Thank You, December Donors!

We are so happy to report that the Coalition has received over $6,000 in donations this year from almost 80 donors through CoMoGives and beyond!!!

That means A LOT to our small, all-volunteer organization! We are so happy to have your support and to witness the enthusiasm for community gardening in our community!

Every penny of these donations will go straight to gardens via seeds, water, plants, tools, mulch, compost, lawn mowers, sheds, infrastructure and other gardening items to keep our gardeners growing. Stay tuned to see how the gardens of Columbia will flourish in 2022!

Of course, if you meant to donate and missed the CoMoGives deadline, please know that you can donate anytime via our PayPal donations portal.

We wish all of our gardeners, volunteers and supporters a Happy New Year. We hope you can spend this winter planning your best garden ever!

Final Days of CoMo Gives 2021

So many friends of community gardening have stepped up to support our mission this month through CoMo Gives! We are so grateful for over $5,000 raised so far!!

If you’d like to help us build lasting gardens and serve our community, you still have two days! The CoMoGives campaign ends at midnight on Friday, December 31!

All the money we raise goes to supporting our member gardens with tools, water, infrastructure, supplies and more for the next growing season. As an all-volunteer group, we really value ALL donations, and we realize that even a small one can make a big difference!

Thanks for being a part of our gardening community and let’s look forward to a new growing season and a new year!

Meet Our Gardens 2021

Here’s a little peek into some of our member gardens this year. Today, on the shortest day of the year, it’s nice to look back and see the bounty of the summer season!
 

We are so grateful for all the community support we’ve received this year! Direct donations and those through CoMo Gives have totaled nearly $5,000 so far!!!
 
It’s not too late to show your support. You can give a gift to community gardening via CoMo Gives through midnight on December 31. Every little bit helps our small organization!

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Thank You #GivingTuesday Donors!

Wow! We are so grateful for all the support received today through CoMoGives!!! With over $2800 received in the first day or our campaign, we’re already more than halfway to our goal!!

Thank you so much to those who gave today! We will put your gifts to good use in our community!

You can still support the garden coalition anytime through December 31! Just visit our page at CoMoGives.com.

photo of a community garden with text saying Thank You #GivingTuesday Donors

Show Your Support for Community Gardening in 2022

Our year-end fundraising runs through December 31 as we take part in Mid-Missouri’s local giving campaign, CoMoGives. Your donation can go a long way to helping Columbia’s community gardening projects next year!

In 2021, our all-volunteer group assisted gardens covering over 65,000 square feet of land which produced thousands of pounds food for our community!

In just the past year, besides providing seeds, plants, water, insurance, straw, compost, mulch, tools and other equipment, we also supported new or rehabbed garden beds at the Unite4Health, St. Joseph, and Friendship gardens. We funded a covered storage structure at Claudell garden for straw, and a 20-foot storage container at Friendship garden to assist in their expansion efforts. We also supported a new youth garden at Columbia United Church of Christ, and we’re assisting with expansions at the Benton and Russell Boulevard Elementary School gardens. We are also currently working with two groups of MU occupational therapy students to assist our gardeners with disabilities. All of this despite a pandemic!!

Community gardens have been shown to improve the health of the community, they augment public safety, promote civic engagement, increase green space, improve air and water quality and increase biodiversity. We want Columbia’s community gardens to continue to thrive next year, and we hope you can help us do that!

Please consider a gift to support our mission. Any amount will help and small donations go a long way to support our small operation!

Whether or not you’re able to give, thank you for a being a friend and supporter!

Kathy Doisy, President
Jenny McDonald, Vice-President
Bill McKelvey, Treasurer
Ann Marie Gortmaker
Kristin Hatton
Cheryl Jensen
Sarah Kendrick

 

Thank You to Our 2021 Gardeners, Leaders, Volunteers & Donors

On behalf of the board of the Community Garden Coalition, we are so thankful for all our wonderful gardeners, leaders, volunteers and donors who have put their time, effort and money into member gardens in 2021!

This second year of the pandemic came with new challenges for many of us. We hope that through your garden, or even through the garden of your friend or neighbor, you found a little joy.

To wrap up our year, the Community Garden Coalition is participating in the community-wide CoMoGives fundraising campaign this December. We depend on the monetary and volunteer support of people who value our mission. Please consider making a small donation this year or contact us about joining our all-volunteer board.

Starting on November 30, Giving Tuesday, you can donate to the CGC via CoMoGives and help all of our member gardens.

Kathy Doisy, President
Jenny McDonald, Vice President
Bill McKelvey, Treasurer
Ann Marie Gortmaker
Kristin Hatton
Cheryl Jensen
Sarah Kendrick

Season’s End 2021

Harvesting the community sweet potato plot at Unite4Health community garden in 2021.

Despite some lingering warm days, nighttime temperatures are trending lower and our first frost of the year is behind us now in Mid-Missouri. Did you get your green tomatoes plucked and your final sweet potatoes dug? Or maybe you’re still nursing some greens under a row cover, sowing a fall cover crop or planting garlic?

The majority of community garden plots are finished producing for the season, so it’s time to do a little housekeeping before winter sets in. We ask all community gardeners to please do the following.

