Mother Earth News says, "Two thousand gardeners can’t be wrong — the best tools for keeping ahead of weeds include several types of hoes, a good garden fork, a garden knife, a dandelion puller - some use an old screwdriver or butcher knife instead - and a high-quality pair of gloves." Weeds are an inevitable thorn in every gardener’s side. While some weeds offer benefits, such as the edible greens of young dandelions and the nutritious roots of burdock, many quickly become a frustrating, ongoing struggle if you don’t spot them early. Garden weeds can steal water, sunlight and soil nutrients from food crops, and some even release toxic chemicals into the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants. Gardeners also rated several mulch types and organic herbicides based on their effectiveness in controlling weeds. Paper or newspaper, black plastic and straw or hay proved 70-80% effective as mulch and vinegar, herbicidal soap and Neem oil were the most successful organic herbicides.
The annual "Greening" of the gardens alongside the driveway at the Chestnut Station Senior Complex is underway and we all anxiously await their summer evolution. This hidden, sustainable gem is part of the Incredible Edible Garden registry and a perfect example of an inventive way to transform an unused hardscape into a sustainable landscape. This garden is carefully nurtured through the dedicated effort of resident volunteer, Francis Mcgarry, and produces annual seasonal vegetables that support food security and nutrition for many seniors living in the complex. Thank you for the beauty and the bounty!
Bradley Furgeson, 14, of Northfield, has raised more than $15,000 by applying for grants that have helped refurbish the local American Legion Post and start a garden that supports veterans and the local food bank. Inspired by his sister who did volunteer work with the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, and is currently doing an internship with the World Health Organization, he has continued her work on hunger issues. His biggest grant to date is the $10,000 Opal Apple Youth Make A Different Grant he just received that will pay for a hydroponic greenhouse and video equipment for the Northfield Community School, where Bradley just finished eighth grade. This summer Bradley is focusing on the vegetable garden started behind the American Legion Post.
At a time when climate change is making heat waves more frequent and more severe, trees are stationary superheroes: They can lower urban temperatures 10 lifesaving degrees, scientists say. “There’s no way these trees are coming down,” Shane McQuillan, who manages the city’ of Des Moines trees, recalled thinking. “The default position for us is, you don’t take out big trees to put in small trees.” Why, you ask? “Trees are, quite simply, the most effective strategy, technology, we have to guard against heat in cities,” said Brian Stone Jr., a professor of environmental planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Great reasons to support the efforts of Merchantville's Shade tree Commission in our parks and public spaces. In fact, Des Moines has increased its $200,000 tree planting budget to $300,000 next year and $450,000 the following, with a goal of reaching $1 million. Its forestry department, with a budget of $2 million, employs a team of 13 arborists, up from 11 a couple years ago, who prune the city’s trees, extending their lives.
The PSEG Foundation has contributed $2.5 million dollars in funding to the Sustainable Jersey grants program for municipalities and schools. Merchantville Borough was awarded one of fourteen $2,000 grants for promoting food security through Edible Landscapes.Randall Solomon, executive director for Sustainable Jersey congratulated the municipalities that received grant funding today, stating, "I continue to be amazed by what is possible when elected officials, municipal staff, green teams and community members work together to create vibrant and sustainable communities.” Sustainable Jersey grants are intended to help municipalities make progress toward a sustainable future in general, and specifically toward Sustainable Jersey certification.
Milkweed is a beautiful American wildflower, garden plant and a magnet for butterflies and pollinators. As the host plant for caterpillars of the monarch butterfly they playing a critical role in the monarch’s life cycle - and as an added benefit - are poisonous to that invasive spotted lanternfly. Spotted lanternflies are attracted to and will feed on milkweed, unaware that it's poisonous, and become sick or die as a result. Incredible Edible Merchantville encourages residents to plant some milkweed in your garden to protect our beautiful oak and maple trees from the damage, weakening, loss of leaves and susceptibility to illness that lanternflies can cause. Once it takes root, milkweed is a perennial that will thrive for years to come and spread quickly. Four species of native milkweed are found in most states: the Whorled Milkweed, Common Milkweed, and Swamp Milkweeds, and Butterfly Weed.
A new neighbor has moved into Merchantville taking full advantage of our beautiful gardens and green team goals. Charlie Coar's tomten has moved from our family farm, Lalosen, in Sweden to our garden here so he can watch over his American family. Constructed with lots of love, help and patience, the tomten's home is just about ready for him. Hundreds of years old, our family tomten has roamed the birch tree filled forests of Sweden for generations. Watching over the children and the farm animals, the Tomten steals around on silent feet only to be seen by the youngest of children or purest of heart. On Christmas Eve he talks to the animals and dances around the Jul tree. We are so excited about his decision to come here and live with us. He will spend his days watching over Charlie, all the neighborhood children, pets, and chickens.
Charlie would like to thank his brother Patrick Coar for his carpentry skills and his siblings Indie, Katie, and Frank for landscaping, planting, and helping him paint. The Merchantville community helped build this house so thank you to Will Deputy for tree removal, Patrick Schetter for preparing the bed, Dorothy Foley and the Garden Club, Green Team, and Incredible Edible for inspiring us to plant the sunflowers which are surrounding the house, the Nickollofs for strawberry plants, the organizers and participants for the plant give away, and Adrian Rowan Photography Studio for the bricks. A very special thank you to Charlie's Facebook community that has supported Charlie's many projects with over 30 thousand people sending him love for this little house.
We know our tomten will be so happy here in our little town and we are pretty sure Grace, Oliver, and Addy may, if they are extra lucky, catch our tomten talking to their chickens and Fiona and Ronan may see our tomten wandering in their new gardens talking to the butterflies. Valkomen and thank you all for your "tree" mendous support of Charlie! - by Esther Coar