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GETTING MAD

A couple have been continuing to come down to the Garland community garden and stealing, yes stealing, jujubes from a jujube tree and likely other produce as well.

We share our produce with the Good Samaritans of Garland. We realize many people are having a hard time making ends meet.  That is why we provide the contact information for Good Sam’s throughout the garden.  They are much better able to provide the full array of nutrition needed for a family than the produce from our garden which is limited.

We have a sign posted right by the jujube tree asking people to not pick produce in the garden You can’t miss it.  But there is more.  A few days ago, Charlie saw a woman picking jujubes and stopped in to tell her to please not pick the fruit.  She was certainly not contrite regarding her thievery.  Charlie got the license plate number of the car.  Then, Saturday.  when I was walking down to the garden with the mower to mow at about 7:30 in the morning,  I saw the car pulling out from the garden again.  They had been picking jujubes again!  Even after Charlie asked them not to 

How do I know? I know because I steward the jujube tree and like a shepherd with her flock, I know every branch of that tree that has fruit.   This year it was loaded.  I bought that  tree 3 years ago and paid $50 for it.  (I recently noticed on the Internet they sell now for $59.)  I have watered, trimmed and taken care of that tree for three years.  Jujube is a tree that is native to Asia.  It is very drought tolerant and its nutritious fruits are similar to dates when ripe and like crispy apples when green.  One of my reasons for planting it down at the garden was to introduce people in our community to this tree and its fruit.  Outside of our Asian community, few in our area have even seen a jujube.

 

We will have a few (7) small Jujube trees to give away at our September 19th event.  This tree spreads by underground runners--not unlike the blackberry.  If you plant one jujube tree and do nothing, you will have an orchard in 15 years.

 

The Jujube is roughly the size of a golf ball, but slightly oblong in shape.  Although many say the ripe jujube tastes like a date, my taste buds tell me it tastes more or less like i imagine construction paper to taste.  However, I find the green jujubes to be delicious.  They remind me of Granny Smith apples but not nearly so tart. Of course, the best way to consume them is all by themselves, but I imagine they would make a great jujube pie.

 

 

GETTING EVEN

Charlie and I went down to the garden with a ladder and picked just about 95% of all the jujubes left on the tree.  This yield represents about 50% of the total yield this year for the tree.  The thieves got the rest. Still, I am happy for these as I’m sure it will be enough for those who want to sample something new at our September 19th event.

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I was busy in the garden this morning--busy ignoring guidelines for planting potatoes for a Fall/Winter Gardens in North Texas.  First of all,  sweet potatoes/yams are to be planted once a year in May only.  They are harvested about  two weeks before Thanksgiving.  However, all other potatoes can be planted twice a year:  once in the early spring (Late February/early March)  and once again in early to mid-August for a late fall harvest--110 days prior to the first frost which usually happens around November 24.  These potatoes, unlike sweet potatoes mature in 60 to 90 days.

Thus, today, almost two weeks past the recommended deadline I planted 1.5 pounds of Baby Red potatoes and 1.5 pounds of Baby Dutch Yellow potatoes.  Both of these potatoes are small and rather pricey in the grocery store and they are delicious boiled, cooked with a pot roast, or roasted in the oven or on the grill.

Ignoring the dates on the planting calendar was not the only rule I broke. The potatoes I planted came from the grocery store.  A week ago I had ordered seed potatoes from a nursery on the Internet.  They arrived yesterday and were all mushy with black mold.  So, we will see if these potatoes I bought at the grocery store will even germinate into plants.  Since these are small, I planted the whole potato as opposed to cutting it into several pieces.

Here is the process:

1. Dig up the soil to about 8 inches deep.

2. Level -ff soil with a hoe or rake.

3. Water thoroughly

4. Insert one potato at a time into the soil. Push it into the wet soil so only the tip is showing.  Only the top with a few eyes exposed should show.

5. Cover potatoes with about ½ inch of soil.

6. Spread 6 inches of hay over the bed and water thoroughly.  Keep the hay and soil moist for the next 12 to 16 days.

[Potato sprouts should appear within 12 to 16 days.]
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When sprouts are about five to six inches tall, add a mixture of two parts hay to one part soil to the top of the existing straw layer.  This new layer should be up the leaves on the stem. As the potato grows potatoes will grow from the stem in this layer of soil and hay.  Repeat the process again when the stalk has grown another 5 or six inches.  Potato stalks can reach up to 40 inches.  The dotted box in the illustration below shows how each six inches of staw/soil layer creates a growing area for new potatoes to sprout off the stem.

