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Archive for June, 2011

Thursday, June 23
3:00 – 4:30 pm
Goldberg’s Deli

Present:
Don Converse
Muriel Knope
Angela Minyard
Diana Wood
Rebecca Barria

Visitors:
Carl and Jackie Franklin

Expansion Update:
We added 32 new plots. The north side is now full. There are 12 plots open in the south side.

Teams:
Out of 80 members, only 16 still need to sign up for a garden team. Many of those people are new members, so they may still be deciding how to get involved. Rebecca will follow up with everyone not yet on a team.

Board of Directors:
We proposed to expand the board by from a maximum of 7 people to a maximum of 9. According to the bylaws, members must vote to approve the proposal at a meeting and must be made aware of the proposed change two weeks prior to the vote. The date of the meeting has not yet been set, but it will likely coincide with a social or education event.

Communal Plot:
Five members are participating in a communal plot. Rebecca will review the bylaws to determine if we need to propose a change to the bylaws to make this arrangement “legal.”

Water:
The city has agreed to install two faucets inside the garden fence, but we do not know when the work will be completed. We will keep using the cistern even with the addition of the faucets. Don will look into the filter options for the faucet for removing chlorine, etc. Ann spoke with Brent Walker, the parks manager, about the possibility of a well in the near future or when Brook Run is developed, but she was not present at the meeting to give us an update. Diana shared ideas regarding a water tower for the greenhouse and updated us on the status of the sprinkler system inside the greenhouse.

School Gardens:
A student from DHS contacted us about his proposal to install gardens in every school in Dunwoody. We discussed the challenges he will likely face with a project of this scale, but we also expressed interest in helping him shape his proposal into something achievable in the short term. Rebecca will set up a meeting with the student and invite the board and interested members to attend.

Workshop:
Rhonda Bercoon, from Brandeis National Committee, Atlanta Chapter, contacted us to see if we’d host a workshop in March for her group. Shawn Bard has volunteered to teach a workshop. Location is TBA. We agreed to host the workshop.

Greenhouse:
Diana discussed with us various greenhouse projects, such as the Dunwoody Pines outreach effort, getting the small greenhouse in working order for city plantings, solarizing the flower beds, the butterfly garden, the berry patch, the ADA beds, and the outdoor paths.

Workday:
Don will select a workday TBA and determine our needs.

Treasurer’s Report:
Angela said we have approximately $4900 in the bank, $2000 of which is earmarked for various funds (emergency fund, food pantry, etc.). Don will submit receipts for the fence expansion, which will be paid with money from new member dues. Diana will draft a budget for the greenhouse to present at the next meeting. We also need to contact the pantry team to find out if they plan to request a budget increase.

Pantry Beds:
We counted 11 pantry beds that are part of the numbered plots. Pattie Baker, the pantry co-leader, has requested two additional beds. The board would like to create those two beds on the perimeter of the garden and give them more space if desired. We want to make sure that we keep 10 percent of the numbered plots set aside for pantry beds and supplement with enough border beds to keep our overall donations at 20 percent of total harvests or greater.

Next Meeting:
TBA

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Watering is a topic I regularly hear come up at the garden, so in an attempt to answer some of the questions floating around, I dug out my favorite gardening books, consulted Google, and hounded some veteran gardeners.

How much water does a 4 x 8 garden bed need?

There’s no exact answer because watering requirements depend on the type of crops, air temperature, wind conditions, type of soil, delivery method (e.g., overhead or irrigation), and on and on. Although the rule of thumb is one inch once a week, the actual answer can get pretty long and complicated.

So here’s a short(ish) answer instead:

  • Water your 4×8 bed planted with fruit and seed crops (e.g., tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, corn, beans, squash, melons) with four green watering cans every four or five days. That’s less than twice a week. These plants like to send down deep roots, so they need heavier, but less frequent waterings. Too much water will produce leafy, beautiful plants, but will decrease fruit production.
  • Water your 4×8 bed planted with root, leaf, and head crops (e.g., carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, chard, spinach, cabbage, broccoli) with one and a half green watering cans three times a week. These plants develop shallow roots, so they need lighter, but more frequent waterings.
  • Water seeds and new transplants lightly and daily until they are established.
  • If we get a good rain, skip a watering. Supplement for light showers.

Where did these magic numbers come from?

These calculations are based on Mel Bartholomew’s watering chart in his book, Square Foot Gardening, and assumes a sandy soil type (e.g. Farmer D’s Planting Mix). Water penetrates sandy soil quickly and deeply, but it also dries out faster. As soil type progresses from sandy to loamy to clayey, it retains water better and needs heavier, but less frequent and slower waterings. For example, a primarily clay garden bed would need ten cans of water every week and a half delivered by irrigation; pouring it quickly on the compacted clay would result in run-off and wasted water.

