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Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley

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Educating, using science-based resources, on how to best enjoy and steward our natural ecosystem while adapting to the current climate realities.


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Educating, using science-based resources, on how to best enjoy and steward our natural ecosystem while adapting to the current climate realities.




Episode 98: Old Growth Forests (Part 1)

Do you “talk tree”?Have you ever wondered how old the beautiful trees in your woodlands or in New York State forests are? Then this episode is for you. Fred Breglia joins Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley in a multi-faceted discussion about Old Growth Forests. Fred is the executive director of Landis Arboretum located in Esperance, N.Y. Lan­dis is an arbore­tum and pub­lic gar­den incor­po­rat­ing 300 acres and 10 miles of hiking trails in Schoharie and Mont­gomery coun­ties in New York State. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk every day. Fred is also an award-winning certified arborist with decades of experience in the green industry. He is also a frequent speaker and educator. Capital District residents may know him as the “Tree Man,” a regular guest on WAMC’s Vox Pop Radio Show. An old-growth forest (also known as a primary forest, virgin forest, or mature forest) is one that has attained great age without significant disturbance, and thus exhibits unique ecological features, and might be classified as a climax community. There are a small number of old-growth forests in New York state, whose assemblage of trees have co-evolved to a majestic state of maturity with a biological complexity of soils, habitat,s and species. Old-growth forests have a great capacity to improve air and water quality, sequester carbon, and help mitigate climate change. However, fewer than one percent of our original forests remain in the eastern United States. The oldest trees are not necessarily the largest ones. They are ones that have successfully used their available resources efficiently. Did you know that the oldest white pine in New York State is 470 years old? There’s a lot more to learn in this episode. Enjoy! Hosts:Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest:Fred Breglia Photo by: Teresa Golden Production Support:Linda Aydlett, Deven Connelly, Teresa Golden, Xandra Powers, Annie Scibienski


Episode 97: What is GardenFit

GardenFit is the hit national public television series with co-hosts and executive producers Madeline Hooper and Jeff Hughes. A first-of-its-kind series, GardenFit is a fusion of destination, gardening, and self-care, teaching viewers how to take care of their body while taking care of their garden. On the television show, you can tour gardens across America and learn gardening tips and techniques to avoid stress and injury. Madeline Hooper, who lives in Columbia County in New York State, joins the Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley podcast with tips on how to garden safely by using your body correctly. Before devoting herself wholeheartedly to gardening, she forged an extensive career in public relations, specializing in marketing. But her talents extend to many forms of physical activity including tennis, ballroom dancing and gardening. In her spare time, she also volunteers at the Berkshire Botanical Garden where she is also a Vice-Chair. As we all know, gardening is a great activity for both the mind and the body. Madeline offers many suggestions to garden safely. She suggests dividing garden tasks into 30-minute chunks to avoid exhausting any one muscle group. She also advises that we all learn to be ambidextrous so that we work both sides of our bodies equally- not just our dominant side. Putting one foot in the direction you are bending will help with balance and protect your knees. Squatting when bending down also protects the knees as long as you don’t let your knees go beyond your toes. To protect your back, make sure to use your hips to lift items. Posture is also very important in and out of the garden. She encourages everyone to move your shoulder blades downward towards the pockets of your jeans. This raises the chest and puts you into a more aligned posture. There is a lot to absorb in this episode while you also get a sneak preview of what’s coming in Season Two of the television series, Garden Fit. Enjoy! Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest: Madeline Hooper Photo from: Madeline Hooper Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Deven Connelly, Teresa Golden, Xandra Powers, and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 96: Farming Trends

