Monday, September 11, 2017

September 2nd & 9th at the Garden

First, a quick reminder that our potluck is coming up soon, on Sunday, September 17th at 4:30 PM at the Kitchen Garden. We hope you can make it! Please send any questions to Gabriela.

On September 2nd we had smaller than usual group: Mark, Linda H., Linda M., Susan and Els. Mark was at his best, as always, tidying up. He removed practically all the lambs quarter that was growing under the table  in preparation for the pot luck dinner. There was a great crop of eggplants and cucumbers for the food pantry. It was harvest time in the individual plots too, plus cutting back tomatillo and tomato plants. Susan tested the dripping system and all tubes seem to be working. She did change the settings so that there is more water per session. Last but not least, the lettuce seedlings Susan had left in the garden before her vacations were big enough to be planted out. We hope to still get a fall crop of them.

- Els.

On September 9th, we had a nice crowd at the garden: Marcelo and his cousin Marisa, who's visiting from Argentina, Blanca, Solange, Iris, Els, Mark, Susan, Ben, and Gabriela. We did the usual harvesting and tending, weeding as well as a bit of cover crop planting. Gabriela brought a hoe--a tool Doug DeCandia had recommended to prepare planting areas--and Mark brought cover crop seed mixes and a flat spade to help cut plant residues and other compostable materials for faster decomposition. We were lucky to have Solange, who made two trips home to affix the handle to the hoe and then later to sharpen the spade edge--thank you Solange and Ernesto (Solange's husband)!! 

Our first ever potato harvest!

Iris gives her plot a bit of extra moisture

Marisa and Marcelo evaluate the eggplants
Susan carefully thins her plants

Mark puts to use the new flat spade

Solange and Blanca confer on the health of these tomato plants

Els saws cover crop seeds.
 
Ben is trying to tame his tomatillos

Gabriela harvests some calendula flowers.
- Gabriela.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kitchen Garden Update + Potluck

Please mark your calendars for the annual Kitchen Garden potluck! It will be on Sunday, September 17th from 4:30 to 7:30 PM and everyone is invited! We will also be offering a compost mini-training by Elisa Zazzera that same day. Keep an eye on your email for a reminder closer to the date.

It's been a busy summer, and with many of us in and out of town and catching up with various activities, we haven't been able to communicate as regularly as usual. Instead of trying to recap everything that's been going on, here is a selection of snapshots from the past few weeks. Enjoy and we hope to see you at the potluck!

The garden has been lush this summer!
Linda proudly displays one of her record breaking tomatos!
Here we are tasting one of the huge tomatoes--it was delicious!
Iris was exultant over her first carrots!
Thanks to Solange's husband we now have access to the tool shed once again! Yay!
Ben spent a good part of this day cutting back the overgrown weeds
Blanca ready for another gardening day!
Discussing the tomato harvest
       
The herbs are doing well.
And we're getting lots of cucumbers.
We've done a few seed experiments. These are cilantro seeds, also known as coriander. To be used as seed for next year of as spice.
A sample of the Food Pantry harvest.
- Gabriela.

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 8th compost update

The compost keeps evolving fine with temperatures above 110°F at the active pile and a bit below 100°F at the maturing pile. Marcelo and I added some browns to the right pile by tearing apart some seedling containers and a wet corrugated cardboard box. But we're still low and at this rate will run out of browns very soon.

So... WE NEED EVERYBODY TO CHIP IN, IN ORDER TO AVOID INTERRUPTIONS: If you happen to still have some dry leaves around, PLEASE BRING THEM and add to the browns pile (rightmost one) when you come to drop off your scraps. Other suitable browns are cores of paper towels / toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, brown paper bags, or other low-quality paper/carton, always cut, shredded, or torn into small pieces (nicer paper is best recycled). Sawdust is good but may require a closed container and careful handling to avoid a mess, AND the wood has to be untreated.

Just in case, a bit of info: remember that "browns" is a shorthand for materials that are high in carbon. "Greens" is shorthand for materials high in nitrogen. BUT don't judge just by the color! For example, coffee grounds are brown in color, but are high in nitrogen and thus considered a green in composting. I hope this is not confusing! We'll be offering a mini-training / refresher soon. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with questions.

-Gabriela.

