Wednesday, July 26, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: Summer Squash; Workday

Hello Gardeners,

SUMMER SQUASH – It’s that time of year again. Giant summer squash have begun to appear on the share shelves, in the weed pile, and in our dreams, or nightmares. If you are growing summer squash, or other vegetables that are heavy producers, you really have to visit your garden plot every day and search your plants thoroughly for vegetables. If you don’t check regularly, you’ll be horrified to find monsters growing in your garden. Yes, it’s hard when you have a plot in a community garden, and you have to make a special trip to see it, often through heat, humidity, and mosquitoes. Plus we’re all busy in the summer.

But please do what you can to keep your produce picked. Letting your squash and other vegetables sit too long in your plots is not only wasteful, it can encourage voles and other animals to plunder your plot. If you have more vegetables than you want, you can certainly put the excess on the share shelves. Or surprise your friends. Or former friends.

Also, there are ways to preserve your squash harvest, so you can enjoy it throughout the winter. The easiest way is to freeze it – here are some simple instructions:    If you like using shredded squash in breads and muffins, you can shred it instead of dicing it.

You can also make pickles with summer squash. Here is a typical recipe for a quick pickle that can be kept in the refrigerator:  
You can vary the spices – use whatever you like.

Also, if you have extra vegetables in good shape, please consider donating them to a food pantry. There are a number of them in the Madison area. The St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, 2033 Fish Hatchery Road in Madison, serves households from all across Dane County, and welcomes food contributions, including good quality fresh garden produce, from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday.

And you can actually make a good meal out of a giant squash. Here’s an example:

WORKDAY – This weekend’s workday will be Saturday, July 29, at Eagle Heights, 8am – 11am. The task will be continuing the chip path maintenance. Here’s the link to sign up:    As always, a hat, gloves, and a water bottle are highly useful. Please be on time. Also, if you have trouble signing up, or if the workday is full, go ahead and show up anyway.

Happy gardening,

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: How to Throw Weeds in the Weed Piles; Lake Weeds; Thefts; Potato Beetles and Bean Beetles; UW Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic; Workday

Hello Gardeners,

HOW TO THROW AWAY YOUR WEEDS – This message applies to gardeners both at Eagle Heights and at University Houses. Please remember that the weed piles are for weeds only, not plant pots, sticks, or trash. When you dump your weeds, please throw them into the very middle of the pile, not the edges. The center. The inside, the hub, the innermost heart of the pile. THE MIDDLE.
Especially at U Houses, gardeners have been leaving weeds along the edges, outside of the concrete containment area, and it is getting messier and messier. Also, please shake off as much dirt as you reasonably can. If the weed piles are all weeds, the Village of Shorewood will haul the weeds away to where they will be composted, at no charge to us. If our weed piles have trash and lots of dirt in them, we have to pay to have the contents hauled to a dumpsite. This is not money well spent.

LAKE WEEDS – The County Parks have been cutting the weeds in the lakes, and have delivered some to Eagle Heights. They are next to the woodchips, beyond the mulch pile. Help yourself. These are very beneficial as fertilizer for gardens. And they smell heavenly, at least if you think that rotten fish smells heavenly. Don’t worry – the smell gradually goes away.

THEFTS – Theft is unfortunately constant in our gardens. I hope and believe that the people who steal other people’s vegetables and equipment are not Eagle Heights/University Houses gardeners. But nevertheless here’s a reminder of the rules: Do not go into another person’s plot without that person’s permission. Do not take anything from another person’s plot without that person’s permission. Do not assume a plot is abandoned if you haven’t seen activity there. Also, try to get to know your neighbors – if you know the people who belong in your neighbors’ plots, it’s easier to spot people who don’t belong there.

POTATO BEETLES AND BEAN BEETLES – Due to the every-other-day rain and windy conditions the last few weeks, our garden workers never got the opportunity to spray Spinosad to control potato beetles. At this point, the potato beetles have pretty much died off from natural causes. Unless there is another wave of them, we won’t make another attempt to spray. On the other hand, this week, the wasps that are parasitic on the bean beetles will be released into both gardens on Thursday. These wasps are tiny, about 1 – 2 millimeters long, and will not harm people or beneficial insects. They’re coming to us as eggs, so it will be a few days before they hatch and start attacking the bean beetles.

UW PLANT DISEASE DIAGNOSTICS CLINIC – Our gardens are subject to plenty of plant diseases. If your plant is sick, you won’t be able to help it get better if you don’t know what’s wrong with it. Experienced gardeners get to know most of the diseases. But if you don’t have anybody to ask, you can contact the UW Plant Pathology Department’s Diagnostics Clinic – here’s a link to the website:  You can email them with questions, or actually bring them samples from your plants. They can identify the problem, and suggest remedies, if there are any.

WORKDAY – This weekend’s workday will be Sunday, July 23, at Eagle Heights, 8am – 11am. The task will be path maintenance. The last two workday crews have done a wonderful job on the paths. Here’s the link to sign up:  As always, a hat, gloves, and a water bottle are highly useful. Please be on time. Also, if you have trouble signing up, or if the workday is full, please go ahead and show up anyway.

Happy gardening,