Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fall Update and Great News!

Branford Community Gardens Celebrates a Successful First Growing Season with a Grant from AT&T!
AT&T has generously donated $5000 to the Branford Community Gardens. Thanks to the efforts of Lonnie Reed, CT representative for the 102nd district, and Bill Turner, of AT&T’s External and Legislative Affairs Office, the gardeners can pay for deer fencing and gardening supplies, and can now look forward to a second season!
After a successful first year, the gardeners are preparing their plots for the winter. The gardens were started less than a year ago to promote locally grown, organic food. There are twenty-two garden plots open to Branford residents. The produce from one 20’ x 20’ plot is donated to families in need in Branford, and is maintained by volunteers. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, many varieties of lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, broccoli, beans, carrots, several varieties of squash, chard, herbs and more were donated throughout the season.
We can't wait for the planting 2010 season!
Connie Drysdale,
President, BCG, Inc.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Almost time to plant garlic!

Dear Gardeners:


I have two items of interest. The following is from Nancy DuBrule-Clemente's Natureworks email newsletter of 9/16/09:


" We just got in our certified organic hard neck seed garlic. Did you know that the time to plant garlic is in the fall, along with all the other bulbs? Each garlic clove forms a head. Last year, I planted an entire raised bed of garlic and have harvested 150 heads! It is essentially pest free and the easist crop I've ever grown. This week's Saturday morning walk is a tomato tasting and general discussion of how your food garden grew in the summer of 2009. For anyone new to growing food, take heart. This was perhaps the most challenging year we've ever encountered!"

So, this snippet from the Natureworks newsletter brings up two points. One is that we are approaching the time of year to plant garlic. I generally end up planting my garlic in mid to late October (fertilizing and adding compost to the soil first), then covering the bed with about 3"-4" of chopped up leaves. In the spring (early April or so?--really depends on the weather), I watch for signs of the garlic stalk pushing out of the mulch. Sometimes I need to move the mulch around a little bit to help the stalks out. Generally hard neck garlic (produces garlic scapes--LaBella's had them for sale this year--chop the scape and use like garlic or onion in dishes) is ready to harvest in early to mid July, whereas softneck garlic (the kind of garlic you might see braided) is ready late June to early July. After harvesting the garlic in the summer, that bed is then ready to grow fall plantings of crops.


To plant garlic, break a head of garlic into the individual cloves, then stick the cloves (root side down) about 2" down in the soil. I space the cloves about 4"-5" apart. Some of you might ask, can I use grocery store bought garlic to plant? My reply to that is that the party line is to use "seed garlic"--garlic heads that are specifically sold for the purpose of planting, such as are available at Natureworks (see above) and probably other garden centers in the area (call around). I've read (but have no personal experience to confirm or disprove) that grocery store garlic has sometimes been sprayed with a chemical to inhibit sprouting/growth. Since inhibition of garlic growth would not be a good thing when you are trying to grow garlic, that's one possible reason to avoid planting grocery store garlic. Seed garlic may seem expensive when initially purchased ( remember though that each clove in the garlic head will form an entirely new head of garlic in your garden!), but I have been saving heads of garlic every year from my harvest (I keep the biggest ones) for planting in the fall. So, after the initial purchase, you may never need to buy seed garlic again--keep using a few of your own heads each year for planting in the fall.


The other point brought up by Nancy's article is her comment that this past summer may have been one of the most challenging ever for vegetable growing. I agree--I've never seen a year that was so tough--cold and wet in June/July, then dry in August, late blight on tomatoes and potatoes, downy mildews that came early and probably the biggest crop of spotted cucumber beetles (look like overgrown yellow ladybugs that eat holes in cucumber and squash plant leaves--they spread disease too) that I can ever remember seeing now. So yes, it was a tough growing year. The take home message is, don't be too discouraged. Each growing year will have its ups and downs and that's why it's important to plant a diversity of crops. Some will do well in any given year, other's won't--it's all up to the weather.


My final item of interest is below. My husband noticed that the front cover of a recent issue (17 September 2009)of Nature (journal of general scientific interest) features the gene sequencing of the potato late blight. The research was probably started several years ago (the technique used for the sequencing is time consuming), so it's not as if the work was done as a consequence of this summer's late blight fiasco. As you can see, diseases such as late blight are very much so of interest to the scientific community. Making the front cover of Nature is a "feather in your cap" as a scientist, because it means that your work was of importance and of interest to the scientific community as a whole.


Hmm, the cover picture did not get carried over into the blog--darn--suffice it to say, there was a picture of a blighted potato on the front cover of the journal. You can see it at
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7262/covers/index.html


Yours in gardening, Malaine

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mulching and Watering

Now that we aren't getting drenched every day with rain, we will need to start supplemental watering for the gardens. Mulching and watering go hand in hand. Mulch will help suppress weed seeds and help conserve moisture (a must for us, because we will be generating a water bill as soon as we turn on the supplemental water). You also don't need to water as often if you mulch--saves your time! So first, let's consider what mulches are good for your vegetable beds:

Mulch

Compost--Screen the leaf mulch compost (FREE!--the black piles outside the garden: the screen is usually resting on the blue water barrel near the back gate-please return it to the top of the barrel when you finish), then apply it about 1"-2" deep around your plants. Using the compost will also help enrich your vegetable beds for next year.

Grass clippings--If you bag your grass clippings (from an herbicide free lawn), bring them to the garden and apply them to about 1/2 inch thick (avoid the area right around the plant stems). Fresh grass clippings if applied thicker than 1/2 inch can "heat up" and get smelly. One risk of using grass clippings is the possibility of introducing weed seeds, if your lawn is weedy.

Leaves-Chopped up leaves (run a mower over them) make fine mulch. You can see an example of this in Plot #6.

"Mainely Mulch"- This is a bagged product-a mixture of chopped up hay and straw that has been heated to destroy weed seeds. It is compressed into a bag and goes a long way. We've used this in Seed, Weed and Feed around the lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, beets and carrots. Because it is chopped up, it fits easily around the plants. When we first seeded the lettuce, carrots and beets, we sprinkled the Mainely Mulch lightly on the bed to help retain moisture for the seeds to germinate. I know that Agway (North Branford--take Rte 139 North, then Route 80 East and Agway is on the RHS of the road, a few miles from the intersection of 139/80) and Natureworks in Northford carry this product (around $18.00 a bag), but there might be closer sources that I don't know about.

Newspaper-Wet 4-6 layers of newspaper, then spread the layers around the plants. This works particularly well to suppress weeds in large areas between plants (like in the spaces between tomato and broccoli plants). It is then best to cover the newspaper with compost, grass clippings or leaves to hold the paper down and to prevent the top surface of the newspaper from drying out.

