West 104th Street Garden

October 26, 2009

4Brooklyn College Soil Study

Filed under: Gardening Tips,News — by west104garden @ 9:43 am

The 104th Street Community Garden participated in a soil study performed by The Brooklyn College Environmental Sciences Analytic Center. The following is a preliminary release regarding soil samples throughout the city. The overall results do not necessarily reflect the health of our own garden, but do indicate alarming levels of heavy metals, including lead, in New York City soils. We eagerly await the results of the follow up study and will report any results specific to our garden, when the report becomes available.

Brooklyn College results:

“The Brooklyn College Soil Analysis lab received many soil samples from residents throughout New York City. The lab analyzed heavy metal content in the soil with some surprising results. Lead content in some soils were sometimes as high as 2000ppm. As a follow-up pilot study we would like to measure the air quality in and around some of these gardens. Looking at the air quality may show us whether particulates from the soil are getting into the air, and we would like to see if this is happening and to what degree people are breathing in heavy metals as they work/play around the soil. By performing this pilot study we would like to determine if we need to expand our research not into just soil analysis but into air quality surrounding community and private gardens throughout NYC.”

For more information about lead in NYC gardens, read the New York Times article:

For Urban Gardeners, Lead Is a Concern, May 13, 2009

Lead Remediation tips recommended in this article include:

  • The best approach to avoiding lead contamination in gardens is what we do at the West 104th Street Garden: Build raised or contained beds lined with landscape fabric and filled with uncontaminated soil. Plants that are grown in containers with soils from a garden center are unlikely to contain high amounts of lead.
  • Replace the contaminated soil or alkalinize it by adding lime or organic matter such as compost. Higher alkalinity (pH level above 7) allows soil particles to bind with lead, making it less likely to be absorbed by plants and the human body if the dirt is inadvertently inhaled or ingested.
  • Plant kitchen gardens with fruiting crops like tomatoes, squash, eggplant, corn and beans, which do not readily accumulate lead.
  • Avoid lead-leaching crops, such as herbs, leafy greens and root vegetables such as potatoes, radishes and carrots.
  • Planting greens, specifically Indian mustard and spinach, for a couple of seasons before growing crops intended for food. This phytoremediation, or plant-based mitigation, allows lead to be removed from the soil. These plants must not be eaten or composted, but disposed of as toxic waste.
  • To avoid contamination from lead dust blowing in the wind or rain splashing off lead-painted structures, situate gardens away from buildings.
  • Wash edible produce thoroughly with water containing 1 percent vinegar or 0.5 percent soap.
  • $

  • Cover soil with sod in areas where you are not planning a garden.

October 21, 2009

Retaining Wall Updated Information, 10/20/09

Filed under: Notices — by west104garden @ 9:28 am

1) Contractor chosen, budgeted, now awaiting sign offs by four City departments before it can be legally awarded:

Dept. of Investigation — checking history of credit, qualifications, performance, etc.,

Dept. of Finance — to approve budget assigned for all 5-boros overall,

Office of Budget & Management — to corroborate overall budget,

Office of Controller — triple-checking previous 2 reports.

Used to take 2-3 weeks for investigation, but policy/personnel changed six months ago, no way to predict how soon investigation completed. Once signed off by all four, it would take approximately 3 weeks to get up and running. We’re second on list of priorities — will be done in conjunction with another garden/park on W.135th St.

2) Parks/Contractor can give some help in transplanting — dig trenches for placing plants — but would appreciate/expect help from gardeners to know what plants to move.

3) Contractor would have to replace damaged or removed property: replace fence. Normally part of individual contract per site.

4) Parks has generic list of plants from which it might be able to replace some damaged shrubs, plants. They’ve done so in past.

5) Concrete/mortar can be worked at temps above 20 degrees, so not a problem to do this in wintertime. Waiting till Spring would lose us whole planting season. They have method(s) to warm the earth when required.

6) Depending on kind of equipment Contractor has/uses, might be able to bring machinery in through western half of garden, across lawn, then to east fence/retaining wall site. Can’t know at moment. I have requested they take a hard look at using manual labor, with the possibility of our subsidizing part of any additional cost.

7) Some beds will have to be redone, especially if manual labor is minimal: the four starting with the Memorial Bed thru to Cassie Wright’s bed definitely; communal beds along that section of East fence, probably the one at end of BBQ patio and on either side of steps down behind 12 W. bldg. Don’t/won’t know of others until Contract is legally awarded and a Meeting held with the possible solutions presented.

