Wednesday, May 31, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: Garden Juries; Cutworms; Toads; Thistles; Potato Beetles; Workday

Hello Gardeners,

GARDEN JURIES – Garden Juries have started, and will continue to take place throughout the summer, at both Eagle Heights and at University Houses. The jurors are volunteers from among our fellow-gardeners, and they will be walking through the gardens looking at plots. They are looking particularly for plots that are unworked and may have been abandoned, and for plots with tall weeds, particularly noxious weeds such as thistles. The purpose in doing this is to try to fix problems as soon as possible. Gardens that have been abandoned can be reassigned to new gardeners on the waiting list, rather than just sitting there getting weedier and weedier. Gardeners who have tall weeds in their plots may need to be pushed to clear them before they get really out of hand.  Also, gardeners who are overwhelmed can get help in caring for their plots, if they just let the Registrar know.

The point to all of this is not to kick people out of the gardens. We just want to make sure that garden plots are being cared for, which benefits everybody in our garden community. If your garden gets a plot notice, please contact me right away. 

CUTWORMS – A number of gardeners have reported finding their vegetable seedlings cut off neatly at or near the level of the soil. We have a great many animals living and feeding in the gardens, and I don’t know what specifically attacked a particular vegetable. But I think cutworms may be one of the predators. Cutworms are the caterpillars of a number of moths, and they’re active in the spring. Here’s some information from the University of Minnesota Extension – organic gardeners should ignore the pesticide information at the bottom of the article:

TOADS – Fortunately, toads love to eat cutworms. The toads in our gardens are American Toads, and they eat worms, insects of all sorts, spiders, grubs, centipedes, all sorts of invertebrates. If you have a toad in your garden plot, you are very lucky. Here’s some basic information on toads:

THISTLES – Unfortunately, toads do not eat thistles. The thistles are terrible in our gardens this year. If you have thistles, please dig them up now, and prepare to keep digging them up until you’re really rid of them. They won’t go away by themselves, alas.

POTATO BEETLES – We are getting early reports of potato beetles on potato plants. If you spot any on your plants, please let me know. We’ll keep track of where they are in the gardens, and there’s an organic spray we can apply if we get a serious infestation.

WORKDAY –This weekend’s workday will be Sunday afternoon, 2pm – 5pm, at Eagle Heights. The task will be (wait for it) battling thistle in the tree rows, by chopping it down with hoes – should be comparatively easy, with no bending or pulling. Here’s the link to sign up:

Happy gardening,

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: Plant Exchange and Compost Sale; Dumpsters and Weed Piles; Keep the Paths Clear; Cancellations and Refunds (last reminder for the year); Garden Committee Co-Chairs; Workday

Hello Gardeners,

PLANT EXCHANGE AND COMPOST SALE - On Sunday, May 28, we will have a plant exchange at Eagle Heights, near the shed, from 10am – 12:00 Noon. If you have extra plants, please bring them, and maybe you can pick up a plant you want from somebody else. Please note that these plants have not been raised in greenhouses and are not guaranteed to be free from disease. (You might want to quarantine them under observation for a few days before adding them to your garden). We will also have free seeds available – for summer crops, such as summer and winter squash, cucumbers, and melons.

Also, compost from the University’s West Agricultural Research Station will be for sale. The price will be $5 for half a garden cart, approximately 3.5 cubic yards. Our garden workers will load the carts. Payment will be in cash only – please bring exact change. ($5 bills are best.) Come early – we’ll probably sell out.

DUMPSTERS – Just a reminder that the dumpsters are only for throwing away trash. Do not throw weeds or other vegetable material into the dumpsters. Also, please do not throw trash in the weed piles – those are for weeds and unwanted vegetable material. It is important to throw things away correctly because of what happens next in the process. The dumpsters are emptied by the University. If the people emptying the dumpsters find plant material in them, they can (and will) refuse to dump them. And then, we will have to pay to get rid of what’s in that dumpster. The weed piles are emptied by the Village of Shorewood, which trucks our weeds to an organic landfill. If they find trash among the vegetation, they can’t dump it there. Instead, we will have to pay for it to be dumped elsewhere. So this really is important.

By the way, if you have plastic pots from seedlings and plants, and they’re still in decent shape, you can leave them on or near the share shelves – other people may want them.

KEEP THE PATHS CLEAR – You may have noticed that the garden workers are mowing the paths – they’re looking really good. Please do not impede the mowing – do not leave stuff from your plot in the paths. This includes but is not limited to: chairs, cages, old wood frames, hoses, buckets, pots, plastic milk jugs, bricks, etc. (It’s amazing what you find in the paths sometimes….)  And please do not leave your hose connected to the water spigots.

CANCELLATIONS/REFUNDS – Last chance – if you’re realizing you won’t be in town this summer, or won’t have time to take care of your plot, May 31 will be the last day you can cancel your plot and still get half of your fees refunded. If you cancel after May 31, I still need to know, so I can assign your garden to someone from the waiting list. But we can’t give refunds after May 31. So if you decide to cancel, let me know as soon as possible.

GARDEN COMMITTEE CO-CHAIRS – We have been overwhelmed with the total lack of response to the request for candidates for garden committee co-chairs. It’s time to turn on the guilt: if you love our gardens, and care about our future, please consider serving a term as a co-chair. It will look great on a resume. Contact me if you’re interested or have questions.

WORKDAY – This weekend’s workday will be at Eagle Heights on SUNDAY, MAY 28, starting at 1pm, after the plant exchange and compost sale. The task will be organizing perimeter brush debris and working emerging thistle in the East tree line. Please bring gloves. Here’s the link to sign up:

Happy gardening,