Spring Beekeeping Workshop

Spring Beekeeping Workshop
Demonstration Hive

Monday, May 11, 2015

Webinars on Organic Agriculture and Ecology Subjects Available

Check out this link to a list of very interesting and helpful topics in organic agriculture and wetlands ecology remediation/restoration:


Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Permaculture Primer

Please check out my recent article, "A Permaculture Primer" in the Spring 2015 edition of "The Connecticut Gardener".  Hard copies of the article are available from the publisher at PO Box 248, Greens Farms, CT 06838-0248, or by calling 203-292-0711.  Or, to read on-line, click this link:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Podcast on safegroundlandcare.com with Bernadette Giblin

My dear friend, Bernadette Giblin, a phenomenal organic land care professional (NOFA certified) and a mover-and-shaker in spreading the word about caring for lawns and sports fields organically, invited me to be on her podcast the other day.  We had a sweet conversation and explored many topics.  You can listen to the podcast by clicking this link:


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Graduate Institute Ecotherapy Program

I am privileged to have been invited to speak at the Graduate Institute in Bethany, Connecticut in their Ecotherapy Interest Group meeting on Monday, June 23 at 6 pm. The Ecotherapy Interest Group is held once a month in conjunction with the Graduate Institute's Ecotherapy and Cultural Sustainability certificate program.

I will be giving a presentation on Permaculture as Healing Art

Please feel free to pass along this information to those who may be interested: http://www.learn.edu/pages/news/entry/permaculture.html

This meeting is open to the public and I hope that you can join us. TGI requests that you RSVP on their website (www.learn.edu/events).

The Ecotherapy and Cultural Sustainability certificate program is well underway and is progressing with great vitality. Staff will provide an update on the program at the next interest group meeting.

New Rain Garden Installation in Municipal Greenway along Steele Brook

Successful rain garden installation today in Watertown, Connecticut along the Steele Brook Greenway. This is a combined private and public venture to convert an overgrown eyesore in the floodplain of the brook into a beautiful and ecologically appropriate public space.

Rain gardens are being installed more often now as people recognize the need to deal with stormwater runoff in ways that are better for the environment.  Stormwater that runs off roads, driveways, parking lots, and other impervious surfaces, carry pollutants into rivers and streams and also flow very fast, often overwhelming municipal storm sewers and causing local flooding. As more rain gardens are built, we are seeing a slow down of this problem and a reduction of pollutants reaching major bodies of water.  In Connecticut everything drains to Long Island Sound which receives large amounts of contaminants.

Rain gardens allow stormwater to infiltrate the soil where soil micro-organisms as well as plant roots help to metabolize contaminants and reduce the amount being drained into the waterways.

 Before installing the Watertown Greenway rain garden today, the area was grass with invasive Japanese Knotweed growing all around the area.

After excavation and soil removal, new, clean topsoil was spread over the newly created depression

Although, excavating and sculpting the rain garden depression and removing the root filled soil, was the first step.  I am afraid the knotweed will return.  Actually, I am positive it will, so a vigorous and regular maintenance plan will be in place to eradicate it manually whenever it appears.  I have used, and will use again, a product known as Burn Out which is an approved substance in organic certified landscape care.

It rained heavily a few times prior to planting day and so the lowest areas of the rain garden depression were extremely wet and soupy, like cake batter.  Impossible to walk on - one planting volunteer lost her shoe in the mud and it had to be dug out!  We resorted to standing on thick layers of cardboard to get some stability in the mud.

I also used a thick layer of cardboard around the perimeter to discourage the weeds and also to keep the grass back from the edge of the planting area.  I don't want the mowers to get too close to the shrubs around the top of the rain garden!

Plants used in the rain garden were chosen first and foremost for their suitability for the soil moisture conditions at various elevations in the rain garden.  In the center is the wettest area.  Here we mostly used perennial plugs featuring Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Milkweed), Liatris spicata (Dense Blazing Star), Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset), Hibiscus moschuetos (Swamp Rose Mallow).  We also used large pots of Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern), and Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive Fern).

Around the top of the basin, I planted 2 large Betula nigra trees (River Birch), one of my favorite birches, it tolerates a wide range of soil moisture conditions.  Also, I chose Viburnum cassinoides (Wild Raisin), a lovely native shrub with white spring flowers and edible fruits.  If you can get to them before the birds do they can be eaten raw or cooked into a preserve.  Other shrub choices for the upper areas were low bush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium, and lastly, Myrica pennsylvanica, (Bayberry).  Bayberry is a another lovely native shrub with a semi-evergreen habit.  Edible leaves are sweetly aromatic and make lovely tea.  I also use the leaves in soups etc.  The little grey berries are loved by migrating birds.  People have used them for making scented wax candles, too.  I also used a few Andropogon gerardii,(Big Bluestem) in the drier places.

These plants were also chosen for aesthetic appeal and for wildlife habitat, pollinator insects and bird habitat, especially. Of course, it all has to mature and I'll be watching carefully this first season to make sure the plants settle in to their new home well and do not have to compete with weeds.

None of this would have been possible without the volunteer help of members of the Watertown Garden Club (whose names I'm not publishing as I don't think they would like that out in cyberspace!.  Thanks so much, everyone!  You were terrific!

And with yours truly in the middle

I can be reached at my e.mail:  cynthia@hgconnsoil.com for consultations or design services for rain gardens, riparian buffer plantings and general ecological landscape planning and design.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Short video on state of the art amphibian road crossing tunnel

Most of our native amphibians are at risk of death when migrating across roads to their breeding sites.  Here is one solution:


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CT-NOFA Winter Conference last Saturday

We were privileged to present two workshops last Saturday at the annual winter conference of CT-NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Organization).

The event was held at the campus of Western Connecticut State University and there was the largest attendance ever recorded for the midwinter conference.  What an achievment for the staff and volunteers of NOFA.  Way to go guys!

Stuart and I presented workshops on building a Cob Oven and on Raising Shiitake Mushrooms.  You can see our power points at www.hgconnsoil.com and click on "Press Releases and Link".

Also, here is another link to a terrific write-up of the event: