Old Ferguson West Community Garden

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Final Garden Work Day of the Year


When was the last time anyone remembers picking tomatoes and peppers in NOVEMBER?? We gathered today for our final garden work day. We started off the morning clearing beds, while a few harvested swiss chard, turnip greens, peppers and tomatoes for the food pantry at St. Stephens.

One of our gardeners had a great suggestion that we had never considered. Before we topped off the beds with compost, we put a layer of garden fabric down. In the spring, we'll just cut through the fabric where the seedlings or seeds go. This should help us cut down on the weeds, and volunteer plants where they're not wanted due to rotating crops. Thanks, Ron Brown!

A friend and neighbor of the garden, Deborah Carter, came by at lunch time with pie and cookies. We all sat down to rest and enjoy our final potluck with black bean soup, skillet cornbread, bratwursts with spiced apple relish, and Little Caesar's pizza (we're all so happy that it reopened.)

The garden is all tucked in for winter, and will be ready for new beginnings next spring. Thank you to all our gardeners, all the volunteers, all the kids, and everyone that supported our fundraisers at the concerts at 501 Plaza this year. Each and every one of you has contributed to the success of this beautiful space. See you all next spring!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fall Social for Kids and UMSL Volunteers

We held our 6th Annual Fall Social for Kids at the garden today. (One of the 2 parties that we throw for neighborhood kids each year.) Before it kicked off, we had the pleasure of members of the UMSL Social Work Class come early to volunteer. With their help, we spread 7 cubic yards of mulch around the hedge perimeter. They were awesome to have on hand when the kids started showing up too!

Several kids that joined us remembered getting rained out on our Mother's Day Fun Day. We love repeat partiers! Decorating mini-pumpkins, spitting sunflower seeds, hula-hooping and pumpkin rolling were part of the fun. Our champion in the corn-on-the-cob eating contest was a girl for the first time! The kids and our super volunteers ate lunch together, and we got to learn more about what the social work students were doing in their communities.

Good people, good fun and good weather - it's a winning combination!! Thank you to all of our volunteers, our UMSL friends, and the fun-loving kids that continue to join us each year!!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

September Work Day with Harvest Soup

On what might be the most beautiful day of the year so far, our gardeners had the pleasure of coming together for our monthly work day. One of the biggest accomplishments was grinding everything up that was stacked by the compost bin. The smaller pieces will help the compost process along faster.

Gerry Noll (from Ferguson Bicycle Shop) and a group of cyclists stopped by to say hi, and see how things were growing. A couple were impressed with our amazing zinnia crop this year. The flowers are huge, and brighten the garden up.

Ron brought his propane burner, and a pot, and we were treated to garden FRESH harvest soup. It had carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, leeks, swiss chard, basil, thyme and chives. It cooked while we all worked around the garden. It was a fun contribution to our garden potluck!

Thanks to all our hard working volunteers, and to our visitors for being so neighborly. Don't forget that next month is our Children's Fall Social!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bright and Sunny August Work Day

With barely a cloud in the sky, and barely a breeze to be found, we got the garden all spruced up this morning. The tomatoes and peppers are still struggling this summer, but the zinnias have exploded. The flowers are drawing lots of bumblebees and butterflies, which every garden loves. It's odd to have flowers taller than tomato plants in August!

After weeding and mowing, we harvested russet potatoes, carrots, beets, leeks, cabbage, zucchini, loads of basil, a handful of jalapenos, and a few tomatoes. Unfortunately there weren't enough peppers and tomatoes to make salsa. There's always next year.

Thank you to all of our volunteers for your hard work, conversations, and sharing a meal at the end of the work day. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July Garden Work Day

The rain and the cool weather this summer have altered growing patterns in the garden. We would normally be enjoying tomatoes and peppers, but those plants are just now starting to fruit. The blackberry plants are soaking up the water and producing berries up to an inch and a half long. Most everything else is doing well, or would be if the resident groundhog would stop sampling everything!

Today we had a few WashU students stop by to take various soil samples, and interview some of our gardeners for a class project. It's always fun to introduce people to the garden, and share the serenity that comes from simply being there.

We harvested communal carrots, potatoes, and cucumbers. We also dug up garlic that was planted last October. After all the work and weeding we sat for a while and shared our traditional pot luck lunch. Thank you to all the volunteers today, and we'll see you next month (hopefully with tomatoes and peppers aplenty!)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June Garden Work Day

The garden is in full-swing, and our gardeners are already harvesting delicious veggies. Weeds are also in full-swing, but thanks to the rain yesterday they were much easier to pull. When we planted the asparagus 2 months ago, we had to remove quite a bit of dirt from the bed. We mounded it up on some cardboard for a quick raised bed without a border. The last picture shows the volunteer tomato plants that grew from that dirt!

