Monday, May 30, 2011

First First Church Salad

A handful of gigantic 'French Breakfast' radishes

We had our first (people food) harvest of the season yesterday as well as the first First Church garden salad. It was gigantic! It could have made it even bigger, but there were a lot of people out of town for the holiday weekend. A number of congregants even pulled extra radishes from the garden for their personal use.

We had three types of radishes growing in the garden (until yesterday) including 'Easter Egg', and 'Crimson Giant'. The ones harvested in the salad, however, are the delicious 'French Breakfast'. They taste so tender and mellow compared to what you can experience from the supermarket.

Serving from a deep wooden bowl...
... and onto the plate. (No, the watermelon's not from the garden. Maybe someday.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Feeding the Body

Look at the beautiful worm we found on Sunday! This picture does not do justice to it's length and shininess. We are fortunate to have soil that is full of these little (and big) guys, but what a strange picture to start this harvest-oriented post with! Or maybe not...

This past Friday, we harvested our first 'crop' of the season. If you ever come work in the garden during the week, it is likely that you will meet a handful of passersby and neighbors who come to ask questions, give feedback, and look at the progress (and beauty) of our garden.

On this particular day a man approached Elizabeth F and I as we were preparing the zucchini bed and asked us, "Do you have any worms?" To which one of us said something along the lines of, "Oh, yes. Lots!" And then we didn't quite know what to say next. I figured he was a slightly awkward garden-lover wanting to make conversation.

Within a short time, however, it came out that this man actually loves a worm-loving pet turtle! He carries around a small jar to collect treats for his beloved pet (much to the horror of his wife who hates worm, but it seems like they've figured out ways to work around this). So of course we went scouring around for some nice plump worms and came up with a small harvest for him to bring home. (It turns out it is very difficult to find worms when you're looking for them. They're sneaky creatures.) So, in the loose sense of the term, the garden has had it's first 'harvest' of the season!

I am really, really, really excited to let you know that this coming Sunday we will have our second harvest! The lettuce, arugula, parsley, and radishes are getting pretty big, and this Sunday at coffee hour look for a simple, super fresh first  First Church Garden salad. It'll look something like this one from my own garden, but LOTS bigger:

I hope to see you there!

What's Growing Today?

The apple trees are finally getting leaves! I have to admit that I was a little worried...

I would have been even more worried about the apple trees if the tops we pruned off hadn't started putting out leaves in my kitchen a while ago!
stray bok choi

parsley that has rebounded well from a hefty woodchuck grazing in my backyard (with strawberries and bok choi in the background)
baby 'bright lights' chard
'French breakfast' radishes waiting to be picked on Sunday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

All-Church Work Day

Yesterday was All-Church Work Day! I'd never been before. There was always one excuse or another in the past, but I'll try not to miss another. What fun!

So much doing and getting done - and in the most fun way possible - with good people and with pizza! There was scrubbing, the moving, the painting, sorting, etc. inside and the long list I'd accumulated for outdoor work was done quickly and happily by a great group of folks. (Thank you all!)

Everything is well-weeded and the entire raised vegetable bed is full of plants, seeds, compost and trellising. If you face it from Francesca Avenue it will begin looking more and more like this general plan:

Here's some more snapshots of a good day:

turning over the soil
weed whacking

planting pansies along the sidewalk

surveying our progress

watering freshly-planted basil and chatting

planting tomatoes

puzzling over the irrigation system
planting squash (and beans and cukes)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's Growing Today?

Tiny 'French Breakfast' radishes

Mixed Leaf Lettuce

'Red Sails' Lettuce

Arugula - watch for this at coffee hour soon!

Strawberries just beginning to form from the flowers

Almost thread-thin 'Evergreen Hardy White' scallions

'Winterbor' Kale (with curly leaves)

Calendula along Francesa Ave. These plants are dug up from a community garden plot I inherited from Abby H (a now far-flung member of FCS) where it comes up each year from the seeds of the previous year's 'volunteers'.

'Sugar Snap' peas

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Tree Party

This past Wednesday, a small group of people gathered to plant and bless First Church's new apple trees and enjoy apple treats (and pretend to be trees!). Many thanks to our hole diggers, tree planters, blessers, and The Boston Tree Party for hooking us up with heirloom trees for the church and parsonage lawns!

Planting apple trees turns out to be a surprisingly complicated process (Check out The Boston Tree Party website for more details,) but with any luck we'll have some beautiful little trees soon and delicious apples in a few years.

Right now we have been blessed with beautiful... well, sticks. And part of the process of putting these baby trees into the ground is making them even shorter sticks than when they arrived!

P.S. Now that these apple trees have been planted, we have five different types of fruit growing on church property. Do you know the other four? (Or perhaps I've forgotten something and there are actually more?)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Spring!

It's begun! The many garden books and seed catalogs I drool over say you can begin to plant many vegetables "as soon as the ground can be worked," but how unpleasant it can be to be out in the cold, wet dirt in early spring as the snow finally begins to reveal some soil!

So it's a bit hard to get started. That said, this year we've begun planting more than a month earlier than last and I'm so excited!!!

To begin this year, some of the children of the church, Andrea R, and I planted peas in the old raised bed on Palms Sunday. They were peeking out of the ground within a couple days of Easter!

Thank you to Liz Danner for this beautiful photo!
I have half-formed ideas of a more free-form Children's Garden in this area. Any ideas?

We have also been given some new perennials by a friend of First Church and the Baskettes. These are being replanted in various locations, but you'll see a number of new things in the Children's Garden (shown above), a small plot of herbs in the corner of the vegetable bed and, most strikingly, a big bunch of thyme and creeping phlox on the Francesca side of the big raised bed. It needs to have a little more weeding and time to look as gorgeous as its full potential, but it should be beautiful soon!

Last, but certainly not least, Elizabeth F and I have planted a bunch of vegetable seeds and tiny seedlings from my collection in the giant raised vegetable bed. We have planted many, many things including arugula (see the first picture posted), lettuce, radishes, carrots, collards, three kinds of kale, beets, celery, scallions, broccoli, and baby bok choi. On All-Church Work Day, the warm-weather crops we will plan the warm-weather crops (including, of course, a whole bunch of tomatoes). Hope to see you there!