Socially Distant Birds

Thanks to Doug for erecting our new birdhouse! Now the purple martins can get comfortable at their preferred distance from all other critters!

Gardeners, stay well! We are still taking donations to Metrocrest Services, and we anticipate a continued need. Please continue to check on your crops! It’s planting season and getting outdoors at the garden is a great way to manage cabin fever!

Remember, there are lots of chores you can help with: pull weeds, turn the compost, add wood chips to the path, help your neighbors, tend to one of the community plots. It helps with stress management and supports the garden community as a whole!

March 2020 Un-workday Recap

We had a quiet but productive day at the garden today. We did not hold our typical workday but still invited those who felt comfortable to join us in getting work done. And we didn’t get rained on!

It is now spring, and that means it is time to plant! Now is the time to plant your beds with all your spring (and some summer!) favorites: tomatoes (transplants), all varieties of peppers (transplants), melons (remember: grow UP, not out, or you will lose your whole bed), cucumbers, snap peas, long beans, etc. You can also check the A&M planting guide for ideas.

Helpful tips:

  • Wear bug spray! It is the start of chigger and mosquito season, and because of the mild winter, the bugs will be active. Wear long sleeves and spray bug spray, particularly on your shoes and ankles, to prevent itchy bites.
  • Consider building an “anti-bunny cage” for popular greens. Use chicken wire or similar; remember, bunnies can squeeze through very tight places to get your delicious lettuces. (Also, remember to close the gates to prevent bunnies!)
  • Make good use of your trellis! Grow UP, not out.
  • Please continue to weigh and document your harvests. Put harvested produce in the fridge or cooler near the church.
Acorns starting to sprout! Doug collected the acorns to help his friend plant 1 million trees.

If you visit, consider doing a “community chore” while you are there. Ideas include:

  • Weeding path areas
  • Turning compost in the bins
  • Taking out the trash in the green trash can
  • Laying down cardboard and mulch in washed-out parts of the path
  • Volunteering to deliver harvested produce
  • Watering community crops
  • Harvesting community crops, including the blackberries outside the fence
  • Watering or harvesting crops for your neighbors (get in touch with them first to make sure this is okay!)
Grapevines beginning to bud

We will keep you posted as the virus news continues, but the garden is always open. It’s a great way to get some high-quality outdoor time and do some good. Please do come and plant your plot! We will continue making deliveries to area food banks and want a full, productive harvest!

March Workday Update

Gardeners, with the rain and health concerns, the March workday won’t be “required.” We won’t have any large community projects or a gardening lesson.

However, you are still welcome to come by! We’ll be there to work in our beds and get our crops planted.

NOW IS THE TIME TO PLANT, so please do come garden when you feel comfortable. Gardening is good for you and it is easy to keep your distance from others outdoors.

Workday Recap: February 2020

Spring is just around the corner! Now is the time to start preparing your bed and thinking about what you will grow this year. We recommend the square foot gardening method—remember, grow UP, not OUT.

Special thanks to Ty and the Trellis Construction Team!

Take the time now to PLAN your plot. For example, if you want to grow tomatoes from seed, you need to both start now (indoors!) AND plant only short-term crops like radishes so you will have room when it comes time to plant. If you want lettuce, go for it! But if you plant potatoes, you’ll have to wait until June to harvest and use that spot. So think carefully now to get the garden you want!

We recommend the “hole” or “hill” method for potatoes. Ask one of the experienced gardeners for tips!

It’s a good time for greens, such as lettuce, collards, and spinach, as well as root veggies like carrots and onions. Plant potatoes now, but it will take awhile before you see any harvest. This is the prime season for snap peas, so plant quickly before it gets too hot!

Please welcome our new gardeners, and yet again, thank you to the Young Men’s Service League for their continued help!

As a reminder, we now have a cold frame near the shed! All plants in the cold frame are considered available for the community, so it is a good place to check and also to leave your spares. We grow AND share!

Nearly every spot has been taken, but we have a few that are not officially claimed. Please reach out as soon as possible and make plans to attend the next workday, March 14!

January 2020 Workday Recap

Welcome to a new year of gardening! Despite the snow, we had an enthusiastic turnout–gardening is an all-seasons hobby!

It was really cold, so we only worked outside briefly. Now is the time to plan ahead. We recommend the Square Foot Method. Remember: grow UP, not out!

It’s also time to replenish your soil levels. We just got a new batch of compost; feel free to use it to top up your soil.

Now is also the time to fertilize your soil. We recommend slow-release fertilizers such as worm castings, fish emulsion, manure, or mushroom compost. A commercial fertilizer to try is osmocote.

Harvest your winter crops. Some, like lettuce, can continue to produce if you harvest the outer leaves only.

It’s time to plant onions, peas, and potatoes. We have some community starters in the cold frame next to the shed.

Today, returning gardeners got to call “dibs” on their plots (returning gardeners can have up to two), and we assigned plots to a few new gardeners. We will continue to accept the $35 fee and assign plots for the year. To be assigned a plot, you must attend the workday.

Our next workday is February 8, from 9-11 a.m.

Thanks to those who made it out. Here’s to a year of great gardening!

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!)