Political Commentary

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: New Garden Worker; Plant Exchange and Compost Sale; Weed of the Week: Comfrey; Lakeshore Nature Preserve; Workday; Rhubarb

Hello Gardeners,

NEW GARDEN WORKER – We are very pleased to announce that we have a new garden worker starting work this week. His name is Micaiah. He’s new to Eagle Heights, but he has lots of gardening experience, and we think he’ll do an excellent job. Say hello and introduce yourself if you see him in the gardens.

PLANT EXCHANGE AND COMPOST SALE - On Sunday, May 28, we will have a plant exchange at Eagle Heights, near the shed, from 10am – 12:00 Noon. If you have extra plants, please bring them, and maybe you can pick up a plant you want from somebody else. Please note that these plants have not been raised in greenhouses and are not guaranteed to be free from disease. (You might want to quarantine them under observation for a few days before adding them to your garden). We will also have free seeds available – for summer crops, such as summer and winter squash, cucumbers, and melons.

Also, compost from the University’s West Agricultural Research Station will be for sale. The price will be $5 for half a garden cart, approximately 3.5 cubic yards. Our garden workers will load the carts. Payment will be in cash – please bring exact change.

WEED OF THE WEEK – COMFREY – Many new gardeners have asked me to identify this plant, which is a very widespread weed in our gardens. It’s very difficult to dig out, but the plant is pretty, especially when it’s flowering, plus it makes excellent fertilizer and green mulch. So if you can’t get rid of it, learn to use it. Here’s a link to some information:  https://permaculturenews.org/2010/10/01/the-wonderful-multi-purpose-comfrey-plant/

LAKESHORE NATURE PRESERVE – The Eagle Heights and University Houses gardens are part of the University’s Lakeshore Nature Preserve, which is a 300 acre natural area bordering Lake Mendota. Their mission is to preserve plant and animal communities for teaching and research; to provide space for recreation such as walking, running, and bicycling; and to protect sacred Indian burial sites. The spring wildflowers are at their peak now, and a walk along the many paths is very enjoyable. But please be respectful: no picking of any plants or plant material is allowed. Please note that if you want sticks to build structures for your beans or other plants to grow on, we have barrels with sticks at both gardens – near the weed piles. Do not take sticks from the Lakeshore Preserve.

WORKDAY AT UNIVERSITY HOUSES ON SUNDAY – This weekend’s workday will be on Sunday, May 21, due to a good chance of rain on Saturday. The times will be 8am – 11am. The task will be building a light retaining wall for the last four plots along the main aisle, and then levelling that section with woodchips. U-Housers and especially the gardeners at the end of the B row are particularly invited to participate. Please bring gloves and hats. Here’s the link to sign up: http://doodle.com/poll/qsazxw2wunsrzbz7

RHUBARB – The first produce from the garden, rhubarb is tart and juicy. Most people use it in desserts, such as rhubarb crisp. But as delicious as that is, you can easily get tired of it. Here is a collection of recipes and other information, from a website that seems to be everything you ever wanted to know about rhubarb, and possibly more: http://www.rhubarb-central.com/

Happy gardening,

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: Important: We Need Garden Committee Co-Chairs; Warm Weather Plant Sale; Workday (?); It’s Time to Plant Beans

Hello Gardeners,

GARDEN COMMITTEE CO-CHAIRS – The Eagle Heights Gardens are managed by the Garden Committee (with some oversight by the UW), which is led by two Co-Chairs. One of our Co-Chairs stepped down from the position this winter, due to other commitments. The other Co-Chair will probably be leaving Madison some time this summer. Therefore, we are looking for two people to be our new Co-Chairs. 

These are volunteer positions whose primary responsibility is facilitating communication within the gardens. The Co-Chairs run the monthly garden meetings; they also help to moderate the forum and the discussion list. They have no particular power to make decisions but they do have power to frame the debate, set agendas, encourage or limit debate, and bring issues to a vote. The Co-Chairs have a special responsibility to make sure that all voices are heard and that everyone who is interested has a chance to participate.

Co-Chairs must be able to attend most of the garden committee meetings, as well as meetings of the UW’s Garden Oversight Committee. The Co-Chairs announce garden meetings and agendas and ensure that minutes and other relevant information is distributed. While the Registrar is the primary person who communicates with gardeners, the Co-Chairs also have some responsibility to make sure that all gardeners are staying informed and are given the chance to be involved in decision making.

The Co-Chairs help prepare annual budgets and provide oversight to make sure that income and expenses are in line with projections. The Co-Chairs check in regularly with the Registrar and Garden Workers. They also assist in the general running of the gardens, by making sure that policies are clear and pertinent issues are brought up at garden meetings.

The Co-Chairs play an important role in conflict resolution and policy enforcement, and address appeals from gardeners for exceptions from normal garden policies. Co-Chairs may also choose to take on special projects as desired. The current Co-Chair estimates that he spends from 0 – 5 hours per week on the job. If you’re interested, please put together a short statement of intent, and send it to me. I’ll relay it to the Garden Committee.

WARM WEATHER PLANT SALE – On Sunday, May 14, Scott Williams of GardenToBe in Mount Horeb will be back at Eagle Heights to sell plants – 11am – 1pm, by the garden shed. Plants will include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, cucumbers, melons, lettuce, and zucchini.

WORKDAY – Stay tuned. If we have a workday this weekend, I’ll announce it on Thursday.

IT’S BEAN-PLANTING TIME – According to Robin Mittenthal’s comprehensive planting guide, (http://www.eagleheightsgardens.org/tips/vegetable_planting_guide.pdf), we can start planting beans on May 10.  The ground has warmed up, and there will be very little chance of frost once the beans germinate. So go to it. By the way, we could use more Bean Brigade Volunteers at Eagle Heights, in the upper 1000’s and 1100’s, and the lower 1300’s. Remember, volunteers will plant beans, let us know they’re planting them, and monitor them for bean beetle eggs and larvae.

Happy gardening,