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Garden Adventure is Saturday, June 7 from 10 am – 3 pm!

Family Garden Day is now Garden Adventure, and what an adventure it will be! Mill Creek MetroParks Garden Adventure is presented by Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley and sponsored by WFMJ/WBCB and Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens. Mandy Smith, FRG Horticulture Education Manager spoke with Lori Mowad, FRG Horticulture Educator, to find out more about the day’s events.

MS: Why did Family Garden Day change to Garden Adventure?
LM: Family Garden Day was typically held in August and there were only activities in the Family Garden. Garden Adventure celebrates all of the family-friendly areas found within Fellows Riverside Gardens. We changed the date to the first Saturday in June, the 7th, to encourage families to come out to the Gardens this summer and enjoy the flowers, the activities, Family Garden Fridays, and more. Garden Adventure is a free event and will run from 10 am – 3 pm.

MS: The theme for the Family Garden this year is Alice in Wonderland. Will Alice be at Garden Adventure?
LM: Oh yes, Alice will definitely be at Garden Adventure along with the White Rabbit, the Red Queen, the Red King, the Mad Hatter, Tweedledee, and Tweedledum! The Red Queen will actually be telling stories throughout the day. Families will be able to make their own Mad Hatter hats, play flamingo croquet, craft edible teacups, meet a live rabbit, and plant dahlias that will bloom red or white. By choosing the Alice in Wonderland theme, not only are we are celebrating plants, but also literacy and imagination as well.

MS: How will I be able to find all of the activities?
LM: The entrance to Garden Adventure will be brightly decorated and that is where each family can pick up a map and a schedule of activities. Activities are appropriate for ages 2 and up. In addition to Alice in Wonderland activities, you can make wooden planters with our friends from Home Depot, participate in a Drum Circle in the Ohio Woodland Garden, learn about pollinators and meet the Beekeeper, and visit our Plant Spirals exhibit in the Weller Gallery.

MS: What if I can’t make it to Garden Adventure? Are there other family-friendly activities at the Gardens this summer?
LM: Yes! Every Friday, now through October 17, there are Family Garden Friday drop-in activities from 11 am – 1 pm. Each week focuses on a different theme, such as worms, sunflowers, apples, etc. There are usually plantings, crafts, games, a walk, and a story. A special family program called Flashlights & Fireflies will be held on Thursday, June 26 from 7 – 8:30 pm, where families will go on a tour of the Gardens after sun down and make a firefly craft. Each month, the Gardens offers programs for children ages 3-17. June’s programs are Wonderland Creatures (ages 3-5), Bugs of Wonderland (ages 6-11), and Botanical Soaps (ages 10-17) all held on June 28. To register for these programs, call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330.740.7116. To see all the family friendly events happening throughout the MetroParks, visit our event page.

For questions or more information about Garden Adventure, call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330.740.7116. See you in Wonderland!

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It’s a BEEutiful spring at Fellows Riverside Gardens!

It’s all about BEES this spring at Fellows Riverside Gardens! Yesterday, we received additional hives to install in our Family Garden, and we now have our own honey and beeswax candles for sale! Read on to learn more about our buzzzzzzy friends!

11NEW BEES COME TO THE FAMILY GARDEN: Mandy Smith, FRG Horticulture Education Manager talked to Lori Mowad, FRG Horticulture Educator, and Don Kovach, Beekeeper with the Columbiana and Mahoning County Beekeepers Association to find out more about our new friends!
MS: Why were additional honeybee hives installed in the Family Garden?
LM/DK: We are installing two additional hives, plus replacing one from the two original hives from 2013 that were lost to the cold winter. We wanted to install two more hives to continue educating the public about the importance of pollinators to our health and nutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, out of approximately 100 crop species which provide 90% of our food worldwide, 71 are bee-pollinated! Honey is one of the best natural sweeteners and there are now studies being conducted on the benefits of local honey for allergy sufferers.

MS: Where did these hives originate?
LM/DK: All three hives are fresh from working the almond crops in California. They are an Italian breed of honeybee. We are releasing four pounds of honeybees into these three hives; each pound contains approximately 3,000 bees.

MS: What will these new hives need in order to survive and prosper?
LM/DK: As we put the honeybees in their new hives, we provide them with pollen patties and sugar water, a 1:1 solution, as supplements – basically for a rainy day. The queen is kept in a special box with ‘queen candy’ that keeps her from the rest of the hive. All three queens are new, so it is important for the colony to acclimate to her pheromones before she is released into the hive. The queen candy is eaten by both her and the worker bees, which then releases her and establishes her as queen. If she is released before the bees adjust she may actually be mauled.
The bees being released into the boxes are buzzing around; this is known as their orientation flights. Once the sun begins to set they will settle into the hives and as soon as the weather is warm, they will start collecting pollen.

MS: Why is the Family Garden at Fellows Riverside Gardens such a great place for honeybees and other pollinators?
LM/DK: First, it is the best place for pollinator education. We rely on our pollinators now more than ever. It is estimated that Ohio lost 40% of the honeybee population due to winter die off. Second, 23 out of the 24 garden areas at Fellows Riverside Gardens are pesticide-free and there is such a diversity of plant life — it is a safe haven for them. In the original hive, we have already found purple, white and yellow pollen.

MS: Inquiring minds want to know… when can we expect the first batch of honey from these bees?
LM/DK: It truly all depends on the weather. Honeybees need days of 50 degrees or higher to fly to collect pollen — the next ten days look great! The first batch should be ready by the end of July to the beginning of August.

