Feature Stories June 2013
Lakeside Beikirch Care Center transitions through changes
by Doug Hickerson
Kimberly Sisco is the new administrator of Lakeside Beikirch Care Center, a long term care facility with a capacity of 120 residents. She had been the director of social work at LBCC since 2000, when the new position suddenly became available in February this year. Terence Klinetob, the former administrator, moved to a new job in a Webster nursing home.
The board of trustees of Lakeside Health System appointed her administrator of record in May, after three months as acting administrator. Sisco’s is a fascinating story about how she completed her licensure for the position in that brief period, began the LBCC adjustments to the closing of adjacent Lakeside Memorial Hospital in April, and strives to keep the care center on an even keel today.
Her original interest in long term care also occurred under unusual circumstances. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in social work from The College at Brockport in 1994, she applied for a part time activities position at then-named Orleans County Nursing Home. “I wanted to see what that population was like to work with and get some exposure,” she said. The administration wanted her for a social work position which she filled from 1995 to 2000.
“I really enjoyed it. I found my passion,” Sisco said about her first five years in the profession. “I definitely felt like this was the population I should be working with. I just enjoy all of the facets of long term care.”
Career plans in high gear
Sisco never thought of an administrative position in long term care until 2006. “I really wanted to make a difference,” she said. “You can make a difference in any position, but the administrator’s position is where you have the most impact.” Encouraged by Klinetob, she pursued studies for licensure through the New York State Health Department. At the end of January 2013, she completed a nine-month administrator-in-training requirement. She thought she would take her licensure exam, receive her license, and then look outside LBCC for an administrator position.
That leisurely plan changed when Klinetob left and his position became available. She became the acting administrator in February with Klinetob as administrator of record, providing her four hours of mentoring each week as required. As acting administrator, “I felt the spotlight on me to pass the licensure exam, and spent many sleepless nights over that,” Sisco said. She took her exam on March 16, passed, and received her license on her birthday, April 15. In early May, the board of directors appointed her administrator of record.
Adjustments to the hospital closing
The Lakeside Hospital announced its closing on April 22. “The biggest challenges for me were from April 23 until now,” Sisco said. “We had so many shared services with the hospital: radiology services, occupational health services, human resources, finance services, emergency services. “With those going away, the biggest stress for me was to make sure there was no impact on resident care (110 residents currently), and then no impact on employee services.”
Sisco has been occupied with agreements and contracts to bring various services to the care center, including laboratory service and a mobile radiology that comes right to the bedside and produces results within two hours.
She contracted with a company which provides services in pre-employment and maintenance of employee health on site twice a month. Two staff from the hospital will be covering aspects of Human Resources (HR). And, an HR generalist firm is now signed on as consultants for 30 hours a week.
Sisco said she has been able to add some very qualified nursing staff since the closing of the hospital. The care center has three new RNs and two new LPNs. “It has been nothing but a positive experience,” she said.
With the various services coming to the stand-alone care center, Sisco said there have been no additional costs, because they were mostly services they were paying for while the hospital was operating. “I think with every service, we have been able to have the cost the same if not lower.”
Sisco was asked about the long range viability of the Lakeside Beikirch Care Center. With the hospital closing, some wonder if the “other shoe will drop.” Sisco recognizes the community’s “realistic concern” she said. “I have received many phone calls about those concerns, mostly from families of residents. I have been able to reassure them we are financially very strong.” Even the State Health Department initially had the same concern. “About a week after the hospital closed, they made a conference call to the care center. They wanted our monthly income statements and our cash flow projections through the end of the year,” Sisco said. “We are financially stable, and the Health Department seems very satisfied.”
Living environment for residents
“We have a bright future, and I say that from a financial standpoint as well as our quality of care,” Sisco said.
Lakeside Beikirch Care Center for some time has worked to shed the institutional approach to long term nursing care, using resident-centered approaches. Various programs at the care center are based on surveys of residents to determine the activities of interest to them.
Bingo is one of the most popular activities. There are opportunities for playing or listening to music and for arts and crafts. Music is also supplied by a guitarist coming to the care center once a month. Two paid staff called “care partners” come on duty between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., with spontaneous activities to entertain and engage the residents in the period which Sisco says is their loneliest time of day. Each week a Bible study is offered for those interested as well as a Sunday worship service. Also, therapy dogs bring joy to the residents.
Two or three times a week the van takes some residents to restaurants or other attractions like fall foliage tours. On the property, annual picnics are held, as well as big band concerts, and last year there was a bon fire on a holiday weekend.
“We find people flourish here,” Sisco said. “People at first do not want to leave their home. When they come here, although initially not happy about it, they are pretty resilient. They adjust well and many times they are blossoming.” She refers to residents who go out with their families, and after a while will say, “I want to go home now.” Sisco says, “I want this to be a place where residents feel at home and that life is worth living here. All that has changed for them is their location.”
“I have worked here a long time,” Sisco said. “I care so much about the individuals who live here, their families, and the staff. We have a lot of long term care givers. They count on me. The biggest driver for me is to make sure this nursing home stays viable, that we are successful, and most of all that we are providing good personalized quality care. That is important to me.”
Photo by Dianne Hickerson
Northampton Park site ready for BBQ
Good BBQ and Good Music are coming your way June 21 - 23. The Brockport Rotary presents its 4th annual BBQ and Music Fest, June 21-23 in Northampton Park on Route 31 just past the exit on Route 531. $5 admission; free parking. Proceeds go to the Wilmot Cancer Center and to support local Rotary projects. Over the past three years close to $20,000 has been donated to the Wilmot Cancer Center.
This is a New England BBQ Society (NEBS) and Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) sanctioned contest. Our BBQ is a participating contest for the NYS Championship BBQ.
•June 21, 6-10 p.m. Set up Night Northampton Park. Music provided by Heavenly Chillbillies.
•June 21, Rochester Corvette Club Cruise Night to benefit The Patriot Guard Riders and Help on the Home Front. $10 admission per car includes up to 2 admissions to the BBQ Fest. No need to pre-register. If it rains, come anyway to support Help on the Home Front and of course the good music and beer.
•June 22, 9 a.m. Registration for Poker Run sponsored by Rochester Patriot Guard. Fees: $20 for Rider, $15 for Passenger. Includes BBQ & Music Festival parking, admission, continental breakfast, and $8 credit toward BBQ lunch or dinner. First bike out at 10 a.m.; last bike in at 4 p.m.
Music line up for Saturday, June 22
•Noon-2:15 p.m. Bonnie and Collide
•2:45-5:30 p.m. Natalie B Band
•6-10 p.m. Shaded Passion
Music line up for Sunday, June 23
•Noon-2 p.m. Cold Sweat
•2:30-5 p.m. Warehouse
June 22 NEBS Contest - NEBS sanctioned competition (charcoal or wood only) for chicken wings, sausage, hamburger, chef’s choice. Kids ‘Q, Rib cook-off, Chili cook-off, International Chili Society rules
June 23, KCBS sanctioned contest
For information on the Brockport Rotary BBQ and Music Fest go to the website www.brockportbbqfest.com.
