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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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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
This is how small a deer tick is. Photo: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tick_male_size_comparison_%28aka%29.jpg">André Karwath</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
This is how small a deer tick is. Photo: André Karwath, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Where the ticks are, and what to do

Jody Gangloff-Kaufman is an entomologist with the state Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. Her office is on Long Island, where the tick population and the risk of lyme disease is very high.

The Adirondacks may be the only part of the North Country where risk of the lyme disease deer ticks carry is still low. Otherwise, she says, the more deer in an area, the more deer ticks. And deer love agricultural areas, cornfields and alfalfa. She says they, and the ticks they carry, are common in the St. Lawrence and Champlain valleys, "the regions all around the mountains, really, have heavy deer populations and certainly have high incidence of lyme disease."  Go to full article
Part way done: some perennials back in place, soil amendment continues. Photo by Martha Foley
Part way done: some perennials back in place, soil amendment continues. Photo by Martha Foley

Out with the bad: taking control of the perennial garden

The first step can be the hardest when you've got a major Quackgrass infestation, or an "aggressive" perennial that's taking over. In Martha Foley's garden this spring, it was both. Sometimes you just have to dig everything up and start over.

Amy Ivy is a horticulturist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension service with Clinton and Essex County. She sympathizes, and shares tips on taking advantage of the opportunity to improve the soil.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dannyboymalinga/4876920844"/>Dan Davison</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Dan Davison, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

How do farmers feed the world in the 21st century?

By 2050, the planet will be supporting an estimated nine billion people. That number is from The Miner Institute, an agricultural research center in Chazy. Here's another: food production will have to rise 70 percent if all those people are to have enough to eat. But increased production won't be the only measure of success. All that food will have to be raised without degrading the environment.

Dr. John Bramley is a researcher and educator. He was president of the University of Vermont, as well as director of Vermont's agricultural experiment station. He'll talk about the challenges of feeding the world at the Miner Institute tonight. Martha Foley talked with Bramley this week.  Go to full article
Taken yesterday from the Thousand Islands Bridge, looking upstream at the freighter Federal Kivalina, which had lost steering as it approached the bridge yesterday afternoon. Photo: Emmett Smith
Taken yesterday from the Thousand Islands Bridge, looking upstream at the freighter Federal Kivalina, which had lost steering as it approached the bridge yesterday afternoon. Photo: Emmett Smith

Freighter aground at Thousand Islands Bridge, salvage team on the way

Update 4:37 p.m.: The Federal Kivalina, a Hong Kong-flagged freighter carrying canola seeds, lost steering just upriver from the Thousand Islands Bridge yesterday.

Last night and this morning, a team of divers determined that the boat had run aground but is stable.

"Since then a salvage team actually arrived on the scene this afternoon," said Nancy Alcalde, director of public relations for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. "They are reviewing the hull inspection as well as the water and weather conditions and are developing a plan for the safe removal of the vessel."

Two tugboats are on their way Montreal. The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and the Coast Guard have to figure out where they'll take the 656-foot freighter.

Shipping remains suspended until further notice.***

A Hong Kong-flagged freighter is anchored just upriver from the Thousand Islands Bridge, after it lost steering earlier yesterday. The Associated Press reports that shipping is suspended this morning.

There are no reported injuries to the crew and no reported pollution at this time.  Go to full article
Half the planets are visible right now--the back row (Jupiter and Saturn) and the front (Mars and Mercury). Aileen says five are visible, actually, if you just look down. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Size_planets_comparison.jpg">Lsmpascal</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Half the planets are visible right now--the back row (Jupiter and Saturn) and the front (Mars and Mercury). Aileen says five are visible, actually, if you just look down. Photo: Lsmpascal, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Planets, planets, planets: who's up and where

St. Lawrence University physicist Aileen O'Donoghue says the planets are the big news of the night sky just now. Between Mercury (just up in the northwest), Jupiter in the west, Saturn in the east, and Mars in the middle, there are four visible these nights. And Earth (just look down, she says) makes five.

This, plus how we're losing dark as spring gives over to summer next month, and much more from Aileen's monthly stop in our studios this morning.  Go to full article
They start small, but they don't (hopefully) stay that way. Make sure to leave enough space for you transplants to thrive. Photo: Martha Foley
They start small, but they don't (hopefully) stay that way. Make sure to leave enough space for you transplants to thrive. Photo: Martha Foley

Plants need their space too

It's tempting, all that nice open space in the garden. But as you plant the six packs of annuals, or divide and distribute the perennials, or arrange the rows of beets and carrots, be careful to plant things far enough apart.

Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy lays down the law, and explains why following the rules on spacing can make a real difference late on in the season.  Go to full article
It's still a little cool for transplanting tender flowers and warm weather vegetables. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/crabchick/7276027148/">crabchick</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
It's still a little cool for transplanting tender flowers and warm weather vegetables. Photo: crabchick, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Not quite prime time for tender transplants

The calendar is a bit ahead of the weather this spring, and that means it's probably a good idea to proceed with caution in the garden.

Mother's Day typically coincides with good weather for transplants, and garden centers and greenhouses send thousands of nicely started plants and flowers out their doors over the weekend. But this year, Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy says, we should be extra careful about putting tender flowers and warm weather vegetables in the ground. Better to baby them for a week or two till the weather really warms up. Plants are looking for "heat units," and cool nights and days still in the 60s don't quite add up.  Go to full article
Yard signs like this have kept the Garrett Phillips case in the public eye.   Photo: Julie Grant
Yard signs like this have kept the Garrett Phillips case in the public eye. Photo: Julie Grant

Garrett Phillips case in St. Lawrence County grand jury today

After two and a half years, evidence in the murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips of Potsdam is being heard in a St. Lawrence Country Grand Jury today. Phillips was killed in the apartment he shared with his mother in October, 2011. Investigators said he'd been strangled, and smothered.

Since then, there's not been much hard news in the case. Last week, WWNY-TV in Watertown reported that County District Attorney Mary Rain would present evidence to the grand jury today. WWNY's John Friot also reported that at least two dozen witnesses had been served subpoenas ordering them to testify.

According to Friot, there's been no big break. But there was a high-level meeting recently between Rain and other prosecutors and investigators around the state who've been involved in the ongoing investigation. He said, "What I am being told is, the consensus was, when you connect all the dots, it brings the dots to a certain person of interest."  Go to full article
Apparent retrograde motion of Mars in 2003. Animation: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apparent_retrograde_motion_of_Mars_in_2003.gif">Eugene Alvin Villar</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Apparent retrograde motion of Mars in 2003. Animation: Eugene Alvin Villar, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Spring comes to the solar system

St. Lawrence University physicist Aileen O'Donoghue stopped by the NCPR studio this morning with an update on all the ways we can chart the change of season without ever looking at a thermometer. Just watch the winter constellations, like Orion, disappear and the spring sky emerge.

She also maps out where Earth is in relation to the other planets racing around the Sun, and which ones we can see just now. Venus is still bright in the morning. We're moving away from Jupiter, and you'd probably need really good binoculars or a telescope now to see its moons. And Mars is red and bright in the east early in the evening. If you follow its motion night by night, you'll notice it's going "backwards" for a while now. She explains this retrograde motion, which was a key clue in the ancients' realization that we are not the center of the universe.  Go to full article

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