Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sleep Tight

We took advantage of the mild (above freezing) weather to spread a blanket of leaves over the garden. The leaves are part of our organic strategy to improve the soil and get the garden ready for next year.

We picked the last of the amazing indestructible kale (it's been below freezing for a week and the kale is still growing strong! above ground!) and the rest of the carrots, about ten pounds.

That's our last harvest for this year. We'll begin delivering grocery fruit and vegetables to Lewis House and Mt Calvary over the winter.

We're going to miss being out there - but spring will be here before we know it.

Good night, garden.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Neither rain nor sleet .. .

Nor gloom of night shall keep Magda from covering the garden with mulch and leaves.
We took this picture from inside the building, because we are not likely to go outside in the freezing rain, not us.
Magda, our little babushka, next time wear warmer gloves!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Next to Last Harvest

Getting close to the end. Pumpkins, one more watermelon, and one more musk melon harvested today. We're expecting snow in a couple days so probably one more harvest of carrots and kale this year.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Autumn Delivery

Today we delivered a little under 35 pounds of produce to Mt. Calvary food shelf. Eggplant, peppers (poblano, jalapeno, those spicy red ones), cukes, okra, tomatoes, kale, thyme - and my mutant carrots.

I'm getting to like those short fat carrots, regardless of how the more practiced gardeners make fun of them (me). They have character! Next year I'll plant a special row of them on top of rocky soil just like this year. But we'll make sure there are a couple of rows with the soil loosened so we can have the more traditional tall skinny carrots.

And here's a recipe we found for the carrots, including those beautiful greens on top of them:

1 bunch of carrots, tops included
2 tblspns unsalted butter
3 tblspns white rice
2 large leeks, white part only
2 thyme or lemon thyme sprigs
2 tblspns chopped dill or parsley
6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pull the carrots green off their stems. ( 2 to 3 cups, loosely packed).
Wash and chop greens and carrots finely.
Melt butter in a soup pot.
Add the carrot tops and the carrots, rice, leeks, thyme, and dill or parsley.
Cook for several minutes, turning everything a few times.
Add 1½ teaspoons salt.
Add the stock and bring to a boil.
Simmer until the rice is cooked, 16 to 18 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Liz's instructions for building a Tomato Trellis

From our Master Gardener Liz, who built the trellis in our garden, instructions for how to build one in yours:

I got the idea for the tomato trellis during a visit to Sabathini Urban Garden in Minneapolis.

I thought it was such a great idea I went straight to Home Depot to purchase the supplies, and next thing you know I’m building the trellis with a little help from my son.

4 – 2x2x8’s
2 – 1x2x8’s
2 – 5 inch bolts (to go through two 2x2’s), 4 washers to fit the bolts, and 2 wing nuts to fit the bolts
4 – 4 inch bolts (to go through one 2x2 and one 1x2), 8 washers to fit the bolts, and 4 wing nuts to fit the bolts
Roll of string

Drill & drill bits

Building Instructions
1. Cut one of the 1x2x8’s in half to make two cross bars.
2. In each 2x2x8, drill a hole one foot from the top and another hole 4 feet from the top.
3. In each 1x2x4 (cross bar), drill a hole about 6 inches from each end.
4. Attach 2 of the 2x2x8’s at the top with the 5 inch bolts, washers, and wing nuts.
5. Repeat Step 4 for the remaining 2x2x8’s.
6. Spread one set of the 2x2x8’s apart. Match the lower holes on the 2x2x8’s with the holes a cross bar. Attach the cross bar to the 2x2x8’s with the 4 inch bolts, washers, and wing nuts.
7. Repeat Step 6 for the other set.
8. Bury the 2x2x8’s about 6-8" into the ground, about 7 feet apart.
8. Place the remaining 1x2x8 across each ‘V’.
Planting Instructions
1. Plant the tomato plants under the trellis
2. Cut several pieces of string that reach from the ground to the top support, plus an extra 2-3 feet.
3. Tie a piece of string gently around the base of the tomato plant, gently wrap it around a branch, and gently pull the string up to the top support. Wrap and tie the string in a slip knot around the top support.
4. Repeat step 3 for each branch of the tomato plant, and also as new branches appear.
5. As the branches grow, unwrap the string from the top support, wrap a little more string around the branch, and then re-wrap it around the top support.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still Going Strong

