Tag Archives: Gardening in Orange County Newsletter

Hemp! An Introduction to Hemp as a Crop

Hemp: It is not Pot! An Introduction to Hemp as a Crop

By Brooke Moore, New Windsor Senior Master Gardener Volunteer and Madelene Knaggs, New Windsor Master Gardener Volunteer

This article appeared in the October / November 2019 Issue of Gardening in Orange County. Click here to subscribe!

top of a hemp plant showing the characteristic five lobed leavesHemp may not be a familiar crop to you, but it has had a long history in this country and is poised to make a comeback in the Hudson Valley and throughout New York State. In the last five years, changes to federal and state laws have allowed for the growing of hemp. As a result, hemp has the potential to create an incredible economic boom for our region.

As demand for dairy and other traditional crops has declined, farmers are looking for alternative crops to provide a long-term base for staying in agriculture. Hemp may also be a means to keep younger farmers interested and involved in family farms. Some estimates for the return on investment in growing hemp for cannabidiol (CBD) are as high as 40%. This high return on investment is unheard of in agriculture, but as we are still in the earlier days of growing hemp in our region, it could turn out to be much less. Research is ongoing and there are many facets of hemp where little is known or where conflicting information exists.

Purple hemp flower pistils on a CBD hemp plant
Female hemp flower

Hemp can be grown for use as fiber, grain, oil and CBD. In the Hudson Valley most hemp in 2019 is being grown for CBD not for fiber, grain, or oil. CBD is a compound that is extracted from the female hemp flower and can be used for medicinal purposes. Unlike its cousin marijuana, CBD do not produce a “high” when ingested. There is a lot to learn about hemp and its potential impact on the agricultural economy of our region, but before we explore all the options lets answer some basic questions and introduce the crop.

What is hemp?

Both hemp and marijuana are varieties of Canabis sativa. Each is produced through selective breeding. Hemp is bred to produce fiber, grain, oil and/or CBD, while marijuana is bred to produce delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is a psychoactive compound.

Genetically the two plants are very similar. Research shows that even though different genes produce CBD and THC, these genes are linked. This link between the genes creates a ratio of CBD to THC that influences the total amount of each compound in a particular plant.

Hemp can be useful in many ways that may surprise you. Historically hemp was grown to produce fiber for use in rope and textiles. Today hemp fiber is used for insulation, animal bedding, particle board, hempcrete (a mixture of hemp and lime used in construction), and some plastics. When synthetic fibers became more common in the mid-twentieth century, hemp and other natural fibers fell out of favor. Now as we look at the impact of plastic products in all forms, a renewed interest in natural fiber production, including hemp, has taken hold.

Close-up of a top of a hemp plant covered with seeds
Ready to harvest hemp grain

Hemp seeds are a good source of protein and can used like other seed to enhance a large variety of foods. They can also be pressed to produce a food grade oil that is high in omegas, vitamins, and minerals. As hemp oil has a low smoking temperature, the oil is best used for low temperature cooking. Hemp oil can also be used in cosmetics.

The medical side of hemp comes from using  CBD extracts from the female flowers. (More about this will be in another article.)

Is it legal to grow hemp?

Field of 3 foot tall hemp plants, rows are seperated by black landscaping fabric and each row has a five foot wooden post ever marking of every two plants
Hemp Trial, Geneva, NY

Yes, with the proper approval from the state it is now legal to grow hemp. Following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which legitimized industrial hemp research, New York State created an Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Project Pilot Program to encourage hemp research. In 2017, the state expanded the program from a few educational institutions to farmers and businesses. The 2018 Farm Bill went as far as removing industrial hemp from the controlled substances list. Today hemp growers in New York are partners with the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program and supervised by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Is all hemp the same?

