Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Starting Seeds- Part 3

I am trying a new seeding mat. The other one mysteriously died...but I have a year warranty, so I will either try another or get my moola back. My consumer report will be out later.

I have been shifting things around because some things grew more quickly than others. I guess that is why one might want to read the Germination information on the back of the seed packet. In the movement and reorganization, some starts have lost their label. Perhaps colored toothpicks next year?!

Another interesting tidbit...I had heard different things about removing the humidity dome, so I let it sit on the sprouts for a day or so and then completely removed it. As you can see, the seeds seem to be doing just fine. Below is (L to R): watermelon, cucumber, zinnia, lettuce, zucchini, nasturtium, and cabbage.

By the way, if you are a spider appreciator like me (as long as they are no where to be seen), using lights seems to attract every creepy crawlie possible in my scary basement. Silverfish, mosquitos, ants, who knows what else is lurking around those trays!? Below is: snapdragons, collards, onion and lupine. My left over Bend, OR lupine seeds didn't germinate. They are too old. So I planted new ones and they are doing fine.

Another good discovery investment that you might want to try yourself! Watering seems to be my biggest issue when it comes to keeping my seeds happy. My wonderful friend Lindsay let me use her self watering mat and it really did wonders, but in order to go get another just like it, I would have had to purchase the entire kit! Crazy, I know! So I checked in with Indoor Gardens, where one of TGS students interns, and they hooked me up with some cheap cloth that does the same thing! I cut some left over wood to hold the trays up above the water, and voila! Happy seeds and happy pocketbook! Do people still use pocketbooks?!

From the left, we have nasturtium, lettuce, onion, eggplant that took a while to get going, and acorn squash.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Columbus ArtZine

I don't have the video yet, but here is a link to the page describing "April's ArtZine Features":

The video is fantastic! It features Trish at Weiland Park, Bill Dawson from Franklin Park, and other gardens connected by Growing to Green. Eventually, the video will be on this link:

If you are looking for more information on CG in a video form, try typing in "Community Gardening" into

Interesting Video on Community Gardens

organic lawn care

I have been thinking a lot about my yard/lawn.

Our grass looks like crap.

We have lots of grubs. We have some patches. We have weeds. Could it be that using Organic Fertilizer and handpicking the weeds last year isn't the way to go? I wish it were because we used every single blade of grass in our compost bin this summer, which will eventually go into our beds, and I don't want to put chemicals on the lawn that will go into the compost and then into our food. So here is an email from my lovely friend, Trish, Resident Garden Goddess, after our conversation:

"I thought of you today, there was a special on tv about organic lawn care. They suggested to do a soil test on your garden and use only limited fertilizer based on the tests---as a worst case scenario. They also suggested that you take a coffee can, bury it until the top is even with the surface of the grass (have holes punced in it) and when the can has less than 1" of water---it is your cue to water the grass. I also had a friend who just did the meadow grass in her yard and is very happy with it. Also, they said to not mow it until it is at least 3"."

I think these are great ideas. Another great idea is to not have grass (my other house was xeriscaped), but I have to tell you, my little poocharoo loves it. She runs around like crazy on our lawn. Plus, it is respectful of the neighbors to have a nice lawn. I have a lovely little court that I live in, and I want my neighbors to be happy!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Wrat Wro, Shaggy!" (said like Scooby Doo)

Scotts-local company, giver of community gardening grants, has some problems:

MARYSVILLE, Ohio - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday ordered Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. and three affiliates to stop selling or using pesticides that are unregistered, mislabeled and illegal, the agency said.

The lawn and garden company has agreed to recall Miracle-Gro Shake 'n Feed All Purpose Plant Food plus Weed Preventer, said Jim King, company spokesman. The EPA says the product is also sold as Garden Weed Preventer + Plant Food.

King said the company also has stopped using a product provided by its lawn service that the EPA had ordered it to stop using. He said it was never sold to consumers for do-it-yourself use.The EPA said the products include invalid EPA registration numbers. Federal law requires that all pesticides must be submitted to the EPA for evaluation of risks to humans or the environment.

