Workday Recap: February 2019

The air was chill and the sky overcast, but the gardeners were hardy and eager to get to work!

The Young Men’s Service League came out to help, focusing on turning and tidying our compost piles. It was a lot of work but our bins are now in great shape!

Gardeners tidied up beds and laid mulch on weedy areas–our constant battle against Bermuda grass!

We also found some produce to harvest: leafy greens, radishes… and one 11-pound turnip! Way to grow, Scott!

After we got chilly, we went indoors to discuss Best Bets and other garden business. Now is the time for leafy greens, peas, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Plan ahead to leave space for what you will be planting when spring arrives (soon!). If you are germinating seeds at home, try to work on tomatoes. Otherwise, keep an eye on your cold-season crops at the garden.

We discussed the greenhouse situation. After a vote, it was decided we would continue to try to get a variance from the city and hope for a full-sized greenhouse. We are open to your good ideas!

See you next month, March 9, 9 to 11 a.m.!

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Workday Recap: January 2019

It was a chilly but very productive day at the garden today, and we welcomed several new gardeners. Thanks to those who made it out!

We started by tidying the garden. We added mulch to beds, turned our (massive!) compost piles, and harvested winter crops. We even made our first donations—cabbages, and some surprise sweet potatoes! Awesome start to the new year!

We had a solid group and got a lot done, but the air was still brisk so we went inside for our meeting.

Dan demonstrated how to plant onion sets and potato eyes, and some of each were available to share and plant. We talked about Best Bets—now is the best time for a limited number of greens, such as spinach, cabbage, mustard greens, turnips, and lettuce. We also offered a quick refresher on Square Foot Gardening (a copy of our recommended book is available to share in the shed–please leave it there so we can all read it!). Now is the time to fertilize and replenish your garden bed with compost.

February will be the prime planting time for many other plants, so come ready!

Greenhouse Update

Bad news on the greenhouse: City guidelines will not currently allow us to have a standalone greenhouse like we were wanting. We can currently add a 2-foot “lean-to” style greenhouse (just for seedlings) attached to the shed, or we can talk to the City to see about getting a zoning variance. Volunteers took on each of these tasks and we will discuss further next workday. We can also use the grant money for other things. Come prepared to help us decide what we should do!

Social Media

Another hot topic that came up today was a way to communicate with all the gardeners. While you are encouraged to make friends with your garden neighbors and help each other out, so far we have not had a linked messaging application, email listserve, or similar to encourage communication among gardeners. Several people thought this would be helpful, so that’s our newest thing to try!

You should have received an email with a list of email addresses of all the gardeners. If you did not get an email, reach out via comment on the blog, on Facebook, or directly to Megan or Dan to see how to remedy this. Please do NOT post your email address or phone number directly on the blog comments, for your own security.

We also discussed several avenues to have a more streamlined conversation method. A few options are listed below, with pros and cons. Please be prepared to help us discuss what option is best for the garden as a whole at the next workday!

Type Pros Cons
Email List Simple to use;

everyone has an email address already;

compatible with all levels of technology

The “reply all” phenomenon can be frustrating;can clutter your inbox;shares email addresses with everyone
Facebook Messenger Already have a Facebook page for the group;

Easy to use;

Easy to chat to individuals as well as the group

Able to control what kind of notifications you receive

Privacy concerns, both with Facebook the company and with the group accessing individual pages;

Everyone has to download the app;

Other Messaging Apps such as Slack, WhatsApp, etc. Easy to use;

Easy to chat to individuals as well as the group

Able to control what kind of notifications you receive

More private (only moderator accesses contact information)

Everyone has to download the app;not every phone may be compatible

Special Thanks

Special Thanks go to Craig for tidying and organizing the shed! That’s no small job! Please remember to clean off your tools with the wire brush hanging by the door. This will both keep things tidy and prevent the spread of disease in our plants!

Our next workday will be 9-11 a.m. on February 9. See you there!

Workday Recap: December 2018

Yet another rained-put workday! Those who did attend were hardy folk, and we actually did accomplish some important work: we used the 80 (yes, 80!) bags of leaves donated to use by our neighbors in Homestead to add another layer of mulch to our pathways. As the leaves break down, we’ll have another layer of protection against weeds!

Mike also helped us clear out the sick asparagus plants. Look at that might tumbleweed!

Otherwise, we retreated indoors. We got the $1000 check (yay!) and started to talk about greenhouse options. We also discussed best bets–mostly spinach and other hearty greens as well as most of the best bets from last month. We talked about the many types of onions (so versatile!) and Al shared a suggestion for lettuce planting we may try.

Here’s a tip on broccoli harvesting: if the top begins to bloom, you should have harvested it yesterday! The flowers don’t taste as good!

We also preliminarily reserved plots for next year. If you missed the meeting, don’t worry! We’ll make plot-picking more official next meeting.

If you know anyone who might want to join the garden, please invite them! It currently looks like we will have several open plots, and we’d love to see some new members!

Thanks to those who made it out! See you all again in January!

Workday Recap: November 2018

First, some news:

Our next workday will be Dec. 8 from 9-11.

ALL are also invited to attend two events:

    Community Thanksgiving – after church at the Nor’Kirk on Sunday, November 18
    Harvest Party – Dec. 8 at 6:30, hosted by the Hines! Please consider bringing a favorite dish to share.

Workday Recap:

Well, it didn’t rain, but we had a barn-stormer of a big workday!