During our garden potluck lunch, Ron picked fresh lettuce, carrots, red onions and cucumbers and made a salad on the spot. That's about as fresh as it gets! Other veggies that were harvested: garlic scapes (top picture), kale, radishes, broccoli, turnip greens and a few early peppers. Now that the heat has settled in, the tomatoes and peppers should grow quickly. We're all looking forward to a continued abundance of produce throughout the summer. Thanks to all of our volunteers for the hard work and fantastic food to end the work day!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Rainy Day Fun At the Garden!

We had between 25 and 30 kids come to our May Children's Fun Day before we got rained out. Most of the kids decorated a small pot and planted a flower prior to the rain. At one point the table had nearly all boys intently decorating a pot for their Mothers. So sweet! Several kids got their face painted, blew bubbles, made silly paper bag puppets and even made up a few fun hula-hoop games. The rain came just as lunch was being served, and the kids quickly noticed the shed was a good shelter. One of the boys remarked that this is the first kid's day that we got rained on. (He's been coming to them for several years now!)

The rain made weed-pulling easier, and we managed to get the tomato, pepper and herb beds planted, while cleaning up several other beds. We also planted cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe.

Thanks to the volunteers and to all the kids who made today a drippy, muddy, extremely fun success!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April's Perfect Garden Work Day

After some crazy April storms, our wonderful volunteers were gifted with clear skies. We're very excited about some new additions to our garden. To start off, we planted two cherry trees. With those added to our six apple trees, we'll have "community garden pies" for years to come. We also planted a full bed of two varieties of asparagus. It will be hard to wait two years for our first harvest.

Jim Schmidt from Roots and Shoots Community Garden in Overland was kind enough to donate wine cap mushroom spawn. We found a nice home for it in an older pile of wood chips. Watching those grow will be fun and educational.

We planted the community potato bed, and the rest of the strawberry beds. The two children's plots and the St. Stephens Food Pantry plot were filled with young plants and seeds. Many of us also got our individual plots planted. 

We ended the day with a delicious potluck lunch, surrounded by friends and the beauty of the garden in spring. We look forward to seeing everyone next month for the Kids Fun Day!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Opening Garden Work Day!

Winter is nearly over, and we had plenty of extra hands to help prep our garden for spring. Students of the "Community Practice" class in UMSL's School of Social Work were kind enough to volunteer their morning at our garden. Joining with our returning gardeners, we got all the beds topped off with a good compost mix. The strawberry beds had settled quite a bit since last year, so a group removed all of the plants, topped off the dirt, and replanted the strawberries. With the extra help, a few of us went to Central Elementary's garden and finished cleaning those beds out too.

Normally we rake the dirt across the beds, but one of our gardeners suggested we use a 2x4 to level the bed, much like concrete. It worked very well, and made the beds look like blank canvases, ready for the upcoming plants as their art. (Thanks for the idea, Ron!)

Even with our wood chips around the beds, there was still a lot of mud to contend with. Pushing a wheelbarrow through the mud is quite a workout, but our guys got it all done. They all deserve a lazy Saturday afternoon for their efforts!

Many hands may make light work, but that "light work" sure helps make big appetites. We joined together to share lunch in the garden, to get to know our new friends better, and to talk about our great community. A heartfelt thank you to each and every volunteer that helped today!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Good and Messy Fun at the Children's Fall Social!

Our unseasonably gorgeous garden party was VERY well attended today. Over 50 kids participated in mini pumpkin decorating, a pumpkin relay, a sunflower seed spitting contest, a corn-on-the-cob eating contest, and digging through "dirt" for gummy worms. We had two rounds of the corn contest, and admittedly, there are few things funnier to watch. Also, it was sweet to watch some of the older kids help the younger kids with the pumpkin relay.

After everyone was worn out (and pre-stuffed with corn) the kids enjoyed lunch in the garden. Some of the kids even hung out for a while afterward just sitting and talking to each other. That's exactly what a community garden should encourage!

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and parents that helped serve lunch and hand out prizes. And a special thank you to all of the kids who showed up with a smile. This fall festival was the perfect end to a beautiful growing season in our community!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September Garden Work Day - A Peck of Pickled Peppers


We always think of peppers as hot weather lovers. This year has changed our minds completely. Our pepper bed has produced at least twice what it did last year, and has no plans to stop until frost comes. Peter Piper would be proud! The herb garden has also been loving the much cooler summer. Chives, rosemary and oregano are healthier than we've ever noticed.

We spent the morning cleaning out several beds in order to plant a few quick fall crops: spinach, lettuce, radishes, and a full bed of turnips. Along with the peppers and some herbs, we also picked tomatoes, eggplant and spaghetti squash. We finished the day with a delicious pot luck of black bean soup, corn bread casserole, mango cabbage salad, and raisin pie.

Thank you to all our volunteers, and we look forward to seeing everyone next month at the Children's Fall Social!!!