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NCPR News Staff: Martha Foley

News and Public Affairs Director
Martha Foley joined the staff of WSLU as morning host in 1981, after a stint at The St. Lawrence Plaindealer. She helped found the news department in 1982, and has seen it grow, and shrink, and grow again. "I especially liked the 'grow again' part," she says, "it means working with really talented reporters, telling more and more stories from around the North Country."

Martha has won state and national awards for her reporting and editing. She has encouraged local news at public radio stations across the country as a member and director of Public Radio News Directors, Inc., an organization of over 100 local newsrooms. As a director of PRNDI for six years, she was responsible for The PRNDI Project, an annual training program for young reporters, and NewsWorks, training for station news departments.

Martha grew up on an Adirondack foothill in northeastern Saratoga County. She lives just south of Canton with her husband, boatbuilder Everett Smith, and her teenaged son, Emmett. Favorite pastimes: sitting, looking, and listening. E-mail

Stories filed by Martha Foley

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Healthy porcelain garlic, after a successful growing season..
Healthy porcelain garlic, after a successful growing season..

How to harvest and keep garlic

Garlic is easy to plant, and doesn't usually require a whole lot of attention as it grows. It comes up, nice and green, first thing in the spring, like daffodils. Timing the harvest is trickier, though. And treating it right can help keep the bulbs fresh and firm for months.

Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy has the do's and don'ts.  Go to full article
Phosphorus used in gardens can contribute to algae blooms in lakes, like this one in 2012. Photo: Lake George Waterkeeper
Phosphorus used in gardens can contribute to algae blooms in lakes, like this one in 2012. Photo: Lake George Waterkeeper

For lawn and garden: the do's and don'ts of fertilizing

It's illegal to fertilize a lawn with phosporous in New York State. The Department of Environmental Conservation sent a press release around last week with that reminder (more information on this here.

There are exceptions, dependent on a soil test. Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy has lots of good information this week about that, and about fertilizers and fertilizing in general.

Top takeaways: don't fertilize your lawn till September anyway; do fertilize vegetables if they looked peaked; do fertilize flowers; don't fertilize woody herbs like thyme, sage and such; and as always, know your soil. Here's more information from Amy Ivy.  Go to full article
Observing the moon. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall/6276653210/">NASA</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Observing the moon. Photo: NASA, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Let the moon be your guide

So much to see in the sky these nights, including a view into the center of our galaxy. That's where radio astronomers can see a bunch of stars orbiting the big black hole at its heart.

St. Lawrence University physics professor and astronomer Aileen O'Donoghue gives Martha Foley the low down on the summer sky. Planets: Mars, Saturn and Venus; constellations: Scorpius and Sagittarius; and stars: Antares, Arcturus, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, among others.

She says the Moon is our guide for lots of the highlights, once the evening light fades. It lingers long these days. Enjoy while you can; we're just past the latest sunset of the year and we should notice a real "gain" in darkness in the coming weeks.  Go to full article
Invasive wild parsnip. Avoid contact; avoid a nasty rash. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmills727/3644070846/">Douglas Mills</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Invasive wild parsnip. Avoid contact; avoid a nasty rash. Photo: Douglas Mills, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Beware the invasives; and small strawberries are good too!

Right about now, the roadsides can look more like flower gardens than some gardens do. Wonderful abundant mixes of color, texture, height: all the qualities you look for. Driving the back roads is more of a pleasure than ever.

But beware of a nasty, if beautiful, invasive plant that's taking over the verges in more and more areas. Wild parsnip looks kind of like a tall, yellow Queen Ann's Lace. But don't pick: it reacts with sunlight to produce a painful, scarring rash. Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy says it's a great idea to mow it down to control it's spread, but make sure all your skin is covered when you do. It's bad.  Go to full article
Several types of hanging basket. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ken_yasuhara/6116652111/">K. Yasahura</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Several types of hanging basket. Photo: K. Yasahura, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

How to keep flower boxes and baskets looking their best

It's hard for a gardener to complain about this stone-summer weather. Heat, sun, plus a little rain here and there are a great combination to kick plants into high gear for growth.

