Bailey, a Garland First Grader holds a worm as her father watches. One of the many garden experiences made possible by our Garland Texas Noon Exchange Club and Loving Garland Green at the Garland Community Garden on Saturday.  Margie Rodgers, one of Loving Garland Green founding members, helped make this lifetime memory for Bailey by handing her the worm.

And a Big Texas THANK-YOU to our Garland Noon Exchange Club!

Our Noon Exchange Club of Garland made yet another great event possible in our community on Saturday October 28, 2017.  They donated $250 for expenses of things such as color markers, printing for educational handouts, rocks to build a caterpillar, gift bags (with free seeds, handouts, loofahs and sweet potatoes) and refreshments for guests at the Garland Community Garden’s Fall Harvest Festival.

The Garland Texas Noon Exchange Club has been hosting great events for our community since 1982.  They are affiliated with the National Exchange Club.  This great organization has been serving their communities for 104 years.  For example, we have our Garland Noon Exchange Club to thank for Garland’s annual Labor Day Parade—one of the best and longest Labor Day Parades and celebrations in the USA.  They plan ahead!  If you are interested in being part of the Labor Day 2018 parade and celebration: Contact Rosie Neely, Secretary

Another outstanding event hosted by the Garland Texas Noon Exchange Club is their annual Kids Christmas Party.  They provide gifts for over 100 students in Garland who would otherwise have no Christmas.  This event is also about teaching the children in our community about the value and pleasure in giving and serving others as well.  Students in our local schools are involved and, along with citizens like you and me, they help in the fund-raising for this event.  This year Loving Garland Green will be sponsoring some children for this event.

To quote Javier Solis, Club President:   “Students from across the district who normally would not come together outside of competition work side by side to serve the children. The excitement of serving others helps plant the seed of community involvement, which we hope will carry on after they graduate from GISD.”  If you would like to be part of this great event, contact Rosie at the link above.

IN GARLAND WE ARE PROUD OF OUR FLAG, OUR COUNTRY AND OUR MONARCHS.  Yvonne Divine, a member of the Garland Noon Exchange Club donated an American Flag to the Garden and Javier Solis, Noon Exchange Club President installed it.  To date members of Loving Garland Green have tagged and released almost 100 Monarchs.  Burgi and Jim Bartlett have 18 Monarch pupas that are almost ready to eclose.  These will definitely be the fifth generation that will fly to Mexico soon.


A Great Event for Families, Children and Youth!

Children and adults posed as Monarchs at the garden.  Above we have Jack and Erin.   


This year in the Garland Community Garden we had eleven large pots of sweet potatoes growing.  On Saturday we harvested all but three of them which we are saving for a class of elementary students this week.  When harvesting sweet potatoes, there are a few rules:

1. Do not leave them in the ground after the leaves die because, unlike other root crops such as carrots, sweet potatoes will rot.

2.  Be gentle when removing them from the soil.  Their skin is tender and thin at first.

3. Gently brush off as much soil as possible with your hands.  Don’t wash.

4.  Put in a dry place and leave them alone for at least a week. 
     [Sweet potatoes need at least a week to toughen their skins and develop their flavor.  When eaten right away they will be tasteless.]


DUMPING A SWEET POTATO POT - The sweet potato pot shown above is from the North Garland High School Environmental Club’s garden.   Beaver MST first grade students decorated this pot for the club in April at the Garland Community Garden.


DUMPED POT - We planted 14 different varieties of sweet potato slips this spring at the Garland Community Garden.  Some varieties are darker than others.  As you can see the difference:  the dark red potato is at the left as compared to the orange one on the right.


Sweet Potatoes from the Garland Firewheel Farmers’ Market- One never knows what will happen with a root crop.  Thus we purchased some organic sweet potatoes to make sure there were enough for all guests to have one to take home.



ROCK AND WIRE CATERPILLAR-  This new addition to the Garland Community Garden was created by the children visitors with a little assistance from Margie Rodgers, an officer of Loving Garland Green’s board and a founding member.  We decided to put it in the spiral herb garden—appropriate since Margie is one of the members who built this bed.


Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green, assisting students from North Garland High School Environmental Club in weighing the harvest from their garden.  Their garden plot of 100 Square feet has produced 140 pounds of produce this year and over 80% of it has been donated to the Garland Good Samaritans.  The Garland Community Garden has produced approximately 600 pounds of produce this year and approximately 70% of that has been donated to the Garland Good Samaritans.