“Old Fashion Fourth of July” celebration returns to Morgan-Manning House lawn for the 32nd year
This year’s July 4 patriotic celebration on Brockport’s Morgan Manning House lawn will feature the return of The Brockport Community Concert Band. The band premiered last year with over 80 members, including ages ranging from fifth grade to 70. Members included families, Brockport Central music staff, area music teachers, college students, and others. Last year was the revival of a 30-year tradition of the Brockport High School Band at the July 4 event, after the band’s absence in 2011. Now, the expanded band represents the entire community, with Shawn Halquist continuing many years as director. The concert begins at 11 a.m.
Also returning this year will be the Children’s Parade. The parade features families and kids of all ages in patriotic attire riding or pushing tricycles, bicycles, strollers, carriages, and wagons also suitably decorated. The parade will start in front of Morgan-Manning House, moving on Main Street, to Union Street, Park Avenue, and South Street, ending at the carriage house. Kids in the parade will receive gift bags. The Excelsior Brigade Fife and Drum Corps will not lead the parade as they did last year. The popular group was invited to the 150th Civil War anniversary at Gettysburg. The parade will be led by Brockport High School Band percussion members, beginning at 10:15 a.m., after the 10 a.m. opening ceremony.
The Brockport Big Band keeps a long tradition at the July 4 celebration, bringing sounds of composers like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Stan Kenton from the 1940’s Big Band Jazz era. The group is scheduled to appear at just after 12 noon, following The Brockport Community Concert Band.
The Montage Real T’s are new entertainers this year. The quartet will sing patriotic songs to celebrate our American history. They begin around 1:15 p.m., after the Brockport Big Band.
Children’s Games take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Kids will get to play old fashioned games such as ring toss, clothespin-in-a-jar, and others. There will be face painting and chalk art on the parking lot.
The Cake Walk at 2 p.m. is a popular event, providing amusement and a free cake, if you win. A special guest at this event will be “Waldo” participating and announcing the “Where is Waldo” scavenger hunt sponsored by the Lift Bridge Book Shop.
Food and Refreshments will include hamburgers, veggie burgers, Italian sausage, and hot dogs. New this year are kiddie hots at a lower price. Ice cream novelties, cookies, and popcorn will also be sold.
Tours of the Morgan-Manning House will be available for free from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Morgan-Manning House was built in 1854. After a disastrous fire in 1964, it now stands fully restored and furnished much like it was in the 19th century. The tours cover the first floor only.
All are invited to the free July 4 event, opening with the sounds of The Brockport Community Concert Band playing patriotic tunes, show tunes, American selections and marches. Community musicians who would like to join the band, rehearsing July 1, 2 and 3, may contact Shawn Halquist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The entertainment, gifts for the parade children, and buntings on store fronts in the Village of Brockport are paid for from a Liberty Mutual “Restore the Fourth” grant won by the Village and The Western Monroe Historical Society three years ago.
The Western Monroe Historical Society sponsors the July 4 event. The WMHS offices are located in the Morgan-Manning House, 151 Main Street, Brockport. For more information, contact the office at 585-637-3645, or see the web site www.morganmanninghouse.org.
The Patriot Guard Riders and the Brockport Rotary announce the 3rd annual Poker Run to benefit The Patriot Guard, Wilmot Cancer Center, and the Brockport Rotary Foundation is back for the Brockport Rotary BBQ and Music Fest!
Registration starts at 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, in the parking lot of the Northampton Park Ski lodge on Hubble Road off Route 31 between Spencerport and Brockport. For $20 per bike and $15 per rider, participants receive a continental breakfast, $8 credit toward BBQ lunch, admission to the fest, and entertainment by Bonnie and Collide, The Natalie B Band and Shaded Passion. First riders out at 10 a.m. and Last Rider back at 4 p.m.
For information about the Brockport Rotary BBQ and Music Fest on June 21-23, check the website at: www.brockportbbqfest.com or contact Rob Blair by e-mail at: email@example.com, or by telephone at 585-472-5093.
The Brockport Rotary BBQ Contest and Music Fest with the Rochester Corvette Club host the 3rd annual Cruise-In for Friday, June 21 from 5 to 10 p.m., in Northampton Park in the parking lot of the Ski Lodge on Hubble Road off Route 31 between Spencerport and Brockport.
The proceeds from the Rochester Corvette Club Cruise Night will go to the “The Patriot Guard Rider” and “Help on the Home Front.” Registration, $10 per car, gives admission to the BBQ Contest and Music Fest for two.
Come to enjoy the food, the cars and the music of The Heavenly Chillbillies. For information, go to the website www.brockportbbqfest.com, or contact Bob Harder at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rob Blair at email@example.com or by telephone at 585-472-5093.
Bergen celebrates 200th Anniversary
Bergen Town Historian Tom Tiefel completed much of the work on six displays in the Harford Livery himself. The scenes depict five former Bergen businesses: the Housel Savings and Loan, T.H. Gilbert Blacksmith Shop and Ironworks, W.J. Davy Carriage Works, A.S. Fisher and Sons Pharmacy and the Edgerton General Store. There is also a spot for rotating and special exhibits. Some of the artifacts included in the exhibits come from the very businesses depicted. Bergen Supervisor Don Cunningham says the town is very, “... pleased with the effort. It’s a little piece of Genesee Country Museum right here in Bergen,” he said.
The working clock on the wall of the A.S. Fisher and Sons Pharmacy exhibit at the Harford Livery Barn Museum in Bergen is original to the former Bergen business. Bergen Town Historian Tom Tiefel said the clock was salvaged from the pharmacy following a fire in 1880. It was restored by Jacob Wengerd in Conewango Valley, NY, just in time for the grand re-opening of the museum June 8. The pharmacy was located where Greg’ry’s Bakery is today, Tiefel said. Tiefel said the museum hosted its largest crowd ever during the Bergen Park Festival held June 8. He worked over the past nine months to construct scenes from five former Bergen businesses inside the museum. Tiefel said the displays will especially help local school children to learn their local history. “It gets kids excited and inspires them,” he said. The Harford Livery Barn is open on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer from 1 to 4 p.m. The large mortar and pestle visible in the left of the photo is also original to the Fisher Pharmacy.
Preparing to cut the ribbon on the grand re-opening of the Harford Livery Barn museum in Bergen June 8 are Town Supervisor Don Cunningham, Town Historian Tom Tiefel, Marian Partridge and John MacVean. The museum is dedicated to Partridge’s husband, Richard, who died February 9, 2013. He volunteered many hours organizing materials in the historian’s office. “It’s a great tribute to Dick,” Partridge told Westside News Inc./Suburban News. John McVean is the son of Wanda MacVean, a former Bergen historian who spear-headed the movement to save the Harford Livery from destruction. Bergen Historian Tom Tiefel said the re-opening is also a tribute to her. He said MacVean, along with other former Bergen historian Virginia Barons, were, “... visionaries and preservationists during the era of urban renewal ... they saw the value in saving (local landmarks).”
Photographs by Kristina Gabalski
Churchville’s Chalmers pushing across the U.S.
by Terra Osterling
When Churchville native and Paralympic athlete Ryan Chalmers placed his hands on the rims of his racing wheelchair on April 6, he reflected on the two years that he and his Push Across America team had spent preparing for his 71 day and 3,300 mile journey from Los Angeles to New York City.
