Thursday, September 27, 2018

Food Forest in the VegHeadz Garden

The VegHeadz have been busy digging ditches--or swales--and creating berms from the displaced soil.  It's the first step in creating a food forest or forest garden at the south end of our space where there is just a little too much shade for growing annual vegetables.  The purpose of the swales (there will be three) is to capture water as it descends the hill (I guess you've gathered are garden is on a slope), and retain it for the use of plants below the swale. 

Food forests are relatively new to the US and other countries in the temperate zone.  Some call them the gardens of the future, but they have been used by people in the tropics for milllenia. 

From Wikipedia:  "Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans:"

We have been growing perennial vegetables for several years and our perennial garden is one of the most successful and least-labor intensive areas of the garden.  We haven't quite figured out what to do with the food grown there, nor made it a part of our regular diet.  It takes time to change life-long habits.  Food pantries we usually donate to don't know what to do with the unfamiliar edibles either.  It's an area we will be working on as we develop the food forest.

As it becomes more and more difficult to grow the familiar crops we all love such as tomatoes, we hope to develop new tastes that require less work to satisfy.  The perennials we presently grow will be incorporated into the forest which will be expanded to include fruit trees, soil building plants, and new layers of edibles. 

A diagram of the food forest, designed by local certified arborist and natural landscape designer David Copps, is available under our Resources heading.  David's article on food forests previously published in the Tallahassee Democrat gives a further explanation of where we are heading.  We'll be posting updates as we progress--or come visit us any Wednesday morning.  You can even help us dig ditches. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Harvest time in the garden

Seminole Squash/Pumpkin
We've harvested the last of our Seminole Squash.  This is the third large harvest we've had from about six plants.  This time we picked all the squash, regardless of maturity.  Seminole pumpkins can be eaten when mature, or used like summer squash when they are still green.  If you have the space, and you want a dependable and delicious vegetable to enjoy throughout the winter (they keep for up to a year with no refrigeration if picked when mature), this is the plant for you.  They have deep orange, dense, sweet flesh much like a butternut squash.  Use this squash in recipes for sweet potatoes or pumpkin, in muffins, pies, and other baked goods, in stews, roasted, just about any way you can imagine.  Versatile and delicious.  Learn more about Seminole Squash here:  Sturdy Seminole Squash Provides Much Food With Little Effort 

Harvest time provides some other surprises.  Let some of your spring plants go to seed even if you are not seed saving.  The roots will continue to provide sustenance for soil micro-organisms, and the flowers of many varieties will give weeks of pleasure for you and the desirable insects in your garden such as bees.  This romaine surprised us all with it's beautiful blue flowers which have been in residence for over a month. 

Romaine lettuce in fall bloom

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Garden Update

Maxibel green beans -- this many from half a row.
We'll be planting them again.
The VegHeadz garden looks better and is producing better than it has in it's approximately seven years of operation.  Come join us on a Wednesday morning and learn how we have accomplished this and what's in store for the future. 

Our squash garden is taking off.  Many
butternuts, some Seminole Pumpkins and at least
 three huge Candy Roasters

Garden sentinels -- two hawks looking for prey.  You might catch
them if you arrive at the garden early like Cathi did

And some beautiful white flowers from our garden.  In addition to adding joy to the garden experience, they attract pollinators and predator insects, a part of our goal to control pests naturally. 


Queen Anne's Lace


Permaculture Design Course

Beginning June 29, a 72 hour Permaculture Design course will be offered at the Leon County UF/IFAS Extension.  For details, click the link below.  Many of the techniques used in the VegHeadz vegetable demonstration garden are derived from permaculture sources.  What is permaculture?  Click on the link to a recent article published in the Tallahassee Democrat. 

