Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grillin' in the Garden

The food-garden connection is not always apparent to people. Many people don't know how a raw potato covered in dirt can become something yummy. That is why I am posting this Ready Made Grill. I have soooo many bricks, it would be neat to donate them to a CG! Then you could have cooking lessons, facilitate garden parties, etc! I found this on Ready Made, so click on the title of this post or the photo to get the specific directions.

Citified Chickens

I have wanted to raise chickens for a long time now. In Oregon, I had a student who would sell me his farm fresh eggs every week and I haven't been able to find a better egg since. The yolks were so amazing and rich-they were deep orange, not yellow. As if that wasn't reason enough, buying local eggs helped to support a young entrepreneur. I have searched at Whole Foods, Kroger, Giant Eagle, and Trader Joes, and I haven't been able to find any eggs that come directly from the Central Ohio Region.
I think it would be quite an adventure to add chickens to a community garden. I wonder if it would work?

This article from the dispatch talks about raising chickens within Columbus city limits, so at least we know it is legal! Click on the title of this post to find out more.
This is the first step to egg heaven.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Cornell Formula for Powdery Mildew

On the ACGA listserv, a local CG from City Farms and the Garden of CAYNDness asked about powdery mildew. People answered from all around the states to suggest the Cornell Formula, a natural, baking-soda based spray developed at that University that has shown success against even black spot. Here it is:

In one gallon of water, mix and repeatedly shake:

1 tablespoon baking soda.
2 drops dishwashing liquid or insecticidal soap.
1 tablespoon oil. You can use vegetable oil, but 'horticultural oil' will work better, especially one of the new lighter-weight "summer oils". (Cowboy Gardeners: Do NOT use motor oil or WD-40 or any other such foolish thing.)

I wasn't sure what these oils were about, but I found these commercial brands at Colorado State Extension (SunsprayR, ScalecideR, VolckR), as well as a detailed explanation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ready Made Blog

How about some seating in your community garden?! This project is available on http://readymade.com/.

Striped Cucumber Beetle

Grrr...my garden is taking a beating this year.

This will definitely take some reflection on my part.
In the meantime, I have discovered what is getting after my cucumbers. It is the Striped Cucumber Beetle. They are having a grand time on my plants.

I originally thought it was the Squash Vine Borer, but when I dissected the stem for larvae, there weren't any.

By the way, dissecting my stem meant cutting it off at the base. It really didn't matter anyway because the plant was completely withered and brown and dying anyway.
Click on the link to see the photos of the likely beetle eggs and withered cucumbers.

I have a bad feeling I will have to refer to this website often to figure out which pest is bothering which plant, but at least it is a good site.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Partners to take part in 'carrot caravan'

A tour of three community gardens in Columbus will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday. Dubbed the "carrot caravan," the tour is part of the Three Sisters Community Garden Partnership, a collaboration of three community gardens: the Native American Indian Center Community Garden, the Horn of Africa Community Garden and the East 5th Avenue Urban Women's Community Garden.

Members host monthly potluck dinners and discuss ideas, needs and objectives.
Three Sisters Community Garden Partnership received a grant this summer for garden enhancement and expansion from Yes To Carrots.

Yes To Carrots is an Israel company that produces natural skin and hair-care products that combine anti-oxidants from organic fruits and vegetables with 26 minerals harvested from Israel's Dead Sea.

The "carrot caravan" is free, but attendees must provide their own transportation between gardens.

The tour will begin at 9 a.m. at the Horn of Africa Community Garden, 2154 Eddystone Ave., and continue to the East 5th Avenue garden, 3025 E. 5th Ave., and finish at the Native American Garden, 67 E. Innis Ave. tferan@dispatch.com


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CAC-Another Amazing Resource for CG

I see this blog as sort of a locker of ideas, some that are worth going back to reconsider later when the right time comes. I think I just found a jewel of a resource for community gardening. They have welcome letters for gardeners, a timeline for the garden, and so much more. WOW.

