Saturday, September 25, 2010

On September 15, Franklin Park Conservatory held its fourth and final (for this season) gardening workshop at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. We focused on extending the gardening season after frost and putting the garden to bed. First, we discussed composting our garden waste. Then, we talked about bringing some plants indoors to continue them into the winter. Leslie explained that we could pinch off part of a basil plant, put it in potting soil and it would develop roots and continue to grow inside our warm homes after the chilly nights have finished off our regular plants. We then each got to plant a clipping of basil into a pot she brought for us. She also encouraged us to bring in small pepper plants.

Charlie brought his neighbor Louise who explained to us that sweet potatoes take six months to mature and we could start plants for next year by cutting off clippings, putting them in dirt (in a large container) and keeping them well lit inside.

Jenni's Ice Cream donated empty ice cream containers to be used to pot cuttings and to bring pots indoors. I put some extra in the shed.

We also got to taste a variety of raw and roasted vegetables.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SACG to Eat Healthier After FPC Workshop

On this wonderfully beautiful and temperate evening, a small group of gardeners gathered at the SACG to learn about the nutritional value of fresh produce from Jenna, an intern from the Franklin Park Conservatory. Jenna reviewed the new food pyramid by each type of food group and gave us each a color chart to show the proportion of each food group which we should try to incorporate into our daily diet. She also gave us a color chart showing how food portion sizes compare to regular household items, like batteries, baseballs, playing cards, computer mice.

Jenna also gave us a chart of what vitamins and minerals are in types of garden produce and how those vitamins and minerals help our bodies function. For instance, Vitamin A helps our eyes and protects against infection and can be found in melons, carrots, tomatoes, etc. Potassium is necessary for heart health and to lower blood pressurre, and can be found in sqaush, leafy vegetables, yams, etc.

Then, Jenna -- as always -- put a lot of preparation time into preparing for our workshop and had assembled samples of food for us to try. Everyone complimented the roasted and grilled vegetables she had brought to the last two workshops. This week, she brough fresh, frozen and canned samples of various food (like corn, beans, etc.) for us to compare. She also brought some homemade hummus (made from chickpeas) and gave us each a typed recipe. She also brought some vegetables grown at FPC's community garden (like peppers, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, etc.) which we could dip in the hummus.

Finally, we discussed the relative benefits of buying organic foods and locally grown foods.

Next week, our last FPC workshop will cover how to preserve food beyond the growing season (and tricks for bringing some of our food plants inside) as well as tips for cleaning up the garden. Yes, we will be talking about cleaning and gleaning. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the SACG on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

FPC Scavenger Hunt Brought Much Fun and Food

Tonight, Leslie and Jenna from Franklin Park Conservatory came back to the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden to hold a scavenger hunt for neighborhood children and gardeners. They hid items which did NOT belong in the SACG (like cereal boxes, French fry boxes, pickle jars, jelly jars, etc.) in the Garden for the kids to find. They explained to the kids that foods can be processed (with parts of natural food in them) or whole (like fruits and vegetables). Some processed food still have food grown in our garden. Cereal has corn; pickles come from cucumbers, jelly comes from strawberries, etc. They were given a questionnaire with hints about what was hidden in the SACG plots. Afterwards, the kids and the adults were able to taste raw and cooked fruits and vegetables. There was corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, peppers, sweet potatoes, etc. There was also salsa (with a combination of the foregoing and cilantro) as well as roasted vegetables for the kids to try. They loved all of the food and went back for seconds and thirds.

Bexley Barb came with her grandson and husband as did Diane, Ms. Jeannie, Betty, Lance, Priest, Shay-Shay, Nay-Nay, Nykkel, Daniel, and Jaden.

We also saw that the radishes we planted last week had already sprouted.