Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear Gardens,

I neglected to include the times for the Saturday, May 31 workday. We'll work from 8 am to 11 am. The mornings have been magical this week so please consider coming to the workday and helping the the many chores that we need to complete.

Cucumber beetles have been sighted in the gardens as well as the arrival of the flea beetles. Cucumber beetles are yellow and black striped and like cucumbers, squash and pumpkins. They cause a lot of damage when the plants are small and tender and also spread diseases. Flea beetles are tiny and black and eat holes in brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, bok choi, arugula etc. Both of these pests can best be handled with physical barriers. More information and pictures can be found here:

Remember that most of the plots are required to use organic management strategies. If you have questions, there is a handout here to help you with that:

Gretel, Garden Registrar
Garden Website:

Dear Gardeners,
Such a plentiful rain we have had. The plants seem to be growing overnight (along with the weeds). I saw my first bat this week as twilight came on. We are hoping some of them will set up housekeeping in the gardens since they are such good insect eaters. Many dragonflies around too!
This Saturday, May 31, we have a workday scheduled for Eagle Heights with weed work, path repair and many other chores. We could use a lot of volunteers so please consider coming now before the heat gets worse and the bugs more pervasive. Reply to this email if you would like to work this opportunity and I'll get you more details.
We also have reports of ticks coming home on people from the gardens. The State reports that this is a particularly bad year for ticks so please check yourselves out for hitchhikers when you get home. Check your children as well since ticks have been known to carry multiple diseases. More information is available here:
With the weeds growing so fast, we plan on starting our weed juries this weekend or very soon. We use a jury of peers to identify plots that are abandoned or have weeds going to seed so that we can move gardeners from the waiting list into abandoned plots and get the weeds dealt with before they seed into all the neighbors. More information on this process is on the website here:
If you see a bright pink notice in your plot, you will have two weeks to take care of the problem and we can help if you are overwhelmed. Mostly we want to keep the plots moving forward and get everyone to have a successful garden.
Please be careful with planting tall crops not to shade your neighbors' vegetables and don't let the squash and cucumbers run wild into other plots. Many of you are eating greens from the garden already and even the summer tomatoes and squash are looking great. Don't forget to plant a sequence of beans, cilantro and other crops so that everything doesn't come ready at once.
Happy eating,
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Compost sale tonight and weekend workdays

Dear Gardeners,
It is hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend is coming up with the month going so fast. I saw my first hummingbird yesterday and I'm sure they are anxious for some more flowers to open with nectar. The first lettuce and spinach are starting to look edible and the strawberries are flowering.
We have a little compost left from the weekend sale and will sell it tonight from 5 pm to 7 pm at Eagle Heights. It is very heavy so we will be selling it in 1/3 cart loads for $2 and please bring change.
This weekend, we'll have two workdays at Eagle Heights with a variety of tasks that need doing. The first is Saturday from 2 pm to 5 pm and then another on Monday (holiday) from 5 pm to 8 pm. We could use a lot of volunteers and the bugs still haven't arrived, so consider coming for one of these opportunities. If you would like to work, please reply to this email and I'll get you more information.
Please check the path in front of your plots for rocks, sticks and debris. We are starting to mow and need to have the paths cleared for mowers and increasing gardening activity. Also, please remember that entering another plot and taking or borrowing items without permission is considered theft. We have had a number of reports of missing plants and items. Please help your neighbors by keeping an eye on their plots as well since that is our best method of catching these problems.
One weed that you might see is particularly a problem for the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Please look for garlic mustard before it blooms since the seeds are many and long-lasting. It is edible in salad or pesto but an invasive weed. It secretes chemicals that inhibit other plants so you don't want it in your plots.  Here is a link to a picture of this plant
There has been a real growth spurt this week with rain and warm weather. Green is my favorite color and there is a lot of green coming into the gardens.
Happy weeding,
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Workday Thursday, May 22

Dear Gardeners,
We had a lovely sale for plants and compost and great weather for growing and transplanting. We've had several sightings of scarlet tanagers near the Eagle Heights shed so we are hoping they will nest nearby. The males are brilliant orange/red with black wings. Some of the robin's nests have hatchlings already and all the bird parents are very busy. 
Thursday evening from 5 pm to 8 pm, we'll have a workday at University Houses gardens to fix up the paths and the common planting areas. Please reply if you are interested in working this opportunity and I'll get you more details.
Now that the water is on, please be considerate with water use. Don't leave the water on unnecessarily and return your hoses to your plots and out of the paths. At least 8 to 10 gardeners use the same faucets so sharing the hoses and being careful of the plumbing system is important. Remember that the water lines are only every other row so the gardeners behind you need the space between plots to get to water. Leave at least 6 inches on your side of the plot boundary for this access.
Adam and Will are going to be mowing starting this week so please get everything out of the paths (rocks, sticks, tomato cages, etc.). These are hazards for the mowers and the equipment as well as making the paths difficult for wheelbarrows and other gardeners. Hoses left in the paths are likely to get nicked in the mowing so be sure they are inside plot boundaries. Anything left outside the plots is likely to be removed so that we can do the mowing and other gardeners can get to their plots.
There is a little compost still to be sold but we are working on when that might be happening. More information soon.
The weeds have really started growing so I hope you have had a chance to get working on them. Warm weather is in the forecast so I hope that your seeds are sprouting, you've met your neighbors and that the gardens are a happy place for you to spend time,
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Plant sale and compost possibility and workdays. May 14th 2014

Dear Gardeners,
Starting to look like a real garden out there with rows of new plants coming up in the ample rain and the trees and bushes leafing out. Many birds are flying past with nest materials.  Look for the northern orioles.  We usually have a couple of nests of these bright orange and black birds on the edges of the Eagle Heights gardens. I've already seen three pairs building nests (hanging woven bags on far branches of trees).  They have a lovely song. Lots of lemon yellow goldfinches around too.
This Sunday, we have the plant sale at Eagle Heights from 11 am to 1 pm. We expect tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and herbs. Check out the list we were given in Jenn's blog on the website. These are organically raised plants and we have been happy with the quality and prices. There is parking on Eagle Heights Drive (marked for gardeners) and the plant sales will be near the shed.
We also hope to have compost, but this is weather dependent. With luck, we will be selling compost from the West Madison Agricultural Station that is made from the barn manure and food waste from campus. Our past deliveries have been great stuff (very professionally and fully composted) and we sell it at cost ($3 for a half-cart load). All sales will be at Eagle Heights from 11 am to 1 pm.
We really need help on a number of tasks so please consider doing your workday soon in this nice weather.  Saturday we will be working on the final bits of the wall-building at Eagle Heights from 2 pm to 5 pm. On Sunday, we need a couple of volunteers to load compost and ferry carts if we have the compost sale. These would be needed from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm. We also will work on the wall and plot work on Sunday at 2 pm to 5 pm. If you would like to work one of these opportunities, reply to this message and I'll get you more details. Be sure to let me know which opportunity you are volunteering for.
This is my favorite time of gardening with great promise for the season. I watch gardeners entering the gardens waving to friends. They have jaunty walks and armloads of supplies and then leave (a little less jaunty after the work) but with happy smiles. This weekend promises to be a good one for gardening and hope to see you all at the sales and working in your plots.
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Water, warblers and workdays. May 7th, 2014

Dear Gardeners,
Beautifully colored warblers (tiny flitting birds) are moving through the woods on their way north. These jewels are mostly just passing through but are a real sign of spring coming on. The gardens are greening up and the weeds are sprouting so time to get some serious work done.
The water is on at Eagle Heights , but may be off temporarily for a few repairs. Please do not drink from the water hoses for at least two weeks. We don't sanitize the lines and they will have rust and silt build up for a while. The safest is to bring water for drinking from home but the garden water is safe for your vegetables and comes from the city supply.
We will have two workdays this weekend at Eagle Heights with good weather forecast. Saturday, May 10, we'll work from 2 pm to 5 pm on wall-building and plot clearing; Sunday, May 11, we'll finish the same tasks and work from 1 pm to 4 pm. Please reply to let me know if you can work one of these opportunities and I'll get you more details.
Just a reminder that our warm weather plant sale is coming up on May 18 from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. If the weather holds, we are working on having compost for sale that day as well. With warming temperatures, we hope that you will be able to transplant in your tomatoes, peppers and eggplant by then although they may need some protection from cool nights. If anyone  has a truck or trailer that could be used to move compost to University Houses that day, please let me know since we would like to get some compost over to those gardens but don't have a place to store it there.
Lots of activity in the plots now and the long cold spring is giving way to warmer temperatures. Hopefully your seedlings are coming up and soon there will be flowers and vegetables to enjoy. For now, it is great just to be back to working in the soil.
With dreams of new lettuce and radishes,

Gretel, Garden Registrar