Monday, December 6, 2010

Final work day of 2010

On Saturday, we got a little bit of sun and a few hours of slightly warmer weather for our last work day.  Actually, our work day (for me, Nathan, and Tracy) only lasted about 45 minutes, because by now most of the remaining plants were completely dried out and there weren't too many leaves to collect (I imagine they blew away). 

The really good news was that we actually harvested a few greens from the garden, for a final harvest.  We were able to pick a handful of chard leaves, and a couple dinosaur kale leaves.  There were two tomatillos still buried in the husks of their bushes, too. We left the green plants, the chard and kale, to see how much longer they'll stay alive.

Here is Nathan picking a little chard (it probably finally froze last night):



and Tracy with the wagon and bags of leaves (and Noah with his scooter).  It all looks so brown and bare now, but we'll have it plenty green by May/June.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Last work day of 2010, Saturday, December 4 (and good news for 2011)

I know it's December, which is not exactly a month that conjures thoughts of gardening, but every garden needs a little bit of tending before winter truly descends.  Tomorrow (Saturday) from 11am - noon, we'll be at the garden, pulling out old plants and bagging leaves.  It shouldn't take us very long, but an extra hand or two will make it go even faster.

As some of you know, the Village at Brookline, which owns the property on which the 200 Foot Garden sits, got a new property manager, Joe, this fall.  I met with him earlier this week, and he's fully supportive of the project continuing.  So the garden will continue to grow for at least another year.  The roof on the greenhouse has already been repaired, and Joe is checking into the possibility of installing a ventilation fan that would make it possible for us to more effectively use the greenhouse in the spring (without a new fan, the greenhouse is actually not usable for us anymore). 

Thanks to all the folks who have supported and helped the garden this year.  This winter will offer us some chance to reflect on what changes to make for next year and to start studying seed catalogs when they start to arrive in the new year.  I hope to see some of you tomorrow and very much look forward to working with you next spring when it'll be time to start the seeds for the third year of the 200 Foot Garden.

(P.S.  Our main source of funding for seeds and fertilizer is our own pockets.  If you want to help us pay for seeds for next year's garden, you can hit the donate button on the right.  Every little bit helps.  Thanks!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Last Cucumber of 2010

On Sunday, Noah, Tracy, and I headed over to the garden to start the end of season cleanup.  The clumps of tomato and tomatillo plants were still green and alive, though the weather's too cold for the tomatoes to ripen.  We took down some of the tomato plants and pulled old vines off the fence, until we ran out of bags.

I was surprised to find a few more mini-eggplants still on the plants.  We also picked some green tomatoes (there are still some out there, if you're interested).  The biggest surprise, however, came when I started pulling down the cucumber vines that had grown up into the maple trees by the garden.  At the end of one vine, was a big cucumber, probably 8-10 inches long, and still good.  We had it for dinner last night, and it was delicious.


We'll head out again in another two weeks, with more bags this time, and pick up the autumn leaves and take down the rest of the tomatoes and most of other plants.  The dinosaur kale still looks good and should make it all the way until Thanksgiving.


My son, Noah, should win a special award this year--he came to the garden to help probably as much or more than anyone else (and often willingly).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Season winding down

We're at the tail end of three days of rain.  (Where was all that rain when we needed it, this summer?)  But the temperatures continue to be fairly mild, and I don't see any frost in the 10-day forecast for Boston.  So the garden will continue to stay green for a few more weeks.  The greens will keep growing and will actually like this cool weather, especially the dinosaur kale.  The peas I planted got a bit fried by the hot, dry weather a few weeks ago, so I don't think they're going to produce.  There are still a few rogue cucumber vines that are still alive (especially the ones climbing in the maple trees), but we won't see any cucumbers from them.  The same is true for the summer squash plants.  We still have some green tomatoes on the bushes, but I don't think they're likely to ripen very much, though I saw an orange cherry tomato there yesterday.  I'm curious to see if the rain followed by some sun and slightly warm weather might give us a boost in a few of the plants. 

I'll try to post some photos soon, once the rain finally starts. 

I found out that the building complex has a new property manager, so we'll see what impact that has on the project.  Too soon to say.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bountiful Brookline Edible Garden Tour

Yesterday, from 1-4pm, we were part of Bountiful Brookline's first Edible Garden Tour, where they pulled together eight gardens from around Brookline and set up a self-guided tour (it was both fun and a fundraiser for them).

I hung out with Nathan and a Val, a volunteer garden ambassador for Bountiful Brookline, a freshman from BU, and talked with visitors about what we're growing and why.  Tracy and Noah helped out, too.  We had at least 38 ticket-holding tour members stop by to admire our handiwork, and there were plenty of other neighbors who stopped by to visit and ask questions, too.

One fun discovery we made while showing visitors around was a cucumber vine that had climbed into the maple tree next to the fence and extended at least 10 feet above the ground.  I also got to show a few interested women how to hand pollinate squash (plant sex right on the streets of Brookline!).

There are still plenty of plants growing, though we've taken out most of the cucumbers.  Fall snow peas are getting taller and will attach to the fence soon.

We also have some mini eggplants (they're supposed to be small):


and one hardy tatume squash that hadn't been picked yet:

I hope that some of the visitors who stopped by will volunteer to help out with next year's garden.  We set out a "Seed Fund" jar for donations, and picked up about $9.  Which will help (it costs about $65-$75 just to buy seeds for the garden).

