Spring Plant Sales!

Starting seeds is a gardener’s favorite way to save some money and grow only the very best varieties. This whole process can seem overwhelming for new gardeners. You can still have your tomatoes and peppers without starting seeds yourself. All you need to do is buy some starts! The Farmer’s Market on the square is a Crowley Station favorite since you only have to carry plants a couple of blocks before planting them. However, you might be surprised by the selection and savings by heading out to the annual plants sales that happen April to May. Here is our round-up of plant sales that happen around Madison in the Spring. In the comment section, please let us  know if we missed any!

Troy Community Farm Plant Sale
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This annual plant sale has a fabulous selection of hardy vegetable starts that are perfect for your food gardens. Prices range from $1.50 – $8.00. These plants are also certified organic!

 

 

Plant Sale with the Pros – Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Friday, May 6, 2016 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Saturday, May 7, 2016 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Get great plants and expert advice from area professionals this year at Plant Sale with the Pros. The sale features everything from annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses and shrubs. Olbrich’s staff carefully chooses unique plants that do best in this climate. Find the newest, hardiest, disease-resistant cultivars on the market. Local plant pros, master gardeners, and Olbrich’s horticulturists will be available to answer questions.

Proceeds from the plant sale benefit Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Shop early since quantities are limited. Shoppers are encouraged to bring cartons, wagons, or boxes for carrying plants. Cash, checks, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover are accepted. Maximize your support of the Gardens by using cash or check.

Master Gardener Plant Sale

Sunday, May 22, 11AM-3PM (May 29th Rain Date)

Hundreds of perennials for shade or sun, vegetable & herb starts, annuals and more will be available!   Master Gardeners will be around to answer your gardening questions.  Proceeds will help purchase seeds & supplies for community gardening programs.  Plants are reasonably priced.  Cash or check only.

Dane County/UW Extension Office parking lot at 5201 Fen Oak Drive, Madison 53718

UW Arboretum Native Plant Sale

For a completely different type of plant sale check out the Arboretum on May 7, 2016, 9AM-2PM. There will be large tents near the Visitor Center where more than 100 species of native grasses; woodland, prairie, and savanna plants, and trees and shrubs will be available to purchase. I’d suggest coming early. This is a popular sale in Madison!

Putting Your Garden to Bed Workshop Recap

By: Danna Olsen

I attended the last gardener workshop of the season at McFarland’s Community Garden. The topic of the evening was “putting your garden to bed and planning for next season.”

Katie Getty-Syoen gave us a tour of the gardens. I was particularly impressed with the children’s garden area. After running into many obstacles trying to get a school garden started, Katie got involved with a 4-H program and created a playful space with and for kids at the McFarland Community Garden. This space has a big sandbox, a desk planted with sedum, a mini produce/ lemonade stand and a whimsical garden bed. Her creativity and perseverance is an inspiration.

Below are some notes from the workshop of what to do at the end of the season.

Harvest

  • Before the first hard frost, make sure to harvest remaining tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.
  • Root vegetables should also be harvested before the ground freezes.

Remove Dead Plants

  • Disease-free weeds/plants should be composted or used as mulch.
  • Diseased plants should be bagged and discarded off-site.

Get Ready For Next Season

  • Be ready to cover late season hardy vegetables and cold tender perennials with row cover or a plant blanket.
  • Add compost to your garden plot.
  • Plant cover crops (e.g. Clover, buckwheat, field peas/oats)
  • Try lasagna mulch by layering paper, cardboard, used straw/hay and vegetable scraps to build both structure and fertility or layer mulch of autumn leaves or hay on your garden bed.
  • Plant garlic and other spring bulbs (select the largest bulbs you can find).
  • This is a good time to clean and sharper tools.

 

 

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!

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!

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!