Open Meeting at WFB Village Hall
Nino Ridgeway was our guest speaker. Nino is the owner of Herbs and Everlasting at Barthel Fruit Farm in Mequon. She is a grower, entomologist and culinary expert.
Nino began by giving us an overview and then went on to describe the common sense and natural way to grow herbs (and plants).
· Give pants what they need…sun, water, carbon dioxide, space, airflow, proper bracing, micronutrients and proper temperatures for the specific plants.
· Most herbs need at least 6 hours of sun per day and well-drained soils.
· Clay soils have high nutrients and don’t need to be fertilized, but they do need to be amended with organic matter to break them up.
· Pots must ALWAYS be fertilized.
· Powdery mildew in pots comes from heat and poor air circulation, but doesn’t spread to other plants
Nino then went on to discuss specifics of both Cool Season herbs (early spring or fall) and Warm Season and Mediterranean herbs. She discussed varietals, pick tips, pests, and uses in cooking and baking. Please see attached handout for details.
· Cool Season include cilantro, parsley, dill, chives, lovage, fennel, mint, chervil, and nasturtium
· Warm season include Basil, oregano, thyme, sweet marjoram, garden sage, lavender, rosemary, pineapple sage, lemongrass, lemon verbena, savory, and French tarragon
Tip for rabbits: Mix warm water with the hottest crushed/ground peppers you can find. Add a clove of garlic and mix in a blender. Drizzle over plants and re-apply after heavy rains. Do not do this just before you plan to harvest!
Herb Gardening Naturally Handout
Want to learn more about monarchs and other butterflies common to gardens? Click here.
Looking for an attractive way to store kitchen waste before it heads outside for composting? Vintage soup tureens can be found for reasonable prices at thrift and antique stores. These lidded vessels work well to hide veggie scraps, fruit scraps, tea leaves, and coffee grounds...even house plant trimmings before they are taken outside and they look nice enough to keep out on the counter top. They can also be run through the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Tip 'O The Day: Stone Creek offers their coffee grounds for free to whomever would like to collect them for composting.
Photo and Blog Post provided by WFBGC member Anne O'Connor.
Do your pots have spots? Here's a a tip that might help remove them. Mix a solution of 1 tablespoon vinegar per gallon of water. Brush off all soil and debris from pots. Soak the pots in the vinegar and water solution overnight. Then use a wire bristle brush to scrub away mineral deposits from pots. This process may need to be repeated a few times to completely remove spots.
You can disinfect your pots by soaking them in a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach for at least 10 minutes.
Winter is the perfect time to do a little pot maintenance! When Spring arrives, your pots will be clean and ready to plant
Below is a link to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on the condition of Monarch butterflies. Well worth the time to read!
Monarch Population Takes Hit Because of 2012 Drought
Two more sources that provide good information on the plight of the Monarch Butterfly:
NBC Science News
Butterfly Migration Details
_ Whitefish Bay Garden Club President Mary Beth Mahoney recently presented a program on composting as part of the Garden Club's Community Education Series. Mary Beth got hooked on composing after reading a book by Mike McGraf on composting.
Here are some of the program's highlights:
Four elements are needed for compost: greens (nitrogen-herbaceous plants, fruits and veggies), browns (carbon-trees and shrubs, dried leaves), water, and air.
Use 2 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen
Chop up into small pieces, mix together, maintain a proper balance of greens and browns, and incorporate soil to introduce the necessary micro-organisms. Add water in the spring when the temp is above 50F. Final layer should be about 3” of brown (shredded leaves or paper)
• chop pieces small
• layer with brown on top to avoid fruit flies
• build a 3’ x 3’ x 3‘ minimum size bin.
• turn the contents if ventilation pipes are not incorporated into the design to allow air flow.
• no pet waste, meat, dairy, fish, prepared foods (animal waste from those that are naturally vegetarian only)
• keep adding material once set up is complete
• add weeds, seeds, rhizomes (roots and leaves are great though)
Composting is like assembling a buffet for micro-organisms that break it down and makes the soil amendment. Since different organisms feed at different levels of heat, it is important to not add to it once set up
ULTIMATE NO-TURN COMPOST PILE
put a layer of twigs at the bottom for air circulation, Use PVC or other similar material with large holes drilled into it for air circulation (4-5 standing vertically in the bin). Add water as you build. Let it bake. OK to add materials during the winter, but once temps hit 50F, stop and let it cook.
• Use red wiggle worms
• Use completely opaque container, dark bin
• Rinse the bins thoroughly before using and drill holes in the lid for air circulation
• bedding material- use shredded newspaper or peat moss or coir (shredded coconut shells)
• moisture level should be equivalent to a damp sponge
• use some soil for grit (sand or dirt)
• 1/2C to 1C egg shells for calcium
• hand full of worms
• Feed them veggies, most fruits, egg shells, coffee, tea, finely chopped or crushed food
• Don't feed them onions, garlic, citrus rinds of fruit, meat, dairy, fried foods, or oily sauces
• Bury the food in a pocket or corner of the bin about 3” deep
take the compost from the opposite side of the feeding pocket
as worms reproduce, give them to a friend, usually find them in the feeding pocket
spread 1”-2” of compost on garden beds in spring
spread 1/2” of compost on turf
a Japanese method using fermentation (pickling). Dilute the compost tea from Bokashi 10:1. Bury the waste 12” deep outside
Mary Beth also provided a handout to compliment her presentation. Please find a pdf of that handout below, print, and enjoy! Happy Composting!!!
