2nd Annual Keweenaw Food Day

The Keweenaw had another successful Food Day celebration! Thank you to all our gardeners that helped represent RSCG and make the event a success.

Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Food Day, created by Center for Science in the Public Interest, is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and people from all walks of life. Food Day takes place annually on October 24 to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. The ultimate goal of Food Day is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies. 

The Ryan Street Community Garden table offering lots of good information and a little taste of our harvest.

Kris, one of our community gardeners, operating the cider press. We had an awesome apple year!

Late fall bliss...

It's just about mid-October and the garden is still going strong. We're making up for the late spring.

Sweet potatoes! How'd they do that?
Pick, wash, and chew...only garden carrots will do.

Putting a deposit in the fertility bank with a layer of well composted horse manure.

Nasturtiums still going strong and open for business. Here comes a customer!

A shared snack after a day's work...

...with a beautiful flute serenade by FU Japanese exchange students.

A new visitor to the garden—the Locust Borer

Locust Borer beetle hanging out on our asparagus.
Our in-house biologist, Keren Tischler, snapped a shot of this Locust Borer beetle on our asparagus. The wasp-like coloring caught her eye and piqued her curiosity to find out more about it. The Locust Borer hatches and feeds on Black Locust trees and emerges as an adult in the fall to nectar on flowers (especially goldenrod) and mate. Find out more >

Superior Skills Workshop on Season Extending

The Ryan Street Community Garden was pleased to host another workshop by Matt Manders of Superior Skills. Matt talked about a variety of strategies to extend the growing and harvesting season in our cold climate.

Sweet September...

Nice beet bouquet Beth!

Weed, water, mulch! Looking good Don!

MaryLou planting some Fall lettuce starts sitting on her nifty rolling seat/toolbox.

Look at those melons!

Gifts of love help make our garden grow...

Looking sweet upon the seat of a bicycle...Curt Webb & Keren Tischler on their wedding day.
Thank you to Curt Webb and Keren Tischler for suggesting a donation to the Ryan Street Community Garden (and other community organizations) as a way to commemorate their wedding. Charitable donations are a creative solution for couples who prefer not to receive wedding gifts but have relatives/guests who would still like to honor the gift giving tradition in some way. It's a great way to celebrate community! Here's how to donate >

A heap of learning...

The Superior Skills composting workshop at the garden on Saturday was a success.  Instructor Matt Manders explained the various materials from which a home compost bin can be made, the organic materials that can be composted, and the important factors such as air, moisture and a balance of carbon-rich (green) and nitrogen-rich (brown) materials needed to make an inviting environment for microorganisms to break-down those materials into soil.


Matt brought with him a fresh heap of chicken/rabbit manure mixed with straw bedding and demonstrated with the group how to build a hot compost pile by first putting down an airy carbon-rich sponge and then layering green (manure and fresh garden trimmings) and brown (straw) materials, while adding moisture along the way.

He then showed the group how this type of compost really does heat up - the pile he built a week earlier of the same materials was over 140 degrees!  A big thanks to Matt for sharing both his knowledge and his manure with us at the Ryan Street Community Garden.

Compost Time!

Next Saturday (6/29) the Ryan Street Community Garden will be hosting a composting workshop by Matt Manders of Superior Skills, so we decided we better spruce up our system a bit in preparation. At RSCG we use the cold composting method, which means our piles are built slowly over time as the materials are available. This method of composting takes longer to decompose, requires less maintenance, and happens at temps under 140° F. Matt will be demonstrating both hot and cold composting methods during the workshop.

Doing our annual turn of the cold compost bins.
Nothing slashes down green matter for composting better than a good old fashion scythe. Viki is showing us how to keep that blade nice and sharp.

Our Garden Guardian

After being snowed out twice and rained out once we finally had us a group garden day! The big event was moving "Dave" our Garden Guardian (known in his former life as "The Tin Man") into place. A big thank you to David Sarazin the sculpture artist who remade Dave (named in honor of his maker), and Rick Loduha for helping find Dave a home at the garden. See the January post from this year to learn more about Dave in his previous life.

"Dave" the Garden Guardian on his way up. He's a real ladies man as you can see.
With rake and shovel in hand and ready to work.

Spring chores in action with Dave the Garden Guardian looking right at home in the background.

Flower power! (Top right: Look close, it's the world's smallest hat boutineer)

Perennials - First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap!

The newest members of the garden...our two Stanley plum trees planted on May 5, 2013. We selected plum trees because they are low maintenance and their small but abundant fruits will make splitting the harvest easier.

The rhubarb we planted last year has emerged. Looks like it suffered a little frost burn, but it will recover.
Our strawberries planted last year are already putting out new growth.
The chives are up! One of the first edibles of the season. They're best tasting when tender and young. Great as a garnish in salads. Simply snip a few off and enjoy.

Don't eat this one, but isn't it pretty? Sedum is a good pollinator attractor for the garden. Bees love it!  It's very hardy and drought tolerant with blooms that last late into the season.
Uh oh! The weight from the massive snow bank that sat on top of the fence all winter sank a few of the posts and disconnected the rails of our new fence. We knew this was going to be a challenge having the fence near the road.

Share your baby pics!

It's fun to see all the weird and wacky ways people come up with to start plants indoors. Do you have a creative method that you would like to share...or perhaps some particularly cute (or odd) babies you want to show off? Send your pics to Barb and we'll post them below...

