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Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Garden Volunteer Diary

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Farm Hands & Green

Thumbs Needed!

  
Farm & Garden “Goings-on”
Volunteer News
 



If you like to garden, tend farm animals or perform other such physical activities and would like to meet fellow volunteers then this is opportunity knocking at your door. For more information, see Salomon Farm Park.

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  Our Tool Shed   
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Thanks to Eileen McKelvey for sharing this
photo of a volunteer hard at work!!
  

3/31/2014

Hello fellow gardeners!  I do hope you were all able to get out and squint up at that bright beautiful sun today.  How we all so appreciate it after this long, cold winter we have endured.

We had a group of eight of us at the Farm today, and we were able to make short work of cleaning out the flower gardens around the Learning Center.  Brenda, Jim, Eileen, Michelle, Marsha D. and Joyce were joined by newcomers Dave and Cindi.  We cut down dead foilage, raked up stray leaves, gave the grasses a hair cut, and attempted to get the gravel out of some gardens.  The peonies are poking through, as well as some of the daffodils.
 

At break time, after moving our picnic table into the sunshine (we do just the opposite in the heat of July), we shared some rhubarb "soda", using some of last year's rhubarb crop, and some peanuts and graham crackers.  Yum!

We then moved most of the garden tools up to our tool shed.

Carl and Steve ventured out after we left.  Carl got all the apple trees pruned and sprayed with a dormant oil spray.  Steve cleaned up a lot of the vegetable matter that was left from last fall, and surveyed his compost pile.

We will meet again next Monday to do some things in the veggie gardens.  There is another flower garden that needs a good looking at, and some sprucing up.  It is the bed across the road from the unfenced garden, around the volunteer appreciation sign.  With all the rain predicted this week, I doubt we can put any seed into the ground yet. According to our planner, we should be able to direct sow cool season crops on the 14th.  Carl says we can, however, sow under our cold frame on the south side of the tool shed.  So we'll put some lettuces and spinach under there.  And IF there's room, I suppose we could throw some radish seed there too....
 

I thought I'd share some of my "wish list" projects with you all.  If you have an interest or a knack for, or are just bored with the cold temps we've had, and want to feel challenged, let me know if you'd like to tackle any of them.

1 - make a "magic halo" or something similar to hang over the bluebird nesting boxes to try to keep the sparrows away.  See the following, item, # 7 in the article http://michiganbluebirds.org/problem-solving href="http://michiganbluebirds.org/problem-solving">http://michiganbluebirds.org/problem-solving.  It doesn't have to be the exact same thing, just something of the same idea.
 

2 - dig trenches (12" deep?) and bury PVC pipe large enough to run our supply hose from the spigot to the back garden.  Peel back the sod, dig the trench, lay the pipe (1.5" diameter??), gluing together any sections as we go, put the dirt back on top of it, replace sod).  We may need some sort of 45 degree angle on either end of the pipe to bring the opening up to grade.  We may also need some sort of end cap to keep too much rain from entering it.

This way, we can just push our hose through the pipe and leave it there all gardening season, and not have to worry about the mowers running over them.  We will need to get a cost estimate to Karla and an ok to spend the money (unless you want to fund it yourself, of course!).

3 - Same thing as #2 above, except for the fenced garden.  It will be a longer trench, with a bend in it to get around the tool shed.
 

4 - Get a cost estimate to run a drip irrigation system to some of the beds.  This is the type that we simply lay on the top of the beds, hook up the supply, and let 'er rip...um, I mean drip.  I was thinking the corn and tomato beds to begin with.  This would be five beds in total, and they are all in the unfenced garden this year.  We can see if it works well, and if so, decide if we want to expand it a bit each year.  Let me know if you're interested in this, and I can get with you on which beds would be involved.

I know there are a few other things, but my little old memory has gone to bed.

One last thing: if you have a favorite vegetable you love working with, or if you prefer to work with flowers, and would like to take that on as your own regular task for this season, please let us know.  My thinking is that after the garden is in full swing, as you arrive at the gardens, you would first tend to the beds you've adopted, and then join us in other tasks in the garden.  The compost king position has been taken, though.
 

Well, for those of you who know my past ramblings, I feel I have fallen severely short on the humor in this post.  I'll see if I can't remedy that in the future.  And of course, as we get to know everyone and have more time together, I can gather more "material" for that humor!

Enjoy our spring days this week, even if it is inside with a good book and a cup of tea.  At least it won't be snowing!
 

See you at the Farm.

Brenda
 
3/25/2014
 
Well, with yet ANOTHER dusting of snow on the ground this spring, and the promise of 60 degrees this weekend, I just can't wait any longer.  I'm officially calling a work day next Monday, the 31st.  This will just be a one day thing, not the start of our regular "Monday & Thursday schedule", as I think the plots in the veggie gardens are way too wet to work.
 
With the warmer temps this weekend, our bulbs and other surprises may start peeking up this weekend, so we should get to those flower gardens, get them cleaned out, and dead brush clipped back.  This is more difficult to do as the stems get taller.  We will work in the flower gardens around the Learning Center (the first building with a large parking area you see as you follow the entrance road into the Farm), as well as gardens around the information signs.
 
We do have some hand tools to use, but if you have your own favorites, bring them.  Also, if you have a garden rake, please bring that too, as we only have one or two there.
 
Currently, the forecast for Monday is calling for a 40% chance of rain.  If you don't mind a bit of drizzle, join us.  If I decide not to go out, I will send out an email by 7:40am.  Please note that I do not always do that.
 
Feel free to wear your garden boots and gloves.
 
Keep warm and cozy as we work through these remaining cold temps!
 
See you at the Farm.

Brenda
6/1/2013 
 
I guess by now you think I don't have any thing to do but go over and look at our little rain garden.  I really do have other things to occupy my time, but I wanted to be sure we got this project going in the right direction.  
 
During the night this past Friday into Saturday morning, my rain gauge at home measured 3.5 inches.  So at 7:00 a.m. I drove the 8 miles to Salomon (a bit south and west) to see what was happening.
 
I found the rain garden with a bit of water still at the downspout area and small trickle still coming in.  There obviously had been some overflow at the far end which is what I wanted to see.  Now I know where to put the overflow area so the mulch won't be washed away.  
 
IA bit of the shredded mulch was washed away, but I think we can correct that situation.  Thanks to everyone for all of their labor on this project at the Farm.  
 
Kathy
 
5/27/2013

It was a perfect morning to see how the rain garden is working at the Learning Center.  Even though it doesn't have the finishing touches of mulch around the plants, it still looks GOOD!  Thanks to everyone (including some Parks crew) who have been so helpful in creating the garden.  
 
I wanted to see how it is doing and it IS DOING!  What a joy!  A couple of days ago after I planted it, then flooded it, I went over the following morning to see if it had drained and it had.  There were a couple of small birds hanging out in the area, perhaps enjoying the moist earth. Made my heart go pitter pat!
 
When you tell your friends about our rain garden, encourage them to attend the workshops that are being offered in many locations.  And as I mentioned earlier, we got our plants at the Native Plant Sale that took place on Saturday as a joint venture between FW City Utilities and Riverview Nursery in Spencerville.
 
Enjoy our raining day.  The weeds will pull much easier now!.......course they'll probably grow more too.
 
Kathy
 
P.S.  I also sprinkled some organic fertilizer on the 2 straw bales I've had placed between the herb beds....(I might move one of them so when they begin to collapse they won't block the path entirely.)  I'm going to try some "Straw Bale Gardening".  I toyed around with it last summer at home and learned some things.....have done a bit of reading and learned a bit more....It will be interesting to watch!


5/25/2013

Today in all innocence I went to the Native Plant Sale at Salomon Farm.  The sale was a joint venture with RainGardenFortWayne and Riverview Nursery.  My plan was to look and get ideas about the plants.  But, Martha, the consultant that I met with a week or so ago was there as was Mary Jane Slaton who said the application for the incentive program was approved and we could buy up to $250.00 for plants and be reimbursed.  Martha  helped me select plants that would be suitable for the area; the numbers needed and even improved the lay out of them for me.  So, I bought them.  One gallon container and 37 plugs!  Well, seeing them all laid out there, I decided it would be foolish to gather them up and house them until there were volunteers to help plant them.  So, I put them in and flooded the area.  This is what I got.....Swamp Hibiscus, Swamp Butterfly Weed, Spotted Joe Pye weed, Great Blue Lobelia, Purple Cone Flower, Yellow Cone flower, liatris, fox sedge, mountain mint, monarda, and blue flag.  That is what I remember.  

The mulch for the area was delivered yesterday afternoon.  We have a PLENTIFUL amount!  Way more than we'll need for the rain garden....don't know where we went wrong with calculations, but Karla, you might enjoy having mulch around your plants in the raised beds.  And Brenda we can mulch vegetables in the back without using your "dreaded straw" mulch.
 
So if we have some volunteers on Monday, we should be able to get the rain garden mulched.  Then except for keeping it watered during this summer, we should be good to go.  Still need some river stones or something for the area below the downspout and maybe some smaller stone for the overflow area at the north end.  I'd like to see what the natural tendency is when (if) it gets full enough to overflow.
 
