Thursday, July 31, 2008

Weinland Park Community Garden Update

Exciting things are happening in Weinland Park as July draws to a close. The teen garden staff members have spent the past six weeks caring for our garden, along with keeping up projects at several other Columbus community gardens. They will complete their summer work experience this Saturday at our Urban Farmer's Market
(Aug. 2, on the corner of 4th and 18th in Columbus from 9am-1pm). Much of the past two weeks has been spent in preparation for the market, but the teens have also had a couple of wonderful educational experiences in Columbus and in Athens, OH.

Last week we visited the New Harvest Cafe on Cleveland Avenue, in Columbus' Linden neighborhood. New Harvest is owned and run by Kwodjo Ababio, a Columbus resident and an avid gardener. Kwodjo grows much of the food for New Harvest in a plot behind his restaurant. The garden was once a neglected, trash-filled lot owned by the city. Kwodjo took over the space and transformed it into an urban garden, eventually securing permission for its use from the city. Tomato plants grow out of raised beds created from old tires stacked two high. Collard greens grow in a large rectangular bed in the center of the garden. He also grows herbs to use in his foods. Kwodjo talked to our teens about his hopes to continue taking over abandoned lots in Columbus and create more gardens. He calls this practice "radical gardening." He spoke at length to the teens about his gardening experience and its value to his business and about making meaningful positive contributions to the community. He generously served the teens and lunch of soup and sandwiches from his restaurant. The teens also spent some time out back in his garden, helping to weed, water and stake tomatoes. The teens seemed to really enjoy meeting Kwodjo and some were quite inspired by his "radical gardening" philosophy. It was great for them to see such an excellent example of ways that gardening can be valuable both as a business endeavor and as a very visible means of transforming urban neighborhoods.

Also last week, we took a day trip to Athens, OH in order to visit Companion Plants, which grows and sells a wide variety of medicinal plants and herbs. At Companion Plants, we were given a tour and then had time to wander and explore. The teens heard about jewelweed, a plant that can help build up one's immunity to poison ivy, explored the aromatic herbs growing in Companion Plants' greenhouse and learned that weeping willow tree bark has a chemical component similar to that found in aspirin. After purchasing some plants for the Weinland Park Community Garden, we headed into town to enjoy lunch at a worker-owned cooperative restaurant in Athens. Overall, the trip was a success, a nice break from garden work for the teens and refreshing for them to have an experience together outside of Columbus.

Check back soon for pictures and an update from our experience at this Saturday's Urban Farmer's Market!

Lawn, Compost Bin, AND Water Collection Update

I take back everything I said about my lawn. I think it looks great and I am sticking with my organic fertilizer and pull-the-random-weeds-myself-once-a-week method. It works and I feel good about putting the grass clippings into the compost bin. I have to admit that I did resort to a grub control insecticide (Grub-Ex or something similar) because they were out of control.

I also LOVE and highly recommend a water collection system from Rain Brothers. I have the barrel on a side of the house without a hose/faucet, and it fills up completely in just a few minutes of rain. This really amazes me because it is on the smallest roof of the house. If I was a mathematician, I bet I would have figured out a pretty cool formula. Anyone want to try? I will measure my roof for you!

Here is our updated compost bin; still schnazzy (if I do say so myself), but more efficient. We cut the chicken wire inside, added two hinges, and two locks at the bottom all to create access to the bottom of the compost pile. There is actually beautiful, productive, rich compost down there! Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Got Mildew? Get Milk!

My wonderful neighbor, Stephanie, just sent me this article and link because I am having horrible powdery mildew problems with my zuchinni & yellow & acorn squash. It seems to reek havoc on the plants: it turns the leaves yellow, creates disgusting spots, zaps the plant's productivity, and withers any growing veggies. Not good times.

Gardeners are supposed to mound the soil for their squash plants to avoid this, but I wonder about how sun factors into all of this. I have also noticed that my squash plant that is in an area with less sun, but plenty of room, no irrigation, and a bit of insulation from the fence does not have this issue at all.

