Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Archive: August 2010

Garden Journal Helps You Keep Track and Compare

Posted in Gardening Tips on August 31 2010, by Plant Talk

Written by Burpee Home Gardens Team. Burpee Home Gardens is a Supporting Sponsor of The Edible Garden.

How did your vegetable garden do this year? We’re sure you have numerous anecdotes about how much your garden yielded and how tasty the vegetables were. You can probably communicate about which pests visited, how the weather affected your plants, etc. That’s great! Gardeners love to share all their gardening stories with others.

Now. How did your vegetable garden do this year compared to two years ago? If that question is not so easy to answer, what you need is a gardening journal. This is a handwritten notebook or computer-based document that can be your go-to gardening resource. It’s your chance to record all of the great (and not so great) things that happened this planting season: From the number of plants you put in the ground and the various vegetable varieties you tried, to your weekly/daily maintenance of each plant and how they ultimately performed. Keeping track of this type of information helps make you a better, more prepared gardener when next season rolls around.

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Tip of the Week: The Underused, But Delicious, Pawpaw

Posted in Gardening Tips on August 30 2010, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education. Join her each weekend for home gardening demonstrations on a variety of topics in the Home Gardening Center.

Lee Reich, author of The Pruning Book, an authoritative and accessible account of pruning techniques, gets part of his passion for pruning from his insatiable curiosity about and his desire to grow every type of fruit possible in the Northeast.

I was visiting his garden up in New Paltz in July and spent the day wandering through carefully caged and guarded blueberries (against the birds, not me) and arbors of grapes and hardy kiwis (Actinidia).The garden overflowed with fruit in all shapes and sizes ranging from alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) in containers and Nanking cherries (Prunus tomentosa) lining the driveway to medlars (Mespilus germanica) and cornelian cherries (Cornus mas) spotted around the garden.

One of the most breathtaking sites was his allée of pawpaws (Asimina triloba). They are small- to medium-size trees that grow to about 25 feet in height, with large, lush tropical foliage that is reminiscent of an avocado.

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Fairytale Eggplants Keep Things Light in Summer

Posted in Exhibitions, The Edible Garden on August 27 2010, by Plant Talk

Cooking Demo to Showcase these Pinky-sized Jewels in Caponata

Rebecca Lando is writer, producer, and host of the Web series Working Class Foodies. She will present cooking demonstration along with Chef Brendan McDermott at The Edible Garden Conservatory Kitchen on Saturday, August 28, at 1 and 3 p.m.

Eggplant is kind of the middle child of the summer farmer’s market.

Inedible raw unlike tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, and more complex to prepare than grilled or boiled corn, eggplant seems to stand out for all the wrong reasons: its dense flesh and generally heavy preparation can make it a bit of an overlooked anomaly. The time and degree of cooking generally necessary for eggplant makes it an awkward summer crop, seemingly out of place when you’re craving a light, refreshing dinner.

My mother used to halve and hollow large eggplants, stuff them with a sauteed mix of ground lamb, cubed eggplant flesh, onion, olives, and spices, top them with cheese, and broil them until the cheese was bubbly and the eggplant skin was crispy. Delicious and filling, but it would be torturous to eat in summer. Likewise, eggplant parmesan is too heavy for the hot months, and even a cooling baba ghanouj means turning on the oven.

But eggplant is far more versatile than you might think. Sliced thick and rubbed with a paste of olive oil, sea salt, crushed hot pepper, oregano, and lemon juice, then thrown on the grill, it’s a hearty and healthy alternative to steak. Cooked the same way and then cut down into cubes, it’s a fantastic base for a rustic Provencal ratatouille.

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Kid-to-Kid Vegetable Gardening Tips

Posted in Exhibitions, Learning Experiences, The Edible Garden on August 26 2010, by Plant Talk

9-Year-Old Everett Sanderson Offers 9 Tips to Get Growing

Elizabeth Fisher is Associate Manager for Education Marketing and Public Relations.

