Author Archives: nveatch2015

Spring Has Sprung!

In spite of  rain in the forecast, nine hard working volunteers showed up  for the April 11th Garden workday. George and Gary had tilled several untended beds and the group got busy pulling the remaining weeds and grass. Judy, George, Ellie, Fred, Mike, Ana, Jane, David and Nathan labored during the cool morning, glad that summer was not here yet. We were able to plant bed #4 with carrots, sunflower seeds, and mesclun (a lettuce mixture). The goal is to use the unadopted beds for  growing vegetables and also flowers to attract butterflies. Next we will plant beans to eat and to improve the soil when they are turned under. George has planted pumpkin, watermelon, cucumber, squash, beets, tomatoes, and Swiss chard in the production beds. It is going to require a lot of help to tend these beds and pick these crops, but it will be rewarding to donate the harvest to our neighbors in the community.

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Spring Gardening Ideas from the Malins

We garden in the two 10’ raised beds in the BAUUC Community Garden. No bending over; much easier on our aging backs and knees. We currently need one or more garden partners to share the upkeep and the abundant harvest.

Each growing season, we learn more about what does well in our garden plots, and what we like to eat. We’ll tell you about our winter garden another time. Every spring, we go to the Master Gardener Sale at the Pasadena Fairgrounds. Last year, we tried some new tomatoes and peppers from there. We found some favorite colorful frying peppers, and went back this year to get Dreamsicle again. It is a lovely orange, just like the popsicle. We also like Carmen and the tried and true sweet banana pepper. We think the bell types are a bit harder to grow here, but have had good luck with a yellow bell that we got at Maas Nursery. They will have a large selection of both peppers and tomatoes as the spring season progresses. This spring we’ll also try red and golden Marconi peppers, and Jimmy Nardelo Italian, which we got as seed from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company. This is a great outfit, on the internet, with the best seed catalog ever, lots of fascinating heirlooms.

Last summer, the winner among our new tomato varieties was Juliet, a large crack-resistant grape tomato with a great flavor that was very prolific. We bought seed for this, and have lots of extra plants this spring. I’ve also seen it a Lowes. Lowes also has the red Marconi pepper. Two years ago, we had a wonderful full-size striped tomato called Large Barred Boar, prolific and very tasty, which we picked up in Austin, for its short days to harvest. We also loved Sun Gold, a yellow cherry tomato. We were not able to find plants of either of these, so we ordered seed from Baker Heirloom seeds and asked our friends the Hillmans, who run the wonderful Fruit ’n Such Orchard pick-your-own farm, to grow them from seed for us. They will plant a flat of each in their heirloom tomato area at the farm. We have another flat of each, to plant and give away plants. We grew Black Beauty eggplant last summer, and got a big harvest, but we thought it took too long to bear. We’re trying two new varieties from Baker Creek, and have just planted the seeds for sprouting.

On to melons, cucumbers and squashes. We have successfully grown watermelon (Bush Sugar Baby) and cantaloupes. Late in the season, these were eaten by the animals in the vicinity of the community garden. However, we’ll try again. One year, they climbed up some volunteer sunflower plants, and that worked well. Melon seeds are sown directly in the ground. This spring we’ll be trying some new cantaloupe varieties from Baker Creek. A few years ago, we grew a great heirloom lemon cucumber, which produces succulent cucumbers the size and color of large Meyer lemons. They taste delicious and don’t need to be peeled. We successfully grew them from seed for planting this spring. David doesn’t like most summer squashes, and we haven’t been successful with winter squashes. He does like the Mexican Calabacin variety of summer squash. We have planted the seeds and they are sprouting indoors.

Some last tips. For a living mulch, we scatter Mesclun seed mix (small salad greens). In preparing the soil, we add Microlife organic fertilizer and liberal amounts of cotton burr compost from Maas nursery for added nutrition, aeration and moisture retention. We have three clay-pot ‘Ollas’ per bed for constant irrigation.

Tips On Tomatoes

I went to the Master Gardeners’ Green Thumb lecture on Feb. 19 at Freeman Library and listened to more information that I could every assimilate but I was able to note some interesting things on tomatoes which is my chief spring crop. They said to plant after the last day of possible freeze (March 5th) and then try to get your tomatoes to set or blossom before the night temperature reaches about 75℉. (in early June) for larger tomato varieties. I recommend Celebrity, a medium sized tomato, which produces in 69 to 80 days. When it quit producing I pulled it up.

The MG’s recommended two cherry tomatoes: Sweet Million and Juliet. The cherries are able to keep producing into the summer and possibly into the fall. I have grown Sweet Millions (55 to 68 days) before and Juliet was highly touted by the Master Gardeners. Juliet produced more fruit than any other tomato variety in Montgomery County last year. The MG’s recommend an organic fertilizer called Microlife. The tomatoes and Microlife are available from Maas Nursery on Toddville Rd. in Seabrook. I was impressed with the tomatoes I bought recently. Some of our gardeners buy composted cotton burrs and compost tea there. If you are interested in making compost tea,  the directions from the Master Gardeners are in my church office box.

The next garden workday is on March 14 from 8:30 to 12:30. Join us!

Nathan

February 14, 2015 Workday

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Our Saturday workday started off chilly but bright. Twelve stalwart gardeners: George, Gary, Fran, Nathan, Jill, Emily, Allan, Christopher, Rowlan, Jane, David, and Elaine turned out to begin preparing the garden for spring planting. Most of the effort went to digging and pulling the pesky grass found on three badly overgrown beds. Gary and Allan were heroes of the day by turning over the soil in several beds. One crew meticulously pulled weeds from around the dewberry and grape vines and then finished off with spreading mulch to prevent its return. George installed new boards on two beds, killed fire ants and hauled off the old rotted boards to the dumpster. There’s a lot more to be done. The next workday will be Saturday, March 14th, 8:30 – 12:30. Volunteers are needed to work with George and Nathan to prepare two production beds, once or twice a month. These beds will be used to grow vegetables for ICM and Bay Area Turning Point and help fulfill our outreach goals to the community.

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Preparing for the February 14th Workday

This week George and I made a list of tasks to be completed at the workday and George got a head start on weeding. We removed an invasive tomato plant from a production bed that must have weighed a half a ton. We also got a head start on removing limbs and trash from the compost bins. I will mow between the beds next week and George will pick up lumber for replacement of rotted boards. I hope to upload some photos of the garden from January 2015 so we can see what the beds looked like before the workday. Please come out and show some LOVE for our garden on Feb. 14th!

Nathan

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February 14th – Love our Garden! 8:30 – 12:30

Everyone is invited to show some love to our BAUUC Community Garden. We need weed pullers, carpenters, compost bin cleaners, etc. Bring your tools, gloves, and dress for the weather. Refreshments will be served. Look forward to seeing you!

Beds are available. All current bed owners, please fill out a new application form, available at Resources on this site.

WANTED: A Spanish speaking community liaison. If you’re interested, please let me know.

Thanks, Nathan