The Green Light

George Ball is chairman of W. Atlee Burpee Company and past president of The American Horticultural Society.

 

Welcome to the first day of summer, the summer solstice, when the sun is at its highest, vegetation greenest, daylength longest, and night shortest. Call it, “summer cum laude”, since we’re so happy that our year’s longest day has come.

 

We edge downslope now to December’s winter solstice. From today onward, daylight will progressively shorten, and nights lengthen. Ripening plants need less sunlight; night temperatures come into greater play. The plant’s growth is less urgent than its fruiting—tomorrow slowly begin the more temperate nights of harvest time. Watch for evening mists to rise from pastures, lawns and gardens.

 

Mid-March’s spring equinox coincided with the imposition of safety measures to guard against the COVID-19 virus. As a rule, we regard our residence as a refuge. Since the Great American Lockdown it has felt at times like house arrest. Yet spring gradually released its light on innumerable young leaves, shoots, buds, and sprouts. The sun has revealed everything living around us morning, noon, and evening. Green light seems to wash over everything and everyone.

 

Parents and their offspring have found inspiration and liberation in the backyard. They bask in warm weather, get their fill of chlorophyll, and care for new gardens. After all the TV binge-watching and telecommunication screen time, three dimensions seem strikingly innovative, and the colors so lifelike. We’ve rediscovered and, in some cases discovered, our yards, parks, and forests.

 

Though green is not a primary color like red, blue, or yellow, it is the primal color of our world—resonating with beauty, nourishment, and life, the one thing we can’t live without.

 

The vibrant tones of plants and trees comprise the green of greens, the wavelength of light to which our eyes are most responsive. Green excites our visual apparatus and stimulates our neurons like no other color.

 

Vegetation is the bridge between Earth’s terrestrial biosphere and its atmosphere— a massive relay station that captures sunlight and, through the marvel of photosynthesis, converts it into chemical energy that fuels plant growth and reproduction and, by extension, nearly 8 billion humans and all other life on the planet. No green, no oxygen, no life, no us.

 

Green rules the world. Research gleaned from satellites has established that plants are the predominant lifeform of our planet’s biosphere, representing 81% of Earth’s total biomass of 550 gigatons (550 billion tons) of carbon. The nearest contenders are bacteria (about 13 percent) and fungi (22 percent). Human biomass is .01 percent, cheek by jowl with termites and krill. Cheer up; as consumers of earthly life, humans are unsurpassed.

 

For aeons, plant life has been under siege from a ravenous horde of herbivorous predators, from beetles to elephants, that would consume every snackable bit of green foliage, and destroy all life on Earth.

 

For each species of green plant, there are five species of animals. Of the 6,836,330 animal species, 30% are straight-up herbivores, and 40% omnivores who dine on both vegetables and animals. Preventing a “plantaclysm” are carnivores (30%) that prey on herbivores and omnivores, reducing their numbers so plants and trees can thrive and survive. Carnivores keep the planet green.

 

The pandemic that shuttered us indoors has serendipitously opened our eyes to the green realm right outside our house, a new kind of living room, where, while we tend our plants, we are productive citizens of the all-encompassing empire of green.

COVID-19 Update, Site Closures, and Emergency Fundraising

We hope this message finds you, your family, and loved ones safe during this extremely difficult time.

Due to COVID-19, all Hort public and educational programs will remain closed until further notice. This includes: school-based programs, public programming at The Greenhouse Education Center at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, workshops at seniors centers, public green-space activities, and our therapeutic horticulture program on Rikers Island.

Our main office is also closed. Everyone at The Hort has been working diligently with our partners – including nonprofits, city agencies, and state agencies – to adjust to the crisis, make the proper arrangements, and plan to resume full operations when it is safe to do so. Staff are currently working from home and available to assist you by email. Please write info@thehort.org if you have a question and do not have a direct contact.

With that said, in the long-term not being able to provide services will jeopardize direct revenue vital to the organization’s finances. This crisis also prevents us from holding our Annual Spring Fundraising Event.

That is why your support now is absolutely crucial. During this crisis, 100% of your donation will go towards protecting the jobs of our program staff and helping us avoid layoffs. After the crisis, it will allow us to rebuild our public school and horticultural therapy programs, restoring a sense of normalcy to thousands of New Yorkers across the city.

Our staff and the communities we serve across NYC thank you in advance for your support in these turbulent times. With yo12ur participation, The Hort can continue to provide vital services and help New York heal in the months and years to come. Please visit our donation to lend us your support: https://www.thehort.org/donate/

Sincerely,

The Team at The Horticultural Society of New York

This Sun is Our Sun

George Ball is chairman of W. Atlee Burpee Company and past president of The American Horticultural Society, Washington, D.C.

 

Today at noon, unplug your backlit screen, stroll outdoors and take in the buoyant charm of reflected light. Afterwards, take a few minutes to reflect on the sun, the superstar powering the existence of the earth—including us, all things animate and inanimate, everything.

 

The Vernal Equinox is the first day of spring, the occasion par excellence for honoring the sun, and every gardener’s unofficial national holiday. From our earthbound vantage point, the equinox feels like the solar system’s yearly reboot: calibrating the seasons, hours and minutes, nights and days, the season ahead, and the circadian clocks that tell our minds and bodies what time it is.

 

From today forward, the sun will arc ever higher over the earth, reaching its peak on the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer. In the coming months, we can bask in the prospect of more sunlight and heat, longer days and shorter nights, and a thriving solar-powered landscape, exploding with life, color, aroma, and abundance.

 

NASA’s dazzling new images of the sun, taken by the Parker Solar Probe, bring us ever closer to our neighborhood star. The solar close-ups, taken from a spacecraft the size of a compact car about 4 million miles from the sun’s surface, are the closest so far. However, the luminous images of roiling gases fall short of bringing the sun back home. Instead, they remind us of the sun’s utter singularity, unfathomable heat, and daunting remoteness, just short of 93 million miles.

 

Back here on earth, there is something new under the sun: a humanmade sun in the making. A consortium of 35 nations is collaborating to create the first humanmade star on Planet Earth, sited on 444 acres in a small town (pop. 1,000) in southern France. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the megaproject, the most massive scientific research undertaking in history, will be the most expensive structure in the world. Think big.

 

The mini-mini-miniature new-fangled star (named ITER, aka International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) will allow earthling scientists to recreate the forces powering the sun and distant stars. The goal is to determine if nuclear fusion—not to be confused with nuclear fission—can safely serve as a carbon-free and inexhaustible source of energy for the world. Let’s hope so.

 

As of February 4th, the new star’s site incorporates a sculpture, Sans Titre, (Untitled), by American artist Christine Corday, that fuses humanity’s creative and scientific aspirations. A fully functional, nickel copper alloy, five-pound bolt, it will join uncountable others keeping the mega-station together. The untitled work, likewise unidentifiable, will be an invisible collaborator, both participant and witness to the world’s most gigantic spectacle of all time. Its humility and untitled title remind us of the nameless craftspeople who erected the megalithic structures, pyramids, cathedrals and other glories of human endeavor.

 

A new, humanmade sun is an inviting prospect. The original sun, one of the more than 350 billion stars in the Milky Way, has been with us a while, debuting 4.6 billion years ago. Equal in mass to 109 Earths set side by side—it cannot readily be shoehorned into a medieval village in southern France. This new, compact model is a development to be celebrated around the world.

 

If you wish to bring a star to your home, there’s no better place to start than a garden. Step outside to experience the sun in all its power, glory, and majesty. In your garden, you can marvel at the miracle of photosynthesis, the miraculous conjunction of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide that creates the sugars that engender plant life, and, for that matter, all life.

 

Your home’s solar laboratory offers a season of delectable and beauteous discoveries that you can see, touch, smell, and taste—all sponsored by the sun, our local star.

Six Plants and Flowers That Will Attract More Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Jenn Sinrich

 

Hummingbirds might be tiny, but they have hearty appetites and get their fill from a myriad of plant species found in gardens. In fact, it is thought that many plants, particularly the narrow and tubular varieties, have evolved over time to accommodate their long, slender bills. “Some flowers are so narrow they can only be pollinated by hummingbirds!” says Paddy Cunningham, birding expert at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

If you’re looking to attract these small but wondrous birds to your garden, there are several basic elements you should include. Firstly, you must have some trees, shrubs, or vines nearby to create shelter and a sense of security, according to George Pisegna, Deputy Director and Chief of Horticulture at The Horticultural Society of New York in Manhattan. “The garden needs to have enough open space for the hummingbird to navigate from flower to flower, have brightly colored flowers (particularly red) that are tubular, and water, as hummingbirds love a gentle, continuous spray.” To help guide you cultivate your own hummingbird oasis, here are the garden plants they love best, according to our experts.

