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Community Kitchen Garden: First Harvest!

by Janine Butler, garden volunteer

The volunteers and staff continue to work hard in the vegetable garden; weeding, mulching, feeding, watering and what not, and finally we are starting to reap the rewards!

Last week the first harvest was picked and delivered to Central Virginia Foodbank/ FeedMore, the recipients of all the food we’re growing here at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. A bounty of 182 pounds of yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant and cucumbers were hand delivered by Karen Clowers, Horticulture Department Coordinator at Lewis Ginter.

A fridge full of goodies!

A fridge full of goodies

This week we continued to harvest, and should have at least double the amount we delievered last week. Some of the zucchini got huge in just less than one week!

Super zucchini!

Super zucchini!

We may have to harvest more frequently; we would prefer the zucchini to be a little smaller than these whoppers as they will taste and cook better.

Included in the first delivery was a whole bunch of cucumbers (what’s the collective term for lots of cucumbers? How about a ‘cool of cucumbers’… ) We didn’t grow the cucumbers onsite at Lewis Ginter. Instead another regular garden volunteer donated them. We love this! In fact, anyone who is growing vegetables at home and has a bumper crop can donate their extra veggies. Drop them off at the visitor center here at Lewis Ginter and we will take them to the foodbank along with our contributions. We would prefer donations to be dropped off on Saturday or Monday mornings, 9am-12pm, as we will be making deliveries to the foodbank later in the afternoon. Scheduled bulk deliveries help the chefs’ plan out meals and use the vegetables more efficiently. However, if it is more convenient you can take your donations directly to the foodbank on any day and the chefs will utilize them in the salad or vegetable dish of the day.

More pictures:

Volunteers harvest squash

Volunteers harvest squash

Volunteers put in stakes to help support tomatoes

Volunteers put in stakes to help support tomatoes

Peppers almost ready for harvest

Peppers almost ready for harvest

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Community Kitchen Garden: United We Serve
By Janine Butler, garden volunteer
We are getting close to our first harvest! According to Tom Brinda, Assistant Executive Director of Horticulture here at Lewis Ginter, the first of the summer squash are almost ready! They are quite small, but apparently they taste better when they are smaller. In some circles serving baby squash with the flowers still intact is even quite trendy. Not only is the Central Virginia Foodbank reaping the benefits of this harvest, they can now call themselves gourmet!
This week we also gave most of the plants a healthy dose of liquid feed to help them along a bit, so hopefully we shall see a growth spurt in the next few days! And for those readers following the mystery eggplant bug story, the bugs have gone. We eliminated most of them last week, and they haven’t reappeared. Yeah!
We had about 8 new volunteers who came and worked in the Community Kitchen Garden this week. The majority of the group work for the Department of Social Services here in Richmond and got involved through the Hands on Greater Richmond program. Kimberly Brown, who works for the Dept of Social Services in the Office of Volunteering and Community Service, even brought her two young nephews. She told me that this opportunity combined her personal interest of gardening with serving her community and was excited to volunteer. As a bonus, her nephews also really enjoyed themselves and she hopes to be able to bring them back for more fun in the garden! We also had a representative from the Governor’s Office, Andrea Gaines. It’s exciting to see that local government is getting involved and encouraging it’s workforce to volunteer.

It’s all part of a bigger program called United We Serve. Recently the White House announced a new initiative asking people everywhere to volunteer to serve in their own communities during the summer. It’s a worthwhile effort, and everyone benefits. Personally, I am thoroughly enjoying this volunteer opportunity at Lewis Ginter. I feel active and involved at the same time as learning something new, and would recommend everyone to look for something that they can get involved with, either through one of the established volunteer programs or by pursuing a personal interest.

Thanks to all the new volunteers, and another big thanks to all the regular volunteers!

 

 

 

 

 

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Community Kitchen Garden:  Look What’s Growing! by Janine Butler, garden volunteer What a difference a couple of weeks can make!  Look at these pictures that were taken this morning:

Look how the squash seeds have grown!

Look how the squash seeds have grown!

The squash seeds that we planted a couple of weeks ago are doing great.  I can’t believe that they could grow so big in such a short time!  The seed package did say that germination would occur in 10 -15 days, but as I have never grown squash before I didn’t quite believe it.  Well, seeing is believing! The rest of the plants are also doing very well.  It is so exciting!  Everything is growing!

Cabbages planted by children from New Directions Daycare

Cabbages planted by children from New Directions Daycare

I am especially pleased with the cabbages – if you remember back to the Planting Day Celebration, the children from New Directions Daycare played an important part in planting those rows of cabbages.  It’s great to see that they have taken root so well and I hope the kids get a chance to come back and see how the plants are growing – I’m sure they would get a big kick from knowing that what they planted is actually thriving.

Rows and rows of tomatoes!

Rows and rows of tomatoes!

Lots more plants and seeds have been also been planted in the last week by the volunteers and staff at Lewis Ginter and, in fact, the majority of the site has been planted.  However, the sheer scale of the garden is a huge task.  This is where you can play a part: Lewis Ginter needs you!  We are calling out to anyone who would like to volunteer to work in the veggie garden.  Work will be taking place on Saturday and Monday mornings, 9:00am – 12:00pm, and anyone and everyone is welcome to come and play in the dirt!  Come once, or come all the time!  No experience is needed however the work may be hard at times, involving shoveling mulch and digging, but believe it or not it is lots of fun!  You can contact the volunteer department for more information, or just show up onsite on Saturday and/or Monday at 9am.  If you have a pair of gloves, sunscreen, and a full water bottle then you may wish to bring those along. If you can’t volunteer, we would still love for you to come and visit the garden at anytime.  Southern States has kindly donated packets of seeds to be given out to visitors, including watermelon, radish, pumpkin, cucumber and lettuce.  Yummy, sounds like the makings of some great salads to me! I hope that you are all having much success in your own gardens at home!

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