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

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!

Winter Garden Dreamings

It’s reached single digit temperatures outside. While the sun is shining this afternoon, it’s a rare pleasure for this time of year. So, what’s a gardener to do? Why, dream up next year’s garden of course!

January and February are prime seed catalog months. Many seed catalogs will send you free copy. Seed company websites also offer excellent website shopping, as well. Flipping through your seed options now gives you the chance to dream, plan, and research your options for the next year. It also allows you to evaluate how much time you’ll have for gardening.

Let’s say you set aside two hours each week in January for garden planning and seed ordering. As the month goes by you realize you only have time for one hour each week to devote to garden planing. This might be a sign that you will only have one hour a week for gardening and should only plant three types of tomatoes not six. The time spent planning a garden does not completely equate to the time needed to care for a garden, of course. It’s just a good way to check in with yourself about the time you have available. Crowley Station Community Garden has small plots that even the busiest people will have time to garden!

When you are planning your garden and going through seed catalogs/website be sure that you think about the following things for next year:

  • Seasonal Rotations (planting cabbage after your Spring spinach is done for example)
  • Growing days needed
  • Appropriate zones (you might really want a lemon tree, but Wisconsin just isn’t warm enough for an outside planting)
  • Drought and Disease tolerance (experiment now because you never know what the season will bring)
  • Take a look at companion plantings

You will also want to balance the foods that you love to grow and eat year after year with new experiments. For example, last year I found the perfect green bean (I had over 10lbs in my 2′ x 8′ bed). I’m certainly going to order more of those. I’m also going to try experimenting with Chinese Red Noodle Bean. Since I’m a fan of beans I know that I’ll have a hardy type that I’ll love but might also find a new favorite. If the weather is unusual this year, one variety might do better than another. Diversity does wonderful things for a garden and your table!

Here are some of my favorite seed catalogs. In the comments, I’d love to hear about your favorite garden planning resources!

2015 Executive Team

Crowley Station Community garden is run by a team of members. We have five positions: Communications Director, Treasurer, Volunteer Coordinator, Maintenance Director, and Educational Director. Two of those positions also served as Co-Chairs this year. This group of leaders makes all decisions for the garden. Meetings are open to all members, though. On October 1 members in good standing were encouraged to submit candidate statements for any positions they’d like to run for to serve in 2015. We were supposed to then have an electronic survey for election ballots. Only five members submitted  statements and thus our five positions were filled for next year.

The members of the 2015 Executive Team have been wonderful to work with. All of them put in many volunteer hours above the required four. Many of them worked on special projects or even served on the planning group this Spring. Their passion for the project and enthusiasm to serve has been evident throughout the growing season. Please join me in congratulating them on becoming the next Crowley Station Executive Team!

Maintenance Director: Grayson Smith
I feel that I have the knowledge necessary to solve material choices, construction, and aesthetic as a graduate of industrial design working in the furniture industry. Problem solving is in my nature. I’ve been involved in this garden since last winter and have grown to understand the community, politics, and capabilities of the people involved. I look at taking on this position as not only a personal challenge, but also a lot of fun! I hope to be qualified enough to satisfy the hard working team of CSCG. Thank you!

Volunteer Coordinator: Krista Farrell
I would like to run for the Volunteer Coordinator position again next year. I feel really fortunate to be involved with such an amazing project and would love to continue to be involved with a leadership role. I feel like I only dipped my toe into the possibilities for the Volunteer Coordinator position this year and am excited about all of the potential for next year. I have a lot of great ideas for how to establish more community at the garden and am eager to see them through! I have been able to form an organized system to carrying out the responsibilities of this role this year and have ideas how to improve things for next season, if given the opportunity. Mostly, I am excited about the opportunity to serve along with and learn from the other amazing members of this community. Thank you for your consideration!