"This is a serious violation of EPA's system for protecting people and the environment from the potential harmful effects of pesticides," said Mary Gade, a regional administrator for the EPA.The EPA said it is unknown whether the pesticides pose any risk and the agency is working with the Ohio agriculture department to analyze the products.
Scotts said it does not believe either product poses unreasonable health or environmental risk. King said the company is conducting an internal investigation into the registration and labeling matter.

The product being recalled comes in a bright yellow jug with a green circular cap in a 4.5-pound size with a UPC number 073561008365 and in an 8-pound size with UPC number 073561048361. It has been sold nationwide since December 2006 and accounts for about $10 million of the company's roughly $3 billion in annual sales, King said.

The products should not be used or disposed of in the trash or drain, the EPA said. Consumers should store them in a cool, dry place until the EPA has more information on the contents.

Scotts is based in Marysville, about 30 miles northwest of Columbus.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Gardening in your Front Lawn

grow potatoes!

My friend Elaine and I were talking about growing potatoes and I did a little research:

The potatoes are planted inside the box, the first row of boards is installed and the dirt or mulch can now be added to cover the seed potatoes. As the plant grows, more boards and dirt will be added.

You can grow 100 pounds of potatoes in 4 square feet. All it takes is some lumber, seed potatoes and careful attention to watering.

"A lot of people think you plant a potato and that the new ones grow below it, but that's not so," Lutovsky said. "Potatoes grow between the seed piece and the above-ground plant."

Potato pointers/here are some growing tips from Greg Lutovsky:
  • Cut apart larger seed potatoes, making sure there are at least two eyes in each piece you plant.
  • Dust the cut pieces with fir dust, which seals the open ends from bacteria.
  • Fertilize with 10-20-20 fertilizer at planting and a couple of times during the season.
  • Water so that the plants are kept at an even level of moisture.
  • Don't plant in the same area in consecutive years or use the same soil to fill your potato box, as potatoes can attract various diseases.
  • When the plant blossoms, it starts setting potatoes in this added soil. Soon after that, you can start removing the bottom boards from your box and "robbing" the plant, reaching in carefully and pulling out new potatoes.
  • Unless you steal all of them during the growing season, in the fall you should end up with a box of spuds — as much as 100 pounds
  • Watering at an even rate is especially important when growing potatoes in a box since they will dry out faster in the container than in the ground.
  • Don't drown and then let the potatoes dry out. Repeating that cycle throughout the year is a guarantee that you'll grow knobby, scabby potatoes
  • Your full potato crop is ready to be harvested when frost kills the tops. Or, in the absence of frost, you can cut off the tops yourself, wait 10 days to two weeks for the skins to firm up and then take your box apart completely, sorting the potatoes from the soil.


Plant a Row for the Hungry

This is important. We need to do this. This post is a little soap-boxy.

How often do we make it down to our local food pantries or to serve at soup kitchens? How often do we say, someone else is helping, so I don't need to? I say it a lot.

This year I am going to plant a row for the hungry and deliver it to a soup kitchen or food bank. Once I establish a connection there I will deliver my extra food there regularly.

Plan A Veggie Garden

I will definitely use this next year!

Here is what a query for today's to-do list resulted in (it was in a handy table format, but I can't copy and paste into this!?):

Spring GrowGuide
Your Last Spring Frost Date: May 15
Your First Fall Frost Date: November 16? (I just guessed-does anyone know this for sure?)
Tasks calculated for week of April 24, 2008 (3 weeks before last spring frost)

sow indoors:
cucumbers, leaf lettuce, melons, pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash

sow outdoors:
beets, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, swiss chard, turnips

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Day in the Life

This is my first attempt at iMovie. I apologize in advance.
Summary: The Graham School Community Gardeners spent earth day with Trish from the Godman Guild. We went to Oakland Nursery for to tour and shop, as well as Northstar Cafe for free veggie burgers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Starting Seeds-Part 2

It has only been about 24-36 hours since I first started my seeds. They have had constant light, moisture from the self watering seed tray insert, and heat every other hour from the seed heating mat. THINGS HAVE ALREADY SPROUTED!!! This is crazy.

