Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feeding the Body

One of my personal hopes for the garden this year was that we could expand the ways in which the produce was being used. In doing so, we also expand the numbers of people who eat food from our harvest.

One group of folks that have been enjoying more veggies this year is people who come to church on Sunday morning! I love that we can give away veggies at coffee hour and use veggies in dishes at coffee hour and still have bounty to bring to the food pantry.

About a month ago, my husband David and I were in the garden after church and had a beautiful head of broccoli that we had just picked (our garden's very first!)
While we were working, we were greeted by Jack, a nephew of a couple of FCS's congregants whom we'd never met. He exclaimed with great enthusiasm how much he LOVES broccoli and asked if he could have it. His sister Hannah joined in telling us how much they loved vegetables of all kinds and of course we gave them the broccoli!

Here's the awesomely veggie-loving kids getting ready to eat their new broccoli:

The big beauty

We also have members of our community who cook year-round for the homeless shelter on our street. They have also been using garden veggies this summer and this month made a beautiful pasta salad with fresh garden peppers, cucumbers, green beans, parsley, and zucchini.

Peppers being chopped

Green beans in the bowl

Zucchini being chopped

Yum! Many thanks to Shannon and everybody involved in making these meals.

Post-Irene: Bad News and Good News!

The bad news about the garden post-Irene is that many, many plants toppled over. We had tomato plants on the ground in bent cages with stakes that had popped out of the ground. Beans and cucumbers were leaning all different directions. The broccoli plants were nearly uprooted like small trees.

We get a lot of wind in the garden in the best of weather, but the tropical storm gusts were a bit much for the garden. I suspect at least branches of the plants (which are now mostly upright) may die prematurely.

I didn't take a lot of time to take photos before trying to set things right, but I'm sure you can get a bit of a sense of what the heavy winds did to our garden from these:

But the good news is that nothing was actually uprooted; we had another great harvest just one day after the storm! I was able to bring a big bag full of more kale, collards, chard, tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers, bok choi, peppers, parsley, sage, and even a few tomatillos over to the food pantry. Big thanks to Zac and Reebee for helping with the harvest:

Reebee and Zac harvest greens!


Pole beans

Chard stems

Our biggest cucumber yet (those beans are pretty big too!)

Basil, tomatillos, and red and green tomatoes


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's Growing Today?

Flowers on bush beans planted from seed in late July!

More broccoli - I think this one's going to be big!

Marigold flowers on 'volunteer' plant
Baby 'Tromboncino' squash

Cosmos flowers planted by the wind!

New arugula seedlings

Pole beans planted from seed in late July

Pole beans

Monday, August 22, 2011

Feeding the Body

Today's delivery to Project SOUP!

Today we donated the veggies pictured below, plus the following:
- several pounds of pole beans both green and yellow
- a few cucumbers
- several small bell peppers
Sweet Banana peppers and LOTS of plump, spicy Serrano peppers

Small tomato harvest - A lot more have been cracking due to fluctuating moisture or finding other uses.

Lots of kale, collards, chard and bok choi

Parsley and sage

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast...

At the beginning of Spring I often have trouble understanding that the little tiny things we put in the ground will grown into huge, food producing plants. I don't know why this is, but it just is. Fortunately, Urban Farming requests pictures every two weeks to report how our little farm is doing. They may not start quite at the beginning of the season, but it's still quite a record.

Remember All-Church Work Day on May 22nd?

Then in mid-June I sent these pictures to the folks in Detroit. They were very impressed at how big everything was already!

July 7th: Plants explosion!

July 19 - Possibly the height of zucchini before they suffered from various insect infestations.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Ugly (or the 'less beautiful' depending on your mood...)

So I mentioned previously that we've been having some issue with some of the plants in the garden. This is expected and normal, but also frustrating, maddening... For example, look at these beautiful tomatoes! These were some of the very first big ripe tomatoes I pulled off our plants.

Flip them over... and not so pretty:

I had pulled many green tomatoes out of the garden with a similar issue prior to taking these pictures. And kept searching for other signs of late blight. There are many fungal diseases that can effect tomato plants, but late blight is the biggest and baddest of them all. Since I have Harry Potter on the mind, let's call it the 'Voldemort of tomato diseases.'

Two years ago when the summer was wet and cool and almost everybody had late blight in their tomato patches, my husband David and I pulled all but one of our dozen or so tomato plants up out of the garden. They were all infected and produced only blighted, nasty tasting fruits. So, when I first saw this happening to the tomatoes at First Church, I took a bite out of the better looking side of the tomato and waited to cringe. It tasted fine. Maybe even yummy!

Turns out this was just "blossom end rot" caused by lack of calcium (which can in turn be caused by over, under, or inconsistent watering). Thankfully, with some help from a crew of dedicated waterers (thank you!) and a change to cooler wetter weather, this problem seems to have all but disappeared.

That said, we've still lost some plants. You'll notice some empty cages at the front of the big bed and a plant soon to disappear from the small raised bed.

All the yellow pear plants seem to have been infected with 'Fusarium wilt' very early on. I noticed that these plants had branches that were particularly wilted and no amount of watering would help them. The wilting started at the bottom of a side of the plant moved upwards and then gradually overtook the whole thing. Yuck!

If you are interested in learning about tomato's many afflictions. I found that this website was particularly informative.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Feeding the Body

It's been nearly a month since I've posted anything on this blog. Time flies! So many big, beautiful things have been happening in and around the garden, but this is the time of year when big things can easily start to go wrong. Pests move in, days grow brutally hot and dry, plants grow ill.

I have had so many things I've wanted to share on this forum, I haven't known where to begin. Let's begin again with something beautiful and familiar!

This morning I harvested an amazing bunch of veggies to bring down to Project SOUP. There were cucumbers, many kinds of tomatoes, a little bit of broccoli, carrots, serrano peppers, green peppers, baby bok choi, parsley, sage and the usual pile of kale, collards and chard.

When we are able to bring vegetables down to the pantry early in the week, often they are the only fresh food available to clients at that time. When I arrived today, for example, there was a small pile of onions on the counter and when I left it looked like this: