July Workday Conflict – Please Vote!

Gardeners, we need your vote! Our organizer/master gardener Dan has a conflict and will not be able to attend our regularly scheduled workday on July 11.

Would you prefer to reschedule to the third week in July or would you like to go ahead and hold the normally scheduled workday, but without Dan to lead the Best Bets conversation or answer any questions?

Cast your vote HERE by July 4: https://forms.gle/TDhn5rvg5aTYcSEZ8

Of course, you are always welcome at the garden any time. Have you watered lately?

April Garden Best Bets

We aren’t able to have our normal workdays this month, but the garden is always open and we invite you to come by and tend your crops! The Metrocrest and other food banks need our donations now more than ever!

Please do let us know if you leave a donation, and please also let us know if you assistance in tending your plot so the garden does not fall fallow.

Until we see you again, enjoy the April Best Bets, and happy gardening!

What to Do in April

  • Look for Pests…Spring is here and so are pests. Look for damage before it becomes a major problem, especially on the underside and on lower leaves. Early treatment is key.Squash bugs and Squash vine borers are going to damage squash, and cucumber vines. Use diatomaceous earth sprinkled on and around the plants to help control these pests. Insecticidal soap is another remedy for many immature insects, aphids, and mites. Remember, organic controls only! For more specific advice, ask for help, or check out our resources in the shed.
  • Grow UP, not OUT…Letting your plants trail along the ground causes nothing but trouble! Insects, diseases, will be a bigger problem, as well as your neighbor who will not be happy with “encroachment”! Remember: before you plant, you need to add poles or structures. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and vine crops need strong support, at least 4 foot high. (Hint: tomato cages are NOT big enough ). Put tall plants on the NORTH side to minimize shading your other crops. Need ideas? Check out our resources at the garden outside the shed.
Grow UP not OUT at the garden

What to Harvest in April

Harvest peas, radishes, and most “greens”. If you harvest the outer leaves only on leaf crops, you can continue to harvest over and over…at least until it gets too hot in June. While onions can be harvested at any time, for the biggest bulb, wait until June.

What to plant in April (See chart below for more information)

Now is the best time to plant summer crops. You still have time to plant tomatoes. Small and medium fruit tomatoes generally do best in our area. In addition, this is the best time to plant hot weather lovers like eggplant, peppers, okra, squash. cucumbers, and beans. You can still plant leafy greens from transplants but it’s probably too late for direct seeding, they will not reach maturity before hot weather hits!

PlantBest Varieties
(Choose these if available)
Square Foot
Transplants or Seeds?
Tomato Determinate (plant is shorter)Celebrity, Carnival, Surefire VF1, President, Merced, Heatwave, Small Fry, Early Girl Bush, Golden Sunray (Heirloom), Jolly1 (trellis)Transplants only
Tomato Indeterminate
(Keeps growing; needs strong support)
Champion, Quick Pick, First Lady, Golden Girl (Heirloom), Superfantastic, Roma, San Marzano (Heirloom),  Porter, Cherry Grande, Sun Gold, Sweet 100, Early Girl, Husky Gold, Porter Improved, Lemon Boy, Juliet1 for 2 blocks
 Transplants only
Peppers (sweet)(Plant later in the month)Big Bertha, Golden Summer,Banana Supreme, Cubanelle, Gypsy, Orange Sun, Summer Sweet, Sweet Pickle, Jupiter  1(cage) Transplants only
Peppers (hot)(Plant later in the month)Mucho Nacho Jalapeño, Mexibell, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Super Cayenne  , Hidalgo Serrano, Jalapeno, TAM Mild Jalapeno, Anaheim (Chile), Cherry Bomb  1(cage) Transplants only
Cucumbers (Pickling)Calypso, Carolina, Sumter, H-19 Little Leaf2 (trellis)Seed or transplant
Cucumbers (Slicing)Armenian,  Sweet Success, Sweet Slice, Spacemaster, Suyo, Diva2 (trellis)Seed or transplant
OkraEmerald, Clemson Spineless, Louisiana green velvet1Seed or transplant
EggplantPurple Rain, Fairytale, Ichiban1transplant
Squash winterButtercup, Spaghetti, Table King1 (trellis)Seed or transplant
Squash summerDixie, Pattypan, Eightball, Early Yellow, Gold Rush1 (cage)Seed or transplant
Black eyed peasBlackeye #5, Purplehull, Texas Pinkeye9Seed
Beans (Bush)
(no  support)
Blue Lake 274, Tendercrop, Contender, Tendergreen, Derby, Goldcrop Wax9Seed
Beans (Pole)
(Need support)
Kentucky Wonder, Purple King, Rattlesnake, Yard long8 (trellis)Seed

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.


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!


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!


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!