Have you wondered about the state of agriculture in the Hudson Valley? Or what New York farmers are focused on now? Or how they manage for regenerative and/or climate smart farming? If so, we have a great episode for you! Join Christian Malsatski, CCE Agricultural Program Leader for Columbia, Greene and Ulster Counties on a wide-ranging discussion on Farming Trends in the Hudson Valley. Christian has over 15 years of experience in agricultural research and education roles in Texas, Florida and Wisconsin with a focus on field crops, soil science, beef cattle/livestock and urban agriculture. He designs, organizes and delivers programs serving agricultural producers/practioners and State/County officials and workers in many facets or agricultural endeavors. Christian talks about the growing interest in agri-tourism and the diversification of many farm operations to include both crops and livestock. He explores the local grain economy as a community of farmers, millers & processors, distributors, bakers, maltsters, chefs, livestock owners, and others who eat and use grains. They communicate and interact together to provide and consume local grains, facilitating each other’s success and good health. This includes relationship of many farmers to New York craft breweries. Farmers today face ongoing threats from deer damage as well as from invasive pests like the spotted lantern fly. Learn why soil health is so important to the future of productive farms and how rotational schedules help. This episode provides insight into the challenges faced by today’s farmers and how they are adapting to thrive in today’s economy. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest: Christian Malsatski Photo By: Jean Thomas Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Deven Connelly, Teresa Golden, Xandra Powers, and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 95: Regenerative Agriculture

Did you know that half of the world’s agricultural land is degraded? According to the World Economic Forum, this leads to farm productivity losses and is a risk to food security in the future. They define Regenerative Agriculture as a focus on improving the health of the soil that has been degraded by the use of heavy machinery, fertilizers, and can restore agricultural land and pesticides used in intensive farming. When soil is healthy, it produces more food and nutrition, stores more carbon and increases biodiversity – the variety of species. Healthy soil supports water, land and air environments and ecosystems through natural processes including the fertilization of plants. Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, located in Tarrytown (Westchester County), NY is a nonprofit farm, education and research center with a mission to catalyze an ecological food culture in the Northeast. Since 2004, they have been working to innovate ecological farming practices and mindful food choices that benefit human health, strengthen communities, and protect the environment. Their Hudson Valley campus, shared with restaurant partner Blue Hill at Stone Barns, is a living laboratory for interdisciplinary research experiments where farmers, chefs, diners, educators, and artisans come together to push the boundaries of sustainable farming and eating. Laura Perkins is horticulturalist at Stone Barns Center where she tends the formal gardens and develops and maintains the surrounding landscape while supplying Blue Hill with foraged edible foods, giving visitors opportunities for sensory immersion in the landscape, and enhancing wildlife habitat and the ecological resilience of the land. She joins the podcast, Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley, with fascinating insights into the work performed at the Stone Barns Center and how it is helping farmers and residents better understand successful ways to regenerate soils and farming practices. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest: Laura Perkins Photo by: Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 94: Brassicas, Viburnums and Shovels

Dig into this podcast episode that includes comfort food cooking with brassica vegetables, insights into both native and non-native viburnums, and helpful information on various types of garden shovels, Annie Scibienski, a Master Gardener Volunteer, starts us off with a new From Patch to Plate segment about cooking with cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Awaken your taste buds with her descriptions of recipes involving these popular vegetable varieties. Viburnums are a very admired and fast-growing flowering landscape shrubs or small trees with a large number of cultivars available. Bloom times span from early spring through June, followed by attractive fruit and great fall foliage. However, not all viburnums are created equal. Learn about the differences between the native and non-native species from Master Gardener Tim Kennelty on Good Plant/Bad Plant. Have you ever stopped to think about what a groundbreaking invention the shovel is? Annie Scibienski returns with a discussion about different types of shovels on The Grateful Shed. The shovel, spade, and trowel are featured with descriptions of the benefits of each type and their uses in the garden. We hope you find some interesting bits of new knowledge on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guests: Tim Kennelty and Annie Scibienski Photo by: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 93: Backyard Ducks

Many people have thought about raising chickens and most of them have been successful doing so. But have you given any thought to raising ducks? All ducks belong to the Anseriformes order, a biological group that contains ducks, geese and swans. Ducks are generally smaller and shorter-necked than either swans or geese. They have many economic uses, being farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers (particularly their down). The head and wing feathers of drakes (males) are more colorful than in females, with male ducks typically having larger heads. Ducks generally only have one partner at a time, although the partnership may only last one year. Ducks don't use nesting boxes or roosting bars. They are perfectly content to bed down in straw on the floor of a chicken coop or shed or other secure structure and then will make their own nest in a corner to lay their eggs in. Ducks do have predators. Nests and ducklings can be raided by land-based predators such as foxes, or large birds, such as hawks or owls. While people may allow them to free range during the day, they really need to be locked into a coop or other strong structure at night. Backyard Ducks don’t need a pond and can be perfectly happy with a kiddie pool. They do need a water source deep enough to submerge their heads into to help them swallow their food. Ducks eat grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians, and worms. Ducklings should only be fed un-medicated feed. But bear in mind that ducks can be messy. They tend to make a water mess around their tub, as they go back and forth from the feed to the water, wetting the feed in their mouth with the water to help them swallow it. Ducks can be wonderful backyard birds to raise as you enjoy their eggs as well as their personalities. Join Cathy Bruce on Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley to learn more! Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest: Cathy Bruce Photo by: Cathy Bruce Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 92: Natural Dyes

Join us in this fascinating chat with Bonnie Warwick, a lifelong resident of Red Hook, NY and a key member of the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Growers Association and the Elmendorph Hand Spinners Guild. Known for her magical touch in natural dyeing, Bonnie takes us through her lifelong journey from learning to knit at five years old, her stint in Panama, and her endless experiments with natural dyes in New York’s Hudson Valley. Bonnie’s family had a farm stand and introduced her to plants. Since then, her diverse experiences included her early exposure to knitting, working with indigenous people in Panama, becoming a nurse, delving into the world of sheep breeds, and transitioning from synthetic dyes to natural ones. This all fueled her passion for fiber arts and natural dyes, driven by sustainability and uniqueness. Get a peek into her dye kitchen at the Dutchess County Fair and learn about her unique techniques in working with different types of metals, waters and plants to achieve the desired colors. Bonnie also touches on her experiments with natural dyes, highlighting the challenges of achieving consistent colors due to factors like water quality and mordants. Bonnie also mentions her cotton cultivation project and the various cotton varieties she grows, which come in brown, green, and white (who knew!) and her extensive dyeing garden, which features around 80 different plants used for natural dyeing. She discusses the challenges of growing certain plants and the need to rotate beds due to soil nutrient depletion. Bonnie shares tips for those interested in natural dyeing, including online resources, books, and the use of simple jars to start experimenting. Bonnie doesn't hold back in sharing her wealth of knowledge about natural dyeing and crafting techniques. Listen as she guides us on how to duplicate a fabric color, manage a dyeing garden and the intricacies of dyeing natural fibers. She touches on her experiments with natural dyes, highlighting the challenges of achieving consistent colors due to factors like water quality and mordants. Bonnie also mentions her cotton cultivation project and the various cotton varieties she grows, which come in brown, green, and white (who knew!). She talks about spinning wool, the different tools used, and the importance of this skill in our everyday life. Bonnie also discusses the challenges of growing certain plants and the need to rotate beds due to soil nutrient depletion. She shares tips for those interested in natural dyeing, including online resources, books, and the use of simple jars to start experimenting. You’ll be inspired by her stories and pick up some great advice if you're looking to get started in natural dyeing or spinning. So tune in to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley, get comfy, and let Bonnie take you on a journey through the wonderful world of natural dyes and handcrafts. Hosts: Jean Thomas and Annie Scibienski Guest: Bonnie Warwick Photo by: Teresa Golden Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 91: Meet Lisa Gallina, CCE Executive Director

