Archive for July, 2009

High Summer!

So Much Going On!
Most of the beds are bursting with tomato and squash vines, basil and lettuce, peas and beans. Many of you have been out there picking… keep it up! Harvest is upon us!

Fertility Issues
We’ve been working on some fertility issues, especially with the soil from our second delivery. The plants just were not doing as well, so we’ve added some soil amendments to the outer beds, including worm castings and fish emulsion. We’ve also found some organic fertilizer with a chicken manure base available from Bliffert Lumber for $6 for a 20-pound bag. This seems to work well, but if you decide to use it, please read the directions and don’t over-fertilize.

Some of you have emailed or called about yellow spots on tomato leaves, and concern that we might be suffering from a tomato blight that’s being reported on the East Coast. It doesn’t look that serious – tomato plants often have a small amount of blight, especially if a little soil gets splashed on the lower leaves. The best thing to hope for is that your plants are good and healthy, and that they can just “shake it off” and still give you a good harvest. You may want to snip off any yellow or spotted leaves and dispose of them in the garbage – don’t compost them.

Fall Planting
If your spinach has bolted, your radishes gone to seed, or you peas finished blossoming, you may want to pull them all out and plant some second crops in your garden. We’ve been leaving some planters filled with little lettuce and arugula plants for transplanting. Take a look at the long bed in the northwest quadrant that being filled up with little transplants. That bed is going to be filled with beautiful little lettuce plants in the next week or so. Watch for some awesome salads at the Co-op Cafe! You can also plant a second crop of peas if you want, more radishes, and more spinach. Keep that food rollin’ – our summer’s just started, but the cool season is on its way!

Keep Harvesting!
Don’t hesitate to harvest! The more you pick, the more your plants will produce. Even things like beets or lettuces – take out every other one, and the others will grow bigger to fill in the space! And keep those squashes picked. They’re really lovely when they’re four to six inches. But they will get big. Oh, yes they will. And watch out for the tomato outbreak. Any day now…

Well, who would have thought those cute little rodents would turn out to be such mischief-makers? They love to dig! So they dig out your plants and throw them out of the garden. And they seem to like to sample new foods. They nibble the green tomatoes and seemed to enjoy the strawberries. And there’s at least one with a taste for eggplant! There has been a cat who has been hanging out in the garden, though, and perhaps the attacks will diminish.

Upcoming Events
There are a number of events coming up in August. We’ll post an events calendar – maybe on a separate page – in the next day or so. Get ready! It’s going to be a busy month. With lots of good food!


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vertical garden 07 12Hard to believe –
We just finished planting, and it’s already time to start havesting!

If you haven’t visited your plot in the last day or two – especially the earliest planted ones in the middle of the rings – you’ve got food!

Yes! There are a few red ones out there!

Whoops – some of them got away from you and blossomed. You can either wait for them to make seed, then harvest that for winter sprouting, or pull them out and plant some more. They make a great cool weather crop.

Get those lettuces! If they have formed heads, just cut them off, take them home, add vinegar & oil and enjoy! Some of them have already bolted and started to grow tall in preparation for blossoming. You can pull those out, eat what’s good on them (probably the very tops), and plant some more.

If you look at the twenty-foot bed in the northwest quadrant, you can see how to transplant lettuces to multiply your yields. There are about 250 heads of romaine lettuce in there that were all started in one little row in one of the beds. When they are transplanted, and all spread out, they can be a real production garden!

We’ll have some more baby lettuces in the next few days. If you come to the garden on Saturday morning, we can share some of them out to people who want more lettuces for a second crop.

Looks like the strange weather got the better of some of our spinach crops. If your spinach has started to bolt and blossom, pull it out and plant something else. Even a second crop of spinach would be good now – that’s another good cool weather crop.

Summer Squash
It’s coming! Get it before it gets you!

Seriously, if you have zucchinni or yellow summer squash, it’s probably ready. There was lots of it out there this afternoon (Thursday, July 23).

Yup. Lots of it. Some of the beds are so overgrown and jungly that you have to dive down through the canopy, but if you planted broccoli, check. It’s probably ready.

