Monday, February 20, 2012

Let's get excited about the 2012 gardening season!

Hi folks!
My name is Ava HaberkornHalm and I am the new Americorps VISTA, facilitating the community garden. I am so happy to be here and I look forward to working with you all.
There are three  gardening events coming up:
1) There will be a Farm and Food series event at the community barn at Dawn Farm in Ypsilanti. This event starts at 1pm and is approximately about 1.5 hours long.
2)  On March 5th, 2012, we will have our first garden planning meeting at the Ann Arbor CIL in conference room A. This event goes from 1pm-2:30pm.
3) On March 22nd, 2012, we will be showing an Accessible Gardening webinar from 1:30pm -3:30pm at the Ann Arbor CIL in conference room A.

Details about all three events can be found on the  AACIL website in the Sports and Rec calender, in the Sports and Rec. March newsletter, or on the Sports and Rec facebook page. If you have any questions about the events or to RSVP please contact me at or at (734) 971-0277 ext. 55.

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Planting this Friday; May Newsletter on the Web

From our Summer 2010 harvest
      This Friday, May 20 from 3—6 PM marks the beginning of a new season, and a chance to begin growing your own food for no cost among a community of welcoming people, right here at the AACIL. Join us for our season kickoff; for the next five months, you’ll enjoy good, wholesome food, rich learning experiences and good people to share it with!
         Both new and returning gardeners are welcome to the planting. Bring a friend; bring your little ones - AACIL gardeners are people of all ages and abilities. Most importantly, bring a dish to share! A tasty potluck will be offered throughout the afternoon.

Also, you can now find newsletters online! Click here to view our May newsletter. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cherri's Seeds -- A visual report

All my seeds were pre-germinated using the baggie method. Here, melon seeds.

Seed starting trays under grow light.
Seeds germinated in baggies. Immediately after transplanting to soil.
Seeds germinated in baggies. Three days after transplanting to soil.

John's seeds

Here is a list of the plant seeds that I have. Basil, Chives,Parsley, Lovage. I am also adding Shasta Daisy and True Lavender. If I don't see you today, I hope you have a nice weekend. John

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Ideas: Land Use; Design Proposals

I have much good news, and some new ideas! First, let's address the business aspect.

Land Use for Gardeners at the AACIL 

After a good conversation with our CEO, Jim Magyar, AACIL gardeners have been granted the full use of a whole lotta land. Check out my rough diagram of that land area below.

I'd estimate that we're working with about 50' x 100' of land. (Of course, Don could probably better estimate.)

What we can do with that land: pretty much anything, so long as it's basically nice to look at. That includes  roto-tilling sections and practicing traditional row-and-furrow gardening, building raised beds, building walkways, etc.

This means that the sky is the limit in terms of our possibilities for garden design. 

Garden Design: Jim's Recommendations

Jim and I discussed the walkway proposals that we as a group have been working on -- the wooden walkway built from reclaimed pallets and the upturned-carpet walkway. Jim heard my ideas out, but seemed very interested in seeing us use wolmanized boards for walkways. Here's a rough drawing of his proposal:

The wolmanized wood boards would be laid on the leveled ground between these plots and around their perimeter. The boards would be secured in place by wood stakes. 

It looks likely that we would find a way to cover the cost of all building materials for this plan, if we were to pursue it. 

Like I said, however, we have a huge land area to work with. Even if we did install all these plots and the walkway system as represented in the drawing above, we would only be using 36' x 36' of our approx. 50' x 100' of gardening space. 

My New Idea: Straw Bale Gardening

After you've read that, tell me you don't want to try it! I know I sure do.

The straw bale method is perfect for accessibility purposes and it doesn't require much soil or weeding as the plants grow. Moreover, it's cheap: We could get straw bales for $2 apiece. That means we could have about  100 square feet of raised, accessible growing space for $40. The bales wouldn't last for more than two seasons, but the decomposed straw they leave behind would only work to build up our soil. We would need to have these bales within the next 10 days - 2 weeks so that they would be properly prepared in time for spring planting. 

I propose, then, that we buy 20 bales to use as accessible gardening space. If we do so, we would not need to build any additional lumber-based, wheelchair accessible plots this season.

What does everyone think of these proposals?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seed Starting for Spring Plant Sale

First of all, a big thank you to all our amazing gardeners who've offered their time and space to help us start seeds for our Spring Plant Sale! We couldn't make it happen without you.

At our Monday (3/21) meeting, we talked about seeds starting methods. Here are some things to consider:

1. For larger seeds, you can pre-germinate them in bags to speed up the germination process. A helpful gardening forum called Gardening Web has a great tutorial for this method:

2. Following a few important steps for seed starting can make all the difference in your germination success. The following websites offer solid advice on the subject:

Remember that we're growing these plants for sale, and that the success of our sale directly influences our ability to expand our garden plots and program. So please, try to do the following three things to the best of your ability:

  • Be sure to start your seeds as soon as you can this week so that they have time to mature adequately before the May 7 sale date.
  • Do a little research about your seeds' germination requirements before starting them. Searching through Google using terms like "Calendula germination problems," or "how to start Hyssop from seed" can provide you with a lot of great information. 
  • Update everyone regularly about your successes or concerns as you start your seeds by making posts right here on this blog. (Not sure how to make posts? Just click here or email If you have any suspicion that your seeds are not properly germinating, please let me know as soon as you possibly can. 
Thanks again for being the amazing gardeners that you are! I'm so excited to read your seed starting updates.

cold box

Howdy all,

I did it, and now I am blogging. This is very new to me. I went shopping today, and got some more seeds for our garden. Also I found a wheelbarrow. It has two large thin wheels, and it dumps very easily. I put this on my wish list, with my wife. LOL

I am almost done building our first cold box. I had to get two more boards, because I miss cut the other one. OOPS LOL