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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label compost. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label compost. Show all posts

      Thursday, April 11, 2013


      No, not like this luscious pile curtained by morning glory vines at the home of Nova & Kenneth Minnick in Oklahoma City, or this one in the Stonewall Public School garden in East Dallas TX.
      It's always a struggle to compost in Manhattan with our limited space.
      We can buy packs of real NYC composted garbage at the Union Square Greenmarket every Sat., produced by the lower East Side Ecology Project...
       or make our own, as I struggle to do in one of three ways:
      Devoting precious closet space to a plastic bin housing red wiggler worms that eat my vegetarian kitchen waste and produce a lovely product euphemistically called 'worm castings'.
      Co-opting 2 precious  EarthBoxes to produce compost outdoors,
      or the overkill method, a huge composting bin which when loaded is always too heavy for me to turn by myself. This is my crop for the season, about 15 big trowels full, which I add to select containers, especially my roses. Yesterday was my first compost distribution day of the year.
      Above, Rosa 'Harison's Yellow' on my roof garden, grown from a cutting, a gift from Stephen Scanniello. My roses obviously like my haphazard  system of nourishment; a little organic Rose-Tone when I think of it, a little compost when I have it, lots of water from the drip irrigation system which doesn't depend on me at all.

      Friday, November 26, 2010


      There's no trick to buying a great gift if you have a hefty budget: a meaningful, practical and original book like "Edible Landscaping" by Rosalind Creasy; the perfect tool for your favorite gardener, like Fiskars long handle tree pruner; one of the composters from Gardener's Supply Co. But let's think long and hard about a great garden gift that costs nothing but ingenuity.

      A favorite gift on the receiving end came some years ago when Ben & I first moved to our farm. Our family had decided that for our holiday gifts that year, it would have to be something you made, had in your possession already, or an IOU for a future service. I was about to start my new garden. Son Mike & daughter-in-law Em gave me a treasure map with clues. The whole party accompanied me to track down the gift secreted in the bottom of the barn: 5 big bags of well rotted horse manure.

      If you have no horse manure some other ideas.
      1.Do you have any compost you can share with a New Yorker who has treasured houseplants? Wrap and label it prettily, give it your brand name/logo, and you've given a treasure.
      2. Take a cutting from a favorite houseplant, root it, plant it in one of those many extra pots you have, washed to be impeccably clean. Add a plant name, a little story about the plant, care instructions, and voila!3. Make a holiday wreath from greens that you prune from the garden. Add some natural decorations like cones, pods or bark, natural or sprayed gold or copper. Give in early December so your recipient can enjoy it for a long time.
      4. A nicely printed gift certificate for several hours of weeding/and or pruning to a person who hates those chores. Or if you live close by, a visit or two of plant or garden care while the giftee goes on vacation.5. A favorite gift to give was a session of garden coaching, presented to a young couple, non-gardeners who had just moved into their first home. I gave them a gift certificate listing my services: two hours of on-site garden design, plant suggestions and gardening instruction.
      6.What's your best idea for a no-cost garden gift? Betsy, are you reading? I hope you've been saving those tasty dried petals for me from your apothecary rose. I need them for a dessert I want to try.

      Sunday, September 26, 2010


      Some people collect 17th century French porcelain; I collect farmers markets. Whatever country I visit, whatever state or town, if there's a farmer's market, it's at the top of my must-see list. Even if I'm staying in a hotel room far from home without a fridge, I find something to purchase. Last week in Dallas TX it was ripe heirloom tomatoes that I could snack on out of hand between symposium sessions.
      In late summer in the US every market seems to offer sunflowers, tomatoes and peppers. While I love those, when I travel I seek products that are characteristic of that area, products that I may not see in my NYC Greenmarket.

      In Canterbury NH, pop. 2297, the market is under individual tents in Town Center, between the Town Library and the Town Hall. Here I can replenish my stash of Jill's delectable maple sugar candies. The Saturday market in Concord is sited next to the gold-domed State Capitol. It seems like a perfect statement: New Hampshire supports its farmers. We bought sweet corn for dinner and I reinforced the message of the Worm Lady who was trying to convince skeptics that worm composting was easy to do.In Santa Fe NM the market is in the old railroad yards, complete with quintet playing country & western.I saw both hot and sweet peppers roasting in front of a gas flame, in a cage hand-cranked by the farmer, and hot pepper powder in bags large enough to last a week or two.

      In Raleigh NC, both yams and peanuts seemed right at home. while kids on a field trip tasted testing the fresh apple cider. Last week in the sheds of the Dallas Farmers market, I was somewhat startled to see a stand that sold only Texas Longhorn beef bones, slow roasted for dogs, advertised at 1/2 the calories of regular beef, 80% less fat, and 30% less cholesterol....What a Wonderful Town
      Back in New York City in my favorite market at Union Square I was searching for true NYC flavor. By 8:15 am when I arrived, the chefs in their white coats, trailing disciples with baskets and hand carts, had already departed with their selections.

      Then I spied it, the Lower Eastside Ecology Center Compost stand. New Yorkers bring their garbage, dump it in containers; the ecology center makes the compost, then bags it for resale at the market. Garbage! It made me proud to be a New Yorker.

      Saturday, July 10, 2010


      So it wasn't an ocean voyage; it was one free ferry ride from the tip of Manhattan across New York Harbor to Governors Island. Embarking from the historic Battery Maritime Building (above), we sailed under the helicopters, next to the mammoth Staten Island Ferry and within sight of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. (Free ferries also from Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and by Water Taxi for a fee.) A federal military installation since the Revolutionary War, in 2001 half of Governors Island was designated a National Historic Site and in 2003 the other half turned over to NYC for parkland, recreation, and the arts.

      Below, newly restored Commanding Officers Quarters built in 1843, open to the public, now used for exhibits and events. My ostensible reason for going was to visit the organic farm established by Added Value, a Brooklyn non-profit supporting urban agriculture, but we first stopped to admire the view of steamy lower Manhattan from the shade of the Island.At Picnic Point, a lone farmer works 40 hours a week to tend both flower and vegetable crops in raised beds with drip irrigation. Island-made compost for the farm is supplied by the Earth Matter Compost Learning Center directly across the road. The farmer hopes to have produce available for sale at a farm stand later in the summer, but some plants like the squash and celery here were still waiting to go in on July 2. Behind the crops, overlooking the harbor are half units of shipping containers, each open on two sides, housing a picnic table and benches for family groups. When you double click to enlarge the image below, note that some clever designer has added large wheels to one end of each bench, to enable visitors to move and park them in the best positions.Ride a rental bike (one hour free on Fridays), play free miniature golf with each hole designed by a different artist, hear a free concert on some summer weekends, walk around the island and capture your favorite view of a favorite lady (also free), take a free tram ride for a guided tour with unlimited on-off privileges, fly a kite, enter one of the historic buildings and see the work of artists in residence, learn about the military history and visit a fort, walk out on a pier into the East River, and if you get too exhausted from all of this playing, refresh yourself with some of the best homemade cart food you'll find in the city. Carts are scattered all over the 110 acres of public open space. Here's what Fauzia had to offer the day we were there.
      You may not find any mango-pineapple lemonade left because Gary H. drank three. I saw him.

      Learn more.

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