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Have Fun Getting Dirty: Yard Work Tips, Drive-Through Garden Center, Home Growing
Tips and Tricks for Yard Work
by Opal Jessica Bogdan
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Taking the opportunity to venture outside and do yard work is a great way to split up monotony and allows everyone to enjoy the spring weather.
Not only does yard work double as a great exercise, but parents with children at home can use it as a learning opportunity. Mike Devine, landscape designer at Branches Landscape, recommended starting a compost bin or pile.
“People are stuck home, unfortunately, and looking to make the most of their time. A lot of us are homeschooling our children as well, so compost can have two purposes: to have a nice activity and to get the kids involved with some science,” Devine said.
To create a compost pile, Devine said a little space in the corner of a backyard is all that is needed.
The two major components of a compost pile are carbon and nitrogen. Devine said the ratio is three to one, carbon to nitrogen. A plethora of items have carbon in them, but leaves are the biggest things most people have an abundance of. Other items such as kitchen scraps can be used in the compost, such as coffee grounds, eggshells and any leftover vegetables.
Devine said there are varying degrees to a compost pile, ranging from a corner in the backyard to barrels or bins holding it. Placing the compost pile in a bin can help rotate the compost easier. Rotating helps drain any water pockets.
“If you do it correctly and don’t throw any ‘garbage’ into the compost, wild animals are never an issue,” Devine said.
Another tip Devine mentioned included cleaning areas that are normally skipped over, such a wood lines. He said going through and picking up fallen branches and raking leaves is a great way to reclaim that area as part of the landscape.
Branches Landscape is currently open. Devine said a small part of their business, property maintenance management, has been considered essential. Anything outside of spring cleanups and mowing lawn has been closed.
Creating a garden is another way to help spend time outside. Devine said gardens can be as little as 9-square-foot area on the patio of back deck. If this is the first garden, Devine recommended peas as an easy growing crop.
“Peas are a cool season crop that you could get the seeds at any hardware store. You can actually plant them now and not have to wait until Memorial Day for other more popular crops like tomatoes and what not. They need a little bit of cultivated ground and some sort of vertical support for them to grow up on. Watch out they grow quick,” Devine said.
Indoor gardening is another learning opportunity for children at home. Devine said starting squash, although they can grow large in size later on, can keep kids entertained as they watch their plant grow.
“Stick them in a window or under a grow light. Experiment and play around,” Devine said.
Drive-Through Garden Center
by Opal Jessica Bogdan
Saratoga Hewitt’s Garden Center. Photo by Jaclyn Cotter-Older.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hewitt’s Garden Center will now offer a drive-through during COVID-19 for homeowner’s lawn and garden needs.
This past weekend, Hewitts in Saratoga opened their drive-through to offer customers a different way to purchase all their lawn care and garden products.
“It was really great, Jaclyn Cotter-Older, manager, said. “We are one of the only garden centers open in the area, so everyone was excited to get their flowers and their plants.”
The drive through will be opened weather permitting. Cotter-Older said once a car arrives for the drive-through, they bring out a menu to your car. While waiting in the pickup line, customers can pick out what products they want and pull through the drive-through to pickup the items. Cotter-Older said most of the menu consists of flowers, vegetables and the nursery stock the store offers up-front.
“We want to do this because we are hoping to have the business as last year, if not better. But with COVID- 19 we can’t have that many people in the store,” Cotter-Older said.
Amid COVID-19 restrictions, the store only allows a maximum of 20 people in their greenhouse. The garden center also offers curbside pickup.
“The curb side pickup is mostly for lawn care and fertilizers,” Cotter-Older said.
She added their website has every product listed, so customers can get an idea about what products they want before arriving to the garden center. Customers can order and pay online or through the phone.
“It’s just another option to still get what you want and not have to leave the comfort of your car,” Cotter-Older said.
All seven of Hewitt’s Garden Center locations will offer the drive-through weather permitting. The store also offers a lifetime guarantee on purchased trees and plants.
by Lorraine Hopes
Photo courtesy of Lorraine Hopes.
Self-distancing becomes difficult when produce runs out at home and a trip to the grocery store must be made. However, multiple trips as often as once a week is not recommended during COVID-19. Home growing vegetables is a great way to avoid travelling during this time once the fresh produce runs out at home.