Kathy 

5/16/2013

Well some things were accomplished, but I sure missed Brenda.  She is much better at reading her map of the gardens than I am.  Hopefully I didn't mess things up too much.  We planted some tomatoes.....not all of them.  Jim planted some watermelon and squash seeds.  I wanted to plant eggplant, but it looked like something else was in the  bed where I thought the eggplant was meant to be....thankfully she will be back in the driver's seat on Monday and can get us back on course. Andrea and children, Pam, and Joyce tolerated my ineptness and were gracious about it.  Thank you for that.  

Carl tended to the orchard, spraying the apple trees and mowing the grass.  He may have done some digging around the base of the trees too, I'm not sure.  Marsha, Jeffrey and Steve did some leveling out of the new rain garden bed, WHICH BY THE WAY got dug out on Wednesday by some guys from the city.  Amazingly the fella I talked with on the phone was able to understand my description of what I wanted done and he couldn't even see all the hand and arm waving around I was doing!  Max added a bot of smoothing out around the edge of the depression.  Next we need to put in 3 - 4 inches of shredded mulch and the plants (which haven't yet been purchased).  Carolyn is keeping the rest of the Learning Center beds in good shape!  She has been a trouper in those beds this year! 

Lois was back today too!  She did a lot of the watering.  She is back from India and brought some delicacies for break time.  Thursday will be her day to come to the Farm.  Steve is going to bring "Garbage Cake" on Monday and Carl said Nadine is bringing a rhubarb treat on Thursday, so our hard work will be well rewarded!  
 
See you at the Farm.  Things are hoppin'!
 
Oops!  Speaking of things hoppin'!  We have a killdeer nesting in an unplanted bed in the unfenced garden.  Killdeer are migratory birds and therefor protected by a federal law related to migratory birds that was passed in 1918.  It is a misdemeanor to interfere with a next once eggs are in the nest.  This particular nest has one egg.  Typical is 4 - 6.  And the incubation period is 22 - 28 days.  We didn't have yellow CAUTION tape to put around, but put orange cones out.  Karla will bring some tape and put it in the shed.  
 
Kathy
 

5/14/2013

Wouldn't you know!  When I least expect it, the morning turned out to be a good day.  I was greeted by 3 smiling faces when I got to the Farm this morning and a bit later, another smiling face showed up!

Steve, Marsha, Eileen and Carolyn got everything dug out for the rain garden "to be".  Then we discovered the "clean out" for one of the lines coming out of the building,   With orange markings nearby!  I have no idea what orange stands for.  So tomorrow I'll call the number for assistance with rain gardens to see what kind of a dilemma we are in. 
 
The bulbs and plants that were dug out, were placed around in other places to spread their cheer.  
 
As we took our well deserved break, I noticed the nearly knee high grass in the chicken yard.  So, Steve bravely muscled the mower through it with the bit of gas remaining in the mower.  While he did that, Marsha and Eileen watered and trimmed back the newly transplanted rhubarb.  Carolyn watered in the bulbs and plants we moved and everyone went home with a smile on their faces.  
 
Oh!  I almost forgot!  Eileen pointed out a white-crowned sparrow in the orchard.  They are migrating through right now.  Eileen says they hang around for about 10 days.
 
Hope to see you Thursday.  I went over to the greenhouse today and brought out the last of the transplants to put in the garden, so we will be working on those on Thursday.
 
Kathy
 

4/12/2013

I thought I'd attempt to give an update on the last week's endeavours at the Farm.   

Last Thursday, some crazy volunteer thought we should get going at the Farm, so with cloudy skies and 30 degree weather, a dozen of us ventured out to see what we could get going.  If I remember correctly, we had veteran volunteers Kathy, Michelle, Jim, Marsha, Carolyn, Eileen and Brenda there to greet new volunteers Joyce, Mary, Marilyn, Steve, Max, and two others this little brain can't remember - so forgive me!  We got out some hoses and our tools from the barn and moved them up to our tool shed.  Then we planted some lettuce, and turned a few beds before retreating to the relative "warmth" of the barn to have our break.  A break which will go down in the history books as one of the VERY few that we didn't have any munchies at.  Marsha had stopped by McD's and picked up some hot coffee, and that was shared by a few.  We called it a day shortly after break - I just couldn't get warm!  Thought about starting a fire....  : ) 

This past Monday was a good day - much warmer than last Thursday.  Steve, Carl, Max, Marsha and Michelle turned beds, while new volunteer Andrea and her three beautiful up and coming gardeners topped the asparagus and rhubarb beds with compost, then planted peas.  We also got potatoes, onions, more peas, beets and arugula seed planted.  Dick joined us, and he and Max hauled some wood chips up front for the flower gardens for Carolyn.  As I left, Carl and Max were working on trimming up the apple trees.  Maybe we'll have some to munch on this fall, Mother Nature permitting! 

All in all, it's a great start to the season!  And although it deterred (most) of us from going to the farm today, we were in need of a good rain to get those seeds going.  My apologies to Jim and Marsha for not getting that note out sooner to let them know I wasn't going to the Farm today!  What troopers!  

I apologize again if I didn't note your name, if you were with us at the Farm the last week.  I do appreciate everyone's interests and efforts. 

Right now, it looks like Monday has a chance of rain, but it should be warm.  So unless it's pouring or I see a definite big rain system moving in, I'll probably be there.  But like we always say, you make your own call on whether or not you want to weather the weather....

We have a few more seeds to get in the beds, and we're looking at edging and mulching the gardens, painting plant markers, and hauling some more wood chips up for Carolyn at the Learning Center Flower Gardens.  I also have a few ideas for trellises and plant supports we can muse over/begin building. 

Jim asked me if I would be able to keep everyone busy if we have all these wonderful volunteers.  My reply was yes, and that perhaps we could have a longer break after working and then just go home, knowing the garden had been wonderfully tended! 

Please let us know if you have any questions/concerns.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday. H
ave a great weekend.

Brenda 

P.S. Almost forgot to mention...we planted radishes too...but Carl almost threw that packet of Rat Tailed variety back at me when he asked for the seed.  Seems he feels about the Rat Tailed variety the same way I feel about all of them...they may as well all be Rat Tailed variety in my book. : )

Just a bit of tag along on Brenda's note.  I've been planting seeds at the greenhouse.....some began in the middle of February.  Those early birds were leeks, but we didn't get a very good start with those.  Seems the seed germinating bench was malfunctioning and it got to hot in some places.....one of those places must have been under the leeks...I did a couple of different plantings of those, so maybe we'll have a few to plant out.  In March I began the cool weather crops that we start inside.  Things like broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage.  Some of those will be ready to put in the ground when the ground is ready...not this next week, but the week after.  

In the middle of March some celery, chard, parsley, various flowers, fennel, and another batch of cabbage were seeded.  Little bitty things now, but some of them did get moved up into 6 packs last week.  Along with moving those earlier seedlings out of the germination trays into packs, I seeded peppers, some more flowers, fennel, and kohlrabi.  Most of the flowers will be for the vegetable beds to encourage our pollinator and predator insect friends.  Those would be butterflies (with the exception of the pesky white cabbage butterfly that gives us those little green worms), lady bugs (all growth stages), praying mantis, assassin bugs, syrphid (or hover) flies to name a few.  Some of the flowers are edible, however we don't seem to use them in that way.  

This past Tuesday I started the tomato and tomatillo seeds, basil, a butterfly mix of flowers, eggplant and zinnias.  I read somewhere in the past month that tansy (a flower) will deter flea beetle.  So last week while at Carolee's Herb Farm south of Hartford City, I bought 3 little starts.  Those of you that have been around for a while know that we do have trouble with flea beetle on the eggplant (severely) and the flat leaf kale (moderately).  So, I'll be experimenting to see if we can lessen that damage this year.  

In the upcoming weeks, it will be time for planting okra, cucumbers, squash and melons....maybe a few more flowers.  The flowers up around the Learning Center are mostly perennials, bulbs and rhizomes.  There are a few annuals there as well, but not so many.  Surely some of the dahlias started from seed will go up front.  

Speaking of the Learning Center; Renee and I met with Mary Jane Slaton who is with City Utilities.  We had preliminary conversation about installing a rain garden between the sidewalk and patio under the awning of the LC.  on the east side...the area where the spout extensions attempt to shoot the water over the garden area onto the sidewalk.  Renee will be completing the paper work to receive the incentive benefit from the city which subsidizes some of the plantings that will be used...up to $250.  Renee is going to "look around" to see if maybe some volunteer has some equipment to help with the digging, but it is very likely that we at the Farm will have to do that ourselves.  The area will need to be dug out 6 or 7 inches and then filled back with about 3 inches of shredded mulch.  Perhaps the hardest part will be pulling out a couple of spirea bushes, but there will be plenty of "hard part" to go around.  

This turned out to be more than a "bit" didn't it?  What can I say, some days you just can't shut me up!

See you in the gardens!

kathy

P.S. Don't forget to put on a name tag when you sign in until we have a chance to learn one another's names.   

 5/11/2012

A Sunny weekend to you all!
 
Just a reminder about Monday -
 
We'll work (play?) as usual, then probably will break a bit early.  Those who wish to go on to Carl's home to help plant corn or tour the Scholz "Farm" will leave then.
 
