Thursday, November 21, 2013

Community Garden RIP

the news 
---The garden board met Monday and made the official decision not to continue with plans to move to Redeemer. We are all disappointed, but we feel that there is  not a strong enough interest and potential participation to guarantee a success. 

---It has been a wonderful 5 years and something we can all be proud having been a  part of. We thank all who have participated in the community garden--have given their time, their creative ideas, their hard work to make the garden a success.

loose ends
---There are a few things left in the garden that need clearing out. If you or anyone you know can use anything, help yourself. (The shed will be moving up to the Stone Point Garden)
   *cardboard-needs to be recycled or thrown out. If you have a use for it, take it.
       If you have a vehicle that can be used to carry it off, let me know. 
       I'll help get rid of it.
   *picnic table   
   *the wooden box
   *compost for your garden or yard
   *the blue water pipe

---Finances--Your plot registration included a $10 deposit for clean up and work hours. Many of you have told me that you don't want your deposit back. If you do want it back, let me know by December 1, and I'll arrange to get it to you. 

---Our bank balance is pretty close to zero. The board decided to leave any money remaining in the account for a few months as potential seed money for the next generation of community garden.

the future 

---Hope springs eternal in the heart of a gardener. While the entire garden board and coordinator (me) is officially stepping down, I'm sure that there are some of you who want to see a continued presence of a community garden in Winona. If you are one of these people and want to work on the next generation of garden, contact Mary Kaye Perrin or Stewart Shaw. Much of the preliminary footwork is in place.

And keep on gardening!

Monday, November 4, 2013

State of the Garden

Work day 
--Thanks to the 15 people who came out to dismantle the garden. We accomplished more than was on my list. It was a bittersweet success. 

--The compost bins were taken apart, leaving a couple of piles of great compost. If you would like some, bring a bucket and help yourself.  

--The tomato cages are free to a good home. As is the picnic table.

--We need 3 strong people to help move the shed. Moving it will involve tilting it onto the back of a truck, then tilting it off again when it gets to its destination. Tentative moving date is next Sunday (depending on the weather and when people are available).

Annual meeting
--Don't forget the annual meeting and potluck next Saturday--Holzinger, 5:30 p.m. The meeting itself will start about 6:30, if you want to come for just that part.

Your Input
--If you haven't given your feedback about the garden next year, please do so, either at the meeting Saturday or respond to this email.  
----Do you plan to return to the garden next year (yes/no/undecided)  
----What are your thoughts about which garden site to go with 
----Are you able to help with transitioning the garden to a new site (i.e., serve on the Board)

Change is always hard, and this change is one no one wanted. If we can get through this transition successfully, it should be smooth sailing for a few years.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

(emphasis on the party part)

Tuesday, September 24, 4:30-7:30
Come when you can - Leave when you must 
 Bring a snack and a libation

The weeds are winning. We need to take back the garden.
Bring clippers, whackers, scythes, whatever might reduce the weeds to ground level

(Also - save this date - November 9. More details later)

Monday, August 19, 2013


The Board has been working all summer to find a garden site for 2014. It has been a roller coaster of hope and disappointment.

Here is what we know:

--Redeemer Lutheran Church: The church has offered us a lovely site at the back of their property. The committee working with us are enthusiastic about us being there and have been very helpful working out details of the project. One of their requirements is that we have liability insurance. We have pursued every imaginable resource, but have been unable to find someone to carry us. Currently Winona Health provides a rider on their liability policy, which we pay for annually.This is not an option with Redeemer's insurer.

--Watkins property on 4th and Liberty: Same story. I worked with Danny Crawford on converting their employee garden to a community garden, reserving several plots for the employees. Again, all the pieces fell into place until the issue of liability insurance came up. Their insurance broker recommended against taking on the community garden due to liability concerns, and management has followed that recommendation.

--Part of our problem in finding insurance is that we are not a 501C3 organization (non-profit). Pursuing non-profit status has been on our agenda since the beginning, but it costs about $500 to set up and we have never had close to that amount in our treasury. Another option for non-profit status is to have another organization act as our "fiscal agent". This would involve an ongoing fee (exact cost not known). We are looking into this.

