Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hello Folks,

          It is time to start getting applications in for plots this year.  The 2016 application form is now available. Click on tab for it.
Here are a few notes of explanation
The application form has been revised this year to place emphasis on the obligation we all take to cultivate the Mission Garden.  A small group of key gardeners reviewed our procedures from last year and helped revise the application form.

The survey of gardeners with plots conducted the end of last year reflected strong support for the Mission Garden.  However, the survey also reflected concern, if not frustration, that the work load was not equitably shared.  The willingness of gardeners to do their share was not the problem, rather it was an organizational problem of not clearly identifying work assignments and who was responsible for what.  That will be remedied this year.

The group of key gardeners also recommended that there be some level of proportionality based on the number of plots people were assigned.  We will make a distinction between gardeners with 1 – 2 plots and those with 3 – 4 plots.  Those with 3 – 4 plots would be expected to contribute a greater amount of time.  It was estimated that if all were participating on an equitable and proportional basis, the time contribution to the Mission Garden should average around one-half hour a week over the growing season for those with 1 – 2 plots and some amount more for those with 3 – 4 plots.  We realize that all crops are not the same and the distribution of work requirements over the growing season varies among different crops.  A time log sheet will be posted this year to track how much time individuals contribute to each crop so we have a better estimate of time requirements in the future. Gardeners will also be given more active involvement in selecting what crops or activities they will work with.

We will still recognize those gardeners with physical limitations and look for other ways they can participate and support the common effort. 

Final item for today. Please let me know if you are receiving these garden emails and are no longer involved in the garden and would like to be deleted from the group email list.  We are most happy to keep you on our email list even If you do not have a plot.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hot Day in the Garden

Hi folks,
            Well, was it hot enough for you today?  I think it topped out around 103 degrees.  I was at the garden until 3:00 this afternoon, but then called it quits. 

            Harvest continues to go well and we very much appreciate a few extra hands stopping by to give an assist.  Both Mary M. and Bonnie W. joined us this morning.  Phil advises that with today’s delivery we are just about to 1,000 lbs. so far. 

            We have an overabundance of crops on two of the raised beds that we are inviting our gardeners to harvest some for your own personal use.  These are the French beans (last bed on the north side of the North Raised Beds. - right next to the end of the plots), and Swiss chard ( a middle  bed in the South Raised Beds).  The beans are a small variety and are a bit tedious to pick, but I tried some and they are excellent eating. 

            Thanks to you all. As I was puttering around the garden a couple of days ago, I was struck once again at what a wonderful group of gardeners I have the privilege of working with and the magnificent garden you have made possible.  We have had many visitors come by recently, and all I hear is praise for what you have achieved.  Thank you all for being part of our community.

            Let me briefly highlight a few special people who have contributed so much to the garden this year.  (I do this at the risk of hurting feelings of others, so don’t feel you have been overlooked.):

            Phil C. – could not possibly keep things going without the steady dedication he makes to the Mission Garden.

            Harvest Team – Carla S. , Karla M., Arlene A. and other volunteers.  There every Monday and Thursday and leave with tired backs from picking.

            Annette and Stan B. – With the help of the rest of their work group the labyrinth looks the best it has ever been.

            Don J. – He is mister carrot and looks after the entire carrot bed by himself.  It is always perfectly tended and nary a weed – hard to achieve in a bed of carrots.

            Sandy W. – she has pretty much tended the flower bed under the sign by herself this year.

            Shelley T. – Many, many dedicated hours overseeing and working on the South Raised Beds.

            Katz H. – she stepped up and volunteered to take on running the Parade of Gardens for us this year.

            Weeds, weeds,  weedsWe really need your continued help in the Mission Garden to keep the weeds under control.  Even after crops have been harvest, we need your help to keep the weeds from taking over.  Please do your part to stay on top of the weeds in your assigned areas/beds.

            Garden Committee Meeting. Next Monday, August 17, at 6:30.  We need want your feedback and in planning for the rest of our year including harvest and cleanup days and the Harvest Dinner.  Please make an effort to be there.  We have switched to an informal format and are keeping it to an hour. 

            Summer Garden Festival.  The Housing Authority of Billings is holding a festival celebration at their community garden at White Tail Run in the Heights on August 22.  This is a pretty neat garden. 

