Saturday, July 30, 2011

JFNew Open House

Mike Keen's Sustainability Presentation

Purple Cone Flowers

JFNew Seed Drying , and Seed Sorting

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Headlines From The Garden

LaSalle Square Unity Garden
3701 Prast Blvd
South Bend

      Greens Beans . It seems like we have an endless Supply of Green Beans at LaSalle Square . Every time I think they are all gone we find more . I have also planted several more rows of beans to bring in a late harvest before winter . Our Mustard Greens are suffering in all this heat , they keep going to seed . I continue to plant more for late summer harvesting . The Squash Bugs are out in force at the Garden , but the Zucchini is hanging in there for now .
     We are having lots of Harvesters out to the Garden . Many of them rave about how great the garden is for the community . One man who lives in Beacon Heights is bringing me Dinner Friday as a way of thanks . Our Thursday kids program at LaSalle Square is bringing kids closer to the earth . They love eating fresh from the Garden, and enjoying the great outdoors.
    Ravina Park also has a great program on Wed & Sat where they are serving lunch to between 50 , and 100 kids , and providing them with activities in the park , and the Garden .
     I am again amazed at the amount of community support we receive in the way of kind words , and garden volunteers . It lets me know the gardens are a good thing .

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

    So its Hot , Dry , and your garden is full of weeds the size of trees !!  Your garden is producing a bounty of good food , but you are feeling a little burned out . Its the dog days of summer . All gardeners put much thought, and effort into their garden from the time the first seed catalog arrives in December !! until now . You have picked the perfect seeds , started them with love in your kitchen window , and you waited for the perfect time to put the plants in the ground . You prepped you garden fighting the rain , and cool spring weather. You watered , and weeded and mulched . The harvest are great , but areas of you garden are looking a little run down .   Remember you garden is a living changing thing . So I am always looking for areas to refresh in my garden . If I have a row of beans I look for areas things are not growing , and plant more beans . I take down my lettuce that is going to seed , and plant Zucchini . Its also a good time to clean-up areas to get ready for fall planting , or even start thinking about next years garden. YES next years garden . I like to clean up an area I plan to plant my fall crop in , and cover it with cardboard , and Grass clipping or leaves . Then when I am ready to replant a fall crop I just pull back the Cardboard , and plant . I plan for next year by cleaning up sections & doing the same thing , so in the spring they are ready to plant no tilling !! 
        So keep your garden fresh , and ever changing !!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Unity Donor

Once again, I was struck with a "Unity" moment. They are the unexpected times when someone shares with you a personal story, or offers help. I am often struck by the generosity of those who have very little. I was visiting Broadway United Methodist Parish today. Thought I would catch up with some old friends, have some great coffee, and take a look at the Unity Garden there. One of my friends, Johnny, actively cares for the Ravina Park Unity Garden. We always enjoy talking about the gardens, sharing any Unity Garden news, and just catching up in general. He was telling me about what was harvestable, how long he watered, and then he really surprised me. He asked if we accept donations for Unity Gardens! Of course, I explained and a little goes a long way toward purchasing garden supplies! We both went away feeling good about our work in the community; our shared commitment to make our community a little better, one vegetable at a time!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Unity Spirit

Just a quick story . Yesterday a older man called to see if there was a Unity Garden near him that he could harvest some food for himself , and his wife . We directed him to call Suzanne Ricky at the Albright Bright Church Unity Garden. The cool thing is She offered to harvest, and deliver ....Now thats above , and beyond . Unity Garden leaders rock.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What to do when its this hot

Hydrate yourself ...Hydrate your garden . Don't stress if you see you plants looking a little waxy on the leaves , and the leaves wilt , and curl a bit . Its just your plants defense against the hot weather .

Many plants will slow or stop production of fruit during a really hot spell . But not to worry they will pick right back up when it cools a little . What is really important is to keep up with the water . Not too much water , about a inch a week. Most experts say to water long & deep as opposed to watering a little at a time . This is said to promote deep root growth. Some things you do not want to do when its hot . Don't bother putting down any herbicide . The plants waxy coat , and defense against the heat also stops the herbicide from entering the plant. Also no insecticides , they may burn the leaves . Last of all no fertilizer , or very little . Again the plants are slowing their growth so they don't want that boost .

This is a great time for weeding & Mulching . Weed , Water , then mulch . Use leaves or grass clippings with a few layers of newspaper underneath . This will help retain water in the soil during this hot time .