Plastic
-Let's face it, black plastic is not the most ecologically friendly mulch because it's made from petroleum products and doesn't do anything to improve the organic matter in the soil, but, it makes an excellent weed suppressant and warms the soil, which can be helpful for the heat loving crops, like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, okra, peppers, cucumbers, squashes and eggplant. It is also easy to use and remains in place for the season. We used it in the Seed, Weed and Feed plot, partially for the above mentioned reasons, but also because I wanted to make it easy for the volunteers to tend the garden. Notice in Seed, Weed and Feed that we did not use it around the broccoli or potatoes. These crops love cool temps and would resent the added heat from the black plastic. It's best to put the black plastic down at the beginning of the planting season. (Sources: Agway and Fedco Organic Gardener's Supply (http://www.fedcoseeds.com))

Salt Marsh Hay- Connie was given a bag of this and we are using it around the potatoes (helps to keep them cooler) and in a few other open areas in Seed, Weed and Feed. Salt marsh hay is a good mulch around "the bigger" crops, like potatoes, but because it is so bulky, would be difficult to spread around smaller plants, like carrots, beets, radishes, lettuces, etc. Connie is checking on a source for this. Mainely Mulch is touted as a good substitute for this.

Straw- Agway (North Branford--take Rte 139 North, then Route 80 East and Agway is on the RHS of the road, a few miles from the intersection of 139/80) carries bales of straw (probably $10.99 per bale). Straw is a good mulch around "the bigger" crops, like potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, but because it is so bulky, would be difficult to spread around carrots, beets, radishes, lettuces, etc. I've usually had good luck with straw, but one year had the misfortune of purchasing a bale that had grass seed in it, so spent a chunk of time weeding the grass out of my strawberry bed. Mainely Mulch is touted as a good substitute for this.

Wood Chips
- Wood chips are excellent in walkways because they take awhile to break down. Fresh wood chips are not recommended for areas directly around the plants though because as they break down, they remove nitrogen from the soil, thereby robbing your plants of essential nutrients (I don't know how big a deal this is; this is just what I've read about it). Sawdust would behave similarly.

You can always add more of any mulch as the summer progresses and the mulch breaks down.

Watering:

How to water: Mother Nature has been supplying plenty (almost too much!) water the past few weeks, and because of that, I suspect that some of the Community Garden plants are experiencing disease problems--too much wet on the leaves. To try to avoid disease problems later in the summer when we are watering by hose, it's generally suggested that you water at the base of a plant, and not directly on the leaves. This makes sense for most of the plants (tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, squashes, pumpkins); just water at the base. It would be difficult and really not necessary, however, to individually water at the base of the carrots, beets, and radishes,. Just give these plants a good overall watering and don't worry about getting the foliage wet. It's also best to water in the early morning, so that plant leaves have a chance to dry out, but naturally that won't always be possible. Please direct your water to the plants and don't water the walkways and open areas between the plants.

When to water: We hope for 1" of rain a week. It's best, if Mother Nature doesn't help, to SOAK the soil two or three times a week (as needed), rather than light sprinklings of water daily. A general way to measure a garden's moisture is to pull back the mulch, dig down 2", grab a handful of soil, then squeeze it. If the soil holds together, it's moist enough, if it falls apart, you need to water. For seedlings you should not allow the soil to dry more than 1/2", but once plants are established, allow the top 2" of soil to dry out before doing the squeeze test. Shallow rooted plants, like lettuce, might need watering more often than deeply rooted plants, like tomatoes. These are ROUGH guidelines--I read different recommendations in different books.

Happy Gardening!
Malaine

Sources:
Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver: The Best and Latest Advice for Beating Pests, Diseases, and Weeds and Staying A Step Ahead of Trouble in the Garden by Fern Marshall Bradley (2007)

Burpee: The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener: A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically by Karan Davis Cutler

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thinning/Transplanting Suggestions

Dear Gardeners:
I just loved walking around the gardens last Saturday. Plants are springing out of the ground everywhere! But what I also observed is that we also need to start thinning and transplanting some of the crops, so I'm going to make some suggestions. If I do not cover a type of vegetable that you are growing and you want information, please email me (mtrecoske@yahoo.com) and I will get the information on this blog. Also, I'm working on a blog, "Ban the Bugs, Organically", which I hope to get on this site soon--I'm starting to see a few bug and disease issues on some plants in the garden (all normal stuff), and I'd like to address some of what I'm seeing.

Radishes: At this point I'd thin the almost non-existent radish roots to 1"-2" apart to let the roots start to form. Then, as the roots grow, thin more to about 2"-3" apart, but eat the radish roots you have are pulling out (young and tender--yum!). This will then allow the remaining radishes to grow. Radishes appreciate the weather we have been having--not too hot. They get "spicy", but generally not in what I consider a nice way, if they endure a long hot spell. Radishes are best picked at their prime, then stored in the refrigerator for a few days if need be; that's better than leaving them in the garden too long where they can get too bitter tasting. If you plant again for the fall (I'll make suggestions later this summer for when I think it's reasonable to plant radishes again), I'd like to suggest that rather than planting in rows, plant in a block. Pick an "area" (2'x2' or whatever) and poke seeds in a grid about 2'-3" apart in all directions--you get a lot more radishes in a given area this way.

I have never tried transplanting radishes, but if you want to experiment, I'd love to know your results. In general it's not recommended to transplant root veggies (like carrots, beets, or radishes because the roots can end up stunted, or so I've read). I defied conventional wisdom several years ago and started transplanting beets and have found that the transplants work just fine!, but for some reason, I'm more wary of transplanting carrots. I've never bothered--I'm usually too busy thinning them to bother with transplanting.

Lettuces: There are two very basic categories of lettuce---cutting (mesclun) lettuces or head lettuces (butter, bib, romaine, iceburg, etc.). The cutting lettuces don't seem to mind a bit of crowding (2"-3") apart, because it's sort of expected that you will come through when the plants are 4"-5" high and cut off the top few inches (leaving behind about 2" high for regrowth). If you have head lettuces, however, it pays to transplant them to 4"-5" apart (I also have a favorite cutting(looseleaf) lettuce, Lolla Rossa, that I transplant this way, so you can transplant looseleaf lettuces as well). The best time to transplant is either late in the day, or on a cloudy day, to stress the plants the least from having the hot sun beating on them after transplant. It's also helpful to transplant just before it's supposed to rain. Be sure to water the plants soon after transplanting. These are "the best" times to transplant, but I've also transplanted early in the day and just gave the transplants a good drink, knowing that it could be tough on the little plants and that I was more likely to lose some of them from transplant shock. You don't need to transplant lettuces into rows--can transplant into a "block"--space them 4"-5" apart in a grid in all directions--you'll fit more into an area this way. Lettuce heads, when mature, will last in the garden about 10 days. After that, the lettuce may taste more bitter and the heads start to "bolt" (high heat of summer will also promote bolting), meaning that the plants start pushing up in the middle (reaching for the sky). Once bolted, the flavor is bitter and the lettuce head should head to a compost pile.