Related: The Secret to a Garden Full of Hummingbirds Is Hiding in Your Pantry

Daylily

This bold and colorful flower is known for its trumpet-like shape, which comes in handy for hummingbirds as it allows them to reach the inside nectar more easily. This flower thrives in spring and fall, according to Lowe’s live nursery expert, Lester Poole, and grow best in areas that receive at least six hours of direct sunlight.

Columbine

“This perennial is a cheerful plant with clover-shaped foliage and thin, airy, tubular stems,” shares Valerie Ghitelman, Vice President of Product Development and Design, 1-800-Flowers.com. “Its flowers bloom in a wide range of colors such as red, yellow, white, blue, lavender, pink, and salmon.” Hummingbirds tend to love columbines because they stick around—they’re drought resistant and don’t require much water.

Sage

You’re probably most familiar with this plant for its use in the kitchen. Its family contains mints, basil, and salvias in a tremendous array of sizes and colors. “All provide long-lasting nectar sources, and by staggering the annual forms and the perennial forms you can have season-long nectar sources,” says Poole. “Pineapple sage is a super source for hummingbirds, with large quantities of scarlet, tube-like blossoms throughout the summer and fall.”

Lantana

This tubular flower comes in a variety of colors, most often yellow and purple. Because they are not likely to be grazed upon, they are left untouched for the hummingbird. “Lantanas are not only a three-toned showstopper, they’re able to survive period of limited water supply making them extremely easy to care for,” says Poole. “Lantanas are best suited for planting in warmer climates, as they grow best in hot, dry weather with a minimum of six hours of direct sun.”

Honeysuckle

Also a tubular flower, hummingbirds are attracted to the honeysuckle for their sweet nectar, as it name suggests. “Hummingbirds adore these open-mouthed florals and are even more attracted to their bright red toned petals, which flower on and off throughout the year,” says Poole. “These flowers prefer full, direct sun and grow extremely fast.”

Pentas

These gorgeous bedding plants are fairly inexpensive, but can produce numerous flowers in a variety of colors and sizes for a few years, according to Cunningham. “Pentas have almost continuous blooms and can be used to edge beds in the smaller varieties or small bushes in the larger varieties,” she says. “They can also be put into pots and hanging baskets for balconies and porches to attract hummingbirds.”

nkbimages / Getty Images

 

Greenhouse Newsletter | May

Upcoming Events

Spring is here, and we are celebrating with plenty of new, exciting classes at the greenhouse! Improve your garden by learning about the basics of soil health at our May garden workshop, learn how to make your own kombucha, or bring your family to a fun cooking class focusing on picnics, a fun warm-weather activity for everyone! Click here to see our full schedule

The Greenhouse & Kitchen is located at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031

Plant of the month: Blue Agave

Blue agave, or Agave Americana, is native to the hot, arid regions of northern and central Mexico, and some parts of the Southwestern United States. Agave plants can reach a height of 6 to 8 feet, and can grow just as wide, making them a popular statement piece in landscaping. Agave Americana is a known as the “century plant” – some species of this succulent genus take 100 years to flower in the wild, but most flower between 10 and 15 years of age. When an agave plant reaches maturity, it produces a flower stalk that can reach up to 20 feet high and bears green and yellow flowers. Once the plant flowers, it usually dies shortly afterward. The number of years before flowering depends on the vigor of the individual plant, the richness of the soil, and the climate.

Blue agave plants are deer resistant, drought tolerant, and can easily live all year round with little maintenance in warm climates. In addition to being used in the production of sweeteners and tequila, blue agave are used to produce rope and bio-fuel.

The leaves of the blue agave have extremely sharp, long, spines at the tip, which gives it an effective defense against animal predators. However, if you want to plant this striking agave in your home, it should be planted a good distance away from where anyone, particularly pets and children, could brush up against it. Once the plant has matured and flowered, it is common to see multiple “pups” around the base of the parent plant. Once the parent plant has died, it can be removed and the pups can be transplanted to start a new life cycle.

Sources
Chicago Botanical Garden

University of Florida

Asparagus Lemon Pasta

Here’s a quick recipe for weeknights that takes advantage of the vibrant colors and bright flavors of the spring season. For freshest asparagus, select spears with the tips tightly closed. Save the woody ends of the asparagus in a plastic bag in your freezer until you have enough vegetable scraps to make a stock; use stock throughout the spring when making rich risotto or creamy asparagus soup.