Thanks very much to everyone who showed up to visit!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

more watering, more picking

Noah and I watered today, trying to beat the heat, as we start another heat wave with 4 days predicted to be above 90 degrees.  The water we had last week was great, but we're back to drought again, with no serious rain in the 10-day forecast.  Lucky thing we have a couple weekend team people still on board, plus our Monday team, plus our Wednesday workdays.

We did pick a bunch of green beans, two lovely lemon-apple cucumbers, two stunted lemon cucumbers (which I ate anyway, on the spot, and were just the snack I needed), and a lovely pickling cucumber.  Oh, and an actual red tomatoes.  A small brandywine tomato had escaped detection from all passersby, as well as all the folks who keep picking the tomatoes green (please, please, please let some turn red).

We were out there for a while, but people weren't very chatty today.  Usually, people stop to comment or ask questions, but today people were trying to beat the heat, I guess, or thinking about the start of school.

The eggplants are looking good.  The fruit actually is starting to look like eggplant now, which is exciting.  And the snow peas that I planted have sprouted.  I'm considering planting more, but I'm waiting for the cucumbers to definitely quit, and they don't quite seem ready to give up the ghost yet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rain, Rain, Rain

We had a quiet work day last Wednesday, with just me and Noah there.  We've been watering a lot lately, to try to keep the plants alive despite the drought we've been having.

I did finally come to understand why we aren't seeing many ripe tomatoes--people are picking them green to fry them.  I bumped into a woman picking some, and got reports of other people doing so, too.  Which is fine.  But I wish they'd leave some to ripen all the way, just so we could have a little bright red on the wall of green.

The eggplants are starting to develop nicely.  And the cucumbers are struggling along, despite being decimated by powdery mildew.  We've picked off a lot of crispy, powdery leaves, but really got started too late.

The good news is that the drought has given way to some serious rain.  It's rained a lot over the past two days and is likely to rain more tomorrow.  It'd be nice if it'd get spaced out a little, instead of all at once, but I think it's likely to help the plants get through the next few weeks a lot better.  Plus, the peas that I planted on Saturday should sprout a lot easier now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Perfect Lemon-Apple Cucumber

We had a lovely night at the 200 Foot Garden tonight.  Noah and I went to work and water and were joined by Leslie and Tova, and Elizabeth and David and their two sons, Sebastian and Isaiah.  The watering went fast with so many hands, though it's clear that the plants just aren't able to produce as much as we'd like because of the drought and heat.  I wish that we were able to water more often, and am thinking about trying to make sure we can get over there every day for a week or two and see if the productivity will rise.

As we were leaving, I checked along the back of the fence and found two lemon-apple cucumbers.  This one in particular is just perfect--orange and yellow, dense but with delicate skin.  I think it'll be my lunch tomorrow.

Word Day today

We have a work day this evening at 6:30 pm at the garden (99 Kent Street).  Last week, we had a great turnout with about a dozen people (half of them children).  All those extra hands made the watering go fast.  The weather has been tough--so hot and dry--but the plants are still growing strong.  Like a lot of vegetable gardens, we're fighting powdery mildew and had to take out some of the cucumber plants.  With any luck, it won't get too bad.

We'll be picking cucumbers, green beans, and maybe some tomatoes (though tomatoes don't last long).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Visiting Students

This morning three high school students taking part in a Bountiful Brookline teen summer program came with BB intern Marianna, to take a look at the 200 Foot Garden.  They were good listeners, as I explained the philosophy of our garden and walked them through all the plants.  We even picked and ate a couple ripe lemon apple cucumbers.

(left to right:  Pema, Jamie, Dexter, and Marianna)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Very cool worm composting site

I'm trying to pack up and make sure I'm ready for tomorrow's PlanetHugger-Boston expo (I'll be giving two talks on vermicomposting (worms) and two on the 200 Foot Garden).  In looking for cool web sites about worms, I found this one:

http://www.redwormcomposting.com/

This guy is amazing.  Talk about someone who is thoroughly exploring and experimenting.  If you're thinking about doing worm composting, check out this site.

Making Worm/Compost Tea rawutah.com

A lot of people have asked about how to make worm tea.  Here's a video from YouTube that lays it out pretty well.  I saw this and started following his process, almost exactly.  It seems to be working pretty well so far.  One thing to be cautious about is letting it sit without aeration for too long--it'll start to ferment and get smelly.  You can buy expensive gadgets that'll do this same thing (for hundreds of dollars), but you can set this up for about $20.


Another good workday

On Wednesday, we had another productive work day at the garden.  Jeff and I were there (along with my son, Noah) to water and feed the plants.  We were joined by a Carleen, a neighbor on her way home from work, who pitched in and helped me get worm tea on the plants and haul water, while Jeff tied up the cucumbers to the fence to keep them off the peppers.  One of the things I like most about the 200 Foot Garden is chatting with neighbors and having people just jump in and help.


