Photo R. Darke



Summer Newsletter                                                            August, 2011

Dear Deb

CT NOFA and the NOFA Organic Land Care Program are proud to present Organic with the Seasons, the organic homeowner's newsletter!  Your yard is a space for you and your family to enjoy and interact with the natural environment where you live.  In the interest of your health and that of the ecosystem, organic is the way to go! Organic with the Seasons will provide you with tips, ideas and resources to maintain a green lawn and lush garden without chemicals that harm your family, your pets, and your environment.  

"May all your weeds be wildflowers" - Anonymous 

The Soil Community and Natural Ecosystem of Your Yard

The soil in your yard has been created by thousands of years of weathering rocks, erosion and decomposition to create the most ideal ecosystem for the plants and animals in your environment. To add fertilizer negates these processes which have added nutrients and organic matter to the soil and to use pesticides will disrupt the balance of the soil community, and can even destroy this system. The bacteria, fungus, insects, animals, and other organisms in the soil fix CO2, add organic matter to the soil, play a central role in the nitrogen cycle, aerate the soil, and provide many other natural services.


This is a helpful table and guide from the Natural Resources Conservation Service demonstrating the services that some elements of your soil food web provide for you. This diagram from the NRCS also shows the variety of organisms that live in and rely on your soil.


Image: NRCS - The Soil Biology Primer


This article from the Rodale Institute can give you more insight into what is growing underneath the grass. By allowing your yard to grow organically, you're letting nature run its course.


Why not extend this consideration of the ecosystem in your soil to the ecosystem around you? Check out the National Wildlife Federation's "Certified Wildlife Habitat" program! The process is fairly simple, and can be done on large or small areas of property. You are able to create a garden that attracts wildlife while restoring habitat in your residential area. The certification requires food for wildlife (which can include flowers for pollinators), supplying water for wildlife (as simple as a bird bath), creating cover for wildlife (using some native vegetation and shrubs), providing habitat for animals to provide offspring (in meadowland or even trees), and eliminating chemical use! 

Check out our new Organic Land Care Publications!

The Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards is the perfect guide for the dedicated organic homeowner or those who want to experiment with some organic techniques in their own yard. The guide provides an overview of organic gardening, because there is much more to organic land care than removing the fertilizer and pesticides from your yard.  The guide also includes a checklist of simple ways for you to use some do-it-yourself organic techniques in your yard! The new Guide to Organic Land Care 2011-2012  includes articles by our Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals which provide advice about soil maintenance, fostering biodiversity, pest management lawn health as well as a directory of local AOLCPs who can help you with your yard!  Both publications can be purchased here or by calling our office. 


 Homeowners Manual OLC


Water Conscious Summer Yard Care   

We've already gotten off to a pretty hot start this summer. But no fear! You have the organic tools to make your garden and lawn a little more drought and heat proof this summer.   


Remember that only young plants and annual vegetable gardens might need regular watering in the dry periods of the summer. Watering in the morning reduces evaporation and insures that more water gets to your plants. Refrain from watering more than once a week. If you must water, try using drip irrigation instead of a sprinkler.  Drip irrigation waters the soil instead of leaves and waters more deeply. Use compost and mulch to retain water in the soil.


Replacing some of your lawn with native plants will reduce the water required to keep your lawn green.  As this article by Collin Dunn on explains, native plants have evolved for the amount of precipitation they receive in your backyard, whether it is warm, cold, dry or moist.  Plants with deep roots (which is not a characteristic of mowed grass) are able to access water moisture deeper in the soil.


Unsure of what you could plant here in Connecticut? Check out this list of Connecticut native plants from the Connecticut Botanical Society and this list of Connecticut trees and shrubs, or try this Connecticut native plant list from the Wildflower Center. You can also head over to your local nursery and asking for advice on Connecticut Natives you can plant in your yard. 


NOFA OLC's Invasive Control Workshop on July 8, 2011
Donna Ellis Presentation
Invasives 4Invasives 6 Invasives 5

Top Left: Donna Ellis discusses the use of beneficial

 insects to control invasives.

Top Right: Mike Nadeau demonstrates using a weed 

wrench to remove unwanted plants.  

