minute buffers between each pickup, no exceptions. Thank you for your understanding.

What's next?  Email me your variety and quantity commitments as well as any questions you have. Hurry though, I would like to place our first order on or before May 4th!  I will follow up with additional communications with order, shipment, and repayment details as folks sign-up.


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Resources for COVID-19

I wanted to share a resource with you all that can help right now.

A friend and colleague of mine, pediatric neurologist Dr. Maya Shetreat has created a series of video lessons on using food, herbs and supplements to support immunity, lungs and stress levels. It is free of charge, and very well researched. She is also the author of The Dirt Cure, one of my favorite books on children’s health. 

Here’s the link: 

As for me, my part in this pandemic is outside. I’ve got 3 Mount Kisco-based garden projects that are continuing even if schools and child care centers are closed. Being outside, with hands in the soil and faces in the sun seems to be a good place to be. Here’s a good piece about that: https://medium.com/@ra.hobday/coronavirus-and-the-sun-a-lesson-from-the-1918-influenza-pandemic-509151dc8065

And it is easy to “socially distance” outdoors in big community garden projects.

As our economy collapses from this pandemic, we will need to relocalize and decentralize our food. 

Your nearby food pantry will appreciate freshly grown food in the months ahead.

If you have a sunny spot where you live, consider growing some food. Its easier than you think!

Stay well,

Susan Rubin