Saturday, May 30, 2009

saturday fun!

deliciously planted pepper and tomato beds!

janna, our watering angel
mimi and leena giving the tomatoes lots of love (i.e. three-way mix of compost, peat and manure)
emma demonstrating "the asian squat"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

manure tea!

Since we are going to be transplanting our tomato and pepper plants on Saturday, I thought it might be good to know some basics around transplanting and caring for these plants. I consulted John's handy "All New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening" and took note of the most important points.

I think it would be in our (and the tomato's) best interest to get a few bags of compost for transplanting the tomatoes. Tomatoes are HUGE bottom feeders, they need rich composty soil, and if we "spot-compost" as we transplant, it will save us compost (because we're localizing it) and probably give us much greater yields. I'll get a few bags to take out to the garden on Thursday.

The thing that kept getting mentioned in the book was this delectable concoction called "MANURE TEA". Check out the recipe below.

Manure Tea

To make manure tea, place one or two shovelfuls of fresh or dried manure in a permeable bag. (Burlap is best, but perforated plastic or mesh will work too). Tie the bag closed, then place it in a barrel or other large container filled with water. Make sure the bag is submerged. Allow your "teabag" to steep for about one week.

Apply at full strength for periodic feedings or dilute it and use it whenever you water your plants. Do not apply undiluted manure tea directly onto plant foliage - it will injure plant tissue.

I was thinking that we could use the sheep manure that Ed Janzen promised us for this. I am on the lookout for an appropriate bag, and I have a rain barrel that I found on the side of the road, that I will bring out in Matt's truck on Thursday. I am also trying to find us some MULCH (either straw or lots of newspaper) to put around the peppers and tomatoes. The mulch will help keep down weeds, and also protect the tomato vines from the soil if we let them sprawl.

Alright, that's me for now!

pepper care!

from the "all new encyclopedia of organic gardening"

-space at least 2 feet apart
-stake if plot is exposed to winds (stake BEFORE transplanting to avoid damaging roots)
-protect young plants with hotcaps if it gets chilly/rainy (homemade hotcaps can be made from big plastic bottles with the bottom cut out, placed over top of the plant, and pushed into the ground)

cultivating care
-spread a thick but light mulch (straw or grass clippings) around plants to encourage evenly moist soil
-water deeply during dry spells (lack of water produces bitter tasting peppers)
-fertilizing usually isn't necessary, but if leaves are pale or growth is slow, feed with manure tea

post by emma

tomato care!

from the "All New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening"

-make the planting holes larger than normal for each seedling; cover the bottom of the hold with several inches of mixed compost and a handful of bonemeal. for magnesium, which promotes plant vitality and productivity, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of epsom salts into each hole
-disturb the soil around the seedling roots as litle as possible when you set them in contact with compost
-set transplant so the lowest set of leaves is at soil level; fill the hole with a mixture of compost and soil (strip off leaves on part of the stem that will be buried - many growers claim this planting method produces higher yields)

staking vs. sprawling
I checked out tomato cage prices, and they look expensive (1.99-5.69 each). However, the book had this to say about sprawling:

"Letting plants sprawl involves less work, and the vines often produce higher yields. They do, however, consume more garden space. Unless protected by a very thick mulch, the plants and fruits are also more subject to insects and diseases from contact with the soil."

cultivating care

-soaking is better than sprinkling - tomato plants prefer 1 inch of water a week than several light waterings
-avoid wetting the leaves! this makes them more prone to diseases (take note of this particularly if we're gonna let them sprawl)
feed with liquid seaweed, side-dress with compost and feed with manure tea (more on that yummy sounding concoction above)

post by emma

spreading compost/staking the beds

Here are some pictures from the morning shift of our planting day.
big pile of manurey compost, courtesy of Curtis!

John and Emma dividing up the seeds into bags for the afternoon shift to plant.

See Lukas run. See Lukas run and play. (also...note the insane amount of dandelions)

Fully staked! But still seedless.