A FLAMINGO IN THE GARDEN - Yes that’s Anna Maria DeYoung, president of Flamingo Neighbors, a local nonprofit here in Garland Texas who promote neighbors getting to know neighbors as a means of fun and crime prevention.  Anna Maria acquired an old Dallas Morning News stand from our Vital Neighborhoods City Department.  Then together with Loving Garland Green, we got the newsstand transformed and registered as a Little Free Library down at the Garland Community Garden.


Children have always loved gardens! 

sponsored by the Garland Exchange Club and Loving Garland Green* 

Saturday October 28 - 1-3PM
Garland Community Garden - 4022 Naaman School Rd - Garland, TX
Rain Check:  Same time, same place Sunday October 29.

*Loving Garland Green are the official stewards of the Garland Community Garden

A fun and educational experience for your child

The Garland Community Garden is a lovely somewhat ragtag sustainable organic place in Garland beloved by many--especially children.  If you’ve never witnessed the sheer joy of a child in the garden, then we invite you to bring a child—your own, your grandchild, nephew, niece or even a neighbor’s child to the Garland Community Garden for our 2017 Harvest Celebration. This year our celebration is especially geared for children—although we promise a good time for adults as well. We will be harvesting our sweet potatoes at this festival.  However, sweet potatoes are not our only harvest. This year we have been harvesting food from this garden since early May and to date we have donated over 600 pounds to charity.

Parents Please take note:  We have no potties at the garden.  We ask that you take your child to the potty prior to this two-hour event.


We will have several tables set up throughout the garden as stations:

Garland Community Garden - October 20, 2017

Pollinator Station

At this station children will have the opportunity to learn all about pollinators and the important role they play in our food chain. You can expect to still see many monarchs, other butterflies and native bees flying about the flowers. I will be the Loving Garland Green Captain of  this station.  Although I'm not the club's butterfly netting aficionado I'll demonstrate how butterflies are netted, tagged and then recorded for research.  Children will also learn how to tell a Monarch from two other imposters; all about the metamorphosis of the Monarch.  Activities at this station include posing for a photo as a monarch; learning the universal hand sign for the Monarch; and coloring a butterfly fan if they like.  Our take away from this table will be a handout on pollinators, a butterfly fan and some wildflower seeds to plant.



Making things is fun!  Just ask any kid and most adults.  However collaborating with others to make things is even more fun.  We are offering two opportunities for those who come to our event to make things with others:  A community garden sculpture for our  community garden and the opportunity to write your message on our community blackboard.

Make a Community Sculpture

It's fun to be part of making something permanent. A friend of mine from California sent me this photo of a rock sculpture.  In case you want to make one in your own yard:  1) Hammer a rebar into the ground about two feet.  2) Collect enough stones that when piled on top of each other will equal the length of the rebar  3) Using a concrete bit, drill holes in each rock a little bigger than the diameter of the rebar  4) Slide them on and 5) make a cap stone by drilling only half way through the rock. Put glue on it and place on the top of the sculpture.

We will prepare beforehand by having the rebar in the ground and a box of rocks with holes drilled in them.  Parents can hold their child up to slide the rock down the rebar.   

 Sustainable Repurposing in Action:  Ruined White Board transformed into new blackboard.

Tell the World What You Think

As you wander through the garden, you'll see all the many ways our organization supports the sustainable practice of reusing things--from the IBC totes reused as planters to food grade barrels cut in half for pots.  The Garland Community Garden blackboard I'm creating today is no different.  A couple of years ago I made Charlie stop and help me put a large white board that someone had left curbside into the back of the truck.  We used it as a large sign to announce various events but then last year, in too much of a rush, I accidentally wrote on the board with permanent marker to announce our November leaf campaign.  Today I'm morphing the white board into a black board.  At the children's event we will invite people to write messages and draw pictures on the board.  If we run out of room we will take a snapshot of the board and erase the half of it containing the oldest messages and drawings.


