The Mess That is the NY KNICKS

The New York Knickerbockers are one of New York City’s storied franchises. And when you consider that they can only claim two championship seasons in their history, those teams must have been prett…

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The Mess That is the NY KNICKS

The New York Knickerbockers are one of New York City’s storied franchises. And when you consider that they can only claim two championship seasons in their history, those teams must have been pretty special…so far above and beyond the norm. They created a truly mythic place for themselves in the annuals of the NBA. Names like Frazier, Reed, Monroe, DeBusschere and Bradley evoke memories of one of the most classic “teams” in a sport that is reverred for teamwork. The tale of Reed’s heroic appearance in game 7 against the Lakers on May 8, 1970 is the stuff of legends.

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But unfortunately in recent years the closest the Knicks have come to legendary has been in their epic mismanagement and mishandling of all things basketball since the end of the Patrick Ewing era in 2000.

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There has been a carousel of coaches and GM’s. Some really good, some really awful and everything in between. There was the “slap in the face” from Pat Riley. The laughable Isaiah Thomas era. The Larry Brown debacle. The Mike D’Antoni weirdness and the bizaare parting with Donnie Walsh, one of the few who actually knew what he was doing! Scott Layden, Glen Grunwald, Steve Mills and then the Zen Master’s arrival. It has been a model of total chaos and instability.

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Knick fans were hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of Phil Jackson as the new GM in March 2014, a move that was generally applauded by everyone. Was this the end to the craziness of the preceding years? Here was a man with 13 championship rings. Two as a player with these same Knicks, and 11 as a coach. Experience as a GM/Executive…zero. And of course this is New York afterall and the nay sayers said that a big reason for all the championships as a coach were due to primarily four people. Michael Jordan Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquile O’Neil. I accept that he had great talent but someone has to steer the ship.

Someone who knows what they’re doing. Jackson’s philosophies and tenants guided those journeys.   It’s not easy to win a championship. It’s a whole lot harder to multiple championships. Ask Patrick Ewing. So now we sit and watch and wait for Phil’s Knick tree to bloom. For all the controversy I do think Jackson has done four important things:

-Didn’t trade away draft picks for over priced, “over the hill” veterans who are nothing but a small band-aid on a gaping open wound.

-Previous regimes created massive salary problems by signing questionable players at ridiculous salaries. (See Jerome James, Jalen Rose) Phil has not. He has populated the team with young up and comers like Hernangomez, Kuzminskas, Holliday and Baker…role players who can start to form the nucleus of a winning team without busting the bank.

-Drafted a budding superstar in Kristaps Porzingas, a player that can be built around a la Patrick Ewing. There will no doubt be another first round difference maker available to the Knicks in this year’s draft. This pick could be instrumental in turning around the team.

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-Phil showed great patience in not trading Carmelo for basically nothing. If we are going to move our best player we need to get something reasonable in return. Maybe we don’t get a star back but at the very least we need to get a serviceable player or two to assist in the rebuilding for a year or two. I like Carmelo. I think he’s done everything he can to function at a high level throughout the insanity around him. Perhaps this summer the team will wave goodbye to Anthony but I much rather that a good decision be made once the team sees who the available free agents are, than a knee jerk reaction at this time of year. I am a fan of Phil’s cerebral approach.

To really evaluate Jackson’s contributions to the Knicks, we need to see another off-season or two for him to finally turn this mess around. I understand that long suffering Knick fans don’t want to hear that sort of talk but considering everything that’s gone on with this franchise since Ewing retired, I think it’s definitely worth the wait. And for now all I can say is…LET’S GO METS!

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2016 JETS…Finally a Right Decision?

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So another football season rolls into December and begins to wind down for the also rans…a term all too familiar to JET fans. When the season should be heating up and the competition for a playoff spot reaching a fever pitch, the New York JETS will be heading home to lick their wounds and wonder what went wrong in 2016.

Here is my post mortem on a season slowly fading to black.

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1-Thankfully the JETS have made what I believe to be a right decision. Let me see the kid! Bryce Petty was named the QB for the remainder of the season. At some point we need to know what we have…if anything. Yesterday’s win against a lousy 49er team didn’t show us much but it showed that Petty is tough, resilient and has some talent. But he will need to show more more more if he has aspirations to be the answer the JETS have been seeking. Athletic? Check. Somewhat mobile? Check. Huge arm? Check. He needs on the field game experience. And to work with the first team offense.  Getting Decker back will be a huge plus.  That guy is money and he could be invaluable in Petty’s growth.  Fitpatrick and Smith are just not viable options anymore. And if Petty isn’t the man then they need to find out quickly so they can find somebody “to keep the seat warm” as Bill Parcells used to say until they can finally draft “the Guy”, who will lead the team for the next 10 years. Mark Sanchez was supposed to be that guy. We know how that turned out.

