Monday, November 26, 2012

Can you say bees, hugelkultur and xeriscaping 3 times fast?

After our screening of Queen of the Sun, there has been lively discussion on bees, colony collapse disorder and how mono-cropping may be a strong contributor to this phenomena.

Take the time to listen to and take care of the honeybees in your neighborhood. Here are some steps that you can take right now to help the bees:
  1. Plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden and yard.
  2. Don’t use chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn or garden.
  3. Buy local, organic food from a farmer that you know.
  4. Bees are thirsty. Put a small basin of fresh water outside your home.
Dovetailing into this conversation was the Ken Burns documentary shown on PBS last week, The Dust Bowl, about the ravages of drought and improper farming techniques in the 1930's.  It's unnerving that from all we've learned, these issues seem as prescient as ever.  

Over the past couple years through my permaculture friends, I kept hearing the word "hugelkulture" and assumed it was some fringe german-speaking garden cult.  Turns out it's a very effective drought-tolerant gardening technique that has been employed at the new eastside market, In.gredients.
I went over the other day to check it out.
planting mounds are formed using wood logs which keep in moisture

Beds created at In.gredients

Beds in action with drip irrigation

Fighting drought on the homefront, the Rollingwood Park Comission has headed up a project to xeriscape the front lawn of City Hall.  This was an issue that came up when we were proposing the community garden and learned that the City of Rollingwood has a limited water supply from the LCRA and over the years has come close to reaching that limit.  The garden uses reclaimed water from a 2500 gallon cistern and if the xeriscape project gets adequate funding, the City will install roofwater reclamation, drip irrigation and a variety of drought tolerant plantings for sun and shade areas.  The City hopes to lead and educate by setting an example of beautiful, smart alternatives to our water-sucking lawns.  I'll keep you posted on ways to get involved.  Go Rollingwood!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fantastic Fall

Hello Garden Friends!  Hoping you are all full of good food and happy thanksgiving hangovers.  I am especially grateful for the wonderful fall bounty and the neighbors that make this garden and community grow

Radish Harvest

Square foot gardening at its finest

sweet peas climbing

Sunday, September 9, 2012

And we're back!

The garden's fall growing season kicked off yesterday morning.  No rain, but the cooler weather was a nice welcome back and hopefully marks a turning point from summer to fall.  

Transplants aren't even out in the nurseries yet, but we're ready to get back in the garden, so we decided to try planting root vegetables from seed.  We planted Radish, Carrots, Beets, Kohlrabi, Scallions, Leeks, Beans and even some Broccoli and Winter greens just to see what happens.

Over the summer, the beds were heavily mulched with pine needles to keep the soil moist.   In July, we planted a cover crop of Buckwheat and Pinto Beans.  When the plants die they get tilled into the soil to add nitrogen and other nutrients.  Nature's Fertilizer!

It was such a joy to get back in the garden with friends, catching up on the summer and new school year.  If you couldn't make it, we'll be back next SATURDAY, 8-10am to continue to plant.  If gardenings not your thing, bring your coffee and the paper and come chill out on a chair under the shade.

This is so much more than growing vegetables-Gardeners AND Slackers welcome!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memoriable (sorry!) day in the garden

 I've heard tell of the legendary hot dog sized caterpillars wreaking havoc on our garden.  Today I got to meet one thanks to the keen eyes of Debbie Perkin's daughter, Courteney.  He was beautiful with tiny flecks of gold along his flanks and way too gelatinous to squish, esp. in front of the children!   My friend Melissa, who happened to be in park with her family, decided to take it home and see if they couldn't get it to cocoon and hatch.  I'll keep you posted on her science experiment.

Lots of visitors in the garden today!  We harvested basil, chard, poblano, banana and bell peppers and it looks like the tomatoes are beginning to ripen!  My favorite visitor was my friend Joy.  She's 5 and super into the garden.  She comes with her grandmother, Misha, and is so helpful and interested in everything.  Becky gave her some sunflower blooms to take home and sundry.
Our first okra!  