 Fifty Sweet potatoes purchased at the Garland Firewheel farmers market - October 21, 2017

Sweet Potato Harvest 2 PM

At 2PM all the stations will close for half an hour and we will all go to the area near our Children's Garden where there are 10 large pots of sweet potatoes that we have been growing since May. The will be emptied on the ground and the children will have the opportunity to find and harvest a sweet potato from the pile. Some folks don't know this, but they will learn.  Sweet potatoes need to sit somewhere in the dry dark for a week to ten days prior to eating so their full flavor will develop.  It is recommended to gently brush the dirt off with your hands, but not to wash or scrub the potato as their skins are very thin when first harvested.  If you eat a sweet potato immediately after harvesting you will be disappointed at its rather tasteless flavor.  Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green purchased fifty sweet potatoes at our local farmers market because 1) It's difficult to predict how many children will come and 2) It's impossible to know the count of our harvest at this point because it's all underground.  However we want to ensure that every child has a sweet potato to take home.


Children love the loofah tunnel even when there are no loofahs in it.  Here is a class of 69 Beaver MST students touring the garden earlier in the year in April.  The loofah vines had not get begun to climb. Today it is covered in vines, blooms and loofahs.

Loofah Station

Charlie is captain of our loofah station as he should be.  He is the one who installed both tunnels--with a little help from me.  At Charlie's station visitors will get to see an older loofah peeled, a younger loofah eaten, and if we still have loofah blooms we will have a demonstration of someone eating a loofah blossom.  We will be giving away information on loofahs as well as loofah seeds.

Loofah are a versatile maker material.  What can you do with a loofah?  A lot of things:  you can eat it, you can bathe with it, you can scrub your dishes with it, you can eat the blossoms and make a bouquet out of them.   Many environmentally conscious consumers appreciate that loofah products are biodegradable, natural, and a renewable resource. In many other countries loofah is also used to make household cleaning products for scrubbing pots, pans, barbecue grills, tires, and many other surfaces that are not harmed by the abrasive fibers. The tough fibers can also be processed into industrial products such as filters, insulation, and packing materials. Craft shows often exhibit dolls, hats, toys, and other decorative items made from loofah sponges.  Their use, it would appear is only limited by our imagination.



Teosinte - ancestor of modern day corn grew to over 12 feet tall - August 2017 Garland Community Garden

Corn Station

Jane is the captain of our corn station. At this station visitors will have the opportunity to grind corn as ancient people did.  We will have stones available as grinding tools as well as mortar and pestles. Corn seeds will be given away.

This year down at the garden we had two corn patches.  In one plot we planted three different varieties of corn:  Black Aztec; Oaxacan Green; and Burpees Bantam. We ended up sharing almost exactly half of our corn crop (17 ears) with the critters down at the garden. Our small patch (about 8 foot by 8 foot) produced 37 ears of corn.

In another plot we planted Teosinte, the ancient mother of all corn.  It thrived and  most of the stalks in the patch grew to over 12 feet tall.  The ears of this ancient parent of today's corn however are not anything like the ears of corn we find in the grocery store today.  If you don't know, you'll have to come to the garden next Saturday and see for yourself.

Corn Lessons Learned

We did learn gardening lessons that we will share with local Garland gardeners:  Aztec Black, Oaxacan Green, and Burpee's Bantam corn grow very well in our area.  They can be grown closely together and they produce two ears per stalk, which is great.  All are from open pollinated, heirloom seed.  Unless you want to share your corn with critters, fence it in. We may try that next year, but then we are a wildlife habitat as well so perhaps we should continue to share as long as the critters do not take more than half.


Refreshment Station

There will be a refreshment station. We are offering water and packaged treats that are peanut-free, non GMO, gluten-free, and sugar free. (I know it doesn't sound very tempting, does it?  I remember the days at events like this where everyone brought delicious unhealthy home baked goodies and we all survived somehow didn't we?  Oh well. }

We hope to see you at 4022 Naaman School Road at 1PM on Saturday.*



Educational opportunities are offered to Garland High School Students that are not offered to high school students anywhere else in the state of Texas and in most places in the USA at the Gilbreath Reed Career and Technical Center.


This Garland ISD public facility offers more than 90 advanced-level CTE courses for high school juniors and seniors. Opportunities include:

  • new programs of study in dentistry and firefighting
  • a real-world stock market ticker for on-the-job training
  • the state's first cyber security courses
  • never before offered courses in veterinary medicine, architecture, business, fashion design and marketing, logistics, pharmacology, robotics and more

Those of us hoping to bring a makerspace with its educational opportunities for a collaborative educational environment to adult Garland residents and children are looking for alliances in our city to build a makerspace. It would appear that some in our City Council are bent on ignoring all considerations of consequences to taxpayers and are rushing ahead to demolish 38,000 square feet of classroom space (valued at a conservative taxpayer replacement estimate of $11 million). We are still hoping that other residents of Garland will come forth to support sustainable alternatives to the destruction of these buildings.

