Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear Gardeners,
One of our experienced gardeners, Sandra, is going to do a short workshop to help you with insect questions in your gardens. Gardeners (experienced and inexperienced) welcome to attend and bring friends. Come to either session (or both!)
Here is her description:
Good bug, bad bug and other pests.   Who is munching on those plants!  This informal, mini-workshop will cover identification, life cycles and strategies for dealing with crop destroying pests in your garden.  Bring your questions and observations.  For purposes of identification, you may bring un-squished bugs in jars or plastic bags.  
May 31, Sunday, 11 am – noon, Eagle Heights Garden Arbor.  
June 6, Saturday, 11 am – noon, U Houses Garden, picnic table near the shed.
The gardens are a whole web of life and come learn more about the insect side of this world.
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dear Gardeners,
The toads have been all over the gardens, happy with the rain. We welcome them since they eat insects and don't harm the plants. The rains have also really helped the crops and the weeds get going. It seems I can see growth overnight. Lots of lettuce, kale and radishes look ready to eat.
We are getting to the point where we need to be on the lookout for Colorado potato beetles. These pests really eat a lot of foliage and are destructive of potatoes as well as eggplants and other crops. You should inspect the underneath of potato leaves for masses of golden eggs (these can be brushed off and crushed) and later some clay-colored larva (these eat the most) that can be drowned in a small container of soapy water or crushed. Adults are beetles striped with yellow/black. We can spray an organically approved Bt spray but need to time it well so scouting for the right time is important. Hand removal is most useful and can occur even when conditions are not right for our spraying.  Let me know if you see larvae and your plot numbers. Pictures and more information are available here:
I also wanted to let you know a little about garden finances. The University provides the land and some services, but the gardens are mainly run from the plot fees. We have three part-time employees, a registrar (me)  and two field staff (Will and Dave), but the total of all our hours of paid employment is less than a half-time position. We buy and repair the carts and tools, deal with the plot assignments and fees, run workdays and keep the plumbing running and deal with individual issues as best we can. Please understand that our paid time is very limited and many things go on that require our labor. Our garden co-chairs are volunteers along with a number of roles that committee members fill and volunteer coordinators for workshops, Share the Bounty food pantry program and coffee recycling. We couldn't survive without many volunteers who make the gardens run. Please consider volunteering to keep these gardens a vital place.
Now is a great time to get in the last of the summer vegetables. We shouldn't have any danger of frost and the squash and beans are coming up all over the gardens and tomatoes, peppers and eggplants settling in. You can plant multiple plantings of bush beans to have a more regular supply and planting a little cilantro every 10 days or so will keep you in fresh salsa all summer. Plant a few flowers for the pollinators and enjoy the blossoms as you work.
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear Gardeners,
This weekend is Memorial Day, a holiday that often marks the start of summer gardening season. Although we've had some cool nights, there hasn't been frost and I see many tomato, pepper and eggplants going in. Now is a good time to plant beans, cucumbers and squash and the weeds have really liked the recent rains. Plenty to do in the gardens but keep an eye out for the hummingbirds that have arrived to buzz around the flowers.
We have a program that will start in June called Share the Bounty that encourages gardeners to plant some extra produce to donate to the local food pantry. There is great need at the pantries for fresh produce and we'll be collecting vegetables that you want to donate on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the summer. The coordinators for this have a few open delivery dates if you would like to drive the donations to the pantry. Please let me know if you want to contribute in that way. More on this in early June when we are ready to start and the vegetables start coming in.
Do you like working with flowers and ornamental plants? We have some common plantings that could use a couple of additional volunteers for the arbor area at Eagle Heights. Please let me know if you would like to work on the flower beds near the picnic tables. Thanks to Niels for the awning that has been put up to make the arbor a shady place to sit.
With the weeds growing fast, we'll be working on the mowing of paths and still have problems with items left in the paths. In order to mow, we'll be moving sticks and hoses back into plots as best we can, but please put these items inside your plots so we don't inadvertently place them on seeded areas or small plants.
We will also be starting up the jury process fairly soon. We do have plots that get abandoned without notification and we try to catch those by having a jury of your fellow gardeners come around to look for exceptionally weedy plots. We also want to catch the weeds before they seed and create problems for all the neighbors. If the jury marks your plot, you have two weeks to work on the weed situation and can get help (in exchange for an extra workday) if you need it. We aren't trying to throw people out of the gardens but we need to control weeds and discover abandoned plots before they impact everyone else. There is a write-up about the process here
Luckily, the rain has made pulling weeds somewhat easier. A thick layer of leaves can help keep the weeds from returning and has the added benefit of mulch to keep the soil loose and moist for your plants. The flea beetles are feasting on the arugula and radishes and only a barrier such as row cover seems to help that.
This has been glorious weather working in the gardens and the mosquitoes aren't here yet so I hope you can enjoy the weekend and get some gardening time in. Plan a picnic in the gardens or just stroll through to see how everyone else is doing and enjoy the flowers.
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sale this weekend and mowing started
Registrar <> Eagle Heights Community Garden; Dear Gardeners,
The gardens are really starting to look green! Two beautiful birds have returned to the gardens: look for orioles (bright orange and black males) singing with a clear whistle that is quite melodic and indigo buntings (navy blue but bright blue males in the sun). I've seen them at both garden sites and they are nesting close by. Both sit high in trees with the males singing to attract mates.
This Sunday, rain or shine, we'll have our warm weather plant sale near the Eagle Heights shed from 11 am to 1 pm. Expect tomatoes, eggplants and peppers along with herbs and other plants from our organic vendor, Gardens-to-be. Although we had frost last night in spots, you should be able to put out the plants right away if you give them some protection with row cover or a cardboard box if we get the threat of frost again. Hopefully, we are on a warming trend and the plants will thrive.
Unfortunately, we were unable to get compost for sale this year but we hope to get horse manure and lakeweed later if possible. We are working on getting coffee deliveries to both garden sites. Let me know if you are interested in helping with coffee pick-ups and I'll forward your email to Deanna who is coordinating.
The grass and weeds are growing quickly. We hope to be able to check out the broadforks (tined hand tillers) during the sale on Sunday and we are starting to mow the common areas. There are many hoses in the paths and you risk having your hose cut by the mower if you leave it out. Please move all items (wood, plantings , pots and hoses) inside your plot boundaries. Note that the plot boundary markers are white fiberglass or metal posts topped with yellow paint. There are only to be moved by garden staff and any questions about their placement should be sent to the garden registrar. We really need your help keeping the paths clear.
You can plant a lot of crops now although you might want to hold off on the very summery types. You can check a great planting guide on our website on this page (look down for "growing guides"
I ate my first salad this week by taking one leaf from each plant. Hope your seedlings are coming up and your strawberries blooming!
See you at the sale!
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Workday and garden events
Dear Gardeners,