Why buy lettuce when you can grow your own?
There are many advantages to growing your own lettuce. Growing lettuce is easy and can also be a great science project to do with your kids. Not only will it give you something fun to do while we are stuck home, in a month or so you will be blessed with a multitude of healthy fresh lettuce leaves, and have the satisfaction that you grew them yourself. No more trips to the grocery store for lettuce.
Here are some tips on growing your own lettuce:
Getting seeds, pot/container, spray bottle, and soil. - If you do not have the necessary planting items there are still seeds and planting supplies out there. Do a Google search for lettuce seeds and see what seed stores come up to order from. You can order online so you do not have to go out.
Any leaf lettuce varieties are good like black seeded simpson, grand rapids, mesclun, salad bowl mixes, and micro-greens.
Once you gather the materials, fill your clean pot/container with new soil and water. The soil needs to be moist. Sprinkle lettuce seeds on soil and cover with 1/8” to 1/4” soil, do not tamp down. Cover pot/container with plastic wrap and place in a south-facing window.
Check your soil everyday. Use a spray bottle to mist/water every morning or whenever the soil looks dry.
Your lettuce should sprout in 7 to 14 days, remove plastic wrap then and continue to water. Most lettuces will reach maturity in 45 to 55 days but you can pick them when they are small too.
To keep your lettuce growing all the time you can plant another container a week or two after the first has sprouted.
Have fun and bon appétit!
Signs of Spring! Hatching Chicks During COVID-19
Of the 26 dozen eggs sent out, 12 dozen were hatched at the 4-H training center, a learning facility in Ballston Spa. Photos provided.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — While schools across the state closed their doors and people self-isolated in their homes, 26 dozen chicken eggs wanted to break out of their “home” and hatch during COVID-19.
The fertilized eggs were sent out to participating elementary schools in Saratoga County as a part of the 4-H outreach program. The program allows classrooms to experience the 21-day development of a chicken egg. Brieanna Hughes, program coordinator for Saratoga County 4-H animal science, said a surprising amount of eggs still hatched despite being moved from schools.
The eggs were due to hatch on March 18, the week most schools announced their closings. Hughes said she reached out to schools that prior weekend to ask if teachers were willing to take the eggs home, or offered to pick them up and bring them to their facility to hatch.
“Because a lot of teachers were being told they couldn’t go into their schools so I didn’t want anyone to be burdened with this,” Hughes said.
Despite school closings, only 12 dozen eggs were collected from schools and hatched at the training center in Ballston Spa. Of the 26 dozen eggs sent out, over 75 percent hatched which Hughes was surprised by.
Hughes said the hatch rate was by chance, and added that she expected a lower hatch rate simply from moving the chicken eggs. Transportation of the eggs is not recommended due to drastic temperature changes. However, the unstable period for the eggs is earlier in the development as well as the day of hatching if a small movement occurs.
“We almost got them at the ideal time. It isn’t ideal to move them at all, but it was pretty cool to have such a good hatch rate,” Hughes said. “What that means is that the school did a really good job taking care of the eggs for the first 18 days and then we were able to finish that out.”
Seeing the eggs develop for the 21 days allows students to learn about the development and embryology. Hughes said in the beginning, the program attains the fertilized eggs and provides the schools with incubators and equipment. 4-H hosts a small teacher training where they pick up all the needed materials and bring them to their classroom. Not having a set curriculum, schools are at liberty to teach what they want.
“But our program is incubation and embryology so that is what they’re learning about, the development of an organism. They get to candle the eggs and actually see the changes in the embryo. They can see the first veins coming and an eye during the forming of the head,” Hughes said.
Once the eggs are hatched, teachers are at liberty to keep them or give them pack to the program.
“A lot of teachers have friends that want chickens, but we want to make sure there is a resource so we also provide someone to take them,” Hughes said.
She added that these eggs were a part of the first rotation for the hatching program. The second session was anticipated to start at the end of April, but Hughes said they’re waiting to see how the self-distancing plays out. The participating schools for this sessions included Schuylerville, Arongen Elementary in the Shenendehowa school district and Greenberg Child Care Center.
