2011 Fall Dig-ins

We wrapped up our fall dig-ins on the 25th – we put in 7 new gardens and refurbished 14. We also provided compost, plants, and seeds to our self-reliant gardeners. Thanks to all of the volunteers that made it all possible and if you didn’t get a chance this season, there will be plenty more opportunities. We can now focus on our fall festival coming up on the 30th at Boggy Creek Farm. This is an outstanding event with lots of good food, drinks, music, and chef demonstrations. Visit our website for additional information and to purchase tickets.

Following is an article that will appear in the next Habitat for Humanity newsletter on one of our gardeners and some pictures from a couple of the fall dig-ins. I hope to see you at the festival!

Mildred’s Garden

Mildred Davis was raised on her parent’s farm in Mansfield, Louisiana; a farm she says that her mother still operates. With a big garden and livestock including goats, ducks, chickens rabbits, and guineas, her mom grew and raised everything the family needed. The desire to grow things has stayed with Mildred ever since as demonstrated by an African Ivy she planted 32 years ago when she was living in a housing project with her four sons. She’s replanted and divided the plant she named Big Mama many times and it’s now taking up most of her front porch.

Mildred’s four sons are now grown and she said, “so far one of them is carrying on the family tradition of gardening”. She now lives with her two daughters in her home built three years ago by Habitat for Humanity. Green Corn Project worked with her in the fall of 2008 to install a 4 by 12 organic vegetable garden. The garden has since doubled in size and Mildred said her family has enjoyed many servings of greens, beans, tomatoes, and squash harvested from her garden. She especially enjoys growing and cooking with herbs. Her favorite is epazote – she keeps dried leaves and ground seeds near her stove and uses them in ground meat, chili, and is particularly fond of its digestive properties in beans.

A few weeks ago, I joined a team of Green Corn Project Volunteers led by Karen Flanagan to clean up and replant Mildred’s garden for the fall. The team loosened the soil, added a layer of compost, and planted chard, spinach, carrots, beets, and other vegetables suitable for fall gardening in Austin.

Green Corn Project works closely with Austin Habitat to help home owners install organic vegetable gardens. We’re an Austin-based non-profit organization started 13 years ago that assists central Texans to take control of their food supply by teaching them to grow and harvest some of what they eat. For more information or to apply for a garden, please visit our website at http://greencornproject.org.

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Spring Dig-in Follow-up

I checked in on a couple of our gardeners this summer and both were doing great.

Roz-Mina Montessori School has had a GCP garden for several years. Director, Shirali Motha says that the kids eat many more vegetables when they participate in the process of growing and harvesting them. Shirali believes in reusing materials from around the school. In the pictures below, you can see a piece of a play scape re-purposed to serve as a trellis as well as a support for shade cloth in the summer or plastic in the winter to extend the growing season.

In an earlier post here and in our article in the spring issue of Edible Austin, I told the story of Louise Washington. Louise has wanted a garden for years but for health reasons has been unable to install one. With Green Corn’s help she now has that garden and even in the middle of our hot summer, the high point of her day is to go out and check on the plants. Louise and her family have harvested and enjoyed tomatoes, beans, and squash and well as several different herbs.

Our fall dig-ins start this weekend and will continue for the next 3 weekends. We’ll visit Roz Mina Montessori, Louise Washington, and many other new and existing gardeners. Please visit our web site for more information and to register to volunteer. This is a great way to increase your gardening knowledge and to share what you know with others.

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David —

Fall STS Part 1 – progress

This is a quick follow-up on the progress of our sprouts from the seed starting workshop on the 16th (previous post). As you can see in the photos, a few of the sprouts are sporting their true leaves, but it doesn’t look like enough of them will have them and be ready to transplant this weekend. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

David —

Fall 2011 Seeds to Start Part 1

We kicked off the 2011 fall dig-in season with part 1 of our Seeds to Start workshop. A few clouds and a big oak tree made it almost pleasant. We had a great turn out and seeded 11 flats with broccoli, cabbage, chard, and kale – all great fall veggies for central Texas. By Tuesday the seeds sprouted and with a little luck, we’ll be ready to transplant in a couple of weeks.

Upcoming events include part 2 of the STS workshop, fall dig-ins, and our wonderful fundraiser in October. Visit our website for details on these events and check back here for progress of our plants.

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David —

More 2011 Spring Dig-ins

We had another successful dig-in season – we installed 7 new gardens and refurbished another 10 to 12. Our self-reliant gardeners picked up their compost and plants to get their gardens going another season themselves. Our self-relients are really our success stories – we help them install their garden and we then return for 3 more seasons to refurbish the bed. After that, if they’re able, we supply the raw materials and they keep the garden going.

I participated in 2 of the new gardens this season – one for Louise Washington and one for an after school child care center. Louise has had a life long interest in gardening but due to health reasons isn’t able to establish a garden herself. With the help of Green Corn Project Volunteers, Louise’s children and grandson, and some refreshments Louise provided, we were able to get her started.

We double dug new beds for both gardens and planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, watermelon, cucumbers, basil, and oregano. We heard a lot of interesting stories in the process about Louise’s mother and grandmother growing up on a farm northeast of Austin and her granddaughter, Kayla’s involvement in Urban Roots when she was in high school. We also collected a cup full of grub worms for one of the volunteers to take home to their backyard chickens.

You’ll be able to read more about Louise’s garden in the summer issue of Edible Austin coming out in June.

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2011 Spring Dig-ins

Our spring dig-ins for 2011 got off to a great start last weekend. About 40 volunteers met at Soma Vida on East 11th where we gathered plants, tools, and compost. Mitch filled everyone in on our mission and how the day would proceed. We then divided into teams with a dig-in leader on each and headed out to either refurbish an existing garden or install a new one. Our goal is to refurbish new gardens for the next 3 seasons after which the recipient becomes self-sufficient and we just supply compost and plants.

I led a team that refurbished a garden for Jude Filler. Jude takes great care of her garden making our job much easier. We pulled a few weeds – avoiding her parsnip seedlings -top dressed with compost, and planted tomatoes and herbs. We also retrieved a melon volunteer from her compost pile and relocated it to the garden.

As usual, the best part of the day was getting to know the team and visiting with our gardener. I always learn something new about gardening and usually pick up a recipe or 2. We have 2 dig-in weekends left this spring – I hope to see you at one of them. You can sign up on our website.

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David –

Spring 2011 Seeds to Start Part 2

Five weeks after we planted the seeds, the starts were finally ready to transplant. For some reason unknown to us, the starts this year were a bit slow coming up and had a low percentage of germination. In any case, the starts that did make it looked great and we had wonderful workshop to transplant them into individual pots. As I mentioned in the post from the first workshop, I described the process last year and won’t bore you with the details again. Here are a few pictures from Saturday and I’m looking forward to putting these plants in the ground at our dig-ins starting March 12th. I hope to see you there!

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David –