Thursday, July 17, 2014

News from the Edible Landscape Demonstration Garden

 Lois Fischer

The first tomato is ripe in the Master Gardeners' vegetable garden in Fairmount Park --- summer has truly arrived! Since early April, our crew of hard working volunteer gardeners has been busy turning the soil, adding compost and planting seeds and vegetable starts. Our energy and dedication has paid off. The garden looks splendid!

The cool weather crops -- lettuces, pak choi, collard greens and kale -- that were planted in the spring have almost had their run. Red onions, Swiss chard 'Bright Lights' and the fall planted garlic bordered the spring beds. While we are still harvesting these crops, they will soon be replaced by summer plantings of carrots 'Little Fingers', beans and perhaps more chard 'Fordhook Giant'.

While a bit delayed due to the long, cool spring, the summer crops of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and beans  are now growing rapidly. Cucumbers have been trellised to save space and beets and bush beans have been tucked in where space has allowed.

The two herb beds are lush with growth. The lavenders survived the harsh winter and are blooming beautifully. Sadly, the frigid winter was not as kind to the large rosemary. Its brown carcess joined other debris in the compost pile. The fig also suffered from the winter cold. All of the above ground branching died back. But, the root system survived and is pushing out new growth and tiny figs are appearing. Our challenge will be to carefully prune it over the next few seasons to produce a shapely tree rather than a bushy fig shrub.

The apple tree in the seating area has been rmoved. Poorly sited when planted, the tree had become toatally shaded by large trees lining the driveway abutting the garden. The Philadelphia Orchard Project folks reccomended that it be taken down. The Fairmount Park staff kindly took care of both the fig and the apple for us.

We have entered the Pennsylvania Horticultrual Society's garden contest again this year and are hoping to add to our ribbon collection. Judging will be sometime within the next six weeks. We encourage you all to stop by the garden sometime this summer. Sign in at the kiosk and spend a bit of time enjoying the views!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

PHS Green City Teachers and Kelly School Garden

Michele Koskinen

A few weeks ago Dennis Barneby the Organizer of Kelly Green Project told me he had asked for the Green City Teachers program to use Kelly as their training laboratory this year. I was thrilled.

On June 25 and 26 the PHS Green City Teacher program came to the JB Kelly school for two days of information, hands on projects and sharing stories and information about gardens to be planned, renewed, or made larger. This program is for educators that want to put a school garden in as a way to teach sustainability, nutrition and ecology to their school population and engage the parents and community in the project.

Worker bees shoveling soil, weeding, planting and checking
outplants already established
Participants learned about building 4x8 raised beds, making a site selection, discussing issues of maintenance, how to keep the interest of the students, how to plant "hard scrabble plant"s in difficult places, planting a pollinator garden, planting a shade garden and containers, how to incorporate vegetables and flowers together for interest, tree tenders and planting trees, watershed and storwater management talk, and finally seed sowing and season extension. There is always much more to be learned but this workshop is a great experience that could be taken more than once by anyone that wants to continue learning about teaching gardening in their classrooms.

Naomi Carter the science teacher and garden club sponsor and I, learned some new things and helped direct the addition of several more raised beds to the garden. Gardneing with children is a wonderful entrance for them into the sciences, math, language arts, ecology, botany and more. It is a way to teach the students where their food comes from, how it grows, is harvested, prepared for eating, how bees and pollinators are valuable, types of plants to use for different growing conditions such as the shade vs sun, the difference between a perennials vs annual gardens, and finally the importance of vegetables and the relation to healthy nutrition.