I have decided to go for the second tray. This one does not have a heating mat yet, but it will by the end of tomorrow. I am also trying the soil from Magic Home Gardens and the Jiffy biodegradable seed tray liners.

Earth Day

Today we went to Oakland Nursery for a fabulous tour by Brian with the yellow sunglasses.

One of our students turned in an application! Let's cross our fingers!

Oakland also generously donated a ton of stuff to the Godman Guild (Weiland Park) Community Garden.

Speaking of generosity, we all feasted on free veggie burgers from Northstar today.

Gorgeous weather, gorgeous people, gorgeous day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Drip Irrigation

This is the ideal way to water your garden because it delievers the perfect amount of water right to the plant roots (not leaves), avoids weeds, can be regulated to water early in the morning (which is the best time to water to avoid evaporation or insect/fungus/bacteria problems), and it actually SAVES water!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Raised Beds

There are many many styles of raised beds. We went for asthetics again with ours because our neighbors have to look at it, and well, honestly, my man would go crazy if it didn't look polished (which is something I greatly appreciate, even if I did want to try square gardening with our numerous concrete blocks in the basement).

The cool features we added were smaller boxes within the larger squares for herbs and spreading plants. In one square, we even put down weed liner so the mint wouldn't spread. I highly suggest doing this! Also, we also installed leftover pvc pipe along the inside edge so that we could make it a hoop house OR put up rabbit fencing. This proved useful, not because of rabbits, but because my lovely pooch, Juno (not named after the movie), liked to run wildly through it OR dig up my organic fertilizer!

We will extend the bed this summer!!! YAY!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Caring for Gardening Tools

These tools need some love. They have worked hard! I did some research to find out more:

Tool sharpening
Some tools will become blunt with use and their cutting edges will need to be sharpened. Blunt blades may be sharpened with a fine metal file, but badly damaged or worn blades should be replaced. If you have any doubts about how to carry out the repairs consult your local servicer. Remove any rust with a wire brush and wipe over with an oily rag; use a general-purpose oil. Blades on shears, forks, spades and other tools will soon rust if they are not given this quick, effective treatment regularly.

To sharpen blades of knives and secateurs, use a fine sharpening stone from a garden centre or hardware store. First, prepare it with a few drops of general-purpose lubricating oil. For a straight-bladed knife, push it forwards and to the side, exerting a little downward pressure. Then turn the knife over and, holding the blade almost flat against the stone, brush it across the surface to take off any rough edges. Use the same method to sharpen secateurs and hoes. It may be easier to move the stone as you move the blade. It is important to sharpen only the outside blade on bypass secateurs and the upper surface of hoes.

Finish off by wiping over the blade with an oily rag before storing. Hoes should be stored with the blade uppermost, ideally suspended from a hook on the wall. The same procedure may be carried out with the cutting edges of spades. In very stony and heavy soils, this sharpening process may need repeating during the season.

Bare wooden handles benefit from boiled linseed oil. Rub the oil on with a rag and allow the wood to absorb the first coat before applying more oil. This prevents drying out and splintering.If a wooden handle is very dirty, remove as much of the soil as possible with a stiff brush. If you need to use water, gently wet the handle with a damp cloth, making sure that you don't soak the wood, as this may cause the grain to lift and the handle to swell.

Free Seeds for Schools

How cool is Bob?! Bob is very cool...

"Have a School Gardening project or are you involved with a Community Garden that supports local food banks? We would be happy to send you a selection of seeds at no cost.
Requests must be made by postal mail on School or Non-profit Organizational letterhead."

Compost Happens!

I have a compost bin that needs some serious revision. We tried to make it look nice, and ended up trading in functionality.
I found some additional information on these links:

A Prepared Gardener...

does not look like this!!! JUST KIDDING! This isn't me. I didn't get a picture of my sunburn before it faded, so I googled "sunburned arms" and this is what popped up. Also, this did too, and I think I have to add it even thought it is off topic:

Anyway, I brought my sunscreen and forgot to put it on. So, like the old lady that I am, I feel the need to say "WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN, KIDDOS!"

Local Gardening Stores We Like

Oakland Park Nursery- Beautiful! Helpful! Knowledgeable!