But what can be all good for young tomato plants can be overdrive for hanging baskets and planters that were in full bloom when they went on sale for Mother's Day. They need constant care: water, food, and the occasional trimming. Amy Ivy has what to do, and why.  Go to full article

Life in Jefferson County? Good, not perfect

People in Jefferson County are pretty happy with their quality of life, but they have some worries. The annual Jefferson Community College survey finds 75 percent of residents think life's "getting better" or "staying the same."

Statistics students, working with the college's Center for Community Studies research staff, completed 422 telephone interviews in early April. It's a snapshot, now taken for the 15th straight year, that the college shares with the public and community leaders.

Martha Foley talked with the Director of the Center for Community Studies, Dr. Ray Petersen. What's good? Shopping, access to higher education (at the highest rate recorded since the first year of the survey), and availability of housing. And, what's not so good? The cost of energy, real estate taxes, the availability of good jobs, and the overall state of the local economy.  Go to full article
Rose chafer beetles at work. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/50352333@N06/4647992672/">Jason Sturner</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Rose chafer beetles at work. Photo: Jason Sturner, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

First the blooms, then the bugs

Aren't the peonies lovely? And the first roses to bloom so pretty and fragrant? Along with the iris and the first day lilies, they give gardeners an early-summer shot of color and satisfaction after lots of hard work.

They also attract the first big wave of pests, including some of the most frustrating and difficult to deal with: rose chafers, flea beetles, and potato beetles. Brace yourself, as she so often does, cooperative extension's Amy Ivy says hand picking is the best remedy for the rose chafers and potato bugs.

No pesticides for rose chafers, because they attack the flower's blooms, and to dose the bloom would kill the bees and other valuable pollinators. And potato beetles? It's just more efficient to squish the eggs before they hatch on the underside of the leaves.  Go to full article

Emmy win gives "Songs to Keep" new life

A project giving a large piece of the North Country's cultural heritage new life is gaining larger recognition. A TV documentary about Adirondack song collector Marjorie Lansing Porter has won a New England Emmy.

Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector, was produced by Mountain Lake PBS as part of a regional project spearheaded by TAUNY - Traditional Arts in Upstate New York.  Go to full article
Some of the action at Friday night's Dairy Princess block dance. Photo: Nora Flaherty
Some of the action at Friday night's Dairy Princess block dance. Photo: Nora Flaherty

Were you at the Dairy Princess block dance? We were!

This year St. Lawrence County celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Dairy Princess tradition. Traditionally, the parade and festival are on Saturday, but by Friday noon vendors and organizations are pretty well set up, and downtown begins to orient toward the village park.

Friday night, there's a street dance, and this year a classic car show. Park Street was closed for a couple blocks between the park and the library/post office side of the street. We went. There were people everywhere: in the park, on the street, in the alleys, cruising parking lots for an empty spot.

I believe it's been 10 years that the local John Deere dealer has sponsored the street dance. That means BIG tractors, and little ones, that kids could climb into. And country music. Clusters of teenagers. Little kids running around and dancing (the evening starts with a Big Wheel race.) Clusters of teenagers. Lot of folks camped out in lawn chairs -- family groups and old friends catching up. Indeed it was an annual festival of all things dairy. Here's how it looked:  Go to full article
After removing the early weeds, mulching between rows will slow their return. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/90738513@N00/2522983940">Linda Beaverson</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
After removing the early weeds, mulching between rows will slow their return. Photo: Linda Beaverson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Weeds, you say? Get 'em when they're little

The tiniest weeds might just be you're most important job right now. It's like the old "pound of prevention" saying. You can deal with a million weeds in a very short time, if they're just tiny seedlings. Let them get bigger, and it isn't so easy.

That's Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy's tip for triage in this season of the overwhelming gardening to-do list.  Go to full article

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