Carl said something about "Nadine providing the break goodies", which will happen at his home.  We won't plan on any goodies or actual break time at the Farm Monday...guess Nadines' treats would be as good an incentive as any to go on to Carl's on Monday, but you don't have to if you don't want to!
 
Planting the corn there shouldn't take too long.
 
Again (and again - starting to sound like a broken record here), the Farm gardens look the best they've looked in years.  Thank You! to ALL our volunteers for all the hard effort this spring.  It is so inspiring to see us work together as a team to make this happen - though it's beginning to feel more and more like my extended "Farm Family". 
 
This week, we ended up on Thursday doing a "weed sweep", as I like to call it, of both the fenced and the unfenced gardens, including poring over those strawberry and raspberry beds where the weeds like to hide from us.  Noreen came into the orchard and wondered what "that pink weed was", only to realize it was a strawberry ripening.  Looks like, with everything happening early this year, those berries may ripen before market opens.  What will we do with those fresh, ripe, sweet berries????  I wonder if Jim, Noreen, and Dick like strawberries as much as they like asparagus.
 
We took the row cover off the potato bed with the kohlrabi in it.  Both looked very happy - and no bug damage on the kohlrabi.  I think they were very glad for the extra blanket during those cold spells.
 
We also managed to get the hoses all connected and organized.  Remember, if you water the gardens, there is a "feeder" hose, one each from the spigot to each of the gardens.  Just pull that one hose to the other two hoses in whichever garden you may be watering.  They have "quick connects" on them.  This makes it easy to just deal with one short hose to provide the water.  This sounds awfully confusing, so just ask if there's a question.  May be easier to show you. 
 
Michelle F. transplanted more sunflowers AROUND the OUTSIDE of the gardens.  You'll see them on each of the corners, in the corner of the coop, and around the birdbath.  Earlier, Eileen (and others I don't remember who - sorry!) planted a few rows of sunflowers on the east side of the unfenced garden.  Remember, while we dearly love our sunflowers, and they are great sellers, we don't want them IN our vegetable beds this year.  I'm sure we'll have other sunflowers mature on the compost heap too.
 
Carolyn will be happy to hear that we loaded up wood chips in Jim's truck and got quite a bit mulched in the Learning Center Flower gardens.  AND I got my Farmin' truck ride on the tailgate.  Nothing like the breeze in your hair with your feet swinging loosely over the tailgate.  My parents never had a pickup truck....
 
We then gathered up lettuce, spinach and some herbs, as well as ourselves, and sat down to a buffet of goodies for our salad lunch.  Jim even joined us this year (but he did make some comment when he was finished about going home to have some meat).  We had pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, dried cherries, fresh grapes, strawberries and pears, feta and chevre cheese, crackers, bread, seaweed sheets (yes, seaweed sheets), olives, bean salad, and a few cookies.  Oh, yes, and radishes - how on Earth could I forget that??  Michelle W. even brought a home made salad dressing made from the maple syrup she helped gather earlier in the Spring.  Thanks to everyone for making lunch complete - well, for most of us anyway.
 
Next week, we may see some transplants making their way over to the new home we have for them.  Transplants of both the animal and the vegetable kind.  Kathy L. may be joining us as the transplanting in the greenhouse begins to wrap up, and Karla said the chickens should arrive this week.  We may be doing some direct sowing also.  If you're new to the garden this year, we'd like to make sure we cover a few pointers about puting transplants in the ground before we begin.  Some you may be familiar with, some not.  And as always, please don't hesitate to ask questions.  And don't take it personally if we decide to reset a transplant you put in.  We just want to make sure all our plants are cozy so they produce a great crop to support our Salomon Farm.
 
My, my.  Didn't my note grown into something much more.  Did someone pour Miracle-Write on me or what?
 
Smiling about Salomon -
 
Brenda



5/8/2012

Well, with the good rain we had yesterday, it kind of cancelled corn planting at Carl's.  He has requested we try again next Monday so as not to interfere with Salad Thursday.
 
I was at the Farm for just a bit (of asparagus); we had about 0.7" of rain when I left.  The corn has sprouted there, as have most of the things we have seeded.  I'm sure we'll see lots of growth when we return on Thursday.
 
So Thursday is Salad day if you care to stay and join us.  We'll have lettuce, spinach, herbs and whatever potluck items we have to share.  Bring your own tableware and a drink.  If we happen to get rained out again, we can still have salad if everyone wants to.
 
Brenda


5/3/2012

Hey all you Farm hands:
 
Just a couple things going on next week I want to let everyone know about.
 
On Monday after the break, Carl will be heading back to his own Scholz Farm garden to plant some more corn.  He would like to have a few of us go with him to help.  You see, Carl would like to have this big, yummy batch of corn this year for US to eat (ok, maybe we'll sell some too) instead of letting the Salomon raccoons get it all again this year.  He said he isn't able to be at the Farm all the time to see that the scoundrels don't bite into it.  But at his house he can "take care of them".  You'll have to ask him yourself just how he does that....
 
Secondly, the last few years, we've had a "Salad Lunch Day" at the Farm in the spring.  We will be doing this next Thursday, the 10th.  After we've worked up a good appetite tending the garden, we'll harvest some lettuce and spinach, and a few tasty other goodies from the gardens, add a couple of things from home, and enjoy a nice little lunch.
 
If you'd like to join us for this, please bring your own tableware, some salad fixin's to share (i.e. nuts, dried fruit, cheese, crackers), and a drink if you'd like something other than Farm water (it's good old Fort Wayne City water - totally potable).  I always suggest you bring some of your favorites; it's always fun to see what things are other's favorites, and then try something different.  Reminds me of church potlucks when I was a kid.  Great food, even better company, a full belly, and a few laughs.
 
Well, I almost made it all on one page.
 
Have a great weekend!
 
Brenda
 
 
5/2/2012

Well...what CAN I say??  I am speechless at how the Gardens are looking...especially this early in the year.  I can't thank all of you enough for your hard work, dedication, and enjoyable spirits (no - we haven't been drinking any Salomon Farm funny stuff or anything... just a great bunch of people to be with!).  And what better way to cap off Monday's work that with the good dose of rain we got.  I recorded 1.25 inches here at home, with another half inch yesterday and last night.  Yippee!
 
I just finished logging the volunteer hours through April 19th; we have worked over 222 hours, and that doesn't even include the hours Kathy L. has put in at the Lawton Greenhouse, or the hours Carolyn is working in the flower gardens up front.  That's over 5 man (woman?) weeks!  This time last year, we had logged 65 hours.  Of course the volunteers there were working hard, we just didn't have all of you there then.  Thank You! for joining us in the gardens at Salomon Farm.
 
In this short time, we have managed to prep almost all of the beds, edged and mulched BOTH gardens, weeded BOTH strawberry beds, planted onions, potatoes, peas, carrots, corn, lettuce, arugula, and spinach, transplanted kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, and sunflowers (no sunflowers in the beds this year, but anywhere else is fine!), mulched almost all the paths, taken up the old coldframe by the orchard (another space for those beautiful sunflowers!), helped Carolyn with the flower gardens at the Learning center by cutting back Spirea and mulching, and clearing part of the compost area to transplant - more sunflowers!  And this year, we had to thin the blossoms on the apple trees because there were so many.  On one day, all you saw were legs sticking down from the trees, as three or four of us had our heads in the blossoms.  Now that was a sight!  I've never seen the trees look so "leggy".  Thinning to one or two blossoms per cluster will help the fruit be larger.
 
A funny thing I noticed when I was logging the hours; both Jim and Carl noted that they planted "Pot".  What variety was that?  Now, I don't have that anywhere on the garden plans, so Jim and Carl, if you could all let us know where you put that, we'd be happy to share in your venture.
 
The sunflowers sell VERY well at the Farmer's Market, so we do want a good supply.  But they will pull nutrients from veggies if left in the beds, so we're attempting to move them to many different places around the gardens.  You may also take them home, but I'd do it Thursday if that is on your To-Do list, as they become more difficult to transplant as they get larger.  And with the warm temps predicted, they will grow A LOT this week!
 
Everything, except the peas, seems to be doing well, and I look forward to seeing what the rain made happy.  We have one pea bed that looks very good; the other two seem to be struggling.  Could those peas have been planted upside down??  Should have let Carl do it....
 
The asparagus seems to look a bit sick.  Kathy P. thinks it may be viral (but not contagious); it could be fungal too.  The asparagus season will be winding down soon, so be sure to take a few spears (Noreen? Dick? Jim?) as it will be another 11 months before you can have thost sweet wonderful spears again.
 
Carl did teach Eileen the tamp dance when they planted corn this year.  And a few of us modified it for other veggies.  Maybe that's what is wrong with those peas.
 
Carl's wife, Nadine, graciously served us rhubard crisp last week.  Yum.  Those are days you don't want to miss. 
 
With the rain, not only will our flowers and veggies grow, so will those weeds.  So I think we'll be doing a weed sweep tomorrow.  Please don't let that keep you from the gardens. Maybe we can find that "Pot" Carl and Jim planted.
 