In our quest to seek answers as to how we might be able to work with educational institutions, businesses, and manufacturing groups who are more open to adult education and innovation in our community than many on our City council have thus far demonstrated themselves to be, we took a tour on October 10 of the Gilbreath Reed Career and Technical Center right here in Garland at 4885 N President George Bush Hwy, Garland, TX 75040. 



Clinton Elsasser, Assistant Principal Gilbreath-Reed Career and Technical Center 

It was a fabulous tour of this wonderful facility—open now for just about seven weeks.  Clinton Elsasser, Assistant Principal, led the tour and he was as interesting and engaging as the facility.   Believe me, you needed a bushel of star-power to even stand beside the glittering enchantment of this educational facility.   



The Gilbreath-Reed Career and Technical Center is a wonderful educational environment offering such a broad range of unique educational opportunities for students who are lucky enough to live in Garland ISD that I’m at a loss to even begin to try to write about them. Thus I’ll provide links to more detailed descriptions of this place and its wonderful opportunities for education for high school students.

Please access that link as well as their website for a more complete picture than I might offer from my own personal viewpoint of this tour.

What follows are only my impressions and memories of aspects of this hour-long tour on October 10 and I doubt my impressions can even begin to touch on the huge scope and implications for education offered by this educational institution.  


 Educational Principles And Facilities Layout of the Gilbreath-Reed Center Mirror those of a Makerspace

Throughout the tour I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the educational principles followed as explained by Clint along with the layout and division of classroom space with those same principles and designs of a makerspace. So many of the features of this new 21st century educational institution are reflective of the typical makerspace environment and educational values—particularly the way it emphasizes the important role of collaboration and its close relationship to resulting innovation.

According to Clint, the high school students at the Gilbreath-Reed Career and Technical Center are not allowed to isolate.  Thus throughout the building you will see various spaces marked as areas for collaboration.  These areas are often nooks and crannies by stairwells and the like—areas that in many architectural designs are considered “wasted space.”  At the Gilbreath-Reed Career Center these spaces are identified with Collaboration signs.  In addition to comfy seating space, these areas also include large white boards.  I’m sure that Steve Jobs is smiling down on the Gilbreath-Reed Career Center.



Alex Rhodes, Dallas Makerspace

Innovative Possibility Arises on Our Tour

Just proving the point of what a stimulating educational environment we have in this wonderful educational facility, Alex Rhodes (a member of the Dallas Makerspace) in response to a comment made by Clint suggested that a bus the Dallas Makerspace owns be converted by the students at the Gilbreath-Reed Center into a portable Makerspace Center that we can bring to the community.  I’ll be sure to follow up on the development of this inspiration.


Other Spaces at the Gilbreath-Reed Center: 

The place is simply beautiful, spacious and inspiring.  Truly you should see for yourself to fully appreciate it.  This educational facility is available for use by any high school students living in the Garland ISD and thus makes a very good case for choosing Garland if you have school age children.  This public Garland ISD facility has a capacity for approximately 3,200 students and currently in its first year is at about 50%--that won’t last once parents fully grasp what is being offered here.  If you are moving to the area and have high school students in your family, better visit the Gilbreath-Reed Center before making your decision.


Sampling of Various Labs at the Gilbreath-Reed Center  

A place where students have a home set up that they can learn how to wire for electricity


A lab where students can learn all about animals and have hands-on experience suturing wounds


A lab where students can practice filling prescriptions and talking with customers--the drugs the students handle are all simulated and not actual drug products.


A lab where students can learn dressmaking skills 


A lab that opens with electronic ticker tape running real time with only a 15 minute delay from the Wall Street bell - a lab with screen displays that allow students to compare their selections with those of other students.

As mentioned in the disclaimer:  For the full listing of all the opportunities available to students at this facility:


I was really pleased with this facility. As our Mayor Athas pointed out, this facility reaches out to so many students who might not otherwise have the opportunity for such excellent training.  Some of the skills that students learn at this facility will put them in jobs that immediately pay them a living wage and better – right out of high school.  We have many colleges today that can’t even do that.