Our original goal was just to focus on harvesting–and we had a lot to harvest! Even before adding our total from the workday, we have donated more than 2,200 pounds to local food pantries.

We also harvested and donated at least 200 pounds (estimated) on Saturday–100 pounds of that was JUST sweet potatoes!

(One was as big as our youngest gardener!)

Because we had so many helpers, we were also able to work on breaking down our very impressive clippings pile.

We also cleaned up the garden beds in preparation for the cold days ahead!

  • In addition, on Sunday the Young Men’s Service League and several hardy gardeners came out to the garden for a bonus workday!
  • The volunteers did a lot of work! Groups worked on trimming down the massive green clippings, weeded and cleaned out the blackberry bush beds, piled on a protective layer of mulch for cold-sensitive perennials, and tackled the compost and mulch piles.
  • If you haven’t seen 25 15-year-old boys with shovels, clippers, and pitchforks, you haven’t lived!
  • It was a LOT of work, and we appreciate all who made it out!
  • Sunny Workday This Saturday

    It’s time for another workday, this Saturday from 9-11.

    The good news: it’ll be plenty sunny so we can finally do some serious work in the garden!

    And–you’ll have an excuse to find your winter coat! Temperatures are expected to be just above freezing. Wear layers, including gloves, and, thanks to the wind, expect it to be a little colder in the garden than at your house.

    We have lots to do and we’re eager to see you there!

    Workday Recap: October 2018

    Rainout, three months in a row!

    But we still had a great turnout, had a good discussion, and got some important work done. We don’t let rain get us down!

    We started with a quick harvest. Can you say “holy bumper crop of sweet potato vines”?! We got some of the sweet potatoes up and set up all three compost bins in phase one of the decomposition. We sure had plenty of material!

    We also harvested 67 pounds of sweet potatoes, including two enormous potatoes in LeeAnn’s plot. One weighed 18 pounds by itself!

    We also harvested about 35 pounds of other produce, bringing our current total to over 2200 pounds–even before we finish the sweet potato harvest!

    But we weren’t outside too long before the skies really opened up, so we all rushed inside–but not before getting absolutely drenched.

    Inside, we talked about best bets: it’s time to transition to cold season crops, and expect your summer crops to die back as temperatures drop.

    Because we have had so much rain, we will have an extra (optional) workday Sunday, Nov. 11, with the Young Men’s Service League. We’d love to see you there! (Time to be determined)

    We also learned that we won a $1,000 grant, so start thinking about the type of greenhouse we should get! This will help us propagate seeds, overwinter plants during a frost, and generally give us more options.

    Finally, Mark your calendars for Dec. 8–Garden holiday party! Craig and Lynne have generously offered to host again, and all are welcome. Details to come soon.

    Our next workday is November 10, from 9-11 a.m. Remember to check in on your plot–sometime when it is less wet out!

    Workday Recap: September 2018

    We met inside due to rain and flash flood warnings, so it was a damp informational meeting instead.

    Three things to do when you check in during the month:

    1. Weed- weeds are starting to get out of control. While you water, weed your plot and the area surrounding. This is important!
    2. Harvest- Thanks to a bumper crop of peppers by Elric and eggplant and okra in the garden, we eclipsed last year’s donations in the month of August! But that doesn’t mean we can rest easy; keep harvesting and don’t forget to weigh what you donate.
    3. Add compost- our plots are productive, but that means our compost level in the plot has plummeted! So we have bought Texas Pure compost (the dark-colored pile), so please add enough compost to your plot to replenish up to the top of your wood barrier. This helps feed your plants, makes watering last longer, and protects against the cold.

    Sweet Potato Special

    It isn’t yet time to harvest our sweet potato crop, but in the meantime, you can harvest the sweet potato leaves! The crop will tend to overgrow plot boundaries, so it’s great that you can harvest the leaves. They can be cooked and eaten like spinach or collared greens.

    Swiss Chard Recipe

    Mike encouraged everyone to grow Swiss chard. It’s a long-growing plant that is a great healthy green! Mike recommends the following recipe:

    • Harvest the leaves and stems
    • Grease a pan with bacon grease or similar.
    • Chop the stems into one- to two-inch pieces and sauté in the grease for about ten minutes or until soft
    • Meanwhile, roughly chop the greens, then toss into the pan.
    • When the greens are partway withered, create a small hole in the nest of greens. Crack an egg into the space and top with crumpled bacon.
    • Put the lid on the pan and wait for the egg to cook. Serve the greens on the side and enjoy!

    Okrapaloza

    It’s okra season, and as such we need new rules!

    Though we generally encourage you to not harvest other people’s plots, this rule DOES NOT apply to okra season!

    Please, please help your neighbors! Harvest okra when it is about two inches long. However, Al conducted a science experiment comparing okra from many different plots and found even the larger spears are edible or even delicious! So if in doubt, harvest and donate!

    Crop Switch

    It’s time to make choices about your crops. If your warm season crops aren’t producing or look unwell, pull them up. Pull up or till under any “placeholder” crops such as basil or black-eyed peas. Look to plant cold season crops such as Swiss chard, kale, carrots, radishes, turnips, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts. Check your best bets list to see if you should plant from seed or transplants. If you wait until it gets cold to plant cold season crops, you have waited too long.

    Thank you Christina for sharing the jujubes (also known as “Asian apples”)!