News and blog

Posted 7/9/2012 3:15pm by Brien Darby.

As we wrap up our first month of food donation in the community garden, I wanted to take a minute and reflect on our early-crop successes.

In addition to encouraging gardeners to donate from their own plots, starting in 2012, we allocated specific growing areas (both plots and communal spaces) to grow produce for donation.  These areas have primarily been planted with crops that thrive in cooler weather such as brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale, and radishes) and leafy greens (spinach, chard, arugula, lettuce, and mustard greens).  In the plot pictured above, we grew two varieties of broccoli, a cauliflower, and a cone-shaped cabbage called 'Caraflex'. 

These extra plots and spaces are managed by volunteers from our gardening community.  Many gardeners with plots near the donation plots pitch in by keeping the spaces watered and weeded and by keeping an eye on produce that is nearing harvest.  We also have a team of volunteers that meet once a week to tackle large projects such as planting vegetables or maintaining the herb plots.  The lettuce in the plot featured above is 'Pablo.'  It has a slightly thicker leaf and holds up to the summer heat better than some other varieties.

Twice a week, produce that is harvested from our gardens is taken to SAME cafe for use in their salads, soups, and pizzas.  The picture above is a typical early season harvest of chard, kale, mustard greens, cauliflower, broccoli, and kohlrabi.  Due to the warmer weather, we also have zucchini and yellow squash a little earlier this year.  Some vegetables that have already had their season include peas and radishes.  In the next few weeks, I predict that we will start to see more beets, carrots, tomatoes and, to be sure, more squash!

Posted 6/30/2012 4:26pm by Brien Darby.

While many of us have bemoaned the extra watering, bolting of leafy greens, and the general gardener fatigue that have accompanied the warmer weather these past few weeks, the true silver lining is the early production of ‘fruiting’ vegetables.  Plants in the nightshade family (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants) love the heat and our current conditions are allowing for one of the earliest crops in the past decade.  In a plot belonging to gardener Dann Milne, I recently spotted several of these early gems. 


In the week since this photograph was taken, Milne has reportedly harvested three fist-sized Brandywine tomatoes (not pictured)—a variety that is often avoided by other Colorado gardeners due to its typical harvest date of 80 days.


It is also unusual to see eggplant and pepper plants bearing fruit this early in the season.  Similar to the tomatoes, these plants do enjoy hot weather.  However, as they are much smaller plants, it is relatively easy for them to dry out too quickly.  Milne has placed his peppers and eggplants at the base of the tomatoes creating intermittent shade throughout the day and a bit of protection from strong winds.


Some of the most rewarding crops, as most gardeners know, are the summer squash.  They are easy to start from seed and they provide a steady harvest all throughout the summer.  When squash plants begin producing fruit early in the season, it is a general rule that they will stop producing fruit early, as well.  Milne puts forth the gardening philosophy, ‘Plant early and plant often,’ and that certainly applies in this situation.



Posted 6/25/2012 7:01pm by Brien Darby.

As we leave behind the early months of our growing season and rocket forward to the inevitable "what am I going to do with all this zucchini?" phase, I'd like to take a few minutes to reminisce about one of my favorite community garden occurances:  garden art.  It is a delight to see space-conscious gardeners (our plots are a roomy 10'x15'!) set aside precious ground for these unique expressions of their individuality. 


While many gardeners incorporate totems or mascots in their plots,



other gardeners use artistic items as a means of frightening away pests.  Many a neighborhood cat have thought twice about crossing the path of Mr. Owl!


Some objects can enhance the garden visually and provide a habitat for plants or pollinators such as bees and birds.  The piggy planter provides a space for growing flowers that might otherwise be lost in a plot packed with vegetables.  The improvised bird bath is a great showcase for recently picked blooms and it provides a much needed water source for our friends, the honeybees, who can be seen enjoying a drink in this photo.



Some pieces have a more pragmatic message,

but my favorite are the subtle touches that are seldom seen by all but the most careful observer.

Whether the purpose is function, companionship, or mere whimsy, these masterpieces help provide our garden with its unique, and ever-evolving, flavor.  While I welcome the bushy tomato plants and squash-laden vines of summer, it is with a small note of sadness, as they will be taking center stage from our art.