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Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting your Raised Beds Ready

For those planting out in a raised bed now is your moment to put the thing together. If you do you can direct plant radish, beet and carrot seeds now and beans in a few short weeks.

Don't let the critters get you down by chomping on your beloved veggie babies.

I put up an ever so simple barrier of cheap and not so beautiful 'yard guard' from home depot.

Here are some of the many items you can use, mine is supported with some strategically placed wooden posts and over generous use of a staple gun. I also made the world's simplest gate although, at the low height of my fence, I more often climb over the fence instead of opening it.

Also see the wonderful gardens constructed and planted out by a great organization who grow for food pantries and soup kitchens in the area.

A Lot To Grow Garden, note arcs supporting protection.

Usually keeps out everyone.

Called rabbit proof but the groundhogs can't read so they stay away too. For true groundhog protection you will be getting into trenching and lining the bottom of your bed with chicken wire. You should be just fine with this though.

Will also do the job nicely.

Seedling Swap May 18th 2-5pm - SAVE THE DATE

Well, my fellow guerrilla gardeners the time is approaching for the seedling swap. 

To reiterate: the seedlings you are growing include keeping enough for yourselves. The remainder are for the community swap, for most people that would be two thirds of the seedlings.

We will need volunteers for set up and for the swap itself a sign up sheet will go out as soon as we confirm the venue.

The afternoon will be great fun with people on hand to offer advise and guidance.

Our next step is to explore the guerrilla side of our project, 'finding' unused spaces where we can put some plants beyond our own and other people's homes.

Have a look at these fun locations from around the world. 

A new meaning to the term wallflower

Newspapers  are so last year.

Repurpose those shoes

So cool for a wall anywhere!

all those little roadside spots, hungering for plantings

Stealth Planting

Wouldn't it be lovely to be greeted by sunflowers along Bloomfield Avenue and other main streets. 

Potting Up

So many have been delighted to have their seeds grow into little plants and now they are bursting at the seams of the starter pots so it is time to 'pot them up' to give more room for them to grow.

Blimey! It's getting a little tight in here!

Take your larger pots (if they are new just use them, if they are being reused it is a good idea to clean in a bleach and then rinse them off).

Fill pots with either left over seed starter mix or potting soil, whichever you have to hand. Make a hole in the center of the soil mix.


Tomato Plant, note roots dangling at bottom
Carefully place plant in hole so roots go down
Plant tomato soil covering stem ALL THE WAY TO FIRST TWO LEAVES

NOTE: You will get a much sturdier tomato plant is you do this as the whole buried stem will create roots.

Gently pat in soil around plant so plant is firmly in place.

Pot up all your squash, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants when they are ready, you can also pot up leafy greens or, when it comes time for the swap you can wrap them in newspaper cups. 

You won't need to remove the newspaper when you plant them out as it will decompose. If you make a firm base add some drainage holes. 

Here are a couple of pics of pots made:

and here is link with step by step how to make them: How to Make newspaper pots

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Find Us on Facebook!

Hi All,

A quick post to let you all know that we're now on Facebook! Facebook users, please like our page and we'll be looking forward to sharing pictures, insights and experiences over there too!

Looking forward to watching it all unfurl in the sun (and other weather conditions).

So helpful - sorting seeds.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Domes, fences and watering tips

The domes are here. For all of you with sprouted seedlings which will need more room, please plan to stop by this weekend to pick up the clear plastic domes which can cover your seedlings to create a handy dandy heat and moisture protector for their growing environment.

Also remember it is best to water up i.e. water into the tray and the plants can draw up as much as they need rather than watering onto the starter mix directly.

For those planting out directly, if you need a fence, now is when you need it. Groundhogs, deer, bunnies and other critters just love those new little leaves so get the guard up before they can graze, munch and generally wreak havoc. 

Confessions of negligence

'tis true, as I was busy tending to my human babies (not so babies really), I forgot to water my little green babies and I may have to bid farewell to my arugula. Your illustrious leader shares this tragic tale in the hopes that you do not follow my lead.

When your seedlings graduate from the protection of their covered home in the basement to the great, outdoors while hardening, off remember to water them more frequently.

Cutie Patootie Sprouts!

I'm having fun with Instagram.  These little guys are so cute!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Herbs on our windowsill!

 On behalf of all of us at Partners for Health, I'd like to thank all of the brave "pioneers" who have taken on the challenge of growing veggies and herbs from seeds.  We'll be eager to read of your successes, and to learn from things that don't work out so well.   