Well, the bright sunshine and my own gardens are calling me.  The plants are lonely and want more friends.  If I didn't pick on you in this note, don't be offended.  I'm sure your turn will come.  I may not quite know you yet, or you haven't done or said anything cute - that I've caught.  Please know it's all in jest.  You all seem like wonderful people, and I've enjoyed this start to our season.  And I love bringing a smile to people...a bit of sunshine for their day, you might say.
 
Speaking of a smile, I thought I'd include last year's poem for you new volunteers (set to the cadence of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'):
 

Twas the first week of April,

So we sounded the alarm.

Time to start digging

At Salomon Farm!

The first day was set,

April 7th it’ll be.

What I didn’t tell -

It was the birthday of me!

First Brenda arrived, then Jim, Carl, and Pat

And we all walked back to the barn.

Gathering our tools to move back to the shed

Shovels and rakes filled our arms.

Then to the Asparagus bed we approached

To cut down last year’s brown fronds.

When out of the reeds flew a mother duck!

OH!  Why didn’t she build her nest near the ponds??

What would the fate of those poor eggs be?

I wondered as only a Mom could.

We completed our task very quickly, we did

So Mother duck would return as she should.

Then to the back gardens everyone went

To plant a whole bed of spring peas

When what to Brenda’s astonishment

In the shed, there were NO SEEDS!

But Carl had brought some potatoes from home

Not to eat, but to plant in our garden

So we turned some more beds, such nice rich soil,

And successfully got those plants started.

Jim poked in the compost, turned his shovel, then said

Tell Renee we need some manure!

We can’t have great compost without it.

That is what makes it for sure!

We pulled a few weeds, had a snack in the barn,

Some good conversation, a few laughs.

Then we said our goodbyes, see you Monday, have fun!

And walked to our cars on the paths.

So come one and come all to our Salomon Farm

Join us in garden chores, you’ll see

To work on the Farm with chickens and ducks

Brings Brenda such silly glee!

 
And of course, for this year, my silly brain just couldn't help it.  This one needs to be sung in your head to the theme song of The Beverly Hillbillies - should I name it "The Salomon Farmies"?  Here's a link to the music if you want to play that while you read. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DWAaWgcga0
 

Now this here’s a story ‘bout Farm volunteers

A group growing veggies in the dirt every year.

Along 'bout March they were looking at their seeds

One sent an email – let’s turn the beds and pull the weeds…

…Even though…it’s still early march

Well the first thing you know, volunteers everywhere

Planting carrots here and some beets over there (yuck)

While taking a great break, truck comes over ‘long the road

And dumps a load of pure-brown-gold

…Ahh, fresh smelling… steaming pile

THE FARM VOLUNTEERS!

See you all on Thursday!

Brenda


3/31/2012


A Mighty Team of Four worked some muscles at the Farm this  morning around the Learning Center.  Brenda H., Linda H., and Divya B. and I braved the chilly temperatures of the day.  We began by taking a "walk about" to see what was to be done and "lo and behold!  Look at the magic done by the weekday groups!" 

Linda and Divya put there backs into side "rooting out" of the spirea bushes.  They have been doing their sidewise growing for several years now, so I decided this was the year to try to corral them in a bit.  They got about a third of the bushes done.  Nine to go yet!  We ran into some very thick spirea side shoots that thwarted our shovels and the limb lopper that is there.  I'll bring a bigger lopper and pruning saw for next Saturday (4/14) A bigger lopper or saw will be needed when the lilacs are ready to prune as well.
 

Brenda and I worked at the bushes for a bit, but then got diverted into deadheading and weeding. I pruned the rose bush even though it is way past the time it ought to have been done.  Better to do it some than not at all.  (I should put that on my late February/early March calendar to do next year.)  I wonder if there is a place for a forsythia?  My bushes were certainly outstanding this year as were they all.  
All of the peonies have emerged.  And they have been encircled with their support.  Someone else did that before we arrived today.   Several of the bulb clumps are in need of fertilizer so, I'll bring some for the next time. I began decreasing the size of one of the mum clumps.  I think they are trying to take over the real estate in the flower beds.  Several of them are spreading into their neighbors.  The irises are coming along nicely.  Yikes!  I saw a flower scape on one of the daylilies! What in the world????  
  
Still a lot of work to be done.  And, it will happen bit by bit.

Until the next time,  take time to enjoy the spring!

Kathy


3/30/2012

Greetings to all! 

What a week we've had at the Farm.  I don't want to jinx anything (not that I REALLY believe in that sort of thing), but we are doing so well right now.  With these early spring temperatures, we've been able to direct sow all the early plants, and most of the beds are prepped and ready for transplants.
 
Since we began 1 1/2 weeks ago, we have planted peas - snap, shelling and pods (hopefully right-side-up, Carl!), lettuce, carrots, onions (red, yellow-super sweet, white, and scallions), arugula, spinach, beets, and some red potatoes Carl brought from home.  Oh, yes, and we planted radishes too...somehow I almost forgot about those.  But they are the only ones poking through the soil so far.
 
The garlic and leeks that went in last fall are looking good.  Kathy L. (we have a Kathy L. and a Kathy P., and three Lindas (!!!)) heeled in some celery last fall, and since our winter was mild, it appears as though it make make a comeback this spring.  We (OK - I) inadvertantly pulled up a dahlia that was left last fall, mistaking it for a weed until I noticed the tubers still appeared to be viable.  I'm hoping a little sweet talk and those love pats I gave it will pull it through.
 
And of course, our asparagus patch has been going to town.  We finally got that weeded a bit, and Jim threw on a bit of compost to make it even happier.
 
Hats off to all our new volunteers: Dick, who does wonders with a shovel, Noreen, Lois (pronounced "Loyce", like Joyce with an L), Linda, Linda, Linda (no, I am NOT repeating myself in error!), Ward, and Marsha, all of whom have not hesitated to go at all those weeds that took advantage of those warm temperatures we've had.
 
And to our returning volunteers too, Carl, who tamp dances, Jim, whom Carl has taught to tamp dance, Eileen, who with Noreen's help, made the June bearing strawberries VERY happy on Thursday by pulling all those nasty weeds taking up prime space in that bed (I think Carl will be happy to see that too).  And it's good to see Kathy P. again.  She made like the weed tornado and pulled one of our bid beds in the fenced garden on Monday.  Looks great Kathy P.!  Michelle was there too, feeding us Thursday with wonderful home made snicker doodles.  
 
Kathy L. is still busy at the greenhouse with our starts that will be transplanted in May.  And she is also offering time to be at the Farm on Saturday mornings for those whose schedules do not allow them to work during the week.  If you are interested in being in the garden then, please contact Kathy to let her know you will be there at i This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  I believe they are meeting at 9 am.
 
BTW - for you new volunteers, we make good guniea pigs for new recipies you may want to try!
 
Potatoes are in now at Henderson Reed.  I will bring them on Monday to be planted.  There is still a lot that can be done in the gardens.  If you have a favorite tool, please feel free to bring it with you to use at the farm.  Remember, we understand if you are limited in what tasks you are able to do.  Please don't over-exert yourselves.  We appreciate that you are there and will do everything we can to find a task suitable to you abilities. 
 
And please don't forget to sign in and out.  The Parks department uses this information when applying for grants.  Grant makers like to see how many people are involved and are more inclined to make a grant when they see so much interest and activity there.
 
Let's hope for some rain this weekend - and any time next week - except Monday and Thrusday mornings. 
 
I look forward to seeing everyone again!
 
Brenda


3/27/2012

Hi everyone!  

We are so glad to have all of you interested in joining us.  For those of you who can't come over on Monday and Thursday mornings, I've looked for the Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings when I can join you in the garden. I've scheduled 3 of each.  Then we'll see how it's going and how comfortable you are feeling about working on your own.  And who's to say, I may pop in at times to see how you all are doing. 

 
Saturday: 3/31, 4/7, 4/14 from 9:00 a.m. to 11;00 or 11;30ish
Tuesday evening: 4/3, 4/10, 4/17 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 ish.
  
We will assume the weather is always going to be agreeable.....silly me, don't we live in Indiana?  If I see the weather is not going to be cooperative, I'll send an e-mail early Saturday morning.  For the evening folks, since you are likely coming from work, I'll call the number I have on record.  If you have a different number you want me to use, you can send it to me by return e-mail or give it to me at the garden.  
I'm happy to make these arrangements so everyone has a chance to play in the dirt, but I will appreciate very much if you let me know when you are coming and if you have to change your plans after saying you will be there, please call me on my cell phone 705-0281 and let me know of the change. 
 
Brenda Willis frequently sends out an e-mail to tell about what all takes place on Monday and Thursday mornings, so we'll get some of our direction from that note.  But, it could be when we arrive, we'll discover our own little crisis to keep us busy.  There is plenty of room in the gardens to spread out and work on your own or work together.  Let me know if you prefer working with the vegetables or the flowers.  Or, maybe you like both.

Always remember to sign in and out when you are there and some notation about what you did.  Bring your own gloves (if you wear them), bug repellent if you need it, sunscreen if you need it.  you might want to bring your own water.  

Once again, Welcome to the Farm!

Kathy


3/20/2012


All:
 
It was a productive work day at the Farm, even though we gave such short notice!
 