More reflections on chickling vetch... or a lack thereof

So, funny story about chickling vetch. Emma was the one who introduced us to the fact that there even was such a thing. When we're out buying seeds at the Ontario Seed Company (OSC), she asks one of the clerks about chickling vetch, and the woman tells her that she doesn't even know what that is. Meanwhile, John and I are laughing hysterically behind the shelves of seed packets, since it totally sounds like Emma has completely made this all up. (Yes, I know I found a picture of it online... maybe she planted that. Ha. Planted, get it?) ANYWAY, so we end up getting fall rye, which is apparantly another kind of green manure that will work just as well.

However, our fall rye has not yet made an appearance, sadly. The bed where it was planted contains only weeds and more weeds. But on closer inspection, one can see the little seeds of fall rye just sitting on the surface of the ground. I don't know who planted it, but whoever you are, you know who you are - you can't just scatter seeds on top of the ground! It doesn't work!Although I have to admit, the idea is appealing. It brings to mind a picture of a farmer with a sack of seeds tied around his waist, scattering them to the four winds as he walks down the rows.

So, now we know. This garden is definitely a learning garden. One of us (who shall forever remain nameless) learned the hard way that the entire garden hasn't been planted yet when she carefully watered all of the patches of dry ground that didn't have any seeds in them. We're learning how fast weeds grow, how dry the ground can get when it doesn't rain, and how exciting it is to see something that you've planted pushing its way through the soil. We're also learning that people are busy, that having a garden in our backyard instead of the outskirts of Kitchener would be infinitely more convenient, and how dependent we are on vehicles as much as we'd like to bike everywhere all the time. But we're also finding out that people will make time to follow through on a commitment, that maybe sometimes it's good to not have everything come so easily, and that we can be quite creative with the transportation that we do have (tomato cages in milk crates attached to bikes with hose clamps....)

Oh, right. Tomato cages - I need to learn more about those.


Update from the front lines

(written on Monday evening)
I just got back from the garden and this is what I have to report in the battle against dryness: our garden is pretty dry. But so is everyone else's. I spent over 2 hours thoroughly dousing everything that we've planted thus far. I think it should be good for a couple days. I really think we should try to have a sign up for people to go water every couple days. And in pairs, it gets kind of long and lonely when you're by yourself.
Good news! Our onions are coming up marvelously. Question about those: are they just planted along the long sides of the garden? Or the short ones too? (I didn't see any coming up along the short sides.) Other things that are apparent: teeny weeny little lettuces, and what I think are nasturtiums. Ahhhh! So exciting! They just made my day.
Bad news: we need major weed patrol. The weeds are by far and away growing the best out of anything in our garden. It's amazing how they can sprout up so fast.
So: we need to get a bunch of us out soon to weed, and to plant our transplants. The frost danger is officially over (supposedly), which was confirmed for me by Desmond, a new gardening buddy I met today. So we have a bunch of tomato and pepper transplants that are ready to plant.

*Update on the update*: It rained last night. Yay! It's supposed to rain more. Yay!

- Mimi

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Planning Meeting

meeting notes:

- its supposed to rain this week so that will be good!
- weed saturday! after all the rain it will be easier. that day we can also plant the transplants.
- matt can drive out the transplants thursday with mimi and maybe emma, and then we can bike out saturday and plant them and weed.

saturday work plan:
- first weed beds where the transplants will go
- plant transplants in those beds
- get tomato baskets (emma will price them, and get them for thursday)
- weed paths
- weed sprawl fest (we'll plant those transplants in a month)
- WATER as needed
- label the stakes

things we need for saturday
- shovel, hoe, spades, wedder claws

homework for saturday:
-everyone explore stake and cage options for tomato plants thursday
- get ahold of curtis to see if he can come saturday (with his truck and tools!)
- blog more. email mimi.hj [at] gmail [dot] com if you want the password to post.

watering schedule:
- thursdays- emma and mimi
- monday or tuesdays- jess and friend
- saturday- angie (?) and leena sometimes
- john! when he comes back from israel!

