Filling the Watering Cans

Filling the Watering Cans

This past weekend, we spent a little bit of time watering the garden. It’s fun to see all of the baby plants grow.

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A lovely surprise

Someone gave the garden a new sign when we weren’t looking!

2013 garden sign


We noticed the switch back in late September/early October, when this picture was taken. Our old sign was a bit weatherbeaten, and this one is a welcome replacement. To our garden secret Santa: Thank you so much! We are grateful for the gift.


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Winter veggies on their way

The garden team has planted beets, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and lettuce to harvest over the winter.

broccoli under cover

Broccoli grows under its winter row cover.

We expect to see a Christmas harvest unless we have drastic weather.

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Changing of the guard

We are excited to announce that Malia Schwing is the new chairperson for the WPC garden.

Malia is a new member of Westminster, having joined in April 2013.  She is originally from Michigan but grew up in Durham, eating healthy produce from grocery stores and farmers markets.  As a small child, she helped her parents and neighbors with their gardens, and she and her parents have experimented with growing their own vegetables.  She has been interested in gardening and growing vegetables for at least the past 10 years. She loves learning about plants, and is a fan of organic gardening.

Welcome, Malia!

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The garden in late summer

It’s been a productive summer. We’ve had good harvests of beans, okra, and zucchini. We have loads of cherry tomatoes that are slowly ripening. And we have a late-growing different kind of squash–we’re not even sure what kind it is, but think it is a winter squash or butternut-type (despite the name “winter squash,” they do actually grow in the summer). 

We're not sure what kind of squash this is, growing in the "three sisters" bed. But it's producing a lot of fruit!

We’re not sure what kind of squash this is, growing in the “three sisters” bed. But it’s producing a lot of fruit!

If you walk through the garden, please be very careful where you step. The Squash That Ate Westminster has lots of baby fruit lying on the ground.

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As usual, we will harvest Saturday morning. Come and join us!

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Seed starting, without a greenhouse

It’s time to start seeds for fall food crops, but the weather outside is a bit volatile for those plants that don’t require direct-seeding. So I decided it was time to fire up the grow lights.

You can purchase light stands for seed starting from fancy gardening catalogues for well over $200 apiece, but I always find the cheap hack much more satisfying. Here, I have commandeered a shelf in a closet in our kids’ playroom. The closet was supposed to be dedicated to my husband’s drums, but I hate to see a closet shelf go to waste.

the MHM grow light operation

One shop light, a few eye screws, and a home light timer later, and we are in business. A not-for-profit, vegetable-growing business, officer.

I love this seed-starting tray. It works as well or better than many of those styrofoam cell packs on the market, and they’re much easier to clean. The base holds about 2 quarts of water, meaning I don’t have to refill often. The individual trays rest on a capillary mat whose ends lie in the base, and the trays wick up water from the capillary mat to provide moisture to the growing plants. Each dome has a circular dial on the top, like you might find on a container of salt from the supermarket, that allows me to adjust the humidity by varying the amount the aperture is open.

separate seed-starting trays allow seven different plants to be started at once.

These trays allow me to start small quantities of seven different kinds of plants at a time,  each progressing at its own rate. I can pot one tray up while the other six continue to grow, and then I can start more plants in the first one again. Here I’ve got Brussels sprouts, short-season bush cucumbers, and kale. Since I took the photo I’ve added broccoli also. My kids have claimed the kale seedlings for kale chips, but I told them we have to share.

The timer, for now, brings the lights on at 6 a.m. and turns them off at 11 p.m. I check the plants maybe every other day. I hope these will be ready to transplant shortly after Labor Day. Come out and help us!

Happy fall vegetable gardening!

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Workday and harvest update, Aug. 3

This model of a regular Saturday morning harvest and two workdays per month is working out very well. This week, we had four volunteers: three adults and one child. We learned how to hand-pollinate squash, and we harvested beans, okra, massive zucchini, herbs, and one little tomato, which was too lonely to sell so I ate it. Let me tell you, it was fantastic. Lots more tomatoes will be ripening soon.


three sisters

The three sisters the first weekend in August. It’s really mostly one very big and bossy sister now. She has a very meek little sister producing beans. The corn has given up.

We have started our first bit of fall planting: sugar snap peas. They are just peeking out of the ground.

sugar snaps

Hope to see you next weekend in the garden!

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