Upon arrival, I took my usual tour of the beds and noticed several green spears poking through the dried fronds in the asparagus bed.  What better place to begin the season than there.  Plus I remembered the duck that decided to make a nest there last year because the fronds were still up.  Thought I'd avoid that situation again this year.  Of course, one can't always see all those spears poking up while cutting down the dried stuff, and you inevitably break off a couple.  What to do...what to do....  Nothing like a few fresh spears to augment the oatmeal breakfast you just ate!  YUM!
 
Carl came and got out the tilller.  Noreen arrived and we moved many tools and one more wheelbarrow to the shed.  Then Eileen and Jim followed.  We planted peas, carrots, lettuce and those dreaded radishes.  We also prepped beds for onions and potatoes.  I stopped by Henderson Reed and picked up onion sets.  Potatoes are not in yet - next week.  Is there any scallion seed?  We grew some last year pretty successfully.
 
Looking at last year's sign in sheets, we noted we're about three weeks ahead of last year.  Not that that matters any - everything in it's own time.
 
Kathy sent the following report regarding greenhouse activitites:
 
Today at the Greenhouse:
It was a short planting list this week compared to last.  I planted a second round of cabbage and 2 kinds of nasturtiums.  The nasturtiums have been poor germinators in the past, even after Amanda advised me to soak them for 12 hours.  So, I tried something different this time.  (Read about it as a means of scarifying seed to encourage germination.)  I put the seed in the freezer overnight, then this morning, I pour hot water on the.  The idea is the sudden change of temperature will cause the shell of the seed to crack, thus permitting easier germination.  We'll see how it goes.  I planted some that didn't get any pre-treatment to compare germination rate.
After planting the seed, I checked the seed that I'd planted over the last several weeks.  The leeks that I started Feb. 21 have germinated, but not abundantly.  The ones planted 2 weeks later haven't poked their noses out yet.  The Red Russian Kale, kohlrabi and cabbage that I planted on March 5th were ready to be potted up to the next size.  We will have way more cabbage and kale than our garden plan calls for, so let me know if you would like some starts for your home patch.  The chard and celery planted last week are poking through.  Also the moss rose and helenium.  No sign of the parsley yet.  
I hope you all had a good day at the Farm.  Missed being there, but was having fun on my own.

Kathy Lee

We'll start regular schedule at the Farm next week.  Monday and Thursday mornings.  We won't do any more this week. 
 
Let's hope for a good rain!
 
See you on the Farm!
 
Brenda

3/17/2012

I visited the gardens at the Farm after giving a class there this afternoon.  Here is what I saw!

Carl has pruned the apple trees!  And without me calling him!  Thank you, Thank you!  They look great.  And he has taken the glass off the cold frame.  There are a few lettuce sprouts, but mostly it is full of arugula going to seed.  They are lovely to look at.

The rhubarb is emerging; even the ones that were transplanted.  Looks like one of the celery that I stuck in with those rhubarb to hold them for awhile, is starting new growth.  If that is the case, it will go to seed this year.  Saw some parsley greening up for its second year.  Some fennel seeds (or perhaps from last years bulbs left in the ground) are sprouting.  Of course the daffodils are blooming and a few hyacinths. The spirea and lilac bushes around the Learning Center are budding out.
  
And then there are the cool weather annual weeds going strong.  Looks like a lot of purple dead nettle that wants to get flowered and into seeds before those dratted gardeners get there to weed them out!  Lots of weeds growing in the herb beds too.  Makes me want to get started over there.  Torn between home and the Farm.

I have been doing our greenhouse work.  Started leeks the middle of February.  Did a couple of successive sowings. Two weeks ago, I started cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. Last week I started, broccoli, chard, celery fennel, helenium (Red Mexican Hat.)  parsley, portulaca (moss roses) and mirabellis(4 o'Clocks).  Amanda (Park's Dept.  employee) has been a peach and gets the trays and labels ready for me.  Waters the tray. Then all I have to do is put the seeds in.  I gave her a copy of our seed sowing dates, so she knows ahead of time and works me into her tight schedule.
 
At home I planted a few parsnips, radishes and lettuce.  Hope to have more time this week to get some other things in the ground, like carrots, peas, arugula, beets, collards.....

A heads up for you all that may be at the Farm working before I join you there; following the program I did today (The Basics of Gardening) I invited any of the participants to come to the Farm on any Monday or Thursday morning to ask questions of anyone there.  These classes were designed for novice or wanna be gardeners.  So, they may have some pretty basic questions.

Hope you are enjoying our warm weather and getting a bit of early yard and garden work done.  Remember the Volunteer Orientation day is this next Saturday.  Everyone is invited to come and encourage others to join our group. 

Kathy


11/1/2011
Fellow Gardeners:
 
My sincere apologies for the absence of Farm emails.  I have no real excuse, unless you allow me to use the "I was busy on my own yard and garden" all summer! 
 
I should have sent out an email last week to let you all know that I was hanging up my Farm shovel last week.
 
We were able to get all but two of the beds turned in the vegetable garden, the garlic is planted, the tools scraped and oiled (thanks Carl!), the hoses drained and the barn and the tool shed pretty well straightened up for the winter thanks (Kathy and Carol!).
 
I believe Carolyn is still visiting a bit to finish up the flower gardens around the Learning Center, as our frosts were late this year, so if you'd like to join her, please drop her an email to see when she'll be there and/or if she needs help ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). 
 
A VERY sincere Thank YOU! to our new volunteers this season (Michelle, Kim and Carol).  It has been great to see our group grow, and fun getting to know everyone.  A big Thank YOU! too, to our market volunteer Judy Nies.  And a wish for Noreen Walker to commit to that retirement so she can join us in the dirt next season! 
 
BTW, Noreen won a photo contest in the Journal Gazette for a picture of her garden at home.  Can we put you on our Wall of Fame for Salomon Farm garden volunteers, Noreen??  Here's the link to her picture. http://www.journalgazette.net/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=JG&Date=20110722&Category=VOTEJG&ArtNo=724009998&Ref=PH&Params=Itemnr=8 
 
May you all have a wonderful, safe and warm winter.  I look forward to seeing you all next Spring - or maybe before that...maybe a chance visit in Target...??
 
Great Garden Dreams to all!!
 
Brenda


7/10/2011

The garden is in full swing now; I might even say at it's peak!  Or maybe that should read "peek", as the sunflowers are all bursting open to greet us as we arrive at the farm, and wave as we walk among them.  They are certainly one of my favorites, with their bright faces, and the birds gracing them (no - not with their poop! What are some of you thinking??) with their cheery selves.  As well, we have petunias, verbena, nicotiana, cleome, dahlias, and zinnias assisting us in the garden by attracting those pollinators.  The scent of verbena, nicotiana and petunias greets me as I arrive each morning.  I could just plop down among them and do deep breathing exercises!  But alas, the weeds cry out to be pulled (not!), the veggies thirst and the chickens need talking to, so I try to work that in while I'm breathing....
 
OK, enough of the groaning at the puns.  Really things are looking very good.  We've accomplished quite a bit over the last month...er I mean seven weeks.  Really, has it been that long??  We were able to get all of our transplants in from the green house, and even direct sowed some cantaloupe, which didn't quite make it in the greenhouse.  As the rain finally stopped (and now we would like some more!), the weeds have slowed and as I look at the sign in sheet, it seems that is the task completed most the last few weeks. 
 
On Thursday, Carole (welcome back Carole!) and Eileen freed up the watermelon bed from many weeds as well as a few too many flowers.  The melon vines simply weren't getting enough sunlight.  They were watered in well, and then topped with some compost.
 
Eileen's trial patch of tomatoes is growing nicely, and we will most likely have some produce from there.  Eileen started some seed from last years crop in the cold frame and transplanted them in a patch.  It will be interesting to see the timing of their production as compared to those we start in the greenhouse.  Eileen also pointed out some barn swallow fledglings on the bean trellis last week.  They still had down sticking out here and there, which made them look quite unkempt.
 
Kathy has been dutifully spraying for pests, and keeping Herb, er, I mean the herb bed weeded and watered.  It you need an herb, Kathy probably has it growing for us in that bed.  Many thanks go to Kathy for keeping watch over the transplants over the many rainy weeks that prevented us from getting them in the ground.  She loaded and unloaded those plants so many times from her van, and was ever so happy to put an end to this year's orphan duty.
 
Carl has been diligently tending to the berries and apples in the orchard.  A few trees are bearing some fruit this year; however, we haven't received a formal (aka talk around the snack table) report on how the apples are faring.  The raspberries are in full fruit, and the blackberries won't be far behind.  And I'm happy to report that Carl's corn dance I reported on two emails past has been very successful.  The first crop of corn has tassled up, and next week should be ready for picking.  Carl has also been keeping an eye on the potatoes for de-bugging purposes as well as the sweet potatoes.
 
Jim again has blessed us with his handy-man-ship, repairing hoses and forming wire into ICU units for the eggplants (cylinders we put fabric around and place over the eggplant to prevent flea/bean beetle damage to them) and helping Carl put up a new cold frame against the south side of the tool shed.  Jim is also our main watering man, keeping the beds refreshed with a cool drink.
 
