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Check out the Harvest Festival story in The Pantagraph

What a great day! The rain that was forecast didn’t happen, though the ground was wet underfoot from plenty of rain that had fallen in previous days. The Cocoa and S’Mores tent was fully stocked and children lined up for marshmallows on sticks so they could start making their S’Mores.

Children lined up for S'mores and hot cocoa

Children lined up for S'mores

Bloomington Mayor, Steve Stockton, served hot cocoa to the masses

Bloomington Mayor Steve Stockton serves cocoa

Bloomington Mayor Steve Stockton serves cocoa

And as the residents of Bloomington’s west side gathered around the campfire, our community garden potato farmer, Dave, kept everyone happy with tunes from his guitar

Dave plays guitar

Dave plays guitar

Prior to the start of the festival, local youth had completed a sidewalk chalk project, under the supervision of local artist Danelle Dvorak, utlizing as many different styles of art as there were youth involved!

There is much more to tell, but I’ll save that for another post!

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Celebrate Make A Difference Day at the West Side Community Garden

Harvest Festival

Saturday, October 25th
4-8 PM
Located at the corner of Mulberry and Roosevelt Sts
Street Art Chalk Drawings
Face painting
Storytelling
Games
Campfire and S’Mores

All activities and refreshments are free!
Walk on over or park in the downtown parking garage.

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Just when you think the temperature has fallen in line with what autumn temperatures should be …. BAM! It’s up to almost 90 degrees again! What’s going on with the weather? I had to admit, I do like these warmer days and cooler nights – it means that I don’t have to have either air conditioning or heat on, we can sleep comfortably with the windows open, and the temperature inside the house is comfortable. But I’m getting a little too comfortable!

With the way the weather has been this year, it could easily be snowing tomorrow. (I hope I haven’t hexed anyone there!)

So, the gardening sites are still putting out information on what can safely be planted. Can you believe that you can still be planting at this time of year? Take a look at Organic Gardening magazine’s article on winter gardening. No, you won’t be harvesting crops in the middle of winter, it’s actually called “over-wintering”. Your seeds start to grow before the frosts hit – they grow into seedlings, then you use row covers – old sheets, burlap sacks, etc – to cover them over the winter. They’ll basically become dormant, and you’ll have a head start on your crops in the spring.

Another alternative is to plant compost crops – mostly grassy-type plants that will fix the nitrogen in the soil, and in spring you can dig them back into the dirt.

Me? I’m opting for the raised bed-style of gardening. That’s if this ailing economy swings upward enough for me to buy the lumber I need to build my beds! I’m thinking of making four 4′ x 4′ beds – that will give me 64 squares. Plenty of room for enough veggies to feed my family of 3!

There is a Westside Bloomington Summit meeting tonight at 6.30pm at Mt Pisgah Church on Market St. Be there, or be nowhere!

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We’re still planting! I had started some seedlings in pots at home, and this weekend we transplanted some Coeur de Bue cabbage, spinach, pak choi and broccoli.  Luckily we got a little rain today, so they are well watered.

A huge rainstorm a couple of weeks back ensured the garden got a real boost! It’s great to see the huge broccoli plants, tomato plants still bearing good sized fruit, peas and beans growing like crazy, as well as the plethora of other veggies and flowers that are still growing.

One of the things I like most about the garden plots are the different styles of “garden aesthetics” – you have very structured gardens like Sue’s, with their rows of vegetables. You have Marcella & Gary’s plots, which are structured more in a “sun ray” pattern – a beautiful show of flowers in the center, with vegetable seedlings radiating from the middle to the far corners of the plot. Then you have the “What the heck is that?” style of my family’s two plots. Paris planted pretty much everything on one side of the garden. In rows, but you would never know that unless you saw them right at the beginning. Then she had Hicks-envy and planted a little circle of flowers right in the center of the plot. My plot, which I share with my very headstrong 7 year old daughter, is really a product of the “too many chiefs and not enough indians” theory. She tells me where to plant stuff, I plant it where I want to plant it, then she has a fit when it comes up in the wrong place.

Ciel insisted on making criss-crossed pathways, so we essentially have four squares. The paths are marked with flowers, then stones (when there were no more flowers left to plant.) I do have a plan for next year, which involves raised beds. And if she gives me grief, then she can go to Grandma’s while I see my plans through!

I’ll post more about the Fall Festival (which coincides with Make A Difference Day) once we’ve had our planning meeting on Sunday.

In the meantime, we’ve been harvesting fools! Swiss chard, tomatoes, radishes, broccoli, eggplants …. all beautiful! I never remember to take the camera these days, life has just been so hectic.  I did manage to get a pic of a VERY scarey tomato. I think it’s ready for Halloween. What do you think?

Halloween tomato

Halloween tomato

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Yes, dear gardening friends, there is still time to plant for a fall crop!

As summer fades out, it’s now the perfect time to plant the following:

Beets – about 50 days to harvest.

Broccoli – don’t expect the BIG heads that you get in the stores, your homegrown broccoli will be smaller – and tastier, since it’s fresher! Once you pick the main head, you’ll get a second harvest as the plant will put out smaller heads from further down the stalk.

Brussels Sprouts – I still have these growing from a spring planting! As you take off the leaf stalks, little sprouts form on the stalk – they look funny, and I guess it’s an acquired taste, but they taste great!

Bush beans – about 50 days to harvest, and they don’t need any support!

Cabbage – look for late varieties

Carrots – did you know that carrots get sweeter as the weather gets colder? In our plots, you may want to grow the smaller carrots – you know there’s still a layer of brick, or concrete, or something under the soil!

Cauliflower – prefer an organic soil, so our layer of mushroom compost is perfect! Be prepared to keep up the water though, these plants are thirsty!

Chives – a favorite perennial! But watch out … they self seed and can quickly take over a garden! Cut off the dead flower head to avoid unwanted plantings in your neighbor’s plot.

Kale – About 2 months to harvest

Lettuce – you can plant heading varieties and harvest them once the head is nice and solid, or you can choose leaf varieties and pick leaves as they are ready for ultimate freshness!

Peas – Varieties such as Maestro are superssweet, and ready in just 60 days. Build a little teepee for peas to climb on, or use your tomato cages – either will work.

Radishes – they’re ready to harvest in about a month!

Swiss chard – comes in a wonderful array of colors, and it’s SO good for you! Should be ready to harvest in about 50 days.

Spinach – another veggie that’s on the “Superfoods” list. Be like Popeye and eats ya spinach! It’s super easy to grow, and will be read in about 40 days

Turnips – About 50 days from seed to harvest

Flowers? Plant some pansies now and they should be fine over winter for fresh blooms in the spring! You can also plant calendula, and use the petals in a salad.

Did you know that when you plant seeds for a fall crop, you should plant them deeper than if you were planting in the spring? Because the days are still warm, the moisture in the soil closest to the surface is minimal. It’s down below where the water is!

So now you know what to plant! Do you think you may need another plot? LOL!

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