Tag Archives: community garden

The Garden is Still Growing

I haven’t been to the garden as much as I’d like lately. Naoto has been running down to harvest tomatoes and basil and herbs on an as-needed basis, but yesterday, we were both home and free to go together. As usual, our plot is a jungle of tomato vines, but this year, it’s also a jungle of overgrown herbs and nasturtium! Look at that nasturtium!! I just can’t believe how the plant took off. It seemed like it wasn’t going to do much but now it’s huge and it has lots of flowers inside the big poof a leaves. I just found a recipe for nasturtium pesto, so I think we might experiment with that soon…which is good timing because our basil is done. Some of our tomatoes were slow to produce this summer thanks to the white fly infestation that plagued the garden. But we’ve gotten a decent harvest from our Juliet and a few other heirlooms. We haven’t been overloaded with tomatoes like we have in the past, but it’s definitely enough for us to feel good about plot 6 this summer. I picked a bunch of zinnias, nasturtiums, and marigolds to make a little bouquet for my desk. The zinnias are as tall as me and still going strong. And in other happy garden news, my tiny carrots are coming in! I planted them kind of late in the spring and they were quickly overshadowed by the tomato plants, so I didn’t have very much hope for a harvest, but I think it’s going to be decent! I’m not quite ready to pick them all, but I wanted to do a little test. This variety is supposed to be only 2-3 inches big. We’ve never had luck with root vegetables, so I decided to try a tiny kind and I think it worked!

How is your garden growing? Any other ideas for my nasturtium bounty?

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Mid-Summer Update from Plot 6

 

We had a stretch of very hot and humid days a couple of weeks ago, making gardening a dreadful chore. Thankfully it rained a lot during that time, so the garden was on autopilot for a couple days.The good news is the rain washed off some of our white flies. The bad news is some of our early Black Krims split due to the uneven watering they received during the huge rains. So, no tomatoes yet, sadly.Naoto is really excited about the edamame growth. The edamame has gotten really tall and there are beans on them! I’m excited because I finally have a nasturtium flower among all the leaves. (You can see the orange flower peeking out on the left.) My lavender is still not blooming so I transplanted it last week. I think it was being shaded by my wayward zinnias. (I planted the zinnias in the center of the garden but the seeds moved during the big rains this spring.)

Our dill is huge and I need to look up some recipes to use a bunch of it. We’ve harvested so much parsley and basil already. It’s pesto city around here!

And the chamomile is growing like crazy but I missed harvesting the first bloom so hopefully another will come soon. I want to dry it and use it in a cocktail recipe and maybe some tea (though chamomile tea isn’t my favorite. I am a black tea or bust kind of gal!)

I cut some zinnias from the plantings around the garden. They’re “cut and come again” so hopefully people will help themselves as I did and we will have some continuous blooms around the garden, for ourselves and for the bees and butterflies. Zinnias make me so happy! They’re all so different and colorful and carefree (which is the opposite of how I feel today after dealing with my iPhone and photo storage all day…the good news is, my phone is busy uploading pictures so I have no reason not to finish my last book of the month tonight!)

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A Dispatch from the Forest Park Community Garden

Sorry for the radio silence this week. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been preparing the Forest Park Community Garden for the Forest Park Historical Society’s Home & Garden Walk. It’s the first year we’ve been featured on the walk and well, we had a lot of work to do! The garden usually looks fine, but we wanted to get some plantings done and clean some stuff up before we had official garden walk visitors. Some people in Forest Park don’t even know we have a community garden, so we wanted to be on the walk to raise awareness, increase our visibility, and hopefully get some new gardeners and people who want to be involved with the garden. The garden is officially ten years old in 2019 so there’s definitely some areas to refresh and improve, but money and man hours are always our challenge. We’ve been slowly rebuilding older plots and trying to repair things as needed. But July is really a great time to feature the garden because things are growing like crazy and most of our 55 plots are looking good! It was fun to show visitors what people are growing and how each gardener organizes his plot. These pictures were taken on Tuesday while I was doing some chores at the garden, but on Sunday it was sunny and hot. A few of us spent the day at the garden to host the tours and, even though we spent most of the day under a tent, I got a little sunburn. It’s been so hot here, and it’s supposed to be near 100 the rest of the week…thankfully it rained a ton today because the plants were starting to get dry and sad. This little future swallowtail is living in my dill right now. He’s a welcome visitor. So far this summer, we have harvested a ton of basil (pictured at the top) and some dill and parsley. (As always, I’m kicking us for not growing more spring vegetables but it was such a weird spring!) Our tomatoes are battling white flies again, but we have a few on the vine, so hopefully we’ll have a harvest soon. Naoto’s edamame is growing like crazy and our chamomile and carrots are doing just fine. It’s always an adventure in Plot 6 and around the garden!