In this episode of Nature Calls, we're delighted to sit down with Lisa Gallina, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), Columbia and Greene Counties. Lisa's journey to CCE started with her early involvement in Cornell's Extension programs through 4-H in Dutchess County, New York. Her career path is a unique blend of environmental management, high-tech recruiting, and a return to her true passion for environmental education. Throughout our conversation, Lisa's unwavering commitment to youth programs and educational initiatives shines through, reflecting her experiences across colleges, nonprofits, and CCE programs. As the Executive Director, Lisa's role encompasses a multitude of responsibilities. She describes herself as a catalyst for positive change, emphasizing her focus on nurturing a vibrant organizational culture within CCE, ensuring financial stability, and fostering professional growth among the staff. Lisa also delves into the historical significance of Cooperative Extension programs, rooted in the Morrill Act of 1862, highlighting their pivotal role in bridging the gap between research-based knowledge and local communities. Our discussion with Lisa offers a glimpse into the diverse array of programs provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension. From youth-oriented endeavors like 4-H to comprehensive master programs for adults, including Master Gardeners and Master Forest Owners, these initiatives have a profound impact on individuals and communities alike. Lisa's passion for community engagement and her vision for a future where people unite to learn and collaborate shine through, making this episode a source of inspiration and hope for a more interconnected and informed society. Tune in to this insightful conversation for a compelling exploration of education, community building, and positive change. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest: Lisa Gallina, Executive Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Columbia and Greene Counties Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 90: Food, Plants, and Forks

Join us in this exciting podcast triple-feature! In Patch to Plate: Peppers and Tomatoes, Master Gardener Volunteer Annie Scibienski shares her expertise on growing and savoring these flavorful Hudson Valley garden favorites. Discover the joys of growing and enjoying tomatoes and peppers and how these garden favorites can be the stars of your menu planning as she discusses their unique qualities and offers valuable insights into incorporating them into your meals. If you're looking for inspiration or are looking for a simple, under-30-minute dinner ideas, Annie has you covered with delicious recipes you won't want to miss. Then, in Good Plant, Bad Plant: Asters and Tree of Heaven, Tim Kennelty explores the ecological impact of these distinct plants, from native asters to the invasive Tree of Heaven. Asters, once known as New World asters, are now classified under a different genera, particularly Symphyotrichum. These native plants offer vibrant colors in purple, pink and white while also supporting late-season pollinators, making them an excellent addition to your garden. On the flip side, the invasive Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), is a non-native plant that has wreaked havoc in many ecosystems, including New York’s. As he describes, it’s critical to manage this troublesome plant, which also serves as the primary host for the destructive spotted lanternfly. Listen and learn how to identify, control, and support your local ecosystem. Lastly, on the inaugural episode of The Grateful Shed: Garden Forks, Annie comes back to introduce you to the essential garden fork and its versatile uses, along with other fork types. Dive into the world of garden tools and elevate your gardening skills. As a new addition to the Nature Calls line-up, this segment of The Grateful Shed, introduces you to the world of garden tools. The garden fork, also known as a spading or digging fork, has many versatile uses, from loosening soil to mixing compost. Learn why choosing a fork with an ash or hickory handle is essential for long-lasting performance. She also dives into other types of forks, including the pitchfork, broad fork (or u-fork), and hand fork, explaining their specific purposes and benefits. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a beginner, understanding these tools will help you maintain a successful garden. Don't miss out on this informative episode to help you elevate your gardening knowledge and skills! Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guests: Annie Scibienski and Tim Kennelty Photo by: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 89: Gardening with Native Perennials

Prepare to embark on a captivating journey into the realm of native perennials in this engaging episode of "Nature Calls Conversations from the Hudson Valley." Co-host Tim Kennelty, our resident expert, is your guide as we explore these remarkable, sustainable garden wonders. Whether you're a gardening novice or a seasoned pro, this episode promises valuable insights into the world of native perennials, their resilience, and their magnetic allure to pollinators. Our exploration spans the seasons, from the early whispers of spring to the full bloom of summer and beyond. Tim generously shares his wealth of knowledge, highlighting how these hardy plants are not only easy to cultivate but also require less water and fertilizer. The ecological significance of native perennials in supporting vital pollinators like butterflies and bees becomes abundantly clear. Join us for an enlightening discussion on how to cultivate native perennials in your own green space. Tim's passion and expertise shines through as he provides guidance on choosing the right plants and understanding their unique characteristics. By tuning in, you'll gain the know-how to create a thriving garden that not only enhances your surroundings but also contributes positively to the local ecosystem. Don't miss this opportunity to nurture your gardening skills and connect with the natural world. Hit that play button, and let's embark on this exciting journey together, discovering the magic of native perennials and their role in sustaining our environment. Host: Jean Thomas Guest: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, Annie Scibienski Resources Photo by Jay Williams


