Workday Recap: October 2019

Thanks to all who made it out. It’s finally fall! We even found ice on our rotating compost bin.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_77c

We focused on harvesting. Now is the time to pull up any summer crops that aren’t producing so you have room for cole crops and other winter vegetables. We harvested most of the basil and okra in the garden. We also went “digging for treasure” for our sweet potatoes! Tomatoes may provide a second harvest IF they are in good health. If not, pull them out!UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_77e

Be sure to always add at least one scoop of compost when adding new plants. Turn the soil to incorporate the new compost and disrupt the life cycles of some of the weeds and some insects.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_77d

Now is a good time to add slow-release fertilizers. Other additions include worm castings, fish emulsion, or blood meal. If you want a commercial fertilizer, try Osmocote (which is not organic but is slow-release).

Now is the time to plant greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, mustard) or roots, such as radishes, turnips, and leaks.

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We again were awarded a grant to support our garden! The Kimley-Horn Foundation, available through Megan’s work, awarded our garden $1,250 to further our environmental, educational, and poverty-relief work. This year, we used our grant to buy a bee hotel, a butterfly box, and a screech owl box. We hope to attract a screech owl to watch over our garden as a natural predator to insects, lizards, and small mice. Plus they are really cool!UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_785

You can learn how to build your own screech owl box here. You can also buy pre-built nest boxes like the one we purchased for the garden.

To hear what a screech owl may sound like, listen to the video below. They are not too disruptive, though the sound can be a little scary the first time they do their “screech”! They don’t hoot like other owls, but do make a soft “coo” sound, which you can also hear in the video.

Our next workday will be November 9, from 9 – 11. We will be at the garden whatever the weather (if it’s too cold or wet, we’ll just meet indoors!). See you there!

Workday Recap: September 2019

It was a great day at the garden! Thanks to the many folks who made it out, including two new faces!

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The heat is cooling off soon, but we still need to water often! Even if we get a little bit of rain, it won’t be enough to sustain your crops, so water slow and deep, and help your neighbors. Please also water community areas when you are able!

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We’re in a time of transition. If your summer crops are looking happy and healthy, keep them as we move into fall; you may get another harvest or two! But pull up and replace any weak or sickly plants. It’s time to remove your “cover crops” (like black-eyed peas or basil) to make room for our fall crops.
Now is the time to plant MANY fall/winter crops. Examples include beans, broccoli, garlic, beets, kale, and radishes.

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When replacing crops, take a moment to fill your soil, even if it is just one square foot. This helps avoid pests and disease and is a best practice.
 It’s also time to add compost and slow-release fertilizer. You should have soil up to the top inch of your planter box. If you have more space, you need compost! Luckily we have a big pile of great compost just outside the garden; add some to your plot!

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We harvested many crops today and had a lot to donate. Coming in to September, we donated 1,101 pounds to local food banks! We donated a lot today, too, but don’t yet have an updated count.
 Remember, keep helping your neighbors harvest okra! It grows too fast to keep up with, and Al says we have 101 okra plants in our garden. Wow!

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The 4H club is selling flats of pansies, $22 for 18 plants. Reach out on our Facebook group if you are interested in supporting these young gardeners!

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Thanks for coming out! Our next workday will be Saturday, October 12, from 9-11!  (Back to our normal time as we expect some cooler weather!)

Workday Recap: August 2019

Who says August can’t be a great time to harvest?! The Grow & Share gardeners best the heat and the odds and harvested 100 pounds of produce to donate — in one workday!

A big crowd turned out for an earlier/slightly less hot workday, and we accomplished so much! We even welcomed a new gardener, so all of our plots are full. Well done!

Ty showed off his new watering technique. DO keep watching regularly, but please be sure turn off the water when you leave! Even when it rains, we need to keep our plants watered if we’re going to get a fall crop.

Now is the time to think of fall! You must plant now in order to have a harvest when it is cooler. You can directly seed many crops like Pole or bush beans, kohlrabi, swiss chard, carrots, and “greens” like mustard, collard, and spinach. Winter, summer, or pan squash can be planted from seed or transplants. The “cole crops”: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are best from transplants.

Keep helping your neighbors harvest okra! All okra must be harvested every day– if you see okra longer than 2 inches, harvest it!