Communications Director: Lisa Winkler
The CSCG is an exciting grass roots effort to develop an underused public area into a welcoming gathering space for our community.  With all the hard work and commitment of the volunteers in its first year, it will be essential to the success of this initiative to have effective communication with our stakeholders, neighbors, and the local area providers we want to fully utilize this garden.  I would like to help the CSCG by managing the information on their website and communications between members, the water utilities and the general public.

Treasurer: Courtney Stacy
I was the treasurer and a co-chair for the 2014 growing season at Crowley Station Community Garden. I truly enjoyed being a part of our leadership team, and would like to continue in the treasurer role for the 2015 season. My hope is to finish laying the financial groundwork for the garden, and continue developing projects which will ensure CSCG’s fiscal independence and security for many years to come.

Educational Director: Danni Niles
Next year I would love to serve as your Educational Director. This year I have served as your Communications Director and Co-Chair. It has been amazing to work with everyone and watch the garden and the community grow this year through the long meetings and even longer build projects. After years of growing up on a vegetable and fruit farm and doing my own personal gardens in urban settings throughout college, I feel like I have a great deal of knowledge and enthusiasm to share with the garden. I’d love to focus on the mentoring program, hosting how-to workshops, and expanding our donations to the food pantry. I’d also love to continue working with the Executive Team to bring our goals to life during our second year. Thanks!

Brr, it’s cold out there! Gardening in autumn

autumn garden harvest

Gardeners,

Wow, the weather has certainly changed quickly this year! I know that some of our members are new to gardening. I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips on how to garden in the Autumn. Please feel free to share with everyone your own tips and tricks on growing during the chilly weather!
1) Know your first frost date! Our average frost date (the first date we get temperatures at night at 32F or lower) is around Oct. 10-15th. You can plant fall crops by subtracting the days to maturity (found on the back of seed packets) from this date. For instance I planted some Swiss Chard at the beginning of September, about six weeks before our frost date. This weekend we will be getting close to have an early frost, keep an eye on the weather. 
2) Protect your crops from the first frost. We often have a couple nights in the autumn where it gets really chilly and frosty but warms up during the day to at least the 60s. For those evenings you can cover your crops during the night with old sheets and blankets, remove the sheets during the day, and prolong your veggies a couple weeks.
3) Protect your Perennials. Some of you might have planted things that come back year after year, like strawberries. Do some research on how best to winterize those plants. Usually it means putting some extra straw or mulch around the plant to help it transition from hot to cold and provide extra insulation for super frigid winters.
4) Plant your Winter Crops. Do you dream of your very own garlic next year? I know I do! Now is a great time to start planting your garlic and other crops that need a good long winter to grow through.The garlic you plant now will be ready for harvest next August.
5) Think about Cover Crops.  The garden will be discussing what we want to do for the winter. Our goals are to protect the soil against erosion, build the soil health, and keep things pleasant visually through Winter. One of the best ideas is planting a cover crop. If you are interested in deciding how we prepare the garden for the Winter, come to the next Executive Team Meeting September 15 at 7PM at Barriques.  All members are welcome! 

Common Weeds in Wisconsin

If you wonder around the garden this week (if the rain stops!), you see towering tomato plants, blooming flowers, long green beans, and fragrant herbs. It’s a beautiful sight! Hidden among the productive plants are plants that the gardener did not plant and does not want. Those are weeds. Here are the top four plants I’ve seen in the garden as “weeds”. Just remember that weeds are all about perspective. Many of these plants are edible or have other uses, too!

Amaranthus retroflexusPigweed Amaranthus retroflexus
These plants can get huge, sometimes reaching 6 feet. The size of these plants can shade out the plants you want. Be careful to remove these plants from beds completely as they can re-root sometimes if left laying out. The seed heads are sometimes used as food and the young leaves can also be tasty. Check out a recipe here.

PurslanePurslane Portulaca oleracea
This is one of the most frustrating weeds for me! If you don’t get the whole root system pulled out, the runners can keep it alive and thriving for quite some time. It stays close to the surface of the soil but can have stems around 14 inches long.

