Posts tagged Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners

Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part One

On a winter day…

I was going through the collection of pictures that were taken at the garden and I couldn’t help but reflect on the trials and tribulations of this summer’s garden program.  Many have been addressed in earlier blogs so I do not have to go into great detail here and now.    All I will say is that it was a summer that was hot as hell and as dry as the Sahara on one end of the spectrum to rain forest-like ecosystem at the other.  There was definitely a time when I thought it was all in vain but then the weather changed and we got rain, and lots of it.  As the locals here know it was hot, tropically hot and humid but it was the right type of hot and humidity that nourished the plants back to life.  It’s not such a stretch to have felt that that was the gardens’ biblical moment…like a miracle the rain poured from the sky and everything grew and grew to alien proportions.  Not really, but as you will see it turned out nicely.  And most importantly, our kids once again took home bags and bags of fresh vegetables!

 

Cheery Cherry Tomatoes!

Cheery Cherry Tomatoes!

 

 

 

We planted watermelon that actually grew big enough to steal (we lost two to thieves), but everything ultimately worked out (more on that later)

 

 

 

Popcorn…perfect snack for squirrels and other varmints!

 

Our "Field of Dreams"!

Our “Field of Dreams”!

 

A forest of kale!

A forest of kale!

 

Digital Camera

Later!

 

These pepper plants will be very productive!

These pepper plants will be very productive!

 

 

This alien looking plant is Okra!  It was the only one to survive the drought-like conditions in June and early July. 

 

 

 

Pretty vine!

Pretty vine!

The picture above is the result of two surviving sweet potato sets.  We planted 11, but all but two were vandalized and pulled out of the ground.  In spite of the difficult start, we were surprised by the very impressive yield produced by the surviving plants.  Think size 12 shoes!!!

 

Orange tomatoes!

Orange tomatoes!

 

 

Second planting of collard greens…everybody got some!

 

Collards ready for harvest!

Collards ready for harvest!

 

Future star of "The Pickle Story"!

Future star of “The Pickle Recipe II” movie!

 

Onions

Onions

 

First harvest!

First harvest!

 

Leeks

Leeks!

 

To be continued…Part Two

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Two

One of the unavoidable challenges we face with a school garden is what to do when school is on break and the kids are unable to get out there.  We basically go into maintenance mode.  Before school lets out, the children have already had a taste of the good things yet to come by harvesting strawberries, peas, radishes, beets, etc., all quick-to-grow vegetables that were planted in April and May.  In maintenance mode we work to ensure that the kids have something to look forward to and come back for…and boy do they come back!

 

 

 

Mother and son enjoying the fruit of his labor!

Mother and son enjoying the fruits of his labor…picking tomatoes!

 

 

Another big harvest day in August!

Another big harvest day in August!

 


 


HABENEROS!

HABENEROS!

 

Remember these from Part One?

Remember these from Part One?

 

The start of something sweet!

The start of something sweet!

To be continued…Part Three

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Three

It’s after Labor Day and the kids have returned to school and the garden.  The weather, much to our surprise, has enabled the garden to peak at just the right time.  We set the following timeline for the remaining weeks of the garden…

Week of 9/12

Kale; Cherry Tomatoes; Eggplant; Squash

Week of 9/19

Potatoes; Tomatoes; Peppers

Week of 9/26

Peppers; Lettuces; Popcorn

Week of 10/3

Collard Greens; Sweet Potatoes

__________________________

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t quite cooperate with us and it remained warm enough to extend the growing periods and harvest production of several plants.

 

 


 

 

Popcorn or Birdseed?

Popcorn or Birdseed?

 


 

Digging up potatoes…

 

 

 

This could be the start of something big!

Oops…a worm!  Let’s chase Arthur!!!

 

A lot of small ones to start!

A lot of small ones to start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still something out there…

 

A teacher and her son!

A teacher and her son!

 

The vice principal doing some grocery shopping!

The vice principal doing some grocery shopping!

 

Not the last of these!

Not the last of these!

 

 

 To be continued…Part Four

 

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Four

The Great Watermelon Experiment!

One of the most anticipated events was the watermelon harvest.  After all, we had been trying to grow this plant for quite a few years without much luck.  This year, despite the fact we lost two melons early on to theft, our dream was going to be fulfilled.  We hid the remaining melons until they had grown to term and were ready for harvest.

