I didn't realize it had been so long since I had updated the website - It seems pretty hard to get to the computer when the garden is in full swing!
Things are moving along, we are having gradually more produce to share, and we are even starting to think about second plantings for our fall & winter crops.
TASK POSTINGS - I have started updating the white board on the side of the shed with tasks that need to be done. I've been trying to post tasks that people can often do on their own, although the list is always longer than I put up. In particular, I haven't posted tasks that take more expertise or more strength.
HOSES - we've had several hoses die out in various ways. There are now two 50' grey hoses inside the garden with a Y connector between them. Howie fixed the black hose the other night, so we can hook that up either to the side on one of the Y connections, or to extend the length. There are now two spray heads we can also move around between hoses.
PEAS - HARVEST THEM ! ! ! ! They are nearing the end of their season, but there are still a lot on the vine and more to come. Actually, the more we pick, the more they produce. In particular, I discovered one of the new pea varieties we are growing makes delicious round garden peas in thick pods that are DELICIOUS !!!! They are the ones on both sides of the pea fence at the end closest to Brandywine Ave.
BASIL - is big enough to pick - pluck off the top leaves - that makes the plant branch out & make more leaves.
BEANS - next week we should be able to start picking the bush beans. Pole beans STILL need to find a place to go in - it's pretty late for them!
RASPBERRIES - this is the first year they have produced any berries and they are yummy ! ! ! There aren't enough for anyone to harvest & take home, but consider them available for snacks to anyone working in the garden. They are ripe when you give them a gentle tug and the berry comes off easily. If it hangs onto the vine, leave it for another day or two.
COMPOST - Jan is doing a great job on the compost beds. We could use more veggie pick-ups from Jumpin' Jacks and from any of the Starbucks coffee places.
The new shed was delivered yesterday (Monday):
And we had a good work day Saturday:
We've had a busy month getting the garden tuned up and running. We've had tons of help from Union College's Alpha Delta Phi fraternity chapter. Peter had to bribe them out Saturday mornings with coffee and bagels, but once in the garden, they all worked hard. They re-potted seedlings, shoveled loads of wood chips, leaves and compost - mowing things down, piling things up, laying out lines for our internal road and helping in lots of other ways too.
Here are some pix from our April & May gardening days:
Both barrels are full with water. (You might have missed the part where the hose that goes across the road to hook up to the spigot exploded and we weren't able to water for five days.) Any 50' hose can now connect the end coming out of the ground with the spigot. I have the two good 50' hoses at home, but we were worried about them getting stolen. We watered everything Thursday afternoon, and Karen watered Friday afternoon. It will be cool & dry this weekend, no real rain in sight. For those who are worried about frost tonight, everything that is in the ground is frost tolerant and not a concern. That'll teach you to believe that a weekend of 90 degree weather means it's summer!
We don't have any scheduled work time this weekend, but if you want to go over to work some, let me know & I can tell you something that needs doing. I'll be around some, but not sure when.
We will, however, have a major workday NEXT Saturday, so leave room for it. I suspect we will also be doing prep on Friday, so if that's time you are available, we can probably use your time & energy.
Karen is coordinating watering in general and particularly this weekend: Here is the schedule so far:
Fri 5/22 Karen
Sat 5/23 Karen 12pm (also meeting Charlotte there)
Sun 5/24 Judy S.
Mon. 5/25 ??
Rennie tilled the winter wheat and general weeds with the tractor, so we should be able to plant next weekend. Any long grass that wasn't tilled in should be pulled out by hand, which is pretty easy to do, the sooner the better. It should probably be rototilled again before we plant though.
John is organizing the memberships & assigning plots. We are figuring people can start working in their plots next weekend. If you haven't done anything to make yourself an actual member for the year, contact John and make it official.
The shed is in process, but the earliest it will go into the garden will be the 28th, with the fence to come in shortly after, meaning the following week during work days.
That's what I've got for now folks
March 23 -
We still have not heard about the grant for the fencing, but I am setting a meeting for this Sunday (March 29) at 4pm in the caretakers house. Let's be done by 6pm. Please RSVP.
The incandescent tube lighting plan really works ! The LED's don't generate any heat, but you can still get incandescent rope lights. I had a lovely Sunday evening poking around in new dirt and figuring out how to set up the seed starting routine. I got dirt under my nails for the first time of the season and felt oddly garden-esque in the dark basement surrounded by the smell of clean soil. See the pictures above. The whole thing (except the table) cost about $20 to heat four flats, instead of about $90 for official heat mats.
