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.
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.
Every May, adults and children alike are tasked with a daunting mission-to somehow thank our mothers for everything they’ve done for us over the years. Classic Mother’s Day traditions include a sentimental card, breakfast in bed, and of course, flowers. This Mother’s Day, take the opportunity to celebrate not only your mother, but also the mother we all share — Mother Earth — by purchasing and/or planting pollinator-friendly flowers. Here are some helpful suggestions for pollinator-friendly flowers that are native to the Mid-Atlantic region: Lanceleaf coreopsis, Wild indigio, Purple coneflower, Bottle gentian and New England aster.