--The third avenue we have been pursuing is to establish a garden on a piece of city-owned land that is under-used or not being used at all.  The advantage of being on city-owned property is the permanency. Any privately owned land is subject to development, requiring us to move again in a few years (as is the case with Winona Health).  One idea the City offered us was the dog park on Prairie Island. This site would be something less than ideal,  but we are starting to consider it.  We have also identified 2 possible sites that would be within the city and suitable for a garden (more than suitable, actually).  We are still talking with city representatives about these possibilities but nothing has been resolved yet.

Last spring our goal was to have a new site established by fall. Then we would hold one of our glorious work days, moving all our infrastructure over in November. I am frustrated that this is not the case. I am also so proud of the intrepid board members who refuse to give up.  I'm throwing it out to you gardeners now.  If any of this information triggers an idea, or if any of you have knowledge of or connections with a potential solution to our problem, please contact me.

Garden Coordinator

Friday, July 12, 2013

State of the Garden, July, 2013

Water Issues
  • When you are dragging the hose to your plot, be especially careful that you don't unwittingly drag it across another plot and annoy someone else's plants.  Corner stakes  prevent this most of the time. If your plot is missing a corner stake, there are more in the slots around the compost bins, and a pounder in the shed.

Grass Path

  • We need a couple of people to tend to the mowing. Push mower and hand whacker available. Contact me and I'll give you more details.

Excess Produce

  • If you will be gone and can't harvest, or just can't face another zucchini or tomato for dinner, there is help. Coming soon,there will be blue cards available that you can post on a particular plant. Other gardeners will know that this is an invitation to harvest what is on that plant. Stay tuned for details. I'm sure there will be kinks to work out, but let's see if this works. 
  •  In the past we have had a styrofoam box in the garden. People put excess produce in it and twice a week someone took the contents to the Food Shelf. If any of you would like to take this on, let me know. I'll help you work out the details. (This only works if it gets delivered regularly. Rotten tomatoes smell terrible.)
  • For various reasons, the garden looks raggier this year than ever before. The thistle is becoming especially bad. Please, make a little extra weeding a high priority for you.
  • As usual, we need to supplement our finances. Moving to a new site will incur extra expenses outside our budget. We have begun discussing a fundraiser that involves some really good food. If you would like to help  with organizing it, let me know.
Recurrent Reminders
  • Lock the shed and close the gates when you leave.
  •  And don't forget to turn off the water when you are done. The new valve is a pain, but it works.


Saturday, June 29, 2013


After traveling for over two weeks I came back to my garden in full weed bloom .  The plants seemed stunted and mud was still in parts of my space.
 I began to weed , sinking in mud still and could, I swear, hear the gurgling of my soaking plants.
Although the sun was shining it started to sprinkle and I wanted to blow myself up like some kind of umbrella and cover and protect my pants from the rain. It seemed unfair and I wanted to cry, NO!
After weeding for three hours and then mulching, I was satisfied and although I can never prove it, I believe the plants were happier and more ready to grow now.
Yesterday, I returned to my garden and it just seemed beautiful to me.  Of course it is  not perfect, but much better from the process of working with the plants and just being there the way it is.
It is the process that this is about.  Sowing my seeds and plants, not concerning myself with product and what ifs and if only s .  Taking care of things I have started and seeing it through and taking pleasure from the wind and sun and the  growing things doing the best it can.
This garden may not be a great producer but I am experiencing the process fully!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

State of the Garden, late June

  • After a very cool and wet spring, the garden is finally up and growing. Many of the plots are lovely. With the heat the last few days, things are growing fast. Those of you who have mulched your plot will get the benefit of retained heat and moisture to speed things along.
  • A few plots are not planted yet. Our official "plant by" date is June 15.  If you have not yet weeded and planted your plot,  please do so in the next few days. If something in your life has changed and you are not able to tend your garden this summer, let me know immediately.