Magic Home Gardens-Very friendly and helpful staff! Scott, Chris, and Chris are wonderful teachers. The store is full of neat ideas and they also carry drip irrigation stuff.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Starting Seeds

Last year my three trays of seeds never even made it to the surface. Perhaps they were old seeds, perhaps I over/under watered them. I have theories, but no definitive answers.

The ones I just threw in the ground in my raised beds did great. Interesting, no?!

Conclusion? So far in my gardening career, I really stink so far at growing seeds indoors. My uncle bailed me out with a bunch of seed starts he had left over. Show off.

Despite my seed death toll, I have decided to give it another go. This year, I have done even more research, and am flipping the script.

I have cleaned my trays with a 1:9 bleach water solution.

I have purchased sterilized potting soil instead of making it myself AND I am going to compare that with seeds planted in jiffy starters and "power plugs" from a local hydroponics store.

I am only planting seeds that say they are okay to start indoors. (maybe!)

I am setting up lights and keeping them on quite a bit.

I am going to use heating pads on a timer (one hour on, one off, at least at first.)

I am setting up a shelving system for all of this in my scary basement.

I am going to keep my little domes on the plants until they start.

I am only going to water them once and then pour out the excess water. After that, I will mist them a couple of times a day.

I am not going to fertilize them.

We will see how this all goes.

What have I learned from this? That you can read all you want, but in the end, you just have to go for it. Throw some seeds in some dirt, watch what happens, and reflect on what you want to do next time. Get over the idea that you are going to be good at something because you want to be. Isn't it more satisfying to be good at something because you worked hard at it?! Let go of any attachments to what you think should happen.

Good lessons for life, really.

Someday I will share about what I have learned from knitting.

Just This Farm

What an amazing farm run by Kevin. Make sure to check out his website and his stand at the North Market.

He has a pretty exciting event happening on his farm 6/12:

Thursday, June 12, 2008, meet at the farm at 6:30

Location: 7657 Feder Road, Galloway, OH 43119, (614) 805-5776

Carpool: from the Simply Living office at 2929 N. High Street (6 sharp!)

Bring a dish for 6 to share, table service and a chair. Kevin Eigel will be hosting the Peak OIl/Global Warming group at his farm, Just This Farm, on Thursday, June 12th for a summer potluck. Just This Farm is a diverse working farm that has been providing fresh, organic food for Franklin Co folks for the last 8 years. JTF has a number of perennial crops in place, such as asparagus, rhubarb, blackberries, apples, pears, cherries, plums, shittake mushrooms, as well as high tunnels, and 2-3 acres for vegetables. There are chickens for eggs, and cattle. Dale Hooper has been starting an edible forest garden at JTF and will discuss his efforts. Kevin will discuss the farming operations.

Garden Art at the Wexner Center

The Japanese Garden

The CCC [Children Cheering Carpet]
Project Compagnia T.P.O. (Italy)
May 20-23 10:00 am & 12:30 pm

Seats are still available for school day performances of The Japanese Garden. Take a magical ride on an incredible Japanese garden carpet. Bonsai, stones, water, a Zen garden, and other elements of a Japanese garden appear on the interactive, magic carpet stage. It initially seems like just a big white carpet, but its digital images and sounds respond to the pressure of the feet or body. Children in the audience are invited to explore and animate the gardens themselves, experiencing the reconstructed natural environment through their own senses.

Contact the education department at 614-292-6493 or to schedule a tour or to reserve seats for The Japanese Garden.

Free For Your School! All Wexner Center school programs are free for student participants and accompanying teachers and chaperones. Bus subsidies for travel to any Wexner Center program are also available to public schools that meet guidelines based on the percentage of their students participating in school lunch subsidies. Documentation is required. Ask for bus subsidy application when you call to schedule your program!

American Community Gardening Association

WOW! The ACGA ( moved to Ohio and we have this AMAZING resource right here in our own backyard. They have vision for Columbus and community gardening. Check out their website.

They offer:
  1. ideas on how to Start a Community Garden
  2. Upcoming Events
  3. Find a community garden near you with our Bi-National Community Garden Database
  4. great educational and informational resources store
  5. listservs and enewsletter sign ups
  6. current campaigns and ways to get support CG

Benefits of CG

What is a community garden (from the ACGA)?

