Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Hello Gardeners,

WORKDAY OBLIGATION – Garden workdays will continue into November, depending on the weather. If you have not done your workday for the year, you need to either sign up as soon as you can, or else pay the “no workday” fee, which is $16 if you have a small plot, or $32 if you have a large plot. If you are paying the fee, please write a check, made payable to the Division of University Housing, and send it to Eagle Heights Community Center c/o Gardens, 611 Eagle Heights, Madison, WI, 53705. (Or you may drop the check off at the Community Center.) Please include a note with your plot number and an explanation of what the check is for. I will let you know when I receive your check.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve done your workday, just email me and I’ll check for you. Please note that December 1 is the last day to fulfill the workday obligation or pay the no-workday fee. If you do not do the workday or pay the fee by December 1, you will lose your status as a returning gardener for next year, which means you aren’t guaranteed to be able to renew the plot you had this year. If you do still want to renew, you’ll have to pay the no workday fee plus a late-fee penalty - $10 for a small plot or $20 for a large plot, plus, of course, the plot fee. 

GARDENS CLOSING NOVEMBER 27 – Please note that the gardens will close for the season on November 27. On that day, we’ll clean and put away the tools for the season. The gardens will not reopen until March 25.

2017 APPLICATIONS – Applications for next year will be available on (or around) December 15. If you’re renewing for next year, be sure to get your application and payment in to us by the deadline, February 15, 2017. Fees for large plots will remain the same as this year, $32 for students, and $42 for non-students. Small plots will go up a little – $20 for students, or $25 for non-students. (Note: if you have two small plots, you’ll pay the large plot fee.) “No workday” fees and late fees will also change.

WINTER SQUASH RECIPES – Late October is an excellent time to enjoy a winter squash soup or casserole. Here are some recipes:

WORKDAY – And speaking of workdays, we just happen to have one scheduled for this Saturday, October 29, 9am – Noon. The task will be path maintenance. There will be thistles, so definitely bring gloves. Here’s the link to sign up:

Happy gardening, everyone,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From the Gardens Registrar: WATER SHUT-OFF!; Community Clean-Up; Actively Aerated Compost Tea; UW Grounds Roadwork; Planting Flower Seeds and Garlic

Hello Gardeners,

WATER SHUT-OFF – Our water is now shut off for the season! If you are still planting, you will have to haul in your own water now. I know this is a nuisance, but though we’re still having warmer-than-usual weather, it’s late October and the cold is really coming soon. 


Dear fellow gardeners,
Please join us this Saturday, Oct. 22nd from 1-3pm in the Eagle Heights Garden to prep the gardens for winter. Our garden workers will be using motorized mowers to cut the weeds low in order to suppress them next year. To make this process safer and more efficient we need to clean the paths of all debris, including rocks, posts, sticks, etc. We will also be picking up rubbish that has accumulated in common areas.

Feel free to bring snacks to share. Come with questions on what to do in your own garden to prepare for winter and to get a jump on spring.  Hope to see lots of folks on Saturday,
Adam Farrell-Wortman , Garden Committee Co-Chair

P.S. This is a community event and not eligible for workday credit.

ACTIVELY AERATED COMPOST TEA – Also this Saturday, from 9am – Noon, Gary Kuzynski will be giving out AACT (Actively Aerated Compost Tea) by the EH Shed.. 16 oz will be enough to cover a large plot. Best to mix with 1 to 2 gal of rain/lake water or anything that does not have chlorine in it and sprinkle on the ground. It will increase the microbes in the soil. When using the mixture, best to use it within 24 hours. Please bring a small container.

UW GROUNDS ADDING GRAVEL TO THE SOUTH ROAD – UW Grounds has started adding new gravel to the road along the south edge of Eagle Heights Gardens to improve the drainage and fill in the ponds that have developed. The work may continue into next week. So, expect trucks and minor disruption. It already looks hugely better. 

PLANTING ANNUAL FLOWER SEEDS IN THE FALL – Here’s a fall planting project for starting a bed of flowers that reseed themselves, such as annual poppies, cornflowers, and calendula. Wait until after we have a killing frost, mix your seeds with some dry sand in a jar, cultivate the bed shallowly just to loosen it, sprinkle the sand/seed mixture over the bed, rake lightly, and water. (And yes, sorry, you’ll have to carry in the water. But it won’t take much.)

GARLIC PLANTING – Fall is the best time to plant garlic, and many people think it’s best to wait to plant until after a hard frost. Here’s some basic planting information:

WORKDAY – Nothing is scheduled at this time, but please stop in on Saturday to meet fellow-gardeners and help out for an hour or two. And bring cookies.