Everett Sanderson is a talented soon-to-be fifth grader who has spent most of his nine summers gardening in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, helping his mom, Han-Yu Hung, who is Garden Coordinator of the Children’s Gardening Program. In the Family Garden, kids work hands-on growing fruits and vegetables, learning that food, fun, health, and teamwork are connected. This year their garden plots have been in the spotlight as part of The Edible Garden.

Unlike most 9-year-olds, Everett is an accomplished gardener and a lover of veggies. Harvesting is what hooked him at first: “I realized that in order to harvest, you have to grow it, and in order to grow it, you have to plant it,” said Everett. Gardening also helped him to love eating vegetables: “If you can plant it, you have a better chance of liking it.”

Now a veteran of the Children’s Gardening Program, Everett, who lives in the Bronx, started gardening at age 3 as a “Garden Sprout” and is now a “Garden Crafter,” leading gardening lessons and hands-on activities.

He shares these helpful tips for kids to get their own gardens growing.

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Tour the Award-Winning Rose Garden

Posted in Programs and Events on August 25 2010, by Plant Talk

Suzanne Flanagan is Group Tours Coordinator.

Above the Peggy Rockefeller Rose GardenGuided tours give visitors an added boost of knowledge beyond exploring the Garden on one’s own. Each time I’ve embarked on one of our tours, I’ve learned bountiful gardening tips and scientific and historical facts.

That’s why I am especially excited and honored that Peter Kukielski, Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden Curator, has agreed to take groups on a tour of the award-winning, world-renowned Rose Garden during its spectacular fall bloom.

Peter’s passion for roses is inspirational. Over the past two years he and staff have replaced hundreds of roses with disease-resistant varieties, transforming the Rose Garden into one of the most sustainable public rose gardens in the world. Today 3,659 rose plants in 607 varieties thrive there. Earlier this year the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden was inducted into the Great Rosarians of the World™ Rose Garden Hall of Fame.

Peter will be available to lead one-hour tours of the Rose Garden on September 16, October 7, or October 14. Tours include a private tram ride to and from the Rose Garden. You don’t have to come with a group, as we are signing up individuals to form groups of at least 15. For more information or to sign up, call Group Tours at 718-817-TOUR (8687) or e-mail

Tip of the Week: Edible Garden Features Eggplants

Posted in Gardening Tips on August 23 2010, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education. Join her each weekend for home gardening demonstrations on a variety of topics in the Home Gardening Center.

When I grow vegetables, I count on a wide array of cooking magazines and celebrity chef’s to challenge and stretch my imagination so that I can find creative ways to prepare my bounty.

The other day I was flipping through a cooking magazine featuring Greek cuisine. I perused the magazine with interest, since one of our Celebrity Chef Kitchen Gardens for The Edible Garden was created by Chef Michael Psilakis, owner of Kefi and author of How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking. (He will present a cooking demonstration at the Conservatory Kitchen on October 16 as part of Fall Finale Weekend.)

Michael’s garden bed is filled with dandelion greens, grapevines, arugula, mint, dill, tomatoes, artichokes, and eggplants. His culinary style is a sophisticated Greek modern fusion that seamlessly combines fish or meat with vegetables, spices, and herbs.

The magazine’s stuffed eggplant recipe (from another Greek chef) caught my interest. Eggplants stuffed with lamb, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic, seasoned with cinnamon, oregano, cloves and nutmeg. Yum. That’s delicious, culturally complex, comfort food if you ask me.

Eggplants are a favorite of mine in the vegetable garden. A staple of the warm season crops (those planted after the last frost date), eggplants love the heat, and I generally wait until June 1 to set my transplants into warm soil.

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Chef Pichet Ong’s Adventure in Beets

Posted in Exhibitions, The Edible Garden on August 20 2010, by Plant Talk

From Traumatic Childhood Episode to Experimental Dishes

Pichet Ong is chef and owner of P*ong and Village Tart, and author of The Sweet Spot. He will present cooking demonstrations at The Edible Garden Conservatory Kitchen on Sunday, August 22, at 1 and 3 p.m.