“At the start in LA, I thought: I don’t want to let anyone down, I want to give it everything I’ve got to make it a success,” Ryan said via cell phone on day 47 of Push Across America. He had pushed 71 miles that day - the equivalent of nearly three marathons - partly with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign track team, his alma mater.
Ryan, an elite track and field athlete and member of the 2012 London Paralympics Team USA, is pushing his racer across America to raise awareness for the capabilities of disabled youth and young adults. Ryan and Roger Muller, founder of Stay Focused, wanted to stage an event for the 10th anniversary of Muller’s organization.
Stay Focused provides growth and leadership-development opportunities for disabled youth through a Grand Cayman-based SCUBA certification and mentoring program. Ryan, born with spina bifida, was himself a Stay Focused mentee, and is now a mentor and a PADI-certified Dive Master.
Ryan began training for Push Across America after the 2012 Paralympics. To prepare for the altitude of the Rockies, Ryan wore a bandanna over his nose and mouth while pushing up the ramps at the U of I stadium.
He pushes a racing wheelchair in a well-practiced “punching” technique. While a conventional wheelchair is powered by pulling wheel rim bars back-to-front, racers are powered when the rubber-coated rim bars are grabbed in downward “punches.”
For Push Across America, Ryan begins at 6:30 a.m., when his biggest fan and sister Emily sends her daily text message, breaks for lunch, then usually stops for the day at dinner time. “He’s going an average of 10 mph, an average of 60 to 70 miles per day - some nights until 8 p.m. because he’s going three mph uphill, but needs to make the goal,” says Gregg Chalmers, Ryan’s father.
Bob deNormand, Ryan’s grandfather, says, “It’s not really speed work unless you’re going downhill – and he did do 53 mph going downhill,” – “Once!” add Gregg and Linda, Ryan’s mother. Ryan’s racer, made and donated by Top End, is equipped with an emergency brake, but he prefers not to use it once he has built up momentum.
The Push Across America team caravan is made up of an RV equipped for documentary filmmakers, the lead vehicle, and the support van with this bumper sticker: “Slow moving vehicle – fast moving Paralympian.” Together they travel the professionally designed cross-country course.
Ryan has been on many teams, including Rochester Rookies track and Rochester Rockets junior wheelchair basketball. Track took him to the 2005 Junior World Games in Australia, where Ryan filled in on the basketball team at the coach’s request. That team earned a gold medal and Ryan was later recruited by U of I for their wheelchair basketball team. But track is his first love, and the way Ryan now promotes his message of setting and accomplishing goals.
Fran deNormand recalls her grandson pushing his racer the approximately one mile loop of Burnt Mill Road, where Ryan grew up two doors down. He would pause at her mailbox, but refused to stop for water until he finished 20 laps around.
Asked what he would tell his hometown supporters now, Ryan says, “As long as you are passionate and set goals for yourself, you can accomplish anything. Churchville is an incredible place – it’s the place that made me who I am today.”
Ryan Chalmers will complete Push Across America in New York City on Saturday, June 15. Follow Ryan’s progress @PushUSA on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Donate at PushAcross-America.org.
Rochester Rehabilitation and SportsNet will host “Born to Roll,” a benefit event welcoming Ryan home, at Frontier Field, Thursday, June 27. Tickets ($15) are available at SportsNetNY.org. Children age 12 and under enter free.
Photos by Parker Feierbach
Town of Riga dedicates tree
On May 8, the Town of Riga dedicated a tree to George Becker. George is a long-time Riga resident and has served his community well for many years.
George began his years of service to the town in 1982 on the Board of Assessment Review. From there he served on the Zoning Board of Appeals and then for many years on the town’s Planning Board. While on the Planning Board, he served as a member, then vice chairman and finally chairman.
George Becker is pictured here in front of the English oak tree with Town Supervisor Bob Ottley.
Kodak Memories: On tour
This newspaper’s call for “Kodak Memories” caught my eye months ago. But my story would only make sense if - and only if - I could locate the picture I had in mind. I searched high and low for this particular picture of my parents, Velma and Arthur (aka Spud”) Baase from Hamlin with my brother Paul and me touring the Box Department, which I believe was located at Kodak Park.
I was pleasantly surprised, however, when serendipity came to my rescue. In searing old Movie Maker videos that my brother Marc created, I found the picture I wanted. I think it was taken in 1955.
If I remember correctly, tours of the Box Department (and probably other departments) were regular events. We received tickets from a good friend of my mother’s, Evelyn Long, whose whole career was spent working at Kodak. My mother had worked there, too, but left after marrying my father in 1946.
But my mother’s “ties” to Kodak friends lasted for years. In fact, during the 1950s, she and my dad regularly hosted a summer party at our farm in Hamlin, so all her friends from Kodak could get a glimpse of farm life. Most of them lived in Rochester, so an excursion to the country was always a welcomed invitation. And, of course, there was always a bountiful supply of liquid refreshments kept cold in old metal wash tubs brimming with ice.
Karen Baase, formerly of Hamlin
The Hilton-Parma Gazebo Band, under the direction of Dr. Charles P. Schmidt, will begin its 30th season of outdoor concerts at the Gazebo in Centennial Park at the Hilton Village Community Center in mid-June. The free public concerts are held on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. (rain or shine) on the following dates: June 19, June 26, July 3, July 10, July 17, July 24 and July 31.
This year, the Annual Patriotic Concert will be played on July 3. The public is invited to bring lawn chairs and enjoy each concert. The band plays a variety of music including traditional marches, popular music, Broadway and movie themes, patriotic music, as well as solo features. The Band will also be playing on Sunday, July 21 in Pultneyville, New York at 1:30 p.m.
In 1984, the Gazebo Band was founded and directed by Hilton music educator, Gordon Bascom. The original group performed for the Village of Hilton Centennial celebration and again for the dedication of the Gazebo at Centennial Park. One of the charter members, Mary Reazor, still functions as lead trombonist as well as manager and librarian for the band. The Gazebo Band is an all-volunteer organizations that is unique in many ways and it exists primarily by donations from the community. It is comprised of many dedicated area musicians who rehearse from March through July to make the free summer concerts possible. In recent years, the band has expanded its schedule to encompass a fall/winter season which provides music to several area senior residential facilities. The purpose of the Gazebo Band has always been to give area musicians a place to enjoy their musical gifts and at the same time share them with the community.
For information regarding the band contact band manager Mary Reazor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Growing #5
Add some fruit to your landscape - grow strawberries
by Kristina Gabalaski
Just as with home-grown tomatoes, there’s nothing that compares to a home-grown strawberry picked at the peak of ripeness.
Strawberries are not difficult to grow and are a fun way to add fruit to your landscape.
Last year, one of my teenage daughters requested strawberry plants. I had a few planted in my herb garden area, but she wanted to create her own strawberry patch in order to increase our harvest.
We ordered an ever-bearing variety from a garden catalog (the plants are also available at local garden centers) and planted them in two 3ft. by 3 ft. raised beds.
Even though we didn’t follow all the “rules” of strawberry culture, the plants produced a wonderful crop and things look good again this season for a great harvest.
Here’s a few tips for growing strawberries at home:
Strawberries need full sun and raised beds work well because of the ease of adding organic material to the soil.
New plants should be planted in early spring, while they are dormant. Soak the plants prior to planting and choose an overcast, calm day to put them in the ground.
