Fall gardening

There’s a lot going on in the garden these days. Our turnips are nearly ripe and delicious. We’ll leave most of them in the ground to continue growing and sweetening. If you haven’t tried turnips, you should. Once tasted, they’re unforgettable. Here’s a picture of club President Andrew harvesting a few.

We’re racing to ripen our last fall crop of radishes, beets, lettuce, etc., trying to get them to grow enough before the fall frost sets in. We also need to sow our cover crops before it gets too cold. I’ve just been reading in the newest Mother Earth news about using Austrian winter peas as a cover crop and am excited to try them out.

UVA’s Indian Student Association honors Gandhi

On Sunday, September 21st the UVA Indian Student Association made a return visit the PVCC Community Garden and we much pleased to have hosted them. A few hens from David and Parker Lerman’s home garden were present and largely cuddled. PVCC Environmental and Horticulture Club President Andrew Harriman and Club co-advisor Jennifer Scott were also working in the garden. We had a great time. The students were there to honor Gandhi through service, and did a great job prepping bed number seven so that we can put it into service growing vegetables for the hungry in our community before frost hits.
Thank you ISA for all your hard work on Sunday!

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UVA’s hard working Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity rocks the garden!

What do you do when you’ve got a seriously overgrown garden bed? You call in the calvary, of course!
We had been grooming one bed for the possibility of hens, but never got the hens… so the bed grew rather overgrown. Some of the weeds were over the heads of visitors – and nine year old Parker. See our Facebook page for amazing before and after pictures.
They also weeded some of our blooming and seriously beautiful native plant beds on the exterior of the garden.
Thanks all! Come on back anytime, your enthusiasm was wonderful to behold.

United Way Day of Caring

This past Wednesday was the United Way Day of Caring, the largest volunteer day of the year. We were visited by two teams, Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge and the “Misfits”, plus a few faculty and one PVCC Vice President. A tremendous amount of work was accomplished in just over three hours. Volunteers mowed, trimmed, weeded two large beds, turned the soil over for planting, and removed old construction debris. We are greatly blessed and deeply thankful for everyone’s hard work. Thank you!
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UVA’s Project SERVE

Project Serve 2014 1This past Friday the first student group of fall came to the garden to have fun and volunteer. I’m pretty sure that both were had. Approximately a dozen of us toured the garden, admired what was growing, and then got to work pulling the worst of the weeds from one of the garden beds and the exterior beds along the fenced border. They also sampled some asparagus and cleaned up the asparagus bed. Thank you Project SERVE participants, it was a pleasure working in the garden with you.

Summer in the garden

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Scott took two large buckets of harvested garlic to the food bank with two of her children. They also took the time to braid some of the garlic and hang it to dry with care alongside the long handled tools in the shed. Now when one opens the door there’s a great garlicky blast that really gets the nostrils open and the blood circulating!

The garden is really growing fast right now. We’ve had good rains and the weeds are responding enthusiastically. One of the greatest pleasures that I’m experiencing is watching more butterflies than I can remember flitting around the garden zone. This can be attributed not only to the borage, sunflowers, and other reseeding annuals that we’ve planted in cinderblocks, but also to the hundred new native plants that we’ve positioned around the beds that border the fence line. A big thank you to all the hard work that went into creating those beds and also to half a dozen local Master Naturalists who came by to help with the planting on Saturday, June 21st.

One of the other great gifts that the garden provides is the continuing involvement of remarkable individuals. Perhaps once a sufficiency of blood and sweat has been left in a place you are forever tied to it. In the last two days, two former Madison House Project Leaders have visited the garden. Christine Wehner was back in Charlottesville for a visit this past weekend and stopped in a chat – and harvested some okra. The inimitable Sara Elizabeth (two time PVCC Horticulture and Environmental Club President) was found this morning watering the new plants to make sure that they’re firmly established and weathering this steamy July heat.