Most lettuce cultivars like cool temperatures and sulk in the hot weather. Sometimes it pays to transplant some heads into the partial shade--hide them behind taller plants so that they don't get full sun all day. I'm going to experiment with that this summer, to see if the cucumber tepee in the Seed, Weed and Feed garden will provide enough shade to help lettuce plants under it from bolting.

Beets: Beet "seeds" are really clusters of seeds, so beets will come up in clumps of 2-4 plants. I transplant so that the plants are about 4"-5" apart in all directions (again, forming a block). Remember, you will be defying conventional wisdom if you do this, but if you have the space, why not try?--you'll probably end up with more beets (see my comments on radishes)!

Carrots: Thin, thin, thin to about 4" apart.

Squashes and Pumpkins: Most squash and pumpkin seed packages recommend thinning to 1-3 plants per hill, once you see how many plants have germinated.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Please support the gardeners

Board of Ed Approval
We received approval from the Board of Education in March to use this space as a community garden. We have tried to be good neighbors. Early on, I contacted the President of the Pine Orchard Association to see if there were any concerns about a community garden in Pine Orchard. I was told that we were doing a great thing and that the association wished us luck and offered to assist if possible.

Early Meetings
We had an initial walk-around on the property on March 24 with the director of the daycare center, Beryl Meiner, to hear any concerns and to try to address them. The boundaries of the current garden are the same boundaries that she said were acceptable on that day. She expressed concern about potential disturbance of the butterfly and hummingbird gardens and wanted to make sure that liability issues were clarified. We stated an interest in allowing the day care children and teachers to visit the vegetable gardens occasionally as a learning experience, and Beryl seemed to think it was a good idea. We stated that we would be putting up a deer fence and she agreed that it was essential since deer and other animals have been a problem for the day care center’s gardens.

We invited Beryl to our next directors’ meeting on April 5. Both she and her husband attended and we discussed the above stated issues, as well as concerns about blocking sunlight to the sundial. She also wanted to ensure that there was a no-smoking policy in the garden and a policy that people remove any trash brought in. At that time, Beryl stated that she was satisfied and that her concerns were addressed.

Preparation of the site
The plots in the garden are all leased and the gardeners have been working hard for the past month or so to get their soil ready. We have amended the soil with compost and organic fertilizers. Criscuolo Engineering and the Public Works Department staked out the site, dug a trench and the postholes. The cedar fence posts were donated by the Branford Land Trust, and deer fencing with a sunken chicken wire boundary at the bottom have been installed by our volunteers, as have two gates. This all has happened in record time because of the enthusiasm and support the garden received from the larger Branford community.

Based on the Board of Education granting us permission to create a community garden, the gardeners bought plants, mulch, fertilizer, compost and gardening stakes in preparation for planting. They have been barred from the garden during school hours for the past week and it is creating a great difficulty for the maintenance of their garden plots.

BCG is a part of the Branford community
The Early Learning Center wants to prohibit gardeners from the garden from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM on weekdays. We believe that the gardeners are being held to a higher standard than all other people who use the open space areas next to the school, including the many people (both Branford residents, and those from further afield) who walk their dogs there, birdwatchers, hikers and bikers along the Shoreline Greenway Trail, many of whom access the trail through the property and some of whom park in the parking lot. The space has been used for many years as a nature garden, with no restrictions on public access. Members of the Branford Garden Club were responsible at one time for weeding the flowerbeds in the space, and did so during school hours. Several of those same garden club members are now, as community vegetable gardeners, being restricted from the space during that same time. There is a National Wildlife Federation sign at the entrance to the area inviting the “entire community” to enjoy the space. To my knowledge, people who currently use this area in a responsible way are not held in suspicion and not subject to any undue scrutiny, as long as they are not acting suspiciously. This courtesy is not currently being extended to the gardeners.

All of our gardeners are Branford residents, they are registered with me, including names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses. I would venture to say that you know some of them. Included in our ranks are a Yale dean and his family, a Yale scientist and his family, a former Killingworth Selectman, a retired CT probation officer, a local, well-known artist, the head of an IT dept at YNHH, a journalist for a local newspaper, a paramedic, a former PTA president, and a musician. These people are your neighbors. We have moms who drop their kids off at day care and spend the morning in the gardens, we have retired couples that want to work their plots during the day, and we have people who work on weekends and need to tend their gardens during the weekdays. We have senior citizens who frankly run out of gas as the day proceeds and need to work their gardens in the morning. The proposed restrictions would be non-workable for them and they are rightly angry. For these reasons, it is essential that the garden be available to gardeners when it is convenient for them to garden, as this open space is for all other users.

Branford Community Gardens provides a service to the community by leasing garden plots to Branford citizens, from young families to seniors. Garden members maintain the 20’ x 20’ plot, which we recently started planting, the produce from which will be donated to families in need in Branford.
The day care center also provides a valuable service to the community and receives a substantial benefit from the Board of Education for the use of the school. The gardeners are Branford taxpayers, who subsidize the day care center with their taxes, and yet they are being targeted for suspicion and discrimination. An inexplicable fact is that as members of the public, the gardeners are free to use the open space adjacent to the school, un-questioned, but as soon as they walk into the vegetable gardens they somehow become unwelcome.

The overwhelming sentiment in Branford to the community gardens has been positive. We have recently been awarded an “Official Citation” by the General Assembly of Connecticut for our work, initiated by Connecticut Representatives Lonnie Reed and Patricia Widlitz, and Senator Ed Meyer. C, L & P has honored us with a grant for our community service, and local businesses have donated materials and effort to our cause.

I would like to conclude by stating my belief that our presence in the vegetable gardens, rather than creating a risk, actually enhances the safety of the children and would tend to deter those with evil intent from hanging around the school. Additionally, the gardens can be a learning experience for the children. Malaine Trecoske, our secretary/treasurer, is working with Walsh Intermediate students to teach them the joys of gardening. We would still like the children and teachers here to be able to take a tour of our gardens when the plants are further developed, and at harvest time.

Gardeners, officers and directors are asking not to be discriminated against by the imposition of time restrictions for gardening, and to allow us to share in the use of this space with the rest of the community.

Connie Drysdale,
President, BCG, Inc.

