Monday, January 31, 2011

St Mary's

In case you did not know Sara the Director of Unity Gardens also teaches community nursing at Saint Mary's College. Recently Saint Mary's was awarded a new designation of an " Engaged Campus " by the Carnegie Foundation.The designation is for campuses that excel in engaging the local or global community through Volunteerism, community based learning, community based research, internships, community partnerships, and faculty publications, consulting, and research. Sara was recognized for her work with Unity Gardens. Saint Marys had several groups out to the work in the gardens, and we are also working on an internship with them. Several others were recognized for their work. Its amazing how many Staff, and students work to better the community.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Unity Garden Class # 2

Another great turnout for todays growing a garden class. Today's class was on planning your vegetable garden. I went through a powerpoint, and after a short Q & A we moved on to a little planning your garden. Next weeks class is on soil & soil preparation. I love the fact that there was lots of questions. and good interaction. Great to see lots of gardeners getting together and enjoying the classes . The Conservatories are perfect for the classes nice warm, and green.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Signs Signs Everywhere Signs

This afternoon a local artist Tammy Wilcox lead a group a teens at the Juvenile Justice Center in South Bend in a Unity Gardens sign painting event. Unity Gardens is all about building community. This is a perfect example of bringing diverse people together to do something positive for the community.
Last year many of the Gardens were disappointed that we did not have time to put signs up in their Unity Garden . So with a chance of close to 50 gardens this year we thought we better get busy early with the painting. Just as each Unity Garden is a unique expression of the people who run their individual gardens the teens expressed themselves on each sign. We gave them very little guidance so each sign was their own vision of the gardens. This spring they will see their signs begin to show up on various Unity Gardens throughout the city. We have 2 more sign painting sessions planned the next 2 Fridays . It was truly a joy to watch this unfold. As always the afternoon started slow with the kids a little uncertain , but it soon changed. Thank Kim and the JJC for making this Happen.

Classes at the Potawatomi Greenhouse,and Conservatories

New for 2011 at Potawatomi Conservatories!
Fun and informative classes for the whole family!
All classes begin at 10:00 a.m. at Potawatomi Conservatories, 2105 Mishawaka Ave., South Bend. Parking available at the River Park Library.
5-Week Series: How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
Leader: Mitch Yaciw, Unity Gardens
Jan 29 Planning Your Vegetable Garden
Plan ahead: avoid problems in your vegetable garden
Feb 5 The Dirt on Soil
Good soil preparation makes your vegetable garden grow
Feb 12 Indoor Seed Starting
Get a jump start on your vegetable garden
Feb 26 Garden Pests
Protect your vegetable plants from insect pests, molds, and weeds
Mar 5 Maintaining Your Vegetable Garden
Keep your garden in shape
This special series of classes is free to all participants! We encourage you to bring the whole family!
For more information: 574-904-3491 (Unity Gardens) or 574-235-9442 (Potawatomi Conservatories)

Botanical Society Monthly Classes
Feb 19
Orchid Basics, Don Keim, Botanical Society
A hands-on workshop for all ages. This workshop introduces participants to orchid growing and care including information about dividing and repotting.

March 19 Rain Barrels, Vicky Rydzynski, Master Gardener
Rain barrels save water and save you money. Learn how to build a rain barrel using supplies you have at home. All participants are eligible for a door prize of a free rain barrel!
April 9 Plant and Grow 4H Victory Vegetables, Diana Mendelsohn, Botanical Society
Seed, plants, and fertilizer samples to be given away. Bring your best to the 4H Fair in July.

Cost per class is the price of admission to the Conservatories ($3/adult; $2/child over 5 years). For more information: 574-235-9442; E-mail:
Purchase a Membership to The Botanical Society and get in free all year Long
Individual $25
Family of 4 $ 50

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Master Gardener

I am now a master gardener intern. On one year of service before I become a Master Gardener. So I was able to attend my first St Joe Valley Master Gardeners meeting of the Year. Heidi from The Botanical Society spoke to the group about the new plans for the Potawatomi Greenhouse, and Conservatories. A new heating system in , and plans for a parking lot, and maybe even a new energy efficient greenhouse. Next it was MG business upcoming events, fundraisers, Volunteer Opportunities. Phil Sutton with Purdue Extension spoke about the mission statement of the extension. A big goal for them is fact based education on growing , and better nutrition . It fits well with the Unity Gardens mission statement with is to not only help feed people, but also teach them how to grow, prepare healthy food.
Also Don Keim brought in his Blue ribbon water color. Great Night !
Lots of good folks.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Earth Friendly Eating

While I was at the Growing a Garden class Sara set up a Unity Gardens booth at the Earth Friendly Eating Conference at the downtown library. Its the 4th year for the conference put on by Judith Rubleske. Judith is an RN working for W.I.C. Judith started 1 Unity Garden in 2009 and in 2010 had 2 Unity Gardens. In 2011 she is starting her own group of community gardens called The Westside Community Gardens. Judith is a promoter of growing and eating healthy food grown locally.