Saw some out there… get ’em while they’re tiny and delicious…

Harvest them – cut them back. Basil and oregano and thyme – cut it back so it will grow some more, put it in a basket and let it dry, then store it in a jar for winter.

Don’t Miss the Harvest!
Planting is so much fun, and watching everything grow is cool. But this is the start of the time we all worked for! Don’t miss it – get that food while it’s perfect and delicious and bursting with flavor and nutrients! The more you pick, the more your garden will produce!

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This is exciting:
The Victory Garden at Kilbourn Park and the smaller Clarke Food Garden at Clarke and Bremen have been nominated for The Grant for Change program sponsored by Nau, a small clothing company based in Portland, Oregon. The grant offers $10,000 to an individual or small team working to instigate lasting, positive change. You can learn more about the Grant For Change by clicking HERE.

Vote For Us!
You can all help the project win the grant – winners are chosen in part by a voting process. You can go to the Nau website, create a log-in for yourself, and rate the various projects that have been nominated. You can link to our project by clicking HERE.

(TROUBLE VOTING? It seemed a little complicated to me. If you would like a quick “how to” with pictures (my daughter put it together – this is why we procreate) you can click HERE.)

Of course, I hope you’ll rate our project “5 Stars.” We have until August 31 to vote, so ask friends and family to rate our project – this is a very exciting opportunity for urban agriculture in Milwuakee!

Other Business
In other news, we’re hoping to get together this weekend to clean up our garden site. We would like to spread our last pile of wood chips, give everything another layer, and finish distributing the soil. We hope to get going about 10AM, and have a pot luck at about noon, then finish up after lunch. Our garden is taking its final shape – how exciting!

Project Day
Saturday, July 11
10AM Start Time
12:30 Pot Luck

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Independence Day!

July 4 is a day we can celebrate
our independence from food insecurity.
Our gardens look great!

Celebrate with the Alders
Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs and Alderman Nik Kovac, both of whom were instrumental in getting the Victory Garden up and running, are inviting residents to join them for a “meet and greet” at the newly restored Kilbourn Reservoir Park from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, 2009.

There will be free face painting and balloons, and residents will enjoy some of the best views in the city from the bluff in the newly restored reservoir park, located at North Ave. and N. Bremen St. Also, fireworks will light up the sky after 9 p.m.

For those planning to watch the fireworks, Alderwoman Coggs suggests bringing along chairs and blankets. “This should be a fun, family-friendly time at a newly-restored public space that has great views of the city and the skyline,” she said.

WHAT: July 4 meet & greet hosted by Alds. Coggs & Kovac
WHEN: Saturday, July 4, 2009, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
WHERE: Kilbourn Reservoir Park – on the bluff at North and Bremen

victory garden
Yes, harvest! Some of us have crops ready to harvest in the Victory Garden!

Check your Radishes
Gently push the tops aside and check at the base of the plant. If you can see the top of a little red globe, pull it out and eat it! Radishes need to be harvested before they get too tough and woody. Pull them out and plant some more!

Cilantro Transforming Into Coriander
Some of you have cilantro that is getting tall and the leaves finer and feathery. It’s getting ready to blossom and make seeds – those seeds are coriander seeds. Harvest it, and plant some more – the young leaves are more deeply flavored; they seem to have less flavor after the plant blossoms.

Topping the Basil
If your basil plants are getting tall and starting to blossom, it’s a good time to trim them back and use the tops. If you keep cutting them back, the plant will get bushier, and produce ever more leaves. Again, you want to postpone blossoming as long as possible.

Lettuce & Mesclun Mixes
If these are big enough, now’s the time to harvest and plant some more. If we get hot weather (ever!) these crops will bolt and become bitter.

Watch Out For Garden Whales!
Keep an eye on those zucchinis and summer squashes. If you harvest them when they are tiny and succulent (3 to 5 inches) the plants will keep on blossoming and producing. If one of them hides from you and gets ginormous, the plant will figure its job is done and stop. Watch out for the wiley garden whale!

Tea Anyone?
We’re experimenting with compost tea over in the Clarke Food Garden on Clarke and Bremen. If anyone’s tomatoes or spinach are looking yellow and peaked after the rains, post a comment and we’ll bring some tea over to the garden for you to experiment with. Can’t hurt…

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