 

By the time I add the third layer of hay and soil, I may build a wire enclosure around it, or  I may continue to add layers Ruth Stout style with a somewhat unconstructed mulch pile. 

This method gives a high yield in a small space--ideal for growing potatoes in an urban garden since growing potatoes can take up a lot of space.  There are many ways, some of them quite elaborate, for constructing towers for growing potatoes vertically.

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LIFE GOES ON!  AND WE ARE HAVING AN EVENT IN THE GARDEN TO PROVE IT!-- GET TOGETHER WITH US at the Garland Community Garden! - Sunday September 19 from 1:00 to 2:00 PM

Mark your Calendar! Note: The Garland Community Garden is on City of Garland Property and as such, we are subject to rules and regulations that govern the parks in our city.  Therefore, any rules that apply to our parks also apply at the garden.  The garden is located at the junction of Naaman School Road and Brand in Garland Texas.

 

 

AGENDA FOR THE EVENT

FOR THE FIRST HOUR:

1. Welcome by current Loving Garland Green President Elizabeth Berry

2. Introductions and garden tales

As we go around and introduce ourselves, people will have the opportunity to tell us about their gardening experiences for the past year, what/if they have planted a fall/winter garden, what grew well for them this past year, etc.--anything garden-related they want to talk about, perhaps even the story of how you started gardening in the first place.  If you are new to gardening, that’s great too!  This event can be your new beginning.

[Depending on the number of people, we may have to limit these introductions to five minutes or we may vote to break up into smaller groups for longer discussions.]

3. Plant and seed exchange

Those attending are invited to bring seeds and plants to share/exchange with others.  For example, at the moment Loving Garland Green has 10 small jujube trees that we have dug up that have spread out from our Jujube tree in the front of the garden.  Many are not familiar with the jujube.  Its delicious fruit is similar to the date.  The tree is very drought tolerant and grows fast and well in our area.  In addition to the tree, we will have some of the fruit for people to sample if they like.  The other very special plant item that we will be offering are native milk weed seeds--not always easy to find but we will have more than enough for all.

Save seeds now from any vegetable that grew well in your garden this year and bring them to share with others.  Nothing is more reliable than seeds from successful plants grown in the area where they will be planted the next season.

4. Announcement of upcoming Sweet Potato & Luffa Shucking Event - October 24, 2021

We will close out the first hour by telling people about our next garden event.

Most every year except for 2020, Loving Garland Green has hosted this event around the third or fourth weekend in October.  In 2021, it will be held on Sunday October 24 from 1-3PM in the Garden.  Children are especially welcome to  this event where we dump all our large sweet potato pots (7 pots this year) and let the kids (gloves furnished) dig through the soil to discover sweet potatoes.  Note: Process is subject to change due to COVID restrictions. For example, we may have adults rake through the soil and hand sweet potatoes to the children.  Luffa Shucking will be led by one of our members, Charles Bevilacqua.  Charlie is the one who built our luffa tunnel, a favorite with the children.  He will demonstrate how to peel a luffa and reveal its bath/kitchen sponge.  Those who want will be given the opportunity to try their hand.  Needless to say, there will be plenty of luffa seeds to give away so that others can grow their own sponges next year.


SECOND HOUR:  Planting a Fall/Winter Garden


The second hour of the event will be a real community planting.  Before the event, members of Loving Garland Green will set up two approximate 3 feet by 6 feet raised beds.  A secret admirer has left us two lovely metal frames for raised beds.  [Note: Our garden has a magical effect on people.  citizens of our community, like fairies in the night,  often leave us presents such as garden pots, plants, and tools. So, it was with these two frames.  We don’t know who.  They just magically appeared one day.]

One of the beds will be planted with transplants of Kale, Swiss Chard, and perpetual Spinach.  The other bed will be seeded with root crops such as turnips, beets and carrots.

These two beds will be dedicated to the Good Samaritans of Garland and we will have a sign between the beds indicating this dedication.   

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We want people to visit and enjoy our garden.  I hope our new sign strikes a happy compromise in communicating that we do not want visitors harvesting our produce and at the same time showing compassion for those who may visit who are in need of food.  Thus, we provide the name and address of the Garland Good Samaritans, a local food bank that Loving Garland Green shares 50% of our produce with.

