Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Year for the Four Square Society

Hey Everyone! My name is Abby DeBofsky, and I am this year's summer intern at Growing Hope. I hope everyone had a great winter and is ready to get back to gardening (or start up a new garden for those of you that are new!). I look forward to hearing about all of your gardening endeavors and positive changes within your homes and communities in this blog. Continue posting questions and advice, and it would be great to see even more pictures of your Four Square gardens as they grow this season.

Have a great day and have fun gardening!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Carrots and bean plants and leeks! Oh MY!

Here is the sweet potato bed (with leeks on one side and the volunteer beans in the back).  Haven't yet dug any of the White Triumph sweets yet--probably not til a hard frost is predicted.  I want to give them every day possible to grow larger. 
Leeks fight with the sweet potatoes for space! 

Here are some of the blue shackamaxon beans that volunteered in my foursquare (from last year).  You can see in the pod the beans beginning to gain their blue color; the ones on the table show their lovely characteristic sapphire blue.  Eventually, they will dry black.  I got about 7 lbs of fresh green beans so far from the plant, and many more remain on there now, making the dried blue beans for the winter.   I made a second planting, too, elsewhere in the garden, following my pea harvest.   
Some of the harvest from my second foursquare.  Notice the very hilarious St. Valery carrots!  I've seen forked carrots before , but this is ridiculous!  Several that I've pulled have had 3, 4, and even 5 roots.  We had the carrots last night grated with a vinaigrette of lemon juice, wine vinegar, mint, olive oil, salt & pepper.  

Here is the state of the carrot/beet bed in mid-September.  I've noticed that the St. Valery carrots have enormous top growth.  The gorgeous beets continue to have lovely tops but the beets themselves remain rather small.  
Shackamaxons reach to the top of the porch!  And a closer look at the contents of the foursquare:   

Bull's Blood beets, with their gorgeous tops. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

From Four-Sqaure Gardener Lise

Lise asked me to post this for her. Enjoy! -Meg

Hello fellow 4 Square Society members,
I want to tell you about a sweet experience the other night. I was watering in back of my 1924 bungalow on A2's Southwest side when I heard some little voices coming from out front.
"What happened to the lettuces?" said a little voice.
I put down the hose and went around to catch a glimpse of the two teensy children and their parents examining my 3x8' raised bed. We built it along the sidewalk from old lumber we found behind the house along the sidewalk.

"My son asks every day to go see the lettuce," said his mother almost apologetically. Suddenly I remembered my own mother and how she would share the delight of any small child by blowing feathery seeds off dandelion heads or playing "he loves me he loves me not..." I was so excited to share my little garden! (I started it after reading about the 4 Square Society!) "Here, these are carrots. Let's see if they are ready..." I tugged at the greens and up came a perfect three inch carrot. I gave them each one (the first I had tried harvesting.) The kids were thrilled, holding them out like candles at Christmas. And so was their Mom. My garden was her destination, a stopping point on her daily walk around the neighborhood. Thanks Growing Hope!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hello Four Square Gardeners!

I’m just writing to let everyone know that my internship at Growing Hope will be ending this week and I will no longer be running the Four Square Society. Other Growing Hope staff will be in contact with you about tracking and other updates as the season continues. Please continue to send your tracking sheets and other email correspondence to It has been a pleasure working with all of you who have participated in the Four Square Society blog. We appreciate all the data you’ve sent us, and we enjoy seeing your photos and hearing about your gardens. Best of luck through the rest of the season and in future years!

Growing Hope Research Intern

Abby's Garden

Here's a post on behalf of Abby, another Four Square Gardener:

"The first picture is the “before” picture from early June after I first planted everything, and the rest of the pictures were taken today. I have zucchinis coming in on one side, cucumbers on the other, oregano, thyme, arugula and cantaloupe in the front, as well as peppers and watermelon in the middle (they are getting buried in the squash & probably won’t make it). The cucumber is shooting up along the pole to the sky and is running out of pole to hold on to--not sure where it will go next.

I had never seen a squash plant before and had trouble picturing what everything would be like in three dimensions. Next time I will plant fewer vegetables and divvy up the space a bit better.

I am eating my first cucumber now. I also grilled one zucchini last week and have two ready to grill tonight (on a mini inside kitchen grill that is a nice complement with the garden). That’s not to mention the chamomile for tea growing in front of the house and the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes that I eat everyday from containers."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Confessions of a Couple of First Time Gardeners

"Sal and Lacea's Jardin"
plot, located at West Middle School's Community Garden, is our first shot at growing a garden. It sure has been a roller coaster ride!

Planted our seeds in peat pods in the house: corn, tomatoes (beefsteak & romas), jalopeno peppers, cucumbers, peas, basil, cilantro, onions, green/yellow peppers, broccoli and lettuce. They went crazy! We think we planted them too early for the May 17th opening of our garden, since they grew big, plateaued, and started to look brown.

Both Lacea and Sal grew up with gardeners in the family, but weeding was no fun as a kid! We dragged Mom along to the first work party for her expertise in planting a garden. Met the other gardeners (thanks for the bucket, Mark!). Turns out Jen E. from the garden is also in Lacea's lifelong learning Spanish Class at WCC--small world! Planted our garden into the ground. We got lucky with our little plot--we have a raised bed, which means less weeds.

About a week after we planted, our plot died due to the frost. So we bought little plants (sans the broccoli, add tomatillo this time) and replanted the garden, this time with marigolds. We planted the extra marigolds in the Plant a Row for the Hungry plot, since all the space for veggies had been taken. Oh No! ANOTHER frost at the end of May?! This time we covered the plants with sheets, and they survived with minimal burn damage.

We think we have a knack for gardening, and are equipped with natural green thumbs. Other gardeners ask us, "What's your secret?" and "Are you sure it's organic?" We only had to weed once and our garden looked amazing! Started harvesting lettuce and basil, and joined the Four Square Society. Had a mishap harvesting the lettuce-Sal chopped the heads down to nothing. Lacea thought he had killed them completely, but they survived and came back in July better than ever. It's amazing how fresh and tasty organic veggies are out of the garden!

Played hookey the day of the walking tour to get our plot in tip-top shape. So excited to share our amazing tomatillo plant with the rest of the world! Weeding was minimal, but we obviously over-planted our plot. We had to rip out a cucumber plant and a few tomato plants that were overshadowed by taller plants. Harvested more lettuce, and transplanted the jalopeno peppers to the space left open by the pulled cucumber plant. They really seemed to enjoy their new home.

We're feeling great about the garden! So great, we started giving away our extra produce to anyone interested. Watering is fun at night, except for those awful mosquitoes! We helped with the garden work party, pulling weeds in the common paths and putting down straw in their place. Our tools and the bucket Mark gave us flew out the back of Sal's truck in an unfortunate tailgate incident. So, Jen loans us her Garden Weasel. It may be "as seen on TV" but we love it and we love gardening!

End of July: OH NO! We got too cocky. Watering every other day or every third day does not work anymore!!! Our plants keeled over and now we aren't sure if they'll make it. At least we got one red tomato out of the bunch!

The saga continues...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Come check out our new FAQs page!

We've been updating content on the Growing Hope FAQs page. Included now on the site are tips for dealing with garden pests, and we hope to add more information as soon as we can.

If you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see on the site, leave us a comment here!

The photos you see here are but a few of the miracles happening in Recreation Park's Community Garden's four squares...