The simple answer is no. There is still much to be learned about the genetics of hemp plants and what is important for developing plants that will thrive in our soil and climate. Plant researchers are looking at both modern hemp plants as well as feral plants they find growing along ditches and hidden in fields. Some of these feral plants date back to the colonial period of cultivation. Others are from the pre-WWII era when hemp was a huge source of fiber. These plants may well hold the key to developing modern cultivars which are well adapted to the soil and temperature in New York State and still produce a high rate of CBD and a low rate of THC.

Do the plants all look the same?

All the hemp plants currently grown have similar looking leaves, but there is quite a variety of height, width, and flower development. And even though the leaf shape is similar, it too can vary in size. Plant breeders continue to select for plants that are both easy to cultivate and easy to harvest, but still produce good quality fiber, grain, oil, or CBD depending on the desired end product.

The topof a hemp plant, a small dish of hemp seeds and a ropper bottle of CBD oilDo all plants produce the same products?

There are many of different hemp cultivars, each bred to produce either good quality fiber, grain, oil or CBD. Growers choose the specific cultivar that matches the intended use. Most growers in our region are growing for CBD production, not for fiber, grain or oil production. In the future plants may be developed to allow for multiple products to be economically processed from the same plant.

Special thanks to Maire Ullrich, Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County and to the Cornell Hemp Team for resources and guidance in this series.

This article is the first in a series of articles focusing on the hemp industry.  See future Gardening in Orange County issues for more information.

For more information about all things hemp:

Beginning Hemp – Keys to Successful Production in NYS – Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County

Cornell Hemp – Cornell School of Integrative Plant Science

 

Color, Color Everywhere – or maybe not!

By Brooke Moore, New Windsor, Senior Master Gardener Volunteer

This article appeared in the September 2019 Issue of Gardening in Orange County. Click here to subscribe!

We live in a colorful world filled with plants, animals, and objects that are brightly colored or, in some cases, patterned, or even singular in color.  As humans we often think that the rest of the world sees itself and its surroundings in the same way that we do. But nothing could be further than the truth.

A cirlce filled with dots of varying sizes all in arying shade of red except for the green dots, of varying shades, that form a large 'W' spaning the width of the circle.
An Ishihar plate, used by optometrists and ophthalmologists to test for color blindness.
As a teenager I had a wonderful friend, John, who was the first person I knew who was colorblind.  Not just color insensitive, as many are, but truly and completely unable to perceive any color at all.  His experience of the world was totally opposite to mine, as I am one of the lucky or in some ways unlucky people who perceive way more color than most people do.  His daily view of things was more like that of a rabbit, who see in shades of darkness and light and contrast.

Close up of a blue human eye.
Human eye

Learning more about how he saw the world and experienced paintings, gardens and simple things like traffic lights began my interest in color and how we can manipulate our surroundings based on adding or subtracting colors from a situation.

Close-uo of the head of a fly - white head, lots of black hairs and large red eyes in which you can see teh individaul lenses
Fly eye

The animals who live among us and in our gardens perceive color in many different ways, and they interact with the plants we grow depending on what they see and how they see and interpret light.

All eyes use reflected light to create images that are the basis of sight.  As humans, we have sight that can determine the shape, size and special relationship of objects, and we have sight that is color-based.

Close up of an owl eye - bright yellow eye surrounded by white, brown and black plummage
Owl eye

The same is true for animals.  Birds have keen color sight that helps them with foraging for food, identifying prey and recognizing others of their species.  Many scientists have been astonished to discover that some birds may not be able to see all the colors of their own plumage, while other birds can see more than enough colors to find and attract a mate.

Bird Vision
A graph with absorbance on the y-axis (0-1.0) and wave length (330 nm - 700 nm) on the x-axis. There are four lines on the graph, all of them bell shape-esque. The grey line peaks at 370 nm, which falls in the ultraviolet range. The blue line peaks at 445 nm, which falls in the blue range of the visble light spectrum. The green line peaks at 508 nm, which falls in the green range of the visible light spectrum. The red line peaks at 565 nm, which falls in the yellow/orange range of the visible light spectrum.
Humans usually have three types of cones allowing them to perceive light in the visible spectrum.  Some animals , including birds, have four types of cones which allows them to see ultraviolet light.