Watering Tips:

Water the base of the plants. Leaves don’t need water; roots do. Try using an olla, an ancient irrigation method, to concentrate water delivery to the roots; ollas are easy to make with two clay pots and a bit of adhesive.

Water in the morning or evening when cool. Watering on a scorching, blinding day can actually burn the plants leaves because the water droplets magnify the sun’s rays. Also, more water evaporates when it’s hot and when it’s bright.

Water deeply. If you encourage the plant’s roots to grow deep, where the soil retains more moisture, you will have to water less frequently. Shallow watering encourages shallow roots, which means the plant will need more frequent watering, since the top layer of soil dries out more quickly.

Amend your soil. Compost is essential; it helps soil retain moisture, it breaks up compacted soil so water can penetrate more deeply, and it delivers important nutrients to your plants to keep them healthy. If your soil is sandy, consider adding OMRI certified coir to your soil for added water retention or even a small amount of clay. No matter what your soil type, cover crop to add organic matter back to the garden bed.

Mulch. Mulch absorbs solar energy and prevents water loss by evaporation. Try spreading woodchips, burlap, shredded paper, gravel, seashells, peanut shells, cocoa shells, or wheat straw in your garden plot.

Let the soil dry out a bit. More plants die in Georgia from overwatering than from drought. Soggy soils prevent root development because there’s not enough oxygen. Also, fungus is more likely to grow on a moist surface.

Plant southern heirlooms. Many of the southern heirloom varieties were created before modern irrigation systems were developed, and therefore, require less water.

Don’t worry about mid-day wilt. Sometimes wilt is unrelated to water. For example, tomatoes stricken with blight and squash attacked by borers may wilt. If the plant is healthy and still wilted in the cool morning hours, then it needs more water.

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We maintain a first-come-first-serve waiting list when no garden memberships are available. Email membership@dunwoodygarden.org to get on our waiting list.

Dues are $50 annually (We operate on a March 1 – February 28/29 year) and members have access to a 4 x 8 foot plot. Dues are not prorated or refunded.

Members must adhere to our bylaws and sign a membership agreement. Here are a few important highlights about our garden:

  1. We use ORGANIC practices. We require members to use organic soil, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, etc. The only exception, due to local market conditions, is that members may use conventional seeds and transplants, although when available, organic is preferred. Raised wooden beds, if using, must be built with UNTREATED wood.
  2. We require YEAR-ROUND CULTIVATION. Garden beds must be tended well, and cover cropping is required during dormant periods. However, our climate is great for cool season gardening, and many of our members enjoy fall and winter harvests.
  3. Members must VOLUNTEER TIME towards general garden upkeep and garden projects. We recommend that members each give at least three hours per year to the garden beyond tending their own plot. While some members contribute the minimum three hours, we have many members who find a niche they enjoy and give much more time to garden projects. We ask all members to join a garden team.

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Board Meeting

Our next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 23rd from 3:00 – 4:30 pm at the garden (or Goldberg’s Deli in Georgetown if it’s raining). Although we don’t allot time for public comment, anyone is welcome to attend the meeting. If you have feedback for the board, please send us an email (membership@dunwoodygarden.org), comment on blog posts, or let any board member know via email or in person.

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We Expanded

We added 26 new 4 x 8 foot plots to our community garden. Everyone on our waiting list was offered a plot, but we still have some available. Read more about our first workday for new members in a nice Patch article by Tom Oder.

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We compost at our garden. Compostable waste is divided into two general categories: brown waste (carbon-rich) and green waste (nitrogen-rich). A good balance for compost is 70% brown waste and 30% green waste. This waste will break down into nutrient-rich “black gold” that you can add to your garden beds.

Several round wire cages are set up at the rear of the garden for compostable waste. Additionally, a large pile for “other” waste is located near the cistern. Finished compost is located in the brown trash can at the rear of the garden.

Our compost etiquette: If you use some of the finished compost in your plot, please volunteer to help turn the compost. (Send an email.)

Examples of Brown Waste:

  • Dried leaves
  • Wood chips
  • Shredded paper (non-glossy)
  • Washed eggshells

Examples of Green Waste:

  • Spent crops (free of disease and without seed pods)
  • UNTREATED grass clippings (pesticides can kill microorganisms beneficial to composting)
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps (minimal citrus peels)
  • Coffee grounds (no more than 10% of the compost pile)

How the Round Wire Compost Cages Work:

  • Cut waste into small pieces (finger-sized).
  • Place FOOD SCRAPS inside rat excluder (the cylinder in the center).
  • Add brown waste on top.
  • Replace the black pot-top.
  • Place other waste inside the outer cylinder.

What to Toss in the Compost Pile Next to the Cistern:

  • weeds, Bermuda grass, crab grass
  • diseased plants
  • seeds or fresh roots
  • large woody stems

We Do NOT Compost:

  • feces (That includes NO dog feces.)
  • dairy, fats, or cooked food
  • meat or fish

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