Gardening experts advise not to plant your strawberries where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplants have grown recently to prevent verticillium wilt.
Dig a hole large enough to spread out the roots. Hill the center of the hole and place the crown of the plant slightly above soil level. Spread roots downward on the hill of soil and then fill the hole. The soil should only cover half of the crown.
There are three types of strawberry plants from which to choose.
June bearing plants will produce a single, large crop over several weeks in late spring/early summer. June bearing varieties are the most traditional and produce a single flush of flowers and many runners. June bearing typically produce the largest berries.
Ever-bearing (like the ones we have) do not send out as many runners and bear fruit intermittently from spring through the fall.
The last type are day neutral strawberries, which will also produce fruit throughout the growing season and like ever-bearing, produce fewer runners.
We like the ever-bearing strawberries because they take up less space. I’ve found we get many good size berries, especially with the first harvest and they are very sweet.
For June bearers, you might want to try a matted row system - setting plants 18 inches apart in rows of 24 inches allowing four to four-and-a-half feet between rows. The first year, pinch off flowers to encourage plant vigor and production of runners.
The runners can be trained along the row, 6-9 inches apart. Press runner gently into soil and cover with one-half inch of soil or a small rock until roots form. Do not sever from the mother plant.
For day neutral and ever-bearing plants, use a hill system - a raised bed, eight inches high and two feet wide. Set plants in staggered double rows, 12 inches apart. Experts advise removing any runners as well as all flowers until July 1 of the first year, then allow plants to produce fruit.
Day neutral and ever-bearing varieties should be replaced about every three years or when they show signs of slowing in vigor.
Strawberries need to be mulched. This helps to keep soil temperatures cool and to suppress weeds. It also keeps those beautiful red berries off the soil. Straw mulch looks great and works well. Don’t use black plastic as it will raise the soil temperature and limit fruit production.
In the fall/winter after several hard freezes, mulching the plants will prevent injury to the crowns in cold weather. Straw or pine needles can be used. We used pine branches from our Christmas tree this past winter. Whatever you use should be easy to remove in the spring.
With frosts persisting well into May this year, we covered our raised beds with clear plastic tarp on cold nights when frost threatened in order to protect the blossoms. Remember to remove the covering as the temperatures rise.
Your strawberries will need one inch of water per week, especially while fruit is forming.
To keep June bearers vigorous for up to five years, you must renovate the plants right after harvest by removing leaves, narrowing plant strips and fertilizing. Cut the leaves one inch above the crowns with a rotary mower within a week of the last harvest. Narrow the width of mat rows to about 18 inches by removing one side of the row and leaving the younger plants. You can then thin the remaining plants to about 6 to 9 inches apart. Fertilize at this time because fertilizing in early spring can make berries soft.
Our biggest challenge with growing strawberries is keeping raccoons away. We have had to resort to electric fencing, which is very effective. We also experience minor damage from slugs.
Growing your own strawberries is very satisfying. It’s wonderful to pick them in the morning to put in your bowl of cereal and they’re just as good picked right before dinner to add to a salad with home-grown spinach. Of course, one of the best ways to eat them is whole, straight out of the garden and into your mouth, warmed by the summer sun.
Winners of the 2013 Heritage Award for essays on the heritage of the Erie Canal in Spencerport.
Fourth graders Addison Glazer, Leo Bernabi Elementary School, Ella Genovese, Canal View Elementary school, Sophia Buono, Terry Taylor Elementary School and Christopher Hammerle, William C. Munn Elementary School.
The winners each received a check for $50 and a certificate from the sponsors, the Village of Spencerport and the Spencerport Chamber of Commerce. The essays will be on display at the museum and will also be uploaded to the web site.
Spencerport Mayor Joyce Lobene greets the crowd at the Spencerport Depot and Canal Musuem on Heritage Day Sunday, June 2.
Music was provided by the Fox Den and an Ice Cream Social was held afterwards.
Museum Intern Nora Venedzky and volunteer Linda Tague serve ice cream to guests.
Bergen Swamp provides a learning environment
by Kristina Gabalski
Students at Byron-Bergen (as well as Brockport and Batavia high schools) are taking advantage of the educational and community service opportunities the Bergen Swamp provides.
Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School science teacher Steve Locke says students have the opportunity to volunteer in work parties of approximately two to eight students on weekends to help maintain and construct trails in the Swamp - which require constant upkeep because of the decay and sinking that is inherent to a wetland.
Most students volunteer as part of the community service requirement through either their Participation in Government class or the school’s National Honor Society chapter, Locke says, but there are those who simply enjoy the experience.
“These students are attending for the fun of it,” he notes.
Locke is also president of the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society which owns nearly 3,000 acres of land in five wetland properties in upstate New York. The Society works to preserve and protect the native flora and fauna indigenous to these locations.
He explains the Society is fussy about how the trails are built and maintained.
“We want to minimize the impact on native plants,” Locke says.
Bridges and foot paths are elevated and are constructed of materials found on site.
“We harvest dead trees,” Locke explains. “All motorized vehicles are prohibited on Society properties. Trail maintenance is labor intensive - for example, we hand carry all tools and lumber to each site.”
Portable sawmills are used, and in the winter, milling of lumber is completed for trail cording - logs laid end-to-end to form trails.
The Society also has “a strong commitment to education,” Locke explains.
Students - including high school, college and graduate students - engage in research, observation and various science projects on-site. High school projects are submitted to regional and national science competitions, Locke says, and some have made it all the way to the semi-finalist round.
Additionally, Locke says, 11 Eagle Scout projects have been completed in the swamp over the last 10 years.
In April, Byron-Bergen sophomore Jordan Coffta was nominated as student trustee of the Society.
According to Locke, Coffta will be trained in botany, zoology, and how to recognize the swamp’s unique biomes. Coffta will also serve as a tour guide and will learn about the Society’s four other properties.
He can serve as a student trustee until he is 18, when he can become a full trustee with voting rights. As a student trustee, Coffta cannot vote on motions, but can attend meetings and discuss proposals.
He is the third student trustee from Byron-Bergen - a 2007 graduate and a 2012 graduate are also trustees.
The Bergen Swamp Preservation Society was formed in 1935, when Mary Slifer of Rochester “called a meeting in her kitchen of her garden club members,” Locke says. She wanted to initiate a conservation project for the club and having visited the Bergen Swamp, wanted to focus on preserving the area from state and federal government encroachment on the rich diversity of plants in the swamp.
In neighboring Elba, the Tonawanda Swamp had been drained for agricultural use, an event referred to as a “scientific calamity,” by William Alexander of the Buffalo Museum of Science. The Iroquois Wildlife Refuge had also been flooded for geese, Locke notes.
Locke says the formation of the Society helped to develop the concept of an ecological land trust. The Society purchased land in the Bergen Swamp to “forever preserve and protect native plants ... with an emphasis on education.
The Nature Conservancy was inspired by the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society,” he says.
The organization remains all volunteer and in the 1960s became the first property named on the National Park Service’s list of National Natural Landmarks.
“It‘s more than a unique place,” Locke says of the Bergen Swamp. “It shows what one person at a kitchen table can do; (the Society) has changed the park system to be more ecologically sensitive,” Locke says.
