Archive | February 2012

Community Garden Planning Interview Part 2

                                                                                            

Welcome back to Part Two of my interview with Tom Kincaid regarding his experiences with community gardening.

Terry:  How do you decide when to start planting?

Tom:  One member has a planting guide that he got from a gardening source and we use it somewhat.  However, all of us are long time gardeners and pretty well know by now when something needs to be planted or harvested.

Terry:  Anything else you’d like to add?

Tom:  A community garden is very rewarding in that you get to have fresh produce for your table and then get to share with other deserving folk.  It is a way for gardening people to give back to their communities.

Like most projects that include hard work, many show up in the initial stages but it soon comes down to a hardcore group of committed workers.  It is well worth the effort if you have the space and time.

Terry: Can we check in with you and the Good Shepherd Garden throughout the growing season?

Tom: I’d be happy to update you periodically on our progress in the garden this year.

Terry:  Great!  Thanks so very much, Tom, for sharing your advice and experience with us.

I hope our conversation with Tom will assist all who are rolling up their sleeves and digging in the dirt to help those in need.

Please leave any questions you have in the comments section and we’ll get back with you.

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Planning a Community Garden

Many churches and community organizations sponsor community gardens to use their members’ gardening expertise to help people in need.  It’s a wonderful idea, but what does community gardening entail?

I’ve invited my brother, Tom Kincaid, an avid gardener and member of Church of the Good Shepherd, an Episcopal church in Kansas City, to share his experience working in a community garden.

Terry:  Welcome, Tom, and thanks for letting me interview you.  Who does your community garden serve and how long have you participated?

Tom:  I’ve been involved in the Good Shepherd community garden for three years.  It serves the Kansas City Community Kitchen, and in conjunction with Episcopal Services, they feed approximately 500-600 needy people five days per week. We agree to send 50% of everything grown in the garden to the KC Community Kitchen, although it ends up we send closer to 75% of most crops.

Terry:  How big is the garden?

Tom:  The garden is 75 feet by 70 feet. The soil was plowed from pasture land a dozen or more years ago and each year we add more fertilizer and mulch.  It is very good soil.

Terry:  Do you have a water hook-up nearby?

Tom:  We have a water hydrant just about 10 feet from the garden and have long hoses that can reach most parts of the garden.

Terry:  How many people work in the garden and how are the responsibilities divided up?

Tom:  There are five people currently involved with the garden, although most of the work falls to three of us.  One elderly lady works exclusively with the planting and harvesting of the okra.  Another gentleman works almost exclusively with the broccoli, cabbage, and beets.

The garden is divided roughly into quarters with three family units having a quarter and then one quarter is devoted to tomatoes and peppers for all.  The okra is grown in a couple of rows along one side of the garden.  The quarters are rotated in a clockwise fashion each year to prevent repeat planting of crops.  Flowers, usually zinnias and marigolds, are planted at the entrance and the sides of the garden for everyone’s use to cut for arrangements.

Terry:  How do you decide what to plant?

Tom:  We ask the Community Kitchen chef what they need.  Since many area churches also have community gardens, we try to grow produce to meet their specific needs.  For example, we are not growing as many tomato plants since the Community Kitchen gets lots of tomatoes donated during the summer season.  We grow more hot peppers than we did previously.

We also meet as a committee each January or February and review what was grown the previous year and then by consensus we agree on what is to be grown in each of our quarters.

Terry:  What will you plant this year?

Tom:  Our main crops are sweet potatoes, lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes, collard greens, Swiss chard, okra, broccoli, beets, and turnips.  We decided to grow kale for the first time this year.

Some space is left in our quarter for us to grow vegetables that appeal only to us.  In my section, I will grow for my own use some sugar snap peas. We usually share with one another anything that is grown in the garden.  I share produce from my quarter with several elderly folk.

Terry:  Where do you get your seeds and plants?

Tom:  Most of the seeds are acquired from Planters Seed Co located in the River Market area of Kansas City, though some are also purchased from seed catalogs and bought in bulk.

Check in tomorrow and I’ll post the remainder of my interview with Tom.  If you have any questions regarding the community garden, please let me know in the comments section.  See you tomorrow!

Forcing Hyacinth Bulbs

Last week, the hyacinth bulbs I had forced provided a natural aromatherapy.   The combination of beauty and amazing fragrance makes forcing hyacinths a real treat and a great way to beat the winter blues.  The trick is to plan ahead.

  • In September, place newly purchased hyacinth bulbs in a brown sack and set in the crisper section of your refrigerator. The bulbs need a cool, dark area to spend their “winter.”
  • In January, place your bulbs in a container with potting soil.
  • Water and set in a sunny place where the bulbs will think spring has sprung.
  • In a couple weeks, your bulbs will poke their heads through the soil.  Continue watering and watch as they bring spring to your home.

Mark your calendar now so that in September, you will get your hyacinths ready for 2013.  Next winter when the snow is falling and the north wind is blowing, you’ll enjoy springtime in your house.

TIME TO DORMANT SPRAY FRUIT TREES

The weather is warming up a bit and it’s making everyone itchy for spring.  It’s still too early to plant, but lots of other chores can be done to prepare your trees, garden, and yard for the growing season.  Pruning and applying dormant spray to fruit trees and bushes are a couple of those chores.  The temperatures in northern Missouri have been in the 40’s, which is fine for spraying.  Finding a day that isn’t windy has been more of an issue than finding a temperature above 40 degrees.  I’d like for the trees to be saturated with spray and not me!

I used Bonide’s All Season Dormant Spray Concentrate and after reading directions on the back label, decided upon a 3% concentrated solution to spray on our pear and apple trees, cherry bushes, and ornamental shrubs.  I mixed 7 1/2 Tbs of concentrate with 1 gallon of water.  Click on the Bonide link above for specific directions and information on applications.  I marked the calendar when I sprayed to ensure there will be at least two weeks before I spray again.

Spring is just around the corner! It’s so nice to do a few outside chores again.  Happy Spraying!

Garden Journal

The purpose of winter is to plan your spring garden! As our latest snowfall melts here in northern Missouri, I am creating my 2012 Garden Journal.  As a log of my garden’s successes and failures, it will make a handy roadmap next winter when I plan for my 2013 garden.

My first entry is a list of my seed/plant orders so I can track where I got my seeds from and if I’m expecting some plants and sets that will arrive later at their appropriate planting time for my area.  I’ve already received all of my orders except the peanut and sweet potato plants and the Yukon Gold potato sets.

On the second page, I listed the seeds I have purchased at our local stores and the free seeds that I received with my catalog orders.  Listing these out is helps me to decide what additional seeds I want to purchase locally.  A 3 x 5 card makes a handy shopping list.  You never know when you might run into a seed sale!

I”ll post other additions to my garden journal as I make them.

Cap a Hollow Post and Save a Bird

I recently read an article in our local paper about the dangers of open-top posts.  Many fences and signposts are made from PVC  or metal pipe and if their tops are not covered, they become deathtraps to birds seeking to use them as nests.  My husband and I have some metal fences, but fortunately, their tops are covered with a flat slab of metal.  A small screen could just as easily be used–anything to keep a bird or a small animal from falling inside the post.  For more info regarding the hazards of open-top posts to birds, check out the California Audubon website.