Autumn in the Garden

Autumn in the Garden
Autumn in the Garden: Cosmos Forest for our chitinous and feathered friends

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

2023 PCG Activity Calendar

Mar 1     Membership Due$ ‘Early Deadline’ E. Tress -

               Dues: $20 half plot / $40 full plot.

Mar 15   Membership Due$ ‘Final Deadline’ to E. Tress -

               Dues: $30 half plot / $50 full plot; plot forfeited after deadline.

Apr 2      Spring Member Mtg  Sun, 4:00-5:30 pm  

                   Village Hall & via Zoom option if Coordinating Team is notified.

Apr TBD   New Member Orientation (Mandatory; Individually scheduled with Mich 


Apr 15     Deadline to weed & clean your plot 

Apr 15     Spring Communal Weeding & Cleaning Sat, 10 am - 2 pm 

                    (Rain Date 4/22)

Apr 23     Spring Communal Weeding & Cleaning  Sun, 12 - 3 pm 

                    (Rain Date 4/30)

May 31    Deadline for planting all plots

Jun 14     Solstice Communal Work Prep in Garden and Parelli Park 

                Bindweed  Wed, 5-7 pm (Rain date Thurs 6/15)

Jun 17     Summer Solstice Picnic at Parelli Park, Sat, 6 - 10 pm 

                     (Rain date 6/18)

July 18     Communal Work & Weeding - Crabgrass  Tue, 5-7 pm

                 (Alternate date - Rain/Heat - Wed 7/19, 5-7 pm)

Aug 14     Communal Work & Weeding Grasses  Mon, 5-7 pm

                (Alternate date - Rain/Heat - Wed 8/16, 5-7 pm)

Sep 17     Communal Work & Weeding Sun, Noon-3 pm 

                    (Rain date - 9/24)

Oct 14      Communal Work & Weeding Sat, 10 am - 2 pm

                 (Rain date 10/21)

Oct 22      Communal Work & Weeding  Sun, Noon - 3 pm

                 (Rain date 10/29) 

Nov 5       Fall Member Mtg  Sun, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm 

                     Village Hall & via Zoom

Dec 1       Deadline to clean & weed plot for Winter

Dec 16     Winter Solstice Bonfire  Sat, 6:15-8:00 am

                (Garden Driveway)  (Alternate date -Rain/Snow 12/17)

NOTE:  Participation in organized Communal Work & Weeding goes towards fulfilling membership requirements of 6 work hours

        Rain dates and cancellations will be posted on Garden fence.

        Pop-up Events during the season are often on a Wed. or Thur.  Check your email for dates & time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Harvesting Garlic in July and Curing It for Storage

In June, the scapes, which are the flower stalk of your hard-necked varieties, will start to grow. Do cut them and use in cooking. Don't wait until they fully uncurl or they can get tough and even woody. If you fail to cut the scapes, they can draw energy from the plant and the bulbs may not be as large.

If you planted garlic last fall and have kept the garlic patch well-weeded (garlic hates competition of any kind in its patch) and if you have watered it well until  around May 20, then on the Solstice –– June 21–– your garlic will happily and literally stop growing.  Its beautiful green leaves will start to turn brown over the next weeks. Note the hard necked garlic above on June 23. This requires monitoring carefully starting in late June/early July.  If you are going to eat all your garlic as soon as you harvest, you need not read further.  But, if you want to store it for any period of time, make sure the bulb has enough cover to protect it. Do not let all the leaves turn brown before digging!! Each bulb should be harvested when there are about 4-5 green leaves left. Each one of those leaves is responsible for that papery covering you see on the heads in the grocery store. That's what protects the head from deteriorating. Often harvest begins around July 4 in our Garden but it can be sooner depending the those leaves!

Once you are ready to harvest, dig carefully around the bulb to lift it intact without wounding it or it will not store well.  Remove the excess dirt taking care not to damage that outer papery layer on the bulb.  

Nor will it store well if you fail to cure it.  To begin curing, bundle the hard-necked garlic (or braid the soft-necked) and hang it in a place with good air circulation out of the sunlight or with minimal sunlight.  Curing takes about 3-6 weeks.  Once curing is finished, cut the long pieces of the roots off and store in a cool, dry place. Soft-necked garlic stores longer than hard-necked (8 mos vs 6 mos or less) but many prefer to grow hard-necked for its great flavor! Soft-necked garlic is always available in the store year round. Not so with hard-necked, although it often can be found during the summer at Farmer's Markets.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Clueless about When to Plant? Try Phenology, Nature's Clues!