8) New temporary home for cats, away from work area at rear of garden , probably good idea.

If I have further information, before tomorrow’s Meeting, I will send it along.

There was no additional information.

// LM

October 9, 2009

Regional Gardening News

Filed under: Gardening Tips — by west104garden @ 12:52 pm

Mid-Atlantic Regional Reminders from National Gardening Association:

What to do in October:

Build a Cold Frame
Dispose of Used Flame Weeder Canisters Properly
Don’t Fret As Conifers Shed
Notice and Record WOW Color and Plant Combos
Leave Root Veggies Underground

More Regional Gardening News at:

October 5, 2009

October Calendar

Filed under: Events,Notices — by west104garden @ 12:18 pm

Hi all —

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, Rose Cte. Cleanup Work Session 5-7 PM Setting up shrubs, maze lawn for the winter dormancy season.

SATURDAY, Oct. 17, Final Garden Workday, 10AM meeting — project(s) TBA for workday following.

SATURDAY. Oct. 24. Fall Festival from 12 Noon to 4PM-ish, replete with vendors, ethnic foods:
Call Julie to arrange vendor table, prices, etc., at 212-316-2964. Call Paula/Raleigh to volunteer to set up tables, chairs, staff garden booth//table, make/post flyers, etc.
SATURDAY, Oct. 24, 1PM- 3PM 9th Annual Halloween Party for kids up to 12 years, with parents and grandparents too! Costume Parade, spooky games, devilish-ly delicious snacks, and prizes, too. Volunteer to help Lou decorate the grounds for this event: 212-666-6732, and again Paula/Raleigh to help organize the games, sing-along, judge costumes, etc.

GREEN THUMB SEMINAR(s) To Obtain compost:
THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 5:30-7:00 PM Composting Seminar, Shiloh Garden, Brooklyn, NY
Monroe St., between Marcy & Tompkins Aves.

A train to Nostrand Ave., exit near intersection of Fulton St. and Nostrand — walk North on Nostrand towards Monroe St.

This should be most helpful to the Compost Cte. members, and the only way to be eligible
for a truckload of compost in the Spring – by attending either this seminar;

OR: alternatively, THURSDAY, November 5th, 4-6 PM, on Soil Health, St. Augustine School Peace Garden, Bronx, NY:

D train to 167 St., xfer to BX 35 bus at Grand Concourse going east on 167 St. get off at
Franklin Ave,., garden is between 167 & 168 Sts,

At either Seminar, the gardener(s) attending can then request a delivery of Soil, compost, or cleanfill for Spring delivery. Such delivery will be most helpful to complete the building of the new beds in the East Garden.


SATURDAY, OCT.24, Jos. Daniel Wilson Memorial / Project Harmony Garden, Manhattan.
11am – 12 noon, Workshop #1, “Tree that Saved My Life” Game show
Noon-12:45PM Lunch
12:45 – 2:15PM, Workshop #2, “Hands-on Street Tree Care Clinic”
Both workshops will be led by Susan Fields, MillionTrees NYC Corps. Susan was our GT Coordinator for 7 years before she left to join the Brooklyn Botanic Garden 2 years ago, and is most knowledgeable about community gardens/street trees needs.

A, B,C,D or 2,3 train to 125 St., walk toward Adam Clayton Powell, turn south walking towards 122 St., turn right on 122 St., garden on the right.

Supplies to be given out include watering buckets/hoses, cultivators, gloves, aprons, info packet, plant material for Tree bed planting.

This one competes with our Fall Festival/Halloween Party, however. So perhaps a Treepit Cte. member might attend and distribute info at our November Season Closing Meeting?


Jean Jaworek for her donation of an aluminum ladder to the garden.
Peter Bazeli for his work in designing the now-approved new beds-to-be in the East Garden; and with Alan Tenney providing ballot boxes on both sheds for current and future use.


As a reminder: West Gardeners might want to delay planting of spring flowering bulbs until we have definitive plans and timetable for the retaining wall renovation. Many of our existing plants may have to be moved elsewhere — including those of the east side in the sidewalk fence bed – though every effort and argument is being used to minimize disturbance of that and individual garden plots in the eastern third of the West Garden. Details will be delivered as soon as we have them, after scoping sessions with Parks, GT, Steering, NWCPMBA members are held.

Your input will be sought on solution(s) proffered.

All for now,
Lucille M.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.