What is Permaculture?: 

Permaculture Design Course:

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Ultimate compost bin

The new VegHeadz compost bins drew a lot of attention at the recent open house at the Leon County UF/IFAS extension. Designed by Mike Dugger with input from VegHeadz volunteers, and constructed by Mike, Glenn Berman and Buddy Holzhauser, the new bins provide space for hands on compost workshops resulting in great compost for our garden, and space for storing purchased or scavenged garden amendments. By popular request Mike has designed a smaller version for home use with two bins 3 x 3 x 4. Drawing and material list below.  Thanks to all who contributed to this project which is part of the ongoing upgrade of the Bed 5 and vegetable garden areas. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Superior Lettuce Variety

Master Gardener Glenn Berman, one of the VegHeadz volunteers, is a leader in trying unusual varieties in our garden.  This year he grew Brown Dutch Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) which has proven to be an outstanding variety. 
It is a non-heading variety, with large, tender, floppy leaves similar to butter lettuce.  An heirloom from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, it has resisted bolting, and at this late day in the spring is still mild and tender.  It has survived heat and cold equally well.    Glenn started the seeds indoors on January 22 and transplanted them to the garden a little over three weeks later. 
It was the most frequently planted of the approximately seventeen lettuce varieties documented by Thomas Jefferson in the vegetable garden at Monticello.  It was one of the most popular fall and winter lettuces in colonial America and was mentioned as early as 1731 by British botanist Stephen Switzer.
Seeds can be obtained online directly from the Monticello website. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Rest In Peace Ed Schroeder

Tallahassee’s consummate gardener Ed Schroeder--Gardener Ed-- passed away on Friday, April 13 after a long illness.  So many of us have benefited from his willingness to share his gardening skills and knowledge through workshops, writing, and personal conversations. He was also the source of great ideas for unique gardening tools which he created or modified to suit a particular purpose.   We will miss him, but his timeless gardening tips will live on as we continue to feature his month to month gardening agenda on the VegHeadz blog.  Thank you Ed for making us all better gardeners.  Obituary and Funeral Arrangements 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Open House Coming Up, May 12, 2018

The VegHeadz have been busy getting our garden spruced up for the upcoming Open House at the Leon County UF/IFAS Extension on Paul Russell Road.  New plants are sprouting and perennials are returning.  We like to try new things, so new varieties, new trellises, new garden designs are on our minds.  Come join us any Wednesday morning and help us pull a few weeds. 
Jeanne works on herb bed

Yen and Evelyn add compost

Carole plants potatoes

Mike is enjoying the new
seats he added to a corner of several raised beds--
just right for a tete a tete

Cathi and Peggy get beds read for planting

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Children Love Gardening

Grant arrives at the garden ready to work,
 The VegHeadz had visitors this week as we prepare our garden for spring planting.  Young Grant Smith, his mother, Bethany, and his younger brother joined us on Wednesday morning.  Grant arrived prepared to do some serious gardening with his wheelbarrow, gloves and gardening tools.  He was eager to help and learned a lot.  He and Carol planted potatoes and green peas and he helped other gardeners with garden maintenance work.  Visitors are welcome any time, to help or just to observe.  Spring is in the air and our gardeners were out in force to enjoy a beautiful morning.
Carol prepares bed for potatoes

Helping Cathi pull
turnips and radishes

Removing damaged leaves from cabbage
and Brussels sprouts with Mike
Going home with some veggies

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

VegHeadz "Job Fair" presentation and recipes

The VegHeadz participated in the very enjoyable annual Master Gardener meeting this week.  The recently graduated Master Gardener class and the new trainees who will be starting in January were there as well as many "old" Master Gardeners.  There was a "job fair" consisting of tables manned by the folks who carry out the many MG projects.   The VegHeadz provided the "proof of the pudding" and prepared a number of edibles from produce in our garden.  These included salads from cactus and chayote, Mirliton (Chayote) dressing, Roselle jam, Meyer Lemon and Rosemary cookies,  and Seminole Pumpkin muffins.  Click on the links below to access our recipes and enjoy.

Roselle Jam
Seminole Pumpkin Bread
Chayote Salad
Nopales (cactus) Salad
Mirliton (Chayote) Dressing
Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Cookies 

Roselle Jam--the seed pods provide the pectin

Herbs from our garden

Lemon-Rosemary cookies