This article appeared in the February issue of Bay Leaves
It's February. It may feel like spring will never come, but inevitably the snow will melt in March, followed by April showers. This year the Whitefish Bay garden Club will focus its attention on Rain Gardens and Rain Barrels because of the stormwater challenges face in the village.
Rain gardens have three major benefits: (1) they absorb water into the soil, (2) the beautify our own yards and the community, and (3) they provide an important habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies threatened by reduced food stuffs. The New York Times reported that 2013 was the first year that the Monarch butterflies did not arrive in droves in Mexico for the Day of the Dead (November 1st). It is more important than ever that we think about how we can support the Monarch butterfly in our yards.
Let's explore the benefits...
Water absorption. Ideally rainwater should infiltrate the soil at the point of the downpour. You can capture the water with rain barrels, then use it to grow flowers and vegetables. Or it you want to go the low maintenance route, you can install a rain garden. The EPA reports that lawns have 10% of the water absorption capacity of native plantings. Together we could dramatically reduce the water entering municipal systems.
Beautification. In 2008, WFB residents Nathan and Jean Guequierre finished installing multiple rain gardens and rain barrels at their home on Newhall. The rain gardens not only absorb water-approximately 60,000 gallons/year-but also bring four season appeal. The landscape includes a variety of perennials, mostly plants native to Southeastern Wisconsin.
Important habitat. Experts fear the Monarch butterfly is on the verge of collapse, threatened by the loss of its only food source for the caterpillars-milkweed. The good news is that native plants-like milkweed-both absorb a significant amount of water and benefit the threatened Monarch populations. Milkweed is a native perennial and can easily be grown in your garden as it is in the WFB Butterfly Garden. The garden in Cahill Square has many features to attract and sustain butterflies over their short life cycles-rocks warmed by the sun for resting, shallow sources of water, colorful plants to attract adults and hiding places for developing offspring.
What can you do?
_ Did you know the state of Wisconsin will notify you when lawn and landscape pesticides are to be applied to adjacent properties by commercial applicators? To take advantage of this free service, all you have to do is sign up with WI-DATCP. For more details on the program and who to contact, go to http://datcpservices.wisconsin.gov/landreg/index.jsp
The October Garden Club meeting was a joint meeting with the Fox Point Garden club, organized by the Fox Point Club and held at Dunwoody School. The meeting featured a presentation by Gretchen Meade, the founding Director of the Victory Garden Initiative (VGI), begun in 2008.
Gretchen began by describing 4 “stories”: Self story, Food story, Collective Story, and Now story. She began by discussing her personal background and growing up near Galena IL. She talked about the shift in jobs in the food industry and how things have changed as food moved away from local and towards large conglomerates. She talked about her experience working on an organic farm in central Wisconsin and then her move to Milwaukee.
She discussed her studies about various aspects of the food system including food waste (40%), research of cost of food vs fossil fuels and how the current system makes our food system more insecure, does not promote ecological sustainability (reliance on distant water systems, average bite of food travels 1500 miles before we eat it, etc). She touched on how local food growers promote better health, social justice (cost and quality of food), food synergies (GMO and labeling), food security issues and supporting healthy communities.
She then addressed solutions. These include political policies such as state and federal laws (ie land access in cities), the marketplace and how we use our dollars and the impact/empowerment it can create, and the impact of growing our own food.
All the above led her to start the Victory Gardens Initiative (VGI) in 2008. Their first day they installed 40 gardens in front yards in Shorewood. It garnered national attention on NPR. This past May they installed over 500 gardens.
VGI gets funding from many sources including grants, program revenues, sponsorships and product donations. They offer gardening classes and mentoring programs. They install 5 urban orchards a year, run the Concordia gardens and offer a Food Leaders Certification program.
These are the reasons Gretchen shared for “growing your own”
1. Connects to the environment
2. gardening is the new front porch, connecting us to our neighbors
3. our food is immediately accessible
4. promotes the idea of self sufficiency
5. provides food security-we know what we are getting
6. reduces energy consumption (carbon footprint of transportation)
7. creates community bonding
8. provides fresh air and vitamin D
9. reduces crime in areas-people are out and about and know their neighbors
10. kids want to eat what they grow
11. it is a visible manifestation-gives people an example of a future
12. growing food is a direct action that creates change to what we are aiming for
13. fosters a barter economy
14. improves the urban eco system
15. provides physical activity
16. It is a spiritual and therapeutic act for people- puts our universe in perspective.
For a comprehensive list of local farmers and farmers markets in Southeastern Wisconsin, please visit www.farmfreshsewi.org.
The May Regular Meeting of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club included an outstanding presentation on Gardening with Native Plants given by Carol Bangs, Landscape Design Horticulturist, MATC. Carol shared some tips for eliminating "opportunistic" (native, aggressive plants) and "invasive" (non-native, aggressive plants) from our gardens. The tools she recommended for this task included the Parsnip Predator, the Weed Wrench, and the Weed Torch. Click on the tool's name for a detailed description and purchasing information about each tool.
Carol also recommended two resources that every gardener should have in his or her library: Invasive Plants of The Upper Midwest by Elizabeth J Czarapata and The Wisconsin DNR Publication on Invasive Species. Clicking on either resource will take you to a website with more information.
Once the "opportunistic" and/or "invasive" plants are under control, Carol suggested a trip to the Prairie Nursery (or their website) to select the native plants appropriate for your soil and growing conditions.
The Lawn and Garden Tips page is updated by members of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club.