Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer arrives at the Ginsberg Garden

The Ginsberg Garden gets a make-over with straw rows and tomato trellises.

Jen and Liz install a fence around our hoophouse plot.

The sweet potatoes-in-a-box experiment is rocking out!

Tomato Staking

We experimented with a few tomato staking methods this year. One A-frame trellis, a teepee, a stake and weave system, and some sturdy individual stakes. The entire time we were drilling holes and pounding in the stakes, our mouths were watering with thoughts of fresh salsa, bruschetta, and tomato sandwiches! 

To construct this A frame trellis, we drilled holes in bamboo poles and then used zip ties and twine to secure the structure. Then, we then looped twine from the bottom of each plant, weaved it around the stem, and tied the twine to the top bar. 

Check out these tomatoes, loving the support from their new trellis!

Pest Control 

To ward off the aphids, earwigs, flea beetles, and cabbage worms that have been munching on our veggies, we have been experimenting with some natural pest control methods. We concocted a spray of water, Dr. Bronner's castile soap, and cayenne pepper; both soap and cayenne are toxic to insects. We also installed some earwig traps: yogurt containers with soy sauce and oil. The soy sauce attracts the bugs, and the oil traps them.

A damaged pac choi,with earwig trap behind it

Recent Harvests

We harvested from our renegade chamomile plant. All of these flowers are now drying in my closet. Once dried we will have a tea-making workshop! Chamomile tea has been used for thousands of years to help with sleeplessness, anxiety, and upset stomachs.

If you are strolling down Hill Street make sure to stop by the Ginsberg Garden for a delicious raspberry snack! 

I like my greens... bitter!

With the recent desert-like weather in Ann Arbor, our greens were not doing so hot. When plants such as lettuce, kale, swiss chard, and spinach are stressed, they "bolt" or send up their flowering stalk. This makes their leaves bitter and  unappetizing, especially when eaten raw. In order to not waste our bounty of greens we hosted a bitter greens cooking workshop.

In addition to all of the greens, we harvested a huge onion and some garlic from the garden. 

We even included kale-seed-pods, spinach flowers, and fresh coriander in the mix! After sauteing the greens in olive oil with onions and garlic, we added dressings and spices.


Dinner in the garden!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Workdays at the Garden!

Now that the garden is all planted and summer is almost officially here... we have a new WEEKLY WORKDAY SCHEDULE! Come out to the Ginsberg Garden (corner of Hill and E. University) to do some weeding and work projects on any or all of these days through the summer:

Monday 5-7pm
Thursday 5-7pm
Friday 10am-1pm
**Every week for the rest of the summer!!**

Workday Details
Mondays: We'll be joining forces with the campus farm (haven't heard about the farm yet? check out the website to learn more!), located at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. If you want to go work on the campus farm, meet at the Ginsberg Garden at 5pm, and we'll drive out there together. If you can't make it to the farm, fear not! We'll still have tasks and snacks to do at the garden.

Thursdays: Cooking day in the garden! In addition to the usual projects, we'll make some sort of garden snack every week! From herb teas to kale chips, there's always something in the garden we can use for a tasty treat.

This Thursday's cooking extravaganza: bolted greens! The sunny spring weather has caused our greens to bolt and turn bitter. The bad news is that they're not so tasty in a salad anymore. The good news is that it gives us an excuse to experiment with the greens before relinquishing them to the compost! Bring your culinary creativity to Thursday's workday and help us turn these bitter greens into savory, sauteed, side dishes! We'll start the workday by building new tomato structures (and doing the usual watering/weeding), but we can end with a feast of greens.
Can't make it Thursday evening? The campus farm has a workday every Thursday at 11am! Stop by the Botanical Gardens to help out!

Fridays: A lovely morning workday and a perfect opportunity to gather some produce to bring home for the weekend!

See you Monday at 5pm :)
--Jessie and Allyson

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's been a busy couple weeks at the Ginsberg Garden, with our trusty volunteers helping to pull the rye grass cover crop, spread a giant heap of compost, hook up rain barrels, and finally plant some seedlings!
We're looking forward to a couple new plants this year: sweet potatoes, chamomile, "crazy spiral" cauliflower, asparagus, and a long, red, roasting pepper, among others. The sweet potatoes are in three different spots trying out three different growing methods to see which one best suits them. A few are in the cold frame, a few more are in the garden on a mound of soil, and the last few are inside a plastic bin growing through black plastic to keep them warm. We're excited to see how they do through the summer!

Aside from the Ginsberg Garden, you'll be able to find Cultivating Community seedlings, grown with love this spring in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens greenhouses, scattered across gardens all over Ann Arbor. We sold a number of these plants at our plant sale a couple weeks ago, but all the leftover needed a good home. So, these plants were donated to local schools and organizations in need of some plants to get their gardens going! Thank you to the following groups for giving our plants a good home:
  • Tappan Middle and Burns Park Elementary Schools
  • UM Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Martin Luther King Elementary School
  • Northside Elementary
  • SELMA Cafe
  • Green Adventures Camp
The folks at Green Adventures already have 300 tomatoes in the ground all ready to grow and ready to help kids grow this summer on their 4 acre farm. Look how happy these tomatoes are already! We're so happy we can support our fellow gardeners in this way. Grow, plants, grow!
(Photo courtesy of Dave Szczygiel)