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Garden Blog

A Midsummer’s Planting
Friday, July 15th, 2016
Is your plot looking past its prime? Are your greens getting gross? Are your beets looking beaten? Well fear not, because it’s prime time to put in the midsummer planting!

Many of you likely know all about succession planting, and I’ve seen some in the garden already starting their second crops. But with as large a group as we are there are likely some folks who hadn’t given this much thought as of yet. And since seed packets are rapidly being taken off of store shelves the time to act is now!

The only real trick to a successful second crop is having it mature before the first frost date. In our neck of the woods that date is on average somewhere around October 7th. But with this being the or one of the hottest years on record we may be able to count on a late frost so take any calculated dates as a “good guess” but not as absolutes.

As a rule of thumb, if you have a seed packet and it says that the vegetable takes 60 days until maturity then you’d want to try to have it planted in the ground by August 7th. If another seed packet says it takes 3 months until maturity you’d want it to be in the ground no later than July 7th, etc.

It’s also important to realize that the days are all getting shorter now, so plants planted right now will have less light the further we get towards the first frost. This may make plants slightly smaller than the ones we all planted as our initial crops this year.

There is copious information on the web regarding succession planting and frost dates and I’d encourage anyone who wants to get really technical to explore some of that literature. There are also seed supplier websites that have tips that they make that are specific to their particular seed stocks. But with this being an inexact science I find the following data to be accurate enough for me. Just remember that my dates below are not absolutes so if you want to plant something like rutabaga I wouldn’t let the fact that the cutoff date was last Saturday stop you. Also, these are the cutoff dates, you can always plant any of these before that date, you need not put them in the ground precisely at the cutoff.

Last dates to plant these plants:
Fennel 6/21/2016
Pumpkins 6/25/2016
Bush Beans 7/1/2016
Rutabaga 7/9/2016
Cabbage Seedlings 7/10/2016
Collards Seedlings 7/11/2016
Kale 7/11/2016
Broccoli Seedlings 7/13/2016
Peas (frost-sensitive) 7/15/2016
Cauliflower Seedlings 7/16/2016
Chicory – Radicchio Seedlings 7/19/2016
Onions 7/19/2016
Carrots 7/19/2016
Beets 7/26/2016
Swiss chard, bunching 7/28/2016
Greens, Asian 7/31/2016
Lettuce, heads 7/31/2016
Radish, Daikon 8/3/2016
Turnip, purple top 8/4/2016
Chicory/Endive/Escarole Seedlings 8/8/2016
Kohlrabi 8/8/2016
Lettuce, baby 8/10/2016
Turnips, salad 8/15/2016
Spinach 8/15/2016
Radishes 9/6/2016

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Uncategorized
Welcome new members!!
Monday, April 25th, 2016
Thanks to new garden member Constance for taking this video of her beautifully planted garden beds! We love the enthusiasm of new gardeners!!

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Uncategorized
GROWN IN PENN HILLS: Annual report 2015
Friday, April 15th, 2016
Our community garden has expanded to 106 individual growing beds with over 80 active garden members, community berry gardens and herb garden, picnic area and fire pit. The garden brings fresh produce into the homes of our gardeners and our less fortunate neighbors through donating produce to local food banks and senior centers. In 2015 our garden members donated 610 lbs. of produce to local food charities including Penn Hills Service Association, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and Meals For Friends. In the spring, our garden received the Abundant Acres Award from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for donating 423 lbs. of produce in 2014. We welcomed local Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts to the garden this year, and got them started with a seed starting party in April. Our garden partnered with Shadyside Worms for a series of composting workshops and established a 3-bin composting system, which is the first organized composting at our garden. We partnered with Mt. Hope Church and had a table at their weekly farm stand in the early summer where we gave away herbs and seedlings and educated people about our garden. In the fall we organized a workshop to build low tunnels or hoop houses on some of our garden beds, enabling members to grow food for 3 seasons. In October our garden partnered with the University of Pittsburgh during “Pitt Make a Difference Day”. Around 40 student volunteers came our garden to help replace our deteriorating plastic fencing with 8 foot tall welded wire fencing. The new deer fence is working well, and will be vitally important to protecting 20 new fruit trees that will be planted in the spring of 2016 through a grant from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Uncategorized
Thank you for the veggies!!
Saturday, July 25th, 2015
We have donated over 200 lbs of produce so far this season!!! We are very excited about this amount and want to give everyone who has donated a huge THANK YOU! The organizations we are partnering with are very appreciative of your efforts and beautiful produce.