 

WELCOME!

We hope you enjoy the peace and beauty of the garden. Our mission is to raise community awareness of the benefits offered by urban gardens.

If you are in need of food, please contact Good Samaritans of Garland 972-276-2263 - 214 North 12th Street Garland, TX 75040.  We donate 50% of the food we grow in this garden to them.

  • Please do not pick our produce. Members of Loving Garland Green work hard to grow these vegetables.
  • Please take your trash with you when you leave.  We do not have City trash pickup.
  • Please be aware for your safety.  We are a wildlife habitat and share our space with other creatures, including snakes.
  • Please do not plant anything or harvest seeds without permission.  972-571-4497
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Hydroponics vs. Soil


I want to see if I can grow a full-sized head of Romaine Lettuce in half of a half-gallon former milk container placed on my kitchen window sill. This same experiment could also be done with a stalk of celery.  I've decided to regrow one lettuce in water with organic fertilizer and the other one in soil.

Here are the steps I’ll follow:

Materials:

Two Coffee cups

Two heads of Romaine lettuce

Two empty plastic half-gallon milk cartons

Organic vegetable fertilizer ( only ¼ teaspoon) You can use miracle grow if you like.

Enough rich garden soil to fill one half of a half-gallon milk container
Tap water

 

Tools:

Kitchen knife and fork

¼ teaspoon measuring spoon

Utility knife [for cutting milk carton in half]

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1. Cut off the ends of two heads of Romaine lettuce. (About 2 inches)

 

 

2. lightly score the bottom of each cut piece with a fork. 

3. Place bottom down in a cup with about 1 ½ inches of water.

4. In about a week the lettuce will begin to grow.

 

5. At about two weeks check to see if root hairs have sprouted.

 

6. Transplant to milk carton containers (half-gallon containers cut in half). One is filled with about 2 inches of water and ¼ teaspoon of fertilizer.  The other container will have holes punched in bottom for drainage and will be filled about half full with soil.  Put one lettuce plant in the water container.  Put the other one in the soil and then put soil around it to  about half inch from top of container.  Water so the soil is moist, not saturated.

7. Add water to both containers as needed. According to my calculations, from start to finish should be about six weeks.

 

NOTES:  The photo below I took of the lettuce growing in the water/fertilizer solution. I started the one tonight that I’ll grow in the soil medium.   That’s me in the reflection of the window.  To be successful at doing a project like this 1) it has to be easy and 2) I need to have the experiment in a place where I will see it often and thus won’t forget.  My kitchen window sill is the excellent spot for me.




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REGROW PRODUCE YOU BRING HOME FROM THE GROCERY STORE.

The photo shows Romaine lettuce I have growing on the window sill in my kitchen.  It gets indirect sunlight which I’ve found is great for lettuce.  Once the root hairs appear, after about a week to 10 days, I transplant it into a half-gallon milk carton filled with soil. [Cut milk carton in half with a utility knife.  Put drain holes in bottom.  Fill with potting soil.  One container is enough to grow one head of lettuce.]

Peanuts for saving?  Depends on your definition of peanuts.  One bag with three heads of Romaine lettuce costs me about $2.99.  I eat about six heads of lettuce a month so my lettuce bill would be about $6.00.  That comes to $72 a year just for lettuce.  By cutting that expense in half, I save $36 and that is just on one produce item.  This is also a great project for children.

Celery is another vegetable that is easy to re-grow (in the same fashion as lettuce by cutting the end of it off and sticking it in water).

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REGROW PRODUCE YOU BRING HOME FROM THE GROCERY STORE.

The photo shows Romaine lettuce I have growing on the window sill in my kitchen.  It gets indirect sunlight which I’ve found is great for lettuce.  Once the root hairs appear, after about a week to 10 days, I transplant it into a half-gallon milk carton filled with soil. [Cut milk carton in half with a utility knife.  Put drain holes in bottom.  Fill with potting soil.  One container is enough to grow one head of lettuce.]

Peanuts for saving?  Depends on your definition of peanuts.  One bag with three heads of Romaine lettuce costs me about $2.99.  I eat about six heads of lettuce a month so my lettuce bill would be about $6.00.  That comes to $72 a year just for lettuce.  By cutting that expense in half, I save $36 and that is just on one produce item.  This is also a great project for children.

Celery is another vegetable that is easy to re-grow (in the same fashion as lettuce by cutting the end of it off and sticking it in water).