We picked a few beans, but not many.  The cucumbers are looking good, as are the squash.  If we get enough pollinators in, I think we could have quite a crop.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Come to PlanetHugger this weekend


At the World Trade Center this weekend in Boston, you can come check out the PlanetHugger Boston event, which is:

PlanetHugger Boston 2010 is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and empowering children and adults, individuals and families, urbanites and small town folks to come together in their communities and workplaces to create a more sustainable planet for future generations. This year’s PlanetHugger Boston festival will be held at the Seaport World Trade Center on July 24th and 25th.
I'll be there on Saturday, talking about the 200 Foot Garden and leading a few workshops on composting with worms.   There will be all kinds of speakers, including Ed Begley Jr. and Tom Chapin, and lots of booths and exhibits.

Could be fun and informative.  Plus I'm sure there will be green swag.

Come check it out.  (And be sure to come say Hi.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

great article on a teen who's farming her yard

My friend Tina, sent me info on this article in the NY Times about a Michigan teenager who is farming her yard and has set up her own CSA.  (Of course, it helps if you have a yard enough to dig up a half acre of it for a garden.  A half acre!  That sounds like a dream come true for me.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Slightly Wet Work Day

Despite the drizzle this evening, Jeff and I put in some time for our regular work day at the garden.  Today our big focus was on tying up tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash that were flopping over on the short front row of peppers and eggplants and smothering them.  But some twine will help train everything back up to the fence.  And the tomatoes are looking great--nice thick stems, lots of leaves and fruit.  It should be an excellent harvest in a few weeks.

Speaking of harvest, we did pick two perfectly lovely lemon apple cucumbers.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Jeff kept one and we gave another away to a man who gardens at the local Korean church--he'd never seen a lemon apple cucumber before, but we assured him it really was a cucumber (he was skeptical).  We also found one red cherry tomato, and picked a few handfuls of beans.  The beans don't get a lot of sun (they're on shady fence blocks), which is probably suppressing the harvest.

The rain over the past few days has really been a boon for the garden.  The leaves on the plants are green and huge.  The eggplants look especially promising.  We fed some of the plants with my high-powered worm tea, though the tea had been sitting without aeration for all of today, and you could smell that it was beginning to ferment, sort of like a mead or worm beer (okay, that's a little gross, I know, but I'm hoping the plants will love it).  It's been nice to have a break from watering, but the 10-day forecast shows lots of hot, sunny days ahead, so it'll be time to get the watering cans back out soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More Harvesting (and lots of watering)

We're getting sprinkles right now, but no serious rain.  We haven't had more than a quarter inch of rain at a pop for more than a month.  Luckily, we have a core of volunteer waterers who keep helping keep the plants alive and thriving.

Yesterday, I watered the whole garden in the evening.  Of the three lemon apple cucumbers I'd seen on Wednesday, only one was left.  So I picked it.  It's a beauty, and I think we'll have it in our salad tonight.  I heard that there were some red cherry tomatoes, but they had been picked.  Someone had harvested some of the dinosaur kale, too, which is great. 

Kelly was planning to water this morning, and I asked her to pick pole beans while she was at it.  As long as we keep up with them, they'll keep producing.

I need to get over there with some twine this week and start tying the tomato plants up to the fence--they're starting to smother the peppers and eggplants.  And some of the cucumbers are really working their way towards the sidewalk, too.

I saw a bunch of friends while watering last night, and also met Barbara, a resident of the nearby apartment building.  She was happy to chat and informed me that she was 82 years old .  I picked her a bouquet of golden chard leaves and told her how to give them a quick stir fry with olive oil and garlic.

If we can pick up a moderate amount of rain, the plants will really surge, even more.  I look forward to sharing more veggies with the neighbors.  (Note to self:  I need to update our signs.)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Good Work Days (stuff is growing!)

I've been remiss in reporting on progress at the 200 Foot Garden.  Two weeks ago, Leslie and Tova brought some friends to help out on our Wednesday work day, and we watered and did some weeding and picked snow peas.  This past Wednesday, Jeff and I were there for the work day, and we watered with some of my new high powered worm tea, and we also took down the snow peas, which were mostly finished for the season.  Taking them down gives some light and room for the squash behind them to start growing and climbing.  In the process of taking them down, Jeff and I each were able to harvest a good amount of pea pods.  (I cooked ours up for dinner tonight, and they were delicious!)


Here are some photos from this week's work day.  Here you can see that it's greened up nicely.  Here we have squash about to hit the fence and cherry tomatoes in front, with a scattering of marigolds.


Here is our best looking dinsoaur kale, with more to come soon.  This one started in the greenhouse.  The tomatoes, some of the kale, and the eggplant all seemed to have survived the greenhouse experience pretty well.  The cucumbers and squash did better being started outdoors, from seed.

Here is some of the golden chard that's thriving.  (It also started in the greenhouse.)  For some reason the rainbow chard hasn't done as well yet.  A mystery.
Behind the chard, you can see pole beans starting to work their way up the fence (they're already producing beans).

The tomatoes are setting fruit very nicely now.  Eggplants are starting to finally leaf out, with the hot weather.  The cucumbers, especially the lemon cucumbers, are also really starting to hit their stride.  I think we've got two or three more weeks until we start harvesting much of anything besides pole beans (and even that isn't much).

Right now our biggest challenge is water.  There's no rain in the forecast for a while, and the spigot we were using got so leaky that they capped it.  Hopefully they'll repair it.  For now, we have to use the bathroom at the apartment building, which is just a little bit tougher.  But we'll figure it out.

