Planting a Mailbox Garden

Sandra Nam, from Plant Me A Rainbow, joined us to share tips about how to start a small perennial garden, sharing information about location type, tools needed, suggestions for specific plants, and more.

Did you miss the workshop? Watch the full recording.

Click above to download Sandra’s full presentation


Gardening can be overwhelming. Where to start? What to use? How to plant? Why not start with a simple mailbox project? You can start a simple perennial garden around your mailbox – or anywhere in your yard!

Creating an Informal Mailbox Garden

Take a shovel and a few plants (see our suggestions below). Remove the weeds, dig holes, fill with water, insert the plants. Keep moist and keep the area weed-free for the first months. After that, occasionally weeding and watering only during dry spells should be enough.

Creating a More Formal Mailbox Garden

For a more formal garden, choose edging first (whatever you have available). Inundate the inside area with water, cover with cardboard, add mulch and keep wet.

After a few months, when the cardboard has degraded and is soft enough to break with gentle pushing of a shovel, you can start planting, right through the mulch and cardboard. Reduce the layer of mulch to about 1 inch deep, to allow your plants to spread sideways, so they can fill in the area and make it harder for weeds to invade.

Keep watering your new plants for the first weeks. After that, occasional weeding and watering during dry spells will be sufficient.

Easy Fool-Proof Plant Species

Plant species for sunny areas – in order of blooming

Zizia Aurea/Golden Alexander – Monarda bradburiana/Beebalm – Asclepia tuberosa/Butterflyweed – Echinacea purpurea/Purple coneflower – Symphyotrichum oblongifolium/Aromatic aster

Plant species for sun-shade areas – in order of blooming

Geranium maculatum/Wild geranium – Amsonia hubrichtii/Amsonia – Iris versicolor/Blue flag iris, Tradescantia/Spiderwort – Solidago caesi/Blue stem goldenrod

Plant species for shady areas – in order of blooming

Polemonium caeruleum/Jacob’s ladder –  Tiarella cordifolia/Foamflower – Athyrium filix femina/Lady fern – Eurybia divaricata/White wood aster – Solidago flexicaulis/Zigzag goldenrod

Nurseries

For a list of local nurseries and online nurseries with a collection of plants native to our area, click here.

Dig In Workshop Resources

WeekResourcesShort Video, Workshop Recording
Week #1Three Ways To CompostShort video
Week #2Local Food From CSAs: How To and Why Now
Week #3A Quick and Dirty Garden in 5 MinutesShort Video, Full Recording
Week #4Inviting and Observing PollinatorsShort Video, Full Recording
Week #5Soil You’re Undies: Find Out About the Quality of Your SoilShort Video, Full Recording
Week #6Weed ‘Em Out: Tackling Invasive Plants in Your YardShort Video, Full Recording
Week #7Land Stewardship: Caring For Your Yard Is Caring For the PlanetShort Video, Full Recording
Week #8Planting a Perennial Mailbox GardenShort Video, Full Recording
Week #9Timely Tips for VeggiesShort Video

Land Stewardship

Brendan Murphy and John Zeiger from Westchester Land Trust joined us to share ways that homeowners can care for their land and the importance of doing so.

Did you miss the webinar. Watch it here.


You can fight climate change through by preserving land with aids in carbon sequestration!

Learn about conservation easements.

The Story of Plastic

Watch the Film

From Your Couch Before June 8th!

The Story of Plastic is an eye-opening look at the plastic pollution crisis. The link between the oil and gas industry and its role in the prevalence of plastic will astound you. The film highlights the enormous consequences created by its ubiquity.

The first 150 households to click the link below will be able to watch for free. Please click only once to ensure that all interested can partake!

Join the Discussion on Monday, June 8th at 8:00 PM

After watching the film, join us for a fascinating discussion with Deia Schlosberg, Director of The Story of Plastic, and Berna Tural, Founder/CEO of BeNatural and ocean advocate. They will discuss solutions from corporate responsibility to changing the economics of plastic. More information on the panelists joining the conversation coming soon.

Register now to join us:

Environmental Film Series Registration

Watch the trailer.

Meet Deia Schlosberg

Deia Schlosberg (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER of The Story of Plastic) made national news in October, 2016, when she was arrested and charged with 45 years’ worth of felonies for filming the #ShutItDown pipeline protest in North Dakota. Deia produced Josh Fox’s climate change film, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change (Sundance/HBO). Deia also co-produced Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock (Tribeca/Netflix), and The Reluctant Radical (2018). Deia also co-directed and produced Cold Love. Her short film, Backyard, a look at the human impacts of fracking, won two student Emmys (Best Documentary, Bricker Humanitarian Award).