However, although perhaps planned for the future, this facility does not currently offer courses geared for adult education and maker education for children ages K -10.

Our group will continue to seek to establish such an educational space to meet this need in our community.



Burgi Bartlett, Loving Garland Green Board member looks over the several hundred seeds that she has laid out in rows prior to covering with soil- Garland Community Garden September 30, 2017

Although the list is pared down considerably from spring, there are still plenty of edibles that can be planted in the DFW area. Thus yesterday at our month-end clean sweep at the Garland Community Garden we planted 100 turnip seeds, 50 beet seeds, 100 radish seeds, and 100 carrot seeds.

Keep in mind that November 22 is the average first frost in our DFW area and figure back from there according to the number of days to maturity that is usually found on the back of the seed packet.  Also in addition to the edibles listed below, you might consider sowing a few milkweed seeds in your flower beds shortly before the first frost.  Milkweed and many of our wildflowers do best when planted in the fall as their seeds need to be cold-stratified over the winter.


Seed Plantings for Eatables and Latest Suggested Planting Date

Beets   - September 30
Garlic - October 18
Chinese cabbage - October 1
Kale - October 15
Onions - October 15
Leeks - November 1
Lettuce - October 15
English peas - November 1
Parsley - October 4
Shallots - October 15
Spinach - November 1
Turnip - November 1
Radish - November 15
Rutabaga - October 15


Preparing the Soil

Soil preparation prior to planting anything is an important step in our area with its heavy clay soil; however, it is especially important when planting a root crop such as turnips, beets, carrots and radishes.  You can purchase expanded shale at just about any nursery or garden store in our area.  The average price is about $20 for a 40- pound bag.  This is a one-time requirement.  You won’t need to replenish the expanded shale at subsequent plantings. The shale aerates the soil by creating air pockets that make room for roots to breathe and grow.  How much expanded shale?  I recommend putting about a three-inch deep layer over the area to be planted and then working it in to a depth of about a foot.

Prepare the Seeds

I’ve had greater success with seed planting if I follow a process that Carol Garrison, Master Naturalist, and friend taught me a couple of years ago.  I’ve modified the process somewhat in that I do a large number of seeds at a time and I allow them to sit for 24 to 48 hours in the wet paper prior to planting.



Long plastic or glass container with a lid (9/12 inch glass containers for lasagna)

Roll of unscented toilet paper


Parchment paper





Small bowls for seeds



1. Cut 1-inch wide strips of toilet paper the length of the container.  (You will need to cut 8 or nine strips)

2. Place them in the bottom of your container.

3. Wet the washcloth and drizzle water over the strips of toilet paper—try not to totally soak but get them wet.

4. Using tweezers pick up the seeds on at a time from the bowls and place on the wet strips of toilet paper.  Space them according to instructions on seed packet.

5.  Cut enough strips of toilet paper the same length as previously cut and lay on top of the wet strips.

NOTE:  Gently press the two strips together to meld them.

6. Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover all the strips

Repeat steps 1-6 until you have prepared all the seed you want to plant.

7.  Cover the container and let sit in a warm (not hot) place for 24 to 48 hours.  I don’t recommend leaving longer as they might mold.  Some of the seeds such as radishes will already have begun to sprout and all the seeds will be swollen somewhat. 


Gently lift the seeds, toilet paper strip at a time from the container and place on top of the soil. You can see what this looks like in the photo above.  Cover according to recommended depth with potting soil and gently pat the soil.


English Peas

This year, for the first time in my life I’m going to try to grow English peas.  I like to eat them and in reflecting on my long life, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a fresh English pea—only canned and frozen.  I find it very surprising that English peas can be planted up to November 1 in our area as I've always thought of them as being rather fragile plants.  However, I am planting them in the Garland Community Garden sometime this week—depends upon when I can get my hands on some seeds.

I’ll keep you posted on how well they grow.


NOTE:  This information concerns dates for planting seeds in the DFW area.  Of course if you can still find them, you can put transplants of cold hearty edibles such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower to name a few.  Yesterday I visited nurseries in an near Garland.  I can report that when it comes to winter vegetable transplants, the pickings are slim indeed.  I did manage to score a few kale plants, however.