Very Simply, it is: Any piece of land gardened by a group of people. We at the ACGA have a broad definition of what a community garden entails. It can be urban, suburban, or rural. It can grow flowers, vegetables or community. It can be one community plot, or can be many individual plots. It can be at a school, hospital, or in a neighborhood. It can also be a series of plots dedicated to "urban agriculture" where the produce is grown for a market.

Benefits of Community Gardens:

  • Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Stimulates Social Interaction
  • Encourages Self-Reliance
  • Beautifies Neighborhoods
  • Produces Nutritious Food
  • Reduces Family Food Budgets
  • Conserves Resources
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces Crime
  • Preserves Green Space
  • Creates income opportunities and economic development
  • Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
  • Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections

Possible Problems to CG

Well, it is important to be prepared for everything, so here are the possible problems of CG that I have discovered, so far:

  • lack of involvement
  • upkeep
  • lack of understanding
  • theft
  • lack of signage
  • vandalism

By looking on the ACGA website, I also found this helpful information:

Vandalism is a common fear among community gardeners. However, the fear tends to be much greater than the actual incidence. Try these proven methods to deter vandalism:

  • Make a sign for the garden. Let people know to whom the garden belongs and that it is a neighborhood project.
  • Fences can be of almost any material. They serve as much to mark possession of a property as to prevent entry, since nothing short of razor-wire and land mines will keep a determined vandal from getting in. Short picket fences or turkey wire will keep out dogs and honest people.
  • Create a shady meeting area in the garden and spend time there.
  • Invite everyone in the neighborhood to participate from the very beginning. Persons excluded from the garden are potential vandals.
  • Involve the neighborhood children in learning gardens. They can be the garden's best protectors. (see below.)
  • Plant raspberries, roses or other thorny plants along the fence as a barrier to fence climbers.
  • Make friends with neighbors whose windows overlook the garden. Trade them flowers and vegetables for a protective eye.
  • Harvest all ripe fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Red tomatoes falling from the vines invite trouble.
  • Plant potatoes, other root crops or a less popular vegetable such as kohlrabi along the side walk or fence.
  • Plant the purple varieties of cauliflower and beans or the white eggplant to confuse a vandal.
  • Plant a "vandal's garden" at the entrance. Mark it with a sign: "If you must take food, please take it from here."

Children's Plots

  • Children included in the garden process become champions of the cause rather than vandals of the garden. Therefore your garden may want to allocate some plots specifically for children.
  • The "children's garden" can help market your idea to local scout troops, day cares, foster grandparent programs, church groups, etc.
  • Consider offering free small plots in the children's garden to children whose parents already have a plot in the garden.

People Problems and Solutions

  • Angry neighbors and bad gardeners pose problems for a community garden. Usually the two are related. Neighbors complain to municipal governments about messy, unkempt gardens or rowdy behavior; most gardens can ill afford poor relations with neighbors, local politicians or potential sponsors. Therefore, choose bylaws carefully so you have procedures to follow when members fail to keep their plots clean and up to code. A well-organized garden with strong leadership and committed members can overcome almost any obstacle.


This is a FANTASTIC fictional book about community gardening in Cleveland, Ohio! This is a quick, but important read for any community gardener. It reminds us to respect the multiple perspectives that come to a garden, and as well as the joys and benefits of cg'ing.

Paul Fleischman has also written Joyful Noise (collection of insect poems that are AMAZING!) and Seek (ehh, this one is okay).

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Ohio School for the Deaf CG

We have been very lucky this year to connect with Bill Costello, gardener extraordinaire, and his gardening prodigy students: Julian, Scott, Irida, and Alia. The school and acreage is so beautiful. They have a fabulous greenhouse. Here is their website:

Their garden is in the shape of a turtle! It was designed by the oh-so-fabulous, Susan Weber, landscape designer and owner of Urban Wild in Columbus. Here is an article about her.

Sycamore Hills Community Gardening

Here is the beginning communications of the start of our CG in my neighborhood:

From: amy
Date: Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 9:32 AMSubject: Re: blogTo:

Hi, Bill!

