Old Ferguson West Community Garden

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Children's Fun Day in May

On our 7th annual spring fun day, we had a fantastic turnout of kids, gardeners, and UMSL social work students. We weeded, spread an entire trailer of wood chips around the beds, and planted the following: tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, sweet corn, pop corn, honeydew, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and probably several other veggies I'm forgetting.

The kids had fun decorating a pot and planting a flower for mom or grandma. We also had several hula hoop contests and bubble and sidewalk chalk fun. Several kids learned about composting after lunch when they were finished with their apples or bananas. In fact, this was a turning point in our garden today: more kids wanted to help plant/work/learn than play! One of the teens stuck around to the very end to help clean up, and then he thanked us for teaching him to garden. He's been coming to the kids' events for several years. He admitted he thought it would be boring the first time, and was amazed that he enjoyed it and looked forward to the fun days. I look forward to seeing him more often at the garden than just on the fun days.

We had several visitors throughout the day, including two Kinloch officers that are looking to start a community garden in Kinloch. We love talking about our successes, and aren't afraid to talk about what we learned along the way that didn't work. I hope they are able to bring the idea to fruition in their community.

THANK YOU to all the kids, UMSL students, incredible volunteers and gardeners. Everyone involved contributes to the continued success of this amazing community space!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

April in the Garden

We arrived this morning to our garden workday relieved to find that it didn't quite get cold enough last night to hurt any of the plants. Our apple trees are blossoming, and the baby lettuce plants looked good. Thank goodness! The phlox that we received several years ago from Gateway Greening's Perennial Divide is so thick and lush. It is a beautiful announcement of spring.

We spent the morning weeding, planting more in our individual beds, and getting ever closer to finishing our garden shed. "Finishing" the garden shed has been on the honey-do list longer than I can remember. Progress!

A fun garden update: A stray that we found at the garden last month now belongs to one of our gardeners. This place grows all kinds of things, including relationships! Congrats to Dot and her new pup.

We enjoyed 2 different soups on this slightly chilly day, along with cornbread, homemade rhubarb cobbler, and strawberry shortcake. No one ever walks away from a work day hungry around here.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, and hope to see even more next month when we have our Children's Fun Day!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 Opening Day at the Garden!

Spring is a time of renewal. It's a time for making new plans and talking about new ideas for this gardening year. Hope and anticipation are fresh and fun. We were welcomed back to the garden today by two dog friends and a mole. We were also happy to see a couple visitors of the two-legged, less furry variety as well as our new gardeners.

We had a misty morning planting strawberries, potatoes, 2 blackberry plants, and onions in the communal areas. We got most of the tall hedges trimmed back, and rebuilt one of the raised beds that had fallen apart. The asparagus bed that we planted last year looks like it will do well this spring. Spearmint overtook one of the individual beds, so we'll have to dig all of that out and start over another day. Chives and cilantro came back in the herb garden, and even the weeds seem to be waking up for spring.

It's not a garden workday without our community garden potluck lunch. One of our younger gardeners picked some flowers for the centerpiece from a vacant lot. Thank you to all our gardeners visitors, and well-wishers. I can't imagine a better opening day!

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!