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March 2014
In This Issue
2014 Registration
Advance Order for the Plant Sale
2014 New Gardener Shindig!
Revised Member Handbook
Upcoming Project Grow Classes
Seed Swap
Gardener Survey Results
Heirloom Tomato Seeds for Sale!
Project Grow Blog

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Register Now for a 2014 Garden Plot


Project Grow has been registering people for gardens since January 1st.  We have already confirmed more than 85% of gardeners we had last year, which is terrific.  If you've already registered, thank you!


The following sites are already full:


County Farm








West Park



However, there are still a couple half plots available at Clague, which has had almost no openings for the past few years. We also still have plots available at Airport, Catholic Social Services, Chapel Hill (although residents have priority until April), Discovery at Leslie, Discovery at County Farm, Ellsworth, Mitchell and Platt.


Even if the site you want is full, we encourage you to still apply.  Sometimes gardeners cancel while others fail to start by the end of May.  In either of these cases, we offer the plots to gardeners on our waiting list (those who applied but could not be placed).  This tends to happen especially at large sites like County Farm. Registration is available on our website.  


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


Hankerin' for Heirlooms? Place Your Advance Orders Now

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).
whole tomatoes 1

Sadly, some gardeners find that their favorite choices have already sold out by the time they make it to the sale downtown. 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. 
2014 New Gardener Shindig - April 25th
Project Grow will be hosting a get-together for all gardeners on Friday, April 25, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Nature House at Leslie Science and Nature Center.  


All gardeners are encouraged to attend, but the focus of the event will be on introducing new gardeners to community gardening, organic gardening practices, plus volunteer opportunities with Project Grow.


Come for dinner and meet Project Grow board members, site coordinators and other gardeners. Learn all you'll need to know to enjoy being a member of Project Grow to its fullest!


We have hosted this event for the past three years and they have been a great success with around 50 people attending.  Because the event is so popular, if you expect to attend, please RSVP so we can be prepared!

Revised Member Handbook

We made extensive updates to our Member Handbook.  Please take a look!


Upcoming Project Grow Classes


Exploring Bees! 2: Specialty Tools and Assembling Your Equipment

Saturday, March 22, from 10 a.m. to noon

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

In this second class of her season-long series, Meghan Milbrath will focus on setting up your hive and answering questions about assembling your equipment. A series of more specialized equipment will be brought in for participants to examine, along with other tools and jigs to help you assemble your equipment. Participants are welcome to bring in any equipment that they have questions about or need help assembling. Class is limited to those who have already paid for the full course, though drop-ins are permitted, with fees of $10.00 ($15.00 per couple), payable in cash at the door.


Square Foot Gardening

Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to noon

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

Do you want to garden this summer but are limited in space? Do you have space, but don't know how to start? Then this class is for you! James Lee, a certified Square Foot Gardening instructor, will again present a class on this popular and well-established method of gardening in a small space. Topics will include reasons for using the square foot approach to gardening, methods for creating such beds, and planting schemes that take advantage of the newly created beds, all without weeds! Participants will also be able to visit the Square Foot Garden bed at Leslie and see this method in action. The fee for this class is $10.00 Please visit Eventbrite to register.


Exploring Bees! 3: Bee Biology; Checking Over-Wintered Hives

Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m. to noon

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

Outside, at the Apiary in the Discovery Garden at Leslie, Meghan Milbrath, in this third class of the series, will discuss the different types of bees, their biology and anatomical adaptations. The focus will be on the natural cycle of the colony over the season. Then, weather permitting, we will check the hives at Leslie and learn how to do a first check of over-wintered hives and how to get them ready for the upcoming season. Rain date: Sunday, April 13th. Class is limited to those who have already paid for the full course, though drop-ins are permitted, with fees of $10.00 ($15.00 per couple), payable in cash at the door.


Growing Heirloom Tomatoes and Peppers Organically

Saturday, April 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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

Learn the secrets to selecting and growing exceptionally delicious tomatoes and peppers using organic practices. Discover the best cultivars to grow, along with tips to ensure a bountiful harvest. Royer Held, tomato and pepper grower extraordinaire, will tell all in this class. Class is free, but registration is required.


