Archive for May, 2009

Hi everyone! After asking around and doing an unscientific poll, the decision was made to “Go For It!” and set up the final circle of 24 raised beds.

So here is the proposed schedule for upcoming project days and times (will probably be adjusted according to how things get done…):

Friday, May 29
2PM – 4PM
(This time may be flexible if people are available at other times on Friday.)
Lay and stake landscape cloth for final phase of the garden.
Put wood chips on the paths in the garden.

Saturday, May 30
10AM – 4PM
Finish landscape cloth and woodchips.
Place 24 raised beds for final phase of the garden.

Saturday, June 6
10AM – 4PM
Fill 24 raised beds for final phase of the garden.

Sunday, June 7
Project day for COA Youth and Teens

Saturday, June 13
10AM – 4 PM
Finish placing wood chips on paths.
Finish any bed filling not completed in previous week.
Finish clean-up work on the garden.
Build and place community “center point” bed in the garden.
Plant community segment of garden.

A Few Notes About Wood Chips:
We are thinking that the layer of wood chips on the paths should be 2 to 4 inches deep. Please use your best judgment and see what feels right so the chips will hold down the landscape cloth and not shift around when we walk on them.

Before placing wood chips on the paths, please repair the landscape cloth and make sure it is solid. Restake any that has come loose, and patch where necessary, so weeds and grass don’t come through on the paths. We’ll try to have extra stakes and landscape cloth available for patching.

Please leave the center of the circles open and free of wood chips for the time being. We are going to place an eight-sided raised bed in the middle that will be a community planting site. You can start laying wood chips outside the first ring of beds.

Comments, questions, suggestions? Please leave them here in the comments section and/or contact us at socialsolutionsmke@gmail.com


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There are two new pages in the list at the right. Check them out…

Garden Map
One of the new pages is titled “Garden Map,” and it shows the newest version of the map of all the beds, including bed numbers. You can also view a larger PDF version of the map by following the link on the page.

Plants from Lemke Farms
Check out the plant list from our friend Ken Lemke, long-time Gardeners Market regular. He will be in Milwaukee selling his plants on Saturdays and Wednesdays – his schedule is listed too. Help support our local organic farmers!

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It’s great to see everyone out there putting plants and seeds in the ground! We should be getting some rain tonight, so there won’t be too much hardship as we wait for the calk to set on our repaired water barrels. Take a look at the new header photo on the blog – we’ve got woodchips!

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Oh, dear, fellow gardeners!

Saturday morning (May 23rd), I got from Jan the most eloquent testimony ever about the tolls of community organanizing. I had offered to inventory her seed packets by the same bio-intensive methods offered in my most recent blog.

Well, all but one packet was from Seeds of Change, a most reputable producer of organic seed. All Jan’s packets are unopened; but the most recent ones are from 2007! There’s actually a packet, Chiogga Beets, from 2001!

Jan also has a few packets of 2006 brassicas, one of cauliflower, one of broccoli and three of kale! Cauliflower takes the whole season to mature and tastes best after a hard frost. Broccoli is a perreniel plant and unlikely to bear fruit the first year. Kale is much like cauliflower and very rich in potassium, good for everybody.

Jan’s special interest is lettuce, and she has 5 planting selections from 2006-7. Besides the beets, she also has a packet of Golf Currant vine tomatoes. So, if we have beds available, I’m wondering if we couldn’t consecarate them to JAN’S MEMORIAL SEED BED?

(I also have some seed packets from 2007. I seem to have used up my seeds from 2008… I didn’t put the 2007 seeds in my inventory because they are so old, but if there is space, maybe I can have a memorial seed garden, too! Whatever happens, they’ll end up compost…)

Sunday morning, I met Marguerite and Nick, who came to plant some tomatoes. Later in the day, I found the energy to climb the hill. When I got down to the garden site, a woman was just arriving with a flat of plants for her plot. I don’t remember her name, but she knows about the blog.

Sunday afternoon, I got a phone call from someone else who read about my seeds in the blog. As usual, I don’t catch names the first time, but she’s going to call me between 9:30 and 10am tomorrow to remind me to show up! She is the first plain indication of recognizing my seed offer.

Gardening here is such hard work and so much fun!


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Victory Garden Initiative volunteers were building raised bed gardens in backyards throughout Milwaukee yesterday. What a great project!

We had a couple of VGI volunteers who came and helped in the Victory Garden at Kilbourn Park – thank you so much!

Our intrepid group numbered 25 yesterday (Saturday, May 23), according to the sign-in sheets, and we worked really hard! We placed and filled 13 beds in ring five, bringing our total of four-by-eight foot beds to 42, with eight four-by-twenty foot beds in addition. Whew. That’s a lot of garden spaces!

Water – Kind Of…
We also placed our four water barrels up on cinder blocks yesterday. Unfortunately, we have a little leakage problem, but we’re going to recalk the faucets in the next day or so, and that should solve it.

We put the water barrels so they could be easily filled without having to drag the hose across the garden. They can be moved easily enough when they’re empty. Let’s have some group thought and feedback on final placement of the barrels.

Another Ring?
According to current calculations (that are close, at least) right now we have all except five beds assigned in the five rings. The question is, shall we put in the next ring? We have materials and funding.

Are there still people out there who want a garden bed in the Victory Garden?

Please help us get the word out there – we should decide this week whether we have enough people who want to garden with us to do the next ring of TWENTY-FOUR beds. People should email us at socialsolutionsmke@gmail.com in the next day or so to help us make this decision.

