Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Come and garden

Gardeners are needed to help in the Common Good Gardens behind Grace Episcopal Church on Main Street in Old Saybrook.

The garden, formerly known as the Soup Kitchen Garden, grows vegetables for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen pantries which distribute groceries to neighbors in need. Residents from all communities in the valley shore area work in the garden on Tuesday or Saturday mornings or Thursday afternoons from April through October at a variety of chores. Volunteers come when they can performing a variety of chores from planting seeds to picking blueberries. An interest in vegetable gardening is all that's required. We look forward to working with you this year, our 10th year growing vegetables for the pantries.

To learn more or to join the garden crew, please call 860-526-3459 or

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In the News!

Common Good Gardens go greener
By Suzanne Thompson
Publication: The Day - June 27, 2012

"Just a handful" is a concept many a home chef has tried, with children and adults alike, to introduce new foods, especially the green and leafy kind. The challenge is compounded for patrons of the region's soup kitchens and food pantries, home makers with limited time and means.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Helping Hands from the Navy in May

Thanks again to the Navy, the garden is looking terrific. Read about their work day here: Shoreline Times Article

Sunday, March 18, 2012

coffee grounds and a coffee coordinator

What is it about coffee? Logic tells us something that addictive, expensive and delicious should really be bad for us. Yet, it’s apparently not and what’s more, it’s good for the garden and a treat for worms.

Common Good Gardens Compost co-coordinator Mark Lenhart says, “Coffee grounds are a valuable component for our compost mix at the garden. Although coffee itself is highly acidic, the coffee grounds are pH neutral and they help move the natural acidity of a compost pile towards neutrality. Also, they provide a moisture holding ability to the pile while attracting earthworms which love them.”

Alas, we don’t have a source yet, but Mark is creating a special place in the compost area for the grounds in anticipation of someone stepping forward to volunteer as coffee coordinator.

This person can design the task however she or he wants but it basically entails organizing volunteers and perhaps others outside the garden gang to pick up grounds (papers, too) from coffee places near their home and bring them to the garden when it's convenient for them.

In the meantime, you can help get this project rolling by contacting your local coffee shop to see if you can take grounds off their hands on a schedule that suits you.

There will be a clipboard in the shed so you can write down the name and location of the coffee shop you made a deal with so we don’t duplicate our efforts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Latest News from the Garden

Ta-Da! Winter Rye in the Compost Bins

Last Saturday's harvesting...thank you to the Old Lyme Senior Girl Scouts who came out in the rain!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hurricane Irene in the garden

Tree down behind the compost
Hurricane Irene left the garden fairly untouched. A couple of trees were down around the perimeter and climbing plants needed some attention getting reattached to their trellises. While gardeners harvested to the sound of chain saws, the wood was quickly cleared away thanks to Frank and Carl.
Frank Palka
Carl Dolle

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Latest News from the Garden

Growing soup?
The cans in Bed #29 look well planted among winter spinach sprouts. Each can is next to an irrigation hole but will soon be pulled leaving a nice space for planting broccoli or cabbage plants next spring. Bring in your empty tin cans to be recycled as planting spacers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Garden Composting

Hello Gardeners...I have attached the CG Garden Composting Instructions for reference should you become interested in how we operate our bins to produce the accelerated compost which we use in the garden. The process works at home too!

Mark Lenhart

Spent vegetable plants
Spoiled vegetables
Leaf material
Grass clippings
Coffee grounds
Horse and cow manure
Shredded paper
Vegetation w/ visible fungus and/or pesticides
Grass clippings containing weed killer or pesticides
Non-biodegradable material
HOW TO WORK THE COMPOST (Using all of the material listed above)
Material is dumped into the bin indicated by a sign, Bin No. 0
When the bin is full, or nearly so, it is pitchforked into its adjacent bin
Manure and coffee grounds (if any) are layered, onto the “early stage” bins as they may be received and as directed by the gardener working the compost for the day
As compost is being made, it is sequentially moved to its next bin, providing aeration
All bins are watered at the end of a working day if it hasn't rained
Temperature reading of each bin is recorded in the Compost Log along with a daily summary of the day’s activities and the suggestions for the next day’s work
Determination of Compost Ready-For-Use Criteria:
Contains no recognizable material from original form. Temperature of Ready-For-Use pile must be at an ambient level
Certain temps do help control the actions we take. We use the compost when it has stopped "cooking" and the material has reached ambient temps. At 142 degrees, we know that the "oven" is cooking best and we might not want to stir it until next time. The rapid cooking takes place at the beginning of the Bins No. 0,1and 2... and at 3 it levels off and cools down thereafter. Certainly the worms should be added below 90 degrees and no more new material should be added when the temp has started down its cooling cycle. Breakdown of the material will happen over time without our help. “Smart” compost is generated, however, when we have controlled both its quality and speed with which it has reached its ideal condition for use.
OTHER SOURCES OF COMPOST: At times when the demand for bedding material is highest, supplemental compost material must be delivered from the Town’s landfill. Depending on the quality of the material brought in, it is added directly to the areas needing it or piled aside for further consideration. Decisions for the disposition of these added materials are made by consensus at the time of delivery. Note that the compost delivered by the Town contains NO green base material nor any manure nor coffee grounds. Their material, though offering a good planting base, does not achieve the ideal 20:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio which we strive to achieve in the SSKG.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The compost which is processed at the SSK Garden is an essential foundation for growing healthy and robust vegetables there. The SSK Garden beds are prepared using 100% compost as base material for its plants. Ideal compost in its ready-for-use form contains no recognizable bits of original matter and will be at ambient temperature or below. This criteria must be achieved before the compost is released for use in the beds. Periodic testing of our ready-for-use compost by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (see attached sample report) confirms our target range for low ammonium levels but high nitrate contents at neutral pH. As all vegetable matter will decompose over time, we can accelerate that decomposition process using techniques described below.
TEMPERATURE READINGS help to indicate the speed of decomposition. During the hottest months, high temperatures will reach 142 degrees F, killing weed seeds but will decompose material over a very short time. Since earthworms will die in temperatures greater than 90 degrees F and will seek cooler regions of the piles, they are introduced to the compost when the temperature of the material has reached an ambient level. The worms will aid in final decomposition of the compost and in the release of nitrates to the vegetables and will add castings (poop) for added plant nutrients. Generally, ready-for-use compost takes four to five weeks to reach an acceptable quality level for use, although the garden has experienced acceptable compost made over a three-week cycle. The criteria for ideal compost described under “General” above must be met before it is used as bedding material.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gardening in the rain

Here are some fun spring pictures...

We have gorgeous seedlings from Smith Acres and a bounty of beautiful radish, inter-planting in the spinach beds a huge success, inter-planting shorter growing crops with longer growing crops is proving to be wonderful use of garden space.  Of course, besides talking about the weather and how gorgeous the garden is looking, we have time to compare muck boots....  can't think of a better way to spend a cold wet spring day.... keep well...anne

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Early Morning Harvest

This morning we harvested lots of spinach - with plenty more to come - asparagus, cilantro, parsley, radishes and big beautiful heads of buttercrunch lettuce...

Here are some interesting beds...

Turnips (?) with seriously red lettuce
Three crop bed: buttercrunch, broccoli and romaine

Barbara H