Posts tagged Vegetables

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!



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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At Last!

Our Strawberries have come along

It was a dream that we could speak to



A dream we can call our own!

At Last!*


Yes finally, we have a beautiful and tasty crop of strawberries for the first time!  I am not talking about a few berries here and there, no sir!  I mean an abundance of fruit that allowed for six kids to chow down for about 10 minutes (think of locust) and there’s still a significant amount out there of soon-to-be-ready and now ready berries to pick.

I bet they would make a good jam or preserve.  Any volunteers?

Because they were the first to be harvested, strawberries are our featured recipe.  With a little research, I came up with two recipes for Strawberry Lemonade.


Strawberry Lemonade

Yield:  Makes about 1 1/2 quarts


  • 1/2 lb strawberries (1 1/2 cups), trimmed and halved
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 5 lemons)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cold water


  1. Purée strawberries with 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a blender until smooth, then force through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds.
  2. Stir together strawberry purée, remaining lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and water in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Taste, then add more sugar if desired. Serve over ice.  (To diminish sweetness add more water)

Cooks’ note:  Lemonade can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

© 2010 S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

Total Time: 2 minutes

Prep Time: 2 minutes


(Servings: 2)

2 cups frozen or fresh* strawberries (about 24 strawberries)

*You can flash freeze the fresh strawberries beforehand

1/2 cup crushed ice (or smallest cubes possible)

1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

3 packets of sugar substitute or

2 Tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)

3/4 cup water


1/4 lemon, sliced, for garnish

1 Tablespoon of ginger, fresh or dried (finely chopped)

A Few Mint Leaves


Step 1:

Allow frozen strawberries to thaw slightly (or if fresh partially freeze).

Step 2:

Before placing ice cubes in blender, crush large chunks by sealing securely inside a Ziploc® Brand Storage Bag and rolling over the bag firmly with a rolling pin.

Step 3:

Combine lemon juice, strawberries, sugar substitute or sugar, crushed ice and water in blender jar. If blades get stuck, add more water.

Step 4:

Blend on high with lid tightly secured until smooth and thick.

Step 5:

Pour into glasses and serve immediately.  Garnish with a slice of lemon, if desired.


Is it good? Bonnie says yes!

Is it good? Bonnie says yes!


*At Last written by Harry Warren, Mack Gordon



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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 (  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!












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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Back To School!

Intercom Voice: (SQUELCH) All students in the garden club please come to the auditorium immediately. BEEP!

It’s Tuesday at Nolan Elementary-Middle School and Bonnie Odom-Brown (BE Culturally Exposed) and I (Arthur Littsey/Project Sweet Tomato) are meeting with our student gardeners for the first time. They are a rag-tag bunch that covers at least 4 different grade levels. For the first time since the move to Nolan, Planting the Seeds has an abundance of students. There are almost 20 kids of varying ages and for another first, we have strong representation from the young males of the school. 8th graders too? Yes, I am very surprised.

As you would expect, this has brought a few more challenges for the team, but we are starting to get a grip on things, with the help of some recent advice from our sponsor, Maura Ryan-Kaiser. She helped create a plan for managing so many students. One can tell that she never forgets that she is dealing with kids (I think she has the camp counselor gene) and in spite of that they can be managed effectively. And she had an immediate affect on them. She grabbed their attention and held it throughout the gardening session. They performed very well for her. And I can tell you from previous experiences that’s not a very easy thing to do.

We’ve got a lot of vegetables in the ground with more on the way, courtesy of Keep Growing Detroit. New this year will be watermelon, a new variety of sunflower, peas, strawberries (they are surviving so far), onions and sweet potatoes. We are also growing many of the standard summer vegetables, like tomatoes, green and yellow beans, garlic, zucchini, greens, cabbage, kale, broccoli, lettuces, basil, parsley, peppers, radishes and potatoes (Yukon Gold and red skins). There’s a lot going on and it would be difficult to manage without the help that we get from the Snelling Staffing Services volunteers. They are a great bunch…easy to get along with; supportive (for me that means young and strong)…that takes their volunteer work seriously and has fun doing it. It’s a lot of fun to watch them learn a few things about gardening too!