Garden Works

I cannot believe how many great resources are on this Minneapolis based site for community gardening. Check it out.


Wow. This is a community garden that has it all (except for a fantastic teen program like Trish's Godman Guild/Weiland Park CG). Click on the title of this post to go to their site and see what a deeply meaningful, organized, and well run a 60 year old community garden looks like.

You Grow Girl Was Here!

Click on the title of this blog to see Gayla Trail's blog entry about Columbus Community Gardening from her perspective.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I just found out about this festival when we took our trip to Companion Plants. I've heard from many people that it's a great Ohio festival! We're making the road trip, so stay tuned for the full report! What is a Paw Paw you ask?

"The North American native pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a temperate tree fruit in the mostly tropical custard apple family, Annonaceae. Pawpaw is also a common name for papaya (Carica papaya), a tropical fruit in the family Caricaceae. The two fruits are very different from each other, but some pawpaws do have a papaya-like flavor. For further description of pawpaw, see http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/default.htm."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Urban Farmers Market---it's about feeling good!

Well, we've all had a week to think about our wonderful farmers market that we coordinated last weekend. The event was everything we'd hoped and planned for---A place for everyone in the community to come and learn more about healthy cooking, gardening, eat and buy delicious food and have fun! Our cooking demonstrations were great and all incorporated produce from the community gardeners stands. The crowd also commented on how they were pleased with the diversity of vendors, AmyD, Wholly Craft, Pattycake, RadDog and Snowville Creamery.The next farmers market will continue to feature our local chefs and urban farmer-superstars! I photographed the event and there was an overwhelming theme in the comments about the market...."It was nice to see people, talk, the produce and flowers were beautiful, the cooking and garden demonstrations were informative and it was fun." That is what community gardening should have at it's core, enjoyment, feeling good, connection to the people in your neighborhood and good food! See you at our next farmers market, where we will learn more about cold weather crops, new recipes and vermiculture! I have included portraits of the folks that attended the market and some of our wonderful produce.

Wrong Wrong Wrong

Previously, I thought my squash plants were suffering from powdery mildew. And maybe they were, but that was an after effect of being weakened by something else. That something else: the disgusting, awful, sickening Squash Vine Borer. YUCK.

Hey there he is. OH! And he brought along a friend. How nice. They sure do look fat and happy. Hmmm? What's that? It is because they have been tunneling up and down inside my plants eating as they go? Oh, no wonder they look so pleased with themselves.

Here are some sign to look for:

sawdust material

eggs? (maybe-I am inferring with this one)
plants/fruits that look sucked dry

I discovered this by reading The Backyard Gardening Blog. He has some great suggestions on how to treat them, and the entomology behind the grubs.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Support Community Garden Research: Take this survey

Dear Fellow Community Gardener,

I would like to invite you to participate in a research study about perception of community gardens. My name is Melissa Surratt, and I am a graduate student at Cornell University. I am conducting this research for my Masters thesis.

If you choose to participate, you will be entered into a drawing for a FREE iPOD SHUFFLE!!! There are FOUR chances to win!

• The survey will take less than 20 minutes to complete.
• You will not be asked any information that could be used to identify you.
• Completing this survey is voluntary.

Click on this link to take the survey: Cornell Community Garden Survey

or paste this address into you're your browser:

Your participation is extremely valuable! Responses can help increase understanding of how neighborhoods can be better designed.

Thank you in advance for your consideration to participate in this research. I hope you will consider forwarding this invitation on to others!

Melissa Surratt
M.S. Candidate '08
Applied Research in Human-Environment Relations
Department of Design and Environmental Analysis
Cornell University

Monday, August 4, 2008

Garden Tools

Here are some helpful tips to caring for your helpful garden tools from The Garden Helper:

  • Always remove all of the soil from your digging tools after each use.Usually hosing is all it takes, but use a screwdriver to remove dried mud.

  • Never put your tools away wet. Allow them to dry completely before storing to prevent rusting and handle rot.Once each garden season, rub linseed oil into your wooden handles to help preserve them.