Episode 88: Library of Local

In this episode of "Nature Calls Conversations from the Hudson Valley", Annie and Jean sit down with Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, the Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS), to embark on an inspiring journey through the Library of Local, a remarkable initiative born from a partnership between Partners for Climate Action Hudson Valley and the Mid-Hudson Library System. This innovative project is changing the way local communities interact with climate change and ecological repair by providing library patrons with a diverse collection of resources. From books and films to seeds and shovels, the Library of Local (LOL) equips individuals with the tools they need to take meaningful action in addressing the climate crisis and fostering a harmonious relationship with nature. At the heart of the LOL project are the 15 hand-built architectural displays created by local artist Johnny Poux. Each of these installations houses nearly 200 locally sourced books, forming a vital knowledge repository for those eager to learn about sustainable living and environmental stewardship. The seed library, essential gardening tools, and AV equipment make it even more accessible for community members to embark on their ecological journeys. What sets the Library of Local apart is its commitment to community education and engagement. The LOL team organizes a dynamic monthly schedule of in-person and virtual events, along with community meetings. These gatherings provide a platform for individuals to learn from experts, exchange ideas, and collectively work towards a greener, more sustainable future. Don't miss out! Join us on this eco-adventure and discover how libraries are becoming hubs for sustainability and environmental action. Whether you're a seasoned environmentalist or just starting on your journey, the Library of Local has something to offer everyone! Hosts: Annie Scibienski and Jean Thomas Guest: Rebekkah Smith Aldrich Photo: Used with permission from Laura Crisci, MHLS Library Sustainability Coordinator Production Support: Linda Aydett, Teresa Golden, Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 87: Annuals 101

Annuals, a term dating back to the 14th century, are plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season or single year. That means, they germinate, flower, set seed and die in one season. Annuals are loved because they bloom throughout the spring and summer. Typically, smaller than perennials, they don’t have time to focus on gaining height but rather expend their energy on flowering since they only last a single season. They come in a wide variety of beautiful colors and shapes. After the first frost, they’ll die off and typically won’t regrow the following year, although you might find that some of their seeds may germinate. Master Gardener Volunteer, Maureen Mooney, joins the podcast, Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley, in an informative discussion about popular annual flowers that grow in New York State. As part of the 101 series, this episode is geared towards new gardeners as well as those who have lots of experience under their belts. Whether used in containers or garden beds, most annuals thrive in full sun. They can be grown from seed or purchased as plants to add lots of color in your garden. Less expensive than perennials, they are great plants to experiment with, as you can replace them the next season in different spot or replant them in a different color to change things up. Maureen talks about many of her favorites including zinnias, celosia, larkspur, and others that also make great flowers for a cutting garden. Hosts: Jean Thomas and Annie Scibienski Guest: Maureen Mooney Photo by: Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 86: Long Table Harvest

While you may have heard about ‘gleaning’, do you actually know what it is? In a gardening and nature context, gleaning is about the gathering of leftover grain or other product after a harvest. Long Table Harvest, which serves Columbia, Dutchess and Greene Counties, is a non-profit organization that enables sustainable food surplus redistribution by connecting local farm surpluses with emergency food sites and community based organizations. Unfortunately, the current state of food insecurity is such that food pantries and other sites continue to report record high usage, upwards of 50% increases since 2020, which has been attributed both to the pandemic and the current imbalance in the cost of living relative to wages. When Long Table Harvest was established in 2016, they stepped into an emergency food system that was lacking in quality fresh food options. Since then, they have provided a unique food distribution service to a variety of sites -- providing fresh produce, meat and dairy from predominantly organic growers to improve options and accessibility. Their gleaning program, launched in 2016, is based on strong partnerships with area farms which provide reliable weekly distributions of fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins to food pantries, youth programs, senior living centers, subsidized housing, and community organizations. They work with over 64 farms from June through November, to pick-up already harvested produce, and then distributing tens of thousands of pounds of food to over 30 recipient sites on the same day to maintain peak freshness. Gleaning in the winter months is more sporadic, with the occasional distribution of storage vegetables. A seedling program helps residents grow their own food and a meat and cheese program rounds out the types of food that is distributed. Learn from co-founder, Aravah Berman-Mirkin, and gleaning coordinator, Sarah Grinberg about their work and its impact on local food pantries and the community. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Annie Scibienski Guests: Aravah Berman-Mirkin and Sarah Grinberg Photo by: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 85: Oaks and Melons

