Canning Workshop

You’ve grown all the vegetables in your garden or just been to the farmer’s market, but there is too much to eat all at once. What do you do? Well, you put it away for the Winter, of course. Join our Educational Director, Danni Niles, as she shows you the basics of Water Bath Canning. Topics will include safety, easy recipes, ways to use products, and resources.

Date: 9/20/15

Time: 2PM

Location: Danni’s Apartment by the Vila’s Zoo (those who sign up on the Eventbrite page will receive directions the morning of)

Suggested Donation: $10 Non-Garden Members, $5 Garden Members

Water Workshop Review

Last night as the storm clouds rolled across the north of Madison, I attended the Water Conservation and Inter-Personal Conflict Resolution Workshop at Brittingham Community Garden in Madison, WI. This workshop was a part of the workshop series being put on by the Dane County Community Garden Network, Coalition, & Dane County Extension. We luckily only got a few sprinkles on us during the workshop and gained a lot of fabulous ideas on how to conserve water at a community garden.

There was a lot of talk in the workshop about watering your garden plants the right way and at the right time. Morning is the best time to water plants, followed by evening. This allows the soil to retain moisture longer and gives your plants more time to use the water before it evaporates. Watering at the base of the plants is also very important. This can help prevent disease and puts the water where plants need it, the roots, right away! Plants need about 1-2 inches of water per week. You can check this by using a tool called a Soil Moisture Meter or you can stick a trowel in the soil and dig straight down to see where the water has penetrated to. Another technique is to water as long as it would take to fill a normal soup tin with water.

Improving the soil is also critical to conserving water. The more like rich loam your soil is, the more efficiently you’ll be able to use water. You can achieve this by adding compost and organic matter. You can even, occasionally, “water” with compost tea, liquid kelp or fish emulsion to improve the soil at the same time. Mulch can also work wonders at covering the soil so there are fewer weeds (stealing water!), keeping the soil temperature down, and retain water in the soil longer.

Amy Robb from the Madison Water Utility was also at the workshop to talk about how Community Gardens can take advantage of the online tools and Water Utility resources to manage water usage better. Most gardens in Madison should be working to install their own meter and access point for water. While this is an expensive project, it allows the garden to be better stewards of their water and is a much better long term solution to water access than some current practices like using a fire hydrant.

A typical community garden in Dane County can pay anywhere from $20 – $100 for half of the year. To reduce this cost, gardens should make sure their tools and water access points aren’t leaking. O-rings are cheap but amazing investments to ensure that hoses and spigots aren’t leaking. Of course, also remember that hand watering (like with a watering can) will waste the least amount of water!

Community Gardens can also go online to use some of the Madison Water Utility resources to see when and how much water is being used. The meter collects data all the time giving gardens a great sense of whether they are watering at the correct time or maybe have leaks or other problems on site. This data can then be presented to gardeners when discussions about garden plot fees or new rules come up.

Of course, at Crowley Station Community Garden we also use a rain barrel and water saucer. This tool allows us to collect and use water for free! We are so in love with our rain barrel and saucer. If you are interested in getting one of your own, check out the Rainbarrel Man. He was great to work with. Our Rain Barrel sits on a wood stand that our Maintenance Director, Grayson Smith, built this year. It has two spigots that allow us to put the watering cans underneath to fill or attach a hose. This is the second year we’ve had it and it has held up well.

Hope this inspires you to work a bit more on ways you can conserve water. See you around the garden!

Memorial for Becky Selleck

Last year Crowley Station Community Garden was created through the work of many dedicated community members. One of those members was Becky Selleck. Becky volunteered to be the first Educational Director and had a vision of the community garden serving everyone in the neighborhood. She worked to establish a relationship with the Episcopal Grace Food Pantry and started the first Educational Plot to teach members how to get the most our of their gardening experience. She was always willing to jump into a project with a smile or a sympathetic ear if a member was struggling. It was amazing to have her energy involved in the project.

Sadly, Becky Selleck passed away this Summer in an accident. Her Madison friends wanted a way to honor her gifts and life. They reached out to Crowley Station Community Garden in hopes they could find a partner for a memorial that would align well with everything that Becky worked for.