Birds see more colors than humans as they are able to use ultraviolet (UV) light due to having four types of cones in their retinas – in contrast to humans who have three types of cones.  Different species of birds have more or fewer cone cells in their retinas and thus different ability to see colors.  The ability to determine subtle differences in shades of colors is an evolving ability in birds and thought to be something that aids in adapting to change in environment and availability of food sources.

Color Vision
State Types of cone cells Approx. number of colors perceived Carriers
Monochromacy 1 200 Marine mammals, owl monkey, Australian sea lion, achromat primates
Dichromacy 2 40,000 Most terrestrial non-primate mammals, color blind primates
Trichromacy 3 10 million Most primates, especially great apes (such as humans), marsupials, some insects (such as honeybees)
Tetrachromacy 4 100 million Most reptiles, amphibians, birds and insects, rarely humans
Pentachromacy 5 10 billion Some insects (specific species of butterflies), some birds (pigeons for instance)

The UV reflection from the waxy surface of fruits and berries makes them stand out from the green of foliage – and birds are better able to find them.  Red berries are seen  best and will be eaten first, so also growing some plants that produce orange or yellow fruit will extend the feeding season.

Top picture: A sinlge stem with two flower buds and one small yellow flower with four petals. Bottom: The same photo taken in UV light. The flower is now white with a black center.
Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) photographed in visible light (top) and ultraviolet light (bottom).

Many insects also reflect UV light, making them more attractive to birds as a food source.  Certain bird eggs reflect UV light and help birds to identify their own eggs and reject those put in the nest by other birds.  Many flowers have nectar guides  that reflect UV light.  These  marking are visible to bees and butterflies allowing them to easily find the nectar at the center of the flower.

Deer have poor color vision limited to short (blue) and middle (green) wave lengths of color.  They may have some UV sensitivity but not much compared to birds.  Foxes do not see green and have little ability to see blue, red or yellow.  So, these animals are not using color in the garden to find or choose what they eat!

The head of a deer standing with its face brushing up againsta purple flower.Understanding which animals use color to find and choose food can help us in identifying plants to put into our gardens, and plants to leave out.  It also can put to rest myths like deer choosing red tulips over yellow daffodils -because they are making a choice based on taste and smell, not sight.

Highlights of the Gardens of the Orange County Arboretum

By Nancy F., Cornwall Master Gardener

This article appeared in the May 2019 Issue of Gardening in Orange County. Click here to subscribe!

The Alpine Garden

A stone path running through the APline Gardne full of color and texture
The Alpine Garden at the Orange County Arboretum

Explore the Alpine Garden and its varieties of succulents, spruces, perennials and grasses, surrounded by rock formations and waterways.  If you take time to look around at all the different colors and textures, you will notice a very delicate plant known as the crown anemone or Spanish marigold (Anemone coronaria).

Close up of a purple crown anemone flower.
Crown anemone (Anemone coronaria)

The crown anemone’s  dark-centered flowers can be found in an array of colors from purple-blue, red, pink or white.  They are a perfect addition to rock gardens, flower bed, and containers.  They do well in full sun, but will tolerate light shade in very hot areas.  Soil preference is sandy loam. Crown anemones are propagated by underground storage structures called corms, which are similar to a bulbs and tubers.  Corms can be planted after the danger of frost, which is usually early May here in Orange County New York.  For continuous bloom throughout the summer, they should be planted every two or three weeks. (Note: The small corms should be soaked for several hours before planting).  For those people who garden in containers, you can create a stunning display by combining crown anemones with tulips and grape hyacinths.

