Family Gardening Program – Week Two

There is a lot to do in the garden this time of year.

Today 80  young gardeners worked on: starting a new flower bed, mulching the broccoli so it doesn’t bolt,  sowing beans, weeding and water. When each group finished their working bee, we relaxed under the trees with a glass of ice, cold basil lemonade made from herbs growing in our garden.

The basil lemonade was a hit. One camper said the flavor was “distinctive,” another camper thought it tasted “like the garden” and most campers enjoyed it and asked for second and thirds.

Here is the Recipe:

One packed cup  of basil leaves washed well. Put leaves into the blender with a cup of water and puree on high. Once done, put this mixture through a strainer and into a large pticher of lemonade. Add the basil mix little by little until you reach the flavor you enjoy. It is that easy and very refreshing.


We could use some help with the dirt pile near the parking lot. The goal is to level it off so we can plant flowers. It was hard work for the kids. Anyone willing to help, please do. Your efforts are very much appreciated.


If anyone is dividing plants, please think of us. We are creating a pollinator friendly garden.  The new bed is in full sun and we hope to  grow yarrow, coneflower, Liatris, evening primrose, phlox, and asters. If you have any of these plants and can share, they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you to all my generous gardening friends.


At noon today adult gardeners made a concrete bird bath from a leaf.

Gna LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the bird bath. Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Gina LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the  basin of the bird bath.
Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Then you being to add the concrete on top of the host leaf.

Then you  adda moth textured concrete – not the kind with aggregate – on top of the hosta leaf.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered. And then let it dry for at least 48 hours.

These baths look charming in a garden and attract butterflies and insect-eating birds.   I will take a photo of the finished project next week.

Hope to see you in the garden.  And thank you for contributing to the success of the garden.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Moreau Community Garden’s Garden  Coach


Luna Moth

Luna mothI was very lucky this morning.

I was running errands and picking up groceries. Nothing special. I got talking to a friend who was checking out my purchases at the cash register.

She told me she saw something yellow in the parking lot and it turned out in was this moth. Some co-workers picked it up and moved it to a safer place behind the building, she said.

We went around to the woodsy area were it had been freed and it was still there in all its glory.

These moths live a very short time and I have only seen two in my lifetime. What a treat. Thanks Laura!

Planting Guide for Family Garden Plots at Moreau Community Garden

FG - Moreau

I spent time this morning creating a plan for Family Gardening plots with consideration given to bees, butterflies, and plants that work well together.

As you look at it, note that details, such as the heights of plants were included in the plan. This will be relevant when I’m planting and make the job easier as I will reach for the tallest first to plant in the center down to the shortest along the edge without having to read each packet.

The group of bee and butterfly luring flowers were included for maximum delight and to attract pollinators for the vegetables.

Last season, everyone enjoyed the butterflies that came through. swallowtail1

I made certain to include companion plants to repel each crop’s troublesome insect, For example, borage deters tomato hornworms and these two plants will grow side by side. Nasturtiums discourage bean beetles and, as I mentioned yesterday, dill repels squash bugs.

Hope you enjoy seeing this plan. I may tweak it a bit as I haven’t found borage seeds yet. Does anyone know where I can get some?

This weekend I will be turning the soil for the plots that are part of the Family Gardening Program.

It is too soon to plant outdoors some of vegetables and flowers I intend to grow, but a few – like peas, kale and spinach – can be seeded now.

What will you be growing? If you need help knowing what to plant and where, I will be in the garden from 9 to noon this Saturday, May 17th.

Want Seeds of These?

I have collected all the seeds I need for next year’s flower garden from the Welcome Circle. If anyone would like the seeds of the colorful State Fair zinnias, please help yourself.

How? When the seed heads turn brown cut them off the stem and let them dry well. Once dry, pull on the petals to remove the seeds from the seed head. Keep them in a cool, dry place all winter. Next May, plant them outdoors.

I plan to empty the Welcome Circle of all annual plants on Columbus Day weekend. So gather the seeds you would like before then.  – Natalie

Purslane and Smartweed

There seem to be about a half-dozen different weeds that are determined to grow at the Saratoga Springs Community Garden at Wesley. I’ve written about lambsquarters and crabgrass before. Here are two more uninvited guests you might want to know.

The first pictured below is common purslane. It is an edible weed when small so pluck it as a seedling and bring it home for a salad garnish. Do not consider growing it pass a small plant size in your plot as it is difficult to eradicate once it has a foothold, can spread to three feet and produces numerous seeds. The weed has distinctive succulent foliage that is edged with a tint of red. Using a hoe with this plant isn’t advised as it can re-root if left on the soil.

I know some gardeners have let lambsquarters grow in their beds after hearing it is edible. It is no longer edible once tall and produces 50,000 seeds per plant. You might want to pull them out now.

Pictured below is Pennsylvania smartweed. Touching this plant causes dermatitis for some people. If you want to see an interesting website on how this plant was used medicinally, go to:

No matter how many times we weed, new ones will appear during the growing season. Don’t give up. It is important to weed as a single weed produces thousands of seeds, pulls nutrients and moisture away from desired plants, and provides shelter for insects making it harder for a gardener to grow strong, healthy plants.

A Family Affair

I was watering early this morning and ran into a few fellow gardeners.  Deb Czech showed up with her son and parents to plant their plot.  Mom Nancy is a master gardener in Maine who has been involved in the creation of two community gardens. She and husband Frank brought some healthy looking tomatoes for their daughter’s plot.

Full of beans!

I ran into one of my new garden neighbors, Sid Gordon, while I was planting the plot #44  this morning and he offered me a handful of  purple and green bush beans which I immediately incorporated into the garden design. Thank you, Sid.

Beans are planted down the center of the bed. Purple beans on the right, green beans to the left. In front of the beans I planted zinnias and snapdragons for color and to attract butterflies and beneficial insects. At the end of the bed, I planted parsley.

The beans should break ground in about a week.

Here’s what the bed looked like after planting. 

I noticed weeds are starting to grow. The best time to deal with them is while they are tiny. I will be out there with a hoe later to nip this problem in the bud.

Sid told me he and his wife, Helen, have seen crows picking at the seedlings. If you notice this in your plot, consider adding a flag or streamers. Sid added both to his. See below.

I ran into several other gardeners or appreciators of gardens this morning. Jim N. was tending his plot, Gloria came by wearing a cheerful red sundress patterned with daisies, Ruth stopped by to say hello and Gina and Cigne (below) planted in bed number H4.

A Bird’s Eye View of the Garden

Construction continues on the garden today.

I will be planting the garden’s Welcome Circle this afternoon. If you want to help, come by around 4 p.m. Bring your own trowel, please.

Huge thank you to John Mishoe, owner of Dehn’s Flowers and Greenhouses in Saratoga Springs. I was there this morning choosing strong, healthy plants for the butterfly garden. They have many butterfly attracting annuals including cleome, salvias, several different marigolds, snapdragons, cosmos, and an assortment of zinnias.

I was delighted with the selection. It should be very colorful for humans. And since this year is supposed to be a banner year for butterflies, attractive to our winged friends as well.

A crew is working on the garden today. In the photo below, the bulldozer is filling beds with topsoil. The photo, taken from the roof of Embury Towers, shows the progress made so far. When done, there will be about 50 raised beds in the garden.