Art work by the Young Gardeners

Avery2Sometimes it is just so hot and humid that the young gardeners retreat to the shade of the pine trees adjacent to the Moreau Community Garden.

Sitting in the shade, cooling down and having a drink of water is always an option. Some days, some gardeners feel it is just too hot to be in the sun. For them, paper and crayons are always at hand.  All I ask is that the drawings be of the garden.

In the artwork above, Avery has captured the big tree and the raised beds where we grow carrots, kale, sugar snap peas, green peppers, green beans, yellow beans and purple beans, red Norland potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, spearmint, peppermint and lots of  herbs including sage, basil, oregano, parsley and thyme.

When I looked at these masterpieces recently, I loved the perspective.  You have all seen my photographs of the garden. Now enjoy the artwork of the youngsters that work in the garden, weeding, watering and growing vegetables.

That’s our scarecrow, Luigi. He watches over the garden.

Kaelynart

It’s a big job as there are many raised beds.Avery

In addition to vegetables, we grow flowers for the pollinators.

Daphneart

This is a picture of a wooden crow that rests in our garden.

Jillianart

And here is a picture of me, Natalie, in my yellow hat.

Thank you young gardeners — or, should I say — young artists for the drawings.

I especially love the drawing Hannah did of me and I appreciate the poem she wrote on the back. Thank you. It is a great pleasure teaching all of you how to grow food.

Natalie

NatalieintheGarden copy

Hannah'snote

Final Week for the Young Gardeners

sunflowersIt has been a wonderful season with few problems and lots of produce.

Today the gardeners harvested the remaining wax, green and purple beans. They also filled a box with edible nasturtiums — They love to eat the bright colored orange flowers which have a peppery flavor. They also harvested tomatoes, kale, beets, celery, carrots and a few radishes.

I’d call that a productive day…wouldn’t you?

Over the past few weeks the vegetables brought back to the camp were cleaned and prepared by staffers for snacks. Some vegetables got better reviews than others.

The young gardeners told me of all the carrots — the purple, white, yellow and orange — the orange had the best flavor. They ate the carrots with a chive dip. The chives came from our garden.

In addition, some of the beans were steamed before serving though a fair number were eaten raw straight out of the garden.

mcg

The scallions were used in a Mexican dip served with chips. The potatoes were cut up and cooked with onions. The kids also made zucchini muffins.

And the rapini was cut up into a salad and served with ranch dressing. Every last bit was eaten.

The favorite vegetable has to be the sugar snap peas. Everyone enjoys those. Who wouldn’t. They are as sweet as candy when ripened on the vine.

This was a great season. As we were leaving the garden today the young gardeners told me how much they enjoyed learning about the bugs, the plants and what it takes to grow food. Some told me their families have started gardens.

“What’s your favorite thing to do?” I asked.

“Harvesting,” they shouted.

“I liked everything we did. Every week,” one young gardener said. “The lemonades..strawberry, watermelon and basil,” said another.

One young fellow said he loved everything to do with the community garden.

“Even weeding?” I asked.

“Yes, I even like the weeding,” he said, adding “I will see you next year.”

The gardeners initiated a group hug and said “Goodbye.”

That was a great good bye. The garden grew a lot of vegetables, but also a love of growing food together.  And that’s a good life-long skill.

Thank you to all the gardeners and to everyone that made this program possible.

Our Abundant Harvest

Carrot harvesting was fun and a bit of a treasure hunt for the purple, white, yellow and orange carrots hidden beneath the soil.  We counted and compared the different color carrots and found purple were the most robust. The carrots were sent back to the community center where they will be served as snack.

Carrot harvesting was fun and a bit of a treasure hunt for the purple, white, yellow and orange carrots hidden beneath the soil. We counted and compared the different color carrots and found purple were the most robust. The carrots were sent back to the community center where they will be washed and served as snack. For the gardening record: approximately 80 carrots were gathered from one bed.

whitecarrots

We harvested so many beans...hundreds! The young gardeners picked the bed clean of purple, yellow and green beans. A large bag full was sent back with them but the young harvesters also sampled as they went.  What's better than a bean right off the vine!