Remove & Replace Invasive Plants

Thank you to Jessica Schuler from the Westchester County Parks Department, Lasdon Park and Arboretum, who joined us for an informative session on how to identify, remove and replace invasive plants in our yards. Jessica started by sharing this great video (7 minutes)!

If you weren’t able to join us, you can watch the full recording.

Resources

Healthy Yards

Removing Invasive Species: Healthy Yards offers extensive information on how to remove specific invasive species including Garlic Mustard, Lesser Celandine, and Japanese Knotweed and Mugwort.

Finding Local Nurseries: Healthy Yards has compiled a list of local and online nurseries providing native plants to replace the invasives.

Dig In Slides

Download the PowerPoint presentation that Lauren shared during the workshop. It has more local resources.

PRISM

The Partnership For Regional Invasive Species Management has a Lower Hudson Valley group that is active with many programs to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect the biodiversity in the region.

New York Invasive Species Research Institute

Cornell University offers extensive resources, research, webinars/events to help control the spread of invasives. Learn more about NYISRI.

Town of Pound Ridge

The Conservation Board shared more information and resources on invasives, healthy lawns, native trees, shrubs, and flowers, ticks, and more.

Invasive Species Tips

Our yards and landscapes suffer under a continuous attack of brutal exotic invaders. Once you recognize these enemies, you see them everywhere: Japanese barberry, winged euonymus, privet, multiflora rose, Japanese honeysuckle, mugwort and Japanese knotweed. And the list goes on.

All these plants crowd out our native plants, on which our pollinators and birds depend as food sources.

Tackling this issue in our woodlands requires measures beyond the scope of homeowners alone.

Healthy Yards advice: Don’t let the bullies intimidate you! A good strategy is to have a look around in your yard and decide how much you can manage and then start removing ONE species after the other.

Start with the most aggressive spreaders first:

In Europe this plant is charmingly called Modest Henry, which illustrates how complicated the issue of invasives is: outside of its natural habitat, a plant can gain completely new characteristics.

Here in the USA, garlic mustard has a strong allelopathic capacity, which means it doesn’t just crowd out other plants, but it also makes the soil less suitable for them to grow in.
  • Removing garlic mustard is fairly easy:
  • Remove it before it goes to seed 
  • Remove root and all
  • It’s a biannual: Learn to recognize the first-year plant and get that at the same time
  • It’s easiest to remove after rain when the soil is soft
  • Keep at it! 
  • Dispose of seed heads in the trash or commercial compost facility
  • Replace with part shade loving plants: packera, creeping phlox, wood anemone, or any other native plant you can get hold of
  • The good news: once you have removed this, natives from the old seed bank will start growing again

Again a beloved wet soil loving spring flower in Europe, but here it’s an unstoppable plant crowding out all our spring ephemerals. Lesser celandine creates a massive and thick underground structure, composed of a mass of bulblets and roots, so dense that there is no room for other plants. The window for removing this plant is short and its removal is tedious. Get it as soon as you see it appear in your yard — don’t pause to admire its pretty yellow flowers or glossy leaves, or else you will be run over!
  • Prioritize natural areas, celandine has little impact on turf, but is disastrous for our natives ephemerals
  • Start where the plant seems happiest and go from there
  • Remove ALL roots and bulblets (every little piece will regrow!)
  • Replace immediately with moisture-loving natives as skunk cabbage, wood poppy, wild leeks
  • Dispose of all the plant material in the trash or a commercial compost facility (or feed it to your chickens if you have them!)
  • Keep at it!
  • In Europe the soil contains nematodes- microscopic worms- that keep Lesser celandine from becoming a nuisance. Using animals species to control invasive is called Biological control. Biological control with imported species has risks and requires a period of study to ensure it will not harm other species.

Japanese Knotweed and Mugwort are bordering most of our roadsides today with dense rhizome-rich patches, but they are also unwelcome and greedy guests in our yards.
  • Wait for after heavy rain so roots can easily be pulled
  • Remove all roots or every little piece will regrow!
  • Japanese knotweed and Mugwort love nitrogen: don’t fertilize these areas.
  • The roots can be so dense that pulling is no option, in that case keep mowing the area and removing the plant debris, until bare patches appear.
  • Replace pulled roots, or use the bare patches to fill, with strong rhizomatous native wildflowers such as monarda, mountain mint, wild geranium, milkweed, primrose, goldenrods
  • Use non-systemic herbicides only as a last resort
  • Dispose of all the plant material through the trash or a commercial compost facility
  • Keep at it! 
Japanese stilt grass is last on our list. It might take over the landscape at the end of summer, but its roots are very shallow and do less damage to our native habitat than the species above. It is an annual grass and its small seeds spread everywhere.
  • Pull Stilt grass before the seed heads are formed.
  • Replace with tall, late summer flowering, part shade-loving plants, such as goldenrods and asters
  • Keep pulling: the wind will bring in new seeds every year.

