Friday, December 18, 2015

Last Minute Holiday Shopping? We Have Your Perfect Answer!

Struggling to find that perfect gift? 

Want to give something unique, that will leave a lasting impression? 

Look no further! 

NHS of New Haven, in partnership with Common Ground, is now taking registrations for their Winter Garden series. A perfect gift for anyone in your life who loves to garden, or is thinking about starting a garden in the spring.

Individual classes are just $20 or $100 for the entire 6-session series.

Don't hesitate! Space is limited! Visit:

Classes (10am-12pm): 

Soil & Garden Planning -- Saturday, January 23, 2016
The most important component for a successful garden is soil health. Learn how to make and keep your soil healthy, as well as how to plan your garden for the most productive season.

Cool Weather Crops -- Saturday, January 30, 2016
Learn about starting your garden as soon as the snow is gone! Cool weather crops don't mind the cold and give you a head start on the season. Most can be planted directly in the ground saving any space you use for seedlings for other crops.

Warm Weather Crops -- Saturday, February 13, 2016
Everything you'll need to know about warm weather crops; which ones are best started indoors, or direct seeded into the ground. What fertilizers to use, what conditions each crop prefers, all the information for a productive growing season.

Container Gardening and Seed -- Saturday, February 27, 2016
Some people have no access to garden space; that doesn't mean you can't grow your own vegetables. Container gardening can be rewarding and supply you with more food than you thought! Learn the in's and out's of using containers for your growing needs. The class will also go through everything you need to know to start your own seedlings. Everyone attending will get to plant a six pack of seedlings to take home with them.

Edible Landscaping & Edible/Invasive Weeds -- Saturday, March 12, 2016
Attractive plants or food? Why not have both! Lots of edible plants are beautiful additions to even an ornamental garden. Learn which plants will perform well in either a vegetable or ornamental garden, which ones not only produce food but create attractive areas in your garden. Also learn about weeds that are edible and nutritious, and invasive plants and how to get rid of them.

Pests, Disease & Organic Controls -- Saturday, March 26, 2016
There are lots of pests and diseases that can affect your garden. Learn about the prevalent ones and what organic controls you can use to combat them for a healthy, productive garden. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Recap: Community Gardens and Outdoor Education, Fall 2015

Work in our community gardens this autumn was more fun than usual due to the enthusiastic participation of several groups of young volunteers. Youth from the ages of 4-17 have helped clear beds, rake leaves, and plant trees and bulbs in the Ivy Street, Stevens Street, and Davenport Street gardens this October and November. By working with local youth programs, we at NHS hope to instill in neighborhood kids a sense of ownership over their public spaces, and provide young people with safe spaces to explore and learn about their environment.

Many hands make light work, no matter how small the hands are – and gardening offers no end to educational opportunities. The youngest kids, through the Citycology program at Solar Youth, had a blast learning about compost and worms at the Ivy Street garden. Older students from Solar Youth learned about bulb planting. Youth from Squash Haven who planted trees in the Stevens Street garden not only learned about hoop houses and tree planting, but also developed quite a knack for riding in wheelbarrows. Common Ground High School students, on their community service day, raked and composted in the Ivy Street garden, and also repaired a fence on the outside of the garden. Even seasoned environmental studies students were surprised by what they learned. One freshman from the Sound School, while working along the Farmington Canal Trail, admitted that before he and his classmates saw which bulbs we were planting, he had been confused about why anyone would think burying lightbulbs would be a good idea.

One of the best parts of community gardening with students is that no question is too basic to ask. Outside of a classroom, in an environment without grades or rubrics, curiosity trumps embarrassment, and lessons students understood theoretically become much more real. One Sound School student exclaimed, as she raked up leaves by the community wall on Shelton Avenue, 
“Now I know where all the wrappers go when I drop them on the ground at the bus stop! They all blow over here and then I have to pick them up!” 
A sense of responsibility over the cleanliness of her neighborhood? Check.
We are looking forward to more outdoor programming this spring.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Loving Your House #5: Late Autumn/Early Winter Tips for Homeowners

Love Notes from the Director of Design & Construction, H. Dynia


Why rake and remove leaves?  People don’t like the “messy” look of leaf litter blowing around, which can be slippery when wet, and grass covered with leaves through the winter will negatively affect the health of the lawn.  Leaves are a valuable soil amendment that should not be sent “away”.  Learn to process them into a soil amendment that can make your soil more fertile and biologically healthier.  Placing ground up leaves on your shrub or flower beds will help woody plant materials to endure a tough winter by keeping the root zone warmer and moister.  However, it is better to place the leaf mulch on the plant beds later in the Fall, like now, rather than earlier in the Fall, because the favorable conditions you are creating may cause the buds the plant has set for next spring to open now.  This practice will give the earth worms a head start on converting the leaf mulch into elements the plants can use.  Another advantage is that you are getting your final cut done on your grass, which adds the nitrogen-containing clippings to your leaf mulch.  You will be surprised at how you can reduce a 2 foot high pile of leaves into a 2 – 4 inch layer of leaf mulch instantly.  There are easy ways to do this that save you time and energy.  Instead of collecting, bagging, and “getting rid of” the leaves, consider these strategies:

1.      In General, work from high to low, clean the house gutters first, so you can just throw it
down where you will be raking anyway.  Although sailors hate wind-less conditions, it is easy to deal with leaves when conditions are still.
2.      To most easily process your leaves, a mulching mower is best.  A walk-behind power mower of at least 5 HP (very common) that does not discharge leaves to the side enables you to chop up leaves without blowing them all over the lawn.  However, if all you have is a side discharge mower, you can make that work if you plan where you want the leaves to end up.  Set the cutting height lower rather than higher, since the grass may continue to grow some until the real cold sets in. 
3.      This process works best if you can work with the weather.  Dry leaves chop up much easier than wet leaves, and are easier to move around. If you know there is a rain storm coming, don’t rake them into piles, they will stay wet for a long time.  Instead, leave them where they fall and let them dry out for a day or two.

