Update from my Community Garden Plot


Back in June I was complaining that I still didn’t have space in my town’s community gardens, though I was enjoying just going there and hanging out with the critters and the occasional gardener.  Well, thanks to some neighborhood schmoozing in July, I was offered space in a nice sunny spot assigned to a family that wasn’t using all of it.  That being July, I waited for it to cool down and my travels to be over, and finally planted a couple of fall crops just to see what would happen.

That results are in and please observe my almost completely bug-eaten kale on the left.

That’s my kale on the left, another community gardener’s kale on the right. Big diff!

Having tried to grow kale in my last garden and seen it devastated by cabbage loopers, I’m not all that surprised.  What does surprise me is the robust crop of kale I spotted in a plot just a few feet away, grown all-organically, according to the gardeners.  Their solution was to cover the kale with row cover fabric draped over hoops until the plants were maybe six  inches tall, after which they’re mysteriously no longer appetizing to the voracious caterpillars.


My lettuce looking great in the garden, looking bug-laden in the kitchen.

I got one whole salad from my row of lettuce, looking lovely in the photo above.  And it still looked lovely when I brought home the second batch, only to notice the hoards of insects on the back sides of each leaf.  Anyone know what they are and how to deal with them?

Better Results Online

Despite my initial failures in the garden I’m actually thrilled about my membership in the gardens – since becoming their webmaster.  That came about when I  heard about the frustrated garden member struggling to figure out Google Sites, I offered to help, and she gladly turned the assignment over to me.  As any blogger knows, you can get a free site online in mere minutes using Blogger.com.   Done!  (I did spend a bit, though – 8 bucks a year for the domain name, in order to avoid the awkward “blogspot” in the web address, and for the many benefits to having your own domain name.)

So the site is there, still waiting for some basic information to be uploaded, but the info I’m excited about are the  tips from garden members, by crop, where you’ll recognize the contrasting kale photos above.  I get to roam the garden interviewing gardeners about their favorite varieties and best growing techniques, then put it all online so we can all learn (most of all, me).   Sure, all community gardens have experienced gardeners with tips to share, but ours is super-loaded with experts, thanks to the nearby USDA research facility and the University of Maryland.

And guess what – putting all this gardening wisdom online may go beyond teaching gardening to actually attracting some needed financial support to the whole endeavor (because we have NO WATER SOURCE and it’ll take money to correct that huge problem).   Seems that a great website can turn the gardens into an educational resource for the whole town, which makes them super-worthy of support.  That’s according to the head of our community foundation, who’s eager to send some money our way.

Could the era of water-schlepping be coming to an end?  A gardener can only hope.

Know any Good Community Garden Website?

I’m Googling like crazy for more ideas for the site, so if you know of a good one, drop the link in a comment.


  1. “Anyone know what they are and how to deal with them?”

    Since the lettuce looks pretty good, no need to treat for them in the garden.

    To rid them from the picked leaves, in order to avoid the extra protein in your diet, soak in salted water (10 % should work, although I’ve seen higher recommendations.) Critters should abandon ship, at which point you can rinse under cold fresh water and spin dry just before salad making. The process works well with the remaining loopers on all the brassicas, too, although sometimes seeing the results affects the appetite in some folks.

    Bt is an effective, organic, benign to non-lepidopertans, treatment for loopers. See results here: http://groweat.blogspot.com/2012/07/cabbage-miracle.html#axzz29UP1QTFT

    Bookmarking the UMD GrowItEatIt Blog is recommended. http://groweat.blogspot.com/

    Here is our Victory Garden 2012 Log for the season here in Franklin County, PA:


    (reverse chronological order)

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