Together we have decided to rename the Educational Plot to Becky Selleck. We also hope to work on some expansion projects for the garden as well.

Please join us on Friday, August 28th, 5:30-8PM at the Crowley Station Community Garden for a potluck, stories, and an opportunity to donate to the memorial project!

Sounds of Summer in the Garden

Last Sunday was the Summer Solstice. It was a bright, sunny day with temperatures in the high 80s. Nothing could have felt more Summery. The community garden celebrated by inviting local artists to play in the garden as a part of the city wide event Make Music Madison. Neighbors, gardeners, and friends came out to the garden to enjoy lovely music and their own picnics. It was a grand way to usher in the Summer!

We started with the folk/rock sounds of John Kostle. He was a champ on the guitar and in the intense sunshine that covers the whole garden at 4PM. He started the event off in a great way. There were songs that everyone knew and could sing along with and other fitting songs for a Summer day at the garden.

The Strays came next bringing instruments (including a large double bass!), jazzy vocals, and their own possy. This young group had a fabulous sound. A mix of jazz and pop had everyone popping into the garden off the street to hear what was going on. For a group of “stray” musicians, they have the beginnings of a really excellent group.

The following artist, Mackenzie Benish, slowed thing down just a notch with her original songs on the guitar. The lyrics were excellent, each song telling a story, almost like old folk songs but with a more modern sound. She was another trooper in the sun. Her performance was right in the middle of the sunshine as the audience all moved into the little bit of shade offered at the garden.

As the sun began to set, Richard from the Big Swell came by to sing some rock anthems. Sadly, as it was dinner time, much of our audience went home for the night. Richard still sang his heart out and those that stayed had a great time.

Twilight at the garden brought out a shimmery crescent moon and a bold, pink sunset. Robert Trader took advantage of this magical setting to perform his folk/rock songs. His voice carried over the whole garden and even to the apartment balconies across the street from the garden. It was a great performance that really finished the concert off in the best way. Many peopled were wooed from the street into listening to the urban lyrics and heartfelt melodies.

We want to thank all the performers who donated their time to performing at Crowley Station Community Garden. You made sunday the fabulous event that it was! Thanks also to everyone who came out to enjoy the garden with us. We really have one of the best communities around!

Concert at the Garden!!

Enjoy FREE MUSIC in the garden on Sunday, June 21, 2015 as a part of Make Music Madison event. Bring some snacks , seating (blanket or camp chairs) and enjoy the sounds of Summer! We picked out some excellent performers this year. Most of them have some folk or jazz elements to them. Check out the music at the links below. Come for part or all of the show.

SCHEDULE
4-4:45PM John Kostle
5-6PM The Strays
6:15-7PM Mackenzie Benish
7:15-8PM The Big Swell
8:15-9PM Robert Trader

Herb Workshop: Saturday, June 13, 2015

Herbs are some of the best plants for container gardens, beginner gardeners, and those who like to cook. Whether you are new to gardening or an herb expert, there will be something special for you to learn in this workshop. Join us at the garden this Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 4PM. This event has a $5 suggested donation. We’ll cover the following:

∗ How to Plant Herbs
∗ Companion Plantings
∗ Benefits of Herbs
∗ How to Harvest
∗ The Many Uses Beyond Cooking

Workshop run by Pat Niles: 
After obtaining a degree in Horticulture – Crop Production from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, Pat has spent the last four decades working in flower shops, green houses, the extension service and on organic farms. She has used her extensive experience to run her own CSA farm in southern Wisconsin. Her customers have grown to love her veggies, fruits, culinary flowers, herbs, and her vast gardening knowledge. Along the way Pat has shared her enthusiasm and knowledge in classrooms, workshops, and online. It’s rare to find someone who is as comfortable and engaged in the field as in the classroom!

Compost and Happy Hour Planting Party this Friday, May 1st

CSCG Members, loved ones, friends, and neighbors,

This past Saturday we traversed Dane County on a mission for free compost and struck black gold! All beds were given some compost so our plots are now nutrient rich and ready for planting. Stop by the garden sometime this week and see how it’s shaping up already.

