Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dear Gardeners,
A beautiful snow last week and tundra swans on the lake means that winter is upon us. This week, we have a holiday of Thanksgiving, to pause to be thankful for the year.  Gratitude is an important contributor to human well-being and we have much to be grateful for: our harvests and friendships as well as the miracle of seeds and vigor of plants and the work of pollinators and insect-eaters and even the soil microbes.
The last workdays of the year will be this weekend: On Saturday, Nov. 28 from 1 pm to 4 pm and on Sunday, Nov. 29 from 9 am to noon. Since the offices will be closed for the holiday and this is the last opportunity to work a workday, please just come if you would like to work. The workday crew will meet at the Eagle Heights garden shed at the start time. Bring gloves and water to drink and be sure to sign in for workday credit. Check the website for cancellations before coming since the work will be somewhat weather dependent.
Every gardener, new and returning, must reapply each year. Applications for 2016 will be available on the website around Dec. 15, 2015 and the application period goes until Feb. 15, 2016. Each year, some gardeners are disappointed to find their plot has been reassigned because they forgot to reapply so please apply early. Early applications have priority over late ones and after Feb. 15, the priority system will shift to a waiting list if plots are not available.
On this special week when we celebrate all we have to be thankful for, I want to personally thank all the gardeners for working to keep the gardens a positive place to garden. The organization would not run without the many volunteers who make the difference to the garden committee, workshops, Seed Fair, common plantings, coffee pickups, Food Pantry, translation services, and many individual efforts. Please consider joining the garden committee or volunteering to help with activities, maintenance, common plantings and all the facets of this remarkable garden.
Enjoy your winter and see you in the gardens in the spring,
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dear Gardeners,
Working in the gardens this fall has certainly been a joy. No mosquitoes, lots of sun and warm weather. I see a lot of Napa cabbage, bok choi, kale and other greens still in the gardens and I hope you are still enjoying your produce.
Eagle Heights gardeners should note that the winter parking signs have gone up. There is no parking on Eagle Heights Drive during the weekday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. Weekends are still available for parking on the street. For weekdays, there are a few free (3 hour limit) parking spots at Frautschi Point lot (further north on Lake Mendota Drive at the curve in the road). You can walk from there to the gardens. The 80 bus also comes up to the gardens if you want to park in other metered lots such as the Picnic Point lot.
This weekend, there will be workdays on Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15 at Eagle Heights to work on shoring up the path in the 100's/200's. The weather looks favorable and we may not be able to get many more workdays in with possibilities for snow and cold coming. Please reply to this email if you would like to work and tell me which day you would like to come. I'll get you more details. We need quite a few volunteers for each day.
If you haven't been able to work or want to pay the "no workday option" , please remember the deadline is Dec. 1. After Dec. 1, there are substantial late fees ($20 per large plot;$10 per small plot) as well as losing your priority as a returning gardener and the chance to request your plot back. If you want to send a check ($32 for a large plot; $16 for a small plot), please make it out to Division of University Housing. You can drop it off or mail to the Eagle Heights Community Center, ATTN : Gardens, 611 Eagle Heights, Madison, WI 53705. If you have any question about whether you worked or already paid, email and I will get back to you.
The goldfinches have lost their bright yellow colors but are still active in the gardens, eating the last of the sunflower seeds and other garden bits. All the squirrels and chipmunks are getting in the last of the store for winter and the geese are getting restless. Nature seems to be taking a big deep breath to get ready for colder temperatures but it is glorious while it lasts.
Gretel, Garden Regis

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dear University Houses gardeners,
The Lakeshore Preserve will be doing a controlled burn at the top of the Eagle Heights Woods (north of the U Houses gardens). The smoke may be visible, but there is little wind and smoke should go out over the lake. Only a portion around the mounds at the top is likely to be involved and a large crew will make sure that is it contained.
Please do not contact the Fire Department since they are already aware of the burn and will be contacted in the unlikely event that they are needed.
Controlled burning is one of the management tools to control invasive species and encourage native species without using pesticides. Fall burns set back the invasives when the native species have already died back for the season and sweep through the ground level without setting larger trees on fire.
The weather looks great and it should be quite a short process and a few other spots around Picnic Point are also being done today. Please stay out of the burn area.
Gretel, Garden Registrar

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dear Gardeners,
What a gift this week has been with marvelous temperatures and sunshine! The kinglets and juncos are in town. Kinglets are just passing through but you will enjoy these tiny birds flitting around with big eyes and bright colors on their heads. Juncos are two-tone grey birds feeding in the gardens that have white V tail feathers when they fly. They'll be with us all winter in small flocks of very tame birds. Leaves for mulching the gardens are starting to being delivered to Eagle Heights and there are lots at University Houses. Bedding down the plots now will mean less weeds germinating in the spring.
There is a workday scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7 from 9 am to noon at University Houses gardens. Plenty of  chores to put away the hoses, do path maintenance and work on some plots to prepare for new gardeners next year. Reply to this email and I'll get you more details.
Please remember that you will need to reapply for your plot if you wish to return next year. If you aren't returning, please let me know since it helps in getting plot assignments ready early. A few gardeners want to move next year to different plots and they could get started on preparing those plots if I knew they were coming open. Applications for 2016 will be on the website in mid-December. One change to the rules bans glass from the garden for safety reasons, so please remove any glass items this fall so they don't break with the winter temperatures and snow.
Hope you are getting out to enjoy this unseasonable weather. Still not too late to plant some garlic or daffodils!
Gretel, Garden Registrar