Yield: 4 servings

1 ½ pounds asparagus, ends trimmed (if you bend the stalk near the bottom, it will naturally break between the woody base and the delicate, edible stalk), and   slice the asparagus on the diagonal at approximately 2-inch intervals.

1 pound farfalle (bow-tie) pasta

3 tablespoons butter

¾ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from approximately 3 large lemons)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

½ to ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

  1. Bring about two inches of water to a boil in a large stockpot with a steamer insert. Place cleaned, trimmed 2-inch pieces of asparagus in steamer basket and cook, covered for approximately 3 minutes; asparagus should be crisp-tender. Drain asparagus and rinse under cold water to halt cooking.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat butter until melted over medium-low heat in a heavy skillet. Add cream and stir in salt, lemon zest and juice. Cover skillet and remove from heat.
  3. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package instructions until al dente. Take approximately ¼ cup of pasta water and add to sauce; drain pasta and set aside.
  4. Add pasta and asparagus to sauce and turn heat to medium, tossing and adding parsley, salt and pepper (to taste), until all is coated.
  5. Serve with grated Parmesan on the side.

Springtime Strawberry Lemonade

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon (approximately 9 large lemons)

1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups superfine sugar (you may make this by blending regular cane sugar in a food processor for a few minutes)

3 cups water at room temperature

5 cups chilled water

2 to 3 cups strawberries, cleaned and hulled then pulsed in a food processor or blender with a couple of tablespoons of water until smooth

Sprigs of lavender, mint or thyme

 

  1. To get the maximum amount of juice from the lemons, roll them on a hard surface before cutting in half. Slice each fruit in half and extract the juice using a juicer (manual or electric) or even your hands. If using your hands, squeeze juice over a strainer to capture any seeds.
  2. Add three (3) cups room temperature water and sugar to a pitcher with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until sugar is dissolved and water is clear, approximately 30 seconds.
  3. Add lemon juice and strawberry puree, careful to not include any lemon seeds. Add chilled water and shake, or use a large spoon to thoroughly mix. Refrigerate. Serve over ice with a sprig of lavender, mint or thyme.

Eleventh Street Arts presents Florilegium

March 22- April 25, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, March 22, 6-9pm

Eleventh Street Arts
46-06 11th Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
www.eleventhstreetarts.com


Curated by Katie G. Whipple, Florilegium will feature over 30 works of painting, illustration, and sculpture, as well as botanical installations and floral designs. The works range from minuscule specimen illustrations to a six foot by twelve foot floral painting, and from traditional oil still lifes to living floral sculptures. Florilegium showcases each artist’s relationship with nature, creating an immersive sensory experience. This is a show that is meant to be experienced in person, so visitors can explore the textures of life in nature and in art.

Katie G. Whipple grew up in central Indiana painting with her mother, artist Libby Whipple. After graduating high school, Katie decided to forgo a traditional college education and moved to New York City to study academic painting at the Grand Central Atelier. She has since been the recipient of many awards, including scholarships from the Grand Central Atelier and a purchase award from the Indiana State Museum. Most notably, she received the 2013 Alma Schapiro Prize, which sent her to the American Academy in Rome to study the work of the old masters. She now works full time as a professional painter, teaches part time at the Grand Central Atelier, and lives in Queens, NY with her husband, artist Brendan Johnston, and their dog, Theo. Florilegium is Katie’s first curated show.

Greenhouse Newsletter | March

Upcoming Events

There are a lot of exciting new classes being offered at the Greenhouse and Kitchen! Come participate in a workshop on seed starting to kick start your spring garden, learn about identifying edible foods in the wild and using them in the kitchen with Chef Noah Sheetz of Chef’s Consortium, or check out one of our upcoming fermentation series classes!

Click here to see our full schedule

The Greenhouse & Kitchen is located at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031

Plant of the month: Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena, or Aloysia citriodora, is a strongly scented and flavorful herb in the verbenaceae family. Native to Argentina and Chile, lemon verbena can grow up to 10-15 feet tall in the tropics, and 2-4 feet tall in containers. Lemon verbena is the most strongly scented and intense of all lemon foliage plants. Ever since it was imported to Europe from Spain’s South American colonies in the 18th century, lemon verbena has become a globally accessible herb used for its medicinal effects and qualities as a food additive. Its leaves can be used in beverages and desserts, or to flavor meat and vegetable dishes, as well as in perfumes, cosmetics, potpourris, and herbal medicines. Lemon verbena is rich in antioxidants, and boasts a number of health benefits when used medicinally. This herb is typically used to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, relieve stomach issues and indigestion, reduce fever, soothe nerves, clear up congestion, and aid in weight loss.