July 8th at the Kitchen Garden

It was another busy morning at the garden! Blanca, Ben, Iris, Linda M, Marcelo, Susan, and Gabriela were in attendance, and Akiko stopped by for a while.

In addition to the usual weeding, harvesting and watering the areas outside the irrigation system, Blanca arranged the tomato plants inside the cages and tied them up. We also planted eggplant, pepper, leek, and Brussels sprout seedlings donated by Hilltop Hanover Farm (THANK YOU!!!). Linda brought the weed tea that Els had brewed for the garden--we will probably use it as a soil drench but did not get around to applying it yet. Gabriela applied more vinegar-based weed killer to the poison ivy at various spots and checked the compost bins. We also took care of some of the containers with failed seedlings: the soil went to the potato pots; Marcelo and Gabriela cut the cardboard containers (along with a wet corrugated cardboard box) and added to the pile of "browns" for composting.

Ben stakes a beautiful volunteer tomato
Blanca and the first beet of the season!
Mark and Akiko brought seedlings donated by Hilltop Hanover--THANK YOU ALL!!!
The "beet" goes on!
Susan tending to her bountiful herbs.
Gabriela adds soil to the potato containers.

 - Gabriela.



Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 1st at the Kitchen Garden

It was a busy morning, and almost everybody came to the garden this Saturday.

We were all excited about the newly installed drip irrigation system and faucet inside the garden! It looks great and very neat. Now the garden will be watered overnight. We still need to keep an eye to check whether the schedule might have to be adjusted.

In addition to the usual weeding, harvesting and compost management, Susan also brought some flowers and purple basil for the outside of the fence on Oak St. The other big thing this week was that Iris got some asparagus crowns. We made room at the back of the garden and planted two rows. While we are not sure when the plants will emerge, this is a great addition because asparagus are perennial and should keep producing for several years (spears are harvested in early spring).

Els had volunteered to prepare a foliar spray (fermented wild weeds tea) according to a recipe Doug DeCandia had shared in his class. The brew is now ready and Els will bring it to the garden next week. Thank you Els!!

Susan planting herbs and flowers outside the fence.

Our newest gardeners, Ben and Carolyn, check on their plot.
Marcelo mixing the curing compost pile.
Linda M. and Els tending to their plot.
Blanca and Laura weed the area where we'll plant the asparagus.
Solange waters the potatoes.
Iris taking down the peas.
Gabriela cutting some chickory.



Compost update - July 1st.

More people are composting with Roots & Wings, which is great but comes with some challenges! Browns (i.e., carbon-rich materials) are consumed much faster than before, and bins are filling up faster than the older compost is mature enough to be used.

We are considering a few options to sustainably deal with these issues, which will likely require more help and participation from all composters and some creative ideas. We may have a brainstorming session soon but your ideas are certainly welcome at any point!

The most urgent issue is to restock on browns sooner rather than later. If any of you has more dry leaves that you could bring and drop off in the rightmost bin, please do so at your earliest convenience so we can avoid completely running out of browns like last time. If you have other source of browns (e.g., sawdust, please let me know--if we are to use any woody materials we need to make sure they are untreated).



Between June 17 and June 22, Marcelo moved the middle pile (maturing compost) inside the garden into a hole he dug into our "bad soil" pile. We hope the compost will finish curing here and some of it will help improve the quality of the soil for future use. He also moved the left pile into the middle bin, making room for new scraps.

Kitchen Garden update - June 24

There was a lot of activity at the garden; Blanca, Els, Solange, Mark P., Laura, Susan, Linda H., and Marcelo were in attendance. Activities included planting new vegetables, weeding, adding soil to the potatoes, turning the compost, cleaning the area behind the fence and drip irrigation planning.

One of the big topics of the day was getting ready for the installation of the drip irrigation system. A contractor (5 Brothers) will be doing the work on Wednesday and we need to figure out where to locate the spigot. The gardeners met with Dave Person (who has been helping us figure out the technical details and coordinate with the church) and showed him two different spots we thought would be good for the faucet. We market both spots with sticks and thought 5 Bros. could pick the one they thought would be better for running the irrigation system.  Susan and Solange will be at the garden on Wednesday at about 9:30 to go over some of the details.

Marcelo also gave Molly, from the food pantry, 8 heads of lettuce that were ready for harvest.
- Marcelo