As a first resort, I have been cutting off the worst of the leaves, and surprisingly, new leaves and veggies have started to grow! I suspect that the mildew will continue to spread regardless of this small triumph, and I am only getting my hopes up for nothing. We will see.

So here is another method you can try: MILK!

Got Mildew? Get Milk!
By: Arzeena Hamir

Less than 3 years ago, researchers in South America discovered a new alternative to controlling powdery mildew. Wagner Bettiol, a scientist from Brazil, found that weekly sprays of milk controlled powdery mildew in zucchini just as effectively as synthetic fungicides such as fenarimol or benomyl. Not only was milk found to be effective at controlling the disease, it also acted as a foliar fertilizer, boosting the plant's immune system.

Powdery mildew in the cucurbit family is caused by the organism Sphaerotheca fuliginea. It is a serious disease that occurs worldwide. For decades, organic gardeners had to rely on making a spray from baking soda to control the disease. Now, instead of measuring out the baking soda and combining it with a surfactant (a "sticking" substance) of either oil or soap, gardeners need only head for their refrigerators.In his experiments with zucchini plants, Bettiol found that a weekly spray of milk at a concentration of at least 10% (1 part milk to 9 parts water) significantly reduced the severity of powdery mildew infection on the plants by 90%. While some gardeners may be tempted to increase the concentration of milk for more control, Bettiol found that once concentrations rose above 30%, an innoccuous fungus began to grow on the plants.

How does milk control powdery mildew?
Scientist aren't 100% sure how milk works to control this disease. It seems that milk is a natural germicide. In addition, it contains several naturally occurring salts and amino acids that are taken up by the plant. From previous experiments using sodium bicarbonate, potassium phosphate, and other salts, researchers have found that the disease is sensitive to these salts. It is possible then, that milk boosts the plant's immune system to prevent the disease.

Milk used around the world

The benefits of using milk to control powdery mildew haven't been isolated to Brazil. Melon growers in New Zealand are saving thousands of dollars every year by spraying their crops with milk instead of synthetic fungicides. The melon growers in New Zealand have been so successful that the wine industry is taking notice and beginning experiments using milk to control powdery mildew in grapes.

What kind of milk should be used?
In Bettiol's original experiment, fresh milk was used, straight from the cow. However, this is obviously not feasible to most home gardeners. The research work in New Zealand actually found that using skim milk was just as effective. Not only was it cheaper, but the fact that the milk had no fat content meant that there was less chance of any odours.

Wagner Bettiol's original article was published in the journal Crop Science (Vol. 18, 1999, pp. 489-92). It can be found on-line at:

The Author© Copyright Arzeena HamirArzeena is an agronomist and garden writer with Organic Living Newsletter. Subscribe to this free e-newsletter at

Friday, July 25, 2008

Grrr..Japanese Beetles!

I think I have planted enough in my small garden to share with some birds and bugs, but I still find it frustrating to find Japanese beetles munching on my green beans and rhubarb leaves. My grandmother says they also like her roses. They seem to leave the other plants alone.

I have seen those traps/bags here and there, but have heard that they fill extremely quickly (which means they need changed very often) and actually attract JB from all around, instead of just one's personal garden area. My mother's neighbor has said that they literally swarm his arm as he goes to change the bags. YUCK.

My grandmother catches them a jar with a lid, which I think is a great idea. I found some more ideas from this website and the Ohio State Extension service. I have found that they come out in the morning and evening, so you have to be on top of them during those times if you are going use the jar method.

Also, as I was working in the garden this spring, I noticed a gazillion grubs. YUCK again. I am just realizing that those were most likely JB grubs.

Potato Tower Update

Here is the updated tower. As I said in the other post, I have not been able to add the higher levels fast enough, so the plants are drooping down and will be difficult to avoid breaking when I add the additional boards. This is my lessoned learned: stay one step ahead of the tower! The plants seem to grow (no joke) about six inches a day.

By the way, this is the product of only two small seed potatoes!

