Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Garden for Girls in Need

  Campers at North Shore Holiday House

Dear Friends & Family,
I'm on a mission:
North Shore Holiday House is an amazing organization and it's right here in Huntington.
"The purpose of Holiday House is to provide young girls in need with an enriching and healthy respite at a critical time in their developing lives.  One of our main objectives is to foster self-esteem and empower girls to make appropriate choices in the difficult years ahead.  Our camp serves girls ages 7-11 from families whose incomes meet the USDA guidelines for free or reduced lunch.  During four, two-week sessions, over 200 girls from Long Island (100% of our campers are from Long Island) make new friends, learn new skills, and have fun, free from stressful or unstable family situations. "

My mission is this:
Holiday House has asked me to build them a veggie garden, they currently do not have the funds to pay for this. SO, I'm asking for your help. Would you consider making a donation to Holiday House's Garden fund. Our goal is small $1200 will get the four garden beds built and planted. I'm asking everyone to write a check of $25 or more made out to Holiday House and in the memo write "garden". Please mail the checks to North Shore Holiday House and when we have reached our goal we will build 4 new beds, plant and maintain the gardens along side these young girls. The contribution is tax deductible and all who donate will receive a receipt in the mail.

If you'd like to learn more about Holiday House please click this link or copy and paste this link into your browser.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Rexer Leonard
EARL's Kitchen Gardens 

Please make checks out to: North Shore Holiday House in the memo include "garden"
Mail checks to: North Shore Holiday House
74 Huntington Rd
Huntington, NY 11743

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lawn Care

Lawn care comes up as a topic often when I am meeting with new clients. They express concerns about growing food in box beds on top of a lawn that they fertilize. Often we give our lawn too little credit, it can grow healthy and lush with very little help from us. Over watering and over fertilizing are not only wasteful but can also be damaging to the environment and ourselves. If your concerned that your yard may be unsafe to eat from let me ask you this, why is your yard unsafe?

Maybe the answer to this dilema is, give your grass some credit. It knows how to grow and even reseed itself.

Here's a few tips for healthy nontoxic lawn care.

1. Water only in the early morning, before 10 a.m. Water only if needed. Did you know your lawn most likely only needs 1" of rain a week.
2. Let your grass grow at least 3" before mowing. It will establish a healthy root system and will be much more lush. Grass clippings if left on the lawn and not bagged become a natural fertilizer for your yard so leave them, and let them do their job.
3. If fertilizing is a must then do it sparingly and in early fall. Fertilizing is best done after a rain, not before it. You don't want all the fertilizer to end up as run off in a heavy rain and end up straight in your water supply and harbors.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Growing Verticle

This time of year the seed catalogs start pouring in. I love sitting down with them and circling all the things I think I might like to try growing. But sometimes I have to practice restraint because my growing space is somewhat limited. Growing veggies vertically can come in handy when having limited space. Here's a list of some veggies you might like to try growing vertically:
(These all will trellis up)
pole beans (green, purple etc)
dry shelling beans

By trellising some of these you can make room for some shade loving herbs and lettuces.
Click here to see more photo ideas for vertical gardening.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pest Managment

Most gardens will have their fair share of pests. Whether it be rabbits, chipmunks, tomato horn worms or cabbage worms, one if not all of these critters may show up and it's good to know what to do to prevent garden devastation. Here in my garden we've had a few bouts with the cabbage worm. They love my kale. I tried first just hand picking them off, gross but effective. It's really important when noticing that you may have any kind of bug infestation to examine both sides of your plants leaves. Most bugs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaf, the critters hatch and them boom, garden devastation. Check out this video to see what I mean.
My remedy for this is tri-fold.
1. Examine your plants leaves, rub your fingers on both sides, this will kill larvae that may be hiding on the underside.
2. When you notice you may have an infestation spray your plants with a solution of 26 oz. of water ( typical small spray bottle size), 2 tablespoons kitchen soap (vegetable based with no *SSL Sodium Laurel Sulfate) and one teaspoon cayenne pepper. Spray your plants, both sides of the leaves once a day for 3 days straight examine and reapply if necessary. Do this in the early morning or late at night, not in the high heat of the afternoon.
3. Do not compost infested plants, and do not plant the same crop in the same place the next year. Wait 3 years and try again. We've opted to do kale in pots, this keeps the soil free of any cabbage worm larvae and hopefully will help the situation.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


A happy garden is a well planned garden, and well cared for too!
Key factors in having a successful garden.

1.Location: Where you place your home garden is the biggest determining factor if you will have garden success. Southern exposure is best. Lots of homeowners want to tuck their home garden somewhere where it just won't thrive. You can't compromise on location, it will make or break your garden.
2. Watering: It's hard to impart to the new gardener just how much watering your garden needs. Lots of first time gardeners think if things aren't looking lush yet watering is the answer. Watering is important but most home gardens only need to be watered two to three times a week. The best watering method for box gardens or container gardens is by hand watering with a nice old fashioned watering can. Believe it or not your garden hose can be a gardens nemesis. Overhead and in-ground sprinkler systems can also wreak havoc on your garden. Although it may be convenient to set a timer and walk away and let your sprinkler system do the work, overhead sprinklers are huge wasters of water, most of it evaporates before ever reaching your plants roots system where it's needed most. So use a watering can, water the soil not the leaves of your plants, and water early in the morning to avoid rapid evaporation during the high heat of the afternoon. Watering at night encourages mildew and other diseases.
There are many other contributing factors for garden success, some are within the control of the gardener and some are not. When possible choose your location wisely, don't over crowd your plants, be patient and enjoy your harvests.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tomato picking

(These tomatoes were picked just as they started to show some color, we leave them in the bowl on the counter top to ripen not in the refrigerator.)

With heavy winds and rain some of my tomato plants have flopped. They are inside the tallest cages I could buy, and some are additionally supported with stakes too, but the fruit is so heavy that gravity took over. So here's my suggestions for possible remedies to this situation :
1. If your tomatoes have flopped over and are laying on the ground, it may be best to leave the plant there. Your plants are fragile and too much moving and manipulating may cause them to snap. So your best bet may be to leave them. You can put dry grass clippings or straw under the fruit so it doesn't rot, and you may want to pick your fruit as soon as you see the slightest color on the shoulders of the fruits, because now that they are on the ground they are an easy grab for critters.
2. If your cages are still standing but are leaning and look like they could use some support you can add a stake as additional support, be sure to not put the stake too close to the plants root system.
3. Early picking is okay too. We started picking our tomatoes as soon as the shoulders started to show some color. This took some weight off the plants and which in turn also allows for the other fruits to receive the plants energy to ripen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tomato pruning

Share your favorite tomato growing tips with us, and your recipes too!
Happy gardening!