Creating a Communications Area in the Community Gardens

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Several gardeners have said if they knew what task needed doing when I wasn’t in the garden to ask, they would be happy to help.

(We have great volunteers.)

With that in  mind, I began creating a chalkboard communications area on the east side of the shed.  This is a rough idea of what I’m thinking.

It will be where gardeners can place insects or diseased leaves found in the garden for identification and information. And there will be list of “Things to Do” in the gardens should a volunteer have the time.

May I make a volunteer request? Can someone build a window box that is 58 3/4 inches long, 6 inches front to back and 4 inches deep? This will hold the bug jars and plastic bags for diseased leaves that need identification. If you think you can help, let me know.

This is the first task for the new volunteer board. Thank you. Natalie

Sunflower Art at Pitney Meadows

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 8.34.27 PM.pngNineteen people participated in the sunflower making art class Saturday morning at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

Working under the direction of Miss Judy and Miss Rose, the group sat at the picnic tables in the garden and made large paper sunflowers.

They also had the opportunity to play in the sunflower house, play with the miniature farm and enjoy being creative outdoors on a beautiful summer day.

Next week on Saturday, August 26th, there will be another free art class for children.  This time, the participants will paint and draw sunflowers and other elements of the garden under the guidance of artists Martel Catalano, Nancy Hicks and Jess Clauser.  Children 6 to 14 years old are welcome. If you are interested, registration is required. Contact Garden Director Natalie Walsh at natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org.

 

The Scarecrow Has a Name

ScarecrowAfter tallying the check marks on the chalkboard ballot, Bill is the clear winner as a name for our scarecrow.

I told Bill Pitney that it seems fitting. He and his family have safeguarded the property for generations and he still watches over things and cares for the farm.

And now, the scarecrow named Bill, watches over our community gardens.

Sweet.

By the way, for those of you who don’t know, Bill the scarecrow is wearing Mr. Pitney’s pants.

Do You Know When to Harvest Onions?

I was recently asked this question in the garden.

If you know the clues,  onions tell you.

When onions are mature, the tops yellow and naturally fall over.

When most of the onion planting has flopsy tops, harvest. To harvest dig around the bulbs, pull them up and cure them by spreading them on a surface where there is good ventilation. I have found using an old window screen as a shelf in the corner of the garage works well.

Let them dry for two to three weeks. You know they are ready when the tops are dry and the outer skin is paper dry, crisp to the touch.  Trim off the roots and tops.

If your harvest was abundant and you want to store some for winter, place them in a container with good air flow. Some people use mesh bags but a cardboard box with some holes cut through works too.

If the onions are kept cool, around 40 degrees, and away from sunlight they can last for months.

Gardener’s Tip: While you are harvesting onions, try not to bruise them. They will last longer.

 

 

Chef Kim London’s Herb Class a Hit

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.48.20 PM.pngKim London, chef and PMCF board member, showed 25 participants how to use the herbs they grow in the garden or purchase at the market.

The group, which met in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, listened as London talked about the many different uses of herbs.  Then the group walked into the farm garden. They had the opportunity to smell and taste samples of the many different fresh herbs growing there. After answering audience questions, London treated the group to sample foods, such as herb butter, herbed roasted vegetables and a mint tea.

It was a beautiful evening at the farm, and thoroughly enjoyed by all participants.

More To Come

The next lecture, which is on growing tomatoes, will be lead by Murray Penney and held next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Community Gardens.

Our tomato taste testing with Chef Rocco Verrigni has been delayed because the tomatoes haven’t ripened. We will have a tomato tasting and have tentatively re-scheduled it for the evening on September 13.  Lectures are free and no registration is required.

On the next two Saturdays, free art classes for children ages 6 to 14 will be held in the gardens. Registration for these classes is necessary so we have enough supplies on hand. You can register by emailing natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org or calling 587-2304. Classes start at 9 a.m. and an adult is asked to accompany the participants.

This Saturday, August 19th, children will make sunflowers out of paper. The following Saturday, August 26th they will be drawing and painting with local artists.

Don’t Miss This

Our sunflowers are blooming, come to the garden to meet them and take a photo. They are magnificent.

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Together, Volunteers Made it Happen

Last night I realized there was no way I could get all the landscape fabric down and pinned in place before the Navy volunteers arrived between 8:30 and 9 a.m. this morning.

The Navy was coming to move gravel onto the fabric below the pathways and then level the pathways out with a layer of stone dust.  This is hard, heavy work and I am grateful to have their help.

With the help of Jim Gold, the areas were marked out for fabric earlier this week. What needed to be done was the rolling out of the 6 ft. fabric, cutting the strips to fit, and pinning it in place.

Should I get up at 4:30 a.m. and head to the gardens? That’s what I was thinking. Could I get it done in time? Gulp.

I quickly put out a call for early morning help. The response was fabulous.  At 8 a.m. our volunteers showed up, ready,  willing and prepared to laid down the landscape fabric around the area where the pergola will be.

Thank you to early bird heroes Gus, Jan, Jess, Dan, Kim, Buster and Andy for their help.

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.49.54 PM.pngJust as they were finishing up, 11 volunteers from the Navy base stepped into the gardens up wearing their yellow shirts and immediately pitched in. Smooth, flawless transition.

As Bill moved the gravel in place with his tractor, the Navy volunteers raked it out.  In no time, the pathways were covered with a layer of gravel and then stone dust.  They worked like a well-oiled machine, making sure there were no low spots and adding stone dust until it was as level as possible. Taking pride in their efforts.

Two other volunteers who couldn’t work in the gardens, but wanted to contribute, brought drinks for the group and bought lunch from Putnam Market, which was received with enthusiasm.

Thank you all.  You are the community in our community gardens and I appreciate every thing you do for us as we make our gardens grow.

P.S.  Here is a photo of the color-coordinated Navy volunteers in front of our sunflowers.  Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.58.10 PM.png

 

 

It’s All About Community

This morning, a group from Saratoga Bridges ACE program came by the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens to tend to their plot, which by the way is growing nicely.

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 9.20.39 AM.pngTiny bean sprouts have started to poke their heads through the soil.

Saratoga Bridges is an organization that enables people with disabilities to live enriching lives.  After taking care of their raised bed, and watering the sunflowers, the group agreed to help harvest vegetables for the Franklin Community Center’s food pantry.

With brown grocery bags in hand, we went around the garden and harvested basil, which everyone smelled, and Swiss chard and kale, which some tasted.

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 12.08.00 PM.pngIn total 7 bags were filled and went to the Franklin Community Center’s food program where each week people in need share in the free harvest.  Julie Slovic, Food Program Administrator with FCC, was pleased to pick up vegetables for her clientele who she said enjoyed having delicious, fresh produce. In addition to the harvest from the community gardens, yellows beans, herbs, chard and radishes were also donated by the farm.

In the next few days, arugula and lettuces will be planted in the now harvested spaces in the raised beds. And, when ready, share with the food pantry.

We also took a photo by the sunflowers.

They are glorious. If you want to see them or take a photo, come to the community gardens, which are located at 233 West Avenue in Saratoga Springs.  It’s a beautiful sight.Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 12.25.09 PM.png