Carolyn has been busy as usual, taking wonderful care of the flower beds around the Learning Center.  She is amazingly diligent in keeping things looking neat, deadheading everything when the flowering is finished.  And she lent us a had combating the weeds in the fenced garden Thursday.  Thank you Carolyn!  Be sure to take some time to stroll up to see her handiwork up there.
 
Michelle has been wonderful, taking over as boss (and you didn't even realize it, did you, Michelle??) when we old timers aren't there.  Thanks so much Michelle!  She also has been diligently weeding, learning how to harvest broccoli, picking peas, and offering interesting tidbits and yummy treats at break time.
 
Kim too, has been faithfully weeding with us and feeding us too.  She even brought her parents out to help weed - during their vacation!  We always welcome extra weeders. 
 
Now I must admit, a couple weeks ago when I arrived at the Farm and did my 'once around the beds' when I got there, there appeared before my eyes the most beautiful lettuce bed I'd ever seen.  Not a weed in sight, with lettuce colorful and upright.  And I thought, someone HAD to have been here when we weren't, that looks so perfect.  And lo and behold, as I was logging hours, a name appeared before my eyes, with a date unlike the other dates listed.  I had found our mystery weeder!  Noreen Walker has been venturing out to do a bit of weeding while we're not looking!  And I know that's probably not the only bed she's been tending.  Thanks so much Noreen!  I do hope you're taking some "pay" with you when you leave.
 
Thanks also to new volunteers Judy, Sharon and Slyvia, who have joined us for some gardening.  And welcome Chris who joined us for the first time on Thursday. 
 
Day camp is in full swing now, with campers bouncing around keeping us all on our toes.  Before camp began, Grant and Karla were joining us in the garden to help.  We really appreciated that.  The campers are helping too now, debugging and watering, as well as mulching our paths with fresh bark mulch.  Many thanks to the camp staff for the help in the garden.  Take notice of the bean teepee and the sunflower house Karla has going for the campers.  If you're like me, you may be tempted to step in side one of these and let your inner child hang out for a while.
 
I sincerely appreciate all our volunteers and the time they share with us in the garden.
 
OK, enough about the volunteers; what's up with the veggies (please don't confuse the two!)??
 
Well, the lettuces finished up about two weeks ago, with the high temps moving in.  The asparagus finished a bit before the lettuce, and we have roped off the bed to keep from stepping on the tall fronds, which tend to fall over during the summer season.  The spinach really didn't fare too well this year.  Too much rain/not enough dry cool temps?  Who knows?  We'll try again in September.  The chard and kale are doing just fine, though, so there are greens to be had.
 
The peas are about finished; pea pods did quite well this year, shelling peas not so well.  I'm not sure why, only that I know I didn't plant them this year, so I'm sure they were planted RIGHT-side-up (Carl!). 
 
We dug the garlic several weeks ago, and it is now dry in the barn.
 
The potatoes survived an army of bugs; we'll begin to see how they fared underground this week.
 
Jade Bush Beans are producing well now, and we expect Dow Purple Podded and the other bush bean to be producing this week too.
 
The summer squash will have many ready for harvest.  It is great to see such healthy vines after last year's crop failure.  We also have cucumbers looking like they'll be ready to begin picking next week. 
 
We have harvested broccoli for two weeks now; we'll be watching to see if the plants produce crowns from side shoots.
 
Tomatoes are flowering and, with the exception of three plants in the fenced garden, are looking good.  Carrots have been planted all around the tomato bed in the unfenced garden; they look very good.  This is the first year I can remember we've had a good crop of carrots.  I need to check the harvest time on those...or I could just keep pulling a few now and then to "check" on them.
 
The okra should be ready this week too, though I'm thinking we may have to sacrifice a few sunflowers to get them some more light. 
 
Well, this has been quite the little Farm novel.  And I myself will be turning into a pumpkin if I don't get into my bed soon.  So for now, Happy Farming!  And thanks so much again to ALL of you for your volunteer time!!
 
Brenda


IMG_3587

May 25, 2011

No, we aren't using chemical weeders and fertilizers at the Farm.  We've just been mostly weeding and taking a break (feeding)!
 
On the 16th, the rain gauge had about 2 3/8" of rain in it.  That was just over that weekend.  Last Thursday, we all arrived at the Farm and then the rain necessitated an early break.  So off we went to the barn to eat some banana bread and cherries.  Of course, as we sat down, it stopped raining!  But we didn't let that stop us...we ate anyway.
 
Afterward, we tackled weeds all over the garden.  Hats off to Michelle, Kim, and Kathy P. as newer volunteers who stuck it out in the drizzle.  Honestly, had they not been there, I think I would have called it a day and gone home. 
 
We now have 16 (!) chickens in the chicken run.  I'm told they're laying, but they must not be Monday morning or Thursday morning layers, as I've not found any eggs to greet my arrival at the Farm.  There are also two new bulls (or were they steers - ask Carl to explain that to you...or you can google it!) we went over to visit last Thursday morning.  They were quite the playful little guys.
 
Jim put in a few more red potatoes where it appeared the first ones didn't take, just here and there in the potato beds.  All the plants look to be doing pretty well, despite the cold temps and all the rain.  The green beans and corn have sprouted, the onions are growing, the greens are all up and reaching for the sky, and the asparagus is on the down side of its season.  We planted the sweet potatoes on Monday, and I attempted to arrange some tomato cages around the young plants in the unfenced garden in an attempt to deter the deer.  We'll assess the situation tomorrow, and made changes as needed. 
 
This past Monday was a productive day, with nine of us there, mostly - guess what - weeding!  We did clear a few more beds, and put in the lima beans.  We shared a feast of rhubarb cake a la Kathy L., croissants from Kim, and apples and oranges from someone thinking healthy whom I don't recall (pardon my absent mindedness!).  Oh yes, and Carl tempted me with a basket of radishes from home.  I did take a bite of one and guess what?  I STILL don't like the things!!
 
Tomorrow we may have some transplants to put in.  It will probably be wet again, so wear those boots.  We also need to get some row covers up over the broccoli and maybe a few other plants.
 
Thanks to Noreen and Judy for joining Kathy L. on some recent Saturdays at the Farm.  And thanks to Kathy L. for her generous giving of that time on those Saturdays to meet them! 
 
On Monday, we'd like to have our spring greens luncheon.  The lettuce and spinach should be in plenty, with a few leaves of greens showing here and there. And if YOU like them, I'm sure we can pull some radishes (Eileen??).  So if you'd like to stay and lunch with us, bring a few salad accoutrements (nuts, cheese, dried fruit, other small veggies, dressing, crackers) to share.  It's always fun to see what we can make of what is up in the garden.
 
See you all at the Farm!
 
Brenda

May 15, 2011

Well, the weather for tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and 58 degrees.  It didn't say how many inches of mud we'd have at the Farm, though.  So bring your boots!  And, if you don't care for the mud in/on your fingers when pulling weeds, be sure to bring those waterproof gloves too!

Last week, we transplanted leeks, kale, chard, moss rose, bunny tail grass, and cotton plants.  We also seeded green beans and corn.  Carl was so happy to be planting corn, I caught him dancing in the corn bed.  He said he was just compacting the soil on top of the seed a bit, but we all know better, don't we Nadine!  His birthday was Monday, and we had cake for him, but the wind wouldn't let him blow out his candles himself.  Hope he got a few wishes in before those candles went out.

Glad to say the peas are looking fine, even though I planted them - and we all know about how pea planting challenged I am.  Now if those onions we planted around them don't kill them off, we should see a fine crop.  Michelle and Jim spent time Thursday putting up another fine "trellis" for them to grow up on.

The chickens arrived sometime last weekend - before Monday.  And boy, are they CHICKEN!  They won't come out of the coop without some coaxing.  Karla was taking a school group around the garden and asked if I saw the new arrivals.  I thought she was talking about the baby goats, and she said no, the chickens.  Poor things; I didn't even open the coop door when we arrived  because they didn't even make a peep when we drove up and walked by.  In years past, when the chickens heard our cars, they would start "clucking" for us to open the coop door and let them out.  Since I didn't hear anything, I didn't think they were here yet.  So finally at about 9:15, I opened the coop door.  Then they all just huddled in the far corner (Aaahhh - a human!!!).  I do hope they get accustomed to us before long; someone needs to let them know we are nothing to deal with compared to the camp kids.

We've been blessed with wonderful, new, dependable volunteers.  Thanks so much to Michelle, Kim, Sylvia, and Pam, as well as Norene and Judi who have joined Kathy Lee at the Farm on a couple Saturdays.  It's wonderful when I'm too busy answering questions and helping people find things to do to find the time to do some actual work myself.  And Kathy Parrish is back this season.  Welcome back Kathy. 

We hope you are all enjoying the Farm as much as we do.

This week, we'll be transplanting more, and pulling and pulling and pulling and pulling weeds.  But don't let that scare you away.

And take some time to look at the flower beds up around the learning center, as Carolyn has been diligently working on them too.

Don't forget - the radishes will be ready soon.  Eileen - I know you're making it a priority to get back in order to take a bucket of them home!

See you all at the Farm!

Brenda


This is an addition to Brenda'a note regarding the Farm: 

Sharon, Judy and I spent a couple of hours at the Farm on Saturday.  Mostly, Sharon and Judy tackled the Canada thistle that is popping up in  a lot of places.  If you find some to pull, please don't put it in the compost pile.  The smaller plants, I just toss out into the grass for the mowers to run over.  Bigger ones I put on the burn pile. 

