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May 2014
In This Issue
Now Open: Most of our Gardens!
Plant-Sale-Only Offers & Advance Order Pickup
Half Plot, Full Plot, Two Plots - Who Gets What?
Rain Barrel Workshop Results
New Gardener Shindig a Hit!
Upcoming and New Project Grow Classes
Compost and Hay for sale
Rototilling for Individual Perennial Plots
Free Compost and Maybe Manure for the Taking!
Volunteers Needed: Advance Orders & Master Gardener

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Now Open: Most of Our Gardens!

New gardener Hongwei Xu helped stake out the Catholic Social Services site on Sunday. Xu and his wife Jiangnan Peng will be growing peppers and snow peas in their first year as Project Grow members. 



Almost all Project Grow sites have now been tilled and most are staked out (labeled stakes put on the corners of the plots).


The following sites are perennial or staked out and ready to go:



Catholic Social Services 

Chapel Hill












Both Discovery Gardens are open.  


These sites are tilled but not staked out. Most should be staked out by this weekend.  

County Farm




West Park still needs to be tilled.  Part of the delay is because Kevin is going to use a sub-soiler (basically a large knife dragged behind a tractor) to try to break up some of the gravely, compacted base there.  Once that is done, we will promptly get it staked out.  



The hydrant connections should be completed this week and County Farm should have water by this weekend.  Water should be available now at all the school garden sites plus the other sites that use faucets on buildings.  

Special offerings at our Plant Sale on Saturday, May 10th!


Saturday May 10th from 8am to 2pm.  
In  front of the People's Food Co-op
Fourth Avenue and Catherine, Downtown Ann Arbor


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 March 1st.  

Project Grow's sale specializes in offering unusual heirloom tomatoes (76 varieties), peppers (25 varieties) and basil (5 varieties).  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!

About half the plants we started were sold as advance orders but very few things are sold out so almost everything we started will be offered at the sale in front the Co-op.  This year we are also offering four packs of collards, dinosaur kale and broccoli for $3 each.   These are only available at the sale in front of the Co-op.  These plants can go in the ground immediately and will be 6 weeks old on the 10th.

To read all about the plants offered, click on the online catalog.  In addition to adding the new varieties, we revised the section describing the types of tomatoes and also added suggestions for people unfamiliar with heirloom tomatoes. 
Advance Order Pickup
If you advance ordered plants, pickup is this weekend on Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th between 10am-1pm at 1518 Shadford in Ann Arbor.   We also need volunteers to help with advance order pickup.  If you'd  like to help, you can register and sign up here.

Half Plot, Full Plot, Two Plots - Who Gets What?

Gardeners sometimes ask how it happens that some gardeners have more than one plot when some new gardeners cannot even get one plot at the same site.  What's going on?!  

Project Grow follows two guidelines for allocating plots.  First, returning gardeners are allowed to renew the plot or plots they have this year again next year.  At sites where demand for plots is high (Chapel Hill, Clague, Hillside, Hunt, Lakewood, Northside, West Park) new gardeners can only rent half plots.  This allows us to serve the most people possible while still being fair to returning gardeners as they often helped establish these popular sites.   If the popular sites remain popular, over time all the plots will become half plots. Sites which started out very popular (Chapel Hill, Northside, West Park) only ever had half plots.

Gardening is very popular right now and this year large sites like County Farm, Greenview and Matthaei filled up early.  In the past, however, they often had unrented plots when the season began.  It was in times like those that some gardeners first rented multiple plots at these sites.  Following our first rule, we allow these people to renew their two plots indefinitely.  

Rain Barrel Workshop 

Project Grow's  Rain Barrel Workshop was April 19th at the Yellow Barn.  About 14 people showed up and they made 17 rain barrels that day! Thank you to Mi Rain Barrel for providing supplies, helpers and their expertise.


New Gardener Shindig

About 70 people attended our New Gardener Shindig on April 25th.  People cam e early and stayed late, always a sign of a successful party.  Thank you to everyone that showed up as this is the best way to build up our gardening community! 