 

The Asian Maple Garden

Large pink clower with yellow center known as the Peony 'Morning Lilac'
Peony ‘Morning Lilac’

One of the numerous attractions in the Asian Maple Garden is the intersectional Itoh Peony ‘Morning Lilac’.  This stunning flower was created by crossing a tree peony with the more common herbaceous peony.  Intersectional peonies have strong, short woody stems and large flowers like a tree peony, but die down to the ground in winter like an herbaceous peony.  These plants prefers a neutral to alkaline soil pH, and need good drainage.  Autumn is the best time for planting peonies.

The Nellie Mazur Perennial Garden

A metal plat with corn, cow and flower siloueetes cut out allowing the sun to stream through projecting the images onto the snow
Remember Agrisculpture : Seed Plates – Lovingly Rethought

The Nellie Mazur Perennial Garden is a lovely mix of shrubs and herbaceous perennials. Recently added is to this garden is a magnificent piece of Agrisculpture made by collaging (welding) found vintage and antique metal with new steel to create an entirely new form.  The piece is entitled “REMEMBER Agrisculpture: Seed Plates – Lovingly Rethought” is a 40 square-foot steel piece made from antique seed planter plates and gears.  It was commissioned by the arboretum to honor the late Farmer Mazur and his passion for seed distribution.

The Remembrance Walkway and Garden

A large black globe on a pedastool surrounded by a circular stine path and bed of red flowers
The Remembrance Garden

The Remembrance Walkway and Garden “honor[s] those who lost their lives and those whose lives have been altered by the tragic events of the September 11 attack on America”.  The September 11th Memorial features a stunning rotating granite sculpture of the earth surrounded by bronze plaques with the names of the 44 Orange County residents who perished that day.  A ceremony is held every year on September 11 to honor those that we lost.

The Raised Garden Beds

The Raised Garden Beds developed in 2002 are situated throughout the Arboretum and are home to a spectacular seasonal display of annual and perennial companion plantings.  Every year visitors anticipate the arrival of the colorful spring display of numerous tulip varieties found throughout the grounds.  The plants for the raised beds are grown in the arboretum’s Kosuga Greenhouse.  This greenhouse houses 28,000 plants which includes plants for the raised beds as well as plants for the Arboretum’s annual plant sale.  The purchase of new plants is made possible through the generosity of the Friends of the Arboretum and the patrons of the arboretum’s annual events.

The purple thistle like bloom of the Cardoon
Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

Two of the plants that are highlighted in the raised garden bed for their uniqueness are cardoon and cotton.  Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), also known as the artichoke thistle or globe artichoke, is an herbaceous perennial in the aster family and is hardy in zones 7-10.  Unfortunately, Orange County New York is found in zones 5 and 6, so here it usually can only be grown as an annual.   This plant requires full sun in a sheltered location with fertile, well-drained soil.  The plant reaches 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide and is an architectural splendor. Its large, thistle-like flowers are quite ornamental.  The violet-purple flowers are produced in a heavily spined capitulum (head).  Choose companion plants that contrast with the blue to silver color of the foliage such as annuals with blue, purple or burgundy flowers.

A white flower surrounded by dark green leaves with dark magenta vains
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum)

The second plant highlighted in the raised garden beds is the cotton plant (Gossypium hirsutum). The hibisicus-like bloom is initially white in color and later turns pink.  The flowers stay on the plant for a few weeks, before they wither and fall leaving behind seedpods known as bolls.  Fibers inside the boll continue to develop until the boll bursts open exposing white fluffy cotton.  This annual grows three to five feet tall and prefers full sun and moist soil.

The Rill

Bronze statue of Pan holding a pan flute
Pan – the god of woods, fields and flocks

During the warmer months, a bronze statue of Pan, the god of woods, fields and flocks is surrounded by running water.  The Rill was a developed by John and Connie Vanderberg  in 2005 and the Pan sculpture was donated by Ruth Ottaway.

The Al Durland Memorial Pond

Surrounded by grass and woodlands, the Al Durland Memorial Pond, is a peaceful aquatic sanctuary. One can enjoy its beauty and serenity on the large deck that runs along one of its sides.

