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The Seedling -August 2019- Vol 1, No 6

Welcome to "The Seedling"! Read on and see what's cropping up in the Community Gardens of Tucson. Thank you all for your support!

Board Chair's Corner

Veggies stolen? Tools disappear? Don’t just get mad, help us get stronger!

I don’t want to write this piece. I want all of our gardens to be little areas of tranquility, peace, butterflies and bees, flowers and healthy veggies and stuff like that.

I don’t want to see cut locks on sheds, plants ripped out or eggplants ripped off! But it happens and we’ve got to talk about it, so here goes.

Let’s start with the worst: somebody steals your finally ripe watermelons that you’ve been watching ripen for a month or your eggplants just now ready to turn into some killer baba ganoush. The worst because it usually means these items were grabbed by someone who could get into the garden-a fellow gardener or guest!

Solution? Strengthen the garden community, help each other with plant and pest issues, share crops with your fellow gardeners who had a theft or failure (whether it was their fault or not), and talk it out. You’ll likely never know who took your harvest, but hopefully connecting with everyone in the garden will prevent a rerun. This tactic means you have to know your gardening neighbors, means coming to garden meetings and sharing wins and losses. Each garden is different and helping new gardeners or those with “victim” or failing gardens will make the garden stronger…and less likely to be the scene of disappearing veggies.

Want to hear a weird idea another gardener proposed? Dust your veggies with wood ashes or flour to make them less attractive! (No report on edibility impacts on this one!) Or grow strange or ugly plants fewer folks would want to steal-purple carrots, black or yellow tomatoes, white baby eggplants, giant Armenian cukes, black garbanzos, etc.

Another weird one: grow more than you need! Figure on giving away part of your crop to the Community Food Bank or a local church. Then if some of your crop disappears, think of it as another form of donation. (It has been suggested that this idea came from the Dalai Lama. No information on that.)

OK, how about the next worst: somebody steals your tools or equipment from the shed or cuts your fence. Here’s where we may need to use technology to find the culprit, who is likely to be a stranger to the garden. Many of our gardens already have video security cameras, needed unfortunately because of past problems. Perhaps we need more and maybe motion detector lights? I am not an advocate of taller or electrified fences or concertina wire. This is a garden for heck sakes, not a detention center!!!

We do need to inventory all of our tools and mark them in a permanent way so they can’t be easily hocked or sold at garage sales. Can we all help with this? We should report thefts, especially of major equipment like tillers, to the police, for what it’s worth. And consider different insurance coverage for big things. And use “theft-proof” pain in the butt locks on our sheds too. And chain lock our picnic tables, and ????

What else?

Knowing the garden’s neighbors; the homes, school, church-whoever is nearby. Just like Neighborhood Watch, the more eyes on the garden during the most hours of the day (and night) and a connection between the neighbors and the garden will reduce all sorts of unwanted actions. A gift of fresh veggies might grease the wheels there too!!

Finally, don’t let it get to you too much. Urban gardening is, well, urban! That means there are lots of people around, some to help, some to join, some to mess with us. But if we are smart and resilient, the crops, the gardens and our psyches will survive….

If you have other suggestions for deterring theft or damage in our gardens, please pass any ideas, no matter how strange, on to your site coordinator or to any Board member. Thanks!!!

PS If you do believe that another gardener is taking veggies or otherwise consciously damaging the garden (leaving a hose running on purpose, not locking gates, obnoxious behavior in the garden, etc) please discuss this with your site coordinator. We have in the past (but rarely) had to kick out gardeners for various problems. This is a solution if such activities are clear.

CGT Recipes

One of the things I remember from growing up was the Bread & Butter pickles everyone enjoyed during the summer. Everyone’s grandmother seemed to have a recipe and they appeared at every family function and cookout. By the time I was older and wanted to make them myself, I didn’t have a grandmother to ask for a recipe. I did a good bit of experimenting before I could get the taste that I remembered.

The best cucumbers to use are the small pickle variety. I have not had luck growing them in Tucson and they seem to be hard to find in the stores. I have been able to find them at Apple Annie’s in Wilcox and it is a good idea to check in advance.

-Chef Harry Crane


Bread and Butter Pickle

(A la Southern Illinois)

Yield: 15-16 half pints or 8 full pints

16 cups Cucumbers, pickle variety

3 Onion, sweet variety thin slice

¼ cup Salt, kosher

4 cups Ice

3 ¾ cups Cider vinegar

3 ¾ cups Sugar

1 ½ tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Celery seeds

1 1/2 Tbl Mustard seeds

Directions: Wash cucumbers, cut off ends, and slice into ¼-inch slices.

Put cucumber, onion, salt and ice in a large bowl and mix well. Place in colander and put in bowl or sink. Cover with a clean towel, put a plate on top with a weight (large can of tomatoes for example) and leave for three hours. After three hours, rinse and drain.

Place cider, sugar, turmeric, celery seeds, mustard and drained cucumbers in a large pot. Heat while stirring to just under a boil.

Fill sterilized jars with cucumbers and cover with liquid. Leave ¼ inch of head space.

Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Check seals when cool. Keeps for a year.

Tip: To sterilize, put clean jars and lids on sheet pan and bake in a 225° F oven for 15 minutes. Leave in oven until needed. Jars remain sterile as long as the oven isn’t opened. This process seems much easier than boiling.

Jessica's Corner

Not just growing gardens; growing Gardeners

One of my favorite things about working with The Community Gardens of Tucson is teaching students. This summer I attended the "STEM-azing" course taught by the University of Arizona Community and School Garden Program, and held at Manzo Elementary. Manzo is one of the top Green Schools in the nation, working daily to grow students into lifelong learners through their garden ecology program.

The opportunities to teach children the standard academic lessons in a garden setting are endless, but potentially more important to our community and our future, are teaching children to love and connect with nature, and how to be good citizens through stewardship of a garden. As Community Gardeners, we know the value that our gardens add to our personal lives and our communities, additionally they can also provide valuable hands on learning for students and teachers, increasing knowledge of environmental and social responsibility.

We have 9 Community Gardens at schools all around town. Our Board recently approved increased outreach and educational support to school gardens that need help to grow their own garden ecology program. I can’t wait to work with our students and teachers in these gardens, and to share those joys and lessons with our larger community (that means you!) We are building our future community of gardeners, and what can be more exciting or rewarding than that?

Upcoming Events
Meet the Board
Hello! My name is Parker Filer and I am thrilled to be joining CGT's Board of Directors. I grew up in the backyard gardens of my parents, grandparents -and one great grandma- in western Pennsylvania. I moved to Prescott, Arizona in 2000 and have been engaged in agriculture -as a student and a traveller- ever since. My technical training in plant sciences began at Yavapai Community College in Prescott in 2001. I continued in plant and soil science at the University of Hawaii-Manoa where I earned a Bachelors of Science; and then worked with farmers in Honduras, the Philippines, and India during my master's program in International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University. I actually joined my first community garden while living in Ithaca, NY in 2008. I loved seeing the variety of crop choices, planting arrangements, and production methods that my fellow gardeners employed; and observing how the various systems evolved and how each crop had changed each time I visited the gardens and my own plot. I particularly enjoy the unique spirit of camaraderie that seems to naturally arise in community gardens. Sharing knowledge, tools, conversation -and produce!- gardeners form special bonds that give yield real community. It's the same reason I enjoy my current work at the Pima County Cooperative Extension office, where I serve as an Assistant Agent of Horticulture and get to work with another great community of growers, the Pima County Master Gardeners. I sense a similar cohesion among the CGT board members and our shared vision for a robust gardening culture and network of knowledgeable growers that spans the city, nourishes the soil and feeds our community. I look forward to visiting CGT's garden sites this year and hope to see you out there in the plots!
Photo Of The Month
Kathleen Velo from Chaverim garden with an amazing, cool, Armenian Cucumber. (Cucumis melo var. flexuosus) We might also add, Gigantus!.
Treasurer's Corner

Treasurer’s Corner. The Seedling, Vol. 1; No. 6.

Since the launch in March 2019 this point has been made again and again in this corner of The Seedling. The enduring financial reality of this little thing called CGT with its outsized footprint in the community is that the plot fees gathered from CGT gardeners do NOT cover ordinary expenses for water, staff support and the purchase of stuff in support of CGTs gardens.

This is an appeal to CGT gardeners. The next semi-annual plot payment is due in September 2019 which gardeners will pay on-line (which the Board encourages all gardeners to do) or by check. For those folks in a position to help, please ante up a donation. $5? $10? Whatever?

For payments made on-line there is space at the website to explain an additional payment. If your payment is by check please attach a note describing any additional payment. CGT will record the payments.

CGT is only asking for support via donations from folks who are I position to help CGT and, thus, the own gardening experience offered through CGT. Payments would go to CGTs general fund or, if so specified by the donor, to help CGT afford its scholarship gardeners. Indeed, donations would be more be very much appreciated from scholarship gardeners.

BTW: CGT is an IRS-approved tax exempt organization in recognition of its service to the community. As such, donations can be deductible from federal and state income taxes. Read the rules/consult your tax advisor.

Thank you from the CGT Board and the gardening community it represents for any assistance that you can provide.

By JMH - 08/09/2019

What to Plant
Here's what we recommend planting this month
(S = sow seeds, T = transplant, ST = sow seeds & transplant):
  • Black-eyed Peas (S)

  • Chinese Pole Beans (S)

  • Cucumber (Armenian) (ST)

  • Cucumber (S)

  • Melons (ST)

  • Pumpkin (ST)

  • Spinach (NZ & Malabar) (ST)

  • Squash (Summer) (ST)

  • Squash (Winter) (ST)

"Green Thumb," Schmeen Thumb!
You don't need a green thumb or even a garden plot to help us grow CGT. Whether you're a current gardener, thinking about joining, or just a fan of the cause- please consider making a donation today! We are passionate about promoting gardening in our community and as such are committed to keeping plot fees affordable to all. Your support make makes a world of difference. 
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