We harvested so many beans…hundreds! The young gardeners picked the bed clean of purple, yellow and green beans. A large full bag was sent back with them but the young harvesters also sampled as they went. What’s better than a bean right off the plant and warmed by the sun!

The first time we harvested beans, one young gardeners asked what a bean looked like.  Now he knows!

The first time we harvested beans, one young gardener asked what a bean looked like. Now he knows!

We cleared the harvested bean bed back to the soil. But the beans we planted a few weeks ago are doing well.

We cleared the harvested bean bed back to the soil. But the beans we planted a few weeks ago are doing well.

The celery before the young gardeners harvested.

The celery before the young gardeners harvested.

Celery being trimmed of roots before being sent back with the young gardeners for snack.

Celery being trimmed of roots before being sent back with the young gardeners for snack.

The robust harvest was celebrated with strawberry lemonade, which is easy to make. Simply clean and trim a cup of strawberries and add them to a blender with 2 cups of lemonade. Pour this mix through a strainer and into a pitcher of lemonade.

“I don’t like it,” one young gardener said, teasing . . . “I LOVE IT.”

A pleasant way to end a good gardening day.  Happy gardening.

Harvested Bundles of Carrots, Potatoes, Basil and Started Cleaning Up

Harvesting in the garden is in full swing now.

The young gardeners all had a chance to pull carrots from the ground . . . a well loved activity.  Who doesn’t love a fresh from the garden carrot?

We also harvested basil, green peppers, and red potatoes. I can’t wait to hear what Laurie made with these.

GARDEN CLEAN UP

MCGcleanup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning up the garden has begun.  Now that the sugar snap pea vines are turning brown, we can pull them up and throw the vines into the compost bin.  The young gardeners worked at this task and two raised beds were cleared.  This gives better air circulation for the tomatoes in the same bed. Tomatoes need good air flow to keep diseases in check.

It was a fine day in the garden even after one of the gardeners was stung by a yellow jacket. No one knew a hive had made a nest in the drain near the faucet.  If you do get stung in a garden, raw onion on the sting can help.

Stings unfortunately can happen in a garden.  Fortunately, the young gardener was able to shake off the experience after a short while. The recreation department heroes have destroyed the nests – there were two in the grate.

For refreshments, cucumber water was served.  The young gardeners enjoyed the water which is so easy to prepare.  Peel a cucumber, slice it and add the slices to a pitcher of cold water. Let it sit for an hour. That’s it.

The next two weeks will be busy ones in the garden. There is still so much to be harvested!  Come see!

 

 

Planting, Harvesting and Enjoying the Garden’s Bounty

DSC_3827_5298-2

Today was a true summer day…hot and humid.

But this didn’t slow down the young gardeners at Moreau Community Garden.  Last week we “planted” seeds in clear cups with napkins and a few cotton balls. This week we talked abut how the seeds grew. How the seed swells initially. How a single root forms and then more form. What the roots looked like…and how a seedlings first makes cotyledon (or seed) leaves before true leaves that resemble the adult plant leaf emerge.

bean

Once we talked about the seedlings, we planted them in bed #37 (in case you want to go and check it out) in two rows.  In a few weeks we will be picking beans from this bed.

After planting beans, we harvested nasturtium flowers, which are edible and very colorful. We also harvested scallions and sugar snap peas. A big hit! So sweet and tasty!

DSC_3787_5258

But the best harvest experience of the day was definitely the early red potatoes.

Early potatoes get harvested about the time you see their flowers blooming. The flowers started last week, so this week we began to harvest.  The gardeners dug up around each plant and there were a fair number of potatoes sent back to camp headquarters where Miss Laurie is known for her great efforts preparing the garden produce for the gardeners. Kudos Laurie and a sincere Thank You.

I was told that the rapini sent back the first day was washed, cut into bite size pieces and served with ranch dressing. The whole harvest “every bite” was eaten by gardeners, some of whom never tried this green before.