I would like to start a community garden in my neighborhood, and the residents association is totally behind me. YAY! Now that I have their approval and blessings, I am not sure where to begin! I was wondering what you suggest (as in preparing for the grant-it is still due in October right?, finding out what the community is interested in, getting people involved, etc). I am planning on having the garden up and running for next summer (if possible).


Master Gardener Program

I took on the Oregon State University (OSU) Master Gardener Training back in Bend, OR in 2003. I spent 75 hours in classroom training, and over 80 hours volunteering as a Master Gardener in the community. Many of the 80 volunteer hours involved answering the MG hotline. This number 541-548-6088 is permanently stuck in my head!

This was a great way for the knowledge I had just acquired to "take root" (I'm sorry!). People could call and ask any question they wanted about gardening (and sometimes not), and I would find the answer for them. One day we had three people call about beekeeping-a kind of neat example of the collective consciousness thing! I also had a man bring in a coiled, but frozen rattlesnake. My other hours were spent working gardening seminars, teaching entomology lessons to kids in Madras, and working at the demonstration gardens. I loved it!

Now I am in the process of having my certification transferred over to The Ohio State University (OSU, again!) Master Gardener Program. They are another wonderful resource for the community and here is their website:

"Working with county Extension personnel, Master Gardener Volunteers provide such educational services to their communities as: answering gardening questions from the public; conducting plant clinics; gardening activities with children, senior citizens, or disabled persons; beautifying the community; developing community or demonstration gardens; and other horticultural activities."

A good link for your resources:

What Is CG?

From the Franklin Park Conservatory website:

What is Community Gardening?
Community gardening is the development and revitalization of unused or abandoned spaces into attractive, productive green spaces for the benefit of neighborhood community groups.Community gardening:

  • Encourages self-sufficiency
  • Contributes to the education and socialization of youth
  • Creates opportunities for multicultural understanding
  • Provides ecological awareness
  • Fosters intergenerational opportunities
  • Improves family nutrition and increases community food security
  • Promotes biodiversity
  • Meets social and recreational needs
  • Offers gardening opportunities to people with disabilities
  • Provides vocational training and work experiences
  • Enhances neighborhood safety and beauty
  • Builds coalitions among groups dedicated to community revitalization

Community gardens began to develop in the United States in the late 1930s and 40s. Families were asked by the federal government to plant their own community, or “victory”, gardens during and following World War II. Since the start of victory gardens, community gardens have developed into a fun, inexpensive, and healthy way for people to grow their own produce and flowers.

Today, an estimated 18,000 community gardens operate in both rural and urban areas nationwide. While many grow for their families and neighbors, many gardens also donate to local food pantries and homeless shelters.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Blystone Farm

TGS community gardening AND FARMING group went to visit Katherine at her family farm (8677 Oregon Rd., Canal Winchester, OH 43110). Her farm serves the local community with fresh (or frozen) sheep and goat meat. She offers Muslim and Christian slaughtering right there on the the site. She takes good care of her animals and they are happy, safe (thanks to the Great Pyrenees dogs), and roam quite free.

This site offered so many wonderful things; I think it is important for students to see:
1. a woman running a business
2. the inner workings of a business
3. the multicultural aspect of the farm, product, and customers
4. the process animals go through to become meat
5. the changing face of farming in Ohio
6. a real working farm since it is such a huge part of our Ohio Heritage

We also got to play with gorgeous Pyrenees puppies in the barn and try Sloppy Goat sandwiches.

The students even figured out how to stay warm while not working: they stuck their feet in the huge pile of hay.

Cashmere comes from goats. Who knew?! What's more: where did I think it came from before I knew it was goats?!

We did not see any animals get slaughtered, but we did hear it. Some of the students had the chance to begin their farm experience by helping to catch baby goats so that they could be given medicine and vaccines. They seemed to struggled the most with the slaughter house aspect of the farm.

It was an amazing experience.

Cornell University, Green Teens, and Community Gardening

I need to find out more about this! Trish (Godman Guild) mentioned it yesterday and I am intrigued!
Green Teen Community Gardening Program:

CU's Garden Mosaics program takes root, renews ties to nature article: