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February 2014
In This Issue
2014 Registration is Ready!
Welcome our 20th Community Garden!
Advance Order for the Plant Sale
Winter Potluck
Seed Swap Saturday February 15th
Upcoming Project Grow Classes
Gardener Survey Results
Heirloom tomato Seeds for Sale!
Washtenaw County Green Media

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Register Now for a 2014 Garden Plot


Although it feels like the 2013 season just ended, registration for 2014 is up and available on our website.  Returning gardeners should have already received several reminders to register during January. 


Please remember that we ask returning gardeners to register by February 1st.  If you gardened with us last year and want to return, please renew your plot right away before it is passed on to someone else.  We have a list of eager new gardeners waiting to take available plots and would like to assign them sooner rather than later.


Here's to hoping that 2014 will be another great gardening year for everyone! 


New Garden Site Near Ellsworth and Stone School 
Project Grow is opening our newest (and 20th!) community garden site behind the Community Support and Treatment Center just east of the Ellsworth/Stone School intersection.  The site is named "Ellsworth" and is available now for registration.  

We plan for Ellsworth to have 10 full-size gardens at the south end of the property. The soil appears to be a deep, sand/clay loam, and most of the area is well-drained and enjoys full sun. An added advantage is that it is right next to a large parking lot, but still in a quiet, secluded location.

Also, we are considering the addition of some accessible raised beds like the ones at the County Farm Park's Discovery Gardens because this site is so close to a parking lot which makes it very accessible. 


Place Your Advance Orders Now for the Plant Sale

A new year brings new plans for Project Grow's annual spring heirloom plant sale!  We kept close track of what did and did not sell last year and made a number of updates to what we are offering.  There are 18 new varieties this year!  The sale specializes in offering unusual heirloom tomatoes (76 varieties), peppers (25 varieties) and basil (5 varieties).

Some gardeners find that their favorite choices have already sold out by the time they make it to the sale. To help address this problem, for the past three years Project Grow has accepted advance orders for plants that are then picked up a week ahead of the sale. This option has become very popular - last year more than half of our total sales were advance orders! The pick-up dates are a week before the sale on Saturday May 3rd and Sunday May 4th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1518 Shadford Rd.

To read all about the plants offered, click on the online catalog.  Besides the new varieties, we revised the section describing the types of tomatoes and also added suggestions for people unfamiliar with heirloom tomatoes.  For all the details on how to place an advance order, please click here. 
Winter Potluck 
Our winter potluck was very well attended.  We counted at least 34 people and with so much going on there were probably even more. The food was terrific and it was a great chance to meet new gardening friends and catch up with gardening neighbors.  
Thanks to everyone who came and brought all the great food and a special thanks to Alice Telesnitsky for hosting this event in her home!

Seed Swap - Saturday February 15th @ Downtown Home and Garden

Did you save more seeds than you could ever use? Did you perhaps go a bit mad at the end-of-year seed sales? Then the Seed Swap is for you! Why not see what you can exchange your extras for with other gardeners! Bring your loot and your bargaining skills and see how many different seed varieties you can acquire. Who knows, perhaps you'll find seeds for that delicious corn variety you couldn't buy enough of at the farmer's market! Come on out Saturday, February 15th, from 10-11:30 a.m., at Downtown Home and Garden, 210 South Ashley in Ann Arbor.
This event is open to the public, so you don't need to be a Project Grow gardener to attend. Our hosts do ask that seed swappers find street parking rather than taking spots in their parking lot that could be used by their customers.  Perhaps try the new 

Be sure to come and take care of all your 2014 seed needs - anything you can't find will certainly be for sale at Downtown Home and Garden!
2013 Seed Swap
Gardeners braving the cold at the 2013 Seed Swap


Upcoming Project Grow Classes


Adventure in Home Orcharding!

Saturday, February 9, from 10am to 12noon

Leslie House, Leslie Science and Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor


Come share the adventure of starting and maintaining a back yard or front yard home orchard. Topics to be covered include: an introduction to the wide variety of fruit trees that can be grown successfully in Michigan; considerations in selecting among the varieties available; choosing a site; preparing and planting a young tree; fruit tree forms and how to train young trees; and their annual care, including pruning and organic pest management. Instructor: Royer Held, gardening expert and long-time friend of Project Grow. This class is free, but registration is required.


Exploring Bees! 1: Equipment Options for Keeping Bees

Saturday, February 15, from 10am to 12noon

Leslie House, Leslie Science and Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor


Meghan Milbrath, local beekeeper and Project Grow instructor, begins her 10-class series on beekeeping this month with a discussion on equipment options for keeping bees. This class is designed for those interested in keeping bees or expanding their apiary and will cover the equipment options for keeping bees. We will discuss the pros and cons of different hive types and various beekeeping tools. Participants will have an opportunity to examine equipment and gear and will be led through the equipment decision-making and purchasing process, to help them decide on which equipment to buy and exactly where to get them.


Topics and dates for the remaining 9 classes can be reviewed on our website. Registration and payment for the full series is $80.00 and can be done here. Drop-in option for this one class is $10.00 ($15.00 per couple) and can be paid in cash at the door.