Today the gardeners tried mint lemonade, and loved it.  It was cool and refreshing on such a hot day. Here’s how it is made:

1 sprig of peppermint per gallon of lemonade

Put a cup of water in a blender and add washed leaves of peppermint. Blend well on high. Then pour the liquid through a strainer to remove the big bits of peppermint leaves.  Add the strained peppermint liquid into pitcher of lemonade.

It’s good. If you haven’t tried it, ask one of the gardeners. They’ll tell you how refreshing it is.

INSECTS

There are many Japanese Beetles in the garden.  Since ours is an organic garden, our best defense is to knock the beetles off plants and into a bucket of soapy water.  The bucket and soap are in the shed. These beetles are voracious and skeletonizing leaves.

We spotted them on bean plants, rhubarb and zucchini.

Real Gardeners at Work

potato

Today, the young gardeners did an amazing job in the Moreau Community Garden.

Among the activities were: spotting the eggs, larvae and adult Colorado Potato Beetles.   There were dozens of these in the garden.  The eagle-eyed gardeners noticed that searching around a chewed leaf usually yielded some results.  Good detective work.

Once the eggs hatch the larvae feed on leaves and for the most part stayed clustered together chewing, chewing, chewing. They can defoliate an entire potato, tomato and pepper plant.

Once the insects were found, the gardeners removed the insects and placed them in a  jar of soapy water.

All the gardeners had the opportunity to scout for insects and among the other insects found in the garden were ants, Japanese beetles, cabbage moths, squash bugs and a grasshopper.

Seed Cups

Another activity shared in by all was the “planting” of seeds in a cup.  This came about after last week when a gardener asked about how seeds grew and what did it look like.

This experiment will show how seeds form roots and sprout.

Here’s what we did: A clear plastic cup was lined with a napkin. Seeds were placed between the cup and the napkin, cotton balls were added to the center to hold the seeds in place. The cotton balls were moistened.  Next week will be examine them for germination.

The goal is to see how the different seeds we planted start growing. If all goes well, we will plant the sprouts in the garden.

Harvesting Watermelon Radish

Over the weekend I harvested most of the watermelon radishes and roasted them with thyme for everyone to try.  It is an easy recipe of chopping the radishes into bite size pieces, coating them with olive oil and a little thyme. Cook at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

In the garden today we harvested the remainder of the watermelon radishes and sent them back with the gardeners.  The watermelon radish is a pretty one with a bright pink interior….like its namesake.

We also planted two other varieties of radishes because I have a project in mind for everyone later in the season that involves playing with your food.  You will see.

Artists at Work

The young gardeners always have the option of drawing something about the garden in the shade of the pine trees, instead of working in the sunny garden.  Some chose to draw today but didn’t finish their masterpieces. Next week I will post the garden drawings here.

What else did we do?

We weeded and discussed what was happening in the different beds.  We planted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. And we looked over the plants. We noticed the fruits on the tomatoes, the flowers on the potatoes, and how textured the kale leaves are.

Ninety nine percent of gardening is observation. And the young gardeners working with me this summer are great at looking over the plants and noticing when something isn’t as it should be. This is the work of real gardeners and these 60 participants are already showing great  skills.

Good Work Gardeners.

What a great day in the garden – Natalie

Squash Bugs…Ugh!

SquashbugsLast season the squash bugs in the Moreau Community garden caused a lot of damage. Entire plants had to be removed, which is terrible considering all the effort we put into growing them and dreaming of the great meals we will make.

On Sunday, I spotted one of these pests in our garden.  Just as expected, since June is the month they begin to lay eggs.

Preferred Plants

If you’re growing melons, gourds, cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, pumpkins, winter squash, you will want to examine your plants closely and take action swiftly.

Squash bugs are sap-sucking insects that lay clusters of copper-colored eggs on the underside of leaves, often near the base. In garden plots like ours, hand-picking is very effective. Squish the eggs when you see them and put any adults in a jar of soapy water – jars are kept under the bulletin board. Be vigilant and check your plants each time you visit the garden.

Early action is imperative.

This is very important to do as left alone the eggs will hatch and dozens of squash bugs will begin feeding….this usually leads to plant leaves wilting and the plant dying.