He notes the species diversity in the Bergen Swamp is remarkable.” Per square meter, it’s greater than in a tropical rain forest.”
Just three years ago, a high school student working on a science project discovered a new native orchid variety - bringing the total number of varieties in the swamp to 39, Locke says. “There are rare plants and animals in the swamp found no other place in New York State.”
The swamp is also a uniquely clean environment, where ground water springs flow to the surface and travel as a sheet over the swamp north to Black Creek, Locke explains.
Personally, Locke is particularly drawn to the native flowering plants.
“My favorite thing is to go in and look at flowers and photograph them - to see what’s blooming. Many people share that passion,” he says.
To find out more about the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society and about visiting the swamp, visit the Society’s website at www.bergenswamp.org.
Note: Bergen Swamp is located at 6646 Hessenthaler Road, Byron, NY 14422, (585) 548-7304. Visit www.bergenswamp.org.
Photographs from Bergen Swamp provided by Steven Locke.
Joe’s stories - old, new, mostly true
Our first television set
by Joe Reinschmidt
In the mid 1940s many folks we knew were starting to acquire the latest consumer product which was now available to average families, specifically televisions. Joe and Anna didn’t seem too interested in getting one very soon probably because of the cost and also wanting to wait and see if they were all they claimed to be or if it was a fad that would soon fade away. Little did they know the profound effect that television would have on life as we knew it at that time.
We, the kids, of course thought we should have one as soon as possible but that didn’t make any impression on Dad and Mom. We probably even offered to empty our piggy banks and pool the resources to help pay for a TV set. There wasn’t much, if anything that was going to hasten the acquisition of it until the heads of the household made up their minds. That decision seemed a long way off.
Our prayers were answered one night when my parents had gone to visit and play cards with some friends. We were home playing board games or listening to the radio when suddenly there was a knock on the door. We opened it to find a family friend standing there with a box in his arms. The man was Fritz, the 40 something son of a couple that were very good friends of Joe and Anna and frequent visitors to our farm. We loved to see them come because they were always happy and the mother could play the harmonica as well as sing and yodel. She was also ready to help in the fields if there was work to be done. They were from Switzerland and lived in Rochester.
But let us get back to Fritz and the box, which he happily informed us, contained a table model television for us. We were surprised enough by his unexpected visit but could hardly believe what he had brought. We wondered why, and he quickly explained that he owed Joe about $100 for hay that we had provided for his horses. He had a horse farm on Lexington Avenue near Lee Road where we had tried riding several times.
The television was, of course, black and white, with a 10 or 12 inch screen. He set it up for us and left a little while later. We all watched it until it was past bedtime and the other kids went upstairs to bed. My room was downstairs so I continued to watch it and was still watching it when Joe and Anna came home. I proudly showed it to them and explained how it had arrived. Joe wasn’t too impressed. No doubt he really would have preferred to have the money.
Fritz was quite a talker and what you would call a smooth operator, who could convince you that what he said or promised was the gospel truth even though you knew it wasn’t. He convinced Joe to keep the television, and yes, maybe the hay was worth more than $100, but this television was just a trial model and if we like it he would bring a bigger one to make up the difference.
The television set stayed and we enjoyed it for several weeks until one day when two business-like men appeared at our door. They were detectives and wanted to know if we had a television set that came from Fritz. Joe said yes and explained how it arrived and the matter of the money due for hay. They asked to see it, checked it out and made some notes. We were certain it was the last we’d see of it. Instead they said it could remain here for now, but under no circumstances were we to dispose of it, since it may be needed as evidence. There obviously was a continuing investigation going on.
Fritz had been employed for some time as a delivery and warehouse employee of a relative of his that operated a jewelry and appliance store in Rochester. Apparently there were a growing number of items that had “fallen off the truck” or been lost in the warehouse.
Eventually there was pretty clear evidence that Fritz was the culprit and charges were prepared against him. As the case progressed, the investigators discovered that Fritz had been born in Switzerland and came here with his parents who had immigrated legally. However, they had never applied for citizenship in the United States while Fritz was a child, nor did Fritz when he became an adult. Legally he was still a Swiss citizen having been born in Switzerland of Swiss parents, and the Swiss never lose their citizenship. That made Fritz a candidate for deportation which was probably easier and cheaper than going through a trial and eventual imprisonment. He, of course, protested but to no avail. Apparently the fact that he had a wife and children here didn’t deter the deportation.
The television fared better - it stayed here with us indefinitely, but Fritz had to leave.
by Kristina Gabalski
Planting time has truly arrived and if you are like me, you have to restrain yourself from stopping at every garden center you spot and going crazy buying plants.
Although it is tempting to be in a rush to get everything in the ground by Memorial Day, taking your time in some cases may be a very effective and organic way to overcome problem pests, particularly with vegetables.
I never feel rushed to get the vegetable garden in. I’m always busy with garden clean-up and afraid a late frost will damage seedlings. Right now, I have some peas planted and will work on crops like lettuce, sunflowers, spinach and carrots Memorial Day weekend, but I will hold off on crops like tomatoes and peppers as well as squash.
This year, I plan to experiment with planting times in the vegetable gardens, to see if I can defeat some of the bugs that give me the hardest time - squash vine borers and squash bugs.
I have a thing for cucurbits - winter and summer squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds, melons and similar plants. I enjoy the many new varieties of summer squash and love to have ornamental gourds and pumpkins for decorating in autumn - but the pests that like to make a meal out of the vines create a huge problem in my garden and result in much disappointment. Gorgeous full vines often wilt and die seemingly overnight.
I’ve been resorting to products like Spinosad to fight them, as well as vigilant hand picking, but as these plants grow, it can be very difficult just to access the vines to look for and destroy the bugs.
So this year, I will hold off a bit on planting.
According to vegetable and fruit specialists at the University of Maryland Extension, planting squash and other cucurbits later than usual can help to avoid damage by the squash vine borer. If there are no sizable plants when the adults emerge from their cocoons to mate, the experts say you should not have a problem.
The borer moths typically have laid their eggs by early July, so I’d like to at least plant most of my summer squash and some pumpkins in late June and see what happens. I don’t mind waiting a little bit for squash and although many varieties of winter squash and pumpkins need lots of time to grow and mature, I notice many are typically ready in my garden well before the date listed on the seed packet. Also, I’m hoping warmer temperatures in early summer will help them to grow faster than if I planted in late May or early June.
Planting squash and pumpkins later might also thwart the striped and spotted cucumber beetles which feed on young squash plants and can transmit bacterial wilt as they feed. The cucumber beetles tend to be spring pests and are less prominent as the season progresses.
I’ve seen mixed advice regarding how well later planting can help with squash bugs, which are grayish-brown and up to 3/4 inch long. The nymphs look similar but don’t have wings and feeding by both adults and nymphs cause squash leaves to wilt and blacken.
The squash bugs are around all season, with nymphs “attacking” pumpkin and winter squash fruits all the way into autumn. I probably will have to continue my regular regime of hand picking and “squashing” the adults and nymphs and rubbing the rows of red-brown egg clusters on the undersides of the leaves to squish them.
The folks at “Organic Gardening” offer some interesting tips regarding adjusting planting times to avoid other common garden pests.