4.      You can rake them into a pile, using a wide bamboo rake, and then mow the pile, slicing off a narrow strip on each pass.  After going through the whole pile this way, you can then “cross cut” the pile, in the other direction, to further reduce the bulk. If you are starting with dry, crispy leaves, you will end up with something close to “leaf powder”.  Generally, you will do this on the lawn area somewhere close to the ultimate destination, but it is best to do on a pavement, like a driveway, because then you don’t have to rake out the fine “choppings” from the grass where you processed them.

5.      After the chopping process is done to your satisfaction, rake up you product and place it on shrub, flower, or vegetable garden areas.  A layer 2 -3 inches is plenty.  By the spring, it will be 1 inch or less.  Leave as little of the ground up leaves in the grass as possible because too much of a good thing will affect the soil PH unfavorably for grass growth.  In the spring, you can cultivate the leaf mulch right into the soil or just leave it in place, or cover it with decorative bark mulch.

6.      If there are already fallen leaves on your shrub beds and garden areas, you don’t need to remove them, just place your leaf mulch over them, and the earthworms will take care of the rest.

7.       Following this system will allow you to create the maximum favorable conditions for your plants and soil during the winter, because nature will be working for you (earthworms, moisture, warmth) rather than against you (dry, sterile soil, desiccated plants, frozen root zones).  Then you can apply decorative mulch in the spring, and your landscape will look fresh, and the soil with be healthier.

8.      Care of the mower is important when used in this manner.  The most vulnerable component is the air filter.  This will clog up after a few hours in a dusty leaf pile.  Often it can just be removed and knocked around to get the dirt out enough to keep the engine up to power.  Symptoms of a clogging air filter is a noticeable decline in engine power to the point of it not being able to do anything.  Also, when refueling, do not allow crumbs of leaves to get into the fuel tank.  Carefully brush the dirt away around the fuel tank filler cap before refueling. 

If this article is catching you too late to be of benefit, save it for next year, it will give you time to plan out a strategy and get the equipment you need.  A decent mulching mower as described should cost under $200, and you still may be able to get one on clearance hidden somewhere away for the season.  Your neighbors can benefit from this process, so if they see you at work, take the time to explain what you are doing, and the benefits thereof.  Whole towns and cities can benefit if residents take care of their leaves on site, rather than exporting them”away”.      


If you have had ice dam damage from ice on your roof in the past, now is the time to think about how to avoid this kind of problem for next winter, because we do not know how challenging or benign the next winter will be.  Here are 3 possible strategies to deal with ice dams:

      1.  If your roof is worn and ready for re-roofing, current building codes require membranes along the lower edges of the roof that greatly reduce leaks from ice dams.

2.  Place heat-producing cables along roof edges and gutters to melt away ice as it forms.  These products are readily available at home centers and hardware stores, but can be challenging to install if you are not comfortable with heights and ladders.  Follow the products instructions for installation and use. They will cost you some electricity to operate. 

3.  Acquire a roof rake and pull off as much snow from the roof as you can, if you can reach it with the extended handle of the roof rake.  Especially concentrate on the eve (lower) areas.  If the sun can reach the roof material, it often can warm it enough to defeat ice build-up.

Another casualty of the past winter has been hardscape areas, which may have been damaged by snow plows, snow shovels, ice choppers, and ice melting chemicals.  When using de-icing chemicals on concrete, or concrete pavers, only use products that are labeled as “pavement friendly”.  Sodium Chloride (rock salt) destroys concrete.  Calcium Chloride is less destructive.  Surface damage to limited areas such as steps, porches, etc. can be repaired with high-strength concrete repair and re-surfacing materials, a task within grasp of most homeowners.

Any questions?! Feel free to email us at! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Attention Wells Fargo Customers: Home Preservation Workshop!

Are you facing mortgage payment challenges?

Home Preservation Workshop 
hosted by 

Get the answers you need at a FREE mortgage assistance event. You'll personally meet with a Wells Fargo representative who will privately discuss your financial concerns and options. Plus, you get the opportunity to see if you're eligible for a loan modification under the government's Home Affordable Modification Program.
DATE:  Thursday, December 10, 2015
TIME:  10:00am - 7:00pm
Place:  Omni Hotel
            155 Temple Street

  • Learn about options that may help you overcome payment challenges and help you get back on track with your mortgage payments. 
  • Understand how you may be able to keep your home and avoid foreclosure.
  • Connect with helpful resources such as housing counselors and learn about online tools available to you. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Submissions Wanted! Newhallville99

Proud Past. Promising Future.

The Newhallville99 project is designed to celebrate the rich and vibrant history of New Haven's Newhallville neighborhood, and to highlight recent initiatives and accomplishments within this community. Newhallville99 is a way for everyone, whether they reside in Newhallville or not, to be inspired to engage with their communities, be proud of where they live, and look forward to a future of never ending possibilities.

Submit Via Email
What do you love about Newhallville? Send a photo and a short blurb
Follow Us on Facebook
Visit our facebook page,/Newhallville99 to stay in touch with the project's latest news.
Follow Us on Instagram
Like our Instagram page,/newhallville99 to potentially see your submission!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Today's the Day! #GivingTuesday 12/1/15

Join the Movement and Give Back!

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

Please consider contributing to NHS today or help us by spreading the word about the #GivingTuesday movement.

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NHS Sixth Newsletter by Will Taft on Scribd