September-October 2016

Potted Bench

by cathym on September 26, 2016

Looking for a place to sit down and read the latest Upstate Gardeners’ Journal?

This bench design I saw online and updated is suitable for placing on a deck/patio or on the ground. Don’t let this project intimidate you; while a bit labor intensive, it’s not complicated to build. A helper and access to the power tools listed are must-haves to complete this project.

Before building, you must choose planters for the bench seat to rest on. The pots should be sturdy, thick-walled and wide-lipped; see the materials list for height and width dimensions. High-fired, glazed ceramic planters are best, although I found two hexagonal pots made of an extremely heavy molded material that is neither plastic nor resin.

After bench is built and in use, periodically inspect pots for cracks as a safety precaution.

A special thanks to Woodcraft Supply, LLC. for supplying the beautiful cypress lumber used for this project. Also, a big shout out to my father, Leon Mundt, whose knowledge and craftsmanship were essential to make a sketch into reality. Thanks Dad—you’re the best!

Power saw

Electric drill and bits

Tape measure


Electric sander

Router (optional)



Two sturdy matching planters, 18-20 inches tall, width of outside edge no more than 18¾ inches and no less than 18 inches

2×6 dimensional lumber like redwood, cedar or cypress, cut to these lengths:

A. Two 95½ inches
B. Seven 19 inches
C. Two 96 inches
D. Four 12 inches
E. Two 48½ inches

2 pounds of 3-inch stainless steel deck screws

Medium-grit sandpaper

Deck stain/sealer



Diagram Key

A. 95½ inches: 2 boards
B. 19 inches: 7 boards
C. 96 inches: 2 boards
D. 12 inches: 4 boards
E. 48½ inches: 2 boards


Diagram 1 (overhead view of bench frame; not to scale)



Diagram 2 (side view of “A”, bench frame front and back; not to scale)



Diagram 3 (overhead view of seat boards; not to scale)


1. Using saw, cut lumber to lengths noted in materials list.

2. Layout frame boards (A & B) on a flat surface as shown in Diagram 1.

3. Measure, mark and pre-drill holes as shown by black dots in Diagram 2. Attach frame together with screws, countersinking them.

4. Sand the frame.

5. Referring to Diagram 3, place outside seat boards (C & D) on the frame (boards overhang outside edge ¼ inch; space between boards is ¼ inch). Measure, mark and pre-drill holes, then attach boards to frame with screws, countersinking them.

6. Place inside seat pieces (E) on frame using measurements as shown in Diagram 3 with
¼ inch space in between boards. Measure, mark and pre-drill holes, then attach boards to frame with screws, countersinking them.

7. Sand the seat top. Optional: use a router to round the outside edges before sanding.

8. Using paintbrush, seal the wood with a deck stain/sealer. Let dry according to manufacturer instructions.

9. Place the pots in their desired location and position bench top. Fill planters as desired.


Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and self-proclaimed garden crafter for the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.


Fall Birding News

by Megan Frank on September 19, 2016

by Liz Magnanti

As the days grow shorter and the temperatures begin to subside, birds are preparing for the winter months ahead. You may have noticed an abundance of birds recently at your feeders. Some of these birds are nestlings that have recently fledged. They usually appear clumsy, not sure about how to land on the feeder. Their feathers are ruffled, not yet in their adult plumage and sometimes they still accompany their parents, begging to be fed an easy meal. Goldfinches are a good example as they nest late in the season and their young will be some of the last fledglings you will see at your feeders.

The first year is the toughest for fledglings as they learn to find their own food and avoid predators. Some of these young will also migrate south for the winter. In order to make the journey successfully, they must store up enough fat to make the trip. If you are currently seeing flocks of grackles and red-winged blackbirds gorging themselves at your feeders, this is almost certainly the reason why. In contrast, hummingbirds will continue to visit feeders through the end of September. Their breeding range stretches north into Canada and as those hummingbirds travel south through our area, they will visit feeders like yours along the way.

That said; don’t ever be concerned about over-feeding this time of year. Keeping seed and nectar feeders out will not stop birds from migrating. Feeders are only a small supplement to their natural diets. Birds use light cues as a signal for when to migrate, and feeders can actually be important stopover sites for them, an important place to rest and refuel for their continued journey.

For the many birds that stay here all year, fall is an important time for scouting out food sources. Nuthatches and Blue jays are often seen taking seeds from feeders only to cache them away under leaves or in the bark of trees. They will seek out the cached food again once the natural food supply becomes scarce in winter. As temperatures fall and insect populations start to decrease birds will begin to switch their diet to mostly seeds and fruits. The colder the temperatures get the more you will find birds going to suet feeders to get the fat they need to keep their body temperatures warm.

So what does all this mean for you? It means that now is a great time to check feeders for wear. Make sure they are clean and the seed inside them is fresh. Most feeders can be taken apart for cleaning and should be cleaned thoroughly twice a year. Any mold or seed buildup in the feeder can be harmful to birds so maintenance is a must. Feeders can be cleaned in hot water with dish soap. Dunk them in a light bleach solution of 10 parts water 1 part bleach and rinse well. Once dry they can go back out for the birds to enjoy. Keeping your feeders clean and seed fresh is the key to having birds flock to your feeders all year long!


Liz Magnanti is the manager of the Bird House on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford. She has a degree in wildlife conservation and has worked as a naturalist at various nature centers.


Upstate Pairing: September-October 2016

by Megan Frank on September 16, 2016

Becker Farms and Vizcarra Vineyards is a 5th Generation family owned 340 acre working fruit and vegetable farm that sells most of their products directly to the public. Becker Farms goal is to provide families with the opportunity to visit the countryside and embrace what Mother Nature provides us among family and friends. It’s the simple things in life that make all the difference.

For the past 100 years Becker Farms has harvested its own fruits and vegetables to provide fresh produce and a wide variety of value added products such as hand made pies, jams, cookies, cider, fudge and wines. In the last two years Becker Farms has adopted a field to table approach with all of its catered events serving items grown and picked for the occasion right from the farm or brought in from other local growers within a 100 mile radius of Becker Farms. Becker Farms believes that a farm fresh meal is a very basic yet integral part of maintaining a strong bond with families and friends. This philosophy strengthens communities and enriches lives.



Summer Squash “Pasta” with Green Goddess Dressing

Yield: 4 servings

2 lbs. mixed summer squash
1 tsp. sea salt
½ cup plain whole milk greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/3 cup fresh chopped basil, plus more for garnish
3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
3 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon
1 small garlic clove
1 anchovy (minced) OR 1 Tbsp. drained capers
¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
¼ cup toasted pinenuts
fresh ground pepper

  1. Cut the squash into thin strips using a julienne peeler or spiralizer. Sprinkle the squash with salt, toss gently, and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Carefully squeeze the squash over the colander to release excess liquid and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, basil, parsley, chives, tarragon, garlic and anchovy or capers and blend until smooth.
  3. Toss the drained squash with the parmesan, pinenuts and desired amount of dressing.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with more parmesan, pinenuts and basil and serve immediately.

Pair with Vizcarra Vineyards Erie Canal Catawba.