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2-Though the coaching of Todd Bowles has been questioned by many, I believe this has been a down year complicated by aging players and injuries and the lack of consistent play at the Quarterback position. These factors are really out of Bowles control. The horrible play of the defensive backfield is his domain and he has failed miserably getting those guys to play together but I still think Bowles deserves a chance to right the ship next year. If the results are similar next year then I say bye bye birdie.

3-What the heck is up with the defense? The front seven were supposed to be EPIC…as in GREAT. They have been completely ordinary with the notable exception of Leonard Williams who is destined to be a star. Wilkerson, obviously not completely recovered from his broken leg of last year ha been a complete non-factor. It seems his health is now improving to the point that he is becoming the player we thought he was. Sheldon Richardson is a talented guy who is a total nutcase. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is traded for draft picks in the off season if anyone will have him. The JETS miss Damon Harrison as I expected they would. The linebacking has been so-so. David Harris has become old and slow. I like the young guys Lee and Jenkins but they are just that…young guys who need experience and grooming. The secondary has been a huge disappointment. Calvin Pryor has been miserable. Much was expected of Buster Skrine. Unfortunately he’s done little.

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Revis Island? What a joke. DR has become an old slow and injured man, and much more rapidly that anyone thought he would. It’s painfully obvious his wrist problem is severly affecting his physical style of play. He has played better of late. Maybe he too is finally becoming healthy just in time for the season to end. He’ll be playing safety next year, if he’s even still with The JETS.

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4-The offensive line has been inconsistent all year. With Mangoold in and out, Giacomini in and out, Clady in and out, the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and the departure of Chris Ivory, the running game has been mediocre. Yesterday Bilal Powell showed us that he is a professional. Why this guy doesn’t get the respect, and why he doesn’t get more snaps is beyond me. Will Mangold return?  That remains to be seen.

Woody & Maccagnan

5-This year Mike Maccagnan will be severely tested as he runs a  crucial draft to re-stock the JETS with new talent. One only needs to take a look at what the JETS have done in the draft over the last five years and it’s plain to see why they are suffering from a dearth of high level NFL talent. But I have faith in this man to step up and do what needs to be done. Based on what he’s done so far I think we are in good hands. He better step up or it’s going to get even more ugly that it already is.

Sorry there’s not much to look forward to JETS fans. Maybe if Petty shows us something we’ll have that much to hang our hats on. Hopefully management will make more right deisions. Time to re-tool this againg team. We have some decent young players. Time to find out if any of them can be factors in the NFL.

 

 

 

 

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How Could a Jet Win or Loss this week become a Win-Win-Win?

I’ve been very very quiet about this 2016-2017 JET season. It’s been a fairly dismal disappointing season for sure. Now the team has arrived at a place that in my opinion, can be a win-win-win rega…

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How Could a Jet Win or Loss this week become a Win-Win-Win?

I’ve been very very quiet about this 2016-2017 JET season. It’s been a fairly dismal disappointing season for sure. Now the team has arrived at a place that in my opinion, can be a win-win-win regardless of whether or not they beat The Dolphins this Sunday or lose the game.

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Now you’re thinking , “Yo’ Joe…have you lost what little mind you had to begin with? Have the unfortunate years of Jet calamities finally added up to the mental breakdown that was often predicted?”

Nope. I’m not crazy. I’m not delusional. I’m not a victim of years of accumulated Jet pain(also referred to frequently as “THE CURSE”). Nope. I am a reasonable and pragamatic fellow and after having studied the situation I see this weekend’s Jet-Dolphins game as a win-win-win no matter what happens. Allow me to explain.

 

First off let us assume the Jets lose the game in Miami. Yes it would count as a loss and probably end the team’s chances of making the post season and all but guarantee them a losing season. Well that’s a negative but in reality that’s the first WIN. Why? How? Depending on just how miserable the season gets we are all but guaranteed a great player in next year’s draft. I think Mikey Mac has done an awesome job as GM and I have every faith he’ll get his man.

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Now let’s assume the Jets win in Miami. Both in the obvious sense and the“keep the season alive”sense. If The Jets can indeed squish the Fish, their record improves to 4-5 and plops them into the wild card race with lots of games left in the season. That is a WIN. The following week they play a schizoid Rams team that is certainly another possible win. They would then be sitting at their bye week with a record of 5-5 with 6 games to go. They could end up 10-6 or 9-7 and squeak into the playoffs. Certainly a win no matter how you look at it.

