Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Last Harvest of the Season

We dug, cut, picked and gathered the last crops for harvest during our Fall Garden Clean Up event last week.

Twenty pounds of produce including beets, kohlrabi, carrots, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, onions, bok choy and cabbage were delivered to Eagan Resource Center.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And That's a Wrap

The garden is tucked in tight and ready for the winter that lays ahead. We close out the season with a grand total of 1049.75 pounds of produce. Our biggest year thus far! We have had a successful season both inside and out. On the outside, the garden has florished. Inside, our volunteers have been hard at work establishing a formal steering committee. We will be working like a well oiled machine over the cold months laying out the 2012 garden plan and events. We look forward to another great year filled with sunny days and 100+ pound deliveries!

Harvest's Past
2008 -  More than 500 pounds of fresh produce were delivered to Lewis House in our inagural growing season. At times the harvests were so plentiful that excess produce was also shared with a local food shelf.
2009 - We hit a hiccup and lost our melons, pumpkins, squash and cucumbers to Powdery Mildew. We ended the growing season with less then 500 pounds of fresh produce.
2010 - We recovered from last season and donated 1000 pounds of fresh produce to Lewis House and the local food shelf.
2011 - Japanese Beetles were out in full force. Thanks to a couple of bug smashing boys, we were able to overcome the infestation. We conitnued our produce donations to Lewis House and the local food shelf.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Afternoon Snack

Caterpillars of the Arctiidae family are often called woolly bears due to the dense coat of hairs (setae) adorning the body. They come in a variety of different, striking colour patterns and are often found in the fall when looking for a sheltered spot, (under a rock, fallen log, etc.) to hibernate as caterpillars.

This woolly bear was spotted in the garden getting an afternoon snack. Once 'our' little bear reaches adult hood, he will transform into a Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica). Adults are white with long-hairy backs and generally one small black spot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Busy Bees, Busy Volunteers

During our Fall Celebration Event I spotted a bee busy at work. As I took the photo, I couldn't help but think of similarities between this busy little bee and our volunteers. Our dedicated volunteers tend to the garden everyday for probably 6 months out of the year. Bumble bees tend to visit the same patches of flowers every day, as long as they continue to find nectar and pollen. These little pollinators, like our dedicated volunteers, can be found busy at work in the garden, day after day. The garden brings us together, and as a team, we make it a success.

Together, we are making a healthy difference in our community. So to all of our fabulous, dedicated volunteers (and bees) we say THANK YOU! Without you none of this would be possible. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Preschool Diary's

For the past couple years the public, onsite, Bright Horizons, child development center has participated in the giving garden. The children love being out in the garden and getting dirty! Here is an excerpt from a daily parent email about one of their garden visits:
At the garden, Ms Heather and friends got to walk around the garden and check out the different vegetables, fruits and flowers that are growing. It was very exciting to see how much things have grown since our last visit. As we waited for Ms. Alison to get there we had fun running up and down the hill by the garden and played one of our favorite games of duck-duck-gray duck! When Ms. Alison got to the garden we were very excited to put on our garden gloves and get to work. :) We planted marigolds this morning, it was so much Fun! We got the opportunity to see how different marigold seeds are to green bean seeds. (very interesting.) Everyone had a turn to put some marigold seeds into the dirt and had so much fun being able to be apart of something that is so special to Blue Cross! We did such a fantastic job with the walk there and back and definitely are excited for our next garden visit! Everyone also got to take a snap pea back to school with them. They are in your child's cubby. We also came back with a tomato and a green pepper to show our friends. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Powdery Mildew

It seems once again this year we have some crops affected with powdery mildew. We spotted cucumber and melon leaves covered in the tall tell signs. Luckily it has struck later in the growing season and hasn't taken over the crops entirely.

We did some research (http://organicgardening.about.com/od/diseases/p/PowderyMildew.htm) and discovered powdery mildew thrives in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. Dry, shady conditions are ideal, as are areas with poor air circulation. Planting disease resistant cultivars and making sure you allow for good air flow are two ways to guard against powdery mildew. Inspect plants regularly during warm, dry conditions, and remove any leaves that show signs of infection. Destroy (do not compost!) infected plant parts. A spray made with baking soda, if applied weekly at the first signs of infection, can protect plants against further damage. Plants that are badly infected should be ripped out and destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading further.

A commercially available organic option is Neem oil, which both treats existing powdery mildew and protects the plant against further infection.  (One of our gardeners uses Neem oil spray on aphids in her garden, and has found it to be really effective!)

Interestingly enough, the most effective measure in preventing and treating powdery mildew is to spray the foliage of your plants daily with plain water from the hose. Powdery mildew hates water! The only caveat with this method is to be sure you do it early in the day so that the foliage completely dries before cooler evening temperatures arrive, otherwise you may invite other fungal diseases, such as black spot, into your garden.

If your garden has fallen victim to powdery mildew, how have you treated it?

We would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

80 Pounds!

The giving garden just keeps growing and giving thanks to our great volunteers and the wonderful plant donations from MN Green.

To date we have harvested and delivered over 673 pounds to the Eagan Resource Center and Lewis House.

These last few deliveries have topped the chart with 121.50 lbs being delivered last week and now an additional 80 lbs delivered today!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Melons Are Coming

Thanks to the hot, wet weather the melons are looking great.

Monday, August 1, 2011

47 Pound Harvest!

Almost 50 pounds of produce picked and delivered this morning before it started raining including 3 bags of really nice sized cucumber.

The dedicated team of volunteers who harvested early this morning said there was a lot more out there so it could be a record harvest week. Would be great if we had to deliver to the food shelf everyday this week.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Squash and Tomato ... and Melted Cheese

The Squash and Tomato teams have done a fabulous job this year, and now we're reaping the benefits of their work. We love this recipe loosely based on a more complicated one from Better Homes and Gardens.

2 lbs summer squash, sliced (or zucchini if you like)
2 lbs tomatoes cut in thick slices
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Seasonings recommended – if using fresh, feel free to use more or less as you prefer. We like a LOT of fresh basil instead of powdered. But that may be because the basil grew like mad this year.

1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried basil, crushed
1/8 tsp pepper

Cook the squash until still somewhat crisp. Stir together flour, sugar, and seasonings; stir in drained tomatoes. In a 2-quart square baking dish, layer half of the squash and half of the tomato mixture; repeat layers. Bake uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheeses; bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until heated through and sauce is bubbly around the edges. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Midsummer Garden

The garden is just about to burst.

We've been harvesting for weeks but once the tomatoes, cucumbers and beans are ready soon we'll be carrying out some really heavy bags for the food shelter and shelter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The gardeners have been picking and delivering scads of produce. Lettuce, raspberries, peppers, peas, and all the greens are thriving. We were so thrilled with this beautiful chard that we had to post this recipe from allrecipes.com. Scrumptious. You can use Swiss or Rainbow chard:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste (optional)


  1. Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chard stems and the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, and cook until wilted. Finally, stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt if needed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Parsley and Dill

Oh, the parsley and dill! It made us think of our favorite new potato recipe. There are so many variations, but the basic is this:

Boil red or new potatoes (with or without skin) until cooked but still firm. Put in glass pan with butter or olive oil to taste. Stir in fresh parsley and dill - add a little more or less of whichever you like. You can add some sea salt or pepper to taste. That's it! You're ready to eat.