Heat Loving Veggies

Well, there are things still growing in this heat. Here’s a picture of a beautiful eggplant growing in Cindy and Amy’s garden. Eggplants, okra, cucumbers, sage and basil are the stars this week. The heat doesn’t seem to faze them.

Bark mulch is being laid in Phase II, thanks to the hard work of our community service volunteer, James. Please give him a big thank you for all he’s done for our garden. He’s worked exceptionally hard, especially in our triple digit heat.

New fall transplants are hanging in there. It will be cool one day. Happy gardening everyone.

New Gate

Here is a photo of the beautiful gate that Justin completed. It does give us a presence now, doesn’t it?

Most of our fall transplants are surviving the July heat. I lost one tomato and one pepper plant in the last week.

Besides the bunnies, we are also battling rats for our produce! Some of the trials we are experiencing make me think of how hard it was for our ancestors to survive this land when they first settled the area. My hats off to them! The thought puts things in perspective when I think we’re having problems.

I’m going to put on some more fertilizer tomorrow to give everything a boost. The eggplants are really growing now and it’s getting hard to keep up with the cucumbers. Happy gardening everyone.

New Pest

Many of the gardens are now seeing this new pest-a leaffooted bug. I found several on my tomatoes this morning. They feed on developing fruit and also on stems and tender leaves of plants. They should be eliminated if you can catch them. I’m going to take a jar of soapy water to the garden to drown them as I catch them.

The garden has dried out from the rain of last week. Back to hot, humid and dry conditions. My new fall tomatoes have survived the week in good shape, and the brandywine tomato I cut back has sprouted a bunch of healthy leaves.

Our Giving Garden sign on the front gate is awesome! Thank you so much, Justin. Happy gardening all.

Rain, Rain and More Rain

This morning I helped gather vegetables and herbs for the Saturday food collection. There were plenty of cucumbers, okra and some tomatoes. We’ve got quite the rice patty in the center common area. Phase II is very muddy as we have not gotten our mulch yet for the pathways. Mushrooms are sprouting in the beds and tomatoes are splitting from all the moisture. Who would have thought we’d be concerned about too much moisture in July in Texas?

Gardeners are beginning to pull their spring veggies and put in fall crops. Phase II has a head start on Phase I gardeners in that area .

Bird netting was a problem today again. We freed two black swallowtail butterflies and a dragon fly from some netting todday. It does keep the birds from the tomatoes, but has consequences as well. Above is a picture of a similar butterfly to the one we freed today.

We saw some more squash vine borers today but were unable to catch them. I’m thinking I need to bring a bug jar when I come in order to capture the bad bugs. I’m also on the lookout for some row cover material to cover any future cucurbits I plant (i.e. squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons.) Fire ants are a continual problem-they are eating the blossoms on our okra, among other things.

Well, this is gardening in Texas in July. Hot and dry (usually) with lots of pests. I’m already looking forward to those fall gardens. Happy gardening!

Garden Update

Wow! I really have gotten behind in my posting-sorry! Phase II beds are now complete and most have already planted their plots. Here are a couple of recent photos:

Food collections are occurring every Saturday morning. Thanks to all the gardeners who have volunteered to help pick and deliver delicious, organic vegetables and herbs to our neighbors.

Justin has finished the fence, gates and compost bins. Everything looks really good and hopefully we’ll be keeping the rabbits out!

By the way, Willie, Kirsten and I freed a four-foot long grey rat snake from the clutches of Willie’s bird netting this morning. Surgeon Kirsten clipped the netting carefully, while Willie and I held on to the bird netting wrapped snake. These snakes are really good for the environment. They help control the rat, mice and rabbit population. It was kind of scary, but the snake didn’t even attempt to bite-he was very thankful to be freed back to our wildscape area.

As always with the heat and humidity of this time of year, some of the tomatoes are struggling. Blooms are not setting fruit now, so it’s a good time to either cut back the plants or dig them up and plant a new crop for fall. The cucumbers and okra are starting to produce well. Some of the squash has been hit with squash bugs and squash vine borers. Ah well, this is Texas in July!

Happy gardening all!

I just got back from watering the garden and everyone’s plot looks beautiful. Tomatoes are starting to ripen, little green beans are on the bushes, peppers are growing…it’s gorgeous! We have had some problems with the soil fertility, but most gardeners have amended the soil with blood and bone meal and other organic fertilizers. This has helped everyone’s plants green up considerably.

Tonight some gardeners will meet to try to finish putting together the remaining Phase II beds. We’re meeting at 7 p.m. and everyone is welcome. Be sure to protect yourself from chiggers. They are still out in the grass and are nasty!
I was remiss in not mentioning the wonderful help of the cub scouts last Saturday. The boys worked like beavers to move a mountain of mulch. Thank you cub scouts.

Phase II was officially started yesterday, Saturday, May 22. Volunteers from the garden, Aldersgate UMC, boy scouts, RL Turner Junior ROTC and Keep Carrollton Beautiful helped get beds made and mulch moved. Although we could not finish the 14 beds due to the excessive heat, we made a huge dent in the process.

Look soon for more information soon for another work day to finish Phase II. Thanks to everyone who turned out to help. We’re making great progress and will soon have those beds complete.

The Giving Garden was officially “opened” today with a ribbon cutting ceremony. There was a Presentation of the Colors Ceremony, Pledge of Allegiance, and opening words from Willie Lane. Paster Woody spoke and offered a prayer, Cathy Henesey from Keep Carrollton Beautiful spoke and Carrollton’s Mayor, Ron Branson, presented a proclamation naming April, 2010 “Community Gardening Month.” The ribbon was cut appropriately with gardening shears.

Gardeners received terrific news this week that water will soon be installed in the garden. Not too much longer of lugging gallons to water the beds! Despite the lack of water and gale force winds, the vegetables are ruggedly growing. Fourteen more beds are planned for Phase II and we are hopeful of starting soon. The water will be extended throughout the entire garden, including Phase I and II. As soon as the water is set, a work day will be set the spread mulch in the pathways around the beds.
The Giving Garden has five Eagle Scout projects currently in progress. Scouts will be putting a fence around the garden, building compost bins, a storage shed, handicap-accessible beds, vegetable cleaning tables, picnic benches, a gazebo and the children’s beds. Thank you scouts!
There will be a gardener’s meeting on Saturday, May 1, at 10 a.m. at the garden. There will be refreshments and all Giving Garden gardeners are invited. The purpose is to get to know each other and to go over gardening rules.
Happy gardening!

Here are some pictures of our work party last Saturday. In the last post, I neglected to thank the volunteers at Aldersgate United Methodist Church for providing workers with water, coffee and donuts. Church volunteers were on hand throughout
the day to keep everyone well hydrated. Thank you so much!

Phase I-18 4’x20′ beds-is now complete thanks to over 100 volunteers who came to the Giving Garden work party yesterday. A mountain of dirt was moved, 20′ long cedar boards were cut and assembled, soil was turned, and young and old alike made for an incredibly productive day. If you haven’t stopped by to check out the progress, be sure to take a look. Parking is available in the south Kroger parking lot. It’s just a short hike over the hill, behind the portables.

Besides our beautiful new garden plots, please notice that the wildscape area next to the garden is now virtually free of litter. Thanks to the helping hands of all our scout volunteers and many other community helpers, The Giving Garden of Carrollton is just about ready for planting.
Work on soliciting funds for the completion of Phase II is in progress. We are all anxious to complete this next section as soon as the money is raised. Donations can be sent to , The Giving Garden of Carrollton, c/o Keep Carrollton Beautiful, PO Box 111175, Carrollton, TX 75011.