Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kitchen Garden Update - April 23

**Note: If you have a family plot and have not been in the garden recently, please note there Marcelo left two bags of "Black Gold Earth" by each plot that you can add at your convenience.**

Currently at the Garden: It was a bit overcast when Mark, Linda, Else and Iris met at the Kitchen Garden. Marcelo had picked up bags of black gold earth and left two bags for each raised bed. They added these to their individual/family plots and one of the community beds, mixing the black gold in with the first few inches of dirt below.

​Linda and Else brought some seeds to plant in their bed.

​Mark added some of our finished compost to the communal garden bed by Oak Street.

​ Mark and Iris worked on the compost. Here he has climbed into the middle bin to be able to flip the most recently added materials in the left bin. They added some dirt and leaves and gave this bin a good turning over. They were happy to feel the heat rising out of the decomposing food scraps. They had the idea of leaving a bucket of extra dirt near the bin and putting up a sign asking people to throw some of it on top of any kitchen scraps they leave. This would both speed up the composting and minimize any odor.

​Iris used the broad fork to aerate the bed near the spice garden where we grew tomatoes and tomatillos last year.

​When Linda and Else were finished planting, they used old window screens to keep birds away and to diffuse the water in case of a big rain. 

We were not able to find potato bags in time for Saturday but Else has some potato bags at home and she will be starting the potato seeds that Suzi donated last Thursday in them. Gabriela had dropped off some tomato seedlings but we decided it might be too early to plant them directly in the beds at this point due to the unpredictability of night time temperatures.

Other news: Mark attended Greyston Foundation's Seeds of the Future event at the Yonkers public library, where he distributed seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library to an enthusiastic crowd of home and community gardeners, and gave demonstrations on starting and caring for seedlings.

See you next time at the garden!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kitchen Garden Update - April 16

Hello everyone,
I'm sorry I missed the fun last Saturday. Here is Marcelo's attempt to recap as much as he can remember of a very busy first Saturday meeting.

Blanca organized our toolbox!
Currently at the Garden: We had a terrific start to our Kitchen Gardening season! Present were Mark P. and Marc T. who started the day by continuing to move some of the top soil away from the outside fence. They were quickly joined by gardeners Linda McCarthy, Linda Herring, Iris Hiskey (her son also briefly stopped by), Susan Clelland and Sam Bercovich. This meant that all the gardeners with plots were present and able to sign the consent forms and pick up a copy of the garden rules. A very pleasant surprise was to have Els, who was a very active community garden participant a couple of years ago before moving to Port Chester, stop by to help us pull out weeds just like old times. Together we were able to do a lot of initial garden preparation such as removing dandelions, sifting the compost and placing it in the community plots, placing new top soil on plots, organizing our tool box, closing the garden fence and the general preparation of the community beds. It really was a productive and wonderful first gathering.

​Susan and Marcelo sifting the compost.
Next Steps: Unfortunately Marc T. and Gabriela won’t be at the garden next week, but everyone is encouraged to stop by Saturday during our normal hours of 10 am to noon. We should have some new compost to mix into every individual bed and hopefully we will also have some new baby plants that can be placed into plots. We still need to confirm with the nursery school if the water hose will be available for next week but we will let gardeners know as soon as possible.

​Mark puts back the fence with help from John.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Kitchen Garden Update - April 9

This Saturday, Marcelo and I met at the garden and started placing new soil in the beds. Lenore joined us for a while and fixed the Kitchen Garden sign. Iris joined us a bit later and tidied up the tool corner. We were then joined by Mark, followed by Sam. We finished filling the beds and removing some of the bad soil we had placed in the center of the garden.

What's next
Kickoff gathering next Saturday, April 16: we'd like all gardeners to attend (whether you have a family plot or would like to garden in the communal area). Please make an effort to attend as we will go over the garden rules, sign the garden release form, and plan our activities for the year. We'll have copies of the garden rules (just slight modification to last year's rules) and release form, but feel free to read them ahead of time. It looks like the weather should be nice, but if this changes, we can still meet inside South Church in fellowship hall.

If you have a family plot: Please remember to bring the $30 contribution (checks should be made out to Roots & Wings). As mentioned, we have filled the beds and you're welcome to start using your assigned plot as soon as you sign the release form; also feel free to add more soil if you'd like. We will procure plants and seeds for the communal areas of the garden and you're welcome to use any leftovers. Also some of us have started seed inside and we encourage sharing any leftover seedlings and seeds. Otherwise, feel free to bring any plants you'd like to grow this year, but please remember they should be organic. A good and reliable local source is Sprain Brook Nursery (448 Underhill Rd, Scarsdale, NY 10583; Phone: 914-723-2382).

If you don't have a plot and would like to have one, you can get on our waiting list for the next available one. But in the meantime, please join us on Saturdays to garden together. It's a fun and rewarding activity and we can really use your help in the communal plots whose harvest will be mostly going to the South Church food pantry. You would still need to sign the release form.

Please sign up for special projects: There's a number of activities and we would like to enlist one or two people to help with each. Please let us know if you're interested in any of these:
  • Compost management: to help us make sure scraps are placed in the appropriate bin, mixed with browns, monitor compost temperature, help turning the pile, etc.
  • Tool box organization. Our tool box is quite a mess and would benefit from some tidying up.
  • Soil recuperation/remediation: Help Marcelo manage the "bad soil" pile to try to turn it into good quality soil we can use in future seasons (adding manure, cover crops, etc.).
  • Irrigation subcommittee: We are considering installing some sort of irrigation system to reduce the work load (sprinkler, drip irrigation) and could use your help in planning, designing and scoping this out.
See you at the garden!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Kitchen Garden update - April 2, 2016

Marcelo, Mark, Iris and I met on this slightly wet Saturday morning to receive a batch of new soil. We look forward to our first Kitchen Garden gathering next Saturday, April 9th from 10 AM to noon. This year, family plots have been assigned to Blanca S, Susan C, Iris H, Linda H, Sam B, and Linda MC. But everybody is welcome at the garden--about half of the garden is a communal area tended to by volunteer gardeners (with help from family plot holders!) It is a great way to learn about gardening among friends. We decide collectively what to grow and how to distribute the harvest--and a good portion goes to the Dobbs Ferry food pantry.

Also, last Thursday the Dobbs Ferry Middle School Gardening Club stopped by the Kitchen Garden to help seeding lettuce and other veggies for the garden, and to help with garden maintenance, including clearing the Labyrinth Garden.

More about our soil situation: Our garden had lost quite a bit of soil over the growing seasons. So last year we had purchased topsoil from Westwood Organics to increase the soil depth, but it turned out to be of poor quality: hardly any organic matter and no clay, both of which are essential for good plant nutrition (see our gardening class summaries for more info on good soils for growing healthy plants). In fact, Iris had taken some of this soil to replenish her potted plants and ended up stressing or killing several of them.

Covering the soil in anticipation of more rain and winds.
After consulting with Master Gardener Suzi Novak, and considering our options, we found a local farmer, Alan Keeley of Stone Hill River Farms in Bedford, NY. He put together a mixture of minerals and high quality organic compost, which we received on Saturday. The soil looks really nice and we will use it to replenish our beds in the coming days. We hope this new soil will work as well as it looks!

We look forward to seeing you at the garden!