Middle Left: Mike Nadeau demonstrates the use of

 a flame weeder to kill specific invasive species, 

Middle Right: Donna Ellis (right) and Dr. Charlotte 

Pyle (left) discuss beneficial insects used to control

 Purple Loostrife, read this for more information on

 Donna's research on invasive control. 

Lower Left: Mike Nadeau demonstrates the use of 

a special bladed shovel to dig out Japanese Knotweed 


Photos by Bill Duesing. For more information check

 out this post on our blog. 


Planning for the Fall and Winter Harvest 

August 15 

Want to harvest greens from your garden through the fall and in to the early winter?  

Here are some of the crops you can grow here in Connecticut which you can harvest in the coming months: 

Arugula, Beets, Bok Choy, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Lettuce, Mibuna/Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi, Tendergreen and Turnips.

Any of these sound appetizing?


Come to Massaro Community Farm 

in Woodbridge, CT where Farm Manager Steve Munno will talk about what to plant and when to plant it to ensure a bounty of greens and other crops.  You'll sow seeds directly in the ground and prepare others for future transplanting.   You'll also have a chance to work with low hoops and floating row cover, which you can use to protect your crops from frost and help extend your harvest season.

Please register by calling our office at (203) 888-5146, printing and mailing this form  or via our online registration page


Compost Tea Workshop

August 23

Peter Schmidt

Peter Schmidt of Compostwerks, LLC will lead landare professionals and advanced gardeners through the environmentally cutting edge process that can reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides.  


An understanding of how roots, biology and soil influence plant health is critical in managing a landscape.  The workshop will comprise both classroom time and a staff-guided site visit to the Botanical Garden's compost tea facility.  Topics to be examined include compost production and its specific uses, the relationship between soil and plants, and the role and importance of organic matter and soil structure.

Students will come away with practical diagnostic tools and the knowledge of how to brew compost tea.  

Peter Schmidt is a certified Soil Foodweb Advisor, a certified arborist and founding partner of Compostwerks, LLC.  He has orked in the horticultural industry for 25 years.


Join us for the workshop on:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

9 am to 4 pm

New York Botanical Garden

2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458-5126

For information and registration:

For More Information on
the Organic Land Care Program:


Green Up Your Yard with Organic Land and Lawn Care: Save Money and the Environment

September 7  

If you're interested in organic land care and would like an introduction to organic techniques, you might want to consider the Organic Land Care Program's upcoming workshop at the Hagaman Memorial Library in East Haven CT. Kathy Connolly, an Advanced Master Gardener and Accredited Organic Land Care Professional, will explain the ecological and financial benefits of organic land care in your home and give you the resources and knowledge you need to get started. A half hour long question and answer period will give you time to ask some more specific questions about your yard. The workshop will take place on Wednesday, September 7 from 7:00 until 8:30pm and is free of charge, thanks to the generous support of the Quinnipiac River Fund. For more information visit 

or contact Clara at 203-888-5146. 



Permaculture Workshop

September 19   

Join us at Center for Sustainable Living, where you can observe the transitioning from a conventional greenhouse operation and home garden to a homestead designed according to permaculture principles. They grow most of their own fruits and vegetables and are planning a chicken coop attached to a greenhouse for mutual benefit of each of those.

There will be a short presentation on "Introduction to Permaculture" along with an opportunity to view the plans developed for the site.

Learn more about the plan for an edible forest garden and the possibilities of the mostly wooded site, including the productive use of the wooded areas by growing products such as mushrooms, ramps and goldenseal. They are developing a coppiced woodlot, water catchment and integrated garden areas.

See more at their blog.


Monday September 19, 2011

5:00 - 8:00 pm

Center for Sustainable Living

90 Cabbage Lane 

Bethlehem, CT 


Please register by calling our office at 888-5146, printing and mailing this form, or via online registration

The grass is not always greener in this New Haven yard on the 2011 CT NOFA City Farm and Garden Tour where the homeowner transitioned his lawn to garden in just a few weeks. (Photo Bill Duesing) 

CT NOFA / PO Box 164 / Stevenson, Connecticut 06491 /
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