The Armstrong Education Center’s Gardens

Mandala Garden and Soil Improving Techniques

Composting Systems and Compost

Honeybee Hive

Chicken Flock and Chicken Coop

Chicken Coop Green Roof

Tree Nursery

New York Native Plant Landscaping

Helpful Garden Resources

 

Introduction to the Armstrong Gardens

Visits to the garden by groups or individuals can be arranged by email: landsteward.educator@prlc.net. Staff manage the planning and maintenance of the edible and educational gardens and coordinate tours, hands-on workshops, and intern and volunteer experiences in the gardens. Please visit our Events Calendar for more info.

The Armstrong House Education Center’s gardens exemplify the PRLC’s “Living Lighter on the Land” campaign. Since 2011, the Armstrong House has sought to create a sustainable integrated garden, which includes a vegetable garden, honeybee hives, a tree nursery, compost system, a chicken flock and native plant landscaping. The gardens are guided by principles of permaculture and are used to publicly model the rewards and reasons of organic home gardening.

First year – 2011 – circular mandala garden at the Armstrong Education Center

PRLC promotes sustainable home gardening because it is an accessible way to practice a low-impact lifestyle, one that reduces resource consumption and waste production. Harvesting vegetables from a backyard garden reduces excess trips to the grocery store to buy produce that may have already traveled hundreds of miles across the country. It can also bring us closer to understanding nature’s complex processes and guide us towards a seasonal appreciation of our backyard’s bounty.

Armstrong edible garden, with new garden gate, Summer 2014.

Armstrong edible garden, with new garden gate, Summer 2014.

The Armstrong Gardens including the mandala edible garden, showcase an integrated, organic system guided by the principals of permaculture, where garden elements work together naturally to raise productivity and recycle waste. For example, inputs for soil conditioning are generated onsite through the use of composting as contrasted with the common non-integrated system where the majority of inputs are generated off-site and imported. Our vegetable food scraps, wood ashes, garden debris, chicken coop bedding, grass clippings and fallen leaves all work together to put nutrients back into the soil, reducing the need for store-bought fertilizer. Armstrong Education Center staff and volunteers are committed to composting and soil conditioning to improve and maintain nutrient-rich soil, which is fundamental to a productive garden. These two processes add minerals – such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus – and organic matter to improve soil quality.

 

Diagram illustrating the interconnections among the Armstrong Education Center’s gardens.

Diagram illustrating the interconnections among the Armstrong Education Center’s gardens.

PRLC would like to thank Gabriella S., 2012 PRLC summer intern, for her significant contributions to the garden pages.

 

garden frog
Our low-impact gardening system benefits wildlife too as it mimics the ecological processes that keep the web of life intact.

Cover crops, for example, provide food and habitat for soil organisms, birds, bees, and other animals in spring, fall, and winter. Cover crops are then turned into the soil to replace lost nitrogen, aiding future plant growth.

Resident frogs in the garden eat insects and aerate the soil by burrowing in. Birds ingest insects along with sunflower seeds and the occasional berry. Bees and butterflies pollinate plants and gather nectar.

 

Site selection and construction of the gardens began in early 2011, expanding gradually to fill the entire 5000ft2 fenced area. Fencing contradicts permaculture gardening philosophy but is a necessity in Pound Ridge due to the number of White Tail Deer whose numbers presently exceed the carrying capacity of the land. We recommend a 7 foot tall polypropylene or welded wire fence with a mesh size (2×4) that allows small animals to pass through.

garden - sunflowers

Enthusiastic friends.

Land steward/Educator, Krista Munger in Armstrong’s edible garden, early Spring 2013.

Land steward/Educator, Krista Munger in Armstrong’s edible garden, early Spring 2013.

Tuddy D. 2013 Summer Intern

Tuddy D. 2013 Summer Intern