Even after the cooler weather we had here recently in Minnesota, the garden is still doing well. Quite a long list of produce harvested today for delivery to Mt. Calvary food shelf tomorrow morning.

Green Beans
Hot Peppers
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Mustard Greens

Thursday, September 11, 2008


All of a sudden the greens are going to town. Maybe the cooler weather? In addition to the chard and lettuce in the picture, we have mustard greens and kale like crazy. We found this recipe for greens - and liked it!

1 bunch greens (collard, mustard, swiss or rainbow chard - about 5 c chopped)
1 bunch kale (about 5 c chopped)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil


1.Wash and chop greens.
2. Add olive oil, garlic and greens to large pan.
3.Cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until greens are tender, tossing frequently.
4.Once the greens are softened and slightly browned, add the lemon juice and saute an additional 2 minutes.
5.Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


We were glad to see these visitors (free pest control) but they were not as enchanted with us as you'd think. Lots of hissing and honking and rude looks. Couldn't understand what they said, but got the distinct impression it was less than complimentary.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Picnic Weather

Look at what we delivered to Lewis House and Mt. Calvary Food Shelf last week!

We're in picnic season now! Sweet corn, watermelon, summer squash and coleslaw (well cabbage and carrots) - and scrumptious salad greens. Not to mention potatoes for salad or baking. If only we could grow chocolate chip cookies . . .

Guess it's not a picnic without ants, though. When we were digging up the potatoes it was my job to grub through the dirt and make sure we didn't leave any behind (potatoes, not dirt). I turned up a boatload of little red ants.

I didn't get any good pictures of them because, frankly, they were creeping me out. But they weren't fire ants like we have down south. They were smaller than your usual black ants, but bigger than the little black sugar ants (frequent visitors in kitchens where I come from, and yes, I do so clean my kitchen).

So, does anyone know if they're good ants (Flora, Merryweather, Fauna) or bad ants (Maleficent)?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Okra for Mrs. Stone, thank you for the spider

The picture above is a special thank you to my Mom for making me eat my okra. I just want her to know that I am passing along the appreciation of this excellent vegetable to other children. Mmmm - gumbo.

And another special thank you to all the folks who pitched in to help us identify Joan's spider friend, Argiope. (His real name probably isn't Argiope - probably Henry, or something. But we like the sound of Argiope - rhymes with Caliope. Look it up.)

I should report that when I went out this morning to pick, his web was there, but he wasn't. If he crawls out of my shoe in the middle of a meeting today, notice will be taken. I'm just saying.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

First Food Shelf Delivery

Thursday we delivered to the food shelf for the first time. We brought greens, tomatoes, onions, potatoes - well, you know what we're growing by now. The thing is, our produce was fresh and bright and about the only non-packaged food we saw. Food shelves, by their nature, need non-perishable donations. But boy, what it means to be able to put something fresh on the table with the macaroni and cheese.
We're going to make a difference here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Harvest Weights

Just a fraction of what was harvested for delivery today.
Here's the rest:
watermelon - 16 lbs
green bean - 3 lbs
cucumber - 7 lbs
eggplant - 1 lb
carrot - 3 lbs
onion - 2 lbs
tomato - 4 lbs
potato - 3 lbs
cabbage - 4 lbs
musk melon - 4 lbs
zucchini - 2 lbs
kale - 1 lb

This was our third harvest this week, with 2 deliveries to Lewis House and one to Mount Calvary food shelf.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Any ideas?

Any ideas what type of spider this is? The photo is not the best but this spider has been guarding the end of the garden where the melons and pumpkins are growing for the past couple weeks. We're giving it credit for the huge watermelon we have that is almost ready for harvesting since it's been doing a great job of keeping the bad bugs away.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Storage Bin

Another donation from Blue Cross today, a large storage bin to hold our garden tools. Volunteers have been either leaving tools by the garden (some of which were starting to rust) or carrying them from their cars and desks and back each time they worked in the garden. So the storage bin has been a frequently requested item for the garden from our volunteers.

The storage bin will also be a great place to keep bags for harvesting. As at least one volunteer found out the hard way, when you forget to bring a bag to hold the veggies you risk leaving a trail of green beans on your way back into the building.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Garden Expansion for Perennials

We requested an additional 400 square feet for the Giving Garden so that we could plant perennial flowers, veggies, and fruits, and we received an additional 1600 square feet. Thanks to Blue Cross Facilities and their landscaper, our garden size doubled overnight! We are very excited about planning crops for this additional space and hope to get some of the perennials including flowers, herbs, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, and asparagus planted early September.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Almost Ready

Watermelon, pumpkin, and muskmelon, almost ready for picking. We may have to taste test one of the melons just to make sure they're ripe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Potatoes and Carrots

We harvested our first bunch of carrots and a few pounds of potatoes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tons of Tomatoes

Well not actually tons but our first big harvest of tomatoes. Added up to another 22 lb harvest today for Lewis House.

Friday, August 8, 2008

22 Pound Harvest

22 lbs of produce delivered to Eagan Lewis House today. Our largest harvest to date. Helped along by our first harvest of cabbage, two heads totaling 9 lbs, and lots of cucumbers.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Can you find the toad?

Click on the photo for a closer look. He is not much bigger than my thumb and has great camoflage. The perfect little garden dweller. When I stepped a little closer he hopped to shelter under a nearby plant. I think we'll call him Waldo.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ah, Summer in the Garden

Ah, summer in the garden. It was pretty steamy out there. We picked our first zucchini and summer squash, and scads and scads of kale, mustard greens, swiss chard and other greens.

We also picked our first bugs of the non-beneficial variety. I wouldn't want to repeat the bad names some of us called them. Suffice to say, we cast aspersions.

But no major damage so far - and our Master Gardener friends are looking them up and finding suitable organic control methods. We will prevail.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bountiful Beans

We picked beans and delivered produce 3 days this past week. Nothing better than fresh, cooked beans with a little butter and salt.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just Admiring Our Veggies

Everything is looking so fabulous we had to take a few photos on the way to the parking lot.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Harvest Grows

We have more than radishes to deliver today to Eagan Lewis House! Beans were picked along with peppers and young onions and of course radishes.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

11 Pounds of Produce!

Summer is zipping by and the giving garden is thriving. As we near the two month mark we have already harvested 11 pounds of veggies! The domestic radishes, or what I have been known to call beets (I am the novice gardener in the group), have been literally popping out of the ground so fast we can barely keep up with the harvesting. We have also had great success with the elegant Daikon radishes, weighing in at five pounds, and we're not done picking yet. Also, the first of the peppers have been delivered to Lewis House - banana and jalepeno - with much more to come.

I'm sure the folks at Lewis House will be happy to know that everything in the garden is either in bloom or bearing fruit, and they will not have to subsist on radishes alone!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In the News Again!

A story about the Giving Garden aired July 15 on Twin Cities Live Channel 5 TV. The video can be viewed at Twin Cities Live, just scroll down the page to find the Giving Garden video.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Weeds Love Our Garden

Magda and her husband along with Joan and her mom tackled some weeding while 4th of July parade floats lined up nearby.

Fun to see that a lot of our crops are getting close to start harvesting.
Tomatoes are blooming and fruiting

Eggplant blooming

Corn getting taller