The other thing to know is squash bugs will seek to hide in nearby weeds. If the pathway around your plot has weeds, remove them. This will help keep your plot healthy.

If you find you have squash bugs, an application of a 1/4 cup of Diatomaceous earth around the stalk of the plant does help. This treatment is permitted in Certified Organic vegetable production.

If you have other questions, leave them in the comments section of this post and I will answer them.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Coach for the Moreau Community Garden

Beautiful Beginnings….and a little trouble.

Moreau6.7.2015_2

I was in the garden enjoying how fresh and lovely it looks. Flowers blooming. Seedlings sprouting. Moreau6.7.2015_5207

The garden is beautiful.

But I did notice a problem. Something ate the tops off tomatoes and a pepper plant. It also pulled some plants out of the ground. I suspect it was a deer . . . but I’m not 100 percent certain. It might have been a woodchuck. If you see a critter in the beds, please let us know.

Thank you.

This is what the damage looked like. Anyone have experience to know what troublesome varmint feasted in our garden?Moreau6.7.2015_3

Family Gardening Program- Week Six

This week there was a long list of things that needed to be done.

mulhcmoverChores for the older participants included moving wood chips into the flower beds, learning how to save the seeds of bachelor’s button flowers, harvesting and cleaning out the purple bean bed and weeding.

savingseedFortunately, the young gardeners took their chores to heart and completed the work in time to enjoy a special treat…watermelon lemonade.

This lemonade is so easy to make and there wasn’t a single gardener who didn’t like it.  You make it by pureeing two cups of watermelon in a blender and then pouring the watermelon puree through a strainer and into the pre-made lemonade. It is delicious and a very pretty pink.

KALE CHIPS

kaleharvestIn an effort to try new and different vegetable recipes, I researched how to make kale chips. And, I found an easy recipe.

The youngest gardeners, five and six-year-olds,  were responsible for harvesting all the kale, washing it and carrying it back to the kitchen where Miss Laurie baked the kale chips.  She reported that some liked them, others didn’t but that’s OK. They all had the opportunity to try something they hadn’t tried before.

Kale chips are easy to make.

Here’s how, preheat oven to 275 degrees. Remove the rib and then cut the washed kale into two inch pieces. Dry.

Spread kale on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp about 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: curly kale takes longer to crisp then lacinato kale. Kale chips have a nice crunch, like potato chips.

The young gardeners also harvested a huge and heavy zucchini!

bigzucchini The next two groups of gardeners were really busy. They harvested green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and moved more mulch.

Some gardeners drew pictures of what the garden meant to them.  I’m thinking we may do an art show in the Spring!

It was another great day in the garden for the participants in the Family Gardening Program.

 

Family Gardening Program – Celery Harvesting and Tasting

CeleryThis was a busy, busy morning in the garden. The young gardeners pulled weeds, trimmed the herbs, moved mulch, harvested green beans and then trimmed the plants for the experiment. See previous post for more on the experiment.

They also tied tomatoes to the support stakes, removed spent flowers from a plot and collected Batchelor’s Button seeds for next year’s flowers.

But that’s not all!

Every group harvested celery. It wasn’t easy to pull from the ground but all ages showed teamwork and strength and got the plants out, shook off the soil and placed them in a wire basket.  Next, we trimmed off the roots, washed the stalks and ate them with a yogurt based ranch dressing.

Almost everyone agreed that this was good tasting celery. It couldn’t have been any fresher and it certainly had better flavor than the pale stalks we buy at the supermarket.  Even gardeners who thought they didn’t like celery, tried it and found they did.

Some of the young gardeners ate multiple stalks with and without the dressing.  The rule in the garden is you can take a small bite of a vegetable and if you don’t like it, you can politely spit it out.

“But if you are adventurous enough to try something new, you may be surprised you like it.” That is what I say every time a new vegetable is presented.

We also added freshly harvested and chopped parsley to the yogurt dressing and that also meet with approval. The willingness to try new things is terrific.

This was a great day.

I’m looking forward to next week…I’ve got something unusual planned.

 

celery4