From Barb: Baby alyssum seedlings in an experimental toilet paper tube growing system. There's a wire screen attached to the bottom of the wood crate that holds the soil in and allows the water to drain out. This way the roots that grow to the bottom air prune themselves and don't get root bound...or that's the idea, we'll see how it works...I need to create a little more air space under the crate. Alyssum flowers attract pollinators to the garden and smell yummy.

Space Saving Gardening Techniques

It has been a long time coming this year but Spring is finally here! If you haven't already planned out your garden plot for the year, here are few good space saving tips for small plot and intensive gardens from Purdue University Cooperative Extension (view the complete document).

Interplanting. Alternate rows with a fast and slow growing crop. When the fast crop is removed, the row spacing widens to allow ample space for the slower crop. For example, plant radishes, green onions, spinach, or lettuce between rows of cabbage, corn, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. [Barb's Notes: Louis Savier via Eliot Coleman suggests leek/carrot, mache/onion, and radish/romaine interplanting pairs to take advantage of complementary maturity times and growth characteristics. Onions/carrot/lettuce is another popular combo that complementarily mixes leaf forms, light requirements, and rooting depth. I like to plant Buckwheat with my tomatoes (squash and cucumbers too) and then slash down the Buckwheat as a green manure once the tomatoes are big. Lots of room for experimentation!]

Intercropping. Sow a fast and a slow growing type of seed together. For example, sow radishes and carrots together. When the radishes are harvested, then the carrots will be automatically thinned. [Barb's Notes: A classic French intensive intercropping method starts early in the spring (often with help of a manure hot bed or cold frame) by sowing radish and carrot and lettuce transplants, once the radish and lettuce are harvested, replace with cauliflower transplants. Another method by Ianto Evans starts cabbage indoors two weeks before the last frost; then one week before the last frost he direct sows seeds of radish, dill, parsnip, calendula, and lettuce; at week four he harvests radish and plants cabbage in their place about 18-inches apart; at week 6 he harvests the young lettuce; in late spring/early summer after the soil has warmed to 60 degrees or more he plants bush beans in the lettuce holes, then in the fall he plants garlic. Give it a try!]

Succession planting. As soon as one crop is finished, plant another. For example, when cool-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radish, and peas are harvested, replant with beans, beets, or turnips.

Band planting. Plant crops in bands of double or triple rows instead of single rows where practical. Where mechanical equipment is not being used, wide paths between rows waste valuable space. Smaller crops such as lettuce, spinach, beets, and radishes are especially suited to band planting (see Table 2 for approximate spacings).

Short row planting. Don’t plant more than you will be able to use at one time, e.g. planting a long row of lettuce or two dozen cabbage plants which you can’t possibly use at once. In small plot gardening, it is advisable to plant only the amount needed.

Vertical training. Many vegetables, including peas, pole beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, and tomatoes, will naturally climb a support or can be trained to grow upwards, leaving more ground space for other crops. Support structures include cages, stakes, trellises, strings, teepees, chicken wire, or existing fences let your imagination take over!

Mini Gardening. Vegetable breeders have been emphasizing smaller plants for container and small plot gardening. Although some of the dwarf or mini plants produce smaller fruits, often a greater number of fruits are produced, yielding a good total harvest. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and peas are just a few examples from the mini ranks. Some new cultivars of vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers have compact, trailing growth habits ideal for growing in hanging baskets.

U.P. Food Network

We've seen a lot of great energy focusing on local, healthy food and food systems in this last year...

The Ryan Street Community Garden (RSCG) had the honor of participating in the Keweenaw's first annual Food Day celebration in October.

Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Food Day, created by Center for Science in the Public Interest, is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and people from all walks of life. Food Day takes place annually on October 24 to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. The ultimate goal of Food Day is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies.
Community gardener, Beth Murrell, hosting the RSCG table at the first annual Keweenaw Food Day celebration.

RSCG is excited to be part of these local efforts to build a strong regional food system in the Upper Peninsula. In January, Natasha Lantz from from the Marquette Food Co-op and Michelle Walk from the MSU Extension came to Houghton to talk about the U.P. Food Exchange (UPFE). The goal of UPFE is to connect local food activity within each of the Upper Peninsula's three distinct regions (Eastern, Central, and Western), and to coordinate local food efforts between the regions. The project aims to establish both online and physical aggregations sites for farm products, improve local food storage capacity, and educate consumers, farmers, and institutional purchasers about the resources and benefits available to them via this network. The website will be up soon.

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) is leading this effort locally to create the Western U.P. Food Hub. UPFE defines a food hub as "a business or organization actively working with farmers and buyers to coordinate supply and demand. This is accomplished through the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified local and regional food products, primarily from micro to mid-sized producers to individuals, wholesalers, retailers, and/or institutional buyers."

For more information about UPFE or the Western U.P. Food Hub visit the links provided above or contact Sara Salo (the Health Education Coordinator at WUPHD) at (906) 482-7382 x114.

The tin man gets a green thumb...

Local artist/designer and Finlandia student, David Sarazin, who participated in the Ryan Street Community Garden's Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs mini-grant this summer, decided to keep the art-in-the-garden focus for his student design studio project this fall by refurbishing an abandoned student sculpture for the garden. The "tin man", as he was formally known, has been lurking around the metal shop for years. David repaired and rebuilt the base, creatively outfitted him with hands that hold an oversized rake and shovel, and crowned him with a head that only a gardener could love. We look forward to installing him in his new home once the snow melts this spring. Thanks David!

A refurbished tin man ready for the garden. 

Before his garden makeover.