Our last count of the year was successful enough to introduce new crab volunteers to the counting, tagging, and measuring processes, with every STATE-ee getting her or his hands on the drill and the calipers, but a strong northwest wind made for a very, very choppy shore, and so there weren’t nearly as many crabs as we’d hoped for in our anticipated huge tagging effort. We look forward to getting back to counting next April and May!
While in this case, the ‘B&B’ stands for ‘bird and butterfly,’ it’s actually a very fitting coincidence, because this garden will grow to become both lodging and a food source for native birds, butterflies, bugs, and other creatures whose names do not start with a ‘B’. First, we rid our to-be garden area of grass, shaking the soil off each clump, and setting the greens aside to compost. After cutting a clean edge around the garden, plants were laid out, and we began the great digging. From annuals to trees, we took the potted flora and set them into their new homes in front of the library. Next, we covered the non-planted area with newspaper and mulch, finishing with a few more smaller plants just moments before a great wind and rain began to move in. The good soaking couldn’t have come at a better time! From the truck, we looked at our beautiful, native-supporting garden, amazed at what we accomplished in one afternoon, and excited about all of the good it will do in the coming years.
While in this case, the ‘B&B’ stands for ‘bird and butterfly,’ it’s With so much to munch on in the garden, we’ve been finding ourselves doing as much nibbling as we are weeding! Volunteers hunted for strawberries, pulled radishes, snipped crisp lettuce, and walked away with bags full of these goodies, plus much more. Beyond our snacking, we planted our late-summer crops, including squash and additional root vegetables, weeded all of our beds, and discovered all sorts of interested creatures within the leaves and soil. It’s never a dull afternoon in the garden!
After heading back to the drawing board regarding a few structural aspects of our clam aquaculture floats, we spent one more afternoon making amendments to the rafts. The bottoms needed to be secured, and our lids needed some serious work. But with a great many hands, we knocked out one task after the other despite the rainy afternoon, and ended up with two completely finished rafts. They truly are fantastic pieces of work! We’re anxious for the clam seed to arrive so that we can fill our trays with sand and clams, beginning the summer’s study of clam growth and maintenance.
We’re becoming absolute experts at installing these bird and butterfly gardens full of native plants, and we’re just delighted to have such experiences! The ecological importance of native plants is so huge, so spending an afternoon prepping an area, planting beautiful natives, mulching, and watering is wonderfully gratifying. Inevitably, a few birds and butterflies buzzed the garden just as we were finishing; they just couldn’t wait to check out their new habitat and food sources. As they say, build it and they will come! We hope to help native gardens spread all throughout Long Island over the coming years.
After the cancellation of an invasive species removal event due to years of efforts’ success, we turned our efforts towards two projects here at Avalon. First, we disassembled our greenhouse for the year, storing it until late next winter when we start our 2013 crops. Once that was done, our volunteers spent an hour and a half clearing a stand of Japanese Knotweed (or Mexican Bamboo), getting up as much root as possible, leveling the area, raking away all the debris, and planting three flats worth of switchgrass plugs. I would almost swear that they’re growing at a rate of an inch per day! They’ll grow tall and proud next to Avalon’s barn gate. Thank you again to our friends at the Long Island Native Plant Initiative for passing these flats along to us!
With school’s end so near, the buzz around the garden was about summer plans, both afar and within Arcadia. After working hard to clear weeds and plant late-summer crops, volunteers were delighted with a harvest of sweet strawberries and snap peas alongside kale and onions.
To kick off our summer event series, volunteers came together to take the first active step in launching a STATE project: Truck Farm. Inspired by the original documentary, STATE volunteers bustled around all afternoon, layering the truck with drainage mats, peat, and soils, creating a layer cake of gardeny goodness. To finish the day, we planted our first Truck Farm crops, just in time to drive it out into the rain for its first watering. The truck will be taken to various community centers and events throughout the growing seasons in hopes of inspiring the public to take even just a small patch of their own land and turn it into a little garden. (Of course, we hope that they become addicted to gardening and expand until they simply can’t expand any more!)
We finally made it over to Sweetbriar to install our ‘garbage gravestones’: a cemetery installation that educates folks on how long it takes different materials to break down (such as disposable diapers– 450 years each!) and advice on the use of these items (reduce, reuse, and/or recycle). With the installation complete, we headed over to the gardens to help our volunteer friends clear an area for a cut flower planting, saving the perennials and pulling up all the rest.
Three determined volunteers marched into one of Seatuck’s shallow ponds donning waders and armed with shovels and saws. They had one mission: remove the invasive, aggressive yellow flag iris. These young ladies pulled and cut and hauled and piled for hours, finishing with a mountain of yellow flag iris and roots. By the end of our day, we were all exhausted, but it was fantastic to see the cleared area in the pond, knowing that though we’d just begun a big task, we were already making a big difference.
With so many hands in the garden, it’s easy to accomplish so, so much! We weeded every bed in record time, and the moved on to more progressive tasks. The guys opted to plant our ‘three sisters’ area, adding bean and squash seeds to our corn crops. Meanwhile, the ladies tied up the tomato plants to support them in their fruit-growing phase. Finally, we harvested our goodies for the day and everyone went home with nice full bushels of fresh produce.