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I just ordered some seed potatoes* online.  They should be here by August 17--in time for fall planting.  I’ll be growing mine in hay mulch, the Ruth Stout way.  Potatoes (other than sweet potatoes) can be grown in the spring and fall.  In our area, most gardeners recommend planting potatoes in mid to late August but  by September 1.  I ordered Yukon Gold (Botanical name: Solanum tuberosum) which is my favorite, but there are many other varieties as well.  The Yukon Golds will mature within 60 to 80 days.  Thus, if  I plant them by August 20th, I can expect potatoes in time for Thanksgiving, if not before.

 

 * New potato plants sprout from the buds (called eyes) on the surface of potatoes. These are the “seeds” for new plants.  The eyes appear as dimples in the potato’s skin. Each eye has the potential to grow into a whole new plant.  Purchase new certified seed potatoes at the start of each growing season. Potatoes are prone to many diseases (bacterial, viral, and fungal) that can easily be introduced to the garden when planting your own saved tubers. Purchasing and planting certified seed potatoes is the only way to ensure a “clean” crop. Certified seed potatoes are guaranteed to be free of disease, and they have not been treated with the anti-sprouting chemicals often used on grocery store potatoes.

 

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I Grow Seed Potatoes in Hay to Minimize Work.

To plant seed potatoes in hay, prepare an in-ground garden bed or a raised bed for planting. Then, nestle each piece of seed potato down into the soil by no more than an inch or so. Some gardeners who plant seed potatoes in hay don’t even bury them.  They simply place the pieces on top of the soil and then cover them with 5 or 6 inches of loose straw or hay. [I do cover mine with an inch of soil so as to discourage foraging critters.] As the plants grow, add more hay to the top, covering all but the very top leaves of the plant, until the bed has about 18-20 inches of hay. Although the layer of hay serves as an excellent mulch, keep the bed well-watered through the growing season.

When the mature potato vines die at the end of the growing season, wait two weeks then peel back the hay and collect the potatoes.   Happy harvesting!

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Members of the Garland Key Club at the Garland Community Garden

THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

What a great Saturday morning!  Eleven members of the North Garland High School Key club arrived at 9AM and worked until noon--that’s 33 people hours.  When you add the five Loving Garland Green members who were able to attend, that’s another 15 hours for a grand total of 48 people hours in our community garden today. And can you tell the difference! Working together makes all the difference.  Just imagine, if cutting all this brush was done by one person, it would have taken them 48 hours to do the job that we did in three hours.

 

Key Club is an international organization, sponsored by the Kiwanis (another great service organization) and created to connect high school students to community through service.  Key Club members volunteer and help others through both community service and fundraising. They contribute to charitable causes and volunteer for organizations such as UNICEF and Bow-Dazzling to help others in need.  They do lots of good for the people in our community.  Later this month they will be helping senior citizens clean up their yards.

 

The North Garland Key Club’s passion for service has led them to become one of the top 25 Key Clubs in the Texas-Oklahoma district.  If the job they did today at the Garland Community Garden is any example of their outstanding work, we certainly hope that they are able to continue this trend.  As usual, I was impressed by their sweetness and wonderful manners!  Over the past 15 years I’ve worked with Garland students of all ages--from First grade through seniors in High School.  The story is always the same: an encounter with bright, interested, polite youngsters who are fun to spend time with.  Thank you for your work accomplished today. 

 

Community Connections Continue.  .  . 

Next week Garland Park and Recreation people will come and mulch the two brush piles that we created today.  The mulch will be used in the beds at the Garden.  Community partnership is a great thing for all.

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Getting clean clothes is a challenge for the homeless.   [In Garland, the police talk with the homeless and help them out in small, but important ways such as telling them where to go to get food and other help from various agencies.]  Now the police of Garland are helping out the homeless in our community by distributing free clothing to them--clothing that has been provided by people in the community.

 

The Garland police have a drop off box in the lobby of their main station on Forest Lane.  You can go there and drop off clothing during business hours.  You can help the homeless in your community and you will also be contributing to building better community relationships between the police officers of our community and the homeless on our streets. We are all in this together. Being homeless is not a crime and it's good to see a police department who know this and are doing what they can to help the homeless in our community.

If you have clothing that you no longer need, drop it off at the lobby of the Garland Police Station during business hours. 

1891 Forest Ln, Garland, TX 75042