Guests In the Garden

On Friday, June 14th, we had guests in the garden – more than seventy.

Green Thumb, a garden interest group of the St. Michaels Woman’s Club included the Wilson Reading Garden and the St. Michaels Community Garden on their annual Garden Tour. The garden paths were dressed with fresh chips and the beds looked terrific.

community garden 6-14-13

The driving rain that morning was a problem, but these women were all gardeners. They came dressed for the weather, carrying large umbrellas. The ladies arrived in staggered, small groups and Lin Clineburg, Nancy Beatty, Val Kenn Gray and Mala Burt were available in the two gardens to answer questions.

IMG_1873

It was interesting how many of the visitors had not been to either garden. They had lots of questions about the process of creating the gardens, the people involved and how it all worked. They were impressed with the diversity of what people were growing in their beds, and with all the rain we’ve had, the gardens were lush and beautiful. Despite the weather, it was wonderful to have visitors and show off our hard work. All of you should be proud!

color in the veggies

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Salad on the Fly and Poop in the Garden

A group of kids from the St. Michaels Community Center come to the Community Garden on Thursday afternoons during the school year. They have two beds they are tending.

Their first job this spring was to get their two beds weeded and amended with LeafGro and composted manure. They learned quickly that gardening is sometimes about getting dirty. They actually seem to like that part.

jr gardeners preparing to plant 2013

On a Thursday in March one of the Master Gardeners worked with the kids and raided some beds that hadn’t been dug up yet for spring planting. The adventuresome kids ate salad on the fly and tried kale, lettuce and carrots that had wintered over. The community garden is a wonderful place to learn about gardening and about how fabulous food tastes when it is just picked.

carrot harvest

That day the kids planted potatoes and onion sets. They learned about the eyes of the potatoes and that the hairy part of the onion set is the roots. Nevertheless, some onions were planted upside down.

One six year old smartly observed the horse manure in a nearby bed. Poop! A teaching moment, the Master Gardener thought, only to realize that she had totally lost the attention of group of kids who now couldn’t stop hooting about poop in the garden.

Garden Maintenance

Garden Maintenance

In any garden maintenance is an ongoing issue. In a community garden maintenance requires people working together. Bridges Landscaping Services delivered a second load of chipped wood to the garden and on Sunday morning five ladies showed up to work. In a little over an hour they had moved all the mulch to the paths between the garden beds. One more load from Bridges should be enough to cover all the open spaces and that maintenance job will be finished for this year.

mulching garden 6-1-13 Bev and Pennie

While we were dumping barrows full of chips, we had to pick up trash from around some beds. Broken rain guages, lots of plant markers, pulled weeds, an occasional stake and a couple of tomato cages. All of us need to be mindful of keeping the garden clean and tidy. For example, if we each pulled weeds from the paths around our beds, we could eliminate most Round-up spraying. That would be a fantastic goal.

mulching comm garden#1 on 6-2-13

Working on projects like this is a terrific way to meet the gardeners. Above are Val Kenn Gray, Pennie Haase, Bev Pratt and Mala Burt.  Meg Ingold helped and took the photos. Bobby Malzone, who mows the grass in the garden common areas, stopped by on his bicycle. He was interested in the composting process and wondered if we could get a bag for the mower. That would supply us with green layers for the bins. Bobby had already spread some mulch a day earlier. We were grateful. Maintenance is the job of the entire community garden and every little bit that anyone does helps our garden shine.

Kudos to Jack Gray who, on a recent hot day, dug through clay, brick and oyster shells to install our new sign.

community-Garden-sign

 

 

 

Composting 101

Judy Shuler, a Master Composter trained by Penn State, presented the do’s and don’ts of composting to a group at the St. Michaels Community Garden. Some of us who thought we were composting, now know what we need to do differently in our home piles. After her overview, Judy went to the garden and we began to build a compost pile.

Our bins are full of garden refuse that has been just thrown in the bins. This is not composting. Judy started by pulling the weeds out of one of the empty bins.

cleaning-bin-#2

The green layer of weeds and some green refuse in one of the other bins was chopped or bruised with a flat bottomed spade and thrown back in to make the first layer – a green layer. A little water was added.

chopping-green-layer

A bag of leaves was then added (a brown layer). This was easier than chopping up the dried stuff in the bin next door. That will be for another day. Some of what is in the bins has lots of soil on the roots. Judy says no soil should be added to the layers. Some of the stalks are so large they will have to be cut into small pieces or they will not decompose. Root balls may need to be removed.

brown-layer-added

The leaves – the brown layer –  was wetted, stirred with a fork until all the leaves were damp. The boards at the front of the bin were then replaced.

wetting-the-layers

This is the start of a real compost pile at our garden. Clearly we need to have more of our gardeners learn how to put things in the bins and how to build layers. Just throwing stuff in the bins is NOT composting. We also found that someone had thrown crab shells in one of the bins and hope that was not one of our gardeners. There is a list posted on the bins about what can be put in and what cannot.

To compost we need to build layers, there needs to be a certain level of dampness, and the pile needs to be stirred. It won’t be hard if more of us learn how to do it properly.

Judy Shuler is passionate about composting and will come back to help us again. We need to get as many people as possible on board with this process so we can reap the brown gold that is the end result. Our garden beds will all benefit.

Grow Vertically: Make an Easy Trellis

Pennie Haase (bed #26) writes: This year I wanted to get the most out of my new garden bed, so I decided to grow up. Online I found lots of trellis ideas on square foot gardening websites. A quick trip to Lowes and $14 later I had everything I needed:

Materials for trellis

After measuring the bed, I had my husband cut the one piece of conduit, then laid everything out on the garage floor to see if in fact it would work.  A few minutes later we headed down to the garden and quickly assembled the trellis.   He pounded the rebar, tightened the screws and I tied.  My peas are just starting to grow, so we’ll see how well it works.

My Trellis at the Community Garden:

Pennie's Trellis

Pennie’s Trellis

Materials: (Lowes in Easton):3 – 5’ lengths ½” EMT Conduit ($1.65 each – aisle 14); 2 – ½” EMT to EMT pull elbows ($2.71 each – aisle 14); 2 – rebar pins ½” x 4’ (2.98 each – aisle 53 );1 – trellis netting 5’ x 15’ ($4.97 – outside garden area)

Optional Materials: 1 – 4’ stake for bottom; 2 – tie down stakes/irrigation stakes or cut coat hangers

Tools: Hacksaw, Hammer, Screwdriver, Tape measure, Scissors, Use hacksaw to cut off 13 1/2″ conduit from one 5’ section – this will be the top.

Note – measure your bed to ensure that it is 48″ on the interior

How To: Attach elbows to top of other two 5’ sections – these will be the sides.

Unroll trellis and measure out 6’ length x 5’ width, thread one side conduit down 6’ length alternating the conduit in and out of the squares, measure over 4’ and thread the other side section. Attach top by threading through alternating squares. Cut netting to fit, allowing extra for tying.

Pound rebar inside the corners 2’, don’t mash down top of rebar or it will not slide inside the conduit. Slide the conduit over the rebar, square it up, push conduit into ground to stabilize and tighten screws on the elbows.

Tie off the squares of netting to top and sides or use wire ties.

Optional: Pennie added a stabilizing stake to the bottom, threading it through alternating squares and securing it to the ground with irrigation stakes.

Info from Square Foot Gardening – also on the web: http://hedgehoghill.blogspot.com/2013/02/square-foot-gardening-on-gulf-coast_27.html