Hello out there… Anybody else want a garden bed?

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It’s a great day for the Victory Garden Blitz! See you in the garden at 10AM, rain or shine or drizzle – and the pot luck at NOON! (I’m making my mother’s potato salad and the best green salad you’ve ever eaten!)

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Dear fellow gardeners,

It’s been a long and hard work, but I have finally made an inventory of all the extra seeds I want to share with you, as well as the ‘institutional gardeners’ in the 20-foot plots. I am donating these high-quality seeds for free, so please don’t go out and buy ordinary seed from just anywhere!

Following is a list of my seeds for free, as well as some free seedlings already started. With each item on the list is the number of square feet needed and if it grows so fast that it can be planted more than once during the summer.

The square feet needed are according to the “biointensive” method, meaning that plants are grown as close together as possible. This is perfect for urban gardening!

Our standard garden beds are 4-by-8 feet, meaning 32 square feet. 24 of them are already in place, with another 13 waiting to be moved from the COA parking lot.

The longer “institutional” beds are 4-by-20 feet, meaning 80 square feet. All eight of them are already in place, but they need a little more work to last a long time.

So, here are my list of seeds and seedlings, with the square feet they need and if they can be planted more than once during the summer. Also shown are the seed which can be trained to climb a trellis.

Arugula, Rocket 200 seeds by 12″ spacing for 100 square feet (Can be replanted in the late summer to weather mild winters.)

Carrot, Amarillo 500 seeds, broadcast over 20 square feet.

Collards, Champion 240 seeds, 150 square feet.

Corn, Bantam 150 seeds means 180 square feet. According to rules Jan has suggested to us, corn should not be grown in the main garden complex. (The same goes for all members of the mint flamily, including thai basil and even catnip. So, maybe we can place one or two frames south and east of prevailing winds, to grow these “prohibited substances”…).

Kohlrabi, Early White 135 seeds, 4inches apart, meaning 10 square feet.

Okra, Clemson 2 packets of 100 seeds, 12 inches apart, 120 square feet.

Pak Choi asian green 80 seeds, 40 square feet.

Radish, French Breakfast 750 seeds, 10 square feet!

Radish, Podding (meaning they grow on the branches) 60 seeds, 20 square feet.

Sunflower, Giant 50 seeds, 200 square feet, to be grown beside the trellises for support (great fun for our bird and squirrel friends).

Celery, Leaf 280 seeds, 40 square feet.

Cucumber, Suyo Long 16 pots along the 13-foot trellis.

Pepper, Joe’s Hot 30 seeds, 20 square feet.

Pepper, Jalapeno 30 seeds, 20 square feet.

Pepper, Chocolate 30 seeds, 20 square feet.

Tomato, Cherokee 30 seeds, 100 square feet.

Tomato, Rose 30 seeds, 85 square feet.

I am sorry to write that I do not yet have anything to report on the pepper and tomato seeds I have tried to start. These are subtropical plants and not very happy up here in Wisconsin. They have so far been very unenthusiastic in my apartment windows!

If you really want to grow tomato or pepper plants, you should try Growing Power, 5500 West Silver Spring Road, 527-1546, or even nearer by, Kellner Greenhouses, 3258 North Humboldt, 264-6605. (Note from Jan: Fischberger’s Variety Store at 2445 N Holton also has heirloom plants and seeds!) You should probably get indeterminate tomato plants, because they will continue to produce small amounts of fruit during the later summer. Determinate tomato plants produce all their fruit at once, kind of overwhelming! (Pepper plants are all determinate, but their fruit can easily be dried.)

Having managed, with so much work, to organize all my seeds for sharing, I have offered to do the same for Jan’s seeds. She’ll be bringing me the packets she would like to share, at our work session this coming Saturday, starting at 10am. I’ll then calculate their square-food needs according to the biointensive method. The second time around, it shouldn’t be so hard!

So please remember: don’t go out and buy ordinary seed from just anywhere, when you can get high-quality seed for free from Jan and me! To reserve seeds or peat pots from me, please email me at saveland@uwm.edu. If you don’t use the internet, we’ll have to talk about this in person, this coming Saturday, May 23rd, starting at 10am.

In order to receive free seed from Jan and me, you must have a plot reserved in the Victory Garden. In return, everything we grow together can be shared by all of us. We’ll all also be responsible for taking care of all our plots all summer long. This is important to me, maybe others, because I’ll be out-of-town for two or three weeks later in the summer. Somebody else might have to stay home because of sickness…

Your friend in gardening, Walt Saveland (372-1998).

PS While taking a break yesterday, over in the COA parking lot, Paul and I were talking about how to get rid of the unusable lumber. We both had the idea of a gigantic Victory bonfire! Of course, this would require more community organizing from Jan to get the needed permits… We think that it would be better to have it in open space just west of the COA parking lot, so we don’t have to move unusable lumber over near the Victory Garden.

Enjoying wet spring weather, the risk of fire spreading is little, as long as the wind is not blowing too hard. Some might worry about the “carbon imprint,” the release of carbon dioxide into the air, by burning crumby wood, which contributes to global warming… Well, I have two comments about that.

First, hauling this stuff off to a dump on the outskirts of the city, or even to the Victory Garden itself, would involve a big pickup, and probably several loads. Second, it would be great fun for all of us who have worked so hard on the garden, at little expense to the environment. Instead of driving around this summer to buy our food, we’ll be able to get super fresh vegetables nearby!

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