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Outdoors & Environmental Newsletter | March 2013 | VBgov.com/Parks 
Get Ready for Spring Planting

Planting LettuceYou just can't beat the taste of fresh from the garden vegetables. With the days getting longer and temperature rising, now is the best time to prep your gardens for early spring planting.
  
A good cool-season crop to consider is sugar snap peas or snow peas. Peas should be planted in early spring, as soon as the soil is workable. Soil is ready for gardening once it is free of ice crystals and crumbles easily. Soil that is too wet is easily compacted, reducing beneficial soil aeration. When planting peas, keep in mind that a trellis may be needed for support as some varieties grow on vines that can reach great lengths.
  
Lettuce is another cool-season vegetable crop that is easy to grow. There are several types of lettuce commonly grown in gardens. Like peas, leaf and butterhead lettuce need to be planted as soon as the soil is workable.
  
Broccoli, cauliflower and onions are also cool-season crops; however, it's best to start the seeds indoors for early spring transplanting.  
  
For more information on when and how to plant your favorite veggies, visit the Farmer's Almanac.
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Upcoming Events
  
3/22 | Star Party | Mount Trashmore Park
  
4/6 | Cherry Blossom Festival | Red Wing Park
  
4/12 | Arbor Day | College Park Elementary
  
4/20 | Earth Day | Mount Trashmore Park
  
4/27 | American Indian Pow Wow | Mount Trashmore Park
  
5/11 | K-9 Karnival | Mount Trashmore Park
See the Stars at the Mount Trashmore Star Party! 
Friday, March 22 | Dark - 11 pm | Mount Trashmore Park

Star PartyTake your stargazing to Mount Trashmore Park on Friday, March 22 for our annual Star Party! Come and observe night sky wonders through a variety of telescopes. Learn to identify constellations in the sky as they are pointed out by planetarium coordinator Chuck Dibbs and the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers. Offered in collaboration with the Virginia Beach City Public Schools Planetarium and local astronomy clubs, the event begins when the sky gets dark and goes until 11 pm.
  
A tent to experience ViewSpace will also be set up. ViewSpace is an exhibit from the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Learn more about ViewSpace.
  
Anyone wishing to set up a telescope can also do so. The goal is to share the beauty of the night sky with anyone wishing to learn about it. Event is dependent on clear skies. Also, meet the Tidewater Alliance Star Wars Club - from a galaxy, far, far away, this fanforce will be at the event in full costume!

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Celebrate Japanese Culture at Cherry Blossom Festival
Saturday, April 6 | 12:30 - 4:40 pm | Red Wing Park

Cherry Blossom FestivalHelp us celebrate Virginia Beach's international sisterhood with Miyazaki City, Japan, at the 9th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, April 6 at Red Wing Park.

 

Enjoy the rich culture and beauty of Japanese music, martial arts, creative activities by A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts, an origami display and fold-along with Rich Gray, and various demonstrations. This is a family event that allows everyone to come together and embrace the nature that surrounds us. Featured performances include a drum routine by SOKA Taiko Group.


Food and beverage are available for purchase. You are welcome to bring a blanket or lawn chair for the performances. Parking and admission is free. Rain date: Sunday, April 7.

 

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Three Benefits of Installing a Rain Barrel 

Rain BarrelA rain barrel is exactly what it sounds like: a barrel that collects the rain water that drains off of your roof. It usually holds 50-80 gallons of water and has a connection for a hose or spigot. The water that is collected can be used to water your lawn and garden, wash your windows, or wash your car. It only takes about an inch of rain to fill a 50-gallon rain barrel.
  
So, what are the benefits of collecting rain water instead of using tap water from the hose?
 
1. Saves money | A rain barrel saves you money on your water bill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that "garden and lawn irrigation accounts for 40 percent of residential water use during the summer." By using a rain barrel, you could cut down on your water usage by up to 40 percent! During the growing season alone, you can save about 1,300 gallons of water.
  
2. Helps the environment | Storing rain water reduces the amount of water that runs into sewer treatment facilities. It also reduces the amount of contaminated rain water that flows into our lakes, rivers, and ocean. When rain water flows into our water sources, it picks up fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants that can create more algae and bacteria for everything living in the water.
  
3. Keeps plants and soil healthy | Rain water does not have the chlorine, lime, or calcium that tap water has. This keeps your plants healthy. Tap water can cause a buildup that will eventually harm the roots of your plants. But, the rain water cleans soil of salt build up and promotes healthy roots and growth. 
  
Thinking of purchasing a rain barrel? As part of our Earth Day Celebration, 50-gallon rain barrels are available for purchase online with free pick-up at the event on Saturday, April 20 at Mount Trashmore Park. Limited quantities will also be available for sale on-site.
Expanded Recycling Zone at Earth Day Celebration  
Saturday, April 20 | Recycling Zone: 9 am - 4 pm; Event: 11 am - 4 pm | Mount Trashmore Park

Earth DayThis year's AAA Recycling Zone at our Earth Day Celebration is bigger and better than ever! Clear out the closets and the garage and dispose of those unwanted items properly. All recycling will take place in Parking Lot 1 at Mount Trashmore Park, located near the YMCA. **Please enter from South Boulevard.**
  
Electronics Recycling by Synergy Recycling
Get rid of those old electronics! View a list of accepted items.
  
Car Battery Round Up
Get a $5 gift card (while supplies last) for every vehicle battery you bring in *limit 5*
Car, motorcycle, lawnmower and tractor batteries are eligible.
  
Child Safety Seat Recycling
Have a used child safety seat that no longer meets industry safety standards? Bring it to the AAA Recycling Zone, and we'll see to it that all the plastic parts are properly broken down and recycled.
 
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal
Don't put that leftover paint or household cleaner in the trash! We'll properly dispose of these items for you. View a list of accepted items.
  
Metals Recycling
Did you know we can recycle the metal from your old power tools or unwanted vacuum cleaner? View a list of accepted items.
  
Rain barrel and composter sales and pick-up will also take place in the AAA Recycling Zone. The Recycling Zone will be available from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday, April 20. The remainder of the Earth Day Celebration takes place at Mount Trashmore Park from 11 am to 4 pm. Save the date and help us spread the word! Rain date: Sunday, April 21.
  
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Please Note Our Upcoming Facility Closures 

 

Bow Creek Recreation Center is closed for a long-term modernization project. Expected re-opening is Fall 2014. 
 
  

All Virginia Beach Recreation Centers will be closed Sunday, March 31 for Easter.

 

Don't forget that your membership is good at all Virginia Beach Recreation Centers! If your usual center is closed for maintenance, take the opportunity to visit another center. Use this locator to help you find one!

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation believes all of our diverse citizens have a right to participate in community recreation and we are committed to creating equal access for everyone who may have a challenge or barrier. If your child requires additional support, we can help.  Learn more about our accommodation and inclusion services.
We welcome your comments and questions.  Feel free to email us at fun@vbgov.com.
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Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA,
the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association.