Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reaching Out

Today was a really wonderful day at the garden. We hosted a group of students with learning disabilities, who attend Bellevue College. Their teacher, a friend of mine named Jaya, wanted them to supplement their reading of Seed Folks, with a trip to a community garden.

Everyone showed up with smiles and rampant enthusiasm. The weather gods blessed us with perfect fall weather. We introduced Jack and Michelle who both spoke about how MCGA came to be, as well as our goals in the food bank garden. I think the highlight of the field trip was when the students got to get their hands dirty by pulling carrots and digging potatoes.

As we walked the grounds, we played a game of "guess what plant". We spoke about all the different types of produce our gardeners, all the different nationalities represented at the garden along with some tasty produce sampling of carrots, strawberries, grapes, raspberries and beans. One student clung onto a sprig of chocolate mint and exclaimed it reminded her of Girl Scout mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I know an educational time was had by the students; they thanked us profusely and even hinted at desires to rent a plot communally. For me, it was a real revelation. What I took away from today's experience was that no matter what age, creed or level of ability, the 'community' in community garden is precious and priceless. We loved sharing the garden with the students and hope they come to see us again very soon.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Do-it-yourself Designer Salads

Designer salads are all the rage and they cost a pretty penny as well.  Having an Italian husband and having lived it Italy, I have grown the really love their bitter greens.  They are an acquired taste but if you are ready to move past arugula, I think you will really enjoy them.

Most of the greens I grow are in the chicory family, the dandelion family, basically.  They all have fancy Italian names and can be found at Grow Italian.  They are wonderful when combined with sweet lettuces and other greens like spinach. 

I broadcast spread the seeds in a small bed and watch them grow.  They are easy to cultivate with the only problem being that slugs love them too but deer don't.  Thinning the plants at regular intervals will keep them from crowding and leave few places for slugs to hide.

Try them, I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.