Friday, May 15, 2009

planting day photos, numero 2

dane, the cheerfullest gardener i've ever seen, raking a bed to plant with cilantro
did you now that's what spinach comes from? they are kind of cone/triangle shapes

mimi, ready for anything in those rubber boots!

planting day photos

1600 sq ft! all staked out and ready to plant!
mimi and curtis wedding the bed and then planting carrots and lettuce!
john planting cilantro, mmmm salsa here we come!
ang slyly planting a blackberry
time for a dessert break! thanks for peanut butter chocolaty goodness mimi.

a full narrative of the day to come....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

map to the garden

thanks mimi taking the time to post those fabulous directions. if you're a visual person, then here's a map to supplement. also if you're interested in helping friday send us a line at groovyrootskw at gmail dot com! we'll be doing two shifts: 9am12pm and 4:30-dusk.
View Larger Map -leena

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bus/Bike Directions

Okay, sorry, this is not an interesting post.  Unless you're trying to get from Waterloo to our new garden plots - then it will be utterly fascinating.

So, this is what my research has uncovered, and I'm telling you all so that you don't have to spend 30 min figuring it out (yes, you're welcome). So, take the #12 toward Fairview Mall until you get to the Highland Hills Mall. This will take you approximately 20 min. Then get on the #22 (toward Glencairn). You will go down Fischer-Hallman and then make a detour (do not be alarmed). You will cross back over Fischer-Hallman - this is where you need to get off. So, I forgot to mention that you should bring your bike with you when you get on the bus. They have these handy bike-rack-things on the front so that you can bus and bike. So you get off at Fischer-Hallman and keep biking down (south). You'll pass Bleams Rd, and a little further on you will see the cemetary to your right. You have arrived! (I'm resisting the temptation to make a terrible joke about cemetaries.... ah, the urge has passed). 

So all together this trip will take close to an hour. Do not let this deter you - you can change your lifestyle this summer. Simply by committing to this group, you will grow local, organic, fairly-traded food which you will turn into healthy, delicious and nutritious meals (I'm already planning potlucks) and use public transit, saving the planet from carbon emissions, as well as getting exercise through biking and gardening. That's cardio and resistance training - a complete workout! PLUS, with your 40 minutes of bus time, you can read all those classics that you never got around to: War and Peace, the complete works of William Shakespeare. Voila: you have become healthier, fitter, more eco-conscious, community-oriented and well-read in just one summer. Congratulations!

Alternate plan: Make friends with the people with wheels (and thus turn down the perfect self-improvement opportunity).

- Mimi

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chickling Vetch and some of my other favourite things

I don't know what chickling vetch is. But apparantly we're going to plant it in our garden. And it's going to be great. I saw a picture and it just looked like a bunch of grass to me. But I'm trusting my fellow gardeners, even though I'm often suspicious if they really know any more than I do.

Chickling vetch has become one of my new favourite things. Mostly because it's just really a lot of fun to say. It kind of sounds like an insult, "You're just a chickling vetch!" And because it's going to be a part of my future, even though I have no idea what it is or what it will mean.

As I'm beginning the summer, a lot of things are like that. I've left my comfortable, fabulous community that I've had for the past 8 months. Relationships have ended and been put on hold, while others are deepening and new ones are appearing. It's a time of a lot of transition for me, and for a many of us "Groovy Root"ers. But working on this garden project is something that makes me feel at home. I forget about time passing and stressful issues, and wholeheartedly laugh, colour, plan, estimate, dream, debate, opinion and get distracted by YouTube along with everyone else.

I am so excited for this project. It makes me feel revolutionary, like student activists in the 70s. I know, lots of people garden and it's not that crazy. But there's that revolutionary kind of energy behind this. I feel like this garden project could change our lives. Maybe. In a small way. For the summer. Why not? Hey, I already learned two new words.


