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Archive for June, 2012

Well it’s been awhile since I’ve offered an update to either the blog or our facebook page, and I apologize for that. I’ve been pretty tied up with work and school, and as we all know time has a way of slipping by. So it goes. However, as we also know, nature works on it’s own schedule, and life in the garden goes on rather we’re paying attention or not. Fortunately Mike and other volunteers have kept dilegently on task out at the Hardacre farm, and things are coming along nicely. 

Without further ado, here is a look at the garden heading into the final days of June…

 

One concern we’ve had in Eastern Iowa this season is precipitation, or lack thereof. It’s been a really dry summer so far, and heat and high winds have further threatened crops with borderline drought conditions. Even when there has been rain in the area, it seems the last couple of storms have found a way to skip past Tipton without offering more than a few drops. That wasn’t the case last Sunday morning, though.  About six a.m. a strong cell seemed to settle overtop of us and we got upwards of two and a half inches of rain in just a couple of hours. While we needed the moisture, we certainly didn’t need it like that. The diluge brought some flash flooding to the garden, as can be seen in these photos taken by volunteer Ken Reichert.

 

 

The flooding further justified the decision made this spring to change the property layout, adding a new plot to the east of Crooked Creek while shortening the field (behind the welcome sign) to the west. Still, this was a rather extreme storm and we again sustained a little bit of damage and crop loss, so there’s certainly some question to how beneficial this rainfall actually was. In the end, it did provide some much needed moisture, and compared to our neighbors in Northern Minnesota last week, the current conditions in Florida, or to the other extreme the dry conditions and fires in Colorado we can’t complain. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those dealing with weather extremes and natural disasters. In comparison to what they are facing, we will humbly be grateful for what we get, and make do with what we’ve got.

 

It didn’t take too long to dry out after this weekends storm, and the vegetables seem to have done well with what moisture the ground could soak up from the passing flood. Exploring the garden last night, I found a new contender pushing for attention as one of our most photogenic plants. Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard is a fascinating specimen, and one of the heirloom varieties that was donated to us by Seed Savers Exchange out of Decorah. Also known as Rainbow Chard, this plant looks kind of like rhubarb with multi-colored stems. Currently, red, yellow and orange stemmed plants can be found in our garden, but apparently pink and white are common as well. The plant is a native of Australia and was marketed in the U.S. through the 1970’s and ’80’s but diminished in popularity and disappeared from the American market when colors began to decrease. A true five colored variety was later again found in Australia, and has recently been reintroduced in the States. The leafs can be cooked just like spinach, or the stalks can be eaten raw like celery. I’ve yet to try either, but with vibrant colors it sure is a cool plant to photograph.

 

Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard

Yellow and Red Stemmed Plants.

Such beautiful color.

 

Along with the Swiss Chard, many other vegetables are coming on strong. Beets are always a crowd pleaser, and we’ve had a lot of people claiming their share for pickling. Our tomato plants are looking good, though we still need stakes for cages if anyone can offer them. It won’t be long until they’ll be producing their bounty, along with several other garden favorites.

 

Bulls Blood Beets.

Amish Snap Peas.

Lots and lots of tomatoes.

 

Thanks to a generous donation from our local Theisens store, we’ve also been able to add a fresh dose of color to reinvigorate the flower bed our THS landscaping students started in the spring. Something tells me there will be a lot more flower pictures showing up here in the weeks to come…

 

Purple Coneflower.

Day Lily.

Moonbeam Coreopsis.

 

And finally, here’s a look at our plot south of the Hardacre house, which is beginning to burst to life. This was planted a little later than the rest, but we’re in good shape still with plenty of growing season left.

 

South garden.

Young sweetcorn. It might be a little later than a lot of that you’ll see, but hey… we’re Iowans… we know what we’re doing!

 

That wraps up our look at June, but keep checking back here for future updates and our facebook page to view additional photos.

