Gardening workshop to introduce soil-free gardening

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Plant a Row Port Washington's planters can be seen featured at various businesses and organizations around Port Washington. (Photo courtesy of Mark Makofsky)

Port Washington residents will have the opportunity to spring ahead on Saturday with master gardener Reese Michaels who will host a special workshop on the how-to’s of spring, summer, and fall vegetable gardening at the Port Washington Public Library.

In an event co-sponsored by Plant A Row for the Hungry Port Washington, a local chapter of a national organization that donates produce to families in need, and the library’s Earth Day Committee, Michaels will once again present his square foot gardening techniques, but this year will also introduce a new soil-free gardening method: hydroponic gardening.

The hydroponic vegetable and herb growing method allows gardeners to grow produce without soil, instead of using a mineral-contained water solution.

Michaels will also teach composting techniques to attendees with the goal of educating residents on how to reduce their carbon footprint.

This is the third year that the organization has hosted the annual event, with the last two years receiving a great turnout, according to Marvin Makofsky, who describes his role as the chief vegetable garden executive for Plant A Row for the Hungry, Port Washington chapter.

Makofsky started the Port Washington chapter about eight years ago with the dual purpose of helping local families in need while showcasing the work of local artists.

He said since the inception of the program the group has provided more than 19,000 pounds of nutritious, home-grown food to families in need.

The produce comes predominantly from Port Washington families, whom the organization has inspired to grow their own gardens, as well as other local organizations who have lent a hand to the cause, such as the Art Guild, the Port Washington Senior Center and the Port Washington Children’s Center.

Whether it be donating space for a community garden or painting planters to place around town, local organizations are what make Plant a Row thrive in Port Washington, Makofsky said.

Plant a Row’s planters feature community art and are designed to beautify the community while spreading awareness about the project. When artists ask Makofsky what to feature on the planter, he tells them “paint what’s in your heart.”

Planters can be found in front of various local businesses, the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce and in front of the Town of North Hempstead’s offices.

Makofsky said North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth has been a strong supporter of the initiative.

Donated produce is delivered by the Plant a Row team members to distribution points at Our Lady of Fatima Church as well as other outreach programs in Port Washington.

Residents who grow their own gardens are asked to drop off their surplus produce to Bayles Garden Center at 88 South Bayles Ave. in Port Washington.

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