There has been a change outside the garden as well. Sandra Tomlin, the former Vice President, Community Relations, of Michigan First Credit Union, retired. She was a wonderful advocate for our little program and we thank her for her support. She has said that now that she is retired, she might pay the garden a visit. So, now would be a good time to welcome Mark Guimond as our new contact at Michigan First Credit Union. Mark’s title is Assistant Vice President – Business & Community Relationships. MFCU is active with several schools in and around Detroit and I hope that we continue to earn their support.

Pictures? Yes, here’s a few…

Getting ready to plant some onions!

Getting ready to plant some onions!


Lettuce, Cabbage and Greens

Lettuce, Cabbage and Greens

Prepping the big bed!

Prepping the big bed!

Putting the kids to work!

Putting the kids to work!

Is this a weeding party?

Is this a weeding party?

Our first peas...ever!

Our first peas…ever!

Thursday's Garden Angels!

Thursday’s Garden Angels!

Well, I’ve got to get back to work. Between home and here, there’s a lot of work that needs to get done.


This story is dedicated to one Jack Kaiser. He’s a great guy to be around and to have around. Thanks Jack…for what you do, the way you do it and for who you are!



Thanks To…


BE Culturally Exposed

MIFCU logo and tagline



And a Special Thanks to the gang at…

Keep Growing Detroit


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What Your Sons and Daughters Learned From the Garden Club

These are mostly third-graders we are talking about!

  • They learned order and discipline.  The garden is not a place for physical hijinks and bad behavior.  They had fun while showing respect for the unique environment that was theirs.
  • They learned patience through the science of plant life.  They planted seeds and watched them mature into food producing plants or flowers.

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  • They learned to focus and pay attention to detail.  Usually, they only needed to be told something once before they were capable of doing it on their own. 


  • They learned responsibility.  They were very diligent in their role as gardeners.  No one complained. 


  • They learned that work could be fun.

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  • They got a sense of accomplishment.  When harvesting of the garden begun, August through the end of the school year, each child (estimated) had taken home 8 to 10 pounds of vegetables.  Those who came subsequently were able to take home an additional 5 to 10 pounds.

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  • They went to market where they learned social skills and earned money (age appropriate).

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What’s Next?  Our Goals for 2014

  1. Engage with the students as early as possible (get an early start indoors as well as outdoors)

  2. Work with the Contact teacher to develop in-class activities.

  3. Attract older students (11 years and older) to take to market.

  4. Get more parents involved.

  5. Work more closely with the school food service.

  6. Develop a column for the school newsletter or other communication vehicle to the parents.

We are looking for gardeners in the classroom as well as out in the field.  Beginning in January we hope to create a few classroom projects to keep the children interested.  If you are interested in your child becoming a member of the 2014 garden club please contact Ms. Bonnie Odom-Brown at (313) 804-6776 or

Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners Certificate Presentation

October 9, 2013

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Sunflowers, etc.

For the second straight year, the “Planting The Seed” garden at Nolan Elementary-Middle School, grew sunflowers.  Spearheaded by our sponsor, Maura Ryan-Kaiser, who knowingly went against all the standard rules of  garden planting and management…just to have “fun”, the sunflower patch was quite successful.  Her method was absolutely maddening and yet she was successful.  So successful, I move that it should forever be called the Maura Ryan-Kaiser & Family Wildlife Preserve.  She may not accept the designation but after what she accomplished, it should be hers to lose.  Whether or not she accepts the honor, the flowers did become a wildlife reserve and that was pretty cool in itself.