To avoid aphid infestation of cool season crops like lettuce and broccoli, set out good-sized transplants and pull them up and replace before they bolt and become an aphid breeding ground.
Those light green cabbage looper caterpillars that chew up brassicas like cabbage, can be thwarted by growing early maturing varieties and setting out seven-eight week old plants for fall crops about ten weeks before the normal frost date.
For corn ear worms, which chew through the silks and into the tips of ears, plant early maturing varieties as early as possible.
Those disgusting Colorado potato beetles can be controlled by planting seven to fourteen days after the usual date. This is supposed to be extremely effective because the beetles will move on if they don’t find potato plants when they emerge from the soil in early spring. Fast maturing varieties will be ready before the second generation of beetles comes and at that point, some leaf damage won’t harm the crop.
Finally, flea beetles, which chew small round holes in the leaves of many vegetables, can also be controlled by planting a week or two later than usual. Overwintering adults appear in the garden early in the season and if they can’t find food, they won’t lay their eggs.
So here’s to the procrastinators - holding off and taking your time planting certain crops in your vegetable garden might add to your gardening enjoyment and may also help to curb those gardening headaches and disappointments caused by pests.
A primer: Paddling Adirondack waters
by Christian Woodard
When I was twelve, my dad rented two yellow kayaks from the DEC campground at Lake Eaton.
Crossing the lake, we heard jetskis, powerboats and their radios. But along the far bay’s narrow margins, where Eastern White Cedar overhung the shallow water, we were suddenly alone. We stroked through swishing water lilies and pickerelweed, chasing up schools of shiners.
In three hours, I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve been all over the lakes and rivers of the North Country -- from steep whitewater to marathon courses -- and there’s still nothing better than floating a small lake with your family. While the Adirondacks are famous for ambitious canoe loops, like those of the St. Regis Canoe Area or the Whitney Wilderness, there is accessible water everywhere in the park.
You don’t need specialized gear or a month of vacation time. Nearly every Adirondack town has a paddling outfitter that rents boats. And, if you leave Spencerport after breakfast, you can eat lunch at the Lake Eaton boat launch.
The drive north is an ascending pilgrimage from the Ontario floodplain to the piedmont of our state’s largest mountains. Of course, you’ll cross all sorts of pleasant flatwater along the way, but the streams of the Adirondacks are something else entirely.
North Country rivers smell of conifers, moss, and ferny humidity. They are stained the color of strong tea by decomposing hemlocks, and their character is as varied as the park they traverse. They rise high on granitic peaks, seeping from small tarns out through raucous cascades and into the sedate reaches of the foothills.
On a good day of paddling in the Adirondacks, you can feel the weeds and the wilderness yet. It’s a place where the musk of beaver and fox, an osprey’s shrill whistle, and the sip of feeding trout outweigh the urgent press of modernity. And it’s practically in our backyard.
Recently, I met my dad near Little Tupper Lake. We set up on an island campsite and hauled out a few smallmouth for dinner. Less than four hours from home, we’d crossed a lake, slipped up an intimate stream, and camped on a secluded pond. We weren’t paddling the yellow rental kayaks anymore, but we would have loved it even if we were in tractor tires.
At the end of the weekend, we smelled like woodsmoke and sunscreen. Back in the parking lot, I tried to fit a pile of bass into a very small cooler.
“I remember being up here every day at work,” my dad said. “I can’t wait until we’re here again.” I leaned on the lid and struggled to click it closed.
“Next time, let’s remember a bigger cooler.”
When you go:
Bring a few liters of water, some sunscreen, and at this time of year, some bug repellent. Wear a Type III or Type V PFD, and choose a route and boat appropriate to your skill level. All of the sections below are suitable for beginning paddlers, though you’ll want to assess weather conditions for yourself. If it’s a windy day, be cautious on the bigger lakes (Long, Saranac, and Little Tupper), and choose a more sheltered section if necessary.
Christian’s Top Five
in the Central Adirondacks:
Lake Eaton: I took my first paddle strokes here as a kid, and it has a special place in my heart. Good views of Owl’s Head mountain, which you can hike from the far side of the lake. Rent a boat at the campground, or bring your own.
Lower Bog River: Park at the stone arch bridge on Route 421. Put in above the cascade into Tupper Lake. A flatwater paddle 2 miles upstream brings you to the Round Lake Outlet confluence, where there’s a nice campsite. There’s good fishing through this whole stretch, and it’s short enough for an easy afternoon. Keep an eye out for the iron ring in a midstream boulder from an old logging chain-up.
Lower Saranac Lake: From Ampersand Bay, take a short trip down the lake to stop at the cliffs on Bluff Island. Beautiful views of the High Peaks, and easy paddling into Upper Saranac, Kiwassa and Oseetah Lakes. St. Regis Canoe in Saranac Lake offers a shuttle for a daylong loop trip, including passage through historic locks on the Saranac River.
Little Tupper Lake: From the DEC Headquarters, Little Tupper offers 7 miles of flat, non-motorized boat access, with a link to Round Pond and Rock Pond on either end. This is a great area to stay for a few nights and explore the many primitive campsites on the lake and its islands.
Long Lake to Tupper Lake: This is the classic Adirondack paddling trip, and before reliable roads was the fastest and straightest highway in the region. Starting in Long Lake, there are broad views of the Seward Range to the North. The lake narrows at its northern tip to become the Raquette River, swerving through a series of oxbows out to Raquette Pond and Tupper Lake. This trip is often paddled as an overnight, with good camping at the north end of Long Lake and around Raquette Falls (includes a portage of 1.25 miles around the falls).
The Upper Hudson: This reach of the Hudson is not technically open yet, but it deserves a space on the list. The state purchased the tract surrounding it last year, but the Gooley Club retains exclusive rights to the land until October 1, 2013. It’s 12 miles of class II and flatwater through isolated wilderness. Put in near Newcomb, and take out north of Indian Lake. The nearby Essex Chain of Lakes will open at the same time.
Local opportunities for paddlers include: Oatka Creek, Black Creek, Braddock Bay, Erie Canal, Genesee River.
Note: Christian Woodard, a Spencerport native, will write about hiking opportunities for the Westside News Inc. Autumn Guide to be delivered September 8.
Many more foster children join our family
by Joe Reinschmidt
Steve Z. was just the beginning of foster care children. Many more were to make their home here for at least a while over the next 20 years. By and large, they were not bad children, rather just victims of poor family circumstances fueled by the Depression. Sam S. was about 12 and the oldest child in his family which was struggling to survive because of a father who did little to provide for them. Sam felt it was his duty to help his mother and siblings so he stole groceries for them and was caught doing it. Social Services visited the home, learned of the situation and Sam along with his brother, Mauro, were placed in my parents’ care.
Although from the city they took to the farm like ducks to water, learning what it was like to care for animals, till the soil, plant and harvest food, and enjoy a stable family life. After they were here a while they dared to make a request. It went something like: “Mrs. Reinschmidt, we love your German cooking but we do miss our mother’s Italian food.”
And so it was that the Reinschmidts started eating spaghetti and meatballs, pasta wa zool (Anna’s terminology), dandelion leaf and burdock stalks.