And with Melina's encouragement, the Foundation office is also getting involved with pots planted with Rosemary and Dill that we will tend on one of our windowsills.  The first step, picking up supplies from Melina's garage last Saturday, where I met Monica Rawicz (pictured with Melina) and Matt Johnson and Linda Pasternack, and we bonded over anxiety and excitement about getting our hands dirty.

We'll keep you posted on our progress! 

-- Pam Scott

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mapping It Out

Hooray for Graph Paper!

I forgot to post this photo on Sunday - maybe the most useful thing to me.  Melina mentioned that she "mapped out" her seeds so she could remember what was planted where.  And when I read the guidelines, they had a cool map of a 4x4 plot and how to space the plants.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am hesitant and insecure - at least until I "wrap my head around it!"  So, being the planner that I am, I mapped out my seed trays and my garden plot before I did anything.  I know, it seems like overkill, but it works for me.

I love this blog and the ability to share ideas, concerns, successes and failures!  Thanks Melina!

(Oh, one more thing, the other thing that works pretty well for me is my handy hubby, who put up the fence around the outdoor garden plot and helped haul the compost from the woods.)  ;-)

Seed Planting Planning.  AKA, Wrapping My Head Around It!
~ Laura Torchio
The Hesitant Gardner

Monday, April 15, 2013

My daughter Maya and I arrived at Melina's house just past the designated pick-up window--we were very excited pulling up, and within 3 minutes felt overwhelmed by the various seeds and supplies in front of us.  This is a completely new venture, although judging by the myriad of books I own on container gardening, it's clearly been on my mind and my list for the past 15 years.  Luckily, Melina showed up and saved the day (although I can only say we were just slightly less overwhelmed leaving her house with a trunk full of seeds and containers!).

Maya and I set out to plant seeds on Sunday, while my husband Rich put together the raised bed. Since we don't have a lot of spare space, we opted for the "dining room table by the sunny doors" method, which I continue to question.  How much sun are these seeds actually going to get? Enough sun comes in that way that it ruined a painting we had up on the wall, but is that enough to sprout seeds??  I have no idea.  Other questions that came up--are we supposed to push the seeds in and/or cover them with more soil after we miraculously manage to get them into the little cups? And, is it ok to start summer squash in this way, or should they be planted in the ground (or in our case, the raised bed)?  And about those raised beds, we've placed it in our patio area, but it seems that we should be putting some kind of cover on the bluestone before we put the soil down. . .

Despite all these questions, it's been a lot of fun so far.  Tomorrow I plan on planting herbs in the hanging baskets, and hope to fill the raised bed with soil and begin planting the seeds that appear to be ok to plant at this time.


i thought it would be fun. easy. a great project for me and my son. Like baking (which we like to do) but with photosynthesis!

it's fun and a great project- but really? easy? I am waiting on that one.

Since I didn't manage to do the seeds during the day, my bathtub became the staging area, and a plastic trash bin the mixing pot.

First- how do you get the dirt into those little cups? I realized that it's not like cupcake tins (or more precisely, popover tins). After trying to fill a bunch one at a time, I just dumped dirt on top and spread it around.

and then- fill 3/4 of the way. Well, as most bakers would say- is that 3/4 packed or 3/4 lightly dumped?

And then the seeds! Somehow you never think what fiddly little things seeds are. Seriously. Go cut open a tomato and try to envision a packet of them. How do you get just one bell pepper seed or tomato seed in each cup? Seriously? How? And the packet of thyme came with a packet in a packet. They were the size of a pinhead. (We did our best, but I think we'll be splitting alot of those seedlings!)

I thought I'd need to use the provided light source (thanks to our thoughtful leader Melina!) but realized I HAD the perfect source- my front porch. South facing, fronted on east, west, and south by windows, it gets tons of natural light and warms right up. Like a greenhouse, really.

So... now we wait.