Join us this Friday, May 1st, for a Happy Hour Planting Party Work Day at the garden from 6:00–8:00pm. Bring beverages and snacks to share while we sort through weeds, seeds, and compost to wind down the week. It’s the perfect time to start planting some of the early spring vegetables that can withstand coldish weather. See our Education Director Danni Niles’s previous post for more suggestions, or keep reading using the gardening resources section of our website as your guide:

https://crowleystationgarden.org/handbook/gardening-resources/

Gardening: Where to start?

It was so lovely to get to meet all the new members to Crowley Station Community Garden last Saturday! I met a lot of members who were new to gardening, and they all had such wonderful questions. I thought I’d take the opportunity to write out a few of the most basic questions in case others were wondering how to get started.

What do I do first? 

Ah, such a broad question! It can be intimidating to start a new project, especially when the subject matter can be as expansive as gardening. Your first garden, though, is a chance for you to take chances and really dive into the exciting world of gardening. Don’t worry so much about doing things right. Just dig in! Your bed at Crowley Station is pretty small; that means it’s easy to fix if a “mistake” happens. “Mistakes” are really just experiments where the results don’t match your expectations. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gardening, you will still experience surprises every year.

Generally, the first thing you want to do is prepare the soil. Adding some compost is a great first step. There are also probably some small weeds in your bed. You can pull those or just work them into your new compost. Second, pick ONE plant that you want to try this year. Feel free to plant more than just one thing, but maybe you do extra research online, reading books, or asking fellow gardeners about that one plant that you love.

What can I plant in the Spring? 

Good things to start in the spring include short day, cold hardy plants. Most seed packets will mention these traits. Try herbs, greens like lettuce and spinach, and root crops like carrots and beets. Save your tomatoes and peppers for warmer temperatures. As evident today, we could still get snow even though our last frost date was April 15!

How do I plant seeds?

First, read the back of the seed package. This will tell you how close together you can plant your seeds and how deep your seeds should be. Some seeds are really tiny. Remember that you can always thin, pull unwanted plants, later when things are bigger. Water your seeds after planting. You can then cover your plants with something like straw or leaf mulch. Olbrich Gardens has a leaf mulch sale until the end of May. Don’t forget to check your bed at least weekly for weeds and watering.

If you have any further questions feel free to contact me, the Educational Director, or leave comments below. Happy Gardening!

Garden Plots Still Available for 2015

We still have several beds available for the 2015 season! Fill out a registration form and email it to CrowleyStationGarden@gmail.com to get started.  Then join us on Opening Day, April 18!  More information about fees, required volunteer hours, and our gardening standards is available on our website.

Crowley Station Community Garden is more than just some soil to grow plants.  Together we work to improve this space for our neighborhood while getting to know each other and forming friendships.  This year we will host Dane County Master Gardeners and hold educational workshops on various gardening topics such as thwarting pests and maximizing productivity from raised beds.  We also have one educational plot used to teach members how to garden; harvests from this bed are donated to the Grace Episcopal Food Pantry.  We have social events like yoga classes, concerts, and potlucks and welcome suggestions from our members.

If you live on the isthmus and would like an opportunity to get your hands dirty, grow some organic plants, and get to know your neighbors while learning how to garden better and adding to the beauty of Downtown Madison, it sounds like CSCG might be just what you need this summer!  Read more about us on our website.  If you like what you see, fill out a registration form asap.  With spring settling in a little more every day, the time to start planting is right around the corner and you don’t want to miss out!

Join Us for Opening Day! April 18, 2015 @ 1pm

Come one, come all!  Mark your calendars for the Crowley Station Community Garden Opening Day 2015.  Meet at the garden on April 18th at 1:00pm, which is also the first downtown Farmer’s Market.  Pick up some farm fresh goodies and enjoy the first market, then head down W. Wilson to the garden.  Bring something delicious to share as we say hello to each other and our garden for our second season!

On Opening Day we will:

  • Assign plots to new members
  • Collect fees
  • Introduce our wonderful garden leaders
  • Take volunteers for our committees
  • Assign garden mentor/mentee pairs
  • Provide new member orientation
  • And, most importantly, enjoy a potluck/social!

This is a required event for all members. If you absolutely cannot join us, please let Membership Director Krista Farrell know by April 17. Otherwise, your plot will be reassigned.

We’ll see you there!