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April 2014
In This Issue
2014 Registration
Advance Order for the Plant Sale
2014 New Gardener Shindig!
Build You Own Rain Barrel!
When Do the Gardens Open?
Upcoming Project Grow Classes
Help The Bee Team Again!

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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 90% of gardeners we had last year, which is terrific.  If you've already registered, thank you!


The following sites are already full:


Chapel Hill


County Farm










There are plenty of plots still available.  We have open plots at:


Catholic Social Services

Discovery at Leslie

Discovery at County Farm




West Park


Even if the site you want is full, we encourage people to still apply.  Sometimes gardeners cancel and others fail to start by the end of May.  For example, last month West Park was full but someone canceled and there is now an open plot.  


If someone cancels or fails to start, we offer the plots to gardeners on our waiting list (those who applied but could not be placed). 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

If you have not gotten around to starting your peppers, tomatoes and basil this year, don't worry, Project Grow's got your covered.  Our plant sale team began starting seeds more than a month ago.  

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).

Peppers, basil and tomatoes for the plant sale

Advance Order Now!
Sadly, some of our gardeners find that some of 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. 
Please order soon.  We must receive your order by Saturday April 26th

Catalog and How to Order
To read all about the plants offered, click on the online catalog.
  We recently made a couple minor changes based on seed availability for peppers.  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.  

Crop Failures

We have had a few crop failures among the peppers: Hot peppers 'Fish' and 'Trinidad Scorpion' and sweet peppers 'Huth's Tomato Pepper' and Santa Maria Yellow Cherry'.  

We have removed these from the order form and catalog, although a couple people have already ordered them. We will substitute 'Ghost' for 'Trinidad Scorpion'  (beyond 1,000,000 Scovilles, how much difference can it make?) and we have one Huth's to give the person who already ordered it.   No one has ordered the other two so far so we should be fine.  

2014 New Gardener Shindig - April 25th - Please Come!
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!

Build Your Own Rain Barrel!

We had a work shop like this a couple years ago that was very popular and a whole lot of fun.  If you missed that one, here is your second chance.

What:     Pop-up Rain Barrel Workshop
When:    Saturday April 19th, 12:30pm - 2:30pm
Where:  The Yellow Barn at 416 West Huron
Cost:       $65   

Build your own rain barrel with Project Grow and Mi Rain Barrel! We provide all the supplies, volunteers to help, and food-grade recycled barrels. This workshop will take place at The Yellow Barn at 416 West Huron between 12:30 and 2:30pm. Please visit www.mirainbarrel.com/signup to register and click "store" to learn more about the finished rain barrel. Cash & checks with valid ID will be accepted at the door. Please contact  lucas@projectgrowgardens.org if you have any questions or would like your barrel to be assembled by PG volunteers.

When Do the Gardens Open?

This is the first question on everyone's mind when the weather starts to warm up.  Perennial (no till) gardens are open as soon as you want to start.  For the gardens that are tilled in the spring, it depends on the weather.  

More important than temperature is rain.  We cannot have the gardens tilled when they are really wet. Tilling wet soil is bad for the soil and creates clods that are hard to deal with later.  There is also a risk of the tractor getting stuck.  Warmer weather is coming late this year.  That might delay when the gardens open or it might not.   It really all depends on how dry the soil is in late April-early May.  

Once the gardens are tilled, site coordinators still need to organize a work day to stake out the individual plots.  The coordinators will let you know when that is done.

When Will the Water be Turned On? 
Once the gardens are open, everyone's next question is about water.  When the water is turned on depends on the site.  At sites using city hookups to hydrants or other city water (Airport, Greenview, Hillside, Hunt, Platt and West Park), the city needs to make these connections.  We apply and pay for the hookups in early April but after that it is out of our hands

Catholic Social Services last fall
At sites which use outdoor spigots from schools or other buildings (Buhr, Catholic Social Services, Chapel Hill, Clague, Dicken, Lakewood, Mitchell, Northside, Wines) the water should be on when the gardens open.  

At Matthaei, the Botanical Gardens provides well water for free.  Most years the water is turned on by the time the gardens open.  

county farm family
Greener times at the County Farm Discovery Garden 
At County Farm, the county provides the water and the parks maintenance crew turn the water on. There is often winter damage to the lines which can cause delays.  
The county generously provides water for the gardens for free.  Because of this we are not in a position to demand when it be turned on or off. Please do not call or visit the county offices and ask for the water to be turned on.  They are aware of the need to turn it on and gardeners asking is more likely to be an annoyance than a help.   


