Political Commentary

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

From the Gardens Registrar: FROST IS PREDICTED; Cold Frames; Sweet Potatoes; F.H. King Harvest Fest; Do You Have Pictures of the Gardens?; Saturday Workday at U Houses Gardens

Hello Gardeners,

FROST LIKELY – The latest forecast predicts temperatures on campus of 32 degrees Thursday night, and 30 degrees Friday night. Nighttime temperatures in the 30s are also currently predicted for most nights next week. In other words, folks, this is it – THE END. Frost can be spotty – those of us in the lower part of the Eagle Heights gardens will probably get hit, while gardeners on the hill might well be spared. The University Houses Gardens are a little more protected, and might also survive the first frosts. Say goodbye to the summer vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, summer squash, basil – these will shortly be history. You can cover your tender crops each night to get them through, but since the nighttime temperatures are likely to stay low for a while, you’re probably better off picking what’s left and giving up for the season. However, greens and cabbage family plants won’t mind the cold at this point. And expect our water to be turned off any time now – to protect the pipes.

COLD FRAMES – It gets really cold here in the winter, and gardening outside is impossible once the ground is frozen. But you can extend the season a little with cold frames. You can buy them at garden stores, or if you’re handy, you can build them easily enough with scrap wood and recycled components. The more sophisticated your cold frame, the more it will protect your plants and the longer you can keep your garden going. But even simple ones can extend the season a couple of weeks or more. Lettuces and greens are the plants most often grown in cold frames – but other short season plants are also possible. Here’s an interesting collection of plans for unusual, inexpensive cold frames you can make yourself:  https://www.epicgardening.com/cold-frame-plans/ You can also use cold frames to start plants earlier in the spring. So if you’re a serious gardener, it’s worth the time it takes to build and set up one of these.

SWEET POTATOES – Did any of our gardeners sign up this spring for the Dane County Sweet Potato Project? This group provides sweet potato slips to gardeners who are willing to share half their crop with food pantries. How well did they grow? Have you started harvesting yet? Their website says you can grow them right up until frost. Once you dig them up, you should put them through a curing process before storing them. Here’s a link to their website, which has lots of information about growing and harvesting these vegetables: https://sweetpotatoproject.wordpress.com/

F.H. KING HARVEST FEST OCTOBER 13 – Our garden neighbors, F.H. King, will be holding their annual fall celebration this Saturday at Eagle Heights from 3pm – 7pm. They’ll have a workday in the afternoon, and then gather for food and music starting at 5:00. Local punk-folk band Wimbledon will be performing.

DO YOU HAVE PICTURES OF YOUR GARDEN TO SHARE? We are able to provide free seeds to our gardeners, thanks to the great generosity of a number of seed companies, which donate seeds to community gardens. I will be sending thank you letters to these companies, and would like to enclose some pictures that gardeners have taken this year of their plots – particularly showing people working, planting, and harvesting. We can put some on our website, too. Please email them to me at ehgardens@rso.wisc.edu  Thanks.

WORKDAY THIS SATURDAY AT UNIVERSITY HOUSES – We will hold a workday this Saturday, October 13, at the University Houses Gardens (on Haight Road) from 1pm – 4pm. The tasks will be draining water hoses, putting away hose reels for the season, and fertilizing the blueberry plantation. Dress warmly – it will be cool, but a nice temperature for working outside. Here’s the link to sign up: https://doodle.com/poll/rmb7ia9bz2pt7yb8

Happy Gardening,

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