Archive for April, 2010

Sorry everyone…
We couldn’t schedule soil this weekend to top off the beds. But it’s raining pretty hard tonight, we would have had kind of a muddy mess.

We’re planning a big project day next weekend. We’ll be working on the beds this week, and hope to be ready to place some of them next weekend. Then we’ll be able to top off the existing beds and add some new beds as well.

I’ll be out in the garden tomorrow at 10AM for an hour or so – I’m going to be teaching a workshop at Time Out For Parents at COA around mid-day, but will be in the garden for a while. If you would like, I could take a look at some of your beds. You might want to take the time to work the soil, break up the root clumps from the cover crops, and generally prepare them to add some dirt next weekend.

Later in the afternoon we will be marking off where the new beds will be placed. Should be fun…

Help With Garden Beds
We will be working on new beds this week. We are looking for heavy duty extension cords if anyone could lend us some for the next week or so.

We have located a nail gun and air compressor (Thanks, Pragmatic Construction!) and will be ready to rumble on those garden beds early next week. Check the entry before this one for times when we will be working on them.

So get ready:
Project Day
Saturday, May 8, 10AM – 2PM
Potluck Lunch – Bring a Dish to Pass!


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Hooray for Bliffert Lumber! Once again they came through with an amazing contribution of lumber for our raised beds!

Now it’s time to start working with our new treasure. Super thank-yous to Seth Wilke, who has agreed to spearhed the task of creating our garden beds.

We Are Looking For Crews
Can you help build garden beds? Tasks will involve sorting lumber, cutting it into 4-foot and 8-foot lengths, stacking it, and nailing the beds together.

We have some work times organized. Can you come for any of these times:
Friday, April 30 – 3-6PM
Tuesday, May 4 – 3-6PM
Wednesday, May 5 – 3-6PM
Friday, May 7 – 3-6PM
Saturday, May 8 – 10AM-2PM

You can come and just bring a pair of gloves and a good attitude and be very helpful. If you have tools, you could bring a skill saw if you have one. We’re really looking for a nail gun and air compressor for the assembly part of the job. Anybody got any leads?

Work will take place in the COA parking lot on North Avenue – you can just come at any of the times listed above, or call me with questions:
Jan Christensen

What About Dirt?
I’ll keep you posted, but I’m trying to get some dirt in here for this weekend (May 1). We’re watching the weather – if we’re going to have heavy rain Friday night, we might have to hold off for another week, but I hope not! Watch the blog – I’ll try to post tomorrow night.

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Crop Failure…

Just in case anyone was under the illusion that every one of my planting projects is a success, here is my cat, Mynx, caught in the act of decimating my first planting of lettuce seeds.

I started them successfully, using a fast-start technique. I scattered the seed on top of the soil, then covered them with a paper towel which I kept moist with a spray bottle. I weighted the paper towel gently with an empty plastic tray.

The seeds sprouted in a few days, and I removed the plastic tray and the paper towel.

However, the real secret of this technique is to get the newly sprouted seeds into the light as quickly as possible. It really works best under a grow light. I was just doing it on the kitchen table and putting the sprouts in the light from my east windows. Not enough. The result was the poor little leggy plants you see here.

They proved irresistable to my veggie-loving cat.

She dug up the little sprouts, even picked them up in her paws to eat them. Her nose and chin were covered with dirt by the time she finished.

I didn’t have the heart to yell at her. However, I am determined to get something set up outside tomorrow – even a little plastic tunnel should work if it doesn’t get too cold. My next lettuce crop is going to be a success!

You can also see some nice tomatoes and brassicas (cabbage or broccoli? not sure…) on the table next to the lettuce disaster. We got those plants free from our friends at MUG – thanks, guys! I’ll move them out of harm’s way tomorrow as well. Although the cats aren’t really interested in them. Just the lettuce. Sigh.

I’ll be making all of these plants available to gardeners who would like them after the last frost date. We often get free plants from several sources, and I’ll be bringing them to our Saturday project days for “adoption.” Let’s grow that food!

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And…. GO!