Everyone had to pitch in and help with the farm and household chores. Discipline was administered as required but never extreme. At that time there was no indoor plumbing in the house. Heat was provided from a wood burning stove in the dining room and a cook stove in the kitchen. The rooms the children slept in upstairs had no heat or electricity. It would never be considered acceptable as a foster home today, but the social workers then literally begged Joe and Anna to take more kids. They did, and by the time the last one left in 1954 there had been 30 or more with us for varying periods of time. Sometimes there were three or four here at once.
There are other stories and events related to those children but that will have to wait for another time. The bonds that were created lingered long after they left. Joe and Anna were often asked to join some of their family events, such as the occasion of Mauro’s daughter’s wedding in 1973 where this picture was taken. Joe had died in 1970 but Anna was invited, and went. She was 71 at the time.
Red Lily Leaf Beetles voracious munchers
by Kristina Gabalski
Last year proved to be a devastating one for my hardy lilies - particularly the Asiatic varieties upon which I rely heavily for color both in the perennial beds and in the vase during that late spring/early summer gap when the peonies and roses are finishing up and cone flowers and daisies are just beginning.
2012 provided a double whammy - first the roller-coster warmth and then hard- freeze/wet snow combination which really seemed to stunt them and kept them from blooming; second, there was the unwelcome arrival in my garden of the Lily Leaf Beetle.
As it is with so many pests, the Lily Leaf Beetle was accidentally introduced into this continent through Montreal, Quebec in 1943. It was discovered in Massachusetts in 1992 and last year had spread throughout New England and New York State.
This small, bright red beetle has an incredible appetite for lily foliage. I should have responded immediately last year when I first saw the beetles, but I didn’t and they devoured leaves and laid eggs which then hatched. That’s when things got really disgusting.
During the adult and juvenile phases, the beetles can quickly do extensive damage to hardy lilies, with Asiatic varieties being the most vulnerable.
I spotted them again this year at the same time the lilies began to emerge from the ground and was determined to take quick and decisive action.
The beetle itself is red on top and black underneath, about one-half inch long with long antennae. They lay their egg masses - which are red-orange to brown in color on the underside of the lily leaves.
The greatest and grossest part of the damage is done by the larvae which hatch from eggs in just one-two weeks.
Hundreds can hatch at one time and they quickly begin eating lily leaves, buds, flowers and stems.
Here’s the disgusting part - the larvae disguise themselves by piling their excrement on top of their little bodies. They look like soft, brownish/black masses on the plant and not surprisingly, are yucky to touch.
The larvae will gorge for two to three weeks and then pupate in the soil, emerging as adult beetles 16-22 days later and continue to feed until fall. They overwinter in the soil or in plant debris.
The bright red color makes them easy to spot and holes in lily leaves are also tell-tale signs of infestation. The yucky poop-covered larvae are easy to see on the leaves. When I saw that last year, I knew I had made a big mistake in not going after the adult beetles.
Don’t wait around when you realize the beetles have invaded your garden.
The bugs, themselves, are very quick-moving and as soon as they sense danger, drop to the ground and lie on their backs, making them hard to see.
I have been successful in handpicking some of the beetles this spring - making sure to stab them with a fingernail. Their outsides are very hard and it is difficult to crush them or squish them.
You can also hold a jar of soapy water beneath them and nudge them off the plant and into the water.
If you find egg masses on the undersides of leaves, remove the entire leaf and drop it in soapy water. The eggs are also hard and can be difficult to crush.
The disgusting larvae can be hand-picked - if you can stomach that - wearing latex or nitrile gloves. The leaf can also be picked off and placed in soapy water just as with the eggs.
According to www.gardeners.com, there are a couple of pesticides which can be helpful. Neem oil - a botanical insecticide - will kill the larvae and repel adults. Spinosad, which is derived from soil-dwelling bacterium, has been shown to control the beetles if used regularly and as soon as you see them.
In addition to hand-picking, I have used the Spinosad to great effect. I have gone for days without seeing any beetles after spraying the plants and my lilies are growing well, suffering only some minor initial damage.
I inspect the plants everyday at different times and have only come across one or two beetles since treating with Spinosad, and have removed those by hand.
Do look carefully - sometimes the beetles hide down deep in the crevice between the young leaf and the stem. I think it’s also important not to let your guard down, even if it appears the beetles are gone. Stay vigilant throughout the season.
The Lily Leaf Beetles prefer lilies (daylilies are not affected), but will also chow down on lily-of-the-valley, Solomon’s seal, potato, flowering tobacco, hollyhock and hosta. I have not seen them on anything other than my hardy lilies, but did note some hollyhock damage in plants situated near the lilies.
I’m looking forward to enjoying my lilies again this year. They have always been one of the easiest, most dependable and most impressive perennials to grow. I guess I’ll just have to work a little harder now to keep it that way. It’s certainly worth the effort.
Seed packets fuel enthusiasm for gardens to be
by Kristina Gabalski
Seeds - one of the most basic components of gardening - are remarkable and amazing. I’ve heard seeds referred to as symbolic of progress one makes in the spiritual life. Just as the seed has to die to itself in order to start new life, one must die to self to progress toward the new life of eternity.
My Webster’s dictionary defines seeds as the grains of ripened ovules of plants used for sowing. That definition certainly doesn’t do much to create any interest or excitement about seeds.
What does generate excitement are the packages that have been arriving steadily over the past couple of weeks - packages stuffed with seeds I ordered for this year’s vegetable garden. Some are the regulars that I plant every year - corn, bush beans, lettuce, winter and summer squash, pumpkins and gourds. Others I’m experimenting with for the first time - a cut flower kale, Swiss chard, melons, an ornamental corn called “Strubbes Orange” and a pumpkin called “Mr. Fugly.”
When we think of seeds, we mostly think of planting them, but we also eat a lot of seeds - some of the most nutritious food you can find. Some seeds like peas and corn, we eat in an immature state, others like nuts and whole grains, we eat when they are mature and dried. Popcorn is a yummy whole-grain snack.
Seeds, especially from flowers, are an important food source for the birds, as well.
I typically don’t cut back perennials like coneflowers and rudbeckia in the fall because the birds love to snack on the seeds. Now, as I have been removing old coneflower stems as part of my spring clean-up, I see that the seed heads have been picked clean of most of the seed. We have plenty of bird feeders, but the Goldfinches, in particular, love perching on the coneflower seed heads all winter and eating the seed.
I also like the fact that the rudbeckia and coneflowers self-sow freely. I know this can be a nuisance for some gardeners, but I like the little “volunteers” or, “points of light” that help to fill in the blank spots and create the natural, cottage garden feel that I love.
The pumpkins and gourds I grow for autumn decorating can result in some unusual and interesting fruits when they re-seed themselves the following year. Each spring, seed that remains from rotten, unharvested gourds sprouts in the vegetable beds and I have a horrible time forcing myself to pull these “weeds.” I’ve often made the mistake of letting these volunteers take over an area. I always like to leave a few of these little plants because they often bear fruit quite heavily.
Last year, for example, a self-sowed gourd vine did quite well growing among my sunflowers. The fruits were the size of a small pumpkin, dark green and covered with fabulous warts. The first time I spotted one I thought it was some kind of toad or other creature and jumped with fright. I was delighted to find it was a gourd unlike any I had ever seen. These gourds had personality to spare and after harvest turned to a soft orange color.