I was born an adventurous eater. While the lunchboxes of my elementary school mates were filled with aluminum-wrapped peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, and egg salad sandwiches, mine often had well seasoned leftovers from our previous night’s family dinner—duck liver and minced quail stir-fry, bitter melon soup, twice-cooked pork belly, or potato vinaigrette with Sichuan peppercorns.

I remember the first time I had beets; my mother, Ruby, warned me: It’s not like eating a red plum, steak tartare, or raw tuna. She also promised me, like with all red foods, including watermelon, that it is good for the blood.

My first taste of beets came in the form of a borscht—a traditional Eastern European soup that made its way into modern Chinese cuisine due to the Chinese’s obsession with red-colored food. Inspired by the Hong Kong-style borscht, which is beef- stocked based with tomatoes, ketchup, and red vinegar (which has food dye), and last night’s leftover vegetables thrown in, my mother came up with an all-natural version that incorporates beetroots in lieu of artificial color in the recipe. More vibrant in fuchsia and red tones, and tastier than the ubiquitous version found in restaurants, despite my mother’s warning, I helped myself to seconds at the dinner table, and even packed up some for my lunch the next day. The next morning when I went to the boy’s room, I understood—explicitly—my mother’s warning. I left for school queasy, confused, and mellow—sans borscht.

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Two Honeybee Hives Pollinate, Fascinate in Family Garden

Posted in Learning Experiences, Wildlife on August 19 2010, by Plant Talk

See Honey Taken from Hive Saturday as Part of National Celebration

Toby Adams is Manager of the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden.

Every day during the gardening season, the Family Garden is a hive of activity hours before visitors arrive. A diverse staff—coordinators, instructors, explainers, volunteers, and interns—zip about this way and that, preparing for the day’s programs. I’ve described this scene as resembling a beehive—the many tasks to be accomplished are shared by everyone, with necessary details divided and completed.

Veteran staff mentor new arrivals in how to get tiny seeds and delicate plantings off to a good start. Difficult projects are completed through teamwork and cooperation, and the most unglamorous but important of chores (cleaning the tools and washing the dirty dishes) taken on by a willing hand for the benefit of the group.

I’ve come to realize that this analogy to a beehive is most appropriate. Since May 1, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to witness the activity of a real beehive while helping to manage our newest addition to the Family Garden—two honeybee hives placed on top of our garage.

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Chili Peppers Stand the Heat

Posted in Exhibitions, The Edible Garden on August 18 2010, by Plant Talk

How Hot Can You Tolerate? Visit Trial Bed in Home Gardening Center

Some might say this summer’s weather has been hotter than a chili pepper. But there are some really intense chili peppers out there! During The Edible Garden, the Home Gardening Center is featuring a Chili Pepper Trial Bed, highlighting 48 plants of 12 cultivars in a range of colors, sizes, and heat intensity.

The chili pepper is thought to be the most popular spice: Over 20 percent of the world’s population uses it in some form. Famous for a hot flavor, there are many different cultivated types, each with distinct characteristics.

The term chili pepper is used for several of the nearly 25 species in the genus Capsicum, all of which originated in Central and South America. The two most common species are Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens.

The level of the pungent compound capsaicin is what accounts for the pungency or heat in chilies. Some peppers are so pungent that farmers and cooks need to wear gloves to protect their skin, which can become irritated or blistered just by touching the peppers.

The hotness of a chili pepper is measured in Scoville Heat Units, named after the U.S. pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville who in 1912 invented a hotness gauge. On the Scoville scale, a sweet pepper scores 0, a jalapeño pepper around 3,000, and a Mexican habañero a scorching 500,000.

The Chili Pepper Trial Bed is arranged according to the Scoville scale and includes Capsicum chinese ‘Bhut Jolokia’ from India, which registers over 1 million Scoville units! Labels in the garden indicate how hot each pepper is.

Come visit the trial bed and The Edible Garden to get ideas on which types you’d like to try—in your garden and in your cooking. On Saturday, September 25, we’ll present a home gardening demonstration on chili peppers, Some Like It Hot, as part of the Fiesta de Flores y Comida festival weekend, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with flowers, food, dancing, cooking demonstrations (with Chef Maricel Presilla and others), and more.

Get Your Tickets