The focus of the conference went in a few directions .

Judith spoke about building community through gardening

The keynote speaker Tim Bayer spoke about living simple in order to be kinder to our environment.

The Cities Dave Thomas spoke about city land use for community gardens.

It was a great event. The Unity Gardens Booth was pretty busy . We had a chance to promote our new free community plots at the LaSalle Square Unity Garden. We had many inquries about the gardens.

Class at the Conservatory

I had my first class at the Conservatory
The class on plants went fairly well . The attendance was great. About 40 people. I am new to this teaching, and went through my powerpoint pretty quick, but lucky for me we had a great Q&A session after the presentation. Andy & Don with the Botanical Society help Field all sorts of questions. I learned that making classes more interactive is something we should do. Some classes will be very interactive , like the class on seed starting where we will be starting plants inside so they can be transplanted into the participants garden later in the spring . I look forward to expanding our classes we offer. Some ideas are bee keeping, Container gardening, and composting. Look for more info on our events page.

McKinley School

Friday we helped Mckinley School in the Kick off their Garden program. They did a wonderful job of planning and organizing a veggie tasting. Deb Martin is the Schools Principal , and the Unity Garden leader at the school. She, and her team have put together a program that will teach the students all about growing vegetables, and eating healthy. They managed to get every student k to 4th ( 400 + ) through what I can only call a production line for vegetable tasting. With the help of the 4th graders they set up tables of over 25 different veggies. The 4th graders handed out the raw samples, and then collected data on how the other students liked the samples. Then they went through the line themselves. Later they can use the data to help plan their garden.

Purdue extension is teaching the 4th grade students a Junior Master Gardening course. They in turn will help the younger students in the garden.

Big plans a McKinley School for a great garden

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This week

This week Sara met with a couple Garden Leaders this week.

Carol with the South Paw Garden . They have been part of the Unity Gardens for two years , and planning 2011 to be thier third . Look for the story on South Paw soon on our blog .

A new garden this year is Mckinley School . Deb is the Garden Leader . This should be an exciting garden. Teaching Healthy eating habits, and growing healthy food.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Learning & Planning

Today started with Sara & I attending a Plant propagation class at the Potawatomi Conservatories. The class was very informative. Andy an IUSB biology professor , and president of the botanical Society of South Bend . We both learned alot about plant structure, and growth. An added bonus was we propagated plants off plants in the Greenhouse. Later we can come back, an see them grow until they are ready to take home . Next Saturday Unity Gardens starts its series on growing a vegetable

Later in the day we met with some folks on the West side from the Lincoln Way Gateway Association. We updated them on the LaSalle Square Unity Garden. We let them know about future plans at the garden. We answered questions, and ask for input on the gardens future.

Just for fun we drove by the Memorial Hospital Unity Garden . Not ready to plant yet !!

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Reasons to Garden

Found this interesting . A very good reason for gardens in schools

by Mike Podlesny

There is no question obesity is a rising problem for many here in the United States. The United States Center for Disease Control rates obesity as a person having a body mass index of 30 or greater. The body mass index, or BMI for short, is calculated based on the person’s height and weight and provides a reasonable indication of body fat, which could lead to further health issues.

You can simply calculate your own BMI right where you are sitting or standing. Take your weight in pounds and divide it by your height in inches, squared, multiplied by 703. The formula would look like this:
BMI = Weight(pounds) / (Height(inches) x Height(inches)) x 703.

To put in perspective just how great the problem is, in 2009 Colorado was the lowest BMI at 18.6% while Mississippi topped the list at 34.4%. Obesity has become such a big issue in this country, especially childhood obesity that it has become a topic to tackle by first lady Michelle Obama. Without getting into much politics, obesity of all age categories is definitely something we should and can easily tackle.

I recently posted this very question on our vegetable gardening Facebook page to see what kind of ideas the good folks came up with. Specifically the question that I raised was how we can tackle obesity in our children by incorporating vegetable gardening. The answers were many…too many to list here so I am going to mention the most popular ones.

Start Early
Many agreed that starting children early in teaching them vegetable gardening will go a long way for them to learn healthy eating habits. As one person wrote, “When they see that they can eat what they are growing, virtually anything they consume from their gardens will be healthy.”