Upcoming Project Grow Classes


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

Saturday, April 12, from 10 am 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 pm to 3 pm

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.






Extend Your Growing Season With Low Tunnels

Saturday April 26, from 1pm to 3pm

Lakewood Garden Site

344 Gralake, southwest side of Lakewood Elementary School 



Project Grow Lakewood gardeners Shari Kane and Dave Steele have developed the art and science of winter gardening with low tunnels and want to share their discoveries with you. Meet them at their plot in Lakewood and see what a low tunnel is and how it has allowed them to grow vegetables when snow is on the ground and to start earlier, long before most gardeners can begin! Then learn how they did it, down to the last nut and bolt, so that you, too, will be able to do it next winter.  The class is free but  registration is required






Tips and Techniques 2: Planting Your Vegetable Garden

Saturday, May 3, from 10am to noon.

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

Inge Ferguson, Jesse Raudenbush, Joet Reoma and Marcella Trautmann, experienced Project Grow gardeners, many of them master gardeners and composters, will share tips and techniques that have helped them to garden successfully. If you are a novice gardener, or even an experienced one, attend this class to learn how to garden more effectively and efficiently in 2014. Topics will range widely, to cover problems often encountered by gardeners at the start of the season, and will include, but are not limited to, the following: preparing beds for planting, choosing the right tool for the task at hand, amending the soil, decoding seeding and planting instructions, selecting appropriate staking methods and materials, using row covers effectively, watering wisely, preventing weeds, and the like. Class will be open to questions and individual problems.  The class is free but  registration is required.


Water Conservation 1

Saturday, May 10, from 10am to noon.

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

The first of a two part series of classes   This explores water conservation in home (backyard and indoor) and community gardens. Specific goals include:

  • Awareness of community/municipal garden rules regarding water use.
  • Understanding the ecology of how much saturation is needed to support plant life.
  • Understanding how much water you really use and how much it costs.
  • Appropriate times to water and most efficient method for each time.
  • Plant selection and gardening methods that save water
  • Efficient times to water versus good times for plants to be watered
  • The benefit and dynamics of rain gardening
  • Ingenuous ideas of some small-space and water-wise gardening.

The class is free but  registration is required.


But wait, there's much more!  

Our Education Committee has scheduled 18 more classes for May-October on such topics as Daylilies, Integrated Pest Management, Vermiculture, Building a Birdhouse, Seed Saving.  The majority of these classes are free or very low cost.  Please click here for a complete list of classes we have planned between now and the end of the year.!

Help the U of M Bee Team!
Urban Ecology: Request to Sample


My name is Chatura Vaidyaand I am part of a group of graduate student researchers at the University of Michigan interested in community gardens and urban agriculture. This summer our group will be expanding a project that documents bee populations in Michigan's community gardens, and we're wondering if we could solicit your permission to add your plots in our study.


We've already worked with some of you last summer and we are hoping to continue this collaboration with Project Grow Community Gardens. Past research has found that community gardens may be a valuable refuge for various threatened bee species, and in an effort to determine whether this applies to southeastern Michigan in general, we are hoping to continue sampling at Project Grow. We've designed our sampling efforts to limit effects on bee populations and we will not disturb or harm your plants in any way. All we would require from plot owners is physical access to the gardens and plots for sampling.


If we can work within your plot, we will do one or more the following:     

  1. Place small bowls with soapy water in the gardens to capture bees.  These small (3.25oz) plastic bowls are filled with slightly soapy water, and placed in the garden for 24 hours (once every two weeks) to capture bees.
  2. Capture bees with light netting every two weeks for genetic sampling.  Bees will be captured so we can use DNA to ascertain population health.

In addition to the above sampling efforts we would also

  1. Place potted plants in the garden(but not in your plots) and observe the bees that visit them. We will place 9-12 potted bean and flower plants along the edge of the garden, and use them to sit and observe what kinds and how many bees visit each plant.

Please let us know at your earliest convenience if we could sample in your plots this summer. We would like to start early-mid May and end by early-mid September. We are available to answer any questions whatsoever, and will be happy to share all our results with you when the study is finished!


The Bee Group :  Chatura Vaidya, Carolina Simao (you might remember us by our alternate name "Bug Ladies"), Paul Glaum & Gordon Fitch.


Thanks so much for your time,


Charura :  chatura.vaidya@gmail.com

Carolina : simao@umich.edu

Paul :         prglaum@umich.edu

Gordon :   gmfitch@umich.edu