Saturday, October 29, 2011

Art & Ecology students

Sarah Kanouse's Art & Ecology students from the University of Iowa's School of Art & Art History have done amazing work over the last two semesters at the garden site. They have been tremendously helpful with putting up fencing, weeding, tree-of-heaven removal, and animating the garden space. This semester, Sarah's students completed a pair of lovely and much-desired message boards, one at the front of the site, one next to the garden itself. They designed them so that gardeners can leave messages, post flyers for events and workshops, distribute information to people who might be interested in gardening, and leave extra produce out to be taken by others. They also devised a flagging system so that we can flag plots that can be picked by anybody, great for when gardeners go away for a few weeks in the summer. This will enhance communication, as I suspect that not many gardeners check this blog as their main source of garden information.

Message board at the front of the garden, with nasturtium still going strong in mid-October.

The message board with shelf for flags and veggies. The white part is now a blackboard, and the corkboard has a plexiglass cover.

The vermicomposting unit, built in the spring.

Interior of the vermicomposter. I hope the worms got enough kitchen scraps and that they survive the winter.

The beautiful butterfly milkweed pod. We have a cluster of them that come up every year at the front of the garden.


Bonus reading on milkweed
. Did you know that it is an edible plant and that "[i]n World War II, schoolchildren across the Midwest collected thousands of pounds of milkweed fluff to stuff life preservers for the armed forces in the Pacific, because kapok, the normal material used for this purpose, came from Japanese-occupied Indonesia and was unavailable. Today, you can buy pillows, jackets, and comforters stuffed with this material, which is wonderfully soft and has a higher insulative value than goose down..."?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Harvest Party, October 22

photo: Ken Stigler (stigs),

What: Harvest Party and end of season clean-up
When: Sat., Oct. 22, 12-2 p.m. (rain date, Sat. Oct. 29, 12-2 p.m.)
Why: To celebrate the end of the growing season and all the hard work put in by gardeners and other community groups at the garden site.
Who: Everybody! Whether or not you gardened, come on down. Want to meet some neighbors? Come see what is happening at the garden. Interested in gardening next season? Come learn more.
Where: 815 Orchard St., Iowa City, in the back half of the lot.

Most importantly: Bring some food to share, as well as your own utensils and plate.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fauna Report

Some of the wonderful folks from Iowa City Summer of Solutions came by and dispatched the tree-of-heaven thicket that had been growing on the edge of the front flower bed and pulled weeds so that the flowers have a bit more room to bloom. We are grateful for their efforts!




The flowers are attracting lots of animal life: bees, at least three kinds of butterflies, and a female ruby-throated hummingbird at the bee balm today. Very exciting! I was not fast enough to take a picture of the hummer, but here are a few of the slower insects (black butterfly on the bee balm, bees on the sunflowers).



Friday, July 29, 2011

High summer at the garden

It's the end of July, and the garden is hopping, literally. We have had a few baby bunnies that have gotten trapped inside the fence, and kids and grown-ups have scared them half to death by chasing them. I think they are too big to fit in now as I haven't seen any for awhile. I found a papery snakeskin in my tomatoes today, evidence that we still have critters inside the garden (glad I didn't see the snake).

Here's a picture of the garden from the beginning of the season:
And here it is now. That patch with the grass mulch is now full of zinnias and sunflowers, decorations for a gardener's upcoming wedding.
Here are some other photos from the garden:
The entrance sign and sunflower wall from the Art & Ecology students' service learning project

One of the tipis made for morning glories, also by the Art & Ecology class.

Kale in Karla and Nathan's plot

A pepper plant in one of Mark's many plots

No fear, these are from my garden, not the wedding decoration plot.

Like a sunset in flower form

So much tasty produce is growing in these little plots.

Hurray for the ripening of the tomatoes!

The sweet potato stacks workshop

A few photos from the sweet potato workshop:

The stacks are pretty easy - 3 tires filled with a 75/25 mixture of sand and soil, planted with sweet potato starts. The sweet potatoes like to have a sawn-off milk jug placed over them for a few weeks, then a shade (an old wood shingle is the best), and plenty of water. At the end of the season, you remove the tires, and the potatoes are easy to harvest from the mound of sand.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sweet potato planting workshop are Saturday, May 21 at 9 AM, with a rain date of Saturday, May 28 at 9 AM.
Run by Marcia Widmer's dad, Mr. Ever. If you wish to participate, please email Marcia and Todd Widmer and let them know that you plan to attend and how many sweet potato towers each person wants.

Supplies needed for the workshop:
3 tires/tower (Todd and Marcia will procure, but your assistance with rolling them out to the garden would be appreciated)
Sweet potato starts (Todd and Marcia will pick them up)
Sand, to mix with the dirt (About 1 bushel sand/tower - we are still working on procuring the sand. If you can help, please let them know.)
Shovels (we have some at the site)
Trowels, if people want
Buckets for transporting water from the rain barrels to the towers (BYOB)
a shingle or a milkjug with its top cut off to shield the young plants for the first week or so.