Make room in your bed by pulling up dead, diseased, or damaged plants, or those that are underproducing. Do not put diseased plants in the compost; use the trash can instead to avoid spreading disease.

Every time you add a plant or pull up a plant, add compost! Now is also the time to add some slow-release fertilizer to help give your crops a boost. And remember, keep watering!

Thanks to all who made it out! Our next workday will be 9-11 a.m., Saturday, September 14! See you there!

Workday Recap: July 2019

Today’s workday was buzzing! Thanks to those who came out on an unusual date and despite the heat. We had a good crowd–and even gained a new gardener!

Today’s workday focused on harvesting for the Sack Summer Hunger program, weeding, and adding mulch to our paths.

Notice: It is the beginning of OKRAPALOOZA! Though we typically ask that gardeners only pick from their own plots, okra is an exception! Okra grows so fast that it needs to be picked EVERY DAY, so help out your garden companions and harvest okra when you visit.

Any okra longer than 2 inches is ready to be harvested! We estimate there are 40 okra plants in the garden, so that is a LOT of okra!

We also talked about the importance of watering, and planting cover crops. Black eyed peas and black beans are recommended to try; they like the heat and may help distract critters from your tomatoes. You can harvest the beans or mulch them under as green compost.

Basil is also a great cover crop that is very popular with the pollinators!

Keep tending your plots (check out the amazing long squash!!) and start to think about your fall crops. It’s nearly time to plant!

See you next month, Aug. 10 from 8-10 to beat the heat!

Workday Recap: May 2019

The good news: we did not have to water today!

The rain provided more than enough! Our group met inside for an hour before braving the elements — you can’t keep a gardener from the dirt!

Now is the time to pull up any winter crops and switch to summer crops. The lettuces, turnips, beets, spinaches aren’t likely to last once the heat comes–and we know it’s on the way! Swiss chard is an exception: leave the center and continue to harvest the outer leaves, and it may last all through summer.

Keep an eye out for pests. This turnip looked healthy on the top, but the underside of the leaves shows small black dots–eggs! Use ONLY organic controls in the garden: diatomaceous earth, insecticidal soap, etc. to discourage pests. Harsher chemicals can affect the good critters we want to encourage in the garden, like pollinators and earthworms, so it is important we protect them by using organic methods.

We also had sad news: this may be the Hines’ last time at the garden. They are moving in June, but have a gift to remember us by: a bug hotel to make their new garden happy!

This is a great time to plant a bunch of things: welcome to peak planting season! Bush beans, peppers, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, eggplant, okra–the list goes on! You can start harvesting onions and garlic or wait a few more weeks. Hold off on harvesting potatoes until the tops of the plant turn brown.

Thank you Loan and Al for the seed donation, and thanks you’re the garden team who sorted and organized all of them! Remember, you are welcome to our donated seeds for the garden or for your home plot!

The weather cleared and we ventured out. Go team onion!

The air around the cleaning table was practically onion soup–that’s good eats!

Mark your calendars for July 4; we plan to once again march in the Homestead neighborhood parade. More details to come. Bring your ideas for a float design!

Our next workday is June 8. See you there!

April 2019 Workday Recap

The winds did blow, the rain did fall, the hail did hammer–but the workday went on! A truly stalwart group attended this month’s savage weather workday, and we accomplished way more than expected!

Gardeners are hardy!

Spring has arrived (with its strange weather). Our Best Bets list is pretty long; now is a great time to plant a wide variety of things, including peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs, squash, green beans, cantaloupe, and, yes, even some okra! Remember, label your crops with the variety, so we can learn from your successes!

While the weather was more clear, we added mulch to the paths, mounded our community potatoes, and added compost to the tires, which we planted with luffa! (Yes, the thing you use in the shower!) We tended the beds, but we didn’t need to water–Mother Nature took care of that for us!

When the weather turned severe, we headed indoors to talk. Mike introduces his compost-sorter; keep an eye out for further improvements! Our engineering minds are continuing to develop the concept.

We also got an update on the greenhouse: unfortunately, the city of Carrollton says there is nothing we can do. The zoning codes for our garden are odd and there are no workarounds for community gardens at this time. Long-term, we can work to either change the city code or get an exception approved by City Council, but that can take a long while. In the meantime, we cannot have a greenhouse. However, we will talk about additional alternatives as a group.

See you at the next workday, Saturday, May 11!