The Apiary

Upclose view of a bee hive buzzing with activity
Honey bees tending their hive

The Apiary is buzzing with bee activity this time of year.  Our new beekeeper is starting classes for beginner beekeepers.

The Apiary is also a favorite site for the elementary school students visiting the arboretum with their classes to participate in the Garden Exploration with Master Garden (GEM) program.  During the bee portion of this program,  the students learn about the three different types of bees found within a hive – queen, worker and drone bees. They also learn all about honey production and the important role bees play in our environment.  The arboretum sells its honey at their Holiday Boutique that is open from the end of November until the end of December.

The Veteran’s Garden

Plaque with the following words: Dedicated to those who have served, are serving and will be servinf our Country - Orange COunty thanks...(words cut off)
Honoring our Veterans

The Veteran’s Garden at the Arboretum is dedicated to our Veterans of the past, present and future and hosts a yearly ceremony to honor our Veterans.

The Ceremony Garden

The Ceremony Garden is a large open field surrounded by a beautiful rose garden, raised garden beds, and towering trees.  This popular venue is available for rental through the Orange County Parks Department.

The Children’s Garden

The Children’s Garden was designed to get children outside and give them an opportunity to connect with nature.  The Children’s Garden  is both beautiful and educational.  It hosts a myriad of children’s events throughout the year from backyard bird feeding to a its annual Fairy Festival.

For more information about the Orange County Arboretum and upcoming events check out their website: http://www.orangecountyarboretum.org/.

The Eternal Flame of Summer: Celosia

by Carole L., Warwick Senior Master Gardener

This article appeared in the April 2019 Issue of Gardening in Orange County. Click here to subscribe!

Red cascading amaranth flowers
Love Lies Bleeding

When looking forward and making plans for showcasing summer’s wild and lively colors, consider adding the versatile annual showstopper Celosia.  A member of the Amaranthaceae family, the flower is reminiscent of its cousin, the Amaranth plant, and its more common ornamental variety, “Love Lies Bleeding.”

Celosia comes in assorted colors, shapes, and sizes.  There are three common types: plume, cockscomb, and wheat.  Their names well describe the shape of each flower.

Yellow plume celosia
Yellow Plume

The plume celosia’s flowers top off the plant with large poofs of color which resemble a flame.  The name ‘celosia’ is actually derived from the Greek word ‘kelos,’ which means ‘burned.’  Like a flame, they come in reds, yellows, and oranges.  You can plant a border garden in one favorite color, or add all the colors together in a mix guaranteed to make you smile.  The plant will continue to flower from June through to the first frost, and simple deadheading will suffice to keep the rainbow aglow.

Red cockscomb celosia flower
Red Cockscomb Celosia

The cockscomb celosia has a dome shape with curving lines which, not surprisingly, look like the red crest on the head of a rooster.  The traditional red-colored flower is used throughout Mexico with the Mexican marigold (Tagetes erecta) in Day of the Dead celebrations. Cockscomb celosias can also be bright yellow.  As with the plume celosia, flowering can be extended for months by regular deadheading.

Magenta wheat celosia flowers
Wheat celosia

Wheat celosia is slightly more subdued in color than the other two types.  The flower is shaped like a spike of wheat, and tends toward shades of pink or white, although there are now some varieties in darker red-purple shades.  As an ornamental, its straight, erect height, between 3 and 5 feet tall, makes the wheat celosia a striking addition to any flower garden.

Here are a few more reasons to consider celosias for your summer 2019 garden:

    • They make good container flowers, especially in an alkaline soil mix.  If you are looking for a new “thrill” for your containers’ “fill, thrill, and spill” mix, consider adding some celosias for color or height.
  • Celosias are an easy-care flower. For best results, plant them in full sun; they do like heat.  As a tropical plant, they are known to tolerate drought, but keeping them moist (not wet) is best.  Usually watering 3 or 4 times per week in well-drained soil is ideal.
  • Monarch butterfly perched on magenta wheat celosia flower
    Monarch Butterfly on Celosia FLower

    All of the celosias will attract bees and other pollinators. Consider planting some near, or mixed in with, your vegetable garden or orchard to help with pollination.