Wonderful and needed rain this week and the plants have really perked up. This means the weeds are growing fast as well as the crops. Trees are leafing out and the flowers in the woods are delicate and lovely.

We will have a workday this Saturday, May 9 from 9 am to noon at University Houses gardens. You can get workday credit for your plot by working at either site so feel free to sign up even if your plot is at Eagle Heights. There are a number of winter clean-up chores to do and we could use quite a few volunteers. If you would like to work this opportunity, please reply and I'll get you more details.

There is also a family gardening workshop this Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm on campus at several locations. This is a family-friendly event with lots of activities for children and good gardening tips. For more information, see:

Remember that we will be having our warm weather plant sale on Sunday, May 17 from 11 am to 1 pm. it is still a little early to plant out tomatoes, peppers or eggplants although it seems warm to all of us. Some people push the season with row cover or other protection but waiting until mid-May is safer.

Please check that you are gardening inside the plot boundaries. We have had some unfortunate instances of people digging up crops in other plots. Also, I regret to say we have had some thefts of plants and equipment. Do not borrow or take anything from another plot without permission. Thefts are taken seriously and you could lose your plot and opportunity to garden.

The long evenings and early mornings are really good times to be in the gardens. There is something about the slanting light coming through the plants and the smell of freshly turned soil that really makes us happy. Enjoy the first flush of green and all the tiny plants!