APB on dried bamboo.  I can't find any and desperately need some to stake tomatoes!
                       Please let me know if you have or know of some in the hood. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Good things coming in the garden!

Who doesn't love a homegrown tomato?  Early in the spring we decided to max out the plots with as many tomato plants as possible.  We learned how to prune the vines to create more fruit and boy are they happy with the cool, wet spring we've had.   
It's a tomato jungle out there!  

The trick is to keep the tomatoes on the vine until harvest.  We've set up elaborate netted structures to keep out the squirrels and there's a search and destroy mandate on all cutworms, caterpillars and various hopping bugs.   We've had some tomato casualties, but I think were still on the winning end of things. 

In addition were trying a twist on an old classic.  Meet our scarecrow "Rake-chel" 
she's pretty fierce.  I think our new Mayor has a crush...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ladybug Launch on Earth Day!

I have to say, I was not sure who would show up per my typical last minute announcement to free the ladybugs in the garden Sunday evening, I rounded the corner of the playground to find a crowd of parents and kids eagerly awaiting the launch!   We watered down the beds to shoo away pests and give the ladybugs some water, they come in a red mesh bag by the hundreds, it's amazing any of them are still alive.  The kids were so patient and helpful and curious.  We talked about why ladybugs are good for a garden, eating aphids and other pests that eat our plants, and then the fun began.  Tiny hands carefully took the ladybugs to each plant and deposited them around the garden.  It was a beautiful thing to see these young stewards of the earth taking this job so seriously.  Thanks for all who came out to participate.  Hands down one of the best days in the garden and sure to become an annual event!

Photos by Marnie Fitzgerald

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What a busy, beautiful Spring!
It's been a while since I've updated you on the happenings in the garden, so here goes.

Saturday- Ruth, Brett, Becky and I spent a good amount of the morning at the garden.  Designing layout for beds, planting, transplanting and organizing bins (thanks for labeling Ruth!) and visiting with curious kids and adults passing by to taste fresh-picked carrots and radishes.  

As we continue to learn what works and what doesn't in this communal gardening experiment we've decided to lay out beds to get the best yield of vegetables and avoid shading or crowding of plants.  We are also staggering the plantings, adding a bit more each week as previous plants start to grow.  This is more in line with the Squarefoot Gardening method and will allow us to hopefully get consistent yields from a variety of plants.  

It is a bit of an organic process, with discussion and decision making happening on Saturdays from 9-10am, often going on till noon.  If you are interested in participating, I encourage you try and make it over at that time.  This week we planted tomatoes, peppers, green and pole beans.  Next week it's Cilantro, Eggplant, Basil and more Peppers and Tomatoes!

As always, we welcome anyone from the community wanting to get involved in the planting, watering and educational programs to contact us through this website.

Seedlings... Brett and I have been experimenting with starting plants from seed as opposed to buying starter plants.  It's way cheaper and fun!  Brett has had great success with some tomato seedlings that we planted yesterday.  I have had less success with cucumbers, all was going well until I transplanted in compost instead of regular soil and zapped them, the beans seemed to have withstood my heartlessness and will hopefully start climbing up our trellis' soon.
 This is how you start from seeds. Just place a papertowel in bottom of dish, keep moist and near a window

 Beautiful cucumber babies silently screaming that the compost soil was too hot!  Sorry, I'm a new mom 
 Now this guy knows what he's doing

FINALLY- a huge shout out and thanks to the crew that helped paint the new cedar shelving and give a fresh coat to our existing fencing and beds.  THANK YOU Clara, Ellie, Grace, Karen, Grant, Hayden, Riley, Ray, Calvin, Colin and Becky!  You made it a fun, short and relatively painless process.

That's it for now.  
Stay tuned for details on our next movie screening "NO IMPACT MAN"
Friday, April 27th  and KEEP GROWING!