I started out with cleaning out the blue bird houses.  The sparrows have run off the bluebirds and have begun building nests.  If we are diligent about keeping those nests removed, perhaps we'll be lucky enough to get the second brood of bluebirds.  Or maybe wrens.  Their nests are different from the sparrow nests.  If you are interested in the difference ask me the question.  We put fresh water in the birdbaths.  The larger one was nearly dry and the smaller one was dry. 

While admiring the work that was accomplished with all of the help on Thursday, I noted significant flea beetle damage to the bok choy that was planted Thursday!  So, I mixed up some pylon spray and went looking for the 4 plants put in.  Only found 3 of them, which I sprayed.  In the looking, I saw that the kale transplants and the radish leaves are also riddle with holes.  All of those got sprayed.  They will need it a gain after this rain.  Flea beetles are not really fleas.  They are beetles that jump like fleas.  They riddle plant leaves with holes, which in a small plant can be a death knell.  "Let the battle begin!"

Generally, I don't get around to looking at everything in the garden each time I'm there.  If you see a plant or plants that don't look "right" or healthy, please let Brenda or me know so the situation can be dealt with early on.  The more eyes we have looking, the more likely we'll catch things in the early stages.  Transplants coming from the greenhouse are very tender and may be susceptible to a number of problems.  We're learning all the time we're growing so please keep an eye open for problems. 

We did also observe the first asparagus beetles making "happy times" on the taller stalks.  I didn't bother with the spray for those....used my favorite tools....first finger and thumb with just a squeeze of pressure!  The beetles are red and black; stripped or spotted.  Once you observe the adults, having happy times, you can begin looking for the little black eggs on the asparagus stalks.  They stick straight out.....tiny little things.  I use the same tools on those, with a little sliding action on the stem. 

Although we find the rain to be disturbing and uncomfortable, it is a good thing for our new transplants and for the newly seeded corn and beans.  Let's hope the cool weather this week does no harm.

See you all sometime.  Happy gardening.

Kathy

May 7, 2011

I really wish I had a better headline than that!  Really!!  But what can one do?  Keep on looking for the rainbows, I guess.  And looking back at past emails, I see I've used it before - just a week and a half ago.  My brain must be water logged too....
 
Welcome Sandy Bieberich, a new volunteer as reported by Renee, who will be joining us at the Farm  next week.  Whatever follows, Sandy, don't let it frighten you away.  I never know exactly where I'm going with these emails until I push the "Send" button.
 
Although we've had three (I think) rain days on our regular work days at the Farm the last 12 days or so, we've managed to get quite a bit done, thanks in part to rookie voluteers (new this season) being willing to be at the Farm when we veterans weren't there for various reasons.  Kim came later than most of us last Monday, after we (veterans) had left because it was raining when we were there; and of course, as I passed Carl on my way out, I had a brain lapse when he said he was going to mow the orchard, and didn't unlock the barn so he could get to the mower, so he left.  But Kim was a proficient weeding machine, perfectly taking out the Purple Dead Nettle Kathy had warned us about. Thanks Kim!
 
Then last Wednesday, since most of us went home due to rain on Monday, we decided to try to make a work day of it.  I took out transplants of chard, kale, broccoli, and leeks Kathy had dropped at the house, and Michelle worked like a trooper putting in the leeks and kale...all by herself, as I had to leave shortly after getting there.  Thanks Michelle!
 
Finally on Thursday, we had sunshine and a good number gather.  Michelle put in kohlrabi and broccoli transplants, Carl, Jim and Grant turned a few more beds, and Sylvia helped pulled a bunch more weeds.  Then we realized we didn't have the corn seed to put in (I thought it was too early and hadn't asked for it), so we ATE! 
 
Michelle brought a yummy coffee cake and Nadine, Carl's wife, brought rhubarb bread.  I had Fig Newtons, but they were mostly ignored - rightfully so!
 
Things are sprouting all over, even the peas I must have put in right side up.  Michelle and I put up a trellis for them to climb on.  Carl brought some more red potatoes over to plant, and we planted them a different way, down the middle of a pea bed, planted shallow, and covered with a good pile of straw.  Shouldn't be hard stealing from them....
 
We also remembered we planted green onion seed, which Carl was surprised to see were about 6" tall, as he said he's never had any luck at home growing them from seed.  Carl also pointed out that ALL of the (OLD!) radish seeds we planted had sprouted.  SO, fair warning, in about two weeks or so, I expect to see everyone leave the Farm with a couple bags of radishes - each! 
 
Also, carrots, beets, spinach, arugula, lettuce (including volunteer seeds), white and yellow onions (from sets), peas and red potatoes are all sending up shoots and looking good.  We have yet to see the white and Yukon Gold potatoes sprout.  Hoping they haven't rotted with all the rain.  Time will tell.
 
And the asparagus is doing fairly well, despite the colder temps.  In fact, I stopped by and "checked" on it today.  Glad to report it's tasting, I mean doing, fine.  Michelle and I forgot to "check" on it before we left on Thursday, so I thought I'd better do it today.
 
The goats have arrived, one very new momma with her three babies.  We took time Thursday to pay them a visit.  I think Renee said they were less than a week old.  They're so soft and cuddly now.  Thanks to Grant for showing them to us (Renee wanted to be the one, but Grant got there first).  Tony says the chickens are due any day now, and even took time Thursday to mow the chicken run.  Can't wait for them; they're such cheerful greeters when voluteers arrive.
 
Monday is a BIG day at the Farm, but I'm not telling why...you'll just have to join us to find out.  OK, well maybe a couple of us know, and maybe one person won't think of it as anything other than another day.  I guarantee it'll be a sweet break time though, maybe with a little fireworks.  And I think Nadine should join us too.
 
A Very Happy Mother's Day to all our volunteers who are Mothers.  Maybe it'll sunshine for us tomorrow.
 
Hope to see you all soon at the Farm!

Brenda

May 1, 2011


Well, regardless of the weather tomorrow (Monday), I will be at the Farm, even if it means I'm under an umbrella for a bit.

You see, I'm going through Farm withdrawl....

And I'd like to peek and see if any of our seeds have sprouted....

And I'd like to see if I need to pick up more potatoes to plant, if it's been too wet and what we've planted have rotted....

And Kathy dropped off some starts from the greenhouse; so if it's not too wet, I'll see if they can go in the ground.

And I'd like to pick some asparagus and rhubarb, er, uh, I mean, I need to check on the spring veggies to see if they need any attention.

Oh!  And the best news of all...the last time we were at the Farm (10 days ago?) Jim reported that his peonies DID SURVIVE and are sprouting!

Smiles to everyone!

Brenda


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April 24, 2011

Yesterday afternoon turned out to be a beautiful day at the Farm. Noreen, Judy, Tony and I pulled weeds in the herb beds after doing a once around everything to take a look. We did notice that the duck and her nest are gone....too much activity in the area to suit her I suspect. At bit of asparagus was poking up, just barely, so we left it. Jim came out to work on the cold frame suggested by Carl. Then he helped us with the weeding. One of the jobs I asked him to do was to dig out a good portion of the wild aster...maybe Heath....that I've let grow for the past few years. It is enjoyable in the fall, but it was beginning to hog real estate. We also removed much of the scattered Shasta daisy that reseeds prolifically in those two beds.

Renee and Grant welcomed a bunch of little "egg hunters." And Jessica found an "Easter Bunny in Training" to show to the kids...and any adults who wanted to see it. I hope the bunny has heard the story about Mr. McGregor's Farm, so it doesn't come snooping around our gardens. The garlic planted by Brenda last fall is looking fit. And her experiment with small leek "side bulbs" off the big one's seems to have been a success. The story there is, as Brenda was harvesting leeks for the Farmer's Market last fall, she would occasionally find a small leek snuggled up next to the larger one. So, she tucked them into a nearby bed. Usually, the leeks are started from seed in the greenhouse in February (which I did again this year), then they are moved to the garden as transplants when the soil can be worked. (Right about now.) Then we have leeks to harvest in mid to late summer. Thanks to Brenda's idea, we'll have leeks much sooner! Here's a recipe for Potato Leek Soup.

Kathy

April 18, 2011

Wow!  you guys got a lot done!  I'm impressed. 
 

My week of seeding wasn't as successful.  I got to the greenhouse on Thursday to do seeding (I'd gone in on Monday to pot up the things I couldn't get done (for some reason that I've forgotten) the week before.  Laid my seeds out in the order of the tray sizes they needed and began gathering trays.  Then I learned there was no seed starting soil.  Wouldn't be any until Friday afternoon.  So, I planned on this morning (Monday.)  Alas!  Lynda H. sent me a note on Friday and said there wouldn't be any soil yet today.  So, I'll do last week's and this week's seeds on Thursday. 
 
The first leek seeds started in February are looking well since moved up to the next size out of their seeding cells. Several other things potted up are also coming along nicely.  Those are the cool weather things, like kale, broccoli, chard.  The cabbage may need to be redone.  The seed I used was several years old.  We had ordered a fresh supply, but the seed wasn't here yet when they were due to be planted.  I'll decided about redoing those this week too.  

