Have Questions About How to Use What You Have Grown?

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.07.38 AMTwo programs on using all the delicious produce you have grown in the garden are planned in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

The first is Thursday, August 31 at 7 p.m. when Pattie Garrett, R.D. and Nicole Cunningham R.D. will discuss familiar and some unfamiliar ways to prepare and preserve your bounty.  There will be taste testing to enjoy.

And on Sept. 14,  Barbara Biagioli, health and nutrition counselor, will discuss building a healthy lunch box.  Barbara will share quick, healthy and  kid-friendly recipes inspired by the fresh foods grown in the gardens.

Come join us. All lectures are free and start at 7 p.m.

Experiencing the Garden Through Art

Saturday’s art class led by Martel C. and Jess. C. was fabulous. About 20 young artists came together to draw and paint in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

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The day began with Martel C., an artist and gardener, showing young artists how to use watercolor pencils to complete their drawings of flowers, vegetables and insects in the community gardens.

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This young artist is working diligently on her garden image.  The artists walked through the garden and decided what they would draw and paint. Some chose sunflowers, others did detailed images of tomato plants and still others focused on the border of cosmos or the insects they found.

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These two young artists are comparing notes . They were very interested in identifying the plants they were drawing.

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Jess C. showing girl scouts participants various techniques and materials that they can use to create art including sponges, string and even celery stalks.

The art they created will be shown on Sept. 16 in an art show at the community gardens.

We hope you will come and see them.  The show will run from 2 to 4 p.m. and refreshments will be served.

In addition, the winner of the Who Can Grow the Tallest Sunflower will be announced and prizes for the art show and contest will be awarded.

Thank you to all the “helpers” on hand. I couldn’t have done this without you.

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This image gives a new meaning to the saying that someone has a “green thumb.”   🙂

Hope to see you in the garden. Natalie

Do you Know Whose Web This Is?

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This is the web of a Golden Orb Spider. A masterpiece of a spider with yellow and black markings. It is also known as the writing spider because the center of the web reminded someone of handwriting.

Could this spider be the inspiration behind Charlotte’s Web writer E.B. White’s character Charlotte, who wrote messages in her web for the farmer?

The Pitney Meadows Community Gardens are a great place to imagine and get inspired. Come and see.

 

From the Garden’s Bounty

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Cathy A. , one of our Pitney Meadows Community Gardens gardeners emailed me this photo of salsa verde she made from the tomatillos and peppers growing in her plot and two jars of pickles from the pickling cucumbers she grew.

She reported the salsa was delicious.

What have you made from your harvest?

I know some delicious pesto has been made by Martel C. as I was a grateful recipient of a jar. Thank you. It was so good.

If you have a recipe you particularly like, send it along. I’ll publish it here.

And if you need a snippet of an herb or two, remember we have the community herb beds that any community gardener can harvest from. These are the two raised beds with the colorful rocks the girl scouts made as markers for the herbs and it is located near the shed.

Enjoy. I hope to see you in the garden.

 

Sunflower Art at Pitney Meadows

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 8.34.27 PM.pngNineteen people participated in the sunflower making art class Saturday morning at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

Working under the direction of Miss Judy and Miss Rose, the group sat at the picnic tables in the garden and made large paper sunflowers.

They also had the opportunity to play in the sunflower house, play with the miniature farm and enjoy being creative outdoors on a beautiful summer day.

Next week on Saturday, August 26th, there will be another free art class for children.  This time, the participants will paint and draw sunflowers and other elements of the garden under the guidance of artists Martel Catalano, Nancy Hicks and Jess Clauser.  Children 6 to 14 years old are welcome. If you are interested, registration is required. Contact Garden Director Natalie Walsh at natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org.

 

The Scarecrow Has a Name

ScarecrowAfter tallying the check marks on the chalkboard ballot, Bill is the clear winner as a name for our scarecrow.

I told Bill Pitney that it seems fitting. He and his family have safeguarded the property for generations and he still watches over things and cares for the farm.

And now, the scarecrow named Bill, watches over our community gardens.

Sweet.