All for tonight,



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Back From Vacation Update

Hi Folks,

            Wonderful moisture lately and we are reaping the fruit and abundance of our labors.  Only a few items to highlight:

           Paths:  Still need to ask plot gardeners to trim back or control your crops so they are not intruding over or on the paths.  This is the time of year that we find we planted more than our plots will hold or too close together.  I do it every year.  I am going to be pulling out a zucchini so my kale and Brussel sprouts have adequate room.

            Weeds:  Yeah, I know – weeds, weeds, weeds!  This purslane is really a devil plant, but the only way to win with it is to pull it as soon as you find it.  And we really need everyone to keep working on their Mission Garden areas.  Some beds and rows are in pretty bad shape.  Keep working your areas even after harvesting.    If everyone does their share it makes it doable.

            Harvesting:  We have already delivered over 600 lbs. of produce.  The two beds of green beans are now producing and those are time consuming for our regular Mon. &Thur. morning harvest crew.  We are making a call for some of you who are not able to come in mornings to come out tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon around 4:00 for an hour or less to get them picked for delivery on Monday. 

            A big thanks to Phil Cowan, Karla Mahan, Carla S. and A. Anderson who have loyally turned out twice a week to do the harvesting.

            In addition to the Rescue Mission and Family Services we are now beginning to deliver a small quantity of produce to Tumbleweeds and Friendship House. 

            Excess Produce:  If you have more veggies than you can use, please give them to someone in need.  You can also give them to the harvest crew to add to the produce we take to one of the agencies.

            Garden Meeting:  Instead of regular monthly meetings, I decided to go more on an “as needed” basis, and we are approaching that point. We need to do some planning for fall work and the Harvest Dinner.   Mark your calendars for Monday, August 17, at 6:30.  We will keep it short and to the point as with our last meeting.   

All for tonight, 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Garden Update - July 22

Hello Gardeners,

            The garden is looking great and the recent hot weather has brought the crops to their peak.  Lots of fresh veggies out there!!  Thank you all for your efforts to keep up your plots and the Mission Garden. 

            Parade of Gardens:   This coming Saturday, 4:00 to 8:00.  Katz H. is coordinating our participation.  She would welcome any volunteers to help with the events or cookies or treats.  You can contact her at 670-9521. 

            Your help in preparing the garden for this event is greatly appreciated.  I hauled the garden waste pile and remaining branches from the labyrinth trees to the landfill.  You can continue to place weeds and garden waste there.  Don’t worry about purslane or other weeds getting in the compost – we take it all to the landfill.

            Please contain your plants so they do not interfere with the path ways. 

            Mission Garden:  We have had four harvest days and have delivered over 200 lbs. of produce to the Rescue Mission and “Family Services so far.  All the garlic has been pulled and is in the west shed drying.  Great crop this year!  We are also pulling onions and drying them in the shed.  The rows of field beans in the North and South Beds were pulled yesterday and run through our shredder.  Many thanks to Duane A. for helping get this done.  The shredded vines will be tilled back in to those beds as green manure.  Great nitrogen generators, and that is why we planted them.  We keep approximately 25% of the crop area in fallow or cover crop each year to give it a rest.  Two beds on each side are in beans, one third of the long lettuce bed is fallow, and ¼ of the Open Area is fallow.  It is part of a four-year rotation cycle.

            Harvesting:  Monday and Thursday mornings at 9:00.  Usually done in an hour.  Come lend a hand, when you can.  We could use some more plastic shopping bags, if you want to drop those off at the shed.  If you have excess veggies that you would like to add to our deliveries, please let us know. 

            Watering: Continuing with plots on M-W-F early mornings.  Mission Garden M- Th-Sat evenings.  Please help keep the yellow cans in the intersections.  I know they get in the way and are easily displaced.  However, they are very helpful in determining if we are getting good water coverage.  Discovered from these that one of the sectors did not run correctly Monday morning.  They need to be in an open area and not under plants (or upside down) in order for them to give us an accurate reading.  Please put them back in place when you see them moved.