We're at the garden every Wednesday at 6:30 pm for watering, weeding, and picking, so please come join us.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wednesday Work Days start tomorrow

We've decided to have a regular work day every week, so we can get some weeding, harvesting, watering, and other chores done.  We have some watering teams in place for other days, but the Wednesday work days will have a bigger variety of work and make sure we're always at the garden at a regular time.  I think that'll make it easier for new people to find us (we'll put up a sign telling people to show up on Wednesday at 6:30pm if they want to help out).

So--if you're free tomorrow, I hope you'll come on by the garden and help out.  (I won't be there--Allison will be running the show.)  There's not much weeding to do, but we do need to water, and there are a lot of snow peas that should be picked--so come get yourself some crunch, sweet snow peas.

Friday, June 4, 2010

lovely snow peas

Alexis took this fabulous photo of the snow peas in the garden.  Tracy and I walked by today on our way to scrounge some mulberries, and picked a good handful or two.  Leslie and Tova were there watering and had talked a few  passersby into helping.  Thanks to everyone for pitching in!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

new flowers and more peas

Alexis picked up a flat of marigolds for the garden (thanks, Alexis!), so yesterday afternoon, Alexis, Nathan, and I planted about 50 marigolds along the sidewalk.  These will form sort of a colorful border row that alerts pedestrians to watch their step.  And the added color will be lovely.

We also picked a good handful of snow peas.  Very sweet.  We gave some away to a few residents of 99 Kent Street, too.  They really like the rain, and it looks like we might get a thunderstorm tonight, which is great.  By the end of the week, we should have a lot more snow peas.  So if you're walking by, be sure to pick a few.  They're so crisp and tender we ate everything we picked before getting more than a hundred yards from the garden.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First Harvest

Yesterday afternoon, I helped water the garden with Nathan and Alexis, and we got the first fruits of the garden.  We found a few small Northeastern Pole Beans ready to pick.  Very fine beans.  More to come soon.

The first bean plant has climbed to the top of the fence, by the way.  The rest are lagging pretty far behind, but it's good to know we've got one lead bean.



And today, on my way home from a meeting, I sampled two snow pea pods that were perfectly sweet.  (The ones picked were a little bigger than this one.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Everything is in the ground

We had another great planting day yesterday.  With the help of Noah, Leslie, Tova, Harriet, Kim, Jen, Brian, and Alexis, we brought everything down from the greenhouse and put all the rest of the seedlings in the ground--habernero peppers, serano peppers, bell peppers, blue squash, melons, hansel eggplants, beatrice eggplants, sage, black forest vining zucchini.  And we also planted some seeds--bull's blood beets, fennel, more dinosaur kale, cucumber seeds between the seedlings (the seedlings look like they might be permanently stunted), and maybe a few other things. 

And if that wasn't enough, then we watered and watered and watered.  (Here's Noah with a full wagon load of water.)

It looks good, and gives a nice sense of the kind of green density that we hope to see in about 3-5 weeks, or so.

I've been going to the greenhouse daily (or more) since March.  I'll miss it--the quiet and the possibility of it.  Though it also brought a lot more challenges and frustrations than expected.  We did the best we could this year, and next year, we'll see if we can get the temperature to be better controlled (or else we'll have to come up with a pretty big plan B).

Next we need to figure out a good watering plan/teams, so we can keep all these plants alive and growing (a good soaker rain yesterday afternoon helped a lot--I didn't get over there to water today, but I think it'll be all right).  And there are other chores, like more weeding and re-doing the signs, but for now it's nice to just admire the long neat rows of seedlings.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One More Planting Day--Saturday May 29, 10am - Noon

We still need to get the rest of our seedlings in the ground--we have a whole bunch of peppers, eggplant, squash, and other plants that are ready to go.  So please come join us this Saturday morning, from 10am to Noon, at the garden (99 Kent Street).  If you have a spare trowel, please bring it.

I hope we'll see you there!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

great planting day last week

I've been slow to post, just because I've been busy with the other part of my working life (the playwriting part), so I've been lax in saying thanks to everyone who helped out last Thursday when we put a few hundred more plants in the ground.  Thanks very much to Keff, Jeff, and Noah, for helping ferry down more than 20 trays of seedlings from the greenhouse.  We were joined by Laurie, Neal, Kira, Alexis, Allison, Yvonne (who brought us some heirloom tomato seedlings), and Tracy.  With all those available hands, we got the plants in the ground very quickly.  (The planting went faster than carrying them down and sorting them.)

I'm happy to report that the plants seem to have handled the transition very well.  The tomatoes in particular (with the exception of one) seem pretty happy.  The cucumbers still have yellowish leaves and I"m not sure they're going to grow very much.  The greenhouse might just have stressed them too much.

Laurie sent these photos of the afternoon:

Allison and Alexis all smiles after the hard work of digging in the plants.



Neal and Yvonne


and the way it all looked when we finished:

Just give it another six or seven weeks, and the whole fence will be green.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Planting Day Thurdsay, May 20, at 5:30pm

We're going to try to get as many cucumbers in the ground as possible tomorrow afternoon/evening.  We'll be meeting at 5:30pm at the garden (I might be there a little earlier), to plant, plant, plant.  Warm weather is finally about to return and the seedlings need to get out of the greenhouse.

