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Hilltop Hanover In Yorktown Gives Lessons In Gardening

Max Zenke educating people at Hilltop Hanover about good gardening. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Max Zenke in one of Hilltop Hanover's greenhouses. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Max Zenke said it is important to keep plants healthy to avoid pests. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
A gardening class at Hilltop Hanover. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. -- If you haven't started your summer garden yet, don't worry, it's not too late.

Hilltop Hanover Farm & Environmental Center hosted "Better Late Than Never: Garden Planning" at the Yorktown-based farm Saturday morning.

Max Zenke, assistant farm manager at Hilltop Hanover, helped latecomers get their vegetable garden ready in time for the summer season to help maximize a harvest.

"You can grow lots of vegetables after Memorial Day," Zenke said. "You shouldn't be deterred. Hopefully you have picked out your garden site."

Zenke said vegetables need eight hours of sun and compost and organic mulches will help garden soils improve.

"If you don't have a compost pile, start one," Zenke said.

In the spring and during cooler weather, Zenke said it is good to grow lettuce, radish, broccoli, arugula and spinach. In the summer when the weather is warmest, Zenke suggested growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

For planting, Zenke said it is important to know the dates of the first and last frost.

"Time your planting to avoid the frost, especially if your crops are sensitive," Zenke said. "Tender plants typically die when they are exposed to frost."

It is important to count backwards from the first frost to ensure a good harvest, Zenke said. When it comes to seeds, Zenke said to avoid the generic products from the big chains.

"The best place to buy is from local farms or farmers markets. Farmers support the products they sell, " he said.

Gardeners should map out their gardens and allow for plant spacing. Giving plants more elbow room will lead to bigger plants, Zenke said.

Zenke said weeding should be done early and often.

"Get the weeds while they are young," Zenke said.

The best way to avoid pests and diseases is to take care of your plants.

"Unhealthy plants are the root cause of pests and disease outbreaks in the garden," Zenke said. "Wolves go after the weak elk."

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