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Plot 6 in 2019

We have had SUCH a weird, cold, and rainy spring! Our poor garden plot was pretty neglected until last week when we took advantage of a warm, sunny day to finally plant some seeds and our baby tomatoes. I wish I had taken a picture of our plot before we cleared it off. Because of our late fall trip to Japan last year, we missed the end of the gardening season and then it started snowing shortly after we got home. Our plot didn’t get cleaned for the winter, so I had to tear out dead tomato plants and dried herbs this spring. And we had a giant hemlock plant growing in the center of the plot. Thankfully, I was able to remove it, roots and all, so hopefully more hemlock doesn’t reappear this summer. What a nightmare!  This is what our plot looked like the other day…we’ve had some rain since, so hopefully some of the seeds are sprouting! We planted seeds for edamame, Welsh onions, thyme, basil, bush basil, chamomile, dill, and nasturtiums. And we transplanted four tomato plants (Brandywine, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter, and some Japanese-but-really-Russian? tomato that Naoto picked out) and our rosemary plant from the seed swap. The walking onions, garlic, and parsley all came back from last year. We still need to stake the rest of the tomatoes, and put up some markers so we don’t accidentally pull some of our seedlings. I have a little map of where everything went, though with all of the rain we’ve had, I’m sure a lot of the seeds travelled! I do regret not planting the tomatoes closer to the center of the plot, but hopefully we can keep the jungle tame enough…

How is your gardening going?

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Seed Swap 2019

A few weeks ago, Naoto and I attended the 9th annual Forest Park Community Garden Seed Swap! We’ve been going for quite a few years, both as gardeners and volunteers. It’s the perfect spring kick-off and a chance to meet other gardeners and start thinking about our plots for the summer. For the second year in a row, Empowering Gardens did a presentation for us, this time about soil and seed starting. They brought rosemary seedlings for everyone to take…mine is currently wilting in my kitchen. Please send it your thoughts and prayers. Other than our rosemary, we picked up a lot of herb seeds (thyme, parsley, basil, and shiso,) some more edamame, and arugula. And I picked up some pretty poppy seeds that I’m going to attempt to plant in the communal area at the community garden. Of course on top of all those herbs and edamame, we’ll be planting our usual tomato jungle…it’s inevitable.

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Plot #6: Gardening Begins!

plot #6, forest park community garden, pre-preparationNaoto and I went to the garden for the first time this season on Sunday. We were pleased to find very few weeds in our plot! The soil preparation has gotten so much easier each year. (Here is what it looked like when we inherited the plot.) plot #6, forest park community garden,weedingBecause it rained on Saturday, weeding was super-easy. (And no, Naoto did not do it alone. I jumped in after this picture was taken!) plot #6, forest park community garden, mulchingAfter loosening the soil (not turning it!), we laid down another layer of fresh mulch and called it a day. I was planning to plant some daikon, beets, and bok choi but the water at the garden wasn’t turned on yet, so I suppose planting will have to wait a little longer.

How is your garden growing?

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Garden Update: Things Are Growing

DSC_0021Naoto and I spent some time at the garden on Saturday afternoon and again last night. We are both amazed at how much the plants grow within such a short few days. Here are a few shots of our garden, complete with my homemade plant markers:

DSC_0017 DSC_0016 DSC_0015 DSC_0013 DSC_0011 DSC_0009 DSC_0007And, in the most exciting news of all, our Juliet tomato already has a blossom!!

IMG_2329It’s so weird to me because the Juliet was the last tomato we planted (just last weekend with my dad).

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And, now that the vining plants are growing (except for the loofah…the loofah is doing nothing), we have to come up with a plan for handling the vines. We’ve seen some good ideas in other garden plots, so we just need to buy our materials and build something simple.

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And, in our first gardening challenge, our limas are being eaten by…something…a rabbit? A bug? Who knows. But the whole crop is not looking good. I still have hope that maybe one or two plants will produce some good ol’ lima beans…

One thing that’s been fun and helpful for me so far this gardening season is participating in #SeedChat (with @SeedChat & others) on Twitter. It happens on Wednesday nights at 8pm CST and it’s a great way to “meet” other gardeners and ask questions (if you’re a newbie like me) or offer advice (if you’re an experienced green thumb). If you’re into gardening, check it out!

 

 

 

 

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Getting Started…

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I headed over to the garden plot this afternoon to tackle the weed situation in our plot. As you can tell from above, things were pretty weedy…but our plot wasn’t the worst one, so that made me feel a little bit better as I kneeled down and started pulling. Most of the weeds came out relatively easily, but several of them were really rooted. I have callouses on my hands from all the tugging. I kept thinking, as I was bending over, the drivers sitting at the light on Harlem must see me like one of those “old lady butts” that used to be popular garden decorations. (Do you remember those? No? Maybe it was a regional thing? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s an example of one.)

IMG_2003I found this tiny, soft carrot during the weed pulling.

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IMG_2007After weeding, I started hauling mulch to our plot. The community garden had a huge mulch delivery that we are all welcome to use. I hauled five buckets to our plot, which was dirty work, thanks to a mulch avalanche onto my feet and the fact that I was doing everything with my tiny garden spade instead of a proper shovel.

IMG_2009After two hours of weeding and hauling, I had this to enjoy:

IMG_2010There is a plant in the corner (garlic maybe?) that I didn’t weed out. I’m not sure what it is and I know I don’t want to keep it, but it’s so big that I think I’ll need a shovel to get it out (instead of my tiny gardening spade). Naoto and I will be back at the garden this weekend to take care of the mystery plant. We’ll plant our seeds and tomato and pepper plants then, too. I am really excited! I’m looking forward to more afternoons of dirty feet and dirty hands this summer!

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