Maintenance reminders

  • Water Issues (should we ever need to water): When you are done watering, do not coil and hang the hoses. Splay them back and forth along a path. This is quicker (both in setting up and putting away) and is easier on the hoses.
  • Remember to turn off the water both at the hydrant and in the garden when you are done. A lovely picture of the hydrant shut off valve is on the bulletin board inside the shed.
  • Weed Issues: Because we didn't maintain the paths with chips this year, the weeds are getting the upper hand. In some places it's hard to tell where the path is. Try to schedule and extra 15 or 20 minutes into your gardening time to work on the paths. If everyone spends a few minutes at this, it will go a long way to spruce things up. Use your judgment about which weeds to focus on. Clover is an asset. Spurge, not so much. Trees, consider gifting to someone that needs a tree.
  • Thistle: Pay particular attention to this bad ass. It's starting to bloom. Bring gloves. 
  • Straw: The bales are $6 each. You can put your money in the red box in the shed or give it to me when our paths cross. There are about 6 extra bales. If you didn't order any and want one, let me know. I think there will be enough for everyone who is interested. And a big thanks to Carol for taking her truck to Money Creek to pick up the straw.
  • Cardboard: A great solution to kill weeds in unused spaces. Be sure it is weighted down and doesn't blow around in these interminable storms we've been having.

 Vacant plots

  • Thanks to all of you who adopted an extra plot. I hope you will have fun with it. I'm looking forward to seeing how your ideas turn out.
  • And amazingly, there is still some unclaimed space left--a few flower strips and 2 more plots need adopting. If you have the urge to do even more gardening, let me know. If you have a cool idea you'd like to try, let me know. Otherwise we will have a work day soon and plant the vacant space to rye.
  • I am interpreting this dearth of demand for garden space as a one-year phenomenon due to several factors (the weird weather when no one could think about gardening; the iffy-ness about being able to complete a full gardening season here; not knowing where we will be next year, etc.). My optimism still prevails and I plan to begin a "waiting list" page for 2014 soon.

Potato bugs

  • Have you seen any this year? I have an incredible crop of potatoes just going to flower and haven't seen a one. Am I missing something or is it (again) our weird weather?


  • Turtle: A turtle has been hanging out in our garden and last week got stuck in the fence. Mark and Lea freed it and headed it toward the pond by the dental clinic.
  • Voles: I haven't noticed any signs of them this year.  Did Wayne manage to eradicate them?
  • Cooper's hawk: Haven't seen this amazing guy hunting from the roof of our shed this year. Could there be a connection with no voles?

Next Year

  • Redeemer Lutheran Church has approved our request for garden space on their property. We are meeting with the committee next week to look over the draft of their lease and the designated area. I am feeling very optimistic about this. If any of you gardeners have input or opinions, or would like to be involved, let me know. Our garden belongs to all the gardeners and everyone who wants a voice has one.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Plant Starts: There are a few plants left  from plant sale. They are in the wooden box by the bin. Help yourself to what you can use. A small donation would be appreciated. The red donation box is in the shed.

Vacant Plots: There are still plots that have not yet been rented for the season. Pass the word along to anyone you think might be interested. If you are interested in an additional plot or a flower strip, let me know by June 1.

A Proposal for Unrented Plots: If there are plots still open on June 1, rather than just cover cropping them, we would thought it would be fun to plant a whole plot in just one crop--something that takes up a lot of room that might not otherwise get planted, like  squash, melons, corn, etc. Here is how it would work:

  • Each plot would have a "lead gardener".  Others who are interested, whether a current gardener or not, could help out on the crew.
  •  Shortly after June 1 we will schedule a "planting day" to get these plots up and running.
  • Those who do the work on the plots can decide what to do with the produce. A few ideas: keep it all for yourself; trade it with other one-crop-plot gardeners; donate it to the Food Shelf or other charitable organizations; at midnight leave it on your neighbor's porch. Or--at the end of this season, we could have a gathering and eat what has been grown.
  • There are some seeds in the shed available to be used, or bring your own.
  • Hours spent working on this plot would count as part of your volunteer hours.
  • Besides being a fun project, this can be an opportunity to experiment with something  that you might not otherwise grow. 

If you would like to adopt a "one crop plot" either as a lead gardener or on the crew, let me know.
Also, give me an idea about what you are interested in growing.

