Dandy and plenty Devotees of dandelions see food and drink options, not pesky weeds

Master gardener Roselyn Taylor , Rodman, says dandelions are more than weeds, they can be used medicinally and in recipes. Norm Johnston / NNY Living

Master gardener Roselyn Taylor , Rodman, says dandelions are more than weeds, they can be used medicinally and in recipes. Norm Johnston / NNY Living

The yellow buttons of spring sprouting on the green coats of north country lawns quickly wear out their welcome. Now, for many people, it is time to eradicate those dandelions with an arsenal of weed killers.

But hold on, says Roselyn Taylor, a master gardener for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.
In the latest Master Gardener newsletter published by the Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, Mrs. Taylor wrote about some edible and other alternatives for the perennial flowering weed:
“The greens are used in salads, fried up as fritters, pureed into pesto and dried for tea,” she wrote.
She added that oil made from dandelion flowers can relieve arthritis. The sap from the stem of the plants can be used on warts.
“I think it’s hysterical that people have such fits over dandelions,” Mrs. Taylor said in a phone interview from her home in Rodman late last month, where she tends to her small organic farm and five horses.
Mrs. Taylor isn’t alone in her appreciation of dandelions. [Read more…]

Educator says risk of emerald ash borer invasion this summer is high

bilde-2The likelihood of an emerald ash borer invasion has reached a new high, according to a local expert.

If the emerald ash borer is going to infest the north country, it likely will happen in June as adult insects emerge from trees and take flight, said Susan J. Gwise, horticulture educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.

People have good reason to be on guard for the pest this summer, Mrs. Gwise said. The beetle was first detected last summer in Syracuse and Onondaga County, increasing the likelihood of it spreading north. But there is still a greater probability that it will enter the region from the north by arriving from infected regions of Canada, she said. It could easily make the trip across the St. Lawrence River into St. Lawrence County.

“It could be coming at us from both directions, basically,” Mrs. Gwise said. “More than likely it’s going to come from the north, rather than the south, because it could just hop across the river. If it arrives here, it’s likely that we won’t know where it came from.” [Read more…]

The joys of pickling, canning easy accessible

While time consuming, the art of pickling is not as complicated or challenging as it may seem. Justin Sorensen/ NNY Living

When my 3-year-old daughter took a liking to pickled cucumbers, I went from dabbling in pickling to becoming a full-fledged enthusiast. Today, there is plenty of literature on the craft of pickling and my daughter, to whom I regularly give pickled cucumbers, is nearly 22.

My interest in pickling predates its mention in the 2013 National Restaurant Association food trend forecast by a few decades. When I was visiting my daughter in Boston this summer, I noticed numerous pickled items on menus and used as garnishes. I suspect pickling has become popular along with the organic, local food trend. And, of course, there’s nothing more local than your own backyard. [Read more…]

Natural ways to control persistent garden pests

Brian Hallett

Nothing can take the green out of a gardener’s thumb like an insect infestation. Despite cold winters, the north country is not without its garden pests. And, controlling common garden pests like aphids can really seem like a full-time job if you do not properly plan your garden. Not only do these tiny insects suck the fluids from plant leaves and stems, leaving behind honeydew, a sticky residue that attracts ants to feed on it, but aphids also promote the spread of plant disease. Aphids are tiny, rarely exceeding an eighth of an inch, and teardrop shaped with long, slender legs. Depending on the species, aphids can be green, brown, yellow, red or black, and they are often found congregating on the underside of leaves. Luckily, there are some basic, all-natural ways that you can prevent garden insect invasions so your sowing and reaping time doesn’t just become spraying and worrying time. [Read more…]

Spring planting is time to let your creativity bloom

Brian Hallett

As I write this column I must mention that today — the first day of spring — I have shoveled snow away from the greenhouse twice in order to enter. As any gardener knows, there is nothing quite like the green of new plants or the smell of fresh soil. This alone is why each year I shovel my way inside, turn on the heat, clean the water system and start planting. [Read more…]

Time to prep your garden for a north country winter

Brian Hallett

The beginning of fall means cooler temperatures, beautiful leaves, bountiful harvests of crisp sweet apples and yard work. Yes, I said yard work. Fall is the perfect time to add some curb appeal with colorful hardy mums, corn stalks, golden orange pumpkins and spring flowering bulbs. Heading out into your garden in the fall can be a nice break from pre-holiday planning. I know that when I pick up a rake or my favorite trowel worries seem to disappear.

[Read more…]

Grow a ‘victory garden’ to share with family, friends

Brian Hallett in the main greenhouse at Halletts' Florist and Greenhouse, Adams. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

In 1917, the National War Garden Commission launched the War Garden Campaign or Victory Garden program. People planted vegetable, fruit and herb gardens at private residences and public parks to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. Gardeners could share their skills in support of the war and be rewarded by the produce grown.

[Read more…]

Growing a north country garden: Local professionals offer tips for best results

Timothy Widrick of Zehr's Flowers and Landscaping, Castorland, pulls a shrub out of the ground at a landscaping job in Lowville. Photo by Amanda Morrison.

Planting and maintaining a garden and keeping landscaping lush in the north country is always tricky. Various factors, including late frosts in May and blazing sun and dry soil as early as June, can mean a rocky start to any planting season.

As signs of spring start sprouting, local greenhouses and nurseries become overrun with questioning patrons, wondering what bushes and trees thrive in a cold north country climate and what flowers can be planted in early spring for a summer’s worth of color.

[Read more…]

Easy does it: Herb planting in containers

Memorial Day weekend is when most gardeners are in their “ready, set, go” phase. The plants are purchased, the gardens are tilled and everything is ready to be planted.

[Read more…]

Picking perfect plants means knowing the space


Brian Hallett in the main greenhouse at Halletts' Florist and Greenhouse, Adams. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

Look out any window and it’s hard to believe another gardening season has begun in Northern New York. We believe that no matter how our garden turned out last year this will be the year to have the garden of our dreams. As you head to your favorite local garden center, farmers market or road-side stand, think about the amount of sunlight that your intended planting site receives. This is the single most important factor to consider when choosing flowering annual or perennial plants.

[Read more…]