Spring Festival Celebrates Farming in Your Own Backyard
Mark your calendars for April 27.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is closing out its final indoor market with its fourth annual Spring Festival. The 9 a.m.-1 p.m. event takes place at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park, and features four free workshops, face paintings, complimentary beverages, and more.
The annual festival comes just one week after the market’s Easter celebration tomorrow. Like the Easter celebration, the festival’s focus is on spring and farming.
However, the festival will offer more than the products of our farms. It will help you learn what goes into growing, raising, and making some of them, and offer you some useful tips for giving these crafts a try yourself. It is aimed at helping everyone: market regulars, newcomers to the Saratoga area and weekend visitors.
So, have you yearned to keep bees? Would you like to savor the joy of gathering up fresh eggs straight from your coop? Do you need a refresher on growing flowers, fruits or vegetables? Would you like to start your own kombucha brew? If yes – or even maybe – check the workshops out. Attend all four and receive a free Saratoga Farmers’ Market canvas tote.
THE SCHEDULE INCLUDES:
• 9 a.m. Beekeeping with Rick Green, owner of Ballston Lake Apiaries, longtime area beekeeper.
• 10 a.m. Backyard Poultry Basics for Beginners with Andrea Love Smith, a Cornell Cooperative Extension Services educator.
• 11 a.m. Gardening for Beginners with Lori Bishop, a master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension Services.
• Noon Fermentation with Diane Whitten, a food and nutrition educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension Services.
One of the best things about these workshops is their emphasis on basics. The facilitators can answer questions and offer tips to everyone, regardless of whether they’re newcomers to farming or veterans.
The market also will feature its usual lineup of live music, and of course, its array of farm produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, and artisanal goods. A face painter also will be on hand for children.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market closes out its indoor season tomorrow and next Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park. The market’s outdoor season begins May 1 at High Rock Park and will take place 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m Saturdays. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Sweets, Meats, and Other Easter Treats
Easter evokes images of egg hunts and other community events.
We invite you to make next Saturday at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market a part of these events. On Saturday, April 20, arrive early and fill your shopping bags and baskets with our fresh, locally grown, raised and produced foods.
Near the market entrance, look for the eggs. Not the edible ones – those come next – but rather the reusable gift containers, available while supplies last. Inside each will be a coupon offering a discount from one of the market vendors.
Now, for real eggs. Elihu, Kokinda, and Squashville farms are offering them in abundance. Check out their hues and try them for their fresh, farm-raised flavor. Keep an eye out, too, for rich duck and giant goose eggs.
This weekend, the market also will be featuring chocolate eggs. Further in the market are such treats filled with maple cream and maple marshmallow at Slate Valley Farms. Other sweet treats include homemade marshmallows from The Chocolate Spoon, chocolates formed into nest and bunny shapes from The Saratoga Chocolate Co., hot cross buns from Mrs. London’s, and cheesecakes in a range of sizes and flavors from Grandma Apple’s Cheesecakes.
That’s dessert. Now, let’s look for vegetables and main course meats.
Many vendors are offering Easter specials on their farm-raised meats: At Lewis Waite Farm, fresh and smoked ham roasts and steaks are five percent off. Longlesson Farm is offering 10 pounds of ground beef for $60 (instead of $80), and Mariaville Mushroom Men is taking 20 percent off its pork. If poultry is your preference, try Ramble Creek Farm’s turkey or Squashville’s chicken.
And there are the early spring vegetables to consider: Pea shoots from Saratoga Urban and Pleasant Valley farms, along with Pleasant Valley’s super-sweet spring parsnips. Storage vegetables remain abundant at Gomez Veggie Ville and Pleasant Valley, and mushrooms at Mariaville and Ramble Creek.
Looking for libations? Try Saratoga Apple’s farm-brewed hard and sweet ciders, spirits from Yankee Distillery, cyser from Ballston Lake Apiaries, Battenkill Valley Creamery milk and Something’s Brewing’s home-roasted coffees.
And, there’s more: apples, pickles, cheeses, and cured meats.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for three more Saturdays at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park. Our outdoor season begins 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, May 1 and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, May 4 at High Rock Park. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Saratoga Farmers Experience Joy of Animal Births
Our goat Tory went into labor Sunday afternoon. My husband Jim Gupta-Carlson, who had been keeping watch overnight, was ready with his “kidding kit:” sterile gloves and lubricant, towels to help dry the kids, iodine for cleaning, and molasses in warm water as a treat for the new mother.