Shopping list

- 2o tomatoes and peppers
- 24+ basil 
- 3 parsley
- other herbs for balcony garden too!
- potato starts
- sweet pots starts 
- onions?

cilantro x 4
- dill x 2
- lettuce/mixed greens x 8
- spinach x 8
- kale x 4
- nasturtiums x 4
- bush green beans, yellow beans x 4
- carrots x 5
- beets x 3
- squash 1
- pumpkin 
- zucchini 1
- cucumbers 1
- bok choy 3
- leeks ?
- sugar snap peas x 2 pk
- corn 2 pk
- chickling vetch 8 pk 

-watering can 
-doll rods 

planning part 2

Boarder crop: 
- onions 
- leeks
- garlic
- french marigolds 
(color coded in baby blue, b is for boarder) 

Companion bed #1:
- tomatoes (red)
- peppers- all colors and heats (red)
- interspersed helper crops: basil (tan), carrots (orange)
Companion bed #2: 
- lettuce (green)
- garlic 
- nasturtiums 
- kale (later in season) 
- beans (hot pink)
- carrots (orange)

Companion bed #3 
- peas (green P)
- spinach (dark green)
- bok choy (green B)
- garlic (brown/tan)

Companion bed #4
- green manure- chickling vetch 
- sweet potatoes (brown)
- potatoes (brown)

Companion bed #5
- beans (hot pink circles)
- beets! (dark red tear drops)
- carrots (orange)
- dill, cilantro, spinach (yellow check marks)

Companion bed #6 
- corn (yellow circles)
- potatoes (brown) 

Sprawl Fest Bed #7 
- cucumbers with garlic and marigolds
- squash and petunias 
- zucchini 
- pumpkin
- watermelon
- eggplant and marigolds
- pumpkin

Planting planning!

Things we need: 

- string
- 19
2 stakes 

Things we have: 
- 5 pepper starts
- 1 dill start
- 15 tomato starts 
- eggplant starts
- watermelon starts

Other transplants we want to get: 
- purple/other crazy peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- golden tomatoes 
- basil 
- parsley
Seed we want: 
- cilantro
- dill 
- lettuce/mixed greens
- spinach 
- kale
- nasturtiums  
- green beans, yellow beans
- carrots
- beets
- butternut squash 
- zucchini 
- cucumbers 
- bok choy 
- sweet potatoes 
- potatoes
- onion
- leeks 
- sugar snap peas
- cor
- chickling vetch

things to learn about/look up: 
- lettuce planting tips 

(photos: drawing the garden graphs (1cm sq= 1 ft sq), E, M, J, E discussing plans)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

welcome here!

welcome to the groovy roots kw blog. we're a group of students and friends in KW who want to get our hands dirty and eat delicious locally organic grown free fresh veggies this summer. we've rented a city 20x80 ft plot on the outskirts of kitchener and we'll be starting planting may 15th. we have access to the plot until november, so lots of squash will be in store! 

this blog will be our communication tool to keep groovy members up to date on what needs doing in the garden and to document and share our adventures in growing and eating! 

come back often.
 things we discussed in our first meeting: 
- buying some starter plants and seeds during the next week (may 9th is a sale at john's church)
- having a big planting day on may 15 (if we're going in the evening should we find a car?.... i really don't think its a great idea for people to be biking down country roads at night..., and possibly the morning on may 16th). 
-having a google spread sheet to document what people spent so every month or a few times during the summer we can square up expenses
- aim to keep costs well under $50 a person. 
- if we have too many vegetables give them away to neighbors, at the SLC, or to food not bombs. 
- attend the 100 mile diet event! and learn how to can! (info below... not sure of location... i'll call and check).  

100 mile diet - FREE Information event

Tuesday, May 26, 2009.  7-9 pm
Join us for an Eating Local presentation by Marc Xuereb, Public Health Planner at the Region of Waterloo!  Meet local growers!  Learn about CSAs!  Collect resources!  Source local foods!  Find out what you need to know to meet the 100 mile challenge! 

Catered with local foods.