Now for a moment let’s assume once again that The Jets lose to the Dolphins this Sunday. Once again…WIN!  Why?!??! They would be a dismal 3-6 and management would be forced to look at Bryce Petty and maybe even Christian Hackenberg. This is a major win going forward. We will finally get to see what they have in the potential starting QB sweepstakes once and for all.

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It’s pretty obvious after the events of the last couple of weeks that Geno Smith won’t be back and neither will Fitzpatrick.  Finding out what’s on the roster can only be looked upon as a WIN.  A huge win going forward considering the QB problems this team has had over the years.

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Nature Boy Strikes Again (Happy Frogging!)

Recently I was in Nags Head on the Outer Banks of North Carolina visiting friends and family. This area is awash in various species of Tree Frogs. It was fairly easy to catch a few by hand so I decided these cute little guys would make cool pets. So we caught a few and brought them home to Long Island.

They went from being snake, bird and lizard food to being my own little terrarium zoo on my desk. I figure it’s a lot safer for them in my office than their previous haunts.

I had an old 10 gallon aquarium up in the attic. I cleaned it up and bought a screen cover. I also got a day and night light combo (you can anything you need for reptiles/amphibians from Jungle Bob Smith’s REPTILE WORLD in Centereach NY)

I also collected and brought back a couple of prickly pear cactus from The Outer Banks along with some sandy soil, some twigs and a few small pine cones. I wanted the little dudes to feel comfortable and at home in their new environment.

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Then I did a little research. What do these guys eat? Well probably bugs I thought but which ones and how would I make them available to my little buddies?   After a little reading online and my conversation with the aforementioned Jungle Bob, I learned that two very nutritious meals that are very popular with these frogs.

First and foremost they love crickets. I found out that three different sizes of crickets are easily available at most pet shops. That was simple. Not only are they available but the small ones that the frogs prefer are very inexpensive. 15 for a dollar. That lasts them for a couple of days. I bought a cricket cage to maintain a small community of the insects so I always have food on hand for the frogs. I add a little water and a couple of slices of fresh carrots. That all the care and feeding the crickets require. The cage has long black tubes in which the crickets spend most of their time hiding. I slowly remove the tube, open the top of the terrarium, and tap the tube into the tank dislodging the crickets into the environment where the frogs can eat them.

 

The other food they really like is flightless fruit flies. I visited John at BTJ’s Jungle in West Islip NY. He sold me a cup, About the size of a one pound deli salad with some flies and food on the bottom. The flies lay eggs. The eggs become larvae and eventually they become flies. They continue the cycle over and over providing a steady supply of live food for the frogs.

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Every few nights I sprinkle a batch of flies into the aquarium and the frogs do the rest. Pretty amazing to watch them hunt!

What about the actual environment? I was told to keep it moist and humid which is easily achieved by spraying once a day with an easily obtainable spray bottle.

I really like air plants. They are delicate and beautiful and pretty eay to maintain so I added a few to the terrarium with the frogs. The plants also like a humid environment so that goes together well with what the frogs like.

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Frogs can get pretty frisky when they are hunting and can disturb and disrupt the plants and the setup within the tank so I came up with a good solution. I found a small log out in the yard. Cut it to fit within the confines of the tank. Then I drilled some holes in it to accommodate the air plants. The plants are protected and the frogs can go about their business.

Tree frogs are great starter pets if you’re interested in a cool terrarium or you want to get into more sophisticated reptiles/amphibians at a later time. I’d suggest you contact Jungle Bob Smith’s REPTILE WORLD in Centereach or John at BTJ’s JUNGLE in West Islip. Happy frogging!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Season of Discontent

From the moment the 2015 World Series ended the fan base of the NEW YORK METS wanted nothing more than a victory in the 2016 WORLD SERIES.

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Unfortunately there have been a three unforseen problems that have sabotaged the METS 2016 season.

 

Met fans don’t want to hear it because there have been so many disappointing seasons over the years. But this season was wrecked by circumstances that are just an annoying part of the game that can’t be planned or controlled. Pointing fingers at management, coaching etc etc makes no sense. As the saying goes, “Shit happens”.

Problem number one. Their vaunted pitching staff was pretty average for most of the year. The hype said the Mets were looking at 4 – 20 game winners. NOT. But going forward they still have the making of a great, strong, young rotation that will be together for at least the next few years…still time for them to make a big impact, and I still believe there will be great success ahead.