  • After each use, wipe the metal parts of pruners, shears, and loppers with an oily rag. Alternately, you can wipe your tools dry with a clean rag, and then spray lightly with a penetrating oil such as WD40

  • Sharpen your cutting tools as well as the blades of shovels and spades during the gardening season. A hone or whetstone should be used for sharpening cutting tools. A file should be used to remove nicks and smooth the edge of your shovels and trowels.

  • Thoroughly clean any tools which have been used for chemical applications. Fertilizers and other chemicals will rapidly corrode any metal parts.

  • For extra rust prevention, fill a 5 gallon bucket with builders sand and pour a quart of new motor oil over it. Use this as a shovel cleaner/oiler each time you put your tools away. Push each tool into the oily sand several times. You can also use this bucket as a shovel stand.

If you would like more information, you can check out my previous posting.

This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader

I am reading a fantastic book by Joan Dye Gussow that my friend Elaine gave to me. Thanks, Elaine! Gussow's narrative is informational and engaging. By page 40, I have already learned how to grow and store sweet potatoes, how to garden to feed yourself for the whole year, and a great technique for building up soil. I can't wait to find out more.

Raised beds and double-digging

I recently discovered what double digging really means, and wanted to share, so here is some information for you:

This is the best way of preparing square foot beds. It's hard work, but these beds are small, and if your soil is quite good it won't break your back. If the soil is bad, this is how to fix it once and for all. You only need to do it once, never again.

You need a digging spade and probably a digging fork (or spading fork). D-handled tools are best for this. If the cutting edge of the spade is blunt and burred, sharpen it.

Mark off where you want the beds. Leave space for 15-18-inch-wide paths. Cover the path area with boards so you don't compact the soil by trampling it too much.

Cover the whole surface of the bed with a layer of compost (up to 3" thick), and sprinkle some ground limestone over it (or garden lime if you can't get ground limestone) -- a thin sprinkling, like icing sugar on a sponge cake.

Start by digging a trench across one end of the bed a spade deep and a spade wide. Take thin slices (try half an inch), mixing in the compost as you go. Thin slices are much easier on your back and mix the soil better.

Put the soil in a bucket or a wheelbarrow and dump it at the far end of the bed. Cover the bottom of the trench with another 3" layer of compost sprinkled with lime. If the soil in the bottom of the trench is fairly soft, use the spade to loosen it, again a spade deep, mixing in the compost as much as possible. If it's too hard for a spade, use the fork instead.

Now dig a second trench alongside the first one (thin slices!), moving the soil into the first trench, mixing it well. Compost the bottom of the second trench, dig it or fork it, then dig a third trench, and so on right down the length of the bed. You're left with an open trench at the end, which you fill with the soil from the first trench.

Now you've loosened and conditioned the soil to a depth of about 16" and added about 6" of compost, and loosening the soil will have added some height, so the surface of the bed will be at least 6" higher than the path.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nutrition: Home Vegetable Gardens on the Rise

This fantastic article by Christina Gillham in Newsweek supports the ideas behind community gardens:

Yvette Roman and Fred Davis’s 1,300-square-foot front yard stands out from the grass lawns that are typical of their suburban Los Angeles neighborhood. Two large raised vegetable beds that contain colored rows of bell peppers, basil, parsley, purple cauliflower, two kinds of broccoli, onions, leeks, beets, four kinds of potatoes and three kinds of tomato plants dominate the yard. Climbing up a trellis are concord grapes, melons and pole beans. Near the driveway, there is another bed that holds tomatoes, tomatillos and Swiss chard, and Meyer lemon, tangerine and lime trees.

Roman, 43, and Davis, 44, started the vegetable garden just over a year ago (the backyard is reserved for their dogs and barbecuing) as a way to reduce their carbon footprint by eating locally and to ensure that their food supply was as healthy (read: pesticide-free) and as safe as possible. “Growing organically is super important to us,” says Roman. To read more about the Roman/Davis garden, log onto their blog.

