Tips and Tricks for Yard Work
by Opal Jessica Bogdan
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Taking the opportunity to venture outside and do yard work is a great way to split up monotony and allows everyone to enjoy the spring weather.
Not only does yard work double as a great exercise, but parents with children at home can use it as a learning opportunity. Mike Devine, landscape designer at Branches Landscape, recommended starting a compost bin or pile.
“People are stuck home, unfortunately, and looking to make the most of their time. A lot of us are homeschooling our children as well, so compost can have two purposes: to have a nice activity and to get the kids involved with some science,” Devine said.
To create a compost pile, Devine said a little space in the corner of a backyard is all that is needed.
The two major components of a compost pile are carbon and nitrogen. Devine said the ratio is three to one, carbon to nitrogen. A plethora of items have carbon in them, but leaves are the biggest things most people have an abundance of. Other items such as kitchen scraps can be used in the compost, such as coffee grounds, eggshells and any leftover vegetables.
Devine said there are varying degrees to a compost pile, ranging from a corner in the backyard to barrels or bins holding it. Placing the compost pile in a bin can help rotate the compost easier. Rotating helps drain any water pockets.
“If you do it correctly and don’t throw any ‘garbage’ into the compost, wild animals are never an issue,” Devine said.
Another tip Devine mentioned included cleaning areas that are normally skipped over, such a wood lines. He said going through and picking up fallen branches and raking leaves is a great way to reclaim that area as part of the landscape.
Branches Landscape is currently open. Devine said a small part of their business, property maintenance management, has been considered essential. Anything outside of spring cleanups and mowing lawn has been closed.
Creating a garden is another way to help spend time outside. Devine said gardens can be as little as 9-square-foot area on the patio of back deck. If this is the first garden, Devine recommended peas as an easy growing crop.
“Peas are a cool season crop that you could get the seeds at any hardware store. You can actually plant them now and not have to wait until Memorial Day for other more popular crops like tomatoes and what not. They need a little bit of cultivated ground and some sort of vertical support for them to grow up on. Watch out they grow quick,” Devine said.
Indoor gardening is another learning opportunity for children at home. Devine said starting squash, although they can grow large in size later on, can keep kids entertained as they watch their plant grow.
“Stick them in a window or under a grow light. Experiment and play around,” Devine said.
Drive-Through Garden Center
by Opal Jessica Bogdan
Saratoga Hewitt’s Garden Center. Photo by Jaclyn Cotter-Older.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hewitt’s Garden Center will now offer a drive-through during COVID-19 for homeowner’s lawn and garden needs.
This past weekend, Hewitts in Saratoga opened their drive-through to offer customers a different way to purchase all their lawn care and garden products.
“It was really great, Jaclyn Cotter-Older, manager, said. “We are one of the only garden centers open in the area, so everyone was excited to get their flowers and their plants.”
The drive through will be opened weather permitting. Cotter-Older said once a car arrives for the drive-through, they bring out a menu to your car. While waiting in the pickup line, customers can pick out what products they want and pull through the drive-through to pickup the items. Cotter-Older said most of the menu consists of flowers, vegetables and the nursery stock the store offers up-front.
“We want to do this because we are hoping to have the business as last year, if not better. But with COVID- 19 we can’t have that many people in the store,” Cotter-Older said.
Amid COVID-19 restrictions, the store only allows a maximum of 20 people in their greenhouse. The garden center also offers curbside pickup.
“The curb side pickup is mostly for lawn care and fertilizers,” Cotter-Older said.
She added their website has every product listed, so customers can get an idea about what products they want before arriving to the garden center. Customers can order and pay online or through the phone.
“It’s just another option to still get what you want and not have to leave the comfort of your car,” Cotter-Older said.
All seven of Hewitt’s Garden Center locations will offer the drive-through weather permitting. The store also offers a lifetime guarantee on purchased trees and plants.
by Lorraine Hopes
Photo courtesy of Lorraine Hopes.
Self-distancing becomes difficult when produce runs out at home and a trip to the grocery store must be made. However, multiple trips as often as once a week is not recommended during COVID-19. Home growing vegetables is a great way to avoid travelling during this time once the fresh produce runs out at home.
Why buy lettuce when you can grow your own?
There are many advantages to growing your own lettuce. Growing lettuce is easy and can also be a great science project to do with your kids. Not only will it give you something fun to do while we are stuck home, in a month or so you will be blessed with a multitude of healthy fresh lettuce leaves, and have the satisfaction that you grew them yourself. No more trips to the grocery store for lettuce.
Here are some tips on growing your own lettuce:
Getting seeds, pot/container, spray bottle, and soil. - If you do not have the necessary planting items there are still seeds and planting supplies out there. Do a Google search for lettuce seeds and see what seed stores come up to order from. You can order online so you do not have to go out.
Any leaf lettuce varieties are good like black seeded simpson, grand rapids, mesclun, salad bowl mixes, and micro-greens.
Once you gather the materials, fill your clean pot/container with new soil and water. The soil needs to be moist. Sprinkle lettuce seeds on soil and cover with 1/8” to 1/4” soil, do not tamp down. Cover pot/container with plastic wrap and place in a south-facing window.
Check your soil everyday. Use a spray bottle to mist/water every morning or whenever the soil looks dry.
Your lettuce should sprout in 7 to 14 days, remove plastic wrap then and continue to water. Most lettuces will reach maturity in 45 to 55 days but you can pick them when they are small too.
To keep your lettuce growing all the time you can plant another container a week or two after the first has sprouted.
Have fun and bon appétit!