            Signs:  The signs along the sides of the garden have all been replaced with new ones.  They were getting faded.  Chuck Bushey provided us some triangle signs promoting the value of bees.  A number of these have been put up around the garden marking crops that especially need pollinators.
Weeds:  There is one wicked one that we need your help getting out of the garden area.  It is called “Goats Head.”  It grows close to the ground in a spreading fashion with very small yellow flowers – very similar to purslane.  However, instead of being a succulent, it has fern-like leaves.  This little devil develops seed pods about the size of a grape-nut cereal kernel with several very sharp spikes on it.  These will flatten tires and stick into your shoes.  We have had to repair the tires on wheelbarrows, tiller and lawn tractor due to these.  Please pull these out anywhere you see them and put them in the trash pile, or even in the dumpster to get them out of the garden.  Here is a picture of one on gravel: 

            Between the Sheds:  The plastic container with a variety of organic soil supplements is under the seed exchange box – help yourselves.  There is also a replenished crate of cherry tree branches for those of you who would like to use them in your smoker.
Enjoy all those veggies! 





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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Garden Update, July 15

Hi Folks – here is the latest: 

            Picnic Report:  A smaller than usual group of gardeners gathered last Sunday for a very enjoyable afternoon.  Wonderful food and lots of visiting.  This is always a great way to get to know our fellow gardeners and their families.  It started with a windy afternoon, but the wind died off and folks were still enjoying visiting until after 8:00 in the evening!  A big thanks to Terry M. and Chuck B. for helping get everything set up and then being the grill chefs.  Thanks also to Bonnie W. for helping with the water balloons, Susan B. for overseeing the flower/leaf hammering activity, and Sandy W.h for coordinating the crop identification challenge.  Then there was the cleanup with Duane A., Don J.and several others lending a hand.  Ben L. took photos and we will get those up on the Facebook page soon.

            Mission Garden:  Many thanks to all who are keeping their crop areas cared for.  A unique feature of our community garden is that those who have garden plots commit to helping in some way with the Mission Garden or some other Common Ground project.  We additionally have some great volunteers who do not have plots that work with us on the Mission Garden.  A great big udos to all who are doing this work.  However, we need to be sure that everyone is doing their part to the extent of their capabilities.  There are several gardeners who have physical limitations to what they can do, and that is fully understood.  But we need everyone else to be contributing their share.  There are several areas of the Mission garden that need attention.  These include the Open Area corn and the South Raised Beds bush beans and one section of the lettuce.  Most other crops just need some touch ups to keep up with new weeds. 

            Harvesting:   Things are going great and we have already harvested over 100 lbs. of zucchini, yellow squash, Swiss chard, broccoli, beets, radishes, and Chinese cabbage and delivered them to local agencies.  We are now harvesting twice a week on Monday and Thursday mornings starting around 9:00.  We have a harvest team of five gardeners identified, but anyone else who would like to join us is more than welcome.  Tomorrow (Thursday) we will be continuing to harvest more of the same crops and will also be harvesting garlic and onions to go on drying racks in the west shed.  Other crops are maturing quickly and by next week we should be adding peppers, green beans, lettuce and some herbs to the list.  We would certainly welcome those who have cared for these crops to participate in the harvesting.  That can be arranged to be done the day before for most crops and then stored in a refrigerator in the church for delivery the next day.  Just let me know if you would like to do that. 

Parade of Gardens: 

Saturday, July 25, 4:00 to 8:00. Gardener  Katz Hettinger  is coordinating our participation in this event.  There are a total of about eight community gardens throughout the Billings area that are part of the Parade this year.  It is a great opportunity to promote gardening in our community and give visibility to your work at the St. Andrew Garden.  Katz is organizing two sifts of volunteers: 4:00 to 6:00 and 6:00 to 8:00.  She has signed up gardeners for most of the slots, but a few more volunteers to greet visitors,  give tours or help with kids’ activities will be more than welcomed. Let me know if you would be interested in helping and I will put you in touch with Katz.

We want the garden to be looking its best for the visitors.  Please focus on weeding your plots and Mission Garden areas and clearing dirt and weeds from the paths around your plots.  A few plots are very much in need of attention and I will be contacting those individuals. 

            Watering:  We are continuing the M-W-F early morning schedule for the plots.  The Mission Garden runs on M-Th-F evenings with selected additional watering as needed.  Not sure how much of the rain showers last night  hit the garden, but things should be very moist today with that added to the watering!. 