Long a hobby among retirees, vegetable gardening is gaining popularity with a younger set of green thumbs. Many home growers are concerned about recent salmonella and E. coli outbreaks in store-bought produce and the widespread use of pesticides. “As we’ve gone toward a global food chain and away from local farming, a lot of people have become concerned about food standards,” says Robert LaGasse, executive director of the Garden Writers Association (gardenwriters.org).

If the thought of picking healthy, fresh produce right outside your door sounds appealing but somewhat daunting, Charlie Nardozzi, a senior horticulturist at the National Gardening Association (garden.org), suggests starting small, with some raised beds in an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. A 5- by 10-foot bed can fit a row of beans, a squash plant, a cucumber plant and some rows of carrots and lettuce. Save some space for a few tomato plants for next year—it’s too late to grow them for this season. If you have limited sunlight, stick to lettuces and root crops.

For soil, use organic compost or a combination of compost and topsoil. Buy organic seeds from seedsofchange.com or johnnysseeds.com (for more on growing organically, log onto organicgardeninfo.com). First-timers might also consider transplants or seedlings, says Nardozzi, which you can get from a garden center. City dwellers can grow vegetables in containers on a balcony or a sunny windowsill—tomatoes, peppers, carrots and lettuces are plants that do well in containers.

Check with your local Master Gardeners association (find one at ahs.org) to make sure the vegetables and fruit you want to grow are right for your region.

"Diospyros Virginiana" aka Persimmon Tree

Yesterday our Farmers Market was a hit! Many people came from the neighborhood to enjoy our produce, stuffed lavender animals, sweets and aprons. The cooking demonstrations lead by local chefs were fantastic. I now have some new recipes to take food strait from my garden to my table in literally 15 minutes! Fast and Delicious...that's what I'm talking about! We also had some wonderful workshops on Rain Barrels and extended growing seasons. I had no doubt that the Urban Farmers Market would be a success, but it surpassed that. One of the best parts of the day you ask? I had many people from the neighborhood wanting to contribute in some way. They didn't have enough for their own table or enough time. Instead, they thought of us and contributed what they had from their own yards. I appreciated the thought and support. Proceeds went to a "University Area Community Gardening Fund" managed by Catherine Gervis at the University Area Enrichment Association. Residents of the University Area who become members of the garden collective can apply for mentoring and financial help for their gardens. Wonderful! There were many folks that contributed to this fund. Greg Hostettler is an alumni of The Weinland Park Community Garden and he thoughtfully gave up one of his beautiful eggplants, Kale and two Persimmon Tree plants. I left the market feeling happy and most importantly feeling connected to the people in my neighborhood. Thank you.
Check out some great information on the Persimmon at www.persimmonpudding.com

Now is the perfect time to plant!

Now is the perfect time to plant for your Fall crops. We are all enjoying our summer goodies, but don't forget the growing season is not over. It is easy for us to get into the mindset that we can only grow food during summer, but actually we have all year. Carrots, Cabbage and Spinach are just a mention of the items you can continue to enjoy in your garden all year. Read your seed packages and look at your states frost date. From that information, just add 14 days to the seed germination. It takes longer with the Fall sun and hot August temps for seeds to sprout. Once planting the seeds, go slightly deeper, cover with hay or mulch to protect from the heat and water well. We all have the option to grow into Winter if we choose---How exciting! Instead of taking whatever produce we can get at Giant Eagle...we can just grow our own!
Check out www.garden.org for The National Gardening Association's articles on "extended growing season, fall and winter crops, edible landscaping...."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ann Fisher article on our garden and Amber Rollie

I read this article today and it made me feel emotional reflecting back on all of the time we've spent together in the garden. I have watched my teens grow and change over the years into strong men and women. Amber Rollie is one of many teens who has developed into a leader in the community and in her own life. There is often a stereotype that teens are lazy and can't be counted on to do their work. I have had many teens that others would give up on and some that are stellar from the start. They need for all of us to have faith in them and to mentor them into the people they already are---their best. If you don't expect the best, you are saying to the teens that you don't believe in their potential. Our teens have immense potential to make change in Columbus, Ohio. It is happening right now as I type. It gives me hope and leaves me full of pride.