Oaks (trees or shrubs in the genus Quercus of the beech family Fagaceae) are a favorite tree in New York. The mighty oak has earned this reputation due to its towering size, its historical, timber and ecological value, as well as its role in American (and human) culture. A symbol of strength and endurance, the oak is a key hardwood forest tree that can live for several hundred years. It is also a critical host tree for many types of pollinators. Its acorns and leaves contain tannic acid which helps to guard against fungi and insects. But did you know that it can take up to 17 years before an oak tree bears its first crop of acorns? While the Quercus family is native to the Northern Hemisphere, there are about 500 existing species of oaks but only 16 are native to New York State. Locally, they can be typically categorized into white oaks (quercus alba), whose acorns form in a single season, and black oaks (which include red oaks), which take two seasons to form their acorns. Other parts of the country and the world host other varieties including the evergreen live oak which can be found in the southern United States. Because of their longevity (outliving humans), oaks are known as witness trees. Learn from the Nature Calls: Conversations of the Hudson Valley podcast team as they share stories about oak trees and provide examples of what some of these trees have witnessed throughout history. But then, there’s more. Melons are the topic of discussion on the Patch to Plate segment with Annie Scibienski. This category includes watermelons, honeydews, and cantaloupes. A great resource, Vegetable Varieties of New York State, published by Cornell University, provides a list of vegetables and fruits (including melons) that are rated highly to grow well in New York State. Get your taste buds watering with descriptions of recipes for watermelon salad, watermelon pickles, and grilled cantaloupe. There’s a lot to take in on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Enjoy! Hosts:Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guests: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, Tim Kennelty, Annie Scibienski, and Jean Thomas Photo by: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 84: Making a New Garden Bed 101

Learn about the basics of Making a New Garden Bed with Master Gardener Tim Kennelty, based in Columbia County is an avid gardener, naturalist forest owner, and co-founder of the podcast, Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Tim delivers numerous presentations on multiple gardening topics and is known for his love of native plants. Tim suggests that you start with assessing what you want to plant (vegetables, annuals or perennials) and the amount of time, energy, and money you’re willing to invest with a new garden bed. Checking out your neighbors’ gardens, or visiting public gardens, at different times of the year, can give you lots of ideas as to what you want to plant and the look you’re trying to achieve. If you are starting with a perennial garden, just realize that it may take up to 3 years for it to look ‘mature’. Remember the adage that in the first season the plants ‘sleep’, the second they start to ‘creep’ and the third year they ‘leap’. The garden will look good during this time period but make not look like a garden that has been established for several years. Keeping it simple is the best bet for a new gardener to avoid becoming overwhelmed. The key is to ensure that you pick a spot that has the appropriate sunlight, soil, and access to water to ensure success. Start small until you better understand the basics of the plants you want to use and the growing conditions on your property. Tim suggests that you test the soil to understand what kind of plants would thrive best in your soil. He also discusses different ways to prepare the soil, with methods that require a varying degree of time, energy and materials. Once the bed is prepared, Tim also talks about the merits of buying plants, or growing them from seed, as well as the need to think about the protecting your garden from any pets and/or wild critters that visit your yard. Planting either host or nectar plants for pollinators is clearly an option, as is planting ones that are deer or woodchuck resistant (unless you are willing to invest in a fence). Design elements like color, size and texture are also important considerations when selecting plants. Plant calculators might be helpful to figure out how many plants to buy to fill the area you’ve prepared. Tim offers tips on watching the weather to determine when to plant your garden bed. Wait until the soil warms up (trees/shrubs in late April, perennials in early May, and annuals in late May) before putting new plants into the ground. And, importantly, don’t forget about maintenance of the garden beds which includes watering, weeding, and potentially mulching staking, and deadheading spent flowers. The off season is a great time to assess what worked, get new ideas, and plan for the following season. Until then, learn all about the basics of starting a new garden bed on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Host: Jean Thomas Guest: Tim Kennelty Photo by: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 83: Gardening with Bulbs 101

Everyone loves flowering bulbs (e.g., tulips, daffodils, gladiolas, etc.) but many may not know how to go about ordering and planting them. Timing is critical for spring flowering bulbs that need to have a cold period before they bloom. Thus, they need to be planted in the fall. Summer flowering bulbs (including tubers and rhizomes), that are typically not cold hardy, are planted in the spring. They need to be lifted and stored indoors as they won’t survive our New York winters. Some (like cannas and begonias) may benefit from being started indoors in the spring. Planning is important for both types in order to determine how many bulbs to plant. Bulbs selection or fencing is key if you have a lot of wildlife. They should be planted at a depth that is triple their height. And don’t plant them in a row if you want them to look ‘natural’. Deadheading their stems (not their leaves) is key after flowering so that the bulbs focus on storing energy to rebloom the following year. Careful planning by placing them with other plants can help to screen the bulbs once they finish flowering. Join Master Gardener Jean Thomas on this Nature Calls 101 podcast episode to gain confidence to successfully include bulbs in your garden landscape. Host: Tim Kennelty Guest: Jean Thomas Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 82: Medicinal Plants

Did you know that Jewel Weed is a wonderful first aid plant to treat skin irritations (including poison ivy) or that Aloe Vera can be applied to minor burns? Yarrow is a meadow plant that the native peoples used to treat arthritis and to staunch bleeding, among other things. Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa) can be used to reduce swelling and can be applied to bee stings. Plantain is a favorite plant, even though it is not native, as it can used to extract the stinger from a bee sting. Elderberries can be used to strengthen the immune system, but they have to be cooked. This week, Barbara Huey joins the podcast, Nature Calls:Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Barbara is from Land Stewardship Design and her topic is native Medicinal Plants.Her parents influenced her love of nature and her time at Sage Mountain cultivated her interest in medicinal plants. She focuses mostly on plants that can be applied externally, typically for first aid, but cautions that they don’t replace the need to see health care workers. It is important to note that while medicinal plants aren’t cure-alls and they aren’t perfect, many herbs and teas offer harmless subtle ways to improve your health. However, many carry the same risks and side effects as manufactured medicines. Many of them are sold with unfounded promises. Pay attention to what the evidence says about each herb’s effectiveness as well as potential interactions or safety issues. Avoid using herbs for infants and children and for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Note that most herbs haven’t been tested for safety for those who are vulnerable, and trying herbs isn’t worth the risk. The USDA Plant ID database is the ‘go to’ resource Barbara Huey uses to identify native plants in New York and the northeast. Medicinal properties are considered secondary properties of these plants that can be bred out with newer cultivars, so the native species are always preferred. But bear in mind that more is not necessarily better when using plants for first aid. Medicinal plants provide considerable value to pollinators within the landscape. Learning about these plants can also help to increase awareness of the importance of native plants. Listen in to learn how these plants can be used and what to watch out for when considering their use for medicinal purposes. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest: Barbara Huey Photo By: Teresa Golden Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 81: Tree Selection, Planting and Maintenance