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Problem number two. Can anybody get a hit with men on base? The METS failure to drive in runs, given numerous opportunities have been nothing short of epic. If it weren’t for the early success of Neal Walker, and the continuing brilliance of Wilmer Flores and Yoenis Cespedes, the numbers would be completely ridiculous. At one point Granderson was hitting less than .150 with RISP!  YIKES !

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Problem number three. INJURIES.

Plain and simple one injury after another completely derailed the METS this season. When you take a moment to really think about it, it is truly amazing that the METS have managed to endure, and as of this writing they are still on the fringe of the playoffs having lost just about every major player on the team. It’s incredible.

Has ANY team ever had to deal with the rash of physical ailments like the 2016 METS have had to deal with?

Matt Harvey….out for the season.

Zach Wheeler…out for the season.

David Wright…out for the season.

Lucas Duda…out for the season.

Juan Lagares…out for the season.

Travis D’Arnaud…out for many games.

Wilmer Flores…out for many games.

Yoenis Cespedes….out for a bunch of games

Neal Walker out for a bunch of games.

Jose Reyes…out for a bunch of games

Asdrubal Cabrerra….out for a bunch of games.

How is it possible that the METS are even close this year? Can they find a hot streak in themselves ? If they can somehow win 14 of 18 they can creep back into a race they have no right even being in. And if not…well we’ll see you next year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nature Boy Strikes Again!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have always had a deep appreciation for the natural world. WhenI was a little kid I was up in the Catskill Mountains catching bluegills with dough balls and big ole bullfrogs by hand…much to the chagrin of my mother and her friends. I collected salamanders and newts…kept toads in terrariums…took care of an ant colony I dug up and even caught some awesome spiders and kept them as pets in gallon jugs. Let’s not foget the snakes we caught…the hamsters we raised and the ever popular chameleons (Anoles)

My father was big on tropical fish and I remember him setting up a big aquarium in the family family of our house in Brooklyn. From that moment on I had the bug! I soon found myself on a lifelong mission to create as natural an environment as possible for just about any sort of watery friends I could try.  Freshwater fish, saltwater fish, in the house or in the yard.

The “disease” started with silver angelfish, a fairly common freshwater variety that my father was partial to. Then I was off to the beach with my buddy Stevie catching some crabs, spearing and killifish and maintaining them in my mother’s basement. The equipment was primitive in those days so it was a real challenge. Then as a teenager Stevie I dug a pond in my father’s yard and went out fishing to stock it. We managed to catch a bunch of sunfish and a large bullhead catfish which we released into the 10 x 12 foot area.   It lasted for a season or too and when the cement cracked, and the winter was upon us this little pond was history.

In the ensuing years I became one of the largest importer-exporters of marine tropicals in the USA. We wholesaled all types of exotic coral reef fish and invertebrates to pet shops in both North America and Europe. It was a stimulating business. A young man’s business…challenging both physically and mentally. I made a lot of money in a short time and decided that the crazy hours would be best left to someone else. I sold out but I never lost the love and fascination the amazing creatures I had come into contact with.

Fast forward many years. I’m living in a new home and I’m thinking I’d love to build a pond in my yard. A nice freshwater environment to relax and enjoy nature up close and personal. So around 2001 I started building a pond with a waterfall right in the backyard of my home within 10 feet of the back door. I could never understand why anyone would build something like this far far away from the house. I wanted to interact with these critters.  One morning while feeding the adult fish I noticed quite a few smaller fish with the distinct and unmistakable markings of baby koi. They were resembling the markings of some of the adult fish and I was pretty excited and amazed. There are SO MANY OF THEM !

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This is the largest koi in the pond.  Distinctive black flecks on a bright orange body.  A few of the small fish are exhibiting similar markings so I’ll assume they are the children of this one. Not sure what sex the fish is but I suspect female.

Here are the kids…sorry the photos are tough to take in moving water with moving fish

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The pond has been running with a filtration system I devised for about 15 years now and for the first time the koi which inhabit this spot are breeding with great success. Up until this point I had only one koi survive to adulthood and I’d never really seen too many juvenile fish in the pond. The goldfish on the other had breed regularly and I’ve given away quite a few to other pond enthusiasts but the koi are a lot tougher to propagate…that is until this season.

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These adults have a more typical color pattern and here are the baby fish on the left in this shot  that resemble them.

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This large yellow koi called a Sunshine Koi for obvious reasons also has some progeny swimming about.