Friday, May 22, 2009

BCG, Inc. in "The Sound"

Hello Gardeners,
Our community garden was featured on the front page of the Nov. 21, 2009 issue of "The Sound" newspaper. If you haven't seen it, check it out:
http://branfordctgardens.org/shorepublishing521.pdf

Connie

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Local Source for Wood Garden Stakes

Dear Gardeners:
Since my last blog mentioned using wooden stakes (4' or longer) to help hold steady tomato cages, or just using stakes for trellising of the climbing plants, I've located a local source, ZuWalick Lumber in Branford. ZuWalick Lumber is located at 36 ZuWalick Lane, which is off Leetes Island Road. As you travel from Stop and Shop on Leetes Island towards Stony Creek, pass over I-95. Just after crossing I-95, ZuWalick Lane will be on your left--there's a round sawmill blade as a sign. Go down ZuWalick Lane, past the house on your right, past the shed/barns on the left and straight ahead will be the sign for the saw mill. Continue past the firewood and mulch until you come out into the opening with the lumberyard where someone will help you.

They have wood garden stakes (1" square), which are planed on two sides, rough on the other two. The stakes are 4' for $1.25, 5' for $1.80 and 6' for $2.00. I do not know if these are the best prices around, but it is a locally owned and operated business--I was stunned to learn that Branford has a sawmill! I've purchased unplaned hemlock boards from them to make raised beds for my garden at home. The hours are Mon-Fri 7:00 am - 4:00 pm and Saturday 7:00 am - 12:00 pm, phone number 488-3821.

Malaine

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Garden Layout and Some Cultural Requirements for the Vegetables- Some Ideas from Malaine's Garden

Dear Gardeners:
I've had several of you ask about how to lay out your garden for the plants you'd like to grow and so I'm going to provide some "Guidelines". These are just guidelines, not set in stone, and can be broken at your convenience! But they can be a starting point if you have never laid out a garden before and don't know how much space plants can take up.

If you really want to get technical, pull out a piece of graph paper and mark out a 20x20 plot on your paper (you can get free graph paper printouts from www. incompetech.com/graphpaper). Your first decision is whether you are going to layout your garden in beds or rows, or a combination of the two (my garden at home is both). At my Dad's garden on a farm in PA, I typically lay out his garden in rows--his large garden is plowed by the tractor and since he is 80 and cannot get down on the ground to weed, I lay out sheets of 3'wide black plastic from rolls (the black plastic blocks the weeds) the width of the garden. I use rocks to hold the sheets of plastic down. I lay two sheets side by side, leaving a little gap between the sheets all across the width of the garden, then plant rows of seeds between the sheets of plastic. The exception is for plants like squashes, pumpkins, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplants, cauliflower, peppers, basil and cabbage. For them I overlap the sheets of plastic a little (forming a continuous surface of plastic-no gaps between the rows), then poke holes in the plastic to put in the seeds or plants--the only place the weeds can come up in those areas is around the base of the plants. This style of planting works well for my father. The plastic warms the area around the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers (warmth lovers) and the plastic blocks the bulk of weed growth. The disadvantage to this style of gardening is that it's not very space efficient--there's typically a 3' gap between rows of plants and all that black plastic can be expensive and is not ecologically beneficial (although we do reuse it). However, Dad can plow his garden as big as he likes (no space constraints), so we don't need to worry about how much space each row takes up. Although black plastic is not a sustainable product because oil is used in its manufacture, organic gardeners do use is, especially to warm the soil under heat loving plants. This method is also fast and easy.

An alternative way to lay out your garden is in beds. The beds can be as long as your garden (say 20'), but each bed should only be 2'-4' wide (you don't want them to be wider than you can reach from either side). The beds can be 4'x4' or 4'x8', triangular or even curved--be creative! In this style of gardening soil is mounded up to form the bed, leaving a slightly depressed area to form the pathway. If you look at plot #17 in the Community Garden, you can see an example of raised beds. The pathways can then be mulched with wood chips, several layers of newspaper or cardboard (usually then covered with another mulch) straw, landscape fabric, black plastic, coarse leaf mulch (please do not use our precious compost for this though--the black compost at the garden is to mix in with the plants to help them grow) --basically a material that you don't mind walking on and that will keep down the weeds. The pathways between the beds should be at least 1' wide, but can be wider, depending on the width you feel you would need to get down to weed in the beds. The advantage of beds is that more space is spent on plants and less on walkways and you can keep improving the same beds from year to year (add compost to the bed yearly and don't walk on the bed--makes for nice fluffy soil).

Now that you've made the row versus bed decision, let's talk a little about orientation. Typically rows/beds of plants are oriented East to West. That way the sun tracks the sky East to West and theoretically, the plants in a row/bed get an equal amount of light--that's particularly important if you have tall plants (corn, pole beans, tomatoes). Taller plants are also typically situated on the North side of a garden--that way as the sun drops South in the sky (come August) they won't be shading other plants. One other concern you should pay some mind to though are your sprawling plants--if you have a garden along a fence line, you might want to situate sprawlers ( eg. pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers) along that fence line so that you won't have to be chasing your sprawling plants from your neighbor's beds-let them sprawl on to the walkway along the fence.

For several types of plants I've particularly noted that they are heavy feeders, or that they like fertilizer. All the vegetables need at least some fertilizer, but the ones I specifically comment on below seem to need more, or would benefit from additional fertilizer added midway through the season. Now, on to the plants--how much space should you leave for any given plant?, well.....

Basil--space 8"- 12" apart

Beans--follow the directions on the seed packet, but seeds are typically spaced about 2" apart (1" deep). You can form a 6" wide row of seeds. Decide on how long of a row you want. Since the beans tend to produce all at the same time, you might want to consider doing two plantings, one now and another 3 weeks or so from now to spread out the length of bean season. A typical row of bush beans will be 18"-24" wide (especially if you sow a 6" wide "row" of them).

Beets-I typically broadcast sow (scatter seeds in a bed). After the beet seedlings come up, thin extras so that the beets are 4"-6" apart. Each beet "seed" is actually a dried fruit containing several seeds--need to thin, leaving one seedling per area. Beet seeds benefit in germination from being soaked in room temperature water overnight before you plant. Can also be sown in rows.

Bok Choy- I typically broadcast sow (scatter seeds in a bed). Once the plants are a couple of inches tall, I transplant them around the bed to the spacing recommended on the seed package. Slugs have a fondness for bok choy, for which I use an organic product called Sluggo--sprinkle it on the ground by the slug susceptible plants.

Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and Cabbages--leave about 18" between plants and 2' between rows. Set plants into the ground about 1" deeper than they were in their container (up to their first true leaves). These plants are heavy feeders (like fertilizer). Sometimes I "interplant" with broccoli--meaning that between the broccoli plants I'll plant radish seeds or lettuce plants--these crops mature quickly and are eaten before the broccoli plants get too large to crowd them.

