Frosty Morning marks the End of Growing Season

 

Last night’s temperature dipped to 29 degrees, and our garden showed the impact this morning.

The icy crystals on the remaining plants and herbs reminded me of crystallized flowers that decorate cakes.  It is very pretty to look at as the frost clings to the edges like lace on a party dress.

It’s time now to clear the beds, we will be sowing annual rye next week and tucking the garden in for the winter. The compost is scheduled to be delivered and the bags will be placed on gardener’s beds on Thursday.

I will be in the garden Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday mornings.  If you are available to help organize the shed and a few other chores, I would appreciate the help.

We tallied the volunteer hours logged and some gardeners haven’t volunteered for the six  hours of service required of every gardener, this would be a way to make up the difference. Remember, you have to have your hours in to be eligible to keep your plot for next season.

See you at the meeting tomorrow, Wednesday night, 7 p.m. at Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring Street.

Warmly, Natalie

 

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Great Sunflower Wreath Making Class with Suzanne Balet-Haight

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 1.56.40 PM Suzanne Balet-Haight taught a wreath making class in her greenhouse on Nelson Avenue Extension this morning using the sunflowers grown in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

It was great fun and each person’s wreath came out very different.  There were Adirondack style wreaths, country cottage wreaths, and even a very elegant wreath.

What did they all had in common? Sunflowers and lots of them.

Suzanne, an excellent teacher, showed everyone the proper way to attach the sunflowers using 22 gauge wire. She demonstrated making bows with grasses and how to secure different flowers she had on hand to the grapevine wreaths. Participants used marigolds, amaranths, Dallas blue grass, cedar, statice, sedums and more.

Lots of Fun and Beautiful, Too

She began by demonstrating how to make floral sprays to attach to the wreath.  Everyone in the class heard the same instructions, but the results were an individual as the participants.  A truly creative experience.Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 1.55.30 PM

Suzanne teaches floral decorating and wreath making throughout our area. She has taught classes on creating Christmas and hydrangea wreaths, and boxwood tree centerpieces.  If you’d like to try your hand at one, contact her through her website,  Balet Flowers and Greenhouse. She is a talented artist and knowledgeable teacher.

Also, a generous one.  The proceeds of the class today were donated to the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens to put towards the Spring fairy gardens the girl scouts are creating. Thank you, Suzanne for sharing your time and talents.

 

What’s the Buzz?

Why it’s the bees of course.

Take a look at the bees and butterflies enjoying our pollinator plants.  Next year, we will create four pollinator beds filled with plants the bees, butterflies and birds find appealing.

If you want to be part of the buzz, let me know. We will need help planning, purchasing and planting seeds and transplants that have been donated.  If you have plants that are suitable for this endeavor, let me know.

We have two holding beds in the gardens with perennials that will be planted for the pollinators next Spring. But, we could use liatris, butterfly weed and echinacea to name a few.  Can you help?

 

Thank you Navy volunteers!

The Navy has been volunteering in the community gardens all summer. What a joy to have them come every week to rake, weed, move gravel, paint and more.  They are willing hands and much appreciated.

Last week, I wanted to send a little sunshine their way and told them to gather a bouquet of the sunflowers to take home with them. And, they did.

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One volunteer gave our scarecrow a sunflower for his pocket while picking some for himself.

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 11.12.45 AM.pngThank you to all the volunteers who helped in the gardens.

You all contributed to the success and sense of community. Thank you.

Tucking in the Garden

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 8.36.00 PM.pngFrost is expected again tonight.  Jim M. and I covered as much as we could with the sheets and row cover we had but not all beds are covered.

If it matters to you, go to the garden and throw a sheet over your tender plants tonight.

BTW – Covering the beds with fabric and an upholster is good fun. He was pulling the cover, draping it like a pro, securing it here and there with an exaggerated care.

“Upholsterers don’t like wrinkles,” he said with a smile.

Made my day. I’m still chuckling. Thanks twice, Jim. Once for coming out to help and again for the good humor.

What Gardeners Need to Know About Tonight’s Frost Advisory

There’s a frost advisory posted on the National Weather Service for our area tonight.  The prediction is temperatures in the 30s.