I've heard from a few of the new volunteers that aren't able to make it on the regular group work days.  We've set up several times over the next 2 months where I can meet them on Saturday or a weekday afternoon.  

If there is anyone out there that hasn't found a time that works well for your schedule to get some hands on orientation, get in touch with me and I'll do my best to work out a time or two we can meet. 

Kathy

April 17, 2011

It’s a new week at the Farm!

But here’s a review of last week.

I stopped by to peek at Mother Duck on Friday, the 8th, and found only one lonely egg left in the nest.  I thought
she had probably given up on the Asparagus Apartment.  Too bad; what a yummy place to live!

Then on Monday (the 11th), Jim got a good laugh (at me!) when I approached the asparagus bed, thinking it

was safe to finish cutting down all last year’s growth.  Once again, I was greeted by Mrs. Duck flying like a
projectile out of the bed.  Of course, I “projectiled” back, which caused Jim to chuckle just a bit.  After all,
me, scared by a mother duck?  Glad I could make you smile, Jim.

This time – 9 (NINE!!) eggs lay in the nest.  Is she crazy??  Is her biological clock ticking?  Is it Springtime??  Does she know something about the amount of asparagus there will be available (to feed nine?)  Well, at least it was warmer, and I wasn’t as worried about the eggs not being warm enough while Mom was gone and we were working on the beds.

Jim, Michelle and I waited out the rain in the barn, cleaning up, mostly after mice.  We swept and straightened, then transported the apple tree guards and some trellising items in Jim’s truck bed, hitching a ride from the barn to the gardens on the Jim’s tailgate…”Faaarrrm Livin’ is the life for me” (as Eddie Albert and Ava Gabor put it in Green Acres).

Then we dodged the raindrops to get in a few more potatoes and turn a couple more beds, including the shelling peas.  I sure hope we planted them right side up!

On Thursday, we had a great group and got so much done.  Kathy stopped by and dropped off the seeds, Michelle weeded Momma Duck’s vacated apartment, Pam planted onions (right side up!)and lettuce and Jim and Carl planted Yukon Gold potatoes, pea pods, and snap peas (the kind you can eat EITHER the pod or let them fill in and shell them…I think).

Carl also donned his apple tree space apparatus and sprayed the trees, then weeded the new strawberry and raspberry beds.

Sylvia and Kim joined us and we got another back bed weeded, which Grant then turned to make ready for tomatoes.  We decided to set out cages for the tomatoes, which Kathy is nurturing for us at the greenhouse.  Then we were able to frame those beds with several different varieties of carrots.

Carolyn cleaned up the winter leftovers from the flower beds up at the Learning Center.  After break, we drug Jim up to the Learning Center to show him what peonies looked like as they were peeking out of the ground, to give him hope for the peonies he transplanted at his home last summer, which he hasn’t seen peeking out yet.

Don’t lose hope Jim!  On Friday at my house, I found a peony sprouting that has been sat upon by tons of rock, graded by a Bobcat, and forgotten about.  It can happen at your house too - the sprouting, that is, not the tons of rock and Bobcat!

Carl drifted back as Michelle and I were finishing up a second bed, planting beets and arugula, and asked Michelle what we were planting.  Michelle told him beets, glancing down at the seeds she had just dropped in the furrow.  “Am I doing it right?” she asked Carl.  To which Carl just grinned, implying something about the seeds being right side up….

Then I told Carl it had been a very productive day at the Farm, that we had planted all of the veggies for which we had seed.  Again, a grin spread across his face as he asked me if we planted radishes….  We didn’t; woops!  Probably just a Freudian slip on my part.

So it was another great week at the Farm.  A big Thanks to Michelle for our treat of brownies on Thursday!  Even Carolyn joined us for one.

With all this rain and the warmer temps, we should be seeing lots of sprouting activity soon!  And I’m sure there’ll be more asparagus…er, um, I mean weeds to dig out of that asparagus bed this week.  We have more varieties of spring seeds to get into the ground.

So, if the rain holds off, we’ll be diggin’ in the dirt again tomorrow.  I hope to see you all then!

It’s wonderful to have our new volunteers with us.  We hope you’re enjoying your time at the Farm.

Brenda

April 12, 2011

Hello, Gardeners

Happy Spring to everyone. We finally had a couple of warm and sunny days. The daffodils are popping and the snowdrops have faded. It is the perfect time of year for a couple of winter annual weeds we see at the Farm......well, you will see them many places once you start looking for them. The two plants are Purple Dead Nettle and Henbit.

It is easy to mix the two up when you are first beginning to identify weeds. And they are in the same family. Cousins so to speak, with the same first name and different second name. I've found a nice page from the University of Tennessee Extension website that discusses both plants. The plants are of particular interest to me right now, because the are beginning to flower. Within a couple of weeks the first blooms will be setting seeds. When those seeds fall to the ground, they are setting the stage for an even greater problem for next seasons gardens. Read just how prolific they are on the second page of the publication and you'll see what I mean.

If the weeds are pulled early, just as they are beginning to flower, they can be tossed on the compost pile. In another week or so, it would be better to put them on the burn pile. Weeds in flower can draw on energy from the plant, even after it has been pulled, to set seed. They are very resourceful little buggers! Unfortunately our compost pile, doesn't get hot enough to burn the seed while the pile is decomposing.

The plants in this very early stage, don't look exactly like the picture in the article, but don't let that fool you. The cool weather is keeping them short stemmed and next to the ground. When it warms up and they are beginning to compete with other plants for real estate, they will get more purplish looking then they do now.

So what! you might say. What do weeds matter anyway? Think of yourself as having one store from which you can buy food and water. The only food and water you can get are contained within that one store. If 100 other people are dependent on the same store, those resources will soon be used up. One of the survival strategies of weeds is to get an early start in the spring, when there isn't much competition from other plants for light, water and nutrients. Thus, you will see a lot of plants blooming early so they can be assured of adequate resources to complete their primary job, which is reproduction. Then they either croak or go dormant. Purple Dead Nettle and Henbit will grow on for a while as long as the weather is cool. As I said earlier, they are a winter annual and will mostly die out when the temperature gets too high........but they have left a lovely, dark secret in the soil for their next generation. So get out your diggers and grab a bucket. Rout them out!

April 7, 2011

Dear Gardeners,

Twas the first week of April,

So we sounded the alarm.

Time to start digging

At Salomon Farm!
 

The first day was set,

April 7th it’ll be.

What I didn’t tell -

It was the birthday of me!


First Brenda arrived, Jim, Carl, Pat, and Sophia.

And we all walked back to the barn.

Gathering our tools to move back to the shed

Shovels and rakes filled our arms.
 

Then to the Asparagus bed we approached

To cut down last year’s brown fronds.

When out of the reeds flew a mother duck!

OH!  Why didn’t she build her nest near the ponds??
 

What would the fate of those poor eggs be?

I wondered as only a Mom could.

We completed our task very quickly, we did

So Mother duck would return as she should.
 

Then to the back gardens everyone went

To plant a whole bed of spring peas

When what to Brenda’s astonishment

In the shed, there were NO SEEDS!
 

But Carl had brought some potatoes from home

Not to eat, but to plant in our garden

So we turned some more beds, such nice rich soil,

And successfully got those plants started.
 

Jim poked in the compost, turned his shovel, then said

Tell Renee we need some manure!

We can’t have great compost without it.

That is what makes it for sure!


We pulled a few weeds, had a snack in the barn,

Some good conversation, a few laughs.

Then we said our goodbyes, see you Monday, have fun!

And walked to our cars on the paths.

 


So come one and come all to our Salomon Farm

Join us in garden chores, you’ll see

To work on the Farm with chickens and ducks

Brings Brenda such silly glee!




April 5, 2011


Welllllcooommeeee Spring!

It's time to throw open the gates and barn doors and get to digging in those sleepy beds at the Farm.  I'll be heading out Thursday morning.  I know it's a late notice; I think the cold has me dragging my feet.

But the peas must go in, the asparagus fronds cut down, the lettuce sowed, and the tools rotated from the barn to the shed.  And yes, we may even bring out the hoses, despite the rain that is called for.  Never too early to get them all hooked up.  And then there's the catching up to do with co-volunteers, and new volunteers with whom to acquaint myself, not to mention the break (read - eating) time I have so missed over the winter months!  I'll bring something yummy to share.

Kathy has been busy at the greenhouse since February getting those long season crops started with Eileen's help, and Carl has taken time to trim the apple trees, I think giving the trees one last chance to produce this year.

To all those who are new, I'd suggest wearing boots, as it may be a bit wet Thursday.  I hear you can get decent ones at Tractor Supply on W. Coliseum for a good price.  But boots aren't required; just thought I'd give everyone a heads up on the muddy prospects.  Also, if new volunteers have favorite tools, you are welcome to bring them, though we do provide tools.

I'll try to be there between 7:45 and 8:00.  If you get there before anyone else, the gate does not have a lock on it.  You can open it and drive through and park back by the shed (on the road), and leave the gate open for the rest of us.

See  you at the Farm!

Brenda

P.S. - Some things are just weird - like Jim M. calling me just as I'm composing this email to see when we're starting at the Farm!

 
 

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