Okay… Here’s where we are:
Put down wood chips (check)
Assign garden beds (check)
Mark numbers on garden beds (check)
Finalize plans to add some beds for new gardeners (in process)
Top off beds with soil (hold off because of rain tomorrow)

What Should You Do First?
If you got the email assigning your garden bed, you can do some things to get started before you plant.

You can start by thoroughly turning the cover crops in your garden. The idea is to dig in and break up the roots, shake the dirt out of them and lay the wheatgrass plants out to dry. This cover crop is going to be a shot of “green fertilizer” that will enrich your garden through the summer. If you find weeds, get them out – be sure to get the roots!

The straw that is left on your garden should be spread out in an even layer. This will decompose under the dirt that we top the beds off with, and keep your soil loose and arable.

Do You Want Those Strawberries?
Some of you who are new to the garden or have been reassigned plots may find some “leftovers” from the last gardeners. They may be some kinds of herbs, mint or strawberries.

If you want to keep these plants, fine. If not, we are starting a “strawberries for everybody” bed next to the sidewalk on the west side of the garden. See the burlap bags in a line over there? You can transplant your stawberry plants in those bags if you don’t want them in your garden.

If you have some herbs coming back in your garden bed that you don’t want, you can transplant them to the middle bed, and we can all share them.

Get Ready For Soil
We hope to top off the beds with soil on May 1. If you don’t want soil added to your bed because you have already planted there, please put out a clear, sturdy sign so we don’t add soil to your bed.

Remember, average date of the last frost is May 1. If you have plants started in your warm sunny window, keep them there for a while. Maybe put them outside on the south side of the house on mild days to begin to harden them off, then bring them back in at night.

Okay – We’re on the way! See you in the garden!

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Thanks to all the hard-working volunteers who spread all the wood chips, worked on patching up our water barrels, and turned the cover crop. The garden looks great!

We had more than 400 volunteers from Marquette University who helped pick up all the litter in our neighborhood on Saturday, April 17. We sent teams to help at Snails’ Crossing, Off the Grid, Greenfolks, the Post Carbon Farm and our Community Garden at Kilbourn Park. A shout out to all the Marquette kids – thank you! Our whole neighborhood looks great!

Plot Assignments

Meanwhile, back at the garden – we are doing a dance with the weather and the weekends. We have finished our garden assignments and will be sending out emails to everyone who has beds so far.

Watch for your email on Friday, April 23.

We have given first pick to returning gardeners, and have assigned existing plots to new gardeners by lot. Where we could, we have honored requests for people to garden next to each other.

Some of you will receive plot assignment in the NEW beds. We will be working on these beds in the next couple of weeks. We HOPE to have everyone in their gardens by the end of May. Bear with us…


Topping Off Beds
We want to top off the existing beds with a bit more soil before we plant, but we have rain predicted for this weekend, so have held off. If you want to plant something in your bed without waiting for the additional soil, go ahead, but please be aware that the AVERAGE LAST DATE FOR FROST IS MAY 1.

We hope to have the beds topped off by May 1. If you plant something, and do not want us to add soil to your bed, please make a good, sturdy sign that clearly tells us you do not want soil.

Exciting times. Watch for your garden assignment email – they’ll be going out tonight!

Happy Earth Day, Everyone!

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Ready, Steady, GO!

See you all tomorrow at the garden for the big wood chip spreading. We’re going to have some help from volunteers from Marquette, too. Bring shovels and rakes and gloves if you’ve got ’em. Let’s get those wood chips spread on our paths, and talk about next steps…

I heard a rumor that COA might have some lunch to share, but bring a picnic if you wish. Come and enjoy the skyline!

Project Day
Saturday, April 17
10AM – 2PM

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So, have you all seen the great big pile o’ wood chips at the garden? We’re getting ready to start!

We have a project day shaping up for Saturday, April 17. We’re hoping to get a bunch of volunteers involved with the Marquette Hunger Clean Up and the Riverwest Spring Clean Up.

We’re planning to pick up all the strange random garbage in the garden, and to spread wood chips on the paths between the beds. We’re also trying to get some soil so we can start to top off the beds and turn the soil. That may have to wait until the next weekend… Workin’ on it…

Here are the particulars for the project day. See you then!

Project Day
Saturday, April 17
10AM – 2PM
Bring a Bag Lunch.

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