Carrots- I typically broadcast sow (scatter seeds in a bed). After the carrot seedlings come up, thin extras so that the carrots are 4" apart (or whatever it says on the package). Carrots can also be sown in rows. Carrot seeds like to stay moist for germination--I usually water the surface of the soil daily to keep it from drying out until germination occurs. Carrots love soil that is FREE OF ROCKS OR OTHER IMPEDIMENTS--the roots will object to hitting hard things in the soil--go over your carrot bed carefully to remove rocks and dig deeply (10"-12" is not too deep!) Add compost--make the soil fluffy!

Cauliflower- leave about 24" between plants . Set plants into the ground about 1" deeper than they were in their container (up to their first true leaves). These plants are heavy feeders (like fertilizer).

Celery-leave about 6"-8" between plants. They need moisture during the heat of summer, or become woody.

Chinese Cabbage-These are best grown in the fall (they hate heat and will bolt in the summer). The spacing depends on the cultivar, and I've found that slugs LOVE Chinese Cabbage.

Corn-Corn is wind pollinated, so it's best to plant a BLOCK (4-6 short rows) of corn, rather than a long row or two. Follow the directions on the package, but a generous guideline is for corn planted 1' apart and 2' between rows --it's not a bad idea to put two seeds in per spot though to ensure germination (thin the extra if both plants germinate). There are also early, midseason and late cultivars of corn--to extend your corn season, plant several cultivars timed to produce at different times. Corn is a heavy feeder---needs fertilizer. Be mindful that it can grow 6' tall and shade other crops.

Cucumber-Cucumbers are sprawling plants that can take up an area of 6 or 8 square feet. You can let them sprawl (my Dad's garden on the black plastic), or they can be trained on to a vertical support (I use six- 8 foot long 2"x4"s lashed together at the top, then spread apart to form a "tepee", which then has clothesline woven from one leg of the tepee to another to form a grid for the cukes to climb on--Look on the internet for ideas for vertical supports if you want to do that. Generally you can get more cucumber plants in a given area if you use vertical supports (fence, trellis, arbor, netting, bamboo poles, etc). I usually start my cucumbers from seed, but plants from the garden center should be fine too. Sometimes it's worthwhile to do a second sowing of cucumbers 3 or so weeks after the first--extends the season and also is some insurance against bugs (if the bugs get the first plantings, they might not get the second!) Cucumbers like fertilizer.

Eggplant-Set plants 18'-24' apart. They sometimes benefit from supports (tomato cages work well) to hold the plant up once it sets fruit. They love HEAT, so spreading black plastic under the plants might be helpful.

Greens, eg. lettuces, spinach, collards and kale (it's probably too late for spinach this year--likes the cool temps of spring and not the heat of summer.) I usually follow the directions on the package for these plants, broadcast sow them (scatter seeds in a bed), then thin/transplant as directed on the package. Some lettuce varieties do not enjoy the heat of summer, so be mindful as you read the seed package. Lettuce can also be planted in an area that gets shaded by taller plants, so it gets a little less sun in the heat of summer.

Kohlrabi-These seeds like to be planted either early spring (now is likely too late) or midsummer for fall harvest.

Leek-I usually plant my leek plants about 4" apart in all directions. I use plants with the greens attached.

Lettuce-See Greens

Melons- Here's another sprawling plant. They like HEAT. Plants can go 3' apart in rows spaced 6' apart, or in beds with 4 or more feet between plants. Some of the smaller melons can be trellised (see Cucumbers above). Plants can be started from seed (but be mindful of season length--melons can take anywhere from 70-140 days to ripen) At this point of time (May 20's), I'd opt for either getting plants that are already started, or using seeds that have a shorter harvest time (90 days or less).

Okra-Here's another one that loves HEAT! Plant 12"-16" apart. This is my first year planting okra, so I don't know much about it, except that plants are supposed to be pretty and can grow 3' tall.

Onion-Set out either onion sets (small bulbs) or onion plants (with the green tops intact) about 2"-6'" apart, depending on the size of the mature cultivars bulb. Onions are best planted around here in April to give them as much time as possible to grow (growth slows after the days start to shorten), but I've planted sets at Dad's on Memorial Day weekend for years now, and the results are fine.

Parsnip-These are best started from seed with the surface of the soil kept moist for the 2-3 weeks it may take before germination. They have a long growing season and are best harvested in the fall after a frost.

Peas- Peas are wonderful, but they like the cool of spring--plan on planting them in April - it's likely too late for them to be happy now --by early July the plants usually start to shrivel from the heat. I usually plant them in rows, following the spacing recommended on the package.

Peppers--They love HEAT! Space plants 14-16" apart. Sometimes they appreciate a tomato cage support (put the cage around them around the time you plant). If the plants get loaded with fruit they will sometimes fall over without support.

Potato- A 5-pound bag plants about 25 row feet. Plant in furrows, 4"-6" deep, in rows 32"-36" apart. Space the pieces about 8"-12" apart and cover with 2-4" of soil. You can hill up the soil as the plant grows. Also after I'm done hilling, I spread straw over the potato bed (not on the plant itself, just on the dirt!). If developing potatoes are exposed to sun they develop green areas on the skin, which are not healthy to eat. So the straw (or I suppose a coarse leaf mulch would work well too) will help provide added coverage for the potatoes growing in the soil. Potatoes also like cooler weather, but can be planted now--they can usually be planted as early as mid to late April as well.

Pumpkin--A great class of sprawling plants. You can start from seed or plant, following directions on the seed package for spacing. They can send out runners 10' or more long, so leave room for these ground coverers! Small pumpkins can be trellised (see Cucumbers above). They love fertilizer, so feed them well!

Radish- I typically broadcast sow (scatter seeds in a bed), then thin as needed by the directions on the package. Radishes like cool weather. The latest I've planted radishes in the spring has been late May. When I tried planting after that, they didn't produce any roots (were very unhappy with the heat of summer). I'll plant again in mid-August/early September for fall harvest.

Rutabagas-These are typically grown as a fall crop, but take 3-4 months to mature. This year I'm going to seed mine around June 1, to expect a crop in October. Sow seeds about 2" apart, then thin to 8" apart. They do seem to appreciate the space to grow.

Shallots-Plant about 4-6" apart in all directions. You can plant either sets (small bulbs) or transplants (greens attached). I planted these for the first time in 2008 and was very pleased with the results- I still have a few left from last year's harvest and they look and taste as fine as when I harvested them--compared to how expensive these are in the store, growing them costs pennies and the flavor is wonderful.

Summer Squash- Plant a few seeds about 6" apart from each other to form a "hill", then space the hills 3'-4' feet apart. Squash like fertilizer.

Winter Squash- Plant a few seeds about 6" apart from each other to form a "hill", then space the hills at least 5' feet apart. Squash like fertilizer.

Sweet Potatoes-Sweet potatoes grow from "slips"-set the slips deeply, to their first leaves. They like HEAT. These are rampant growing vines.
Swiss Chard-Sow seeds about 4" apart, then transplant or thin to 8"-12" apart. Like beets, chard seeds will sprout more than one plant. Chard is a happy-go-lucky vegetable, rarely troubled by pests or disease.

Tomato-These are also heavy feeders. Dig a basketball sized hole for each tomato plant--add compost and fertilizer--mix it up. If you have egg shells, crush them and add them to each hole as well (source of calcium)-this is not absolutely necessary, but nice to include if you do have shells. Plant deeply--up to the first set of real leaves--the plants will root along the length of the stem. There are two methods for tomato growth--at Dad's I just "let'em sprawl" 3' apart on the black plastic--this brings the plants down to ground level and may increase rot and critter (mouse) damage. But it's easy and where he lives, works well. But again, he has plenty of space. If you want to conserve space, plant tomatoes and tie them up. They can be planted 2' apart, 3' between rows, or I've also heard of 30" apart in all directions. You can use tomato cages, but the cages frequently tip over when the plants get big, so to prevent this I pound a 4' stake down the middle of the cage when I plant the tomato--it helps to hold the cage in place. There are other alternative ways to stake the plants -- tying them to wire fences--it might be worth looking on the Internet to see what other people have used as vertical support for tomatoes.

Turnip-They work well for fall planting. Sow seeds 1" apart, 12" between rows. Thin to 4" apart.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

State of Connecticut General Assembly Official Citation

Introduced by Representative Lonnie Reed, 102nd District
Representative Patricia M. Widlitz, 98th District
Senator Edward Meyer, 12th District

Be it hereby known that:
The Connecticut General Assembly
hereby offers its sincerest congratulations to:
Branford Community Gardens Project

In recognition of
The Inaugural Growing Season Of The Branford Community Gardens.
We commend You For This Worthwhile Undertaking And For Promoting Family Vegetable Gardening.
We Wish All The Participants Perfect Growing Weather.

The entire membership extends its
very best wishes on this memorable occasion
and expresses the hope of continued success.

Given this 16th day of May 2009
at the State Capitol
Hartford, Connecticut
by

Donald E. Williams, Jr., President Pro Tempore
Christopher G. Donovan, Speaker of the House
Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yukon Gold Seed Potatoes from LaBella's

The folks at LaBella's Farm have donated Yukon Gold Seed Potatoes to the Branford Community Gardens! I will bring them to the garden on May 16. If you are interested in the seed potatoes bring a paper bag, or something similar, to carry them home. Thank you La Bella's!

YUKON GOLD SEED POTATOES
(SOUTHERN STATES)
(MAINE DEPT. AGRICULTURE INSPECTED, CERTIFIED)

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS
1. If you not choose to plant all of the potatoes in this bag, you may eat whatever is left over. These seed potatoes have not been treated in any way and are as good tasting and nutritious as any potatoes you can buy.

2. Store in cool dark moist place and safe from freezing.

3. GROUND PREPARATION: After all danger of frost is past, work garden bed up to a depth of 7” to 9”. Broadcast 25 lbs of 5-10-10 fertilizer per hundred linear feet of potato planting. (A 20-lb bag of seed potatoes will plant 130 linear feet.) Work the fertilizer into the soil.

4. SEED PREPARATION and PLANTING: Just before planting, cut larger potatoes in two, three or four sections or the approximate size of a golf ball. Make sure there is at least one eye on each section. Plant freshly cut seed into the fertilized soil 8” apart in a trench 4” deep. Cover the seed with 1” to 2” of soil.

5. INSECT AND FUNGUS CONTROL: Insect and fungus control are very important. Spray as necessary.

6. CARE OF PLANTS: Cultivate frequently to control weeds. Pull soil up around plant as it grows making a row 12” wide and 12” high. Keep plants well watered.

7. HARVEST and STORAGE: Potatoes mature in 100 to 120 days. Potato vines will begin to die when the potatoes mature. When this occurs, harvest the potatoes two weeks later. The ground should be dry during harvest. Store potatoes at approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit in a dark moist place.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Malaine's Garden

Hello Gardeners!

I've located a local, reasonably priced source for seed potatoes (*see below for description) at Shelley’s Garden Center (across from Richlin in Branford). They have 5-pound bags for $4.50. This is the first year that they are selling them. They've offered to donate potatoes to "Seed, Weed and Feed", in our Community Garden. Thank you Shelley’s!

Generally, you can expect a 7-10 fold yield from what you plant, so for a 5-pound bag, 35-50 pounds. This may sound like a lot, but potatoes store well in cool, dry conditions (I've kept mid-October harvested potatoes in my "not all that cold" basement in cardboard boxes easily into January; in a cooler basement, they would store longer without sprouting). Potatoes are also the ultimate kid-fun to harvest, even my kids, who won't pick anything else, will pick homegrown potatoes--there's something charming about unearthing a mound of spuds.

The varieties at Shelley's are:

Red Norland (harvest 65-80 days) Red skin, white flesh. Excellent boiling, good baking, fair storage.
Yukon Gold (harvest 65-80 days) Yellow skin, yellow flesh. All purpose.
Kennebec (harvest 80-90 days) Buff skin, white flesh. Dependable, adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. Large potatoes with excellent storage.
Green Mountain (harvest >90 days) Buff skinned, heirloom with white flesh. Its dry texture makes it great for baking. Long storage.
Russet (harvest >90 days) Russet skin, white flesh. Excellent for baking and french fries.
Red Pontiac (harvest >90 days) Red skin, white flesh. Awesome for mashed potatoes (personal experience talking here).

A 5-pound bag plants about 25 row feet. Plant in furrows, 4'-6" deep, in rows 32-36" apart. Space the pieces about 8"-12" apart and cover with 2-4" of soil. You can hill up the soil as the plant grows. Last year was an incredibly good growing year for potatoes, but the year before, not so good. It all comes down to the weather.......

Malaine


* A seed potato looks just like a regular potato of a given variety, although they sometimes are smaller than what you hope to grow. They should be sprouting (showing eyes). They are what you plant (instead of seeds) to get a potato plant to grow. Now, people will ask, why not just plant a grocery store potato that is sprouting? And my response is "the party line", that the seed potatoes are generally certified to be "disease free". There are no guarantees of being disease free with store bought potatoes that are sprouting. However, on Dad's farm, he's sometimes thrown in regular store bought potatoes that have sprouted, and we haven't noticed any particular disease problems. So, I'm not sure of how important this is. BUT, you will notice that the seed potatoes come in varieties that are not found in a grocery store, and so you have greater choice when selecting from seed potatoes (what they have at Shelley’s is just the tip of the iceberg, but a nice place to start--last year I grew blue potatoes--sort of gave people a shock when they saw them).