We had attempted to grow flowers, including sunflowers the last couple of years.  Due to poor timing and vandalism, we haven’t had much luck.  But this year, we all have come to accept that this was a banner year.  The flowers added another dimension to the garden (and I’m not a flower guy) from a beauty standpoint but also  from a practical standpoint.  Our flowers brought bees and lots of them  to pollinate our vegetable plants.  Gardeners, at all levels, know the benefits of working in the garden side by side with our pollinating partners as they move from flower to flower.

Our flowers, more so than our vegetable plants, attracted and fed birds, rabbits and squirrels.  They also attracted beneficial insects.  Not quite intentionally, Maura, her lone young assistant and God, created an eco-system in the school yard adjacent to the raised beds we were growing vegetables in.  We were able to grow our vegetables in relative peace as the varmints…ahem, I mean pests…um, the animals found comfort with what was theirs to take.  To be so exposed, a garden without barriers, and not lose more than 3% of our yield to animals and two-legged varmints is quite an accomplishment.  To be truthful, we lost more to vandalism that we did to the hungry animals.

Not knowing what we were going to get from the wildflower patch this year, we will be better prepared in 2014.  There are a lot of ways the flowers can be used in the classroom and they should be used to decorate a few desks also.

(Where’s that suck up Little Arthur David when you need him?)

So take a look at the flowers.  I’ve posted them from start to finish.  You will see after facing incredible odds (in Maura’s hands), how they grew and grew.



Nolan Garden 2013-25


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And Maura, This One’s For You!

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Pot Luck Picnic 2013

2013 Summer Potluck Picnic



Elementary-Middle School

“Planting the Seeds”

School Garden

on Saturday, July 27th


@ 12:00 noon3:00


will be provided!

Bring a dish to pass around!

2013 at the garden was full of changes…a lot of them.  Our student base was younger.  The support was stronger…more consistent over term.  Our goals were a little higher.  One thing we really wanted to do was to change the dynamic of the mid-season picnic. Because of the extended school semester (another change) we foresaw an opportunity to get more parents involved by having a good old-fashion “potluck” picnic.  Each young gardener took home a flyer to their parents seeking permission to attend because it was on a non-school day.  The turnout…students to parents, was better than previous years and we all had a great time.  It was nice to see the kids take their parents out to the various beds and tell them what they were growing.  If they were even a little bit like me, they were planning future dinner menus as they strolled through

 It was also significant for us to have our teacher, Ms. Carrie Hahn and the school principal, Angela Underwood and her family show up.  This reflects the new attitude that Principal Underwood and her teachers represent.  They do everything they can to reach all of the positive touch points they can.  This means that they are always pretty busy.  Busy yes, but there is no shortage of sincerity in their efforts.

There were plenty of candid moments, some that the cameras didn’t capture.  The sampling of Ms. Hahn’s homemade Kale Chips for starters!  Babies were pampered, it didn’t matter whose baby it was, on this day we were all family.  The kids, as they proudly introduced us and the garden to their parents.  There were the moments where we could talk directly to each parent about how well their child was doing and how hard they worked.  There were compliments from the parents as well.  You could see how proud they were of their little munchkins as they showed off their hard work!

Mazin Shina (Imperial Super Market) & Bonnie Odom-Brown

Mazin Shina (Imperial Super Market) &
Bonnie Odom-Brown

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One of our garden families!

Principal Underwood getting a tour by her students

Principal Underwood getting a tour by her students

Two of our garden superstars!

Two of our garden superstars!

Ms. Hahn with her students and her brother

Ms. Hahn with her students and her brother

I'm talkin' about love...L-O-V-E!

I’m talkin’ about love…L-O-V-E

Does she like what she sees?

Does she like what she sees?

Bonnie's always working!

Bonnie’s always working!

Picnic Central!

Picnic Central!

A Special Thanks to Our Food & Supplies Sponsors…

Mazin Shina

Imperial Super Market

(8 Mile & Dequindre/Detroit)


Maura Ryan-Kaiser



Sandra Tomlin

MIFCU logo and tagline********************

Bonnie Odom-Brown

B.E. Culturally Exposed



Arthur Littsey


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