Old Ferguson West Community Garden

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!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August Garden Workday - This is AUGUST?

Mother Nature must have been resting after a few hard days of rain. She forgot it's August in St. Louis! We had a beautiful overcast morning in the garden with temperatures around 70 degrees. In August! The previous rains helped make weeding so much easier. The garden is beautiful and bountiful at this time. Our herb garden is bursting with mint, rosemary, sage, and chives. The apples in the orchard are growing well, and we should have apples coming out of our ears next month.

Along with weeding and general cleaning, we harvested the rest of the potatoes, tomatoes, numerous various peppers, spaghetti squash, zucchini, and the rest of the onions. This is the perfect time of the year to make fresh salsa.

Our potluck was even more delicious enjoyed in such beautiful weather. Thank you to all of our volunteers for sharing your time, your food, and your conversations. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July Garden Workday - Hello Summer!

It wouldn't be summer in St. Louis without the face-melting humidity. We spent the majority of the day multitasking: weeding, sweating and chatting. Laughing with friends and neighbors definitely helps weeding go faster. Larry and Ron almost finished the shed. One more workday, and it should be complete!

The garden is bursting with healthy plants and plentiful veggies. We harvested zucchini, squash, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, onions, garlic, carrots, cabbage, and eggplant. The kids had fun digging up the potatoes in the children's garden. One of them said "it's like an Easter egg hunt underground!" The cantaloupe and watermelon are taking over some of the garden path, and our blackberry bushes are about falling over with almost-ripe fruit. The weather has been optimal for the magical growth so far this year.

We ended the workday with a potluck lunch. Sharing a meal after a morning of hard work is a great reward. Thank you to all of our volunteers today, and enjoy your bounty!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June Garden Workday - Partnering with FCSP

This hot and sunny morning we were joined by 5 participants from the Ferguson Community Service Project. (http://fyifergyouth.org/programs/fcsp/)  Weeds have grown just as well as our vegetables have, so several of us spent the day clearing those out of the orchard, the communal garden beds, and the strawberry beds. With the extra help, we got a little closer to completing our garden shed. Some day it will be completely finished!

The plants have gotten so big so fast this year. Some of the zucchini leaves are 12" wide! Melon and squash plants are doing much better this year than they have the last several years. The corn that we planted on Mother's Day weekend is coming up nicely, and tomato and pepper plants are quite healthy. The critters have nibbled more this year than in previous years, so several of our gardeners have put fencing around their beds. They seem to have a preference for broccoli and Brussels sprouts plants over anything else. Strange critters indeed.

Thank you to our extra help as well as our heat-tolerant volunteers for making this work day so successful. The garden looks great!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Fun at the Garden!

Today we held our annual Spring Children's Day in the garden. The weather was perfect, and loads of kids showed up to decorate a pot and plant a flower for Mom. The kids then helped plant the community tomato bed, pepper bed, and the squash/zucchini and cucumber bed. Many of the fruits and vegetables were doing well in the garden, and the kids got to identify the baby plants growing. Fact: Baby grapes are cute!

Several volunteers spent the morning tilling a good-sized area, and staked and string-lined the rows for corn. The kids got to help plant the corn, popcorn, cantaloupe, watermelon and eggplant in that area. They definitely worked up a good appetite for lunch!

Thank you to all our volunteers (big and small!) for continuing a great tradition: growing community, friendships, knowledge and plants in the Old Ferguson West Community Garden!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April Workday - Spring Cleaning

Perfect spring weather + garden workday = Spring cleaning in the garden! We cleared the straw from the strawberry beds, cleared the brush from behind the tool shed and compost bin, cleared trash from the creek area behind the garden, and got our large picnic table scraped, sanded and painted. We also planted the communal herb garden. The garden looks spiffy and is ready for another great year.

Critter alert: The famous Ferguson moles have finally made their way to the garden. These uninvited guests tunneled through the communal potato bed and a few other individual plots. We'll have to wait a little longer to see how much they damaged and what needs to be replanted.

Thank you to our volunteers for the hard work and the delicious pot luck lunch. We look forward to our next garden workday which will be the 5th annual Children's Fun Day, the Saturday before Mother's Day. Happy gardening!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mini Garden Workday

The strawberry plants just arrived, and we put out a call for volunteers to plant the new beds. We got all 3 strawberry beds planted, then moved on to plant the community potato bed. Raspberry plants then went in next to our blackberries.We were also able to get the two St. Stephens Food Pantry plots planted with cabbage, lettuce, spinach, radishes, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts and onions. Several of us also got a start on our individual beds. Not bad for a couple of hours of work!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

UMSL Students Help Kick Off the 2014 Garden Season

After a mean winter, so many of us have been itching to be back in the garden, and to use our collective willpower to hurry spring's arrival. While previous March garden workdays have been cold, wet, snowy, muddy and generally miserable, today was ONLY cool and overcast. We had the pleasure of extra volunteers from UMSL's School of Social Work. These students are part of the Community Practice and Social Change course. They certainly got some community practice today!

Last season we realized that the grass had overtaken our strawberry beds. With a suggestion from Gateway Greening, we decided to completely relocate the beds. Our volunteers put down a layer of cardboard under each bed, then filled the tiers with new soil. Next, we put garden fabric down around the beds and topped off with wood chips. That should keep the grass away this year! We also put fabric and wood chips around the new beds we built last year. There were LOTS of wheelbarrow trips! After topping off some of the beds with soil, and trimming the hedges and rose bushes, the group gathered together for some chili to warm us all inside and out.

THANK YOU to our gardeners, and to Holly Ingraham and members of her incredible class for all of the hard work and interesting conversations.

And a just a quick note to Spring: PLEASE HURRY!!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November Garden Clean Up

It is bittersweet when we gather to clean out the beds and get the garden ready for winter. Conversations range from what grew well, what never seems to do well, what parents or grandparents grew, to sharing each of our grand growing plans for next year. We cleared the summer plants out of the beds, and many of us planted garlic to be enjoyed next summer. Garlic and leeks do very well for our gardeners. (See 2nd picture for leeks ready for soup season!) This year was also kind to peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, turnips, radishes, greens, lettuce varieties and eggplant.

We enjoyed having community beds designated for one or two vegetables for the first time this year. That allowed our gardeners to enjoy greater varieties of peppers and tomatoes. Maybe we'll start an asparagus bed next year understanding that it is a multi-year commitment.

Our workday ended as it always does with a fun pot-luck. While it's sad to say good-bye to the garden work days until next spring, we'll come back together then with great ideas and start it all again. Thank you to everyone who made the Old Ferguson West Community Garden so successful this year. See you next spring!