We are donating to three organizations this year. Tuesdays donations are delivered to the Penn Hills Service Association. They distribute to Penn Hills families in need and their motto is “People Helping People.” Thursdays donations go to Wilkins Meals for Friends. This is a new organization with a mission to fill the gap and deliver meals to seniors who were previously served by Meals on Wheels (which closed). They mostly serve seniors in Wilkins Township. Our Saturday donations are delivered to Penn Hills Lawn and Garden which is a drop-off site for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Their mission is to feed people in need and mobilize our community to eliminate hunger.

With donations going out 3 days a week, we hope to give everyone an opportunity to donate and keep the produce as fresh as possible. If you have any questions or would like someone from the team to pick your produce if you are on vacation this summer, please contact us!

Thank you,

Isabel M-S
Selena B.
Kristy T.

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Donations
New Bat Box
Friday, July 3rd, 2015
Thanks to Ed Z. and Bill M. for installing a nice new bat box that had been stored in the shed. It was placed outside the garden fence several yards off the ground. This gives the bats plenty of space to take flight when they leave the box at night. Bats will add to the diversity of wildlife around our garden and maybe eat some pest insects for us!

bat box

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Wildlife
Seed Party with the Girl Scouts
Sunday, April 5th, 2015
Our first Seed Planting Party and Seed Swap was a big success! Thanks to Penn Hills Free Methodist Church for hosting the event. Thanks to Travis from Shadyside Worms for teaching us about seed starting and bringing his custom made soil mix. Thanks to Girl Scout Troop 54359 for the delicious treats and for being so enthusiastic about growing with us this year!!

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Events
New Petty Cash Account
Friday, March 13th, 2015
Another topic discussed at the Winter Potluck was a new petty cash account for the garden. Beginning this season, any garden member may make purchases for the garden up to $50 and get reimbursed by Kristin. This is primarily meant to cover repairs, improvements, small garden tools, and gardening equipment that would be stored in the shed. Reimbursements will not be made for items purchased for your own individual plot, seeds and plants, or decorations. You do not need approval before making a purchase, but a quick call or email to let Kristin know is a good idea so that multiple people don’t buy the same thing. If you have any questions at all before making a purchase, just get in touch with Kristin. Hang on to your receipts and then make arrangements to meet Kristin at the garden to get reimbursed.

We will try it out this year and see how it works! As always, submit any feedback and ideas to pennhillsgarden [at] gmail [dot] com.

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Uncategorized
Garden Volunteers
Friday, March 6th, 2015
One of the topics of discussion at the Winter Potluck was how the garden should be organized. The old garden rep. system had some hiccups last year, and I say, if what you are doing is not working then try something different! Grow Pittsburgh has lots of information about organizing community gardens, so we will move toward adapting their Roles & Responsibilities to fit our garden and see if it works for us. This means that garden members will volunteer to do things around the garden that they are interested in doing and able to do. Not everything is hard work and heavy lifting, and there are lots of opportunities for writing, communications, photography, etc. Additionally, I found some great resources at the American Community Gardening Association including some Tips for Community Garden Leaders and Organizers.

Special thanks to everyone who has already offered their time and talents at the garden this season! Ben has volunteered to research our options for new deer fencing. Mary Pat has offered to coordinate the senior center garden and the planting of new fruit trees at the Jefferson Road garden. Isabel & Kristy have volunteered to coordinate our food donations and have already been in touch with several local agencies to continue this mission. Don’t be surprised if I approach you at some point in the season and ask what you would like to do to help out around the garden this year!!

If you have any suggestions or ideas about garden organization, please leave a comment or email us at pennhillsgarden [at] gmail [dot] com.

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Uncategorized
Winter Potluck & Planning Meeting
Sunday, March 1st, 2015
winter potluck

The 2015 Winter Potluck was a huge success!! We had 24 people show up and folks were overwhelmingly positive and supportive, as everyone was eager to plan for Spring and get outside. There was a really great spirit at the potluck, and several people suggested we should have one every month!

winter potluck

Some topics we discussed at the planning meeting were beekeeping at the garden, an application for trees from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, the new deer fence, a farm stand at Mt. Hope Church, composting workshops by Shadyside Worms, and of course, the 2015 budget.

winter potluck 3

Thanks to everyone who came and gave their ideas, and especially to Patti M. for graciously hosting us at her home.

Posted By: Kristin | Filed under: Uncategorized
Seeds for purchase
Monday, December 29th, 2014
This is the time of year to look at seed catalogs and start planning for next season!! Starting your own seeds in March/April is beneficial for the garden because then you know exactly where the plants come from, how they were planted, and what they were exposed to. The purchase of seeds is included in the garden budget, so if there are any particular seeds you would like to have, just let us know! Thanks to friend of the garden Sandy F. for telling us about a local producer called Heirloom Seeds. They have a nice variety so take a look at their website and if you want anything just send an email to pennhillsgarden [at] gmail [dot] com by Feb. 15. Here are some other companies we could order from if Heirloom Seeds doesn’t carry what you want–

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