When lilacs are in full bloom,
plant beans, cucumbers & squash

For centuries farmers have observed the relationship between climate and the life cycles of plants and animals. The study of this phenomenon is known as Phenology. The science behind Phenology points to soil temperature and what temperature various seeds need to germinate.

Here are some of nature's clues from the science of Phenology:

  • Crocus blooms plant RADISHES, PARSNIPS & SPINACH
  • Forsythia blooms and daffodils begin to bloom and you hear Spring Peepers, sow PEAS, ONION SETS & LETTUCE
  • The first dandelion blooms, plant POTATOES, CARROTS, SPINACH & BEETS
  • Lilacs are in first leaf, plant BEETS, CARROTS, COLE crops (ie: broccoli, cabbage, etc), LETTUCE and SPINACH
  • Apple trees bloom plant BUSH BEANS
  • Apple blossoms fall plant POLE BEANS & CUCUMBERS
  • Lilacs are in full bloom or have faded, plant BEANS, CUCUMBERS, SQUASHES & TENDER ANNUALS
  • Lily-of-the-valley is in full bloom and daylilies begin to bloom plant TOMATOES
  • Bearded irises bloom, plant EGGPLANT, MELONS, and PEPPERS
  • Peonies blossom it is safe to plant heat-loving melons such as CANTALOUPE.
Planting vegetables is not the only area of gardening to seek clues from nature. Clues are also given for the appearance of insects. Phenology can be used as a guide to scout for insects.

  • Redbud is in early bloom watch for FLEA BEETLES
  • Redbud is in early bloom to full bloom watch for the ASPARAGUS BEETLES & CABBAGEWORMS
  • Valerian is in bloom the COLORADO POTATO BEETLE will go after your potatoes, eggplant and peppers
  • Foxglove blossoms are in early bloom the MEXICAN BEAN BEETLE LARVAE begin munching
  • Chicory is in early bloom, look for the SQUASH VINE BORERS
  • Morning Glories begin to grow, look for JAPANESE BEETLES

From the May/Jun 2003 issue of Organic Gardening, and other sources. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

2022 PCG Activity Calendar


Mar 1      Membership Due$ ‘Early Deadline’ to E. Tress - $20 half plot / $40 full plot

Mar 15    Membership Due$ ‘Final Deadline’ to E. Tress -

                Dues: $30 half plot / $50 full plot; plot forfeited after deadline

Mar 27    Spring Member Mtg Sun, 4:00-5:30 pm  in Village Hall with Zoom as an option 

                          if Coordinating Team is notified.

Apr TBD    New Member Orientation (Mandatory; Individually scheduled with Mich Brisson)

Apr 2       Spring Work Party Sat, 10 am - 2 pm (4/9 Rain Date)

Apr 10     Spring Work Party  Sun, Noon - 3 pm (4/24 Rain Date)

Apr 15     Deadline to weed & clean your plot 

May 31    Deadline to Plant for all plots

Jun 15     Solstice Work Party prep Wed, 5-7 pm (Rain date Thurs 6/16)

Jun 18     Summer Solstice Party at Parelli Park Sat, 6 - 9 pm  

Aug 6      Mid-summer Work Party Sat, 9-11 am & 5-7 pm

                    (Alternate date Wed 8/10, 5-7 pm)

Aug 14    Mid-summer Work Party Sun, 2-5 pm

Oct 15     Fall Work Party (Rain date 10/22) Sat, 10 am - 2 pm

Oct 23     Fall Work Party (Rain date 10/30)  Sun, Noon - 3 pm

Nov 19    Fall Member Mtg  Sat, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm  (Village Hall & via Zoom)

Dec 1      Deadline to clean & weed plot for Winter

Dec 18    Winter Solstice Bonfire (Garden Driveway) Sun, 6:30-8:30 am

NB:  Rain dates and cancellations will be posted on the Garden fence by the front gate

Pop-up Events during the season. 

Check your email for dates & time!

Friday, February 07, 2020

Why Does the Kale Taste Better Harvested after First Frost?

Kale is a cold-hardy vegetable.  For a long time I've wondered why it tastes better in the Fall than in Summer.  I finally found an answer in Jeff Ashton's book The 12-Month Gardener: Simple Strategies for Extending Your Growing Season.  He says, "...collards, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale will mature very well in the summer, but that doesn't mean they should be harvested in hot weather."