MS: Any final thoughts?
LM/DK: We just want people to appreciate bees and understand their importance to our survival. If anyone sees a bee, please do not kill it, it is simply looking for a pollen source and may be sidetracked. If there is a swarm of bees in or around your home, please make sure that your exterminator knows to contact a beekeeper to collect the bees.


OUR OWN HONEY & BEESWAX CANDLES NOW ON SALE!: Fellows Riverside Gardens is selling honey and beeswax candles from our very own Family Garden! Our new bees will produce honey that should be ready by the end of the summer.

4Family Garden Beeswax Candles are $5 each and burn for 5 hours. They are handmade by FRG staff! The wax for the candles comes from the capped honey frames. We melt the excess wax in a solar wax melter. After the wax is melted, the wax is then strained and filtered of all impurities. There are still some impurities from the bees that remain – you can see small black particles in the candles. After the wax has been strained, we heat the wax and pour it into a silicon candle mold. Some of the wax is kept and we use it to put starter wax foundation on the frames. This helps the bees at the beginning of the new season.The strained part from the solar wax melter is put in our compost bin and then added back to the Family Garden after it has broken down.

3Family Garden Local Honey is $15 for 12 oz., $12 for 8 oz., and $3 for 2 oz. Both the candles and honey make great basket fillers and are truly handmade Youngstown originals! All items available for purchase at the Information Desk at Fellows Riverside Gardens, Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Supplies are limited! Call 330.740.7116 for information. All proceeds from the sale of these items benefit the Family Garden at Fellows Riverside Gardens!

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Eighth Annual Plant the Seed to Read Youngstown Area Children’s Book Festival held April 12!

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Plant the Seed to Read, the Youngstown Area Children’s Book Festival, will be held Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Mill Creek MetroParks’ Fellows Riverside Gardens. This eighth annual event is presented by Western Reserve Public Media, the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, Mill Creek MetroParks and the Altrusa Club of Youngstown. Admission is free.

Plant the Seed to Read is a family-friendly event that brings together authors, illustrators, book characters, storytellers and hands-on activities for children to promote literacy in the Mahoning Valley. The theme of this year’s Children’s Book Festival is “Reading Road Trip.” There will be storytelling from special guest readers throughout the D. D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center. Special guests also include storyteller and actor Tim Hartman, author Nancy Roe Pimm, author Nancy K. Wallace and author Paul Orshocki. Children can also visit the Western Reserve PBS booth area to meet and pose for photos with Daniel Tiger and Princess Presto (please bring cameras/smartphones for photos). Strollers are not permitted inside the building during this event – stroller parking will be available. Sign language interpreting will also be available. Call Mill Creek MetroParks at 330.740.7116 for more information

More information about presenting organizations:
Western Reserve Public Media: http://westernreservepublicmedia.org/
The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County: http://www.libraryvisit.org/
Mill Creek MetroParks: http://www.millcreekmetroparks.org/
Altrusa Club of Youngstown: http://districtfive.altrusa.org/club-locations/ohio-clubs/Youngstown/Youngstown-ClubNews.aspx

More information about special guests:
Tim Hartman: http://www.timhartman.com/
Paul Orshoski: http://paulorshoski.com/
Nancy Roe Pimm: http://www.nancyroepimm.com/
Nancy K. Wallace: http://www.nancykwallace.com

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Starting Seeds Indoors

Tremendous satisfaction can be gained from growing your own plants from seeds. Some plants, like tomatoes and peppers, need to be started early by sowing seeds indoors. Ellen Speicher, Mill Creek MetroParks Assistant Horticulture Director, answers some questions about sowing seeds inside.

flrstartsQ: I want to start seeds indoors. How much light will the seedlings need?

ES: Lots! Usually more than a windowsill can provide during winter. Also, growing seedlings will lean over toward the light from a window. An inexpensive way to grow better seedlings is to provide artificial light. Set up a work light with 2 – 4 cool white bulbs and suspend the lights only a couple of inches above the seedlings. Raise the light to keep it above the plants as the seedlings grow. Your plants will grow strong and straight!

Q: Why is temperature important when starting seeds indoors?

ES: There are two different temperatures that help grow strong seedlings. First is the germination temperature, which is the temperature at which the seed sprouts best. This temperature can be higher than the temperature in your home so it helps to use a heat mat especially made for seed starting. As soon you see green growth, remove the heat mat and grow the seedlings at the second temperature range, called the “growing on” temperature. This temperature is often lower than the germination temperature and allows for strong seedling growth. Most seed packets list these temperatures, which vary depending on what plant you are growing.

Q: When should I start my seeds?

ES: Check the seed packet for the proper sow date. Often the date will be written as a certain number of weeks before the last frost in spring. Count back from the last week in May to find out which week you should start your seeds inside.

Q: What is “hardening off”?

ES: This is the process of getting your tender indoor seedlings adjusted to the outdoors. Once temperatures are warm enough to grow the plants outside, slowly adjust your plants to outdoor conditions by putting them outside for a little longer every day. Start by setting them in the shade and gradually get them used to being in the proper amount of sun.

Need seeds? Visit Fellows Riverside Gardens to borrow seeds from our new Seed Library! “Check out” donated flower, herb and vegetable seeds to take home and plant in your own garden. In the fall, harvest seeds from your plants to bring back to the library to restock the Seed Library for next year.

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