The plants that are in the ground seem to be doing well.  The peas are starting to attach themselves to the fence now, and the poles beans are just starting to do the same.  I saw the first collard seeds sprouting today--these were the ones planted by the first graders who came for a visit.

We have TONS of plants to get in the ground tomorrow, so if you're around and want to help, I hope you'll stop by.  (Bring a trowel if you have one.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Worm Tea Party

Last night we had lots of folks on hand to help prepare and feed worm tea to all the seedlings in the greenhouse.  Thanks so much to Keff, Allison, Mike, Jen, Leslie, Tova, Noah, and Alexis (who has also taken some fabulous photos that she's put up on Facebook) for helping pick worms from the pile of castings (thus saving them to do more useful work), and straining and watering and washing.  It was a lot of fun, and the plants will benefit enormously.  The upcoming weather looks pretty cruddy, so the seedlings might be in the greenhouse for another week or two, and they need nutrition.

Worms are our friends.  Really.  Mike, Allison, and Jen help sort them out.

Tova enjoyed the hunt for red wrigglers.  Noah wasn't so sure.

Keff and Jen finish prepping a batch of tea.

The 200 Foot Garden diet

Just had to mention this:

When Tracy and Sarah were planting seedlings this Sunday, a woman came up to them and said that her kids love the 200 Foot Garden.  They'll now eat vegetables, but only the ones that grow in our garden.  (I'm assuming she meant types of veggies, not only vegetables that are actually grown there).  Now, that's influence.

(Last year, that only gave them squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans. This year, their palates are going to expand, I guess, because we'll be adding eggplant and peppers and a whole lot of other stuff.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Grade Field Trip (our first field trip)

This morning, we had our first official school field trip to the 200 Foot Garden.  Twenty-four first grade students from Ms. Frye's class at the Lawrence School visited and planted and watered.

I really like first graders.  They're eager to learn, to help, and to be silly.  All very important parts of an education and life in general.  They were very good at answering my questions about what plants need to live (water, soil, and sun was their answer.  Air is a fourth ingredient often overlooked.)  And they were good listeners, too, as I explained a bit about what the garden would be growing this summer.

We split them up into three groups.  One set helped plant rainbow chard seedlings.  They did a particularly good job--they focused hard on the task and took great care with the young plants.  (I just hope the plants survive tonight's potential frost.) 

Another group handled watering duties.  We had a handful of watering cans lined up, ready to go, to help settle in all the new seedlings from this morning and yesterday.

And the third group sowed a row of collard seeds, under the guidance of their student teacher, Ms. Cadwell.  Collard seeds are tiny, but so are first grader fingers, so they seemed like a good match.

After a group photo, they walked to the park across the street for snack and playtime, which suited them all perfectly.

I had a great time showing off our garden to such eager learners, and I hope they'll be back in a few weeks, when there are a lot more plants and the peas and beans have started to climb the fence, and the chard they planted today is bright read and orange.

When I picked my son, Noah (he's in 4th grade at Lawrence), from school today, the class had already made a lovely thank you book, with a message and decoration from each of the students.  What a delight!

Here are a bunch of students, eager to get started planting chard seedlings.


Collard seeds are very small.

Heavy watering cans require a group effort.

Our eager gardeners.  Who knows, maybe there are a few future farmers in there, too.

Planting Day on Mother's Day a success!

We had a good work session Sunday morning, with Tracy, Noah, Kira, Keff, Sarah, Kelly, and Leslie and Tova (who was 10 years old but an experienced planter.  We planted beans, chard, kale and collard seedlings outside, but decided the cucumbers will have to wait for warmer weather.

We got the outdoor planting and watering done pretty fast, so we headed up to the greenhouse and repotted everything that needed it and enjoyed some very yummy bread from When Pigs Fly Bakery in a little bit warmer environment. 

We're actually in pretty good shape at the moment--we just need it to warm up a bit so we can put other plants in the ground.  I think it'll be two weeks, at least, until most other things can be transplanted.


Keff and Noah used their wheels to carry the  seedlings and water.  (It was sunny, but very cold and windy.)






Tracy and Sarah were super fast at transplanting the seedlings.







Here's Kira (my daughter), hard at work transplanting pole beans.









Tova worked hard at transplanting seedlings in the greenhouse.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rain, rain, rain (and thunder)--planting day moved to Sunday

All the rain this morning will make it impossible for us to have our planting day today, so we'll have to move it tomorrow (Sunday).  I know it's Mother's Day, so we'll see if we get anyone to show up.  (Come if you can, please.)  We'll be planting from 9:30am-11:30am, and will have tasty snacks from When Pigs Fly Bakery.

The good news is that we're well-prepared.  I went in yesterday and sorted all the plants, moving all the ones ready to be planted to one side of the greenhouse and all the ones staying to the other.  I even took a complete inventory (this takes a while), so I have a good idea of what we've got and what we're missing (not as much as I feared).  I bought six trowels.  I made a map and copies of the map.  Ready to roll.