Goats most often give birth to twins. The kids usually arrive one a time. Tory’s nearly tumbled out together. Jim donned gloves, applied lubricant, and helped Tory deliver her kids, one by one.
Within an hour, the kids were standing and suckling at Tory’s udders.
Spring is the season of babies for Saratoga Farmers’ Market vendors who raise animals. At Nettle Meadow, Moxie Ridge, Lewis Waite, Mariaville Mushroom Men, Squashville, and other farms, chicks, ducklings, and goslings are chirping, lambs and kids are prancing about, and soon piglets and calves will appear in woods and pastures.
Piglets at Ramble Creek Farm. Photo courtesy of Ramble Creek Farm.
In ideal circumstances, the animals birth on their own. But when complications arise, farmers help.
At Elihu Farm, 70 ewes giving birth. One ewe had been in labor for a long time, so Bob and Mary Pratt intervened. Bob held the animal’s head, and Mary found that one lamb was in a breech position. She straightened the legs and pulled it out. A second one followed. Thanks to the intervention both lambs and their mother are doing fine.
At Longlesson Farm, Christophe Robert is looking forward to 35-40 calves in late June. The cows give birth outdoors, and by the end of the day, the calves are running around their mothers, sniffing curiously, shaking their limbs.
“I never tire of watching them,” Robert says. “All that energy.”
Once, he found a calf that had lost its mother lying alone. He carried it indoors to warm it up, and his family fed it with a bottle until it could survive on its own.
At Ramble Creek Farm, Ann and Josh Carnes are preparing for piglets. Last year, Ann recalls, the sows created shelters in bushes as their deliveries drew near. Josh camped out with them in the woods, prepared to help if necessary. But the sows birthed on their own.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through April at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park. We move outdoors to High Rock Park on Wednesday, May 1. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for updates.
GlobalFoundries hosts open house
MALTA – The cars were backed up like rush hour on a NYC expressway (except for the roundabouts) as the public filled the parking lot of GlobalFoundries’ Fab 8 microchip plant at Luther Forest Technology Park on the evening of Monday, November 11.
The occasion was the chip giants’ first ever open house that was structured to give curious onlookers an inside view of the manufacturing process.
“It’s really a logical extension from what we had been doing for some time,” noted Jessica Kerley, communications specialist for GlobalFoundries. “We have hosted quarterly neighborhood meetings here to give resident’s updates on our construction and related subjects. During the question and answer periods, we would always get questions about how the manufacturing process worked, so we decided to refine the focus.”
Though Kerley said that they had done nothing extra to get the word out, it was obvious from the attendance that the interest was widespread.
Kids and adults alike packed the company’s cafeteria (Global Café) whose walls were lined with several institutional ads that utilized Fab 8 which told of their involvement in the community, as well as motivational posters and flags from around the world.
Exhibits were a combination of hands-on items and multi-media presentations. While the public never got to actually see computer chips being fabricated, they could see video of the process, and hold onto several examples of the finished product. Other videos talked about the company’s growth, which led it to upstate New York. Another exhibit displayed the nearly 40 patents that GlobalFoundries has.
By far, the largest fascination for kids of all ages was for the bunny suits and goggles that some people waited to try on for themselves. Kristy Bouillion of GlobalFoundries’ logistics department noted that the suits are worn for contamination versus cleanliness and that employees on the Fab 8 floor could not wear any makeup, which caused a few realtors to groan and decide to stick to their current occupation.
Regina Rodriquez of operations noted that though the Fab 8 floor is air conditioned to a cool temperature regardless of the time of year, the suits themselves were extremely hot and she had to adjust her clothing underneath to what most people would wear in the summer.
Since 2009, Fab 8 has been holding regular neighborhood meetings in order to provide a unique opportunity for the company to meet with the community and provide updates on their projects. However, this was the first time they allowed the community to receive an interactive educational tour into the manufacturing facility. Given the popularity of this meeting, it seems likely the community will have many more opportunities in the future to learn about what goes on in the plant.
Saratoga Trading Cards to be Available on Select Days
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will celebrate the history of the Spa with a new collectible item for racing fans during the 2013 meet.