Why?  They are bitter (to varying degrees) he notes, when harvested then.

Why?  "Sugar (generated by photosynthesis) is the fuel that allows a plant to breathe.  In times of high stress, hardy plants are using every bit of sugar available to stay alive.  Bitterness is a result of sugar depletion during these periods of high stress when temperatures soar and the soil is dry."   Ashton observes, as do I, that they become much sweeter after being hit by a couple of frosts.

Why?  "The reason for this" he says, "is that the rate of respiration in hardy vegetables slows down in cool weather.  As the season progresses into cooler weather, excess or unused sugar is stored."  Mmmm.  Hence, sweeter leaves!

In summer, if you must harvest your kale, make sure it is well-watered ahead and harvest after a couple of cloudy days for a sweeter experience.  Otherwise, wait until Fall's frosts have hit to experience the optimum flavor.

In our Garden, kale has been observed to winter over, especially if covered even lightly with the spun material (often called Reemay) that lets in sunlight and rain. Harvest can even take place during winter on more mild days.  I harvested both curly and lacinato (dinosaur) kale this week.

Beware! During the Fall and Winter, whiteflies can be a pest you don't want to bring indoors, especially if you have houseplants.  Shake harvested leaves while still in the Garden and wash well or submerge in water to remove any remaining flies before bringing indoors.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Weeds' Patient & Prolific Progeny – Know Thine Enemy

The information below is sobering to keep in mind when dancing with weeds and letting them go to seed.  Some of those seeds will be viable long after we have become part of the earth in which they germinate!

Bindweed flowering

Many of these are in our Garden Plots

Bindweed 40 yrs   Long-lived perennial with deep root system – never let it seed!
Curly dock Rumex crispus  29,500   70 yrs
Foxtail   20 yrs
Canada Thistle   21 yrs
Crabgrass  8,000
Dandelions  100-200 seeds/head  6 yrs  Germinates immediately after reaching has no after-ripening requirements. Seed keeps in a ziplock bag in a refrigerator for 2 years with extremely high germination.
Evening Primrose  70 yrs
Galinsoga ciliata   7,500    10 yrs + in soil
Lambsquarters Chenopodum album  72,450    7% viable after 38 yrs
Mullein Verbascum thapsus   223,200,   70 yrs
Nutsedge  100 – 2,000 
Pigweed (redroot)  117,400   10-40 yrs
Plantain Plantago major  36,000  40 yrs
Purslane Portulaca oleracea  52,300    40 yrs
Redroot pigweed Amaranthus spp  117,400   3 yrs Unknown viability after 38 yrs
Shepherd's purse Capselia bursa-pastoris 38,500   16 yrs
Smartweed  19,300
Ragweed (Common)  3,380   39 yrs

  • Seed germination occurs at or very near the soil surface. 
  • Light increases germination. 
  • The seed germinates when soil is moist and soil temperature is at least 50°F; however, germination is more rapid when the soil temperatures are closer to 77°F. 
  • Germination occurs throughout the growing season.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Watch for the Preying Mantis Hatching in the Garden!

Late May is Preying Mantis hatching time!  In 2016 this casing hatched on May 23.  On the left is a new hatchling perhaps waiting for a sibling to emerge and become a  tasty morsel.  On the right, a hatchling is poised to leap off its casing.

When full grown in fall and almost 3 inches long, these predators are capable of capturing and eating a hummingbird.  Meanwhile, they indiscriminately eat insects by remaining still, changing color to blend in and waiting patiently for their next meal to come within striking distance. 

One fall as I was harvesting basil, I almost cut one in half.  It had blended in with the basil  perfectly. At the last moment I noticed movement as the head swiveled to look up at the approaching scissors. Later she rewarded me by leaving an egg casing attached to that very basil plant. 
March 2022 UPDATE on Praying Mantids
This Spring, we collected as many Asian Praying Mantis egg casings as we could find (about 11) and removed them from the Garden. In September, 2021 we discovered a carpet of Monarch wings in Ellie's bed of zinnias. The photo here is of a plate of some of those wings from that event. A praying mantis had lain in wait in the zinnias and methodically attacked each butterfly that came to nectar there. She ate the body, leaving the wings to fall to the ground. The female needs a lot of protein in the Fall to lay her eggs. 

The Asian mantids are indiscriminate in their hunting and by September are quite formidable, even capable of killing a hummingbird. They out-compete our native Carolina Mantis which has been moving north and has been reported near NYC.

May Weeds

INDIAN MOCK STRAWBERRIES among the real ones!