Some of you know that keeping the flats warm in a cost-effective way has been an issue. I got an idea from online to use the tube lighting, and by today the 4 flats sitting on the set-up were at a nice 70 degrees.So volunteers can now come and I can give them seeding tasks to do in my basement - I had to figure it out myself first. We need to sort our various flats & pots by size, dunk last year's flats in a light bleach tub to sterilize them, then dunk them in a clean water and let them dry a little. And we have LOTS of seeds to get started!
I taped the loops of rope lights to the insulating board underneath. The lights are cheap - 18' for $13, 48' for $30 I think. I used an 18' rope on a 4'x2' table, got 4.5 loops out of it - plenty. And somewhere I read that some people bury them in the ground in high tunnels to generate cheap soil warmth. In case that's useful -
Starting at the bottom, the layers are: 1. plastic table
2. thin insulating board
3. incandesent lighting taped down
4. thin sheetrock (it holds & distributes the heat, lets it build up keeps
it from being lost to the cold air)
5. plastic cover so water doesn't soak into the sheetrock - an old plastic shower curtain would work
Are we going to do a plant give-away at some point? We need to plant more seeds to accomodate that. I think it's a good idea to do, but am a little worried about having greenhouse space for seedlings in a month or so. Does anyone have greenhouse or warm high tunnel access?
Also, I stopped by the garden today to see what it looked like. The ground is frozen at the moment, but the winter wheat grew nicely - it's about 4" long. Most the ground is bare, with parts still covered in snow/ice. The cemetery has piled up more leaves since the fall, plus a pile of what seems to be evergreen trimmings. For some perspective, last year we planted peas & lettuce April 12. We shall see about this year. A few more pix from today at the Vale are posted at the top of the page.
Remember to let me know about Sunday - and contact me about a time you can come play in the dirt in my basement. (Since the flats get dunked in mild bleach, don't wear good clothes - it splatters a bit when you wash them)
So we could have fresh greens for Thanksgiving, harvested out of the snow the day before ! Turkey dinner will include fresh arugula, Asian greens and red mustard greens!
on Thursday November 13, 6-8pm:
public meeting & project discussion at Elmer Ave Elementary School
& Tuesday November 18, 6-8pm
open house & public meeting at Elmer Ave Elementary School
For more info & to share your ideas:
find us online at www.cityofschenectady.com/land_bank.htm
or send us an email at email@example.com
SCHENECTADY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY & METROPLEX
Funded through the New York State Attorney General Community Revitalization Initiative
October has been a beautiful month with less time in the garden but plenty to harvest. We have almost finished planting a winter wheat cover crop on the upper part of the squash side of the garden, just in time for rains to turn it a gorgeous emerald green. We moved a lot of plants into winter beds at the end of September with the help of Theta Delta Chi fraternity from Union College. Union's October 18th service day was well-timed to help with the work of closing up the garden. They did final harvesting except for the winter beds, pulling out stakes and strings, moving some plants, and getting it ready for Rennie to till at the end of the day. We also had a crew that dug out tons of raspberry bushes from someone's overgrown backyard. Howie brought them over to the Vale and another crew planted them. We now have a 300 foot long bed of raspberry bushes! THANKS GO OUT TO THE UNION COLLEGE VOLUNTEERS ! ! !!
(If anyone has more photos, please send them to us! We don't have anything so far that show the incredible work that
went on to dig out the raspberry bushes, and would love more pictures of any part of the day.)
What's left in the garden? Six winter beds. We actually had a light frost the day after everyone worked so hard. The only sign of it were a few wilted & drooping leaves on the nasturtium plants, but the signs were obvious. It's been warm since, so plants are pretty happy over there for now.
Plants that will take a light frost:
Swiss chard, Asian greens, mustard greens, arugula, broccoli, chives
Plants that take a hard frost:
kale & collards, Brussel sprouts
We have been saving some seeds, talking about what went well this year and what didn't, thinking about how to plan next year. Everyone is disheartened by the sporadic vandalism and theft of produce, which seriously intensified during the past month. But we all really love gardening in this peaceful, beautiful place, and are looking forward to an even better year next spring. After a chance to rest up and catch up on other things, that is!