My sunflowers also self-sow. I harvest many for bouquets, but there are always plenty left for the birds who distribute the seed around the garden. I have to be disciplined about weeding out most of these as they, too, will quickly take over large portions of the garden.
One of my favorite plants to grow from seed is amaranth. It VERY aggressively self-sows. It’s fluffy burgundy and golden seed heads which I covet for late season flower arrangements, produce huge amounts of seed. I used to plant amaranth in my large vegetable beds with other plants, but found they started to take over from self-sowing. These miniscule seeds can produce very large plants and I now isolate the amaranth in its own raised bed. Harvesting most of the seed heads also helps to keep the amaranth in check.
I do save a few of my seeds - broom corn, calendula, rudbeckia. I’m noticing more and more gardening catalogs offering attractive seed saving envelopes for saving your own seed.
If you would like to share some of your seed bounty, the Monroe Branch of the Rochester Public Library located at 809 Monroe Ave., between the YMCA and RT. 490, this spring is starting its own seed borrowing bank.
You can donate seed (either from your garden, or extra packages you purchase) by dropping them off at the children’s room at the library.
Children’s Librarian Mary Clare Scheg says the library will then “lend” packets out to patrons who can plant the seeds and, if possible, harvest some of the seed to return to the seed borrowing bank for people to use next year.
“We’re starting out small,” she notes, “testing the waters to gauge community interest.” Scheg adds that the library is now setting up an area for the seed bank which will include drawers in which to store packets.
“We will keep a log to see who takes seed and who is interested,” she says.
Joe’s stories - old, new, mostly true
Joe and Anna decide to become foster parents
by Joe Reinschmidt
Although I was an only child, I definitely didn’t grow up lonely. Around 1934-35 Joe and Anna decided to try having foster children of whom there were many available due to the effect the Depression had on many families. Also, perhaps, they thought they would never have children of their own since none had arrived after seven years of marriage.
The first foster child was a 14 or 15 year old boy named Steve Z. who for unknown reasons was always known as Mike. Steve was here when I was born, and all the rest of his life insisted that we were brothers. Sadly, I didn’t feel as strongly about that as he did and only realized the significance of it later in my life. I believe Mike left school to join the Civilian Conservation Corps but always stayed in touch with us. As the US entered WWII he joined the Army and opted for the 82 Airborne. My Dad often joked that Mike only did that because the training was longer and he hoped the war would be over by then. It wasn’t and he made a number of jumps into enemy territory. Joe and Anna had very mixed emotions since they each had three brothers who were in the German military. How tragic it might be if Mike was to confront one of them.
After landing in southern Italy, Mike’s unit spent quite a bit of time working their way up to Germany and when he arrived there the war was winding down. He wrote regularly so they knew he had survived, but it would take many months before they would learn anything about the fate of their families. The talk now turned to when Mike would come home. In my child’s mind I was sure his unit would come marching down our road and when they came to our place Mike would peel off the column and say, “I’m home,” never mind that he had a wife in Rochester who he married while on leave a few years earlier. When he did return he went to her home, of course, but the very next day he came here to see his other family. They visited often until both Joe and Anna had passed away.
This is part six of a series. Previously printed articles are available in Archives February 24, 2013
It all started when I was seven years old. We were at a well-known local garden store so my mother could purchase annual flowers when I spotted them: Red and white candy-striped petunias. I was delighted with their bold appeal and fell in love. I wanted to take them home, plant them, and care for them in a garden spot that was all my own.
I don’t remember how successful that first attempt at gardening was, but the process of taking a patch of earth, planting something and watching it grow has not yet grown old. My early efforts at my childhood home in the Village of Bergen focused on charming annual flowers and then expanded to vegetable gardening. When I was eight, we grew our first crop of pumpkins and had a big enough harvest to sell some at a little street-side stand (consisting of a child-sized picnic table) on our front lawn.
Gardening is compulsive for me. Perhaps it is genetics. Like many folks in Western New York, I come from a long line of farmers/growers/gardeners. My maternal great-grandfather, Halsey Wilcox, owned “Rose Lawn” farm in Bergen which was listed in the Genesee County Atlas as one of the county’s finest farms. Halsey was known as a horticulturalist and in addition to those namesake roses, he grew and developed many varieties of fruit. My maternal grandfather, Ransom I. Page, Sr., farmed in Bethany, Genesee County, growing apples which were exported to England and Europe. One hundred years ago now, my paternal grandfather, Gilbert Greene, ran a farm for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chicago which was similar to the famous Boys Town in Nebraska - a place where troubled young men were taught farming skills.
Some people wonder why anyone would bother to grow their own vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. It can be a lot of work and it carries it’s share of challenges and disappointments - but my backyard garden is so much more than a garden. It’s a sanctuary filled with natural beauty, bird song and butterflies. It’s a destination for quiet walks and simple, everyday picnics and celebrations. It’s a larder bursting with nutritious, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables that can go from the warm sunshine and good earth to the table in moments. It’s a science lab for hands-on observation and experimentation. It’s a classroom where one can learn about everything from design, problem-solving and pollination to composting and the life-cycle of the Monarch butterfly. It’s a gymnasium/fitness center where one can get a total body workout without the trainer or club fees. It’s a flower shop in spring and summer and a wonderful place to find delightful, natural decorations for the autumn and Christmas holidays. For Al Gore types, it’s a carbon-offsets paradise.
Everyday is different. The sun angle subtly changes as the year passes, sometimes casting sunshine, other times casting shadow. There are always surprises (some good, some not-so-good), and new things to learn.
With our five senses now constantly bombarded by noise and virtual reality via the ever-expanding universe of electronics and technology, combined with an incessant appetite for frivolous entertainment, the backyard garden offers something many have forgotten they truly need and even desire: Wholesome, productive recreation, the peaceful and comforting sounds of nature, and real-time, hands-on actual reality.
I look forward to heading-out into the backyard garden with readers via this column.
Spring is here and despite its typical long-awaited and mercilessly drawn-out arrival here in Western New York, there’s already much happening in my own backyard.
Early flowering bulbs like bright blue Glory-of-the-Snow (see photo) with their cheery star-like blossoms and petite, happy Tete-A-Tete daffodils are blooming. They bring the colors of the intense blue sky and warm yellow sun down to earth and into our garden beds. It can be difficult later in the season to find that true-blue color in flower blossoms and it is so pretty to see it with the intense yellows and pure whites of early spring blooms. Both Glory-of-the-Snow and Tete-A-Tete make darling mini bouquets for the dinner table and what a thrill to bring flowers inside so early in the spring.
A recent walk around the garden also turned up some more of nature’s early risers. My oriental poppies are sending up their unmistakeable dark-green and fluffy textured foliage. The chives are growing in the herb garden - a wonderful addition to spring dishes and such a bright splash of color on top of your baked potato. Right now, they look like grass - but I did notice some early flower buds among the green. My rhubarb - one of my first crops to be harvested - is showing its unique early growth that looks like little, bright pink “fists” pushing up out of the soil. I was also delighted to discover some new tulips coming up in a spot where I totally forgot I had planted them. What a surprise, but that’s OK, gardening truly is the hobby that keeps on giving!
Note: This is the first of a series to be printed through November twice per month.
Photograph by Kristina Gabalski