  • The leaves, stems, and little flowers are all edible! In parts of Africa, Indonesia, and India, the leaves (especially the tender new leaves) are a green staple.  They are a source of protein, Vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.  They are said to have a flavor much like spinach, and a texture like basil.  Before the plant flowers, the tender leaves would be a healthy addition for any recipe that includes spinach as an ingredient.  It is best to boil the leaves first and toss out the resulting blackish water, as it reportedly contains nitrates and oxalates; then you can use the still-green leaves in your scrambled eggs, soups, or stews.  Most recipes add onions, garlic, hot peppers, or even peanut butter to perk up the flavor of the mild celosia leaves.
Just sprouted celosia seedlings. Some of the seelings still have the seed coat at the end of the leaves.
Celosia Seedlings
    • Since the celosia leaves are best used when tender before flowering, and most store-bought celosias already have flowers, you may want to start your own plants from seeds.  If starting indoors, plant 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date.  Cover the tiny seeds lightly (with only 1/8 inch of soil).  Keep moist and warm. Germination takes 10 to 15 days.  Transplant to your prepared garden bed when the soil is warm.  When plants are 4 to 6 inches tall, thin them.  You can throw the pulled plants into the cooking pot.  Alternatively, you can plant seed directly into the garden when the garden soil is warm.  Cover the newly planted seeds with straw to keep moist and prevent washing away in case of heavy rains.  Remove the straw once plants emerge.

     

    • Numerous bouquets of flowers hanging on a string inside a rustic woodedn plank building
      Drying FLowers

      All types of celosia make beautiful cut flowers and colorful long-lasting dried flowers. To dry, cut flowers when at their peak, remove side leaves to prevent mildew, and hang the flowers upside down in a dark, dry place for several weeks.

      Remember to place newspaper underneath the drying plants to catch the seeds that will fall from the flowers once they are dry.  Save these seeds for your 2020 celosia garden and be sure to share with your friends!

Who are the Master Gardeners?

By Deborah C. – Highland Mills Master Gardener Volunteer

This article appeared in the March Issue of the Gardening in Orange County Newsletter.  Click here to subscribe!

Currently, there are 70 active Master Gardener Volunteers in Orange County. These volunteers help Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County disseminates research-based information to the community.  Volunteers go through an intensive training to increase their knowledge of gardening and landscaping. Once they complete the training, they are required to volunteer 30 hours a year, which includes six hours of continuing education.

Master Gardener Volunteers write for the Gardening in Orange County newsletter, answer gardening questions on the “Garden Helpline”,  participate in community and school gardens,  read to school children, and we provide workshops to the community on a wide range of topics.

Master Gardener Volunteers come from different backgrounds and careers.  Here are just a few stories of their stories.

Brooke M., New Windsor Master Gardener Volunteer

Brooke in a red MAster Gardener Apron stands next to several planters full of plants talking to people sitting around tables
Brooke teaches a class on container gardening

Becoming a Master Gardener six years ago was the fulfillment of a longtime dream! I was introduced to gardening by my maternal grandmother who grew wild abundant perennial borders. She changed her color scheme regularly and encouraged me to see gardening like painting, providing joy in every glance. Being a Master Gardner lets me combine my skills from being a teacher, Museum Educator, and photographer with my absolute passion for plants. Going out to schools, garden clubs, and other public gatherings to share knowledge is one of my favorite things. Contributing to GOC by writing and editing is another. This year, helping to start a new school garden was the highlight. Nothing is more fun than hearing the laughter of children in the garden and seeing the wonder on their faces when they taste a fresh carrot. I have found new friends and opportunities in this program and it enriches my life.