Early in my gardening I nurtured one of these plants (Potentilla indica, formerly Duchesnea indica), mistaking it for a strawberry. I finally discovered its true nature. They still appear in the Garden.

How to distinguish them from the real ones? I find the leaves are softer and fuzzier, while those of the strawberry tend to be a bit leathery. If the flower is yellow, it’s definitely not a strawberry — the tasty edible strawberry flowers are white.

The berry of the Duchesnea indica (sometimes known 
as Potentilla indica) –  flowers around the beginning of May as does the true strawberry. Pull this ‘weed’ if you find one in your bed and put it in the compost bin.

For those who are interested in its medicinal & edible use visit Bellarmine University to find out about the positive qualities of this weed. Both the fruit and leaves are edible and medicinal.


MID-MAY they begin appearing in the Garden!  Check out the Community Garden's Yellow Nutsedge Wins Community Garden Weed of the Year Award!.

Some already have little nuts attached to the roots. Remember, it’s those little nuts that survive the winter to reappear next Spring. Try to dig up the nutsedge before they have more than 3 leaves. And, don’t let the leaves fool you. They superficially resemble grass but are thicker and stiffer than most grasses. Notice that the leaf is V-shaped in cross-section, not flat. They also emerge in sets of three from the base rather than sets of two like grasses. Don’t let it get to the flowering stage. But if you do, look at the flowering stems — cut them and see that nutsedges are triangular in cross-section while grass stems are hollow and round.

The nutlets I've dug at this time are young — whitish and not brown like in the photo. They break off easily, so loosen the soil around the plant first and gently pull the weed out and put it in the trash. As these plants mature, they send out rhizomes to make a nice little Yellow Nutsedge colony.

If you find a small patch of nutsedge, Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends digging “at least 10 inches deep and at least eight to 10 inches beyond the diameter of the above ground leafy portion of the plant.” This is one wily weed!

Check this website Virginia Tech Weed ID by Scientific Name for photos of weeds in various stages of growth.

The National Gardening Association has extensive articles on Weeds such as this article on Indian Mockstrawberry with photos.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Galinsoga – Modest in the Spring, It Gallops through the Garden in September & October

Galinsoga Seedling
Galinsoga parviflora, and Galinsoga ciliata, known also as Quickweed or Gallant Soldier, are easily pulled when young. You start seeing this subtropical annual in spring. It produces multiple generations (as many as 7500 seeds per plant per year), hence we see it galloping through the Garden in September and October before first frost if we are not vigilant in the Spring.  

Do not compost this particular weed.  The small white flowers you see produce many seeds which mature almost immediately – a great survival strategy for this little weed that has shallow roots and no rhizomes or reproduction by cuttings.  Dispose of it in the vegetative pile out front for the DPW to pick up. Correspondingly, before using your weeding tools elsewhere, clean off the soil as their tiny seeds can be present in it..
Galinsoga Gone to Seed

On the positive side, their presence indicates adequate to high nitrogen in the soil. And although considered by us a weed, other parts of the world use it culinarily and medicinally. Their young greens & stems are high in minerals and can be cooked and eaten. 

See Galinsoga – Love It or Hate It for more info on its nutrition and uses.  For more on this weed and other "Weeds of the Month" visit the July 22, 2016 Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Weed of the Month: Galinsoga. For strategies on controlling, it visit the University of Vermont's Galinsoga Management.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

2020 Activity Calendar

TBA        Winter Social                    

Mar 1      Membership Due$ ‘Early Deadline’ to E. Tress - $20 half plot / $40 full plot
Mar 14    Spring Member Mtg Sat, 4-5:30 pm
Mar 15    Membership Due$ ‘Final Deadline’ to E. Tress -
                Dues: $30 half plot / $50 full plot; plot forfeited after deadline)

April       New Member Orientation (Mandatory attendance; schedule with Mich Brisson)
Apr 18    Spring Work Party Sat, 10 am - 2 pm (4/25 Rain Date)
Apr 26    Spring Work Party  Sun, Noon - 3 pm (5/3 Rain Date)

May 1     Deadline to weed & clean your plot 
May 30   Deadline to Plant your plot
Summer Solstice Maypole

Jun 17     Solstice Work Party prep work party 5 - 7 pm (Rain date 6/18)
Jun 20     Summer Solstice Party at Parelli Park 6 - 10 pm  
Aug 5      Mid-summer Work Party Wed, 6 - 8 pm?
                    (Heat/Rain date Wed 8/12, 6 - 8 pm)

Oct 17     Fall Work Party (Rain date 10/20) Sat, 10am - 2 pm
Oct 25     Fall Work Party (Rain date 11/1)  Sun, 12 - 3 pm
Nov 12    Fall Member Mtg Thur, 7 pm @ Village Hall  (changed from Nov 10, 4-5:30p)

Dec 1      Deadline to clean & weed your plot
Dec 19    Winter Solstice Bonfire in Joan's driveway 6 - 8 am

NB:  Rain dates and cancellations will be posted on the Garden fence by the front gate.
Will we have Pop-up Events during the season?  
Check your email for dates & time.