Spice up your Salad!

Nasturtiums are lovely plants with edible flowers and leaves. They are peppery-spicy, and add a nice taste when mixed into a salad. I have some flowers growing with irrigation and some without, some in full sun and some in shade, and all seem to being doing quite well.

According to wikipedia (buyer beware): "Nasturtiums are also considered widely useful companion plants. They repel a great many cucurbit pests, like squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and several caterpillars. They had a similar range of benefits for brassica plants, especially broccoli and cauliflower. They also attract black fly aphids, and are sometimes planted in the hope of saving crops susceptible to them (as a trap crop). They may also attract beneficial, predatory insects."

I have not had any problems so far with the aforementioned insects, but my uncle has. Perhaps nasturtiums have been helping?

Annual Growing to Green Awards and Harvest Celebration

Harvest Celebration
What: 2008 Growing to Green
Awards Ceremony & Potluck
When: September 17, 2008 6 - 9 p.m.
Where: Franklin Park Conservatory
Garden Pavilion
1777 East Broad Street
RSVP: 614.645.5923 or
• All community gardeners welcome!
• 2008 Scotts Urban Garden Academy graduates
• Anyone who loves gardening and wants to
learn about community gardening
• Anyone who has nominated or been
nominated for any of the awards
• A fresh-from-the-garden potluck dish
• Your own table service and beverage
• Your favorite garden recipe
• Pictures of your 2008 gardens
• Gardening stories from the 2008 growing season
• Garden produce to donate to
Plant A Row For the Hungry.
Come for a fun-filled evening to commemorate the
award-winning gardens and the people who make
them happen! The evening will be highlighted by the
announcement of the 2008 Growing to Green Award winners.
Award Nomination forms available on our website
Deadline for entries is 5pm Friday, August 22, 2008
I know that you know of a deserving garden, gardener or youth to nominate,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

RAD DOG soon to be at Aug2nd Urban Farmers Market!

Rad Dog will be topping their dogs with our community gardening goodness! Another item to note is that Tawd and his adorable family also live in the University Area. Not only is he smart to hook us all up with vegetarian dogs, but he also has cold frames with veggies growing in them on his front lawn--now that's what I call rad! Forget the marigolds, landscape with food! Here's what he has to say about Rad Dog on his website:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nutritious Notes about Zucchini

I am getting a ton of zucchini right now in my garden. Here is some information for you:

Zucchini is low in calories, easily digested and high in vitamin A, potassium and iron. It is an excellent addition to a regular diet and beneficial for those taking medication for high blood pressure as it helps replace lost minerals. Even the blossoms may be eaten during the growing season, excellent in salads.

How to Harvest, Use and Store
Zucchini is best used fresh, as refrigeration reduces flavor. Although zucchini can grow to spectacular sizes the larger the fruit the less flavor. Zucchini skins become thick and tough and the meat spongy and tasteless with large seeds. Unless your end goal is buffet boats or edible veggie bowls it is best to pick them when they are 6 to 10 inches long, softball size for the eight ball variety. The very young fruits are picked with the blossoms still attached as fingerlings and are prized by gourmet gardeners.

Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables in the culinary arts. It can be used raw, steamed, grilled, fried, baked, stuffed, sautéed, pickled or preserved. It is easy to prepare , no peeling required, and can be frozen after minimal preparation for winter use.

(From The Fruit and Vegetable Stand by Barry Ballister, the Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc., 2002--via the weblink:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Liz Christy: Founder of Guerrilla Gardening in NYC

While watching the latest Garden Story, I learned about the original guerrilla gardener, Liz Christy. The community garden that she started in NYC on the corner of Houston and Bowery now honors her name and vision. Go find out more.

This website also has some pretty fantastic 70s photos, like the one above. The 70s in NYC? Can you imagine?

The story seems to go that in 1973, she came upon a fenced in, large rubble-strewn lot that needed some assistance. She couldn't get over the fence, so she threw seed bombs (seeds, water, fertilizer) over the fence to begin her work beautifying the area. Eventually, the city leased the land for $1 to her and her compadres, and thus the garden was born.

