Signs of Spring

These green buds made my day, especially since I feared we had planted the bulbs too late.  I didn’t want my coworkers to step on the flowers, so I sent this pictorial alert to watch underfoot (and look into the sky just because the blue was so beautiful when dotted with flowering trees).

Much more to come!

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From the Pie Luck Participants

June 2010

We equipped our Pie Luck participants with disposable cameras and tasked them with documentation.  We wanted to see the sources of their local foods in photos and maps.  Take a peek…

The Making of a Garden

May-August 2010

My (Quelcy) day job at a green-tech, start-up company provided the perfect application for my garden primer lessons.  Everyone at work loved the idea of fresh vegetables and herbs just outside the office door.  You will see many hands at work and harvesting lunch in the backyard of the company.

Who knows what used to be in the soil at our lot?!?!  Well, we knew of a few things:  glass shards, debris, rocks and robots!  Before we occupied the building, there was a robotics company that tested what had to be top secret terminator robots in the lot, so they loved the Mars like landscape.  In between the robot olympics and us, there was an archaeological dig for Civil War artifacts and consequently, a whole bunch of sink holes.  All that being said, we weren’t about to plant directly in the soil, so the garden story began at a lumber yard just a few blocks away.

The company just rents the building and the lot, so we needed to design something flexible.  As we have the equipment, the idea arose to raise the raised beds.  This way, we have the option to move them with the fork lift if need be.  It helps to have lots of tools and machinery as resources and engineer minds thinking up ways to use them!

Voila!  Box #1

We drilled holes in the bottoms of the bed for drainage.

Then added two coats of sealant but only to the outer surfaces lest the soil absorb the sealant.

The ideas really started flowing after the inaugural raised bed.  The next two were double deckers.  This would prevent the plants from competing for light.

When it was time to fill our beds, we called our new friends at Steel City Soils for a delivery of rich, dark soil.

Raised beds ready for action!

Here is another example of creative minds and unique resources.  In the midst of the garden project, we took over the lease on the adjacent warehouse.  There was a massive drain inside that was no longer necessary, and our clever contractor had the idea that I might fancy it as a planter.  I did indeed!  This was no backyard DIY project.  That thing was massive!

It’s a really great day when you return to your desk with hands covered in soil.

The garden project came to fruition a tad bit late in the planting season, so we bought starters from The East End Food Co-op.

I tried French Sorrel (pictured on the right) for the first time this season, and it was love at first bite!  It was a must in the selection of starters.  It has such a strong, lemony flavor.  It’s a tremendous asset to a locally focused diet.

We also cast some wildflower seeds.  It was rewarding to watch them defy all the obstacles the backyard presented:  trampling, birds, glass shards, remnants of who knows what chemicals/minerals in the soil, etc.

Lunchtime harvesting.

The purple flowers are borage.  I wasn’t familiar with it before this garden experience, but Ed brought the seeds and had a wonderful idea.

You see, borage puts the finishing touch on a Pimm’s Cup!

We sat back, drank the alcohol disguised as fruit punch and enjoyed the yard.

Grow Pittsburgh Garden Primer

May 2010

This is what Grow Pittsburgh said:

Don’t know the first thing about vegetable gardening? Never even picked up a spade? Fear not – A Garden Primer will cover all the basics, including which tools beginner gardeners will need, what and where to plant, and when to harvest. In addition, those taking part in the course will be given step-by-step instruction on everything from starting a compost to properly transplanting seedlings. Whether working with a spacious backyard or an apartment balcony, participants will receive specialized advice and guidance to get their vegetable gardens going whatever the space.

This is what Quelcy heard…
(Click on the pages to enlarge)