Upcoming Middletown Events

A downtown Middletown clean-up event is being sponsored by Cinder + Salt and Councilman Ed Ford this Saturday, April 17, 10 a.m. to noon. The meeting place is Cinder + Salt at 195 Main Street, near Thai Gardens. Please register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cinder-salt-earth-day-street-clean-up-with-the-city-of-middletown-tickets-141877652879. If you can’t make this event, another is coming up in May.

For Middletown residents, the Recycling Commission is sponsoring its annual Earth Day paper-shredding event on Saturday, April 24 from 9 to 11 at Vets’ Park off Newfield St. Confidential papers only (no junk mail!), and a limit of five boxes or bags per car.

Middletown’s Arbor Day ceremony honoring local legislators and John Hall will take place on April 30 at 2 p.m. in the garden of the Middlesex County Historical Society, 151 Main St. Enter through the gate off Spear Park.

Tree Fund Gift Supports Spring Tree Planting

Middletown’s Public Works Department and Urban Forestry Commission will soon be planting more trees, with support of the Jonah Center’s Tree Fund. In the coming weeks, you will see water bags on the trees planted last fall along Church Street near the Traverse Square apartments (with cost sharing by the Middletown Housing Authority) and along 3 sides of the YMCA. These 22 new trees added to the approximately 130 trees planted by the Urban Forestry program, funded by the city budget.

Recently, the Jonah Center Tree Fund received an unsolicited $500 donation from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/Sally Ann McGee D’Aquila & Salvatore D’Aquila, Jr. Fund. We hope this timely example will inspire others to support the Jonah Center’s ongoing Replace Our Trees program. Gifts received will continue to supplement plantings by the Urban Forestry Commission in Middletown. In the past decade or so, Middletown has lost over 100 trees per year, and that is just counting the trees on city property.

Even though the city’s tree maintenance budget was dramatically increased last year, those funds are strained by the need to catch up on the large number of tree removals that are required for public safety, often at a cost of over $1000 per tree. The Jonah Center’s Tree Fund is a way that local residents can help stop the rapid disappearance of trees from the urban landscape due to age, climate change, and pests.  Arborist Jane Harris chooses species for new trees that promise to be more resilient and resistant to such threats. Food and habitat for wildlife, the need to avoid too many trees of a single species in a given location, and a species’ ability to withstand urban conditions such as road salt and root confinement are also considered in these decisions.

To assist in the effort, you may donate by check payable to The Jonah Center, PO Box 854, Middletown 06457 or by credit card/PayPal here. Indicate “Tree Fund” in the memo line or using the online donation form.

In Portland, the Jonah Center is still seeking permission and planting sites for new trees after a disappointing season in 2020, when we obtained permission to plant only 3 trees, and those were on private property. We are looking for sites in or near the town center area where trees will improve a streetscape, shade a sidewalk or other pavement to mitigate “heat islands” in summer, and where the property owner or tenant can take responsibility for watering. If you know of such a site, send us a message here.

Volunteers Sought for Air Line Trail Clean-up Day

Air Line Trail eastbound approaching overpass at Middle Haddam Road.

The Portland Air Line Trail Committee will host a trail maintenance day on Saturday, April 24TH (rain date May 1ST) starting at 10:00 a.m. gathering at the trailhead parking lot at 82 Middle Haddam Road. We will be trimming back invasive plants and branches along the trail, picking up litter and sticks, and sweeping the asphalt approaches at the intersections at Breezy Corners Rd and Middle Haddam Rd.

We are planning for a minimum 2-hour event. Please bring your own work gloves, masks and any equipment you have available, i.e. pruners, trimmers, etc. We will maintain social distancing while working (family members may work together). Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

If you can possibly assist, please email your name(s), email address and contact phone number to:  chantal.foster@comcast.net

Elisabeth Holder’s Garden in Spring

Our Alive Outside initiative features articles, stories, and artwork that help us connect with the world outside. Thanks to Jim Fellows for arranging this piece by local gardener and environmental advocate, Elisabeth Holder.

 

When I was in high school, I worked for an Englishman named Mr. Follet who’d retired from running a nursery in my hometown. My main job was helping this 86 year old man keep up with the weeding, but he took some time every day to teach me something. Some of the lessons that I’ve retained for the last 5 decades were to “know the weed” before you pull it, always take good care of your tools, and sharpen them frequently so they cut easily and cleanly.

 

I plant most of my vegetables in raised beds, but grow onions, garlic, and rhubarb in well-mulched areas at ground level. They seem particular about having good juicy soil and lots of mulch, but they don’t need as much care as some of the others.

 

I divided 4 of my mother’s spindly rhubarb plants in 1992, expecting to get about 8-10 new plants. I ended up with 20 and have been dividing and replenishing them ever since. There must be over 100 progeny planted now, from upstate New York to Massachusetts. This shows the refurbishment of the bed around 2014, involving the dividing and replanting of the plants with spindly stalks, adding lots of compost, but leaving the strongest plants alone. Vigilant 60-pound hound dog for scale.

 

Tend your compost piles, treasure your autumn leaves, and hope for a good snow cover to insulate the precious roots. And, most of all, enjoy the company of the creatures all around — the catbird that watches intently to see what I will dig up, the  chipmunk that dashes away with a giant June bug grub in its mouth, and the bluebird that just seems to find me amusing.