Once we clear out some space, we'll actually need to do a bunch of repotting--the tomatoes and peppers need bigger homes.  But at the moment, the greenhouse is too stuffed to really make that happen.  I'm a little concerned that it's supposed to get kind of cold tomorrow night, but if we have the hands to plant tomorrow, it might be worth trying.  Otherwise, the schedule gets problematic.

So, sorry we can't do it today, but if you have some free time and energy tomorrow, we sure would use your help.  (We have a field trip coming on Monday, so I'd sure like to make sure they have stuff to see.)  We have 288 seedlings that will go in the ground tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

join us for planting this Saturday, from 9:30 am to 11:30am

On Saturday, from 9:30-11:30 am, we'll be planting seedlings at the garden.  We can definitely use help, if you're available.  We'll have snacks, too--When Pigs Fly Bakery is donating some loaves of bread to keep our strength up.  (and it's very yummy stuff!).

Stop and by, we'd love to see you.  Bring a trowel if you have one.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Good mulching yesterday

Thanks to Noah, Allison, Mike, Nathan, and Alexis for coming by and helping spread a couple inches of mulch over the whole garden.  (And thanks to Donna/99 Kent and the Chavalis for the wheelbarrows.)  The garden looks spiffy and neat now, and the mulch will keep down weeds and help reduce our watering needs.  Normally, I'd prefer salt marsh hay or similar mulch, but since this is so public, it makes sense to use the cedar bark mulch.  And a huge thanks to Donna and the property for giving us the mulch!

(Here's Alexis hard at work.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tea Party (and we're mulching tomorrow, Thursday, at 5:45pm)

Jeff and I worked in the greenhouse to have a little tea party for the seedlings.  Worm casting (worm poop) tea, actually.  The seedlings are doing the best they can in the tough environment of the greenhouse, but they needed some food (the signs are that their color is off and their leaves are too small).   A cup or two of worm castings in a bucket of water makes for a good organic fertilizer.  I've found that straining the tea is important, to screen out excess cellulose fibers from the newspaper bedding. 

We'll see how it goes, but I predict we'll see them green up a bit in a few days.  If not, we might need to give some more in a few days.

It seems like they've been handling the cool nights pretty well--it got down to 45 in the greenhouse last night (with the heat on). 

Tomorrow, Thursday, we'll be spreading mulch on the garden itself, starting around 5:45pm (I think it'll take an hour or so).  If you're in the area and want to hang out and get a tiny bit of a workout, please stop by.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Peas are up!

I'm back from vacation (the kids were on spring break) and was very happy to see that the snow peas are up. They're just an inch or two high, but they look good.  We were supposed to have rain today, but it's waiting, waiting.  (I'm probably the only person in Boston hoping for rain.)  A little rain will help a lot.  Right now we have four 10-foot blocks of peas.  Once they're done, we can replace them with squash or melons.



The plants are still plugging away in the greenhouse.  The harsh environment has been tough on them, but I think the plants will come around once they get in the ground.  We'll have a planting day on May 8th, for some of the plants (beans and chard).  The tomatoes and peppers and squash will have to wait until later in May.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Successful Repotting Today

Our dedicated crew worked hard in the greenhouse today, repotting several hundred seedlings.  Despite the chilly temps in the greenhouse (about 50), we had Allison, Keff, Jenn, Alexis, Nathan, Tracy, and Noah (when we could get him away from the Ninentdo DS and the piano) working hard to give our seedlings a little growing room.

It looks like we've got another two nights of pretty cold weather, with temps in the 30s, and there are too many plants to move now, so we've just got to hope the heater can keep the temps from dipping too low.  After Monday, I think we should have pretty clear sailing, weather-wise.  I'm going to be gone all week, but our greenhouse team of Keff, Jeff, Allison, and Nathan will have everything under control.

Here are a few photos from today:

You can see we've mostly filled the benches:  (here Alexis, Jenn and Allison are working hard)


It was a gloomy, cold day (even in the greenhouse, but we had fun anyway). Here are Tracy and Keff.  You can see the blue tarp we've got up, now that a big part of the roof blew off.  It kept us dry and seems to be keeping the plants just warm enough.


Nathan hard at work:



Full Benches (we had to leave one patch blank, because there was cold water running off the traps covering the hole in the roof):


Now let's just hope all the plants make it through the next few days of cool weather.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Potting Day tomorrow (Saturday) from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Tomorrow morning, from 9:30am-11:30 am, we'll be working in the greenhouse, putting seedlings in pots.  Our order of 500 4" pots and 50 6" pots arrived on Wednesday.  I also bought four big bags of potting soil, which I hope will be enough.  Some of the seedlings are already too big for even moving to the 4" pots (which, it turns out, are a little shallower than I expected.  Bummer.).  The pole beans are crazy.

The damage to the greenhouse has made for a tricky week.  But we've had some plastic up over part of the roof to keep the rain out, and I put up two blue plastic tarps today that I think will both help keep the rain out--which is important for this next stretch of cool weather, so we can keep the blower for the heat dry--and the warmth in, since it's going to be in the 30s every night for the next four or five nights.  Moving the plants in and out is about to get a lot harder--I think tomorrow we'll repot at least 200 plants, which means we'll double the number trays from 20 to 40, at least.  I'm hoping that the tarps won't block out too much important sunlight, but this week is going to be about tradeoffs.