Lemon verbena thrives in full sun and hot temperatures, and will grow as a perennial in frost free areas and as an annual in northern climates. If grown in an area with too much shade, the leaves will lose their potency and the branches will grow long and spindly. When the temperature drops below 40 degrees, the plant will drop its leaves and enter dormancy. Lemon verbena can be grown in containers and overwintered indoors in bright, cool locations with minimal watering. It requires loose, well-draining soil to prevent the roots from getting soggy, which will kill the plant. Popular planting locations for lemon verbena are along outdoor walking paths, or anywhere indoors where the leaves may be brushed up against to release the scent.

Sources

Bonnie Plants, Organic Facts, Missouri Botanical Garden

Chickpea Stew with Turmeric, Coconut and Ginger

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil; additional for serving
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • A knob (approximately two inches) ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon or more red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves, for serving
  • Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
  • Toasted whole wheat pita (cut into wedges)

Over medium heat in a large pot, heat oil and add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes until the onion starts to brown a little around the edges.

Add turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas. Stir frequently and cook chickpeas as they sizzle in the oil until they start to break down and brown slightly and get crisp, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

Add coconut milk and stock to the pot and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that formed on bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally until stew thickens, up to 30 minutes, or longer until it reaches your desired thickness or consistency. Add greens, submerging them in the liquid until they wilt and soften. Check seasoning.

Place stew in individual bowls and garnish with mint, sprinkle of red pepper flakes and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with yogurt and toasted pita and a dusting of turmeric (optional).

Banana Apple Muffins

  • 2 apples peeled and grated
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (1 banana)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (10 tablespoons or 1 ¼ sticks)
  • 3 TB milk with ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Pre-heat oven to 375°F and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat the 1 1/4 sticks of butter and 1 cup of sugar together on medium speed until it has a light and fluffy texture.
Without reducing the speed, add 2 eggs one at a time, and also buttermilk. Finally, beat in the flour mixture. Use a spoon to fold in the apples and banana.

Fill the lined muffin cups about half-way.

Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Greenhouse Newsletter | February

Upcoming Events:

There is something for everyone at the NYdigs Greenhouse & Kitchen! Whether you are interested in fermenting, want to learn about Sous Vide, or love to get cozy with fresh baked goods, we have the right class for you! Don’t forget to check out our 5-session Fermentation Series that covers popular topics like Miso, Kombucha, Cheese, and more

Click here to see our full schedule

The Greenhouse & Kitchen is located at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031

Plant of the Month | ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’, Monstera deliciosa

Monstera at the Greenhouse and Kitchen

Monstera deliciosa, is a tropical, flowering plant native to southern Mexico and Panama. It is famous for the ridges and holes found on it’s more mature leaves, giving it the nickname “Swiss cheese plant.” Part of the Araceae family of plants, it can grow up to twelve feet tall with leaves that spread nearly two feet wide.

When growing in their native climates monstera produces fruit, known as “Mexican breadfruit,” that look like ears of corn with a pineapple-like flesh, and are said to taste like a medley of banana, mango, and pineapple. These fruits can take up to a year to ripen, and can cause mouth and stomach irritation if consumed before ripe. Important to note, all other parts of the plant are toxic to both humans and animals if eaten.

There has been much speculation about the interesting shape and pattern of the leaves, specifically about the holes giving the plant the popular nickname “Swiss cheese plant.” One theory suggests that the holes maximize the leaf’s surface area, allowing it to capture more sunlight on the forest floor. Another suggests that the holes allow tropical rains to pass through the leaves with less damage to the plant, inspiring another common nickname “hurricane plant.”

Fruit from Monstera

Monstera deliciosa is an easy plant to care for in your home. They are relatively low maintenance, and will thrive in most environments. The plants do well in areas with filtered, indirect light, as too much harsh sunlight will scorch the leaves. They prefer soil that is consistently, slightly moist, but are sensitive to overwatering. They typically need to be watered no more than once a week, or if the top two inches of soil are dry. Because monstera are natural climbers, once the plant grows more mature it helps to add a stake or trellis to provide extra support. If your monstera grows too large, they respond well to trimming, and you can even use the cuttings to start a new plant!

Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden, Gardenista, Greenerynyc, Gardeningknowhow

Seasonal Recipes: From Our Kitchen to Yours

Split Pea Soup with Parsley Croutons

Split Pea Soup is perfect, healthy meal for a cold winter day. Full of flavor and loaded with potatoes, peas, and carrots, it is not only just filling, but also delicious. For a crunchy addition, top it with homemade croutons!

8 servings

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried (or 1 Tablespoon fresh) oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium red boiling potatoes, diced (unpeeled)
  • 1 pound dried split green peas
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock or water

 

  • 1 baguette (day-old is fine)
  • ¼ cup (fresh) parsley, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In 6-quart stockpot over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic with a few tablespoons olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper until onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes, split peas and vegetable stock. Bring to boil and simmer, uncovered for approximately 40 minutes or until peas are soft. Stir frequently.

While soup is simmering, cut up baguette into 1-inch cubes and toss with olive oil and chopped parsley and spread out on a sheet tray. Place in oven for approximately 10 minutes or until crisp.

Enjoy soup served hot with croutons.

Recipe by The Hort’s own, Annette Nielsen

Baked Chicken with Vegetables

  • 1-1/4 pounds small red potatoes, quartered

  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 small lemon, sliced
  • 1 package (5 ounces) fresh spinach

 

Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, onions, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Transfer to a 15x10x1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix paprika and the remaining thyme, salt and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with paprika mixture; arrange over vegetables. Top with lemon slices. Roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170°-175° and vegetables are just tender, 35-40 minutes.

Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm. Top vegetables with spinach. Roast until vegetables are tender and spinach is wilted, 8-10 minutes longer. Stir vegetables to combine; serve with chicken.

Recipe by Chef Noah Sheetz of Chef’s Consortium

GreenTeam Tips for Starting Seeds

The Hort’s GreenTeam actively promotes the economic, social, environmental, and quality of life benefits of neighborhood plazas and green spaces. Through strategic partnerships, The GreenTeam provides vocational training in horticulture, transitional work, job search skills, and job placement, and aftercare services.

As February rolls around, the sun shines more, and a few 60-degree days pop in here and there, the GreenTeam ramps up its spring planning. In the 2017 season, our workforce will plant, clean, and maintain fifteen public plazas – three more than last year! Serving more public-plazas means planting more plants – and it just so happens that we love plants!

Luckily, to facilitate this large uptick in plantings, The Hort has great friends and partners at Van Houten Farms. Earlier this month, the GreenTeam met with the Van Houten Farms horticulturists to plot out a signature plant palette for the year. The goal is to have New Yorkers recognize the Hort’s public plazas just by looking at the plants!

The GreenTeam does not let Van Houten Farms do all of the growing – they do some too! When a box from Burpee arrived with a huge assortment of flower and vegetable seeds, it was as if Christmas came early (or late?) for our horticulturists. Many of these seeds will be used in supportive housing buildings, where the GreenTeam will teach residents how to grow vegetables and flowers.

However, with the last frost coming soon (about May 1st), it is just about time for all gardeners to start seeds indoors. Whether you are using small pots or seed starting flats, the GreenTeam would like to offer a few tips for seedlings. Follow their advice and watch your seeds grow!

  1. Make sure you clearly label the seeds you plant with the seed variety and planting date – it is easy to forget what you planted.
  2. Use a spray bottle to keep the soil moist at all times, seeds and young seedlings will not grow if the soil dries out.
  3. Keep your pots or trays next to a sunny window or under a grow light. If seedlings are not getting enough sun, they will start searching for light and become leggy.
  4. Make sure your seeds stay warm to encourage germination – most require temps around 72 degrees to germinate.
  5. Always follow the directions on the seed packets! Did you know that some seeds might not need to be covered with soil?

Does all this ‘green-thumbing’ make you a bit nervous? Worried about your limited space to grow or lack of sunlight? Don’t worry, you do not have to ‘seed start’ everything.  There are plenty of leafy greens and spring vegetables that can be planted directly in the ground after the last frost – think arugula, turnips, radishes, kale, and chard. Local farmer’s markets or nurseries are great resources and often have large selections of annuals that can be put right into the ground! But remember to always choose vigorous looking plants and make sure you are not buying anything you did not pay for, such as yellow leaves or aphids.

With enough hard work, care, and patience, you will have a lush and successful growing season! Who knows, you might even out-grow The GreenTeam.