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I decided to try and give them a better chance at growing into adults, I’d take some of the responsibility out of the hands of Mother nature, and I started feeding them

Some really nutritious flake foods that I ordinarily feed my satwater fish in the house. It seems to be doing the trick. The young koi have gone from 1-2 inches to 3-4 inches in a very short time. They seems healthy and active and their color patterns are more pronounced. I have a couple of large bullfrogs and a red eared slider (turtle) also living in the pond at the moment, and they don’t seem to be causing any problems with these young fish. I also have a large channel catfish that generally eats anything that fits in it’s rather large mouth. So far they seems to have avoided him as well.

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As the summer rolls on I’ll try and collect btter photos and report on how the baby koi are doing.

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NY METS-JUNE 2016

From the moment the World Series ended the fan base of the NEW YORK METS have only thought of one thing. Get back to the Series and WIN IT.

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Management did everything within reason to make that wish a reality.

Cespedes is amongst us.

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The pitching staff is solid…(despite Matt Harvey’s recent hiccups)

In addition to the signing of the big slugger, they upgraded both short and second by bringing in Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker. These guys are professionals and have shown it since they’ve been here. . Reliable steady bats and gloves to support the pitching staff with solid middle infield defense. The METS have made more double plays than ever…a boon to the young flame throwing arms. They re-signed Bartolo Colon…a great move. He’s been great and will keep eating innings until Wheeler gets back.

So where are we on June 13, 2016? The injury bug has taken a nice big bite out of the METS lineup. Once again Wright is out indefinitely, and his career could possible be over depending on what he looks like when he gets back. Duda out indefinitely with the foot fracture. Flores hurting but trying to tough it out. Lagares hurting and trying to touch it out. Conforto hurting and trying to tough it out. Actually today’s NEWSDAY says his bad left wrist will be examined doctors today.

D’Arnaud out indefinitely but maybe it looks like he may be back sooner rather than later. Wow. The Mets are fielding a minor league team similar to th eone they put on the field last year at this time. Great move bringing back Kelly Johnson from the Braves and I like the Loney deal too.

The METS are 34 and 28 after a 5-5 road trip that could have easily been 7-3. Though they are scuffling along, they are keeping their heads in the race with Tha=e Nats and I there’s something to be said about that.

Terry Collins

The latest bug bite came yesterday when Terry Collins went to the hospital before the Brewer game in Milwaukee with what has been described as “undisclosed symptoms”. That sounds fairly ominous for a 67 year manager in the middle of the season. I guess we are going to find out just how resilient, just how tough these METS are. They sit 4 and a half games behind rival Nationals. It’s quite early to be drawing any definitive conclusions, but if they pitch as expected, and if they can get some of their front line palyers back off the DL, they should be battling the NATS all season long.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gearing Up For Summer 2016

I’ve decided that time goes by way too fast. I was talking to a friend of mine that other day and it is truly amazing how we were young men of 24 and then bang…40 years went by! It’s another growing season here on Long island and once again I’m out in the sun with my hands in the dirt.

The small plants we started in the house are now transferred into the garden plot. This was a very late spring. The weather was pretty cold and miserable which made hardening the plants a big pain in the butt…but…they finally got rolling and during the past couple of weeks we got everything into the ground. Usually we have the tomatoes and peppers in the ground around Mother’s Day.  It’s been a late year indeed.

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The garlic we planted last September is now about 30 inches high and looking good and strong. We will be picking them in about three and a half weeks.

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The asparagus patch has been giving us a nice crop, the last of which we ate this evening. Hopefully we’ll get some more shoots before the plants go to seed in a few weeks.

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We’ve been eating red and white romaine lettuce and arugula for a few weeks now. We can never eat as much as we grow! Been giving it away to appreciative folks.

 

Our blueberry bushes are full of green fruit and it looks like it’s going to be another good year of around 20 pounds. I use BLUEBERRIES ALIVE, a great organic fertilizer that we get online from GARDENS ALIVE. Give them plenty of water and sunshine and the fruit will be great. Our patch is enclosed in a 10 x 10 structure covered with ¼ inch metal screen to keep out both the 4 legged and 2 legged animals. 😉

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We planted two types of kale this year…red ragged leaf and dinosaur Italian heirloom. Both are a little slow getting started but my experience is once they get rolling there’s no stopping them!

We also have brussels sprouts and cabbage in the ground. These vegetables are very slow growing and won’t be ready till September.

So far 2016 looks like a great year for vegetables on Long Island.  Enjoy the summer!

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