Make It Fun
I see this in my own children if you do not keep it fun and light you will lose their attention and quickly. So those studies about the length of time and the amount attention span and a child has, are very accurate. We all agreed that making vegetable gardening fun is a great way to keep kids involved in vegetable gardening. One of the things I did personally for my son was buy him his own garden tool set. Sure they are toys, but he has the same tools as “dad” and when dad gets the shovel, so does he. It makes him feel involved.

When it comes time to harvest the fruits, herbs and vegetables I make sure that I get my son involved. For smaller items such as radishes and cherry tomatoes I let him do the picking. For larger items such as butternut squash, I will pick them and let him carry it to our patio table. I can see the excitement in his eyes every time we go out to pick new things.

Give Them Their Own
A popular post, especially for the older kids (7 and over), is to let them have their own 4’x4’ plot in your yard where they can plant whatever they want. This is a great method because you can teach them how to plan out the garden so they can maximize the space and grow things they like. My son loves broccoli. Yeah I know I got lucky, and every year we plant two Waltham Broccoli plants just for him. I make sure I tell him that those plants are his and when they are ready he can eat them. He gets pretty excited about it. It is a lot of fun to watch!

Finally, and just as important as the healthy eating of the fruits, vegetables and herbs that you grow is the exercise factor you get from home vegetable gardening. If you do a lot of the gardening tasks manually as I do, then you already know that it can be a good vigorous exercise routine. It is not always this way, everyday, but at least you are moving around, doing somewhat physical labor as opposed to sitting and watching TV, playing video games and so on. The same holds true for kids.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is a contributing writer for Mike The Gardener Blog

McKinley School

Early planning. Its January, and the team at McKinley School is planning for it new garden. Next week they are kicking off a vegetable tasting event in their gymnasium. All the students in the school will have a chance to sample fresh vegetables, and rate them. They will be sampling 26 different items. Everything from blueberries to zucchini . This group from the South Bend Schools, Purdue Extension, and Unity Gardens are working toward the goal of educating students, and parents the benefits of growing, and eating healthy food.

The folks at Mckinley school really are a group of over achievers. They plan on putting in a greenhouse, and growing a garden this spring. Other plans include teaching healthy eating habits, a orchard , and incorporating the edible plants throughout the school grounds. This program is an early vision of what all the schools will be doing. They are definitely champions

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Classes at Potawatomi Conservatories

Upcoming Collaboations with Potawatomi Conservatories

Leaders: Andy Schnabel and Don Keim, Botanical Society of South Bend
will be giving a class on :
Jan 15 at 10 am Methods of Houseplant Propagation
A hands-on workshop in easy techniques for propagating common houseplants. Everyone will get a chance to try these methods and return later to see how they turned

Unity Gardens will be doing a series of classes
Jan 22 10 am All About Vegetable Plants
An overview about vegetables from seed to harvest

Jan 29 10am Planning Your Vegetable Garden
Plan ahead: avoid problems in your vegetable garden

Feb 5 10 am The Dirt on Soil
Good soil preparation makes your vegetable garden grow

Feb 12 10am Indoor Seed Starting
Get a jump start on your vegetable garden

Feb 19 10 am Orchid Basics By Don Keim

Feb 26 10am
Garden Pests
Protect your vegetable plants from insect pests, molds, and weeds

Mar 5 10am Maintaining your vegetable garden
Keep your garden in shape

All Classes will be held at Potawatomi Conservatories, 2105 Mishawaka Ave.
Parking available in the parking lot of the River Park Library on Mishawaka Ave.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Hey! Do you ever feel bad because you forgot your travel mug , and got your coffee in a paper cup? Do you just love those Mocha Java Chip Frappecinos? Well, make yourself feel a little better. Here are a few ways to use those throw-away items. Take that paper cup and sleeve. The cup can be used to start plants in. Better yet, the sleeve can be used around the base of new plants in the garden to help stop cutworms from eating the young plant starts! You can also cut the bottom off your paper cup and make it into a sleeve. Put the sleeve around a new seed or young plant. Make sure the sleeve extends below the soil about 1".

How about those plastic cups with domes .. Yum! They make great seed starting terrariums. You may need to cut drain holes and put them on a plate.
Also you can pick up free coffee grounds which, mixed with soil will add nitrogen to your soil for those nitrogen loving plants. This year I may try starting my tomatoes right in the bag. Dig out about a cup of grounds , and replace it with soil. Plant a seed. Put holes in the bag , and put the bag on a plate.