Remember Stay Cool

Happy Gardening

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We are Approved !!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kids Program

This Weeks Kids Program We Made Scarecrows for LaSalle Square Unity Garden , and Ravina Park

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leadership Camp

For the last 3 garden seasons Saint Mary's has let Unity Gardens be a part of its spiritual leadership camp . Its a summer camp that high school Seniors come to from all over the Midwest to learn about spiritual leadership . One of their days includes spending the day working in the LaSalle Square Unity Garden . The day starts with Sara going to Saint Mary's , and giving a powerpoint overveiw of Unity Gardens . Next its a bus ride to the Garden . We break the group of 28 girls into 3 groups Heather , Kate & Sara each get a group . First its tasting tour of the garden . Next the weeding starts . Heathers group heads over to the East Garden to weed , and put leaves between the Tomatoes , and peppers . The rest weed in the Main Garden . The Girls get alot of weeding done before they break for lunch . After lunch the work is a little more casual . They have time to Sample the Mulberries , and play some games . It was a great day. We all learned somethings , and the garden looks lots better !!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Muessel School Unity Garden is a new Garden for 2011 So far it looks like its working well . Its always a challenge the first year of a garden . The soil is often rough . The volunteers sometimes don't know what they are getting into . But right from the start Kevin the Garden leader has been on it . Getting neighborhood involvement , Planting , weeding , and keeping the Garden looking good . He also sees the needs to make sure everyone knows they can enjoy the garden .Last time I spoke with him he was already thinking about next year !! That's a success story .

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ravina Park Unity Garden
ravina park
All of the Unity Gardens differ in their framework, and their size, yet some things remain the same. Today, at the Ravina Park Unity Garden (1511 Dale St) I was struck by the similar community building evolving in this garden.
The Ravina Park Project is much more than a garden program. The United Religious Community, the Neighborhood Resource Center, and many neighbors have joined Unity Gardens in creating a kids program designed to "grow" community in this neighborhood. We have a Unity Garden, there, but we also have a craft program, activities, adult supervision, and lunch/ snacks.stories, and more.

Every Weds from 2pm to 6pm and every Saturday from 11am to 3pm area kids come to play, eat, and enjoy. On Saturdays we host a garden activity at 12:30pm to teach the kids there about gardening and eating from the garden.

On July 9th we enjoyed harvesting and eating radishes, mustard greens, and green onions. Just like at the other gardens, it is delightful to watch as the kids light up realizing they can try things straight form the garden! They are often hesitant until I remind them; if you don't like it, spit it right out! I think they often enjoy the spitting as much as the tasting!

We also planted pumpkins, zucchini, summer squash and cucumber in large colorful pots. The kids and adults learned how to re-use empty water bottles to create a drainage system, cover them with dirt, then plant seeds.

What then happened prior to and after the kids planned activities reminded me of how "we are growing more than vegetables here" throughout our community. One volunteer came by to see what we were doing as he had heard about the Ravina Park project in a meeting in Elkhart. Another neighbor walked by, and I invited her to harvest some mustard greens. She said, "Really?" and was so excited as I taught her how. Two others came by to see what was growing, and discovered there was another Unity Garden right where they lived! We even enjoyed a visit from a Tribune reporter who still wasn't clear on the sharing part. It is often the most challenging aspect of the gardens; teaching people it is safe and works to share! Thanks to all who help continue to "grow" community here!

Walking the Garden

Every morning I walk the LaSalle Unity Garden just to see what I need to do in the garden . So I know the Garden pretty well . Today was my first day back from a week vacation , and my walk was amazing . The first week in July is grow time in Indiana . The Zucchini grew a foot , the green beans are loaded !! Of course the weeds are growing well , and the bugs , and bunnies are eating well . So now its back to work . Heather did a great job caring for the Gardens while we were gone which was great , but still plenty to do . We had some volunteers show up , Austin hilled the potatoes , Tammy weeded . We have lots to harvest , and more folks are showing up everyday. So we will continue to plant , weed , and harvest .

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heathers First Solo Volunteer Day At LaSalle Square

Just a little update on my first solo volunteer day!

Connie and Austin were the only volunteers to show up, but we weeded like no tomorrow. I weeded out and grass clipped the whole section of tomatoes that had that very crooked row of peppers in the middle! Looks very nice now. A few people showed up just to walk and to pick, I helped them pick green beans (YUM!) and peas. One took green tomatoes (of course) but he said he was going to set them in his window to ripen. People just can't wait for yummy things to arrive!
There was an older man who stopped and talked and was simply AMAZED at the garden. He told his story of how his parents had two empty city lots and would grow potatoes, tomatoes, peppers etc. He enjoyed seeing everything so lush and seemed to like the New Life Soil idea, saying that, himself a fisherman, he and his wife used the inedible fish parts in their own garden. It was so very rewarding to see such gratitude and excitement. He and his wife said they'd surely visit often!

I also seeded carrots in the row that's been picked and a row of mustards.

We are doing great!


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Power of The Garden

In a recent conversation with someone in the garden I was trying to explain that providing free vegetables was just a very small part of Unity Gardens mission. We want to bring diverse people together to share the garden. We all eat , and we are all born from this earth, so what better place to come together than a garden. We want to educate people on how to grow their own healthy food , and how to prepare healthy food. We want to make sure everyone has access to healthy vegetables. Most of all we want children to understand where their food comes from .

One thing I have learned is the power of the garden. As we began our kids activities day out at LaSalle Square Unity Garden my thought was we need things to keep the kids involved . What I discovered was the garden is all they need . Garden Tours , tasting vegetables , looking for bugs, discovering the Mulberries . Our connection to the Earth is natural and the kids love it. They leave the crafts , and storytime behind , and dig in the garden and enjoy. What better way to spend a morning.