Mulch: Straw is available again this year, but the price has gone up (And so has gas! We pay gas mileage to pick it up.) It will be $6 a bale. One bale is plenty for a large plot, a half bale for a small plot. If you want straw to mulch your plot (highly encouraged),  please let me know, so I know how many to order.

Wood chips: In past years one of you gardeners knew the landscaper who brought us the chips. Who was it?  Contact me.

Hunger garden: Every year we seem to use the Hunger Garden for a different purpose. This year Lea is planting it with veggies that can be eaten right out of the garden. After you have worked in the garden for a while and are tired and hungry, enjoy a little snack from this plot.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Opening Work Day-Second Try

--Let's try again--

Community Garden Work Day
Saturday, May 18, 
10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Bury the water line
Straighten the compost bin sides
Turn and distribute the compost
Tighten fence where needed

Work gloves, shovels, spades, forks

--Bring if you have them--
wire cutters
loppers, choppers for the compost

There is a 30% chance of rain on Saturday, 
but it should be warm and not too windy.
Fingers crossed for good weather luck

We will also have plant starts to sell

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mark Your Calendars

  • Saturday, May 11, 9-12 a.m.
Plant Sale
In the Garden
Tomatoes, leeks, strawberries, and much more
If you have extra starts or divisions, consider donating them to the sale
All proceeds go to support the garden

  • Saturday, May 11, 12-3 p.m.
Opening Work Day
In the Garden
Jobs: lay the water line (again, sigh), turn and distribute the compost, general straightening and prep for the season
Bring: work gloves, shovels, wheelbarrows (if you have one)
This will be a good opportunity to put in some volunteer hours 
and to re-connect with other gardeners and the garden

  • If you are new to our garden, I will be available to give a brief orientation all day on May 11. If you want to get started before that, contact me and we can work out another time. 
  • Lea and I met with the mayor this week to discuss a permanent location for the garden on city-owned land. One site we discussed is at the very west end of Lake Park, just east of the high school. Another possibility would be on land under the bridge after the new bridge construction is done. The discussion is still in the very preliminary stages, but he is supportive. If any of you have occasion to talk with the mayor, city council members, or other city officials, please voice your support for the garden being on either of these sites.
  • Both full and half plots are available this year. If you have friends who like to garden, let them know. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


  • If you plan to return to the garden and have not yet registered, do so immediately. 
  • For the first time in the history of our garden we have available plots and no waiting list. If you are feeling ambitious and would like an additional plot, let me know. Both full and half plots are available. 
  • I plan to put out a notice to the general public soon saying that we have plots available and I expect them to go quickly. If you have friends who are thinking of joining us in the garden, have them contact me soon.  

  • Seed Exchange--April 27, 9a.m.-noon, in the Mall. 
    • Our friends at Watkins have arranged another seed exchange, this time in a warmer location. This is in conjunction with the last Farmer's Market of the winter season. You are invited to bring your extra seeds to trade with other gardeners. 
  • Plant Sale--May 4, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the community garden. 
    • Buy baby vegetables for a quick start in your garden; 
    • If you start your own vegetables, grow a few extras to donate to the plant sale;
    • Donate your extra plants to the plant sale. The emphasis will be on vegetables, but all donations will be welcome. 
    • 100% of the proceeds go to sustain the garden. 
  • We will be scheduling a spring work day soon. (We probably should have done this already, but with all this snow, it's easy to forget that spring is actually going to happen.)

Finding a New Site
  • We have made initial contact with some of our city officials and with Redeemer Lutheran Church, but there is nothing substantial to report yet. But do not lose hope. There will be a garden next year. Optimism is hardwired into the genes (jeans?) of all gardeners!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Registration 2013

Only 45 more days until gardening season!

Those of you who had a plot in 2012 have received an email with the 2013 registration form and a copy of the rules. 

Print out and return the registration form, along with your fees. My address is on the form. Save a copy of the guidelines for your own reference. There are no changes in the rules this year, but it doesn't hurt to review them occasionally.

If you want the same plot, registration deadline is February 15. 

As you know, Winona Health will not guarantee us a full season, but our best guess is that it will be fall or later before they are ready to begin work. To hedge your bets, focus on short season crops and don't plant any brussel sprouts or perennials.

We hope to have a seed exchange in February. More details later.