            Organic Products:  A donor gave us a selection of organic plant supplements that include such things as blood meal, alfalfa meal, fish meal, etc.  They are in a storage box underneath the seed exchange box.  You are welcome to help yourselves to these.         

All for now. 



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Garden Notes - Saturday

Hello Gardeners,

            A very busy weekend coming up with many activities going on round town.  Have been focused on getting everything together for the picnic tomorrow. 

Kids ActivitiesDon’t know how many children will be in attendance, but we need about three people to help with kids activities.  The materials will all be available, just need someone to oversee the activities.  One is a water balloon toss.  Second is a garden scavenger hunt.  Third is a flower/leaf hammered imprint.

Lawn Games:  Anyone have a lawn game that would be popular.  Please bring it with you.   

            Watering:  A hose blew out on the pump Thursday night and as a consequence the plots did not get watered Friday morning as scheduled.  Discovered the problem Friday morning and made the repair and turned on the sprinklers to run by mid-morning.  Sorry if you came to work and found the sprinklers running.  Depending on the heat today and soil moisture, I may run an extra short watering Saturday evening.

            Paths:  Hate to sound like a broken recording, but would those who have a significant amount of soil from their plots that has gotten mixed into the chips on the paths please clean it off back into your plot.  It provides a medium for grass and weeds to grow in the paths.  I hope to put some fresh chips own where needed over the next few weeks and don’t want to put them down over a seed bed.   Also, please clear the weeds from the paths adjacent to your plots. 

`           Insects:  We are seeing quite a few lady bugs still around the garden.  That is good.  There has been another hatch of flea beetles lately, but not extensive and the plants are mature enough now to not be significantly impacted.  There are a few grasshoppers starting to show up, but not enough to be a problem, as of now. 

            Purslane:  conventional wisdom says you need to pull and dispose of every piece of the plant or even a leave left behind will grow into a new plant.  I am finding this is not totally true.  This stuff is so thick in parts of the Mission Garden that I have been using the tiller on it.  Rather than having thousands of new plant, there are very few parts of the plants that are growing back.  Purslane is a succulent, and in this heat the damage plant desiccates quickly and dies.  The corn in the Open Area has the stuff coming up like hair on a dog’s back.  I tilled between the rows yesterday so those of you taking care of the corn need only hoe/weed the narrow band along the corn. 

            Green Manure BedsThere are two full beds of field beans planted one each in the North and South Raised Beds.  The seeds were inoculate with nitrogen enhancing bacterium at planting to improve the soil and it is now time to till the tops in as green manure.  We are trying to figure out how best to do this.  Best idea yet came from Duane A. to run the plants through the shredder and then till the residue into the beds.  We will be giving that a try in the near future.  The fallow quarter of the Open Area was heavily covered with weeds.  Matt dug a lot of them out, but it was an overwhelming task.  We mowed them into green manure and Terry M. spent a number of hours with the tiller working them into the soil.  Many thanks Terry. 

            Care for Garden Tools:  At our last meeting, Karen H. suggested we provide information on how to care for, and particularly sharpen, garden tools.  Towards this end, a file was purchased and is now on the tool board on the shed.  We will work on finding more specific info on sharpening tools.  A sharp hoe or shovel can make a world of difference in how the work.  There is a bucket of water and brushes on the tool board.  Please clean the dirt off before putting them back up.  I will also be adding a small bucket with a lid in which there will be a rag with oil on it to wipe the metal surfaces.  That will reduce rusting. 

            Open Plot:  We still have one plot that has been released if someone wants to use it to add a few plants or plant some fall crops.  No fee at this point. 

            Trencher Needed:  We need to add an extension to the labyrinth water sector to use for the compost area.  Looking for a volunteer to dig a trench about 20 ft. long to install this.  Shovel and water provided! 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Flower Show:

Not only flowers but all garden vegetables as well.


The Annual Flower Show, takes place on July 17-18.   Entrees are accepted from any amateur gardener on Friday, July 17, from 8:00-11:00 am.  Judging begins on Friday at 1:00 pm.  Address: 2809 2nd Ave. North in the D.A. Davison building lobby.   The show is open and free to the public on Friday, July 17, from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm and Saturday, July 18, from 8:00 am to noon.  It is next door to and coincides with the Farmers Market.