But wait, there's more!  Please click here for a complete list of classes we have planned between now and mid-May!

Seed Share

We re-christened our annual Seed Swap the Seed Share since no real swapping is involved. Everyone lays out the seeds they have available to share.  We all visit, pick out anything we want to try this year and dream of spring.  Despite very cold weather, we had a nice turnout at our February 15th Seed Share at Downtown Home and Garden.  If you missed it, we hope to see you next year!

2013 Gardener Survey Results: Final Installment

In this final discussion of the results from our Fall 2013 survey of gardeners, we will cover two issues mentioned by our respondents. 
Supply of Tools
The first is tools, or the lack of a number and/or variety of tools available to gardeners at various sites. This problem is more likely to occur if the site does not have a shed, as having no place to store them, they either are few in number or disappear over the course of the season. Should this problem occur at your site, please alert your site coordinator. She/he can then contact the manager to see which sites have an abundance of tools. The needed items can be redistributed from those sites to fill in the gap at yours.

We will also be contacting all of our Site Coordinators at the beginning of the season, to inform them to check that an adequate number and variety of tools are available at each of their sites.  Inefficiencies can then be remedied, so that all sites start off the season well stocked.

Except for hoses, we try not to buy brand-new tools because they are frequently stolen. Garage sales are our major source for needed tools. If you frequent such sales, please pick up tools for us that are in good repair. For purchases under $5.00 per tool, Project Grow will reimburse you for items you buy. Just send the following information to info@projectgrowgardens.org
  • What you bought
  • What it cost
  • Your name and address


More Community Activities 
The second issue was a wish for more activities, such as potlucks and work parties that would allow gardeners to socialize with one another and to develop a sense of community at their sites. At County Farm, where these activities are held each month, gardeners do get to meet one another and a strong sense of community is the result. However, it is a large site, with more than 100 gardeners, where a 10% turnout is still sufficient for a successful event. At smaller sites, especially those with only 10 to 20 gardeners, a similar rate of attendance would be disappointing.

We recognize that it is difficult for small sites to stage such events, so this year we would like to experiment with a "Roving Potluck" - a communal meal that will be held once a month and hosted by a site but all members of Project Grow will be invited. Given that we have 20 sites and only six months in which to rove, it will take several years to get to all of the sites. But fun, food, and friendships should result in the meantime, with new friends becoming good friends over time!

How likely are you to attend our "Roving Potluck? Or do you have another idea? Please send your thoughts and opinions to info@projectgrowgardens.org. We also strongly encourage people seeking a greater sense of community to get involved with Project Grow. You can do this in a number of ways:   


  • Attend our events like the Winter Potluck, New Gardener Shindig, Tomato Tasting and Annual Meeting
  • Volunteer at the Composting Education Center, Plant Sale or the Tomato Tasting
  • Sign-up for Project Grow classes
  • Meet, greet and socialize with your plot neighbors - exchange names, tips and even seedlings!


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:  
  1. A selection of 27 of our most popular varieties is on sale now at the People's Food Coop on Fourth Avenue, near the Farmer's Market.  
  2. A wider range of heirloom seeds is available online on our Marketplace page of our website.
  3. Project Grow has seeds for hundreds of other heirloom tomatoes, which we hope to sell online next year.  But you can buy them now!   If you e-mail marcella@projectgrowgardens.org with either a name of a cultivar or traits you wish to have 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.

Project Grow Blog

We have revived our blog and you can see it here.  You can subscribe to posts and be notified by e-mail whenever something new appears.  Kirk will be posting some things here on a volunteer basis about his own gardening projects.  Over time we hope the blog will have many authors reporting on the many sides of Project Grow including the community gardens, the Compost Education Center, our classes and more.  

green logo   
Project Grow Community Gardens

If you's like to contribute something, please contact info@projectgrowgardens.org and we will help you do it.  If you only want to contribute occasionally,  just send it to us and we will post it for you - anonymously or not - it's up to you.  Items about what is happening at your community garden site are especially welcome.