(How often do we water, anyway? Totally dry? Sort of dry? Everyday?

seeds have been planted, last week planted lettuce mix in container....things are popping up....keep them in the shade...can't wait....most of the herbs were planted last week,,,,,have a few more to do when the sun comes out and gets warmer....noticed that the parsley has started to come up.....a few tomatoes have started to show their little tops, .....this is the easy part.....when things start growing out of their little jiffy pots, you either have to put them in a bigger pot or find a place in the ground......but remember things have been cool and in this area they say this best time to plant is after mother's day.......if you have any can contact the Master Gardeners of Essex County M-F 10am-2pm (Roseland) they have a great volunteer staff looking for any challenges you have for them. (and it's free)...they also have soil test kits ($20) to test your garden send to Rutgers for a nice lab report that tells you a ton of stuff....nows the time to do it.....looking foward to the plant exchange....i have peppers (hot&sweet), tomatoes, cuc, melon (musk)....maybe a few others....will see....let's hope for some warmer weather....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

mixing the "dirt"

Day 1: Soil & Seeds

Well, here goes.  I had a garden about 15 years ago and each spring, I started off with a lot of momentum and enthusiasm only to let the weeds and the deer take over.  But this time it's different, right?  Right?

pre-seedlings under the light
I have a great room with a lot of daylight so I think the seeds will do fine - so my contribution to the "swap" will be A-OK.

The outdoor plot is an experiment.  I'll go out again tomorrow and water.  I'll put up a fence.  I'll weed.  And then we'll see how I do.  I may become a Guerrilla Gardener, yet!

Wishing everyone good luck and good fun!

~Laura Torchio
feet up on the garden plot

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Getting started with Guerilla Gardening and ANXIOUS!

Lord help me. I just picked up all my accessories from Melina to start seedlings and I am nervous. I fear I will forget steps and waste everybody's time. I'm busy but really want to grow some vittles. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Starting Seeds

Welcome to the first step in guerrilla gardening - starting seeds. 

Here are some simple steps for those using lights and those going for the sunlight option. 

Concrete mixing bin makes it easy to mix materials but can also be done in a large bucket or plastic storage bin.
Plastic containers. Use recycled yogurt containers, berry containers or collect from friends that buy plants. All containers should have 4-5 holes punched in the bottom that ar at least 1/8" round.
Water bottle. (Punch many holes (15) in the bottle cap for a home made flower spout.
Examples of supplies for your starter mix. 

1 part Seed starter mix
1 part coconut husk usually sold in blocks. Soak the block in a bucket of water until it absorbs enough water to fall apart. (If you don’t have this don’t worry but you may need to water more frequently)
1 part perlite

Mix all three with enough water so that when squeezed, the material holds together but does not drip any water.

Coconut Husk Dry
After adding water

Perlite above seed start mix and coconut

the final mix, by your fair hand
You can start seeds in a variety of different pots but the smaller the better. This enables consistent moisture in the growing pot.
  1. 4 or 6 packs that are about 1-2” high
  2. 4” x 6” containers that you can plant a few seeds of one variety. Strawberry containers work very well since they have a lid
  3. Peat pods. (don’t like these as much because they tend to be very dense)
  4. 72 size propagation pods in tray

Fill your containers (1 )  3/4 full and place 1 seed in each cup. If you are willing to throw away or divide the plants, you can place 2 seeds in each cup. These containers are specifically good for plants that germinate fast and relatively are of substantial size.
Cucumbers, squash, beans.

Fill your container (2) 1/2 full and place seeds 1" apart. Keep the lid on these containers until germination occurs to help keep in moisture. These seeds should be exposed to as much light as possible in the day if not using lights to help prevent them from getting too long and thin. These containers are good for: tomatoes, eggplant, Swiss chard, peppers.

For tomatoes, If using growing lights, place the lights as close to the seed container as possible once they have germinated. This will promote a shorter stockier plant that will have a stronger root and stem system.

Peppers and eggplants are very slow to germinate and need a lot of warmth. They can be heated from the bottom with a heating growing mat or suspended over a radiator.

Keep all planted seeds in a warm place making sure they are always moist. You can cover them to keep moisture and heat trapped. If they need to be watered, do so by placing the container in a shallow dish and place water in the dish for the plants to soak up from the bottom. You can also water with a flower spout preventing drowning of the seeds.

If you don’t have plastic domes begin by covering with saran wrap to keep moisture and heat trapped. Should not require watering for a while like this but check every day. 
One little seed in the centre

Two trays of plenty

Keep a note of what you have planted, including quantity and variety

This week marks the launch of our guerrilla gardening program to build a truly edible Montclair. The Food Revolution starts with a seed and you are the seeds of change. 

We look forward to everyone sharing their successes and failures, triumphs and tribulations and, of course, seedlings, plants and harvest this spring, summer and fall.