Anyway, if you'd like to help out tomorrow, we'd love to have you.  The front door to the building will be locked, but you can call up and we'll send someone down to let you in.  (It helps if you e-mail me to let me know you're coming.)

Here are the seedlings yesterday:




Here's just some of the pots we'll be using:



Should be fun!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Big Bad Blustery Day

Today was one of those weird days where a lot things didn't go quite right.  There was no wheelbarrow at the building for me to spread out mulch after I planted peas.  (Though I did plant four 10-foot rows of peas in the garden today.)  The outside water isn't turned on yet, so I had to get a few watering cans filled from the restroom, which took some extra work.  It was unbearably hot (it hit 90 here today).  The tops all blew off the flats that I'd taken out of the greenhouse, because even with the vent wide open, it was 97 degrees in there at noon today.  I hope the plants didn't get too dried out in the wind.

Ah, the wind.  That was the cause of the really big problem today.  I got a whole series of messages from Jeff and Keff this afternoon when I remembered to turn on my phone, informing me that the panel of windows that opens to vent the greenhouse (20 feet long) blew off today.  Apparently it was hanging on my a few pieces of metal and maintenance had to come get it down.

Luckily no one was hurt.  And it didn't cause any other serious accidents.  But definitely not a good thing.

I got over there around 6 (after getting the peas in) to check out the situation.  The panel is actually in better shape than I expected.  It's not twisted or sheared in any way, so it can probably go back up, if we can figure out a way to make it more secure.  I've looked at the panel a bit, but I'm not quite sure how we're going to reattach it and get it to stay.

In a way, having the panel broken and off is better for the plants than having it screwed completely shut.  We can heat the greenhouse enough, even with the panel off.  But with the panel on, it was impossible to cool the greenhouse enough to keep from cooking the plants, on even a slightly warm day.

Ultimately, we're going to have to figure out a solution that will work to keep a roof on the greenhouse.  Fairly soon, I suppose.  I'm not sure with what money this will happen.  My sense is that there's no budget at the apartment complex for major repairs to the greenhouse.   (So if you're a big donor out there, looking for a project to fund...)

The funny thing is that this morning I ordered 500 4" pots and 50 6" pots, and 35 trays, to prepare for repotting next week.  So I guess we'd better find a way to keep making this work.  (I love the internet.  I got 4" pots for less than a penny each at plasticflowerpots.net.)

Onward!

(I don't have any photos of the roof or panel, but here are how the seedlings looked this morning:


The pole beans are crazy big already.  We need to get them in pots very soon.  (Note to self:  we need potting soil.)

Great Work Day Monday

Thanks to everyone who showed up to work on Monday for our last-minute digging session.  Nathan, Sarah, Benjamin, Yvonne, Allison, and two BU students, Liz and Amanda, all helped spread compost and turn over the soil one last time.  Tracy worked hard up in the greenhouse taking inventory and replacing seedlings that had died (from the heat) and planting seeds that had gotten missed in the planting frenzy.

In addition, we were able to get the top row of vent windows open on the greenhouse.  That should make a huge difference for temperature control.  The only downside is that I have to get up on the ladder to open it, manually, every sunny morning, and get up there again to close it every night.

I'll have more photos soon.  The seedling mostly look great, though the heat has been tough on them.  Next weeks should give them some gentler, steadier growing conditions.  Keff and Jeff and Allison have been keeping a close eye on the plants and watching the temps and trying to keep everything alive.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Last minute workday today

We've been waiting for a stretch of dry weather to put some finishing touches on the soil of the 200 Foot Garden.  Yesterday, I was able to spread out some lime on the garden, to balance the pH a bit.  Now we need to spread out the rest of the compost (since the extension isn't going to happen) and then dig it and the lime into the soil.  We need to get this done soon, so that we can get the mulch on (and suppress weeds) and get the peas planted.

So, we're going to have quick workday today, from 5:30pm-7pm.  I know the announcement is last minute, but if any of you have the time and want to get a little after work time in the sun and fresh air, I hope you'll stop by.  (Bring a shovel if you have one.)

Thanks!  I hope to see some of you there.  (We can show you the seedlings in the greenhouse, too.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Game On! (the seeds are sprouting)

So some of what we did last weekend in the greenhouse must have worked, because yesterday morning the seeds started to sprout.  We have chard, cucumbers, thyme, oregano, and even a winter squash, all starting to grow.

Now comes the tricky part, trying to make sure we don't fry them in the greenhouse.  Once the sun is up, it really bakes in there.  The good news is that we have two residents of the apartment complex keeping a close eye on it, and Allison and I both get over there.  But yesterday temps peaked as high as 109, for short while.  We won't be able to have that happen very often.  I think we can pull this off, but it's going to take constant vigilance.

I went over there twice yesterday, because I just couldn't resist seeing the new plants again in the afternoon.  Hard to believe that in about 4-5 weeks, we'll be putting all these in the ground.  I think it'll be both a very short and very long time to wait.

Here are the first chard sprouts:


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Extension Foiled!

So I had this big plan to extend the garden farther down the fence, towards the T.  There would be an extra 60 feet of garden on the opposite side of the fence, on top of the slope, and then an additional 70 feet, on the inside of the fence (the sidewalk side), where the fence is pretty grungy and bowed.  That extension #2 would be easy to plant, but is shaded by brush that's grown up on T land, so we'd have to cut back the scrub a little bit.