Community garden flourishes as young people learn skills, values
Friday, August 1, 2008 3:17 AM
Shaquaiel Reid, 14, works in the Weinland Park Community Garden at the Godman Guild, where teenagers learn more than just gardening.


Shaquaiel Reid, 14, works in the Weinland Park Community Garden at the Godman Guild, where teenagers learn more than just gardening.

Rico Wright, 17, works on the garden's compost pile. The Whetstone High School student is one of 17 young people, most ages 16 to 18, working in the garden this summer. They weed, plant, water and hoe 25 hours a week for $7 an hour.

Courtney Hergesheimer Dispatch

Rico Wright, 17, works on the garden's compost pile. The Whetstone High School student is one of 17 young people, most ages 16 to 18, working in the garden this summer. They weed, plant, water and hoe 25 hours a week for $7 an hour.

The Urban Farmer's Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 1934 N. 4th St. will include items the teens tended in the garden.

The Urban Farmer's Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 1934 N. 4th St. will include items the teens tended in the garden.
Amber Rollie is a good tour guide; her enthusiasm shows.

When something in particular pleases her about the Weinland Park Community Garden at the Godman Guild on 6th Avenue -- and nearly everything does -- her voice lilts. The 17-year-old smiles and, occasionally, reaches out to squeeze your arm.

Maybe it's the soap that was made from the herb garden or the Swiss chard being grown for a Short North restaurant. Rollie loves the sunflowers and zinnias, especially the multicolored "tie-dye" varieties that gush from the beds along the west side of the Godman Guild settlement house.

She wants you to notice the half-circle shape of the main garden at the southwest corner of the Godman property in the University District. And Rollie talks about the butterfly garden near the newly painted chain-link fence as if she's cradling the blossoms in her arms.

The peppers and tomatoes, the lettuce and lavender -- all of it mattered during a recent tour through the symmetrical beds and along the stone path designed to mimic the branches of a nearby shade tree.

Rollie points out the raised stage and the mural behind it, which depicts the four seasons of the 3-year-old garden; the new community-calendar kiosk; the tool shed; and the Kelly green benches and picnic tables, all donated by local artists and businesses.

She also stops at the circular "pizza" garden -- basil, oregano and tomatoes -- planted for younger Godman day campers. And about that time in the tour, Rollie, a 2008 graduate of Westerville South High School, pauses to regard her three-year relationship with the garden.

Godman Guild social worker Trisha Dehnbostel started the project four years ago with the idea that she could use the garden to teach teenagers about life well-lived. They learn how to start and finish something, how to get a job and sell produce to a restaurant chef. They learn how to dress, how to make eye contact, how to greet a newcomer to their garden.

"We have learned life values," said Rollie, who heads to Wright State University this fall. "When I first came here, I was shy. I did not want to talk to anybody. I was pretty much in my own little world." Her eyes filled with tears, and her smile drooped just a bit.

"If I start crying, you just stop me, OK?"

This summer, the Godman program has employed 17 young people, most between 16 and 18 years old. They work 25 hours a week for $7 an hour. They weed and hoe, water and plant, plan and watch and wait and fuss.

Maybe they won't notice right away, although I suspect that Rollie does, that they are the garden, and the garden is them -- the dirt, the mulch, the seeds and weeds.

The mayor's new GreenSpot program wasn't created just to denote enviro-conscious businesses; there's also a community-group category. I nominate Weinland Park Community Garden, where children grow the plants and plants grow the children.

Meet them yourself from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the first Urban Farmer's Market, at 1934 N. 4th St. There will be local food and music. Proceeds go to a community-garden fund.

Ann Fisher is a Dispatch Metro columnist. She can be reached at 614-461-8759 or by e-mail.