What this means for gardeners at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens depends on what you’re growing.

Some crops are sensitive to a light frost and you’ll want to harvest them today or you can cover them with a sheet tonight to protect them and take the sheet off in the morning. Other crops improve in flavor when the temperatures dip and there is no need to hurry out to the gardens to get those.

Frost sensitive vegetables include bush and pole beans, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and melons. Very sensitive herbs include basil, marjoram, dill, borage and chamomile.

Vegetables that will survive a light frost are broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, cilantro, mint, thyme, oregano and rosemary. The vines of pumpkins and squash will die, but the vegetables are fine.

A light freeze is 28°–32°F, and a hard freeze is below 28°F. In our area, the first hard frost typically happens in mid-October.  I say typically because our weather earlier this month was anything but typical.

On September 1, we had a light frost touch some of the plants, particularly squashes and pumpkins. This left vines damaged and happened in the lower areas of our community gardens.

 

 

The Plus Side of Frost 

There are vegetables you want to be touched by frost. Some vegetables, like beets, carrots, and parsnips get sweeter and will keep, even when temperatures fall lower, especially if you mulch. Other vegetables and herbs that will survive a frost include: kale, cabbage, leeks, potatoes, turnips, chives, parsley, sage, garlic, onions and Brussel Sprouts. If  you’re growing these, tonight’s weather shouldn’t be a factor.

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There’s Something Magical in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens

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It started simply with an enchanting idea meant to engage children in the Pitney Meadows community gardens.

Why not a fairy garden, an outdoor dollhouse of sorts where buildings were made of materials found in nature such as acorns and shells, with flowering plants that needed tending, and where one’s imagination – and joy in gardening – could take root.

Fortunately, Jess Clauser, a Girl Scout troop leader at Dorothy Nolan school and a PM community gardener, agreed and created a fairy garden in one of the garden’s raised beds, an 8×4 plot, that exceeded all expectations. Her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte, a creative force in and of herself, helped her mother in dozens of ways.

Fairy gardens are not a new idea. They have been around since the 1890s and became popular during the Chicago World’s Fair when bonsai dish gardens were introduced and the idea of magical residents captured people’s imaginations.

Jess, however, carried it to new heights and made it art.

To create her spellbinding space, Clauser brought in logs with mushrooms attached, slices of branches and cultivated little landscapes. She created delightful dwellings, alluring houses, and magical elements like reindeer moss, which, according to fairy lore, can grant wishes. There is a clothesline where the fairies hung their outfits to dry, mini terra cotta pots filled with succulents, swing sets, bridges and tiny lounge chairs, where butterflies have stopped to rest. These accessories made the space looked lived in.

Needless to say, the plot drew (and continues to draw) visitors and gardeners every day as they looked for signs of what the fairies are up to. Clauser, an artist, maintains she has nothing to do with the daily changes. “It’s the fairies,” she says with a wink and a smile.

And apparently, there might be some truth to that as occasionally “gifts” are found and little notes are left that read “from your fairy godmother.” The gifts are little trinkets, including a birdbath sized for the fairies, sparkling glass candy, a bowl of colorful ornaments and a tiny cooking pot.

pineshinglesIf you haven’t come to see the fairy garden, please do. And, stop to see the larger fairy village located in the flower border on the northern edge of the community gardens where the wide pathway ends and the field begins. The border measures 30 feet by 6 feet and has a flourishing row of colorful zinnias, cosmos, bachelor buttons, poppies, sunflowers and more.

It was big enough for a fairy village of about 20 houses the Girl Scouts decorated with natural materials: twigs, acorns, shells, moss and pebbles. The 7 to 10-year-olds worked steadily to make the areas around their houses “fairy friendly” with little patios, mini gardens of their own and in one case, a firepit and tiny Adirondack chairs.

According to legend, fairies have the power to bring happiness. Considering all the smiles I’ve seen on the faces of adults and children as they explore what is in this little village, I think the legend’s true.

The fairy garden will be on exhibit weekends until October 8th, which is the Pitney Meadows Community Farm’s Family Fun Day from 1 to 5 p.m.

And bring a camera, children or your own sense of wonder. You won’t want to miss this.

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