Monday, November 24, 2014

Dear Gardeners,
This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a harvest festival but also a time for reflection and gratitude. We've had a good season and I hope you will be celebrating with dinner that includes some produce from the gardens. The tundra swans are in town (check out the big white birds that are often in University Bay between the Natatorium and Picnic Point) and that means that the season is coming to a close. We had a good year that ended a bit abruptly with the early cold temperatures and this is the last email message for the year.
Applications for next year will be on the website in mid-December. The due date for prioritization of plots is February 15, 2015 but getting applications in early is always a better idea. Every gardener needs to apply each year. After Feb. 15, we assign plots to on-time applications and start a waiting list for any that come in later. Every year, someone is disappointed to be reassigned a different plot or need to wait for a plot later in the year. Put the reminder in your calender and be sure you get the best chances for getting the plot you want.
If you have a small plot and want to get a second small plot or move to a larger plot, please just make a note on your application about your preferences. I follow the prioritization listed in the application, but within those rules, I try to meet gardener requests if I can.
The deadline for workday completion is Dec. 1 and we have no plans for workdays this week, so it would be best to send a check for the "no workday option" if you haven't completed your workday for 2014 ($32 for a large plot; $16 for a small plot). Please check with me if you have any questions. Checks can be made out to Division of University Housing and mailed/dropped off at Eagle Heights Community Center, ATTN: Gardens, 611 Eagle Heights, Madison, WI 53711. If the workday is not settled by Dec. 1, there is a $10 late fee for large plot and $5 late fee for small plots. Additionally, your priority for getting a plot is lowered so please take care of any outstanding workday obligations before Dec. 1.
The gardens were a source of good food, exercise, nature and friends all season. If you enjoyed the experience, please consider being a more active partner in the next year. The gardens only function because so many people contribute time and effort to keeping things going. The garden committee is only one way to contribute, but it is open to everyone and a good way to help provide suggestions and assistance in the future.
In this time to be grateful, I thank everyone who contributed so much this year. We have a more than 50 year history in the gardens, but each year brings new challenges and opportunities. Your efforts to pitch in and make the gardens a better place are really appreciated. I am often moved by the breadth of support and effort that make the gardens such a bountiful and healing place.
I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with good food, family and friends and hope to see you all in the spring.
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dear Gardeners,
I've seen lots of activity in the gardens as we look at the weather forecast and realize that winter is setting in early. With temperatures in the teens, all the crops will die or go dormant, but there is still time to clean up and add leaves to prevent the ground heaving in the cold. The geese have been very active and the lake is filling with migrating waterfowl. Time to clean the garden beds and tools. Please don't leave piles of sticks or buckets turned over since these are favorite winter homes for rodents. The hawks have been around hunting but they can only do so much.
There are good tips on our website for winter preparation of the gardens. Check out page 17 in the manual at
Sunday, November 16, we'll have a workday from 1 pm to 4 pm at Eagle Heights to prepare the trees for winter by putting on plastic tubes to prevent the rodents from eating the bark. Please reply if you would like to work this opportunity. We don't know if the weather will allow further workdays so get one in if you can. The weather shows cold temperatures but little snow at this point for Sunday.
If you want to pay the "no workday option" fee, please make the check out to Division of University Housing and send or drop off at the Eagle Heights Community Center, ATTN: Gardens, 611 Eagle Heights, Madison, WI 53705.
Just a reminder, every year some gardeners are disappointed to lose their plots by forgetting to apply. Every gardener, new or returning, must reapply each year. The new applications will be on the website in mid-December and accepted for prioritization of plot assignments until Feb. 15, 2015. After Feb. 15, applications are accepted in the order received and a waiting list is started. Put a reminder on the calender and apply early to get the best chance at getting the plot you desire.
I've been pulling out the thermal underwear and hats and gloves as the temperatures seem more like late December. Hoping we get some warmer weather in a little bit but the plants appear to have decided the growing season is over. This was a good season with less pests and better rainfall than some years and a good harvest still to be enjoyed.
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dear Gardeners,
The frost has set in for real and the winds have been quite cold. Some hardy kale and brussel sprouts keep producing and get sweeter for the cold temperatures. We have a lot of moles and other rodents so cleaning up your plot will be very important. Don't leave piles of sticks or plants in the gardens to provide them homes. Cleaning up now means that the rodents won't be nearly so bad in the spring.
We have some two-legged varmits causing some problems as well. There have been several reports of some older boys (maybe around 12) ripping out posts, harassing the wildlife and running through plots and fruit trees causing damage. If you have any information on these children, would you please email me so that we can discuss the situation with their parents and stop the destructive activities? We welcome children into the gardens and enjoy their working in their own plots or using the sandboxes, paths and picnic areas, but we need to protect the crops and wildlife and do some education.
We will have a workday this Sunday, Nov. 9,  from 9 am to noon at Eagle Heights. We have several chores to install our sign, move chips for mulch and prepare some of the flowering perennials for winter. Please email me if you would like to work this opportunity. We are getting to the end of workday weather and the obligation needs to be met by Dec. 1 by working or paying the "no workday" fee. We can use a large workcrew if you want to volunteer this time.
The geese are actively flocking up overhead although the cranes have been around (and helping with the rodents). The little arctic ducks are appearing on the lake with the last wind blowing them down from the north. The garden committee is  actively planning for the Opening Day and Seed Fair for next year and looking forward to the next season as I hope you are.
Collect some seeds from the plants as you clear and you will have them for flowers and vegetables next year!
Gretel, Garden Registrar