We have a similar program in Columbus for leasing land. Some local community gardeners have taken advantage of it: check out the 4 Seasons City Farms website and the One Plot of Land blog when you get a chance. They are beautiful, inspiring, and informative.

If you would like to find out more about guerrilla gardening, there are a wealth of articles out there. Start here (CNN version) or here (PopMatters: international magazine of cultural criticism).

potato power tower

The potato power tower is in full swing. (see previous posting for details)

I finally used some of my grass, leaves, starbucks coffee grounds, and kitchen scrap compost for the base layer, and the plants have gone insane. I can barely keep up with them by adding more wood sides and soil.

I was actually extremely surprised on how well the location worked for the potatos-west side of my house that only gets about 2-3 hours of sunlight. Gardening is just one big experiment.

I have yet to collect any potatoes, but I will let you know!

Garden Story on WOSU

Have you been watching Garden Story on WOSU/PBS? The most recent episode featured community gardens in New York City, especially on the Lower East Side. The episode before that talked about educational gardens. This series is really fantastic.

It makes me think of what my own garden story might be. Have you thought of yours? Do the members of your garden know it's story? Perhaps co-creating and performing a history of the "___" Community Garden would be an exciting and energizing activity for your CG.

Let us know your stories/histories if you get a chance!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Millersport Corn Festival August 27-30th

When I was a little girl our family went to this festival every year. There is nothing better than sweet Ohio corn, salted and covered in butter. There's more than corn! Parades, beautiful Corn Queens, tractor pulls and I am intrigued by this one..."Outhouse Pulls", yikes! Check out their site and put it on your calendar. This would be a great festival to support our local farmers and have a fine time while you do it. I seem to forget about it every year---so this summer I am determined to not miss it!

Ohio Farms, fantastic pick your own database!

DIY Garden Stepping Stones

We made these fun stepping stones as a collaborative art project in our community garden a few weeks ago. There are several different ways to make them. I opted for quickcrete in pizza boxes (make sure you fill the pizza box to the top, as the ones that were shallow didn't work as well). The project was interesting to see, as I made all participants collaborate with people they didn't know. People were forced to get to know one another and it was a nice demonstration of collaborative art. Many of the kids were sad to not have their own stepping stone, but as the days have gone by I've noticed kids searching through the garden to find their stone. I'd like to do more art projects, so any interested artists should contact me. My goal is to have art incorporated into every community garden.

The stones turned out beautifully, but sadly someone ran across many of them while they were still settling. Once we removed them from the box they broke into pieces. We decided to make lemonade out of lemons and are taking the broken pieces and adding them to our "roots" in the bottom of our stone tree path. I think it is going to visually work to have it this way and will be nice to not toss out all of our hard work.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Illumination at Franklin Park Conservatory, 8-8-08

Art and Greenspace in Columbus

James Turrell was born in Los Angeles in 1943. His undergraduate studies at Pomona College focused on psychology and mathematics; only later, in graduate school, did he pursue art. He received an MFA in art from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. Turrell’s work involves explorations in light and space that speak to viewers without words, impacting the eye, body, and mind with the force of a spiritual awakening. “I want to create an atmosphere that can be consciously plumbed with seeing,” says the artist, “like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire.” Informed by his studies in perceptual psychology and optical illusions, Turrell’s work allows us to see ourselves “seeing.” Whether harnessing the light at sunset or transforming the glow of a television set into a fluctuating portal, Turrell’s art places viewers in a realm of pure experience. Situated near the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s Painted Desert is Roden Crater, an extinct volcano the artist has been transforming into a celestial observatory for the past thirty years. Working with cosmological phenomena that have interested man since the dawn of civilization and have prompted responses such as Stonehenge and the Mayan calendar, Turrell’s crater brings the heavens down to earth, linking the actions of people with the movements of planets and distant galaxies. His fascination with the phenomena of light is ultimately connected to a very personal, inward search for mankind’s place in the universe. Influenced by his Quaker faith, which he characterizes as having a “straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime,” Turrell’s art prompts greater self-awareness through a similar discipline of silent contemplation, patience, and meditation. His ethereal installations enlist the common properties of light to communicate feelings of transcendence and the Divine. The recipient of several prestigious awards such as Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, Turrell lives in Arizona.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Consider incorporating edible plants into your yard. It is a great way to add to your kitchen. I really enjoy cooking with vegetables or herbs that I picked just minutes before. It tastes great and is satisfying to know I planted and grew the food on my plate. There are so many great resources online for edible landscaping---food for thought.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

