July 2009


July 18th, 2009


Meeting Minutes



In attendance: Mark, Cara, Ms. Covington, Stephanie, Judy, Jennifer, Adam, Mohammed, Mohammed’s mother, Kirk, Ally, Carmen, Pat Gatherer, Gina, Frank, Yodit, Margaret, Hannah, Rachel Berkowitz, Rachel Sousa, Rachel Morrisson, John Ryan, Chitra, Val, Lon, Sarah, Claire, Deema, Michael Maddox, Anabelle 


Ice Breaker


What have meals have you made from your garden harvest so far this season?


Cara made a dish with our fennel, with leeks and a cream sauce 


Mark made Sweet Ann Sugar Snap Peas, cooked for five minutes with butter, salt and pepper 


Frank made String beans in tomato sauce (made with tomatoes from the San Maranzano region, at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius) 


Carmen made Collard greens with turkey necks, onions and garlic


Jennifer made a pesto from her basil with chicken parmesan  


Chitra made a beet curry (from her CSA) with coconut, lemon juice and mustard seeds 


Ally made side salad from the garden to eat along side spicy tomato based gazpacho 


Hannah made fried sage on pasta (and on eggs it has a sausage-like flavor for vegetarians!)


Gina used basil from the apprentice plot in her tomato sauce


John Ryan made a rhubarb tart and a string bean stir fry


Kirk roasted carrots and beets


Covie made collard greens with bacon, ham, butter and onions


Sarah made a quiche with her rainbow swiss chard


Rachel M. made a garlic scape pesto (from her CSA)


Val made a boy choy (from her CSA) soup with big noodles


Claire made salsa from the cherry tomatoes, peppers and cilantro from her roof


Judy made sauteed peas and beets and carrots


Stephanie has made bok choy, and arugula and wondered about when to pick peas


Pat made swiss chard, sauteed with garlic and olive oil



1) The New Compost Bin Construction 

The proposal to add $420 from the garden’s holdings to the compost construction project was passed.  The materials to build the bins has been ordered and will take 3-4 weeks.  The goal is to be installing the constructed bins in late August.

Thanks to the composting committee for all their hard work!


2) Gina attended a City Tree Bed workshop at the BBG and reported back to the garden.

Importance of street trees: 1) shade, 2) they clean the air, 3) increased biodiversity, 4) noise buffers, 5) increased property values, 6) slows soil erosion, 7) lower temperature on street, 8) provide rainwater absorption 

Good Practices for Street Tree Care: 1) remove some of the cobblestones can allow more rainwater to get to the roots, 2) the ideal mulch conditions are to mulch as far out as the canopy of branches, 3) take out old mulch, 4) when you mulch, do not mulch up to the trunk – leave some space between the mulch and the bark, 5) Christmas tree branches make a good mulch, 6) when breaking up tightly compacted soil, do it gently to avoid bruising/scraping the roots and leaving them susceptible to disease, 7) call 311 to remove stumps, 8) plantings in tree beds are beneficial, in terms of beautification but also because they encourage increased watering of the bed, 9) when planting flowers in tree beds, perennials are better than annuals because they do not have to be dug up (which may disturb the tree’s roots, 10) when you plant flowers, make sure you can still see some soil in the bed (don’t over plant)

Curb-side Compost?: Gina also learned about a new compost pick-up.  More information can be found at bokashi.com 

Million Trees NYC (http://www.milliontreesnyc.org/): An initiative to plant 1 million new trees in New York City in the next ten years.  They are encouraging New Yorkers to adopted 1-3 local city trees in their own neighborhoods and take care of them. 

Thank you Gina!

It was also suggested that watering the flowers in the tree pits on the block could be done during Open Hours, or for anyone in the garden looking for something to do.


3) The Events Committee on Upcoming Garden Events

Movie night: The garden is having a movie night next Friday, July 24th at sundown.  At the meeting, we decided to show Amelie.  For those unfamiliar, Amelie is a movie about a quirky French woman who orchestrates events to forge connections amongst her neighbors… but will she find love herself?  You’ll have to come on Friday night to find out.  Save the date and bring your friends.  Or save your friends, and bring a date.  Either way, spread the word.  This event is open to the public.


Getting to Know Your Fellow Gardeners Full Moon Soiree: On August 6th, we are going to have a potluck cocktail party with a band for members of the garden and their friends and family to come together.  There will be more information about this event as we get closer to it, but for now, please save the date.  This event is an internal community building event for Hollenback gardeners and their guests

On the Horizon: The Annual Triple Threat (Yard Sale/Bake Sale/BBQ Movie Night), a September Wine Tasting and a Halloween all day extravaganza for kids. 

Thank you to the Events Committee!

Best Practice Sharing

July’s Topic: Water

There is a wide breadth of gardening experience within the garden.  To take advantage of the gift of having so many of our gardeners together, we would like to spend some time at each meeting sharing some of our ideas around a given topic.  This month’s topic was “Water”.

Some Ideas for Best Practice Around Water

1) Stephanie said, ideally we should water our plants in the morning.  In the middle of the day, the sun will cause most of the water to evaporate before it can soak down to the roots.  Watering at night can make some plants more susceptible to disease.  Of course, watering whenever you can is better than not watering at all.

2) Cara suggested watering the soil, not the plant.

3) Cara also suggested really soaking the soil.  One time, after she had watered a plant, she brushed aside some of the top layer of “very wet” soil and found that the water had not really gotten very deep at all.  The soil was dry, a half and inch down.

4) Rachel S. suggested using one full watering can for every mature plant (and her tomatoes would seem to suggest that her practice is worth trying!)

5) Judy suggested a rotation when watering.  If you have a spot that is particularly dry, water it and then water the rest of your plants, and then come back to that dry space and water it more.

6) Ally suggested having a level plot.  Water likes to run down hill, and if the soil in your plot is pitched, and you are not careful, some of the water you intend for some plants, will end up over watering other plants more “downhill”

7) Vlada suggested making a trench around the stem, so water can collect and seep down to the roots.  She also suggested making a slight incline towards plants that require more water. 

8) Vlada also suggested taking off the lower leaves off the plant.  This will encourage the plant to put more of its energy into producing fruit.  It also can help prevent disease from infecting the plant.

9) We also discussed the garden’s dedication to using our collected rainwater first, before using the water from the city tap

10) We also discussed the importance spilling out standing water when it occurs.  This helps prevent mosquitos from laying their eggs

11) We also looked at the black pickle barrel across from the apple tree where Marisa is engaged in an experiment in rainwater catchment.  The barrel has a mesh top which allows rainwater to fall into the bin.  But the spaces in the mesh are too small for mosquitos to pass through it.  There was some confusion about the awkwardness in removing the mesh, until Mark demonstrated that the entire lid can be unscrewed (like with any other pickle barrel) very easily.

12) Mark also shared something he enjoys about the rainwater harvester.  In addition to providing us with free and sustainable water, it provides a service to the city.  New York City has a Combined Sewer Overflow system.  That means rainwater from our roof, from the street, water from our toilets, sinks, bathtubs, showers, washers all end up in the same system.  About 70 times a year, that system has more water than it can handle and overflows to the tune of about 27 billion gallons of waste water into creeks, rivers and bays.  Any water that we can keep from that overloaded system helps lessen the environmental fall out from this overflow.  Our system is small, but every little bit counts.  Our garden itself also helps in this regard, as all of our plants and soil absorb rainwater, as opposed to it draining off the concrete sidewalks and streets into the sewer system.


For more information about rainwater harvesting, check out http://www.waterresourcesgroup.org (the people who helped Hollenback get its rainwater harvester)

Common Area Planning Share

We have decided to focus the development of our new common areas, one space at a time.  The first area we intend to develop is the space between the rainwater harvester and the composting toilet.  We went around the circle and let everyone speak for 1 minute (or less) about what they would like to see in the space and how they think the space should serve the garden.  The notes from our Brainstorm will be added shortly.


The brainstorm will be taken under advisement by the Common Area Design Committee.  The Common Area Design Committee is currently Rachel, Suzanne, Ruth, Cody, Deema, Sarah, Mark (and any one else who is interested in developing a proposal for the space to be brought back to the larger garden membership for approval)

Respectfully Submitted

Mark Trushkowsky



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