Sunday, April 29, 2018

April Wrap Up

These last few weeks have been busy at the kitchen garden and we've gotten a huge amount done! We've created paths from the big pile of wood chips in the parking lot (which is almost gone now) and added dirt and compost to build up all our beds.

In the communal beds (all expanded this spring), we tucked in some small broccoli, spinach and kale plants dropped off by the veggie fairy (aka Linda Jo!) and patted in seeds for kale, cilantro, and scallions. Individual gardeners planted seeds in our plots—carrots, radishes, kale, cilantro, beets, kale and many kinds of lettuce—and tiny seedlings are popping up all over. 

Some of us have also started tomatoes, peppers, and greens at home in seed trays. Those will be transferred to the garden later when they are bigger and the weather is predictably warmer. Iris covered her plot with plastic to create a warmer environment for early growing.

This Saturday was our second workshop with Claudia Joseph and we really got down to business. Of course, there was time to sit around the table (which we moved into a shadier spot) to discuss
plans and ask questions, but mostly we were spread out all over the garden, trying to get as much accomplished as possible while we had an expert on hand.

We separated and transplanted some speckled trout lettuce that had reseeded itself from last year's crop. We laid planks every five feet in the garden plot nearest the street so that we can have access to the full bed . .all the way back to the fence where we hope to grow crops including pole beans, cucumbers, and squash. We discussed which vegetables don't like to grow near each other (beans and squash, for example). We reconfigured the spice garden to make it bigger and continued the edging to try to contain the wandering strawberry plants. We discovered a few stalks of asparagus coming up.

Our biggest project was tackling the fence, which had big gaps and was sagging so low that a deer would barely need to jump to get in and a groundhog could saunter through the holes! Thankfully, Dave Person
showed up and led us in addressing the section near the driveway. Amazingly, by noon, it was looking taut and seamless—very satisfying! Dave was still working on the gate when the last of us left for home around 2:00 p.m..

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Earth Day

Alex, Chris, Hilary, Lenore, Marc, and Mark marked Earth Day in the Labyrinth Garden in front of South Church.

They planted herb seeds, replenished the pathway's wood chip covering, and pruned last year's stalks.

A week before, some of the group met with local farmer Doug Decandia. (Read about his work growing food with inmates for the Food Bank of Westchester here.)

He told the group to aerate and loosen the soil with a broadfork. That's what Mark is using in the photo! He also recommended watching the garden, seeing what takes, and planting more of that.

Gardening was followed by a pizza party in the sunshine : )

Monday, April 9, 2018

In the Kitchen Garden on April 7

Although it was chilly, Els, Jane Ann, Marcelo, Iris, and Susan met at the garden on Saturday morning to continue preparations for the coming season. As we dug and hauled wheelbarrows full of compost and wood chips, it suddenly didn’t seem chilly at all!

We did some work on individual beds—pulling weeds, adding compost and dirt from the dirt pile, and pondering when and where to plant vegetables and flowers—but we mostly turned our attention to the common areas. We enlarged the bed that runs parallel to the street by digging up the crabgrass and moving the stone edge back. All the areas we cleared either became part of the garden bed or were covered with layers of wet cardboard and then wood chips to keep the crabgrass and weeds from returning, as well as to make it look nice. We’ve made good dents in the wood chip and dirt piles over the last few weeks—altho the photo of the wood chip pile doesn’t show this as dramatically as I had hoped.

Back against the fence, we noticed some old Brussels sprout plants that had never reached their full potential in the fall but had lived on thru the winter as funky looking green stalks topped by a bunch of leaves with a teeny, tiny Brussels sprout below each leaf. Els, ever resourceful, had pulled one out last week and chopped the leaves up for a salad. She pulled the remaining ones and we divided them up. Els' recipe included kalamata olives, fennel, radishes and a Greek dressing. I added shredded grilled chicken, grated carrot, avocado and a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. It was delicious!

Soon we will start planting some greens. Crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the like will need to wait till the end of May. It’s great to be working together in the fresh air in the Kitchen Garden once again. Our next workshop with Claudia Joseph of the NY Permaculture Exchange will be on Saturday morning, April 28.

- Iris

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Back to the Kitchen Garden! March 31

Things are starting back up at the Kitchen Garden! Two weeks ago, a small but hearty crew (Els, Ben, Marcelo) began preparing the garden for spring planting--building up the community beds with dirt and compost and ripping up the crabgrass in between and covering the bare earth with wood chips from the pile in the parking lot. This past Saturday, a larger group of us joined in—Marcelo, Solange, Susan, Blanca, Laura, Iris and Els. We managed to get the irrigation lines on top of those newly built up beds (which we hadn't been sure we could) and removed more crabgrass and laid down wet cardboard and then a layer of wood chips. Lots of trips with the wheelbarrow! We began enlarging the community bed on the street side. Marcelo and helpers sifted the compost and put it on the community bed near the street and mixed some into the dirt pile to continue improving its usefulness. A highlight was when a young gardener/scientist stopped by with his mom and enjoyed examining the worm Marcelo found in the compost.

It was a great day to be out in the sunshine working together and getting ready for spring planting. And then today, it snowed! And then, it melted... spring is indeed on its way...

- Iris