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We hosted our open house this past Saturday, June 9, at Hardacre Community Garden and were absolutely thrilled to have so many friends and neighbors stop by the farm for a visit. It was a lot of fun to be able to show our guests around the grounds and then sit in the shade enjoying conversation, fresh garden snacks, and that nice country breeze on a warm summer day. In the spirit of sharing all the garden has to offer, many of those who came by were also sent home with radishes, cauliflower, onions, broccoli, and cabbage; picked right before their eyes. It’s probably safe to say that these folks also left with a smile.

Of course the true gift of the day was in being able to introduce new people to our community garden and letting them know what our efforts are all about. The reactions received were more or less universal, as guests echoed each others sentiment with a resounding “Wow…” Most hadn’t realized the scale of our project and all seemed impressed by the beautiful condition of this years crops. It was also encouraging to hear so many ask, in that straight forward Iowa manner, what they could do to help.

As we suddenly find ourselves right in the thick of June, we’re definitely coming upon some busy times in the garden. There is still some planting to be done, and there are always weeds that need pulled. Some of the early vegetables are already due for harvest. The tomatoes are getting big enough that they’re ready for their cages and we’re still asking for stakes to help hold those in place. And though we got a nice little shower early this morning it’s shaping up to be a very dry summer here. Watering might soon be a duty of critical importance, especially when we’re looking at hot, windy conditions, new transplants trying to get established, and full weeks between forecasted rain. We’d be very grateful to have assistance with any of these tasks, and even if it means stopping by for an hour some evening, an extra set of hands can make all the difference in the world.

Thanks again to all who attended our open house. We hope you enjoyed the visit and that you’ll spread word of our work with others in the community. To those of you who were unable to make it this weekend, we’d still love to see you and invite you to stop by the garden anytime it’s convenient. Or if you’d prefer, just leave a message in the comments below, on Facebook or by email at hardacregarden@gmail.com and we can arrange to meet sometime for a little tour.

Hopefully many of you will be able to make your way out to the garden soon, but until you can please enjoy a few photos from this weekends event, and visit our facebook page to see more…

 

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Don’t forget to bring the kids!

Just a few housekeeping items this evening. First of all, we want to remind everybody about the Open House we are hosting this weekend. The event is from 9-5 on Saturday at the Hardacre farm (just west of Tipton, leaving town on 9th Street.) Come join us at the garden, stroll around the grounds, enjoy complimentary homegrown snacks and chat with volunteers to discover how we’re cultivating a greater sense of community in Tipton and surrounding areas. The open house is being held in conjunction with the city-wide garage sales (for those who may already be making the rounds) and weather-wise it’s shaping up to be a perfect day to step out and catch a breath of fresh country air. If you think you might like to get involved with the garden or would simply like to learn more, we’d love to have you stop by.

Of course we also encourage you to remember that you don’t really need an invitation to stop out and see the garden. Anyone is welcome at anytime. And if you’re looking for an easy way to get involved, we’ve got just the opportunity for you. We are currently seeking an extra hand or two to help weed the long, narrow flower bed that sits between the creek and driveway. If you’re in the Tipton area, and have a half hour or more that you wouldn’t mind offering, feel free to stop by and pluck a few of those pesky weeds. There may be other volunteers out there, or maybe not, depending on the time of day; but you can just show up at anytime that is convenient, park up by the house, pick a section and have at it. We’d really appreciate the help and hope to tackle this task in the coming days, just to have everything looking good for our weekend guests.

Finally, our tomatoes are growing fast and it’s about time to start putting them in cages. (Unlike chickens, this doesn’t affect their free range status.) We’re looking for a few, or a few hundred, j-shaped metal stakes to anchor the wire cages to the ground. Old tent stakes would work really well for this, so if you have any lying around please consider donating them to help support our cause. And our tomatoes.

Thanks so much, and we hope to see you all at the garden this Saturday, if not sooner!

 

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