If you have questions, you can also contact me (Katherine), but Marcia knows more about this event than I do. Cheers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The First Mennonite Church youth group and Karla Stolzus-Detweiler came out to lay mulch paths on Saturday. Thank you so much for all your work. The paths look great, and you did major combat against the weeds. There were also some of Art & Ecology students out constructing trellises and refurbishing the sign, and gardeners mulching beds, a preemptive strike against the weeds.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Iowa Planting Guide

Early Rose Potato, sprouted. photo by Matthias Karlsson

The ISU extension has put out a nice, easy-to-read planting guide, downloadable as a PDF.

Here are some items you can plant right now (mid-April):
cabbage transplants
onion sets
sprouted potatoes
Swiss chard

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Art & Ecology students at the MOCG workday

We are very lucky to have students from Sarah Kanouse's Art and Ecology class at the University of Iowa working on a service learning project at the garden site. Many hands really do make light work, and we are grateful for the energy and time they spent helping tidy up the garden site on April 2nd. The students came out in force and helped rake leaves, trimmed trees back so that we can mow, picked up trash and detritus, and gave us a huge assist with the rabbit fence. They will be designing and installing signage and plantings on the east side of the garden. Stay tuned to see the results of their work.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Kick-off Meet'n'Greet this Saturday (4/9)

Do you like to dig in the dirt? Grow flowers? Eat vegetables? Meet new people?
You can do all that, right here in our neighborhood. Come find out more.

MOCG Meet'n'Greet
Saturday, April 9th, 1-3 p.m. (raindate 4/16)
815 Orchard St. (located on the lot next to Dental Ceramics)

This is a great time to scope out the garden site, meet some of the current gardeners, and sign up for a plot ($10 for a 10'x10' plot). We will also have a brief demonstration on how to make a very easy raised keyhole garden bed.

Next events: 4/14 Roosevelt Family night, plant starters, 4/30 seed and starter swap.

Friday, March 25, 2011

MOCG Spring events - Sign up for your garden plot!

The Miller Orchard Community Garden is beginning its second growing
season at 815 Orchard St. (across from Planned Parenthood), and we
invite anybody who is interested in growing flowers or vegetables to
sign up for a plot and get growing! Meet your neighbors, learn about
gardening, and eat delicious produce this summer. 10'x10' plots are
available (you may sign up for more than one) for $10/plot. Beginning
gardeners are welcome. You don't need any special tools or equipment.
The garden has rain barrels (thanks to the kindness of Nancy at Dental
Ceramics); we are putting up a rabbit fence around the garden
perimeter; there are gardening tools and gloves in the shed on-site.
We will have group gardening hours Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m. and
Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. (this may change to early morning when the
weather heats up) for people who want to learn from each other or

Art students from Sarah Kanouse's Art & Ecology class are going to be completing an entrance sign and beautification project in the next 6 weeks, so keep an eye out for a new entrance sign, and watch their plantings grow over the summer. They are also planning a vermicomposting bin for the garden. We are excited about their presence and their projects!

Worms make good soil. photo credit: Clare Snow,

Our spring calendar of events (all events are free, and everyone is welcome):

****April 2, workday 10-1 p.m.****

• April 9th, Kick-off Party, 1-3 p.m. at the garden site Come
meet other gardeners, enjoy some snacks, drinks, and learn how to make
an insanely easy raised garden bed. (rain date April 16th) This is a
good time to sign up for a plot, but you can contact Katherine Parker
Bryden (phone: 319.466.9445, email:
anytime between now and April 23rd to get a plot.
• April 14th, 5:15-6:30 at Roosevelt Elementary MOCG at Roosevelt
Roadrunner Club Family Night: "Spring Planting" seed-starting activity
for kids and families.
• April 23rd, time TBD, garden site FMC Youth group workday to lay
down mulch paths. *This is the last day to sign up for a garden
• April 30th, Seed and Started Plant Swap, 1-3 p.m. garden site
(Benton Hill Park pavilion if the weather is bad) Bring some of your
extra seeds or plant starts and swap for varieties you don't have.
• Demonstration: Spud Stacks -- Learn to grow sweet potatoes inside a
stack of tires. date TBD, but look for advertising in the

For plots (last day to sign up is 4/23) or questions, call Katherine
Bryden at 319.466.9445, or come out to the garden if you see people
working out there!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Site view

Harvest Party, October 2010

Harvesting a "success-failure," a still-green pumpkinOur lone orange pumpkin

A bumper crop of decorative gourds

Fun with tree-of-heaven cuttings: a tipi!

Harvest party potluck. Squash curry, made with squash from the garden!

Planting Party in (gulp!) June 2010

The tilled garden plot, with two plots planted
The Children's Garden, newly planted

The potluck table and gardeners

Josh and Shon shoveling composted soil for a plotMark with tomato seedlings