New season, more space

It was an excellent opening night for Gardening for Good last week. Having expanded to three plots this year has made an incredible difference already — last week’s program allowed 22 people to spend time in the garden (simultaneously); truly meeting the goals of gardening together across all abilities. Tami and Doug planted peppers–both hot and sweet. Felix and Ken worked on mulching all the planted beds. Anne planted beans in our new plot, while Randy, Joseph and Pat resurrected and relocated our blue bottled tree. Daniel designed a keyhole garden in which Edward planted bush beans, while John and Julie obviously planted the potatoes. Sally and Lisa weeded the strawberry patch beneath the apple tree, while Hannah, Cory, “Marcus”, Marge, Andy and Bird built a trellis, then planted tomatoes–indeterminate in the back row, determinate in front. With another plot to garden this season, we had more space to roam, more opportunity to mingle, and more gardening to do — all that should keep us coming back!

Our Season’s Yearbook

At our final fall gathering last Thursday at the Lakeview branch library, Marge brought along yearbooks that she put together and had printed. We had a jovial time looking through these books and reading aloud excerpts, while chatting, eating popcorn and carrot cake (thank you, Pat!), and drinking apple cider.  Laura read two of her poems that are included in the book, and Rebecca read to us everyone’s stories from our storytelling session in August–also included in the book. These yearbooks are filled with write-ups about all our workshops, bright photos from our gatherings, and a touching reflection written by Marge about what G4G means to her. We have books for everybody who participated this year. For those who didn’t make it last week, we plan to get you yours one way or another. In the meantime, here is the digital copy:

G4G 2015 book digital

End of August Potluck

Below is a collection of photos from our summer season finale potluck. It was a wonderful gathering of tasty food and warm company–a great celebration of all that we have done this season. Here is the recipe for the delicious maple pecan green bean salad that John Bell’s sister, Jo, made:

Enjoy all these happy photos. We will meet again next week September 24, 6pm at Troy.

Garden Art & Calendula Balm

As if to remind us that summer is nearing its end, the past week’s days have been cooler and noticeably shorter. It seems a bit prematurely fall-like. We observed this at the end of last week’s gathering, when it was too dark for Carol to get a good photo of our guest, Christine, and me. Despite this, we still managed to have another thoroughly enjoyable Gardening for Good last week Thursday.

The peppers and tomatoes were ripe and abundant. These plants–which began by seed in Marge’s house–continue to have a wonderfully productive life. Daniel harvested the remaining carrot crop, while Carol, Pat, and Ken crafted brilliant bouquets of zinnias and dill flowers with friends. Steve and Rick watered the raised beds, and we bagged up as much kale and collards as people could stand to take home with them.

Christine–an art teacher and friend of Gardening for Good–joined us this week to find art with us at Troy Gardens. We harvested flowers from our garden, and together made beautifulmagnets, using the flowers’ petals and inspiring quotes from various authors. The results looked great, and everybody was proud to share their artwork!

As most of our gatherings are, it was a busy day!! We weeded, conversed, laughed, composted, marveled, harvested and created garden art! All the while, we finished up the calendula project that we started way back in early June–when our first calendula flowers were in bloom. Since then, we have harvested gallons of these sweet, sticky blossoms. Then, we set them out to completely dry, which took a few weeks. Next, we poured grapeseed oil into large jars with the dried flowers, and allowed them to steep for about a month, so to infuse the calendula’s healing properties into the oil. Following this, we strained the solid particles from the oil using cheesecloth. And last Thursday, we completed the final step: Using a propane grill and a makeshift double boiler, we combined beeswax with the calendula-infused oil, and heated it just enough to melt the wax. Once melted, we poured the mixture into individual-sized jars for each gardener to take home for personal use. This calendula balm is great for rough or chapped skin; cuts and abrasions; bruises and inflammations; rashes and fungal infections. It is a very gentle natural healer that has amazing antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflamatory, anti-itch, and anti-fungal properties. I plan to have more jars of this tomorrow at our final gathering. It is a product of many weeks of many hands, gardening together beneath the blue-bottled tree! See you all tomorrow, August 27 at 6PM, for our Harvest Potluck!

“Growing food. Growing minds. Together.”

Last week presented us with another lovely G4G. It was overcast once again. We subtlety rejoiced that we didn’t even need to erect the clumsy blue tent for shade’s sake, and then we got right to work…
Marge and Julie harvested our first crop of potatoes. There was some weeding and some watering and lots of tomatoes! Rodrigo and Randy planted kohlrabi in the vacant bed where Jon and Randy had planted radishes in the spring, and where Laura and John later harvested said radishes. Therese and Sally planted kale and parsley in the raised bed that Steve and Carol dug up the week prior. We really share this garden.
Following our period of garden work, all 25 of us circled up for a storytelling session, orchestrated by Marge. It was special to all come together in an activity that included every single person. Each person drew a word from Marge’s basket of words, and shared a story about their word. With Todd’s help, Jo Jo explained to us that he loves to dance, and how he speaks with his body. Pat described the means by which horses sense human emotion through breath. Edward expressed how he enjoys hearing the Beatles sing. Each one of us drew a different word from the basket, and we all shared a story.

Here are a handful of photographs from the night:

We hope to see you all this Thursday. We have calendula salve and dried flower art on the agenda!

Celebrating Salsa

Our gathering began a bit early last week, around 5:30pm, as it usually does. Lucky for us, Lisa brought reading material. She had picked up several copies of the Northside News, which had the article in it that Marge wrote about G4G, as well as a photo of us!

Just before six o’clock, the sun tucked itself behind a large front of clouds. It was a welcomed change in the sky, after a sunny and dry week. We even brought our yoga and mindfulness routine out from under the tent!

We then dispersed in the garden to see what needed to be done. Randy and Laura gave all the soil much needed water, but not before Anne and the troops harvested kale, collards, summer squash, some little cucumbers, and delicious red rose tomatos! Carol and Steve worked on digging up the bitter, flowering mesclun from the raised bed. We decided that we will plant some variety of kale this coming week in that bed. Rick watered and deflowered basil in the raised beds, while Andy and Daniel mulched around the plants. Meanwhile, Todd and Jo Jo made sure to cover all the bare soil in our garden with straw.

Later in the evening, John presented two of his freshly-made salsas: red tomato and green tomatillo. To each of his salsas, along with their respective tomato, John added onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. While the red was subtly sweet, and the green was tangy, they each were delicious in their own right. They both were bursting with fresh, savory bites charged by onion, garlic and cilantro. We all enjoyed these salsas together, excited that such wonderful flavor combinations can be created in a garden like ours, and comforted in knowing John made these salsas with love, for us to all enjoy together.

Here are some photos from the evening…