Saturday May 16 in the Garden

Hello Gardeners,

If everything goes as planned we should have our first delivery of compost to the garden by the end of this week. So, we are planning to meet on Saturday at 10 AM at the garden. This should be our first big work session, so please try to be there! We're going to need some muscle! We have to wait for the fence to go up before planting anything so on Saturday we will be preparing the gardens for planting. Prior to Saturday feel free to get out there and start getting the weeds under control in your plot (remember: no Roundup or Preen, or similar herbicides).

Malaine will be giving a demonstration of planting techniques and garden layout, and will answer your gardening questions.

This is what I hope to accomplish on Saturday:

1. Get the compost, bone char and ProGro distributed to each gardener so you can start to work it into the soil (**see below),
2. Lay wood chips on the central pathway,
3. Assemble the "Seed, Weed & Feed" committee and make a plan for planting and maintaining that plot,
4. I will try to have ID badges ready to give you - please get your signed waivers to me asap, if you have not already done so. Giving them out on Saturday will save me the time and expense of having to mail them.

Please bring buckets, wheelbarrows, rakes, pitchforks and shovels, gardening gloves, sunscreen, hats, water and your lunch!

I've met some of our gardeners, but still haven't met you all. I can't wait to! I have such a good feeling about the group! Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Connie
481-3295

** We will distribute (for each 20'x 20' plot; the 10x20 plots will receive half the amount) approximately 12 pounds of Progrow (ABOUT 6 quarts - organic "all purpose" fertilizer, NPK = 5-3-4) and 5 pounds of BoneChar (ABOUT 2.5 quarts) (source of PHOSPHORUS, NPK = 0-16-0).
So you need to bring a container(s) to hold approx 17 pounds of amendments, which altogether is about 9 quarts of material. For example, two 2-gallon buckets or one 5-gallon bucket would be very adequate. The amendments can be mixed together.

Open Gardens and Seedlings

Dear Branford Community Gardeners:

I have two items:

1) "Open Gardens--Weeds and All!" - You are welcome to visit my vegetable garden to ask questions about planting and to get ideas for possible layouts of your garden. See below for times and location on Friday May 15,

2) The seedlings from Vaiuso Farms will be available for pickup either Friday May 15 or Saturday, May 16. See below for times and directions. Please bring either cash or a check made out to Branford Community Gardens. There's still time to order, so send me an email if you want anything - See the earlier post for a list of available seedlings.

Plant pickup either:
1) Friday, May 15, 3 pm - 7:30 pm at 13 Old Smugglers Road, Branford. Old Smugglers is a horseshoe shaped road off Stannard Ave (Take Harbor Street to the last stop sign at a cross street before getting to Branford Point - turn right on Stannard - take the 2nd or 3rd right on to Old Smugglers). Alternatively go from Rte 1 to Short Beach Road (corner of Kohl's and A&P shopping center), turn left at the 2nd light onto Stannard - take the 2nd or 3rd left on to Old Smugglers. I have a grey house with lots of flower beds in front and a basketball hoop in the driveway. I'll have the plants on the steps behind my house. If you'd like, you can look at my vegetable garden (weeds and all, definately still a work in progress!) and I can answer questions about planting.

2) Saturday morning, 10 am - 12 pm at the Branford Community Gardens, 16 Birch Rd. I'll bring the plants to the community gardens for pickup.

Thanks,
Malaine

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hello Gardeners!

As most of you know, you will be getting screened compost for your garden plots. The compost will come from the Branford Transfer Station. Alex Palluzzi is monitoring the situation and will let us know as soon as possible when the compost will be delivered to the garden site. The hold-up right now is that the weather is too wet to screen it. But, we can anticipate having it pretty soon. Then, I'll need a big force of people armed with shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows to get the compost dumped onto each plot. I want each plot owner to be responsible for spreading the compost around their own plot. I'm hoping to get a machine to help turn it under, but haven't got one yet. Worst case scenario - everybody will be raking it into their own plots. The compost is important to get our soil in good shape and increase the nitrogen level. I'll be contacting you as soon as we hear about the compost delivery.

Remember that we have seedlings available! Contact Malaine to place your order (mtrecoske@yahoo.com).

Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments!

Connie
481-3295

Friday, May 1, 2009

GARDEN WISH LIST

Hello Gardeners!
Our most critical need right now is to find cedar posts for our deer fencing. We do not want to use chemically treated lumber since the chemicals leach into the soil. If you know of a source for these posts, or of an angel who can provide them to us, please let me know. Thanks!
Connie

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

FENCE AND PATHWAY COMMITTEES

Hello Gardeners!

We need help.

We need to set up two committees and find volunteers for each. Let me know if you would like to head one of the committees.

1. Fence Committee - this committee will organize the installation of fence poles and deer fencing, plus two gates. This will take some physical work plus at least one person with experience with fence installation. After the installation of the fencing the committee will be responsible throughout the season for monitoring the integrity of the fence and organizing any repairs required.

2. Pathway Committee - this committee will organize the delivery of wood chips for the pathways, lay the wood chips, and throughout the season monitor the pathway and make any adjustments necessary. This will take some physical work with wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes.

Please sign up for either (or both) of these committees if you possibly can.

Thanks everybody!

Connie
481-3295

SEEDLINGS FOR OUR GARDENERS

Dear Branford Community Gardeners:

My name is Malaine and I've been heading up the Seedling Project for the Branford Community Gardens. I wanted to let you know that due to the generosity of Branford’s Vaiuso Farms, we have a number of seedlings available for you to purchase for $1 per 6-cell pack (these usually retail for $2 or more per 6-cell pack). We have available:

Diamond Eggplant - (78 days). This is a slightly tapered, dark purple eggplant, which sets its fruit in clusters. (source: www.fedcoseeds.com).
Genovese Basil - This is a classic variety of basil used for making pesto. (source: www.fedcoseeds.com).
Brocade Mix French Marigold - These are a mixture of ruffled, double flowers in rust, yellow, orange, red and bi-colors on a 10" plant. (source: www.fedcoseeds.com).
Sparky Mix French Marigold - These are a mixture of double flowers in yellow, gold, orange, and red on 10"-12" plants. The leaves are smoother than those of Brocade Mix. (source: www.fedcoseeds.com).
King of the North Pepper - This is a bell pepper that turns red when ripe and is supposed to be good for northern gardens, if it's a little cool outside. (limited quantities) (source: www.seedsavers.org).
Early Jalapeno Hot Pepper - (75 days). This produces a hot, hot 3x1" sausage-shaped blunt fruit. (source: www.fedcoseeds.com).
Windsor Broccoli - (75 days). This is one of the earlier broccoli varieties, which should produce a 6-7" blue-green head and is supposed to be able to tolerate cold and heat (at least to some degree). (source: www.fedcoseeds.com).
Sungold Cherry Tomato - (57 days). This is an early, apricot-colored cherry tomato. I think it's like eating tomato candy when I eat it. Yum! The fruits do crack though after a rain, so it's good to pick the ripe ones before rain. But the plant just keeps on going all summer long... (source: www.fedcoseeds.com) (limited quantities, but to be honest, you probably only need 1-2 plants for a typical garden, so share a cell pack with one or two of your fellow community gardeners).
Cherokee Purple Tomato - (77 days). This is an heirloom that has a dusky brownish-purple skin and green shoulders. The taste is described as rich, sweet, delicious. (source: www.fedcoseeds.com).
Cuor di Bue Tomato -This is a pink skinned, dark red flesh ox heart shaped tomato. It is supposed to be of excellent taste for fresh eating or making a sauce. The seeds come from Italy. (source: www.growitalian.com).
Costoluto Genovese Tomato - (75-80 days). This tomato is supposed to be vigorous and high producing with brilliant red fruit of excellent taste and texture. It has the "classic" tomato shape, kind of flattened with pronounced ribs. The seeds come from Italy. (source: www.growitalian.com).
San Marzano "Redorta" Plum Tomato - This is a meaty, heavy-producing, large (9-10 oz) plum tomato. It prefers a soil high in phosphorous and moderate in nitrogen.

All the tomatoes listed are "indeterminate" varieties, which means that they keep producing fruit and the plant keeps growing. This is in contrast to "determinate" varieties which set all their fruit at once, then are done producing (this makes determinate good for potted tomatoes; the plants tend to remain smaller in size).

If you want to see a more detailed description of these vegetables, please check the web sources listed for each plant.
Vaiuso Farms, Inc. germinated the seeds for us, then several of us transplanted the seedlings into 6-cell packs. Vaiuso’s tended the seedlings and are now tending the transplants in their greenhouses. At their retail operation they have many other (and some of the same!) vegetable, herb and flower varieties. We at the Branford Community Garden project are very thankful to them for their generosity in tending the plants and in providing us the potting materials. I encourage you to visit their retail store on the way to Lake Saltonstall (75 Hosley Avenue--you can see the greenhouses from I-95) and to thank them for their generosity to the Community Garden Project.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the above listed plants, PLEASE LET ME KNOW BY WEDNESDAY MAY 13 so that we can set them aside for you. My email is mtrecoske@yahoo.com or call 488-7946. Email is preferable, because then I have your written copy of what you want. I need your name, the variety of the vegetable/herb, and the number of cell packs you want (remember, each cell pack contains 6 plants, so if you don't think you'll use them all, plan on sharing with a community garden neighbor. The cost is $1 for each cell pack (6 plants).

Connie Drysdale will be sending details soon on where and when you can pick up your plants (probably in the middle of May). Although you may well see people out planting their tomatoes, eggplant and basil this glorious weekend to come, be mindful that those plants run the risk of cold damage if our weather cools down. Joe Vaiuso says to not plant the warm weather crops until after May 15 in our area (except for the broccoli, all of our offerings are considered warm weather crops), and since he's been farming for a long time, we'll follow his advice! Plants that are not purchased will go to a joint plant sale with Friends of Willoughby Wallace Library from 12-4 pm on May 16 and 17 as a fundraiser to benefit the Branford Community Garden project and Willoughby Wallace Library.
Please feel free to call or email me with any questions on the seedlings.

Yours in gardening,

Malaine Trecoske
(488-7946 or mtrecoske@yahoo.com)

WILLOUGHBY WALLACE LIBRARY - BCG FUNDRAISER

Hello Gardeners!
As some of you already know, the Friends of the Willoughby Wallace Library has been incredibly generous in allowing Branford Community Gardens (BCG) to join them in a fund raiser on May 16 and 17, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 PM at the library in Stony Creek. BCG will be offering seedlings from our Seedlings Project (those not taken by that time by our community gardeners for their own gardens) at the fundraiser. I am writing to ask you if you may have split some your perennials (or will do so soon), or have left-over seedlings, and could offer them to us for our part of the fundraiser? The profits from anything the BCG sells will be split 50-50 with the library. I can't think of a better way to contribute to our community. Please let me know if you think you can help.

Monday, April 20, 2009

WISH LIST

Branford Community Gardens, Inc. is looking for the following:

• Fencing materials
• Wheelbarrows, rakes, hoes and other gardening supplies
• Hoses and nozzles
• Wood chips for pathways
• Plumbing material for waterlines
• Experienced fundraiser

Send us an email if you can help!

CHECK OUT OUR PROGRESS!

February 25, 2009 - BCG, Inc. presentation to the Branford Board of Education, seeking the use of the land behind Branford Early Learning Center in Pine Orchard.

March 25, 2009 - The Branford Board of Education approves the use of the Pine Orchard land for community gardens, administered by BCG, Inc.

March 25, 2009 - The Seeding Project is initiated at Vaiuso Farms, Inc. They are germinating our seeds and tending them in their greenhouses! Seedlings will be offered to garden plot renters at a minimal cost. We will have several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and marigolds.

April 1-2, 2009 - Steve DuHamel completes the first plowing at the Pine Orchard garden.

April 18, 2009 – Branford Community Gardens, Inc. featured in the Town’s of Branford's incredible volunteers!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

HELLO GARDENERS!

Here are some of our latest developments:

Website:
Thanks to Jen Payne, we now have a great website, with links to our application form and gardening guidelines.

Seedling Project:
Our seeds are germinating under the tender care of the generous folks at Vaiuso’s. When they have germinated and grown big enough our Seedling Committee will be transplanting them into bigger pots.

Community Response:
There was a nice article about us in The Sound last week. I have had a very good response from the community regarding both requests for family gardening plots and from people who just want to help us. I continue to be amazed at the willingness of Branfordites (is this a word?) to step up to the plate.

Tractors and Plows:
Steve DuHamel and I went out to the Pine Orchard site on Monday afternoon to try to determine where the existing waterlines are. This is to try to avoid busting the waterlines when Steve does his first deep plow. Thanks to a pipeline map provided by Beryl Meiner, director of the day care center, we think we have figured it out. Steve should be able to plow on Wednesday.

Logo:
Martha Link Walsh has generously offered to create a logo for our Branford Community Gardens, Inc. As soon as it’s ready it will be up on the website.

So, thanks to everyone!

Dreaming about tomatoes,
Connie
481-3295