Are you interested in ensuring the beauty and safety of your landscape, and improving your property, while promoting the wellbeing of the environment? Planting trees might be a great place to start. But where should you begin? Careful tree selection, planting and maintenance is the answer. Caleb White from New Leaf Tree Services joins the Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley podcast with an informative discussion on when to engage a tree service and what to expect. Ideally, a new property owner can request a visit to better understand what is currently on the landscape, learn about the health of the existing trees, and understand what could be done to achieve a homeowner’s goals. Unfortunately, a storm event might result in uprooted trees or fallen tree limbs that require more immediate attention from a tree service to help with tree removal and/or pruning. Both situations are quite common in the Hudson Valley. Tree services often have a certified arborist on staff who is specially trained to deal with the art and science of planting, caring, maintaining, and diagnosing trees, shrubberies, and other woody plant life. These professionals have spent time and effort mastering their craft to properly and effectively manage the growth and development of trees. Caleb, who is an arborist, talks about what to look for in selecting new trees for your landscape, especially in light of climate change. He has a clear preference for native species that better suit New York’s ecology and support the insects, birds, and other wildlife. Ornamental options are okay when planted for specific reasons. Did you know that evergreens don’t like to be planted closely together? Something to consider when looking for screening on your property. Learn about the benefits of some of Caleb’s favorite trees including Red Maples, Oaks, American Linden and Eastern Redbud. Once the tree has been selected and sourced from a reputable nursery, having it properly planted is key to surviving its first year. Consider using biochar and having the soil inoculated at planting time to provide trees with the nutrients that will enable them to thrive. Proper watering is absolutely fundamental. Have you heard about a tree diaper? Existing trees also need maintenance. A tree service can evaluate the trunk structure, branch structure, cavities, bird activity, etc. to assess the health of the tree and evaluate any existing or potential risks to the home or landscape. Using a service with the proper equipment can help ensure that and canopy pruning, ornamental pruning or tree removal is done safely while also being gentle with the landscape. Listen to this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley to become better informed should you want/need to consider using a tree service in the future. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest:Caleb White (New Leaf Tree Services) Photo By: Teresa Golden Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources


Episode 80: Tomatoes

Tomatoes are often the reward for growing a summer garden. Native to South America, Mexico and Central America, the first evidence of its use for domestic cooking is from the Aztecs and other peoples in Mesoamerica. Tomatoes can be consumed either raw or cooked, and in many dishes, sauces, salads and drinks. While tomatoes are actually fruits (botanically classified as berries), they are commonly used as a vegetable ingredient. Miriam Rubin, joins Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley to talk about this popular garden staple. Miriam is a food writer, columnist, recipe developer, chef, and cookbook author. In her book Tomatoes, she explores the tomato’s rich history in southern culture. Listen in to learn about why tomatoes grow better in the South, or what makes a tomato an heirloom. In addition to describing the history of hybrid tomatoes including why they were developed; she also dishes about the best tomatoes to grow in the Hudson Valley. This is a podcast episode not to be missed! Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guest: Miriam Rubin Photo by: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, Annie Scibienski


Episode 79: Corn, Acronyms & Fruit Flies

Corn on the cob, fresh-picked from the garden, farm stand or farmer’s market, is a delightful summertime treat. Many Americans think of it as an American barbecue staple, but corn is actually a global food. Master Gardener Annie Scibienski is back with another From Patch to Plate segment. This time she talks about corn and everything that goes well with it. The long list of options will make your taste buds clamor for it. Fire-roasted corn salad anyone? Do you know the difference between an acronym versus an initialism? Both are formed by using the first letter of each word in a phrase. The difference is that acronyms are pronounced as a word, while initialisms are spoken as a list of letters. Master Gardener Jean Thomas provides various examples of each type on It’s All Greek To Me. She also demystifies ecological acronyms like AVID, CRISP and PRISM. Talking about differences, how can you tell if you have fruit flies or fungus gnats flying around your home? Master Gardeners, Jackie Hayden ad Dede Terns-Thorpe, provide the answers on this Pests and Pathogens segment. (Hint: If they are flying around your house plants, they are probably fungus gnats.)They also provide suggestions on how to get rid of them. So enjoy your New York summer with this latest episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas Guests: Annie Scibienski, Jean Thomas, Jackie Hayden, Dede Terns-Thorpe Photo by: Tim Kennelty Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski Resources