Classroom Activities for different times
of the year and setting curriculum goals.
I hope everyone had as rewarding time as we Kelly Gardeners did. Thanks to all the participants and PHS Sally McCabe and her wonderful team for a great two days. If you are an educator or someone that wants to build a children's garden come to the next workshop. You will not be disappointed.
Go to

How to plant a tree with Mindy Maslin Tree Tenders

How to build a raised bed

Placing the raised bed, putting down cardboard and filling
with soil for planting

A brief lesson on plants with Patricia Schrieber

Planting the pollinator garden

Planning the shade garden behind the new shed
built through the Mural Arts program

Labels on new shade garden plants

New bed with seeds planted September picking

New beds for pollinator garden, fall cole crops planting,
and flowers for now

With the continued help of the Kelly Green Project and the school, this garden should be a successful addition to the community for years to come.

A Philadelphia School Garden Project…….JB Kelly and Kelly Green

Michele Koskinen

School gardening projects on a whole are difficult to maneuver with budget constraints (no money), time for students to participate, teacher time volunteering, school and parent permission, no easy access to water, weeds, and of course how do you do this in a few months and be successful. Last year 2013 we started the JB Kelly school garden with a community organization Kelly Green. Previous blog on the garden 2013
End of a successful planting day

The 2014 year started with 15 students, K to 4, and turned out to be a great experience with a final party using lettuce, radishes, and mint from the garden. The garden has expanded to include more vegetables and a perennial herb garden. This garden is highly visible to the entire school population during recess and when anyone is working in the garden, many of the students are curious, come over and start with the questions.
          what is that? where are the worms? can I help? can I take this home I found it? what does it taste like? I don't eat that ? etc.

We also encourage them to TASTE the leafy green lettuces, kale and anything else ready to be harvested. Of course when we are not there they harvest the strawberries, radishes and beets and tell the tale of she or he picked them and I told them not too.

I think the program was a growing success and we will continue next year with a few more classroom lessons. I am also hoping to add a little snack making using veggies from the garden.  Examples would be mint tea, salads with herbs and fruits, Tzatziki (cucumbers and yogurt), peas, strawberries and raspberries with yogurt, and more. 

A big thank you goes to Naomi Carter the teacher who spearheaded this effort, along with Dennis Barneby the coordinator of Kelly Green and Tom our in house volunteer,  and all of the community members and parents that have helped to get this garden started and continuing to grow.

April beginning

Water has to be brought out in a rolling trash can.

How much room does the plant need to grow, let's measure.


Planting Sedum for the Bees and Butterflies in August

To take home… a few flower plugs from Tom

a game at harvest   Who can spell radish, carrot, kale?
Does anyone remember what this vegetable is? 
Harvesting greens

Getting ready for the end of year party……….Salad w balsamic vinaigrette, Pizza, Mint Tea, Fruit, Tzatziki and flat bread. Pick, wash, tear into small pieces, wash your hands and let's eat.

Would you like salad? Strawberries? Cucumbers?
What is Tzatziki
See everyone next year

Mr Tom and his recess children.
Recess and" Can I help water with the new hose?"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pennypack Park Philadelphia……Volunteer day.

Diane Podolsky

Pennypack Environmental Center in NE Philadelphia was the site of a recent volunteer opportunity. Two gardens needed tending, as the center is short staffed and relies on volunteers for these types of projects.

The rain garden, which fortunately was already graded, was cleared and new plants were added to the very lonely but thriving cardinal flowers. Master Gardeners suggested the addition of  Cinnamon fern, swamp milkweed, turtlehead, and lobelia as suitable plants for the site.

The most interesting was the Demonstration Garden that is used as a scented garden for visitors, public programs, and groups of children from schools and camps. The purpose of this garden is to have useful plants, especially ones that have a sensory impact. There are several lemon scented plants (verbena, lemon grass, lemon balm) as well as mints (bee balm, peppermint, spearmint) and kitchen herbs, several of which (the sage, rosemary, and basil) had to be replaced. Some of the more unusual additions are cotton and stevia, which is very sweet, and horseradish. We also added some scented geranium, lavender, and lamb's ear.  

The Center also put in a brand new downspout planter which directs rain off the roof and into a large planter.  A variety of native grasses and stiff goldenrod were added to the planter.