Wednesday, July 27, 2016

From the Garden Registrar: Coffee Grounds, The Arbor, and Summer Squash

Hello Gardeners,

Wake Up Your Plants – A number of gardeners collect used coffee grounds from coffee shops and deliver them to the gardens, leaving them in an old cart bed near the shed at both gardens. Feel free to take them when you see them – they’re for everyone’s use. They can be added to compost, dug into the soil near your plants, or used as mulch. 

If you are a tea drinker, you may already know that you can add your used tea leaves or tea bags to your soil in the same way. 

Here’s some basic information on using coffee grounds in the garden:

The Garden Arbor – The Arbor in the Eagle Heights Garden is a common area, the perfect place to relax in the shade and enjoy a cool beverage after a session of toiling in your plot. The beautiful perennial flowers were donated by gardeners, and a volunteer has worked very hard all season to weed and maintain it. Please take a few minutes to enjoy it, and to thank everyone who has contributed over the years to create it and keep it going.

Summer Squash – Gift or Curse? – Yes, it’s very easy to have too much summer squash, no matter how little you plant. And it is totally against the rules of our gardens to leave it in your neighbor’s plot and run away before they see you. (You may, however, leave it on the share shelf, or of course, donate it to a food pantry.) However, summer squash is easy to cook and easy to eat. It is low in calories, and very healthy. Here is a link to a nutritional analysis and a few recipes:

WORKDAYS   This week’s workday will be Saturday, July 30, from 7am – 10am, at the Eagle Heights Garden. Yes, it’s early, but it will be so much cooler at that hour. The task will be renewing wood chip paths and pulling out bindweed. Here’s the link to sign up:

Happy gardening, everyone.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Hello Gardeners,

WEED PILE DISASTER This morning, the Village of Shorewood picked up a load from our weed pile intending to take it to the organic County Q landfill, where they can leave weeds for free. But they were not able to deliver it because they found it full of dirt, boards, tomato cages, and other debris that is not weeds. Therefore, they will take this load to a regular landfill, and we will have to pay to have it dumped. 

A reminder: the weed pile is for weeds only, and nothing else. Weeds can be recycled – and that’s what happens when people use the pile correctly. Throw trash in the dumpster, not the weed pile. Also, please remove as much dirt as you can from the weeds before taking them to the weed pile. This is serious: if we continue to get the wrong stuff in the pile, we will have to discontinue providing this service to the gardeners.

TOO MANY VEGETABLES? As hard as we work, sometimes our plants die or don’t produce very much. On the other hand, when our vegetables are thriving, we can have another kind of problem – too much of a good thing. Our joy at picking the first tender barely-formed crops turns to horror at finding yet another giant squash hiding under the leaves. Eventually, we may get tired of trying to keep up.

But please don’t stop. You can donate vegetables to people who will appreciate them, and you can also preserve them for later. 

In past years, volunteers have collected excess produce from both gardens, and taken it to a food pantry. Due to problems with theft and wilted vegetables, we will not have organized food collections this year, except for a garden-wide food drive we are planning for September. But we encourage gardeners to make donations on their own, as many of our gardeners already do, thus ensuring that produce goes directly from the gardens to the pantry in the shortest time. 

The St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, 2033 Fish Hatchery Road in Madison, serves households from all across Dane County, and welcomes food contributions, including good quality fresh garden produce, from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday.

You can also preserve vegetables so they last longer. There are many ways to do this. I like the speed and convenience of making refrigerator pickles. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for refrigerator dilly beans:

THISTLES AGAIN I am noticing that even some generally well- tended plots have some Canada thistles blooming in them, especially in corners. This is one of the most noxious weeds we have. These thistles are not good for anything except for spreading into other people’s gardens – dig them out now. 

WORKDAYS – No workdays this week. It’s going to be way too hot.

Happy gardening, everyone, but please be careful with the weed pile!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

From the Garden Registrar: Thistles, Raspberries,  and Japanese Beetles

Hello Gardeners,

CANADA THISTLES There are many varieties of thistle, some of them native to Wisconsin. However, the thistle we primarily have in the gardens is the Canada Thistle, which is a very invasive plant which forms big colonies and spreads easily. If you have Canada Thistles in your plot, please pull the plants out now before they go to seed and the problem gets worse, for you and for your garden neighbors. You’ll definitely want to wear gloves.

RASPBERRIES Here’s a link to the UW Extension publication, “Growing Raspberries in Wisconsin”

ANNOYING INSECT OF THE WEEK The Japanese Beetles are now here in large numbers. These very pretty and voracious insects seem to eat almost anything, but they particularly target roses, grapes, plums, hollyhocks, and a number of tree species. They also eat bean leaves. There aren’t many effective controls for them - hand-picking is probably the best way to get rid of them. Here’s a link with a picture and general information:

WORKDAYS – This week's workday will be Saturday, July 16, 8am - 11am, in the Eagle Heights Garden. The task will be removing thistle and bindweed from the tree line. Please bring gloves and water bottles. Here's the link to sign up: Do not respond to this if you are not volunteering. We will also be scheduling another weekday evening and a Sunday session in the next few weeks, when the weather allows.

Happy gardening, everyone,