Deborah C., Highland Mills Master Gardener Volunteer

Three Master Gardener Volunteers staff an "Ask a Master Gardener Table"
Deborah and two fellow Master Gardener Volunteers help disseminate information to the public at a “Ask a Master Gardener” Table

When I was a child, my dad grew zinnias from seed and I know my love of gardening was cultivated by the beautiful gardens he created in our yard.  I asked a thousand questions; he did not always know the answers, but he let me keep asking!  I think he grew delphiniums for their beautiful (and rare) periwinkle color.

I bought my house in 1992, and shortly thereafter I attended the Garden Days sponsored by the Master Gardeners.  I soaked up all the material and tried to apply it in my own yard.  I subscribed to “Gardening in Orange County”.  Now my gardens are filled with Milkweed and plants that the deer do not eat.  My andromeda (Pieris japonica) is about 35 years old.

I became a Master Gardener because of all the wonderful people who answered all my questions on the “helpline” at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Middletown.

I have been a Master Gardener for 11 years now.  I enjoy being in the company of other volunteers who love plants, trees, shrubs and flowers.  Go ahead and ask questions.  I am happy to help others cultivate their love of nature!

Doug M., Middletown Master Gardener

Doug pretends to work on a botanical drawing or the orchid sitting on the table in front of him
Doug shows off his passion for botanical drawing

Although I have lived in Orange County all my life, the experience of purchasing and renovating a neglected property in Middletown ignited a love for gardening which changed my life.

My gardening obsession led me away from a career in interior design to attaining a Certificate of Horticulture from the New York Botanical Garden where I also discovered my passion for creating botanical artwork.  With that change in place, my life was now consumed by horticulture.

I was drawn to the Master Gardener program because it is a stimulating and satisfying educational process where members are continually receiving and sharing information.

I am especially drawn to the design and artistry of gardening and have led programs on container gardening and botanical drawing.  I also enjoy projects where I can get my hands dirty.

My four years as a Master Gardener have been rewarding, especially the shared experiences with other volunteers.

Jim H., Monroe Master Gardener

Three Master Gardener Volunteers standin in a garden
Jim and two fellow Master Gardeners working in one of the school gardens

 I have lived in Orange County for 21 years but I am a native of Texas.  I grew up in the fruit orchards of Dallas County, Texas and every home of mine has had a garden.  A career in High Tech Communication took me around the globe six times.  I have experienced a lot of things in my life, but I am pulled to the challenge of gardens.

I love vegetable gardening and I want to pass on my passion to elementary children.  I am involved with two school gardens in Monroe.  The North Main Garden is located in a 100-year-old church courtyard next to the school.  It is a pollination garden with six raised beds and the vegetables are donated to a local food bank.  We work with the Ecology Club and teach classes on recycling and composting.

The Pine Tree Elementary garden was built with donations from the Girl Scout cookie sales.  This garden is totally managed by 3rd grade students and it is a learning garden from the soil up!  The students plant seeds, learn correct watering techniques, transplant material, weed and mulch.  It is a hands-on endeavor with no smartphones or computers.

The Master Gardening Program has given me the opportunity to give back to my community.  What keeps the gardens running is the look in the children’s eyes when they pick a ripe vegetable!

Joe G., Warwick Master Gardener

Joe giving a thumbs up standing in front of a hop yard
Joe out in his hop yard

I’m the son of a passionate gardener and grew up in a small Connecticut town in the 1970’s.  Dad had a huge vegetable garden and I spent many hours with him there, tending his plants and growing an area of my own starting at age 7.  Giant pumpkins were my favorite.

My gardening passion grew and I worked for a landscaper through high school and college.  My adult career is in packaging, so my gardening passion had to be limited to a hobby, but I became a Master Gardener in 2013 to deepen my knowledge and spread my passion to others.