Upcoming and New Project Grow Classes


Tips and Techniques 2: Planting Your Vegetable Garden

Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. 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 but focus on problems often encountered by gardeners at the start of the season such as: 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, and preventing weeds. Class will be open to questions and individual problems.  The class is free but  registration is required.


Water Conservation 1

Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. 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
  • 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
  • Ingenious ideas for some small-space and water-wise gardening
Growing Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes Organically

Saturday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to noon.

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

Growing potatoes and sweet potatoes is easy and fun. They taste better than store-bought ones, too! Learn the history and characteristics of different potato varieties and how to raise them from seed or tuber. Then learn about sweet potatoes, a totally different plant, and how to grow them in Michigan. Instructor is Royer Held, potato and sweet potato grower extraordinaire. The class is free but  registration is required.


Exploring Bees! 4: Splitting Hives and Preventing Swarms

Saturday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to noon.

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

At the Apiary in the Discovery Garden at Leslie, we will discuss swarm biology and behavior and examine hives for signs of swarm preparation. We will discuss and possibly perform splits or other types of swarm management, as well as options for preventing, catching, and dealing with swarms. Rain date: Sunday, May 18. 

 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.


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.!

Compost and Marsh Hay from Kevin Ernst

Kevin does all our tilling and sells marsh hay for $6 a bale.  He will even deliver it to your site if you pool orders with your neighbors for 10 bales or more. Kevin also can deliver      up to 4 yards of compost to your site.  To order marsh hay or get more details on compost delivery, call Kevin at 845-0368.
If you have marsh hay delivered to your site. or buy bales of straw straw yourself, please put the bales in your plot rather than in the path.  Most of our landowners are fine with deliveries of compost to the site but check with your site coordinator first  to be sure.  However, if you get compost delivered, please move it to your plot promptly.  

Rototilling for Individual Perennial Plots

Kevin Ernst does all our tilling.  His equipment is too large to till individual plots, but he mentioned that a friend of his, Carl Exelby, can be hired to do individual perennial plots which have gotten out of hand. Carl can be reached at 734-612-5349.

Free Compost and Maybe Manure for the Taking!

Free Compost to City of Ann Arbor Residents
Up to one cubic yard of free compost is available to Ann Arbor City residents!  To get your compost you need to have proof of residency such as a driver's license or recent water or electric bill with your address and first/last name on it.  Also, don't forget to bring your own shovel and container!

Compost is available only on Saturday mornings between 8 a.m. - noon from April until the last Saturday in June.  Drive to the Wheeler complex off of Platt Rd. (driveway on your right, immediately south of  Swift Run Dog Park, and just south of Ellsworth Road).  Drive in to the large blue Materials Recycling Center (past a lake), the drive up the scale to the window.  Show the receptionist your proof of residency and then drive back out the way you came, but turning off on your right where a large compost pile has been set up (there will probably be cars and people already loading up compost).  Using shovels and containers that you have brought along, you can then fill them with compost.


Horse Manure - Check with Judy
Because of the extreme weather, Judy Seling, our manure provider in Dexter, does not have any well composted manure.  She does have fluffy, partially composted manure and expects there will be composted manure available in fall.   If you are interested, get in touch with Judy:
Judy Greer Seling
4925 Dexter Townhall Road
Dexter, MI 48130

Wanted: Master Gardener Volunteer and Advance Order Volunteer 

Master Gardener Volunteer Needed at Alpha House
Alpha House, an emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness, is looking for a master gardener for about 5 hours a week  to help with their small kitchen garden.  They have 5 raised beds, each approx. 10'x 4', in which they have previously grown tomatoes, squash, peppers, herbs, etc. for use by their volunteer cooks and our families.  Please contact Kathy Koehler  (734-822-0220 or kkoehler@alphahouse-ihn.org) for more information.
Volunteer for Advance Order Pickup
This weekend we need volunteers to help hand out plant sale advance orders.  The two days are Saturday and Sunday May 3rd and 4th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  You can register as a Project Grow volunteer and sign up here.