Happy gardening, everyone, 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

From the Gardens Registrar: Frost Warnings Tonight and Tomorrow Night: Garden Thefts; Lakeshore Nature Preserve; Putting the Garden to Bed; Juncos

Hello Gardeners,

FROST WARNINGS! - The latest weather forecast predicts low temperatures tonight and tomorrow night in the mid-thirties. We might escape frost this time, but I would suggest that you cover tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers the next two nights, if you want to be sure they survive. The weather is likely to warm up by the weekend, and stay warmer for another week or so.

GARDEN THEFTS – There have been reports all season of thefts and even vandalism in gardens in both locations. The culprits are generally not gardeners, and unless someone actually catches them in the act, there is no way we can stop them or prosecute them. So please be alert when you’re in the garden, and keep an eye on anyone you don’t know who’s in somebody else’s plot. 

Also, I want to remind people that no gardener is allowed in another person’s garden without that person’s permission. In some recent theft complaints, a gardener who has been away from their garden for several weeks stopped in to pick produce, and found their vegetables already picked. Just in case it was a fellow-gardener who picked it: do not consider a garden abandoned just because you see vegetables there that haven’t been picked. If you think a garden may have been abandoned, please email me, and I will check with the gardeners for that plot. 

THE LAKESHORE NATURE PRESERVE – The Eagle Heights and University Houses gardens are part of the University’s Lakeshore Nature Preserve, which exists to protect the undeveloped lands and the plant and animal communities along the shore of Lake Mendota. No collecting or picking of plants, wood, stone, earth, or animals is allowed. So please, if you need sticks for your garden, do not cut saplings in the woods that surround the gardens, and do not take fallen branches. We have sticks in barrels at both gardens for gardeners’ use.

PUTTING THE GARDEN TO BED FOR THE WINTER – If your garden is done for the season, do yourself (or the next gardener at your plot) a big favor, and do some quick maintenance this fall that will make planting in the spring much easier. You can do this work any time until the ground freezes, but why not do it soon on a warm, sunny day when you’re looking for any excuse to be outside? The simplest fall maintenance is to pull out your dead plants and weeds, and take them to the weed pile, and then cover your beds with a thick layer of leaves from the leaf pile. This will protect and enrich your soil, and give you a good surface for planting in the spring. 

JUNCOS – Our gardens are now playing host to little birds in the sparrow family called Dark-Eyed Juncos. These birds spend their summers in the far north in Canadian forests, and their winters in the United States, in fields, parks, and backyards. They’re easy to recognize – black or dark grey on top, and light grey or white on the bottom. They also have white feathers in their tails which are visible when they fly. They arrive here in October, and will stay until March or April, so they’re one more sign of fall.

WORKDAY – I’ll send out workday information separately.

Happy gardening, everyone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

From the Gardens Registrar: Green Tomatoes Part Deux; Frost and Other Vegetables; Garden Whistlers

Hello Gardeners,

MORE ON GREEN TOMATOES – Based on current long-range forecasts, I don’t think we will have frost for at least another two weeks. But weather forecasts are highly changeable. And even without the threat of frost, plants are growing more and more slowly and ripening is taking longer and longer. One quandary for gardeners this time of year is whether or not to pick green tomatoes. They could still ripen on the vine, but on the other hand, an unexpectedly cold night could damage them. You can delay the inevitable by covering and protecting your plants, whether you use a commercial product, or something improvised and home-made. Sometimes, a frost is followed by several weeks of warmer weather, so it may be worth the extra effort to keep the plants going.

Here are links to information on three scenarios:  How to Protect Tomato Plants From Frost; How to Ripen Under-Ripe Tomatoes After Picking; and How to Give Up and Just Cook Them Green, including recipes for jam, pickles, relish, chutney, pie, salsa, or classic Southern-Fried:

OTHER VEGETABLES AND FROST – Other vegetables that should be picked before frost (or used right away if they do get frosted) are peppers, eggplants, and summer and winter squash. Some vegetables can tolerate light frost: beets, carrots, chard, Chinese cabbage, potatoes, and lettuce. And these vegetables can tolerate hard frosts: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, onion, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, and turnips.

WHISTLING IN THE GARDENS – Another sign of fall is the appearance (or at least the sound) of migrating songbirds. If you hear whistling in the gardens, and it doesn’t seem to be one of your human neighbors, it may be a White-Crowned Sparrow or a White-Throated Sparrow. The White-Throats have a strong whistle, which is often thought of as sounding like “Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” (Or, if you’re Canadian, “Oh, Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.”) The White-Crowns have a less distinctive song. One other whistler in the gardens is the Cedar Waxwing, which can be around here any time of year, and generally hangs out in big flocks. Their song is just one high prolonged note. They eat berries in the fall, so this is a very good time of year for them.

WORKDAY – There will be a workday this weekend – I will send out the information on date, times, location, and task tomorrow.

Happy gardening, everyone.