Plants Finally in the Ground

It’s taken a while to get The Soul Patch Community Garden going this season. Blame it on the wet, cold weather we’ve had all spring. We’re hearing it from other gardeners as well. Few of them could get plants and seeds in the ground and if they managed that much, the weather has been uncooperative in helping those plants to grow.

Erik got out to the garden on May 15 to get it tilled and ready for planting. Spinach from last year had sprouted again in the middle of the garden and had to be tilled up, although not before we sampled some. It was delicious. There were also some volunteer onions, which we kept.

Erik at the beginning of tilling The Soul Patch for the 2011 season.

Erik at the beginning of tilling The Soul Patch for the 2011 season.

The spinach returned from last year, May 15, 2011.

The spinach returned from last year, May 15, 2011.

Volunteer onion, May 15, 2011.

Volunteer onions next to the rhubarb, May 15, 2011.

Rhubarb was donated and planted along one edge of the garden by volunteers Carol and Dave.

This past week has been a frenzy of planting by Al Jabs from the Farm of Plenty CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Randall, MN, and Erik. Al has donated all the seeds and starter plants (with the exception of the rhubarb) for this year’s garden. (Thanks, Al!)

Erik and Al made a plan for the garden that should make it very attractive. There are semi-circles and diagonals of plants, along with rows that will graduate in size based on the height of what’s been planted. Sunflowers have been planted around three sides of the garden, which will give it an interesting walled effect. A small patch of herbs has been planted in one corner.

After today’s hot, sunny weather, the new plants (a bunch of which were planted yesterday) are looking a little wilted, so Erik is watering. We’re crossing our fingers that the growing season will be productive now that we’re past our crazy spring.

By the way, The Soul Patch inadvertently made the news a few days ago. The Brainerd Dispatch’s Police Blotter reported “suspicious activity” at the garden. Turns out there were people picking nightcrawlers.

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Tip Sheet Available

The fine folks at the Minnesota Idea Open have put together a tip sheet on starting your own Soul Patch garden based on information received from Erik. You can download the tip sheet from the Minnesota Idea Open website.

Meanwhile, things are winding down in the garden. We don’t have a final weight total for the season yet, although we suspect items are still being harvested by our dedicated volunteer Hubert. We’ll do a check-in soon and see where things are at.

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LF Football Players Pitch in on Harvest

Last Thursday afternoon, a group of sophomores and juniors from the Little Falls High School varsity football team, led by Coach Brad Czech, helped out with harvesting at The Soul Patch Community Garden. Here are the football players with the produce they picked:

Little Falls Varsity Football Team members help with harvesting at The Soul Patch, September 9, 2010.

Little Falls Varsity Football Team members help with harvesting at The Soul Patch, September 9, 2010. Front row, left to right: Matt V., Jordon P., Bob M., Ben N. Back row, left to right: Jake L., Mike A., Josh W., Spencer F., Brandon Z., Coach Brad Czech.

Thanks for your help, guys!

To date, including the veggies harvested by the varsity team, The Soul Patch has produced 2,136 pounds of food for the Morrison County Food Shelf. We have surpassed last year’s total of 2,009 pounds and the garden’s not done yet. This year’s total includes 843 pounds of tomatoes. That’s an AMAZING amount of tomatoes.

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The Garden Has Cracked 1,000

As of today, The Soul Patch has produced 1,255 pounds of produce for the Morrison County Food Shelf. Just thought you’d like to know.

And it’s chemical-free produce.

A gratuitous shot of a pile of yellow squash and zuchinni from The Soul Patch, August 2010.

A gratuitous shot of a pile of yellow squash and zuchinni from The Soul Patch, August 2010.

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Peppers as Teeth and Other Garden Oddities

We have a lovely crop of peppers in The Soul Patch. Several different varieties, including jalapenos, banana peppers, green bell peppers, purple peppers and some little hot peppers whose name I don’t know. These little hot peppers fascinate me. There have to be a hundred peppers to a plant and they grow point up, reminding me of a hundred snaggley green teeth.

Hot peppers in The Soul Patch, August 2010.

Hot peppers in The Soul Patch, August 2010.

Even more interesting is the fact that the peppers grow red starting within the lowest depths of the plants, rather than from the top.

Hot peppers turning red, August 2010.

Hot peppers turning red, August 2010.

I’m waiting to see all of the peppers on one bush turn fire red, but as we keep plucking the ripe ones, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Erik has tried a pepper or two and he assures me they are very hot. Between the peppers, tomatoes, and onions in the garden, folks ought to be able to whip up a nice salsa.

Hot peppers from The Soul Patch, July 31, 2010.

Hot peppers from The Soul Patch, July 31, 2010.

The Soul Patch has also been producing some long beans. Volunteer Olivia demonstrates just how long in the following picture:

A green bean as long as a forearm, July 31, 2010.

A green bean as long as a forearm, July 31, 2010.

Joining the pepper teeth and stretch green beans are the hugging carrots, which Erik pulled up this evening.

Hugging carrots from The Soul Patch, August 9, 2010.

Hugging carrots from The Soul Patch, August 9, 2010.

These aren’t tiny, inconsequential carrots, either. This next picture will give you a sense of the scale.

Hugging carrots next to a shoe, August 9, 2010.

Hugging carrots next to a size 8 woman's shoe, August 9, 2010.

After today’s harvest, we’re up to 796 pounds of food for the Morrison County Food Shelf this year. This includes 86 pounds of tomatoes that Hubert harvested today. (Think of all the salsa!)

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Fence Disaster

Two tremendous deluge-y type storms rolled through Little Falls today, this morning between 7:30 and 8:30 and this afternoon between 4:30 and 6:00. I drove by the garden this morning, right after the storm, and nothing was amiss. In fact, Hubert was out picking peas and beans, literally RIGHT AFTER the storm (everything was still drippy). That’s dedication.

This evening, Erik suggested we stop by the garden again, just in case. When we got there, we discovered that the fence the peas and beans are on had fallen over. Of course they fell toward the side with the tomatoes, not toward the grass. We propped everything up as best we could, but Erik will be heading back tomorrow with stronger stakes.

Most of the rest of the plants looked pretty good, although the tomato leaves took a bit of a beating. While we’re thankful to have the rain, it’d be nice to have less force with it.

While at the garden, I noticed that the volunteer tomato plants that were growing on and around the compost heap have become so tall and numerous that it’s like having a second tomato patch. There are even tomatoes on these plants.

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Harvest to Date

Thanks to Hubert, the garden’s faithful daily volunteer, veggies from The Soul Patch are regularly being harvested, weighed in and distributed at the Morrison County Food Shelf. Cabbages, onions, peppers, beans, zucchini, radishes, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers and Swiss chard have been harvested to the tune of approximately 260 pounds to date. Peas should be ready for harvest soon and the tomatoes are getting that yellowish cast seen before turning red.

A few recent pictures for your visual edification:

The pea plants are thick with pods, The Soul Patch, July 18, 2010.

The pea plants are thick with pods, The Soul Patch, July 18, 2010.

The pepper plants, particularly the hot peppers, are thick with peppers, July 18, 2010, The Soul Patch.

The pepper plants, particularly the hot peppers, are thick with peppers, July 18, 2010, The Soul Patch.

The beans are growing long, July 18, 2010, The Soul Patch.

The beans are growing long, July 18, 2010, The Soul Patch.

One of the beans we picked this evening was at least 10 inches long.

Erik and Hubert examining the tomatoes and peppers in The Soul Patch, July 18, 2010.

Erik and Hubert examining the tomatoes and peppers in The Soul Patch, July 18, 2010.

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