But that’s not all we did…lol. Instead of growing the more traditional melons like “Jubilee” and “Stars and Stripes”, we grew a hybrid called “Yellow Doll” and it’s fruit was yellow instead of pink!  Our kids were surprised and at the same time disappointed.  Though it looked like a watermelon on the outside, it didn’t on the inside and therefore it tasted foreign to them.  Being allergic to melons, I was no help to them as I dared not touch the flesh.  To some of the kids it tasted more like a cucumber and for a few others it had no taste.  But for the majority of them though it may have looked like a watermelon on the outside, it definitely was not on the inside.  So much for the “looks like a duck, walks like a duck” theory!

 

 

 

Digital Camera

 

Remember those sweet potatoes I talked about in Part 1?  Well take a look!

 

 

 

 

 

So all in all it was a very good year.  The kids had fun…they got plenty of food to take home that they grew…we had fun…lots of fun and we are looking forward to next year, Spring 2017!

 

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It’s the Mid-Summer Harvest!

What an amazing summer it’s been this year!  Despite a vast number of problems and challenges the garden is still on schedule to begin harvesting some of its vegetables.  One thing I am sure of is that we now have a good idea as to how much work it took to tend a garden in the days before running water!

Mustard Greens and Celery...Spicy!

Mustard Greens and Celery…Spicy!

Cabbage Mix...some of which had bolted.

Cabbage Mix…some of which had bolted.

Have you ever seen Kale as robust as this?

Have you ever seen Kale as robust as this?

Weeding the Cabbage bed.

Weeding the Cabbage bed.

The Zuchinni and the Summer Squash are doing nicely but they need weeding and watering!!!

The Zucchini and the Summer Squash are doing nicely but they need weeding and watering!!!

Chief among all of the problems was the hot weather and the lack of rain during much of June and July.  The garden is located on the Nolan Elementary-Middle School playground and when the temperature gets too hot, they close the school.  When that happens, we lose access to the water system.  In the past, it has rained just often enough to offset a temporary school closing, but this year we have had consecutive days and subsequent weeks of hot, dry weather without being able to adequately water.

This Broccoli head probably could have been bigger if it had more water!

This Broccoli head probably could have been bigger if it had more water!

Eggplant A

Eggplant A

Eggplant B...What's the difference between A and B?

Eggplant B…What’s the difference between A and B?

Young Cayenne's...Muy Caliente!

Young Cayenne’s…Muy Caliente!

We were also vandalized.  Someone took it upon him or her self to steal our collard green plants, right after we had planted them.  We have also found a few of our new beds damaged.  It can be thought that the weather has something to do with the vandalism.  My reasoning is that when we are not on-site frequently and regularly, it provides opportunity for negative actions toward the garden.  We probably couldn’t have stopped the theft though.

"The Onion Field" er bed!

“The Onion Field” er bed!

There's more than one Beet in there!

There’s more than one Beet in there!

Pop-Pop-Pop-Popcorn!

Pop-Pop-Pop-Popcorn!

This Watermelon got a late start but let's see what happens?

This Watermelon got a late start but let’s see what happens?

Zucchini after it got watered!

Zucchini after it got watered!

There were Cherry Tomatoes here just a minute ago!

There were Cherry Tomatoes here just a minute ago!

What are these? Potatoes! (With a weed sticking right up in the middle of the picture!)

What are these? Potatoes! (With a weed sticking right up in the middle of the picture!)

Regardless, on July17th, we had six kids ready to harvest whatever was ready in the garden.  They have already enjoyed strawberries, radishes, garlic and zucchini, so now they were going to pick cherry tomatoes, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage.  A few of the kids had never tasted vegetables raw and fresh from the garden and it was fun to watch the faces they made as they experienced the “unvarnished” flavor and texture of the various leafy greens.  “Awe” and “Amazement” are just two of the words that come to mind.  I must note that the kids ate the cherry tomatoes as fast as they picked them.  I wonder if any will make it home to somebody’s dinner table?

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“Totally Rad” Radishes

Radishes of different hues!

Radishes of different hues!

 

It’s not supposed to be a big deal to grow radishes but this year we had a bumper crop!  Here’s something I didn’t know and perhaps you didn’t either…Radishes are part of the Brassicaceae family….otherwise known as the cabbage family.  That includes veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, and mustard greens.  Radishes are cultivated and consumed all over the world and have been popular with the students of Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners every year of their existence.  Typically they are eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable but with their numerous varieties, sizes and colors a lot more can be done with them.  Thanks to a recent article I found in a recent Care2 Healthy Living E-newsletter I came across a few new ways to enjoy this crunchy, spicy root.

