Many of our clients chose to plant a variety of cucurbits in their gardens for the summer. The cucurbit family includes squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and melons. After sprouting up their initial oval seed leaves, the plants grow heart-shaped leaves that are often covered in a gentle layer of fuzz. When cucumbers and melons start to take off, the plants look like massive bushes of stems displaying their green hearts to the world and holding their yellow flowers close to the center.
Cucurbits are monoecious, meaning that each plant has both male and female flowers. The plant first produces male flowers, the ones that make the pollen, and then grows the female flowers. Honeybees carry the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers, where little cucumbers and melons begin to form. A few days ago, […]
Like any good southerner, I would enjoy a nice cold glass of sweet tea after a morning of installing garden beds in the hot sun. On cold winter afternoons I love to curl up with a hot mug of peppermint tea. When I’m feeling a little crazy I might even go for some chai.
Well, today Anne and I had an adventure with a new kind of tea. Loose leaf? Maybe, but it’s made with what used to be leaves rather than what is still in its leaf-like state today. Where tea leaves are usually dried, our experimental leaves were, well, decomposed. What exactly were we doing? We were exploring the art of brewing tea for our plant friends.
Being inclined to have my tea sweetened with honey rather than rice hulls, I think I will leave it to the vegetables to do a taste test. […]
In the gardens around Somerville, summer crops are starting to take off. Gardens that were planted early in the season and have plenty of sun are starting to overflow with fat sugar snap peas hiding among green leaves on the vine, and tomato plants are growing big enough to be velcroed to stakes and produce tiny green tomatoes. Clients who have been used to going out into their gardens to harvest a salad for dinner are seeing some changes. As the days get longer and hotter, lettuce begins to go through a process known as bolting. The plant shoots up a tall stalk with flowers at the top, getting ready to go to seed. Although it may be charming to watch your lettuce flower, bitter bolting lettuce is not so charming to the pallet.
There are […]
Until about two days ago the yard outside of the Green City Growers office was getting very difficult to navigate. Looking out the office window, you were transported into a jungle of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and melons. Eggplants held their own in a bed, herbs poked their little leaves out of the fray, blueberry bushes calmly ripened their berries. The tomatoes and peppers were jumbled together: Black Prince next to Black Velvet, Yellow Brandiwine in between a Sun Cherry and a Jet Star, Commandment pepper squeezed beside a Jalepeno. There was nowhere to walk because the squash were in the path. The gate could barely open as the jungle inside, bursting with leaves and flowers hoping to turn into fruit, pushed its way outwards.
Then, the jungle moved to a farm. Well, much of the jungle. […]
In the small fridge in the back room of the office, nestled behind a chocolate mocha cake, is a bag of rather subdued ladybugs. They are not a snack for hungry Green City Growers employees. No, instead of hanging out in the fridge waiting to be eaten, they are hanging out waiting to eat.
Ladybugs are one of the best biological controls for aphids, as they find this common garden pest to be particularly delectable. Aphids are small insects that suck the sap out of plants. This can stunt the plants’ growth, make the leaves curled or yellowed, and transmit viruses to the plants. Aphids also excrete a sticky liquid called honeydew on the leaves that can lead to a build-up of black sooty mold. Bad news.
A plant with aphids on it might look like this:
You might not think very much about the soil that fills your garden bed. Maybe it looks dark brown, you notice if it is dry, or it is just the background to the beautiful flowers and tasty vegetables that grow out of it. Here at Green City Growers we think about your dirt. We spend abundant time on the art of mixing dirt, working with a palette of peat moss, compost, vermiculite, and top soil to create that deep brown that makes your greens happy.
Last week we mixed some quality soil for two new clients: Ula Café in Jamaica Plain and Mathworks, a software company in Natick, MA. After loading up the truck with forty-two bags of compost, an assortment of other soil components, a wheelbarrow, seven wooden raised bed frames, and irrigation tubing, Jessie and I drove to Ula Café where we met her […]
Square Foot Gardening
Your raised bed farm utilizes a technique called square foot gardening, developed in the 1970’s by Mel Bartholomew. It allows for you to grow more crops in less space, and with less work. Raised bed farms are easy to tend to and care for, and can be placed anywhere with adequate sunlight, including driveways, decks, or rooftops.
An important general tip is to never stand on top of your raised bed. This will compact the soil and make it difficult for your plants to grow.
Plan your garden before you start planting. Group together plants with similar watering requirements, and plant companion plants together. Companion plants can help each other grow in a variety of ways, while antagonistic plants impede one another’s growth.
Consider the time of year you will be planting and which crops will grow best at that time. […]
As an ad-hoc/occasional member of the Green City Growers team, I’m clearly interested in the concept of local food production. I’ve also taken an interest in the concept of peak oil, not so much for the “end of the world” elements that some might believe in but because of the re-localization of our economies that it will hasten. Seems that the former Chief Strategist of CIBC World Markets Jeff Rubin agrees. In his new book “Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller” Mr. Rubin spends some time on the future of food in a world made smaller by expensive shipping fuel. On page 221,
Where is the food of the future going to come from? Your own backyard. That shift in food supply is already starting to take […]
I guess I’m a “part-time” member of the Green City Growers (GCG) team, working on a business plan with a team of fellow BGI students based upon GCG’s business. Of course, I know little to nothing about farming or gardening besides gleaning information about our incredibly energy intensive and “unhealthy” industrial food system from reports like this one from the Post Carbon Institute and (of course) Michael Pollan’s and Mark Bittman’s books on the massive changes required in our industrialized food system.
Anyway, I decided to stop by at the Heartbeat Collective in Jamaica Plain for a little while at the Urban Intensive Workshop and see what it’s all about. Most of my work with GCG has been through e-mails and phone calls with Jessie and […]
If planting flowers at 2 AM under the cover of darkness sounds like a great time, check out Richard Reynold’s radical approach to beautifying neglected green space: Guerilla Gardening!
Reynolds started his blog out of the U.K. in 2004 as…a record of [his] illicit cultivation around London. It is now also a growing arsenal for anyone interested in the war against neglect and scarcity of public space as a place to grow things, be they beautiful, tasty (or both!)
We can get behind that!
The site includes Community links to happenings around the globe, including Massachusetts as well as updates about global events. May 1st is the third annual International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day. Facebook provides details as: The third annual event for guerrilla gardeners around the world to get out there and […]