My retirement goal is to operate a farm, which I decided to start in my 40’s rather than wait.  I farm part time, growing Hops and Shiitake Mushrooms and benefit from the education and access to information the Cooperative Extension network has provided through the Master Gardening program.  I enjoy creating and presenting educational workshops through the MG program and writing articles for Gardening in Orange County and the Time Herald Record.

Kate H., Cuddebackville Master Gardener Volunteer

Kate talks on the phone answer inquires that come into the Garden Helpline

I have lived in Orange County for over 40 years, but I am originally from California.  What brought me to the East Coast was a position as an instructor, and clinic coordinator, in SUNY Orange’s dental hygiene department.

When I learned of the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener program, I was intrigued.  I have always loved gardening, and I love teaching, so being part of a volunteer program where I could teach horticulture topics sounded perfect to me.  I knew I would learn a lot when I started the MG training, but how much I learned, and have continued to learn for the past 11 years, is astounding!

I have also come to understand more about Cornell Cooperative Extension – what an incredible resource it is for the people of Orange County.  Its scope of programs and outreach is amazing and inspiring.

I have been involved in community gardens, children’s programs, lectures, and workshops.  They have been fun, interesting and satisfying.  But what really amazes and delights me is the group of Master Gardeners themselves.  They have a great variety of interests and specialties; they are talented, generous, and wonderful company!  I feel lucky to be part of this group of volunteers.

Nancy F., Cornwall Master Gardener Volunteer

Head shot of Nancy
Nancy

I graduated from the Orange County Master Gardener Program in March of 2016 following my retirement in 2015 as a Family Nurse Practitioner for Newburgh Enlarged City School District.  My love for flower gardening expanded to vegetable gardening and a variety of gardening and health-related school programs.  As a result of collaborations with the Orange County Department of Health Healthy Orange Team, the Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s Wellness Team and the Fuel Up to Play 60 grant, my journey lead me to my lifelong passion to be a Master Gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Program.

The Master Gardener Program has provided me with opportunities for continued professional development in areas that require research-based gardening knowledge and has afforded me the opportunity to continue collaborations with other gardeners and associations.

A Master Gardener has many volunteer opportunities. I personally enjoy the Garden Help Line, writing for the Gardening in Orange County Newsletter, assisting student learning about bees, composting, flowers, vegetables, and bugs at the Orange County Arboretum.

Samantha G., Harriman Master Gardener Volunteer

My Master Gardener story is very simple. I have been a gardener ever since my mom said she would pay me a penny for every dandelion I dug up. I made ten dollars. Now I forbid dandelion removal in my yard!  I came to Orange County in 2004, and promptly got a job in the Walmart lawn and garden department. I quickly realized that I was going to have to dig a little deeper to meet fellow gardeners and new friends. Lucky for me I noticed a small article in the local paper advertising the registration for the 2007-08 Master Gardener class. Although this really stretched my comfort zone, I knew that this program was what I needed to really become part of my new community. As a gardener I have very simple needs – a beautiful habitat in the middle of suburbia and a small garden to feed my family. As a Master Gardener it fills me with joy to show people how to find the answers for gardening success. I love to put the light back in their gardening shade.

Click here to find out how to become a Master Gardener Volunteer!

Welcome to our Gardening in Orange County New York Blog!

Hi everyone,

My name is Susan Ndiaye and I am the Community Horticulture Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orange County New York.  I am launching this blog to help keep residents of Orange County and the surrounding areas apprised of the goings on in the gardening world.  I will be posting information about garden pests, invasive species, upcoming gardening events, educational opportunities, as well as articles from ‘Gardening in Orange County‘, a newsletter put out by the Orange County Master Gardener Volunteers.

I look forward to providing you, the gardeners of Orange County, information that will help you in your gardening efforts as you continue to beautify our county and add to the quality of life for all.

peace.

Susan Ndiaye
sgn32@cornell.edu
(845) 344-1234