Braised Radishes with Dill

Braised Radishes with Dill

This tasty recipe of braised radishes is unique and the peppery taste of the radishes is balanced by tangy cider vinegar, coconut oil, and dill weed making a delicious addition to any meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch radishes, save radish leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Fresh dill weed or mint or radish leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • Vegetable salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Slice radishes in half from top to bottom.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the chopped garlic and stir-fry for a minute.
  4. Add the radishes, cut side down in the pan and sauté them until slightly brown.
  5. Add the cider vinegar and water and cover, simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-high, cooking and stirring, until the liquid has reduced.
  7. Add the dill and cook for a minute.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

 

Quinoa Radish Arugula Salad

Quinoa Radish Arugula Salad

This is a yummy and nourishing salad for any season. It is full of good protein from the quinoa. It is a whole meal in one bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 handfuls of arugula
  • 3 or 4 small tomatoes
  • 6 – 8 radishes
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil salad dressing

Directions:

  1. Mix all vegetables together in a bowl.
  2. Mix in salad dressing
  3. Add the cooked quinoa.
  4. Now sit down and enjoy this delicious salad.

 

Radish Leaves

Radish Leaves

What to Do With the Greens From the Radishes…

  • They can quickly be steamed and dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Sauté the greens with onions and add herbs such as mint, basil, thyme or dill.
  • Add them to your green smoothie.

 

So how do you use radishes?

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Simply Irresistible!

2016 will be a much different year than previous years at the Nolan Elementary-Middle School “Planting the Seeds” garden in Detroit.  We have taken steps to change the look and feel of the garden and we are growing a slew of new crops that hopefully will make this year’s efforts more fulfilling and fun for our young growers.  Much thanks goes out to our supporting sponsor, Snelling Staffing Solutions!  They came out on a chilly April morning to build the new beds, clean out the old ones and plant some cold-weather crops in the ground.  We really appreciate all that they have done!

We would also like to announce that Be Culturally Exposed, led by Bonnie Odom-Brown, received yet another grant for $1000 from the Healthy Environment Partnership (www.hepdetroit.org).  We are very excited to be recognized once again for our efforts for maintaining this community garden and working with children and to receive the additional support.

What’s New?

New in 2016 will be 10 raised beds!  Our original beds were placed in 2011 and served us well until vandals and the weather caused a few of them to rot and decay.  We got 5 good years out of them but they had become a safety concern as they were breaking down and splintering.

Blueberries are new in 2016 also!  We actually planted the new bushes last fall (Oct. 2015) and we were very fortunate they made it through the winter.  It takes a number of years for the bushes to get established and to produce fruit, but we will be ready when they are.

We are also going to try to grow celery, popcorn, peanuts, okra and various winter squash.  It is vitally important that we continue to add new crops to the garden as it enhances the appeal to our young gardeners, primarily those who have come back from previous years.

Lastly, from an editorial standpoint we are going to introduce more recipes using the vegetables we are growing in the garden.

 

April – Cold Weather Crop Distribution & New Bed Construction

And a way she goes!

And a way she goes!

 April 23rd

Getting Started!

 

Breaking out into teams!

 

 

 

Cabbages

 

Broccoli

Broccoli

 

Strawberries

Strawberries

 

One wheelbarrow load at a time!

One wheelbarrow load at a time!

 

 

 May 3rd

Blueberry Bushes and Curly Kale

 

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

 

Planting Celery

Planting Celery

 

Planting lettuces!

Planting lettuces!

 

Planting Onions and Leeks

Planting Onions and Leeks

 

The villagers have gathered!

The villagers have gathered!

 

Yeah, I Got It!

Yeah, I Got It!

 May 5th

Planting Potatoes...

Planting Potatoes…

May 17th

Keep Growing Detroit came out to test the soil!

Keep Growing Detroit came out to test the soil!

 May 19th

Hot Crop Distribution Day at Earthworks!

Hot Crop Distribution Day at Earthworks!  Oops, excuse my thumb!

 

What a crowd!

What a crowd!

 

 

I got some tootsie rolls and some candy corn!

I got some tootsie rolls and some candy corn!

May 24th

Cabbages 1 Month

Cabbages @ 1 Month

 

Broccoli 1 month

Broccoli @ 1 month

 

Pretty lettuces in a row @ 1 month

Pretty lettuces in a row @ 1 month

 

We need to weed this kale and blueberry bed @ 1 month

We need to weed this kale and blueberry bed @ 1 month

 

Red Skin and Blue Potatoes 3 weeks

Red Skin and Blue Potatoes @ 3 weeks!

 

 

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