Madison House Spring 2014

Like the American bittersweet, so too vanishes the time with our Spring term’s Madison House volunteers. Thankfully quite a few of the team have said that they’ll be coming back for fall. Some have even said that they’ll pop in now and anon to work the garden’s soil this summer. As graduating Project Leader Christine Wehner said, “You’re not getting rid of me that easily!”
This was a great crew and they accomplished mighty deeds. Our new exterior fenceline beds, now planted with varieties of native plants, are largely due to their sweat and labor. So too with many of the vegetable beds. April 25th was their last visit to the garden but it was raining very heavily, so we celebrated the season with laughter and munchables in the back of the nearby Dickinson building, then trudged out for a parting look at the upright asparagus.
Madison House May 2014

UVA Women’s Leadership Development Program Leads The Way

UVA Women’s Leadership Development Program leads the way…

This past Sunday the community garden was graced by the presence of 16 hardworking and enthusiastic young leaders. They’re an impressive bunch. Readers can find out more about their organization at http://www.virginia.edu/newcomb/wldp/

We worked on two main tasks: continuing to build some new beds alongside the outside of our fenced border and turning over all eight of the existing beds to prepare them for spring planting.

They seized the reigns, asking questions without hesitation, sizing up the tools and breaking up into work groups, eyeing difficulties and suggesting solutions. I have rarely seen so highly functional a group. It’s enough to make one have some hope for the future!
Now if only some warm days would come… we’re going to more ready than ever for spring planting.

WLDP participants – stay in touch and watch the website. Come back and visit sometime. It’s going to be a great garden this year.

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UVA Women's Leadership Group 2014

Madison House Fridays

We have got the greatest group of Madison House volunteers, bar none! They’ve started volunteering in the garden again this semester during what can only be called winter, not usually known as the most hospitable time to roll up one’s sleeves and dig in frozen or muddy soil!

Beginning the last day of January, they have been working hard to continue building the new beds along two thirds of the garden’s fence lines. These are the most visible fences from the road and will look absolutely gorgeous once we get them planted with native plants. We’ll begin then creating the environment to host beneficial insects, pollinators galore, and lots of birds, bees, and butterflies.

Last Friday I snapped a picture of the crew. There are more than a dozen of them, not looking quite as muddy as one might expect given the day’s conditions. In order from right to left, the stars are: Rachel Patterson, Michelle Faggert, Malcolm Maloney, Owen Robinson, Henry Wykowski, Chris Porter, Andrew Wykowski , Mark Duda, Christine Wehner, Kelsey Kaehler, Isaac Li, Varun Kavuru, Jake Sperling. One other volunteer was present that day, Lia Cattaneo, but not pictured.
Again, a special shout out to Project Leader Christine Wehner. She demonstrates great enthusiasm and excellent leadership skills, is incredibly responsive, has Wahoo initiative oozing out of her pores, and can run with a dozen donuts in her belly.

Special thanks also to Andrew Wykowski. Down from Long Island visiting his brother Henry, he came along for the experience and put in some mighty labor. Thanks for the assist, Andrew. Come back sometime.

Madison House Feb 2014

Garden Visitors

December has drifted over the garden and as I sit at my desk and think back over what a successful fall it has been, it occurs to me that I didn’t post AT ALL about a very special day that occurred near the beginning of the semester, back when the beds were still in considerable disarray from the summer’s accelerated growth of magnificent plants in the wrong places. Yup, weeds in our beds. In fact, some of our beds were so overgrown it was hard to find the cinderblock outlines!
Into that dismal setting rode the knight errants of UVA’s Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Society. More than a dozen strong, they arrived in such high spirits that they blew the lid off the place. A few of us were there to witness their energetic efforts but words cannot fully convey the tale of the creation that they wrought over several hours of delirious labor. A few pictures will have to do.
Thanks to you all for these warm memories as the days darken and the temperature dips.
David
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