March & April 2017
Students Taking Action for Tomorrow’s Environment is back up and running, and August was a busy month. We started by splitting and repotting larger Spartina plants with the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Meadows Program. Those freshly potted plants were mixed with a nutrient rich soil to be planted along this watershed during National Estuaries Week.
During the first week of the month, we tackled Arcadia and our volunteers used some elbow grease to pull weeds and mugwort, a relentless invasive species. We were able to harvest potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, basil, kale, collard greens, cucumbers and chives! The volunteers brought home their share to enjoy with their families. Additionally, we painted and designed some DIY stakes to put in the garden to label veggies for next season’s plantings.
Although forecasts for severe thunderstorms resulted in canceling a project, we were able to still get a day in to help out with the restoration of a new nature/visitor center along the Carman’s River, called the Carman’s River Ecology & Environmental Center or C.R.E.E.C. A small group of energetic volunteers came out during a hot summer afternoon to measure bat housing assembly to be cut, painted educational boards, and prepared the garden beds for planting. We will be visiting there again in the next couple of months to assist with an additional project!
Our next project was closer to home as we headed down to West Meadow Beach to work with The Friends of Flax Pond , on diamondback terrapin nest checks. None of the nests had hatchlings yet, but we were able to unveil a nest that was being infested and the rest of the eggs were salvaged for incubation. The importance of monitoring nests is not always to watch the eggs hatch, but also to check for warning signs of predation by fox & raccoon, and infestation by maggots. Saving baby turtles can be so rewarding!
As we neared the end of August, we returned to Sand Street to tend to the native plant habitat garden, established with the Stony Brook Rotary Club. Volunteers worked to trim back and uproot overgrown grasses, pulled some weeds, and did a trash pickup around the perimeter and in the garden. We came across a few interesting discoveries that day–a praying mantis egg case, seeing 3 praying mantis (two different species!) & various butterfly species, and coming across dog stinkhorn fungus! The last part was not exactly what we were hoping to find, but volunteers put their effort into removing it from the garden. At first the fungus starts growing from “eggs” as they call it due to its appearance; we didn’t even know what it was at first and believed they were eggs of some sort, but after further research we found it to be a fungus–we are always learning something new!
To wrap up this month, we helped out and tabled at The Long Island Vegan Food and Information Extravaganza. We also went to Sweetbriar Nature Center to assist the master gardeners in pulling invasive species and maintaining the beauty of this area.
Along with September came fall festivals! We participated at Hallockville Museum Farm‘s Country Fair & Craft Show, Pine Barrens Discovery Day, Setauket Harbor Day, and the Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve‘s Fall Festival. A great time was had by all as we informed the public about the S.T.A.T.E. program and debuted our new hydroponics project!
At Avalon park, we worked on a different style of gardening: hydroponics, which uses a nutrient rich water mixture instead of soil. We did this alongside our regular vegetable garden, Arcadia, to compare and contrast the differences. Next season, we will experiment with this more, but it was interesting to see quickly growing plants by using different growth substrates and techniques.
In addition to these projects, we visited one of the community gardens at Kings Park Library with Joy from Four Harbors Audubon Society, to prune plants for the end of the season and pull more invasive weeds. Speaking of invasives, we closed out the month with a Mile-a-Minute pull at the Three Village Garden Club Arboretum. They informed us that it seems to be making progress from years past, thanks to our S.T.A.T.E. volunteers! We are hoping to see it completely eradicated in the future.
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