Queens gardeners offered tips at Jamaica workshop

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Queens amateur gardeners got a chance to make their thumbs greener this week with a special course aimed at improving their crops.

The New York Restoration Project, the nonprofit set up by Bette Midler to bring more gardens to urban areas, hosted the second of four gardening workshops at the Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Community Garden at Foch Boulevard and 165th Street in Jamaica.

The classes focus on helping people extend the gardening season using special techniques and organic materials, according to Angela Michie, the coordinator of the event.

“The goal of the workshop is that we’re coming up mid-season so we’re teaching people how to maximize their vegetable and herb products,” she said.

The Restoration Project’s instructors were planning to give the interested participants different ways to remove bugs and other objects, like weeds, that can harm their greenspace. The students received a hands-on approach to garden maintenance with a tour of the southeast Queens garden, which was upgraded two years ago by the Restoration Project with new grass and environmentally friendly irrigation systems.

“They will go around and look at the garden and see the things to look out for,” Michie said.

The workshop was also designed to teach the participants how to make their own organic products for garden maintenance. One of the homemade solutions included an insecticide made out of baking soda and water, according to the coordinator.

The students were also to be given their own sample of Neptune organic fertilizer to use in their gardens.

“It’s made out of fish, so it boosts the plants in their beds,” Michie said.

The workshops are part of an ongoing series the Restoration Project has been conducting since April to teach the public different gardening techniques for different flora. In April, instructors taught the basics of gardening and last month workshops on perfecting “vertical gardening” were held in areas throughout the city.

Since the garden reopened in 2008, Michie said interest in the Restoration Project’s services has increased now that people have a place to practice their landscaping.

“We find when we do these restorations, people see this bright, new, shiny garden in their neighborhood and they want to get involved,” she said.

In August, the Restoration Project will hold another event on tree care at the Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Community Garden, Michie said.

“That will be covering caring for trees not only inside the gates but also on the street,” she said.

For more information on the New York Restoration Project, log on to

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 5:55 pm, October 10, 2011
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