 

LambsLamb’s Quarter Chenopodium album
This weed can also get fairly tall at 3 feet tall. The leaves enlarge and the stem can be quite woody and hard to pull during dry spells. This is another edible weed. It can be a hard weed to identify when it’s young but look for the slight white hue to the green leaves.

grassCrabgrass Digitaria sanguinalis
While this plant doesn’t do much harm to other seedlings, it can quickly take over a bed. It is important that you pull from the bottom of the plant and get the root system. Just like the grass in your lawn, it won’t die unless the roots are gone.

 

Sources:
Organic Gardening.com
UW Weed Information

Grand Opening Party!

You are invited to. . .

Birds and Bee BalmCrowley Station Community Garden will be having a Grand Opening Event! Please join us at the garden at 201 S. Hancock St on September 7, 2014. We hope to celebrate our fabulous first year with all the people who have made this garden possible. Please pass this invitation on to your friends and neighbors. We look forward to meeting with everyone! 
 
5:00 Yoga in the Garden presented by Pat Barone from Raw Materials Wellness & Learning Center. Please bring your own mat. This class will be suited for all levels. $3 for members of Community Gardens in Dane County, $5 for public.
 
6:00 Meet & Greet: Gardeners and neighborhood members can get to know each other and take a look at all the wonderful things growing in the garden. 
 
6:15 Potluck! Please bring a dish to share, your own plate and silverware. Drinks and glasses will be provided. Chairs and Picnic blankets are also recommended. The Garden will be presenting a few special Thank-You’s to the people who have supported the project this first year. 
 
You can see the event on our website and G+
 
 

Some local press and upcoming garden events

crowley both working horizontalWe’ve been featured in an article on the City of Madison website! Click here to read it. It features interviews with Danni and Danna, from our executive team, and gives a little background on how Crowley Station Garden got started!

We’d also like to share a few local garden resources with our fellow garden enthusiasts:

  • Dane County Community Gardens For information on Dane County garden events, see this very helpful calendar. The same website also has helpful links on how to plan and maintain a community garden.
  • The West Madison ARS Display Gardens Open House

On Sat. Aug 9, 2014, from 10am-2pm the UW Display Gardens will be holding their annual summer event in which the public is invited to tour the outstanding collections of flowers, vegetables, and fruit.  This year’s trials and demonstrations include nearly 400 cultivars of annual and perennial flowers and nearly 130 different cultivars of vegetables.

University and Extension experts include Jim Nienhuis, UW veggie expert and professor of Horticulture; Brian Hudelson Senior Outreach Specialist and director of the Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic; Scott Craven, Wildlife Ecology emeritus; Julie Dawson, Urban and Regional Food Systems Specialist from Horticulture; Dick Wiedman, grape expert; P.J. Leisch from the Insect Diagnostic Lab; and, and pollinator experts from USDA-ARS will be on hand to offer samples and answer questions on insects, disease and animals that may affect your garden and lawn.

Master Gardeners and garden staff will also be available to field general garden questions on growing techniques and variety selection.

Enjoy tasting of the gardens’ fresh fruit and vegetables, including roasted chili peppers, activity booklets for the kids, pollinator exhibits, and large farm equipment on display.  This event is FREE and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras and questions.

The open house will be held at University Display Gardens that is located at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station approximately 0.5 miles west of the Hwy 12/14 beltline at 8502 Mineral Point Road, Verona, WI 53593.

  • Seed Saving Workshop

Sat, August 23, 2pm – 4pm

Where: Madison Public Library: Goodman South Madison Branch, 2222 S. Park St. (map)

Description: Join us for a seed saving workshop with UW Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. Learn how to dry and harvest seeds to save for next year, and how to return seeds to the seed library! We will meet in Meeting Room 115. Space is limited, please register at http://host.evanced.info/madison/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=36426