Saturday, December 08, 2018



Our predawn bonfire celebrates the end of the year's longest night,
and the sun's ascent as the embers die.

Mich tends the fire while we stand vigil watching for the rising sun with Nakai's flute playing in the background.

Joan Gussow, our foundress, started this tradition.  In 1995, a few Gardeners and her husband Alan met in their backyard on a very cold morning and stood around the fire burning in the barbecue pit while awaiting the sun.  The following year Joan, with permission from the Fire Dept, built the bonfire in her driveway and opened it up to Gardeners and friends. One solstice, the embers were flying high and all over.  A Piermont policeman was just coming off duty and stopped by to investigate. Joan went out to explain that we were cheering on the sun to come up.  He encouraged us to carry on and drove off!

Dan Sherman spontaneously quoted Emily Dickinson at our gathering:

I’ll tell you how the sun rose -
A ribbon at a time.
The steeple swam in amethyst, 
the news like squirrels ran.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Harvesting Tips from the Veggies!

These three say they need to ripen before harvesting, although green tomatoes have something to say about that!

The first indication that we are nearing ripeness is when we color up.  BUT our best clues are our flesh gives to gentle pressure AND our stem willingly separates from the vine at the first joint above the fruit.  Enjoy us then.
Green Tomatoes
Before the cold temperatures set in, pick us green tomatoes, even we who are hard as a baseball.  Wrap us separately in a couple layers of newspaper and put us someplace in darkness, like on a tray under the bed or in a box.  Check us periodically for ripening (or possible rotting -- please remove these!) Enjoy us into Thanksgiving or even Winter Solstice!

When my silk turns dry and brown – about 3 weeks after it first begins to show – then my kernels inside will be full and milky.

Winter Squash
I like to remain on the vine until my rind has hardened and my color has deepened.  If you want to  store me though, wait until my plant has died before harvesting me.

You can pick me once I have reached a usable size.  Do it while my skin is still glossy.  Once it dulls, I am not at my best.

Pick me once I've reached a size you like.  If you are patient and leave me on the vine longer, I will reward you with my red self.  All the more vitamin C for you!
Summer Squash
You can pick me at any size.  I am best when small and tender and my skin is still glossy and has some "grab" when you move your hand across it.  But all is not lost if I get to be the size of a baseball bat – make zucchini bread!

Wait until we of the shelling kind have filled out the pod, but don't leave us on the vine too long after.  We are rather tough then.   We sugar snaps can be eaten pod and all and are sweetest and most tender BEFORE we fill out our pods!

Green Beans & Cucumbers
Pick us when we are the size you want, but don't let us get too large! Warning! We green beans get especially tough then.  And, we cucumbers make seeds so big, you will need to remove them.

Leeks & Onions
We can be pulled & eaten at any stage.  The onion advises: If you want to store me, leave me in the ground until my top yellows.
I am day-length sensitive and literally stop growing at Summer Solstice.  So, in July, dig me when my tops are starting to yellow but while there are still 5-6 green leaves left.  If you allow all my leaves to brown up, then there will be no covering left on my head when you harvest me and I will not store well at all.

Beets, Turnips, Radishes & Carrots
Be a detective and check out if we are the size you want before digging us root vegetables up. Beware! If you let us get too big, we will be woody and bitter! As a general rule, the thicker our stem, the larger we are.  Hint – we carrots who have the darker green leaves are larger than our lighter green neighbors.

If you want new potatoes, start digging us about 7 weeks after our green breaks ground.  If you want to store us, wait until 2 weeks AFTER we have died before digging us up.

Much of the above was taken from Taunton's Fine Gardening, Aug 2003
How do you known when your vegetables are ready for harvest?
by Ruth Lively, former senior editor of "Kitchen Gardener" magazine answers
Also, The National Gardening Association website: Gardening Articles