On Thursday afternoon, Nathan and I showed up to start digging a strip along the fence, knowing (from last Saturday's work day) that there were some bricks buried under there, but I thought it wouldn't be too bad.  However, the more we dug, the more it became clear that the bricks were a more serious problem than we thought.  It's not a just a few bricks in the fill, we actually discovered that there is some sort of massive brick retaining wall bracing the hill that carries the sidewalk.

What that means is that my fairly simple plan isn't going to work at all.  Other options would be to build raised beds (too complex and expensive) or to do container gardening, or perhaps use woolly pockets or some other grow bag type solution.  Containers or bags might work, but we don't have the budget for them at the moment and I'm not sure we can guarantee they wouldn't walk away.

I'm disappointed, because I'd had a grand vision for a 350 foot long stretch of green fence, as you walk up the hill from the T.  (Tracy pointed out that I'm already over committed from too many projects, so maybe a big extension wouldn't have been smart.)  But we already have quite a lot of plants going in to the regular 200 Foot Garden space, and that'll do for now.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Seed Planting was a Hit!

We had our seed planting session this morning as planned.  It was cold outside (in the 20s), but plenty warm in the sunny greenhouse (about 70).

The turnout was excellent (and enthusiastic, despite the early hour)--we had Alexis, Mike, Sandra, Allison, Tracy, Keff, Nathan, Noah, Suzie, Isobel (Noah's 4th grade classmat), and Fiona (Isobel's little sister).  In addition, two journalism students, Liz from BU and Jenn from Emerson, came to check out the project, but also ended up lending a hand and planting seeds themselves.  All those hands made the work go fast, and within an hour we'd planted and watered 18 flats (about 650 seeds).


On the night before the planting, Tracy and I spent some time going over the seed list and working up a chart that showed exactly how many of each type of seed needed to be planted and how deep.  We then attached a copy of the list to each seed packet, with the relevant information highlighted.  This made the work go much faster.  (Though next time, we need to make sure that all our wording on the sheets is super clear--we confused a few people.)

Here is Alexis planting a flat (I think it was peppers), using the sheets to her left as a guide.

We had a very nice mix of people with some experience and people who were planting seeds for the first time.  Everyone jumped right in and we all had fun--Tracy and I ended up doing more talking and answering questions and organizing than actually planting seeds ourselves.

The next big challenge will be to figure out how to manage the temperature in the greenhouse.  When I went back at 4pm today, the temp was in the 90s (it had gotten over 100), and the trays had mostly dried out already.  I had to water again and open the window and leave the door open.  We'll figure it out, but it's going to take some work (and serious planning) on our part.

Here's Nathan watering seeds with a spray bottle.  The spray bottles work great when starting out, but I discovered this afternoon, when I had to water 18 flats, that they're too slow.  I'm going to need to bring a spray attachment for the hose.

Thanks very much to everyone who helped!  We're going to have quite a bounty when summer gets here.



Here's the flats, all soaking up the sun.  We're using humidity domes to keep the soil moist.  If the greenhouse was in optimal condition, these wouldn't be necessary, but right now we're unable to control the humidity effectively, so the domes will help.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nice Pics in the Brookline TAB

The front page of the Brookline TAB featured a very nice photo of Nathan, Tracy, and Dorothy, from last weekend's workday.  There are other photos, too, on the Wicked Local Photo Gallery site.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Saturday--plant some seeds with us

Work, work, work.  That's springtime in the garden.  This Saturday morning, from 9 am to 11 am, we're going to have another workday.  This time we'll be in the greenhouse, planting seeds.  Lots and lots of seeds (about 600, if we have enough time).  If you're interested in joining us, please send me an e-mail at pat@gabridge.com, so we know you're coming and can work out the details.  We'll be at 99 Kent Street, on the third floor, so if you're not there right at 9 when we get started, you'll need to give us a call so we can send someone down to let you in and bring you up to the greenhouse.

It should be a lot of fun (planting seeds in flats allows for lots of social time).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Successful Work Day--the compost is in

On Saturday we had our first work day of 2010.  From 8:30-10:30 our small crew worked hard at moving and spreading compost across the length of the garden.  Besides me, Tracy, and Noah, we also  were joined by Nathan, Dorothy, and Alexis.  Not only did we get the compost spread, but we even got it all turned into the soil.  The weather was fabulous--ideal for getting some exercise and talking with neighbors.

We still need to find some lime to spread out before getting a load of mulch put on.  We're hoping to do a little planting of seeds in the greenhouse this weekend--just confirming a few details first.

This is what it looked like before we started:



Here's Noah getting started loading the wheelbarrow, while I talk to Nathan and Dorothy about a plan.

Tracy and Dorothy worked at raking off the old mulch before we could put on the new compost.

Nathan dumps yet another wheelbarrow load of compost:


It's hard to see, but there are a few worms poking their heads up here, as we're turning over the soil.  In almost every shovel I turned over, I saw at least a worm or two.  This is a marked difference from last year--when we started the garden there were no worms--the soil seemed almost dead.  We've managed to do something right with the soil.



And finally, the compost was all turned in.  Not much to see yet, but it's clean and full of potential.