Interesting enough, Stilt grass serves as a host plant for some native satyr butterflies, such as the Carolina Satyr and the endangered Mitchell’s Satyr.

Thank you to Healthy Yards for these great tips!

Plug In To Electrification

Jessica Azulay, Program Director at Alliance For a Green Economy (AGREE) joined us to discuss how we can move towards being fossil-fuel free — we need to electrify everything! Her discussion took a sobering look at how much energy is wasted and what we can do to take advantage of the renewable resources coming online through electric heating and cooling options and electric vehicles.

Two-thirds of energy is wasted:

Click to see Jessica’s full presentation

Workshop Resources

Livestream Recording
Energy 101: A Guide to New York’s Energy System

Do you know what you’re paying for when you pay for energy? Do you know why our energy costs so high, and why isn’t it easier to get renewable energy?

This interactive workshop explains New York’s energy system through a reading of your energy bill. Participants will learn how energy is generated in New York, how energy gets to our houses, who makes decisions over prices, who controls where our energy comes from, who owns and profits from the system, and how we can work individually and collectively to take power over our energy. This is a great 101 for anyone interested in learning more about their energy bill and their renewable energy options, and it’s also a primer for climate change activists and energy affordability advocates who want to understand how the energy system works and who to target to get what we want.

This training has been developed by the New York Energy Democracy Alliance and will be presented by the AGREE, the Alliance for a Green Economy

Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint and Save Money & Energy with Energy Efficiency and Heat Pumps

  • Learn about affordable energy efficiency upgrades like insulation and air-sealing to stop winter-time drafts (there’s no need to heat the outdoors!)
  • Explore how air source and geothermal heat pumps are smart and healthy options that can bring many benefits to your home
  • Find out how you can heat and cool your home without fossil fuels
  • Gain easy and affordable summertime AC without lugging a heavy window unit
  • Improve your indoor air quality 
  • Work through NYSERDA and Sustainable Westchester vetted contractor list 

To enroll or learn more about HeatSmart Westchester, contact Lauren at Sustainable Westchester (914) 242-4725.

Dig In To Soil Quality

Want to know the quality of your soil? Then, bury your undies to find out!

Standard soil tests only tell you the physical and chemical make-up of your soil. To ascertain the biological nature, try this fun experiment, presented by Karen Simons of Rusticus Garden Club:

Did you miss the Dig In call about soil quality? You can watch the entire recording (34 minutes).

Soil Testing Resources

More Soil Resources

  • Soil health: slides to learn more about ph levels, nutrients, physical characteristics, soil layers and more.
  • Video: The Soil Story by KissTheGround
  • Does your soil need to be amended with compost? Town of Bedford residents may pick-up free compost at the Beaver Dam facility.

Scrappy Chef Live

A Zoom Chat with Leslie Lampert

Leslie Lampert, the Scrappy Chef, joined us to share delicious ways to use your refrigerator rejects and pantry pariahs! She encouraged us not to be fearful in the kitchen!

  • Shopping: menu planning and list making, purchasing ugly produce, bulk purchases, unpacking and prepping
  • Cooking & Baking: transformations (not recipes!), expiration dates, using takeout extras and leftovers, the most important items (sheet pans, skillets, salad bowls, blenders/food processors, cloth towels) and key ingredients (salt, pepper, lemons)!
  • Food storage: know how your produce likes to me stored (wet/dry/warm/cold), freezing items properly

Did you miss the Scrappy Chef Live session?

Have questions for Leslie? She invites your to email her!

Climate Interactive Workshop

Try the Climate Interactive Simulator!

Thanks for joining us on May 13th for our first Lunch & Learn Workshop! Now you can test-drive the simulator!

About the workshop

What are the big climate solutions that we really need, and where should you focus your efforts to be an agent of change? This interactive workshop will incorporate a cutting edge tool called EN-ROADS, developed by Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative, to help participants test what climate interventions are needed to effectively mitigate climate change. Explore dynamics in energy supply, land-use, transportation, carbon removal, and more. The resulting experience promises to be hopeful, scientifically-grounded, action-oriented, and eye-opening!

Presenters:

  • Janet Harckham, Climate Reality Leader, Co-President of the Westchester County Climate Crisis Task Force, and Co-President of Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center
  • Sean Dague, Software Engineer at IBM Q (Quantum Computing) and Group Leader for Citizens Climate Lobby