Tips and Techniques for a Successful Garden in 2014

A 4-part series of classes has been planned by Project Grow to help gardeners with the problems that are typically encountered throughout the growing season. The first (before you even get your hands in the soil!) will deal with planning your garden. It is here that mistakes in design, cost and effort can be minimized most readily and changes effected with little effort, all with the goal of maximizing your success in the garden. The second, taught just as Project Grow gardens open, will deal with issues commonly met when gardens are to be installed. The third will look at mid-season problems, when the heat, weeds and pests make gardening difficult. The fourth and last will look at fall and ways to extend the season and finally to end it. The series is free, though registration is required.


Tips and Techniques 1: Planning Your Vegetable Garden

Saturday, February 22, from 10am to 12noon

Leslie House, Leslie Science and Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor

This class is designed with the novice gardener in mind, though experienced gardeners may gain (and share) some ideas that will promote success in the season to come. Topics to be covered include, among others, factors to consider when designing its layout, selecting the vegetables to grow, deciding where and how you will plant them, managing weeds, and choosing materials and products to support and protect your plantings. Experienced Project Grow gardeners, Joet Reoma and Marcella Trautmann, are the instructors. Class is free, but registration is required.


Introduction to Organic Gardening

Saturday, March 1, from 10am to 12noon

Leslie House, Leslie Science and Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor


Royer Held, expert gardener and great friend of Project Grow, will be teaching a course on organic gardening. Starting with its historical roots, the class will then focus on the soil, from which everything grows and whose care is a central theme of organic gardening. The class will then cover growing vegetables and promoting their growth. This class is free, but registration is required.


Please click here for a complete list of classes we have planned between now and mid-May!

Gardener Survey Results

We sent a survey to our 2013 gardeners in October and this is the second article summarizing the results.  


Neglected Plots

More than any other single item, gardeners asked that we be more stringent in enforcing rules about plot maintenance. Seven respondents at six different sites mentioned this. An eighth respondent mentioned that gardeners are also responsible for maintaining paths and common area.


Kirk inspects plots at all the sites throughout the summer and can certainly enforce the rules more strictly. However, results cannot happen instantly.  With 20 sites all over the city, it is usually 3-4 weeks before Kirk can visit the same site again to know if the gardener in fact cleaned it up. If we allow someone two notices (and 3 inspections) before declaring the plot abandoned and mowing it down, the turnaround is 6-8 weeks.  This year we hope to improve this turnaround time by having the follow up checks done by the site coordinators.  If you have concerns about a particular plot, please do not hesitate to let Kirk know, just send an e-mail to kirk@projectgrowgardens.org.



The second highest number of survey responses were about classes. People suggested the following:

  • More classes in January, February and March

  • A seed swap in February

  • More classes for more experienced gardeners.

  • More classes for less experienced gardeners, perhaps about garden planning.

  • More classes throughout the summer.

  • A class about square foot gardening

A couple of these things we already do.  Project Grow has sponsored a February seed swap for many years. Read about this year's February 15th Seed Swap here.   We have also offered a class in square foot gardening for the past couple years and will offer it again this year.  


In response to the survey suggestions (and some very industrious work by our education committee!) we will be offering a series of classes on planning and maintaining a garden as well as a number of classes through the summer.  You can read details about the February-April classes here and a list of everything planned for the rest of the summer here.


Help Us Help You

All our classes are planned and run by our education committee.  This committee is made up of volunteers interested in teaching others how to be better gardeners.  If you have thoughts or suggestions about Project Grow classes, we strongly encourage you to pass your suggestions directly to the committee by contacting education@projectgrowgardens.org.

Heirloom Tomato Seeds for Sale!

You love heirloom tomatoes and want to explore growing your own seedlings.  You have looked around town but found the seed selection limited.  Well, don't despair.  Project Grow has seeds for sale for a large number of heirloom tomato cultivars.  And they can be purchased in three ways.  First, a selection of 27 of our more popular varieties is on sale now at the People's Food Coop on Fourth Avenue, near the Farmer's Market.  Second, a wider range of heirlooms is available online on our Marketplace page of our website. 

Check out what's being offered at our plant sale and if you are still determined to grow your own seedlings, you may purchase seeds for these varieties online.  Third, Project Grow  also has seeds for hundreds of other heirloom tomatoes which we hope to place online for sale next year.  But we have them now!   If you email marcella@projectgrowgardens.org with either a name of a cultivar or traits you wish in a cultivar, Marcella will send the seeds or suggest varieties to purchase.  Seeds are from open-pollinated, organically-grown plants and cost $2.50 per packet, with free postage.  If you buy the seeds online from our Marketplace, you can use PayPal.  If ordering from Marcella, you need to send a check.

Washtenaw County Green Media

Washtenaw County has a number of cool videos and sound recordings about environmental issues on their Green Media webpage.  These are all useful and informative and one about creating butterfly habitat in your garden and a second about pollinators may be of particular interest to gardeners.