Have you driven past Carolin’s Grove recently and noticed the work we have done to clear out some of treefall from Hurricane Sandy? Well, it’s time to stop in and take a few minutes to see the change. With funding from the family of the original donors of this Preserve and support from the Land Trust Alliance, we hired a tree crew, Emerald Organic, to remove dead and downed trees that prevented us from accessing the area for management of invasive species and native plant protection. This part of the forest is now safe for visitors to explore.
While there are large gaps among the towering spruce trees in the Grove, there are also many young saplings, some already above the height of deer browse. We aim to influence the regeneration of this forest to include a mix of deciduous trees and conifers, with berry and nut producing shrubs in the understory to support birds and other wildlife. This month and next, volunteers and students including the entire third grade at Pound Ridge Elementary School will help to plant in the largest forest gaps. More volunteers are always welcome, including those who can stop by and water during dry periods in summer.
We have White pine, Pitch pine, Eastern red cedar, American hazelnut and Northern bayberry saplings to plant, some of which were donated by the New York State School Seedling Program. We are also going to plant wildflowers that are important for pollinating insects, such as Grey goldenrod, Milkweed, and Wild bergamot, grown in our own native plant nursery at the Armstrong Preserve and Education Center. Please see this blog post for more information on the PRLC Prop Lab.
A dozen community members assisted in native plant restoration at Halle Ravine at our most recent Volunteer Work Session on October 1. A lively group of students, neighbors, town officials, and PRLC board members spent the morning working on and off trails in the north end of the Preserve and along the steep bank of the eastern side of the ravine. They cleared invasive weeds, planted a variety of native plants that will better support wildlife, and fenced valuable trees and shrubs from deer browse. Our aim is to encourage more shade cover in the Preserve to protect soils from erosion and drought and to provide for the needs of animals. Come out for a tour with us next summer and see the results!
We also completed the installation of a new staircase along the steepest section of trail in the Preserve. Help is still needed to carry out construction materials and begin bridge repairs, so please join us on Saturday November 5, 10am-noon to lend a hand.
These projects were supported by funding from the Land Trust Alliance Conservation Partnership Program and by private donors.
We had a great turnout for the mushroom hike at Armstrong Preserve on October 23, 2016 and turned up some interesting finds. The most distinctive was a single specimen of the Dog stinkhorn, Mutinus ravenii, so-named for its shape and strong odor. We also found a few edibles, noted in the captions below. Please use caution when foraging for wild mushrooms and refrain from eating any that are not verified by an expert. Please also note that collection of mushrooms, along with plants and animals, is not permitted on Pound Ridge Land Conservancy preserves except during our guided hikes. If you would like to join our email list to be notified of future mushroom forays, email PRLC’s land steward or call our office at 914-205-3533.
Thank you to our event participants for the photographs, and happy hunting!
We greatly expanded our growing area this spring and summer at the Armstrong Education Center and have been reaping the fruits of our labor, both in the organic vegetable garden and in our native plant gardens. These gardens are used to demonstrate sustainable land use concepts such as local food production for humans, honeybees, and other wildlife.
The plants have enjoyed our lovely fall weather and produced a late abundance of fruit and blossoms. This summer was persistently cool and cloudy, which allowed for an extended planting season but also delayed or stunted blooming. It also encouraged plant predation by insects. Our vegetable gardens sustained heavy damage early on from Colorado potato beetles and the Squash vine borer (see my earlier blog post about how to keep squash producing into fall). Later, we had difficultly controlling the Mexican bean beetle and caterpillars on the cole crops. Not even our resident bull frog, pictured here, could keep them in check. Because we strive to strike a balance with insect populations as part of the web of life, we use only organic methods in our gardens and attempt to deter them mainly through crop rotation and mulching.
When things get out of hand, my tried-and-true method for organic pest control in the garden is to make "bug juice," also known as "sick juice." I collect as many of the offenders as I can in a small jar with a lid. I puree these in a little water in an old blender that I have reserved for this use. Then I strain this liquid through a fine sieve and pour it into a spray bottle. I use the rinse water from the blender jar (after it has been sieved) to dilute the liquid further. Then I spray this on plants that are affected by that particular insect. This is basically biological warfare: the premise being that one of the bugs in the mixture will carry a disease that then quickly spreads through the entire population. This works on insects that have become overabundant on any kind of plant, including this native milkweed that has been infested with aphids.
See our website calendar for a list of events you can attend for hands-on education on how to manage your own property with a Living Lighter on the Land mindset. Learn how your activities can support the Pound Ridge's efforts to become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat, and please join our mailing list or like our facebook page for news and updates related to local conservation initiatives.
Chores still to be done at this time:
- Plant winter rye as a cover crop, or mulch beds with shredded leaves covered by straw.
- Plant trees and shrubs, and consider adding support until roots are set next year.
- Create a leaf pile for a steady source of Fall mulch and Spring seed-sowing medium.
- Harvest fall crops such as spinach, lettuce, and kale, and keep those beds covered at night.