10 Facts of Community Gardening

1. Beautifies the neighborhood
2. Supports local businesses
3. Encourages self-sufficiency
4. Urban community gardening rehabilitates the degraded and chemical ridden soil
Lessens bioaccumalation of harmful chemicals in your body.
5. Safe haven for people and wildlife
6. Gardens create a positive connection between humans and the land
7. Accomplishments in garden create self-esteem
8. Community gardens have been shown to actually increase property values in the immediate vicinity where they are located. In Milwaukee properties within 250 of gardens experienced a decline of $24.77 with every foot and the average garden was estimated to add approximately $9,000 a year to the city tax revenue(Bremer et al, 2003,p. 20; Chicago, 2003, p. 10; Sherer,2006).
9. Reduces the "heat island" effect [Definition: Urban areas that have higher temperatures due to sporadic green areas, tall buildings and narrow streets and waste heat from factories, conditioners and cars. Urban areas have trapped heat.]
Lowers your electric bills.
10. Produces nutritous food
Better for the body.

What are you waiting for? Start your own community garden!

If you have any questions about community gardening and how to start one just ask us. Our blog authors are experienced in community gardening.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gardens in unusual places....


I stumbled across this website and found it very interesting. There are some great articles contrasting urban and rural food production, culture and living. We have fantasized many times about relocating to a rural area, but ultimately we would miss the culture and friends here in the city. With gas prices rising I can rarely see my best friend who lives in Powell. Isolation would not be good for me or my family. Community and Backyard gardening has given me the opportunity to grow my own food, meet new people, co-create beautiful greenspaces and learn more about myself. I have so much more to learn about food production and self reliance.

Urban Farmer's Market Flyer, with photos from WPCG's goodness!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Art and Gardening!

Olivia from Wholly Craft is selling community gardening t-shirts, with all proceeds going back to directly support gardens! She will also be one of our many featured non-garden vendors, along with, Pattycake Bakery, Franklin Park Conservatory, Chef Cortney and many others at the first annual "Urban Farmers Market" on August 2nd, 9-1pm, 1934 N. 4th St., (near the Susie Q). The farmers market's goal is "to promote locally grown vegetables, herbs and flowers from our urban gardens, offer healthy cooking demos utilizing fresh produce and educational gardening workshops to empower our community. All table fees and a percentage of vendor sales will go back to The University Area Enrichment Association's "Community Gardening Fund." Wow, this is your chance to get some great produce and support the local gardening collective---Sweeeet!
I will also be offering two garden related classes during the "Wholly Craft Camp" making "Found Art Garden Stepping Stones" and "Asphalt Gardens", both at Wholly Crafts store. Add some art to your garden!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Urban Gardeners Market
August 2, 9-1pm
1934 N.4th st., Cols, Oh, 43201
Call Catherine Gervis with questions at 371-8232
Vendors? Call or email Jessica Roach at or 424-2283

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Releases Newest All-Region Guide: Community Gardening

Brooklyn, NY—June 18, 2008—Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) announces the release of its newest All-Region Guide, Community Gardening, a comprehensive guide to growing and sustaining community garden programs. Community Gardening is a practical tool written from a broad perspective that mirrors the kaleidoscope of exciting community projects taking place throughout North America. It documents a contemporary social movement while providing practical tips based on the experience of proven programs that supply healthy food, bring neighbors together, and enrich communities. More...