By the way, for those of you who don’t know, Bill the scarecrow is wearing Mr. Pitney’s pants.

Do You Know When to Harvest Onions?

I was recently asked this question in the garden.

If you know the clues,  onions tell you.

When onions are mature, the tops yellow and naturally fall over.

When most of the onion planting has flopsy tops, harvest. To harvest dig around the bulbs, pull them up and cure them by spreading them on a surface where there is good ventilation. I have found using an old window screen as a shelf in the corner of the garage works well.

Let them dry for two to three weeks. You know they are ready when the tops are dry and the outer skin is paper dry, crisp to the touch.  Trim off the roots and tops.

If your harvest was abundant and you want to store some for winter, place them in a container with good air flow. Some people use mesh bags but a cardboard box with some holes cut through works too.

If the onions are kept cool, around 40 degrees, and away from sunlight they can last for months.

Gardener’s Tip: While you are harvesting onions, try not to bruise them. They will last longer.

 

 

Chef Kim London’s Herb Class a Hit

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.48.20 PM.pngKim London, chef and PMCF board member, showed 25 participants how to use the herbs they grow in the garden or purchase at the market.

The group, which met in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, listened as London talked about the many different uses of herbs.  Then the group walked into the farm garden. They had the opportunity to smell and taste samples of the many different fresh herbs growing there. After answering audience questions, London treated the group to sample foods, such as herb butter, herbed roasted vegetables and a mint tea.

It was a beautiful evening at the farm, and thoroughly enjoyed by all participants.

More To Come

The next lecture, which is on growing tomatoes, will be lead by Murray Penney and held next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Community Gardens.

Our tomato taste testing with Chef Rocco Verrigni has been delayed because the tomatoes haven’t ripened. We will have a tomato tasting and have tentatively re-scheduled it for the evening on September 13.  Lectures are free and no registration is required.

On the next two Saturdays, free art classes for children ages 6 to 14 will be held in the gardens. Registration for these classes is necessary so we have enough supplies on hand. You can register by emailing natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org or calling 587-2304. Classes start at 9 a.m. and an adult is asked to accompany the participants.

This Saturday, August 19th, children will make sunflowers out of paper. The following Saturday, August 26th they will be drawing and painting with local artists.

Don’t Miss This

Our sunflowers are blooming, come to the garden to meet them and take a photo. They are magnificent.

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Together, Volunteers Made it Happen

Last night I realized there was no way I could get all the landscape fabric down and pinned in place before the Navy volunteers arrived between 8:30 and 9 a.m. this morning.

The Navy was coming to move gravel onto the fabric below the pathways and then level the pathways out with a layer of stone dust.  This is hard, heavy work and I am grateful to have their help.

With the help of Jim Gold, the areas were marked out for fabric earlier this week. What needed to be done was the rolling out of the 6 ft. fabric, cutting the strips to fit, and pinning it in place.

Should I get up at 4:30 a.m. and head to the gardens? That’s what I was thinking. Could I get it done in time? Gulp.

I quickly put out a call for early morning help. The response was fabulous.  At 8 a.m. our volunteers showed up, ready,  willing and prepared to laid down the landscape fabric around the area where the pergola will be.

Thank you to early bird heroes Gus, Jan, Jess, Dan, Kim, Buster and Andy for their help.

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.49.54 PM.pngJust as they were finishing up, 11 volunteers from the Navy base stepped into the gardens up wearing their yellow shirts and immediately pitched in. Smooth, flawless transition.

As Bill moved the gravel in place with his tractor, the Navy volunteers raked it out.  In no time, the pathways were covered with a layer of gravel and then stone dust.  They worked like a well-oiled machine, making sure there were no low spots and adding stone dust until it was as level as possible. Taking pride in their efforts.

Two other volunteers who couldn’t work in the gardens, but wanted to contribute, brought drinks for the group and bought lunch from Putnam Market, which was received with enthusiasm.

Thank you all.  You are the community in our community gardens and I appreciate every thing you do for us as we make our gardens grow.

P.S.  Here is a photo of the color-coordinated Navy volunteers in front of our sunflowers.  Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.58.10 PM.png