  • If you’re at a community or group garden, let your garden leader know whether you’re planning to return next year. This will help leaders know what plots will be available for newcomers next year.
  • Clean up your plot. Generally, most dead plants and non-plant materials (string, wire, wood, metal, plastic, etc.) should be removed and disposed of. If you need tips on how to put your garden to bed for the winter, consult your garden leader.
  • Consider making a year-end donation to the CGC to help with maintaining your community garden next year. We’re a very small, all-volunteer non-profit, and even modest contributions help us fund water, mulch, tools and more to support community gardening in Columbia.
    Donate here today, or wait for November 30 (Giving Tuesday) when the CGC will be participating in the CoMo Gives local giving campaign.
  • Consider donating some of your time. Individual gardens need good leaders and team members and the board of the CGC could use new members, too. Contact your garden leader or our board members to get involved.

Seed Packing in a Pandemic

A young boy smiles at a table full of bulk seeds, labels and seed envelopes.
Packing seeds is fun!

Normally each year in early spring, the Community Garden Coalition organizes a seed-packing party to package up bulk seeds which we then distribute to gardeners largely at our Spring Thaw public event. With the COVID pandemic still in play this spring, neither of those events were safe for us to hold. We DID get seeds distributed to our gardeners, however, thanks to all of our board members and several volunteers! Here’s a run-down of all that went in to making that happen.

First, Bill McKelvey drove down to our supplier, Morgan County Seeds in Barnett, for a socially-distanced seed purchase. Next, he made up packages of seed-packing supplies for our volunteers with the help of Jenny McDonald. Our helpful volunteers picked them up, packed the seeds, and then returned them to Cheryl Jensen, our newest board member. In the meantime, Sarah Kendrick put together an online seed ordering form that allowed participating garden leaders to request seeds for their gardeners. Those results went to Cheryl who did her best to meet everyone’s requests. When the seeds were organized for each garden, she then made arrangements for a seed pickup at her home. Whew!!!

We want to thank all our wonderful seed-packing volunteers in no particular order: Linda Coats, John Coats, Ann Marie Gortmaker, Lily Chan, Barb Onofrio, John Markovitz, Joe Horner, Mila Horner, Don Day, Sarah Kendrick, Abram Kendrick, Mira Stoddart, Cynthia Hoover, Anne Jacobson, Penny Sprochi, Marty Katz and Cheryl Jensen. In addition, we thank our garden leaders who’ve had to be more hands-on in picking up seed and plant orders for their gardeners! THANKS TO ALL!

Additionally, yours truly got us a grant from our local Sam’s Club that is helping us cover the cost of our seeds and related expenses for this and next year. Thank you very much, Sam’s Club!

How’s that for successful teamwork? In my mind this just confirms what I already knew — the Community Garden Coalition is part of the magic that makes Columbia such a great place to live!

Spring 2021

Winter may be ending but there’s no Spring Thaw this year!

Well, gardeners, we are sorry to say it, but, due to pandemic restrictions, we were not able to hold our annual community gardening kick-off event this year. The Spring Thaw, CGC’s biggest annual event has been going on for as long as anyone on the board can remember. (We got lucky last year, as it was held mere weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down began.)

two gardeners at a Spring Thaw holding packetsTypically, at the Spring Thaw, newcomers are able to get connected to a new garden, returning gardeners get organized with their garden leaders for the new season, and gardeners are able to pick up seeds and how-to information. In the absence of this event, we have packaged and distributed seeds directly to garden leaders. In addition, if you haven’t told your garden leader that you want to continue gardening with us, please let them know immediately as there may be others waiting for plots! And, finally, if you or someone you know would like to start gardening at a community garden, you can request a space via this short form and we will do our best to find a plot for you!

As you get started with your garden, here are some opportunities and resources for learning more about how to grow your favorite veggies.

  • The final session of the Mid-MO Expo is happening today (Saturday, March 13) online. For just a $6 fee, you can learn about “Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife.” Arrangements can also be made to view the recorded session on “Invasive Plant Identification and Removal.” Register here.

  • The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture has dozens of informative how-to videos offered on their YouTube channel. Topics include: seed germination testing, harvesting, garden pests, mulching, weeds, and many more. A new video series is coming out soon for 2021, too.

  • The Unite4Health community garden is planning to host a workshop later this spring with a soil scientist to discuss organic gardening and increasing beneficial microbes. Details to be announced soon.

  • For a more in-depth learning option, MU Extension is offering the online course “The Beginning Gardener-Getting Started with Vegetables 2021” through April 17 for a $40 fee. Details and registration here.

The Spring Thaw has always been a fun time for all, and we are sorry to miss seeing all your excited, smiling faces this year!

Don’t Get Left Behind; It’s Almost GARDENING Time!

Are you thinking about your 2021 garden? You should be! There’s plenty (drought, pests, disease) that can go wrong despite good planning. Why make things more difficult by waiting until the last minute?

Here’s what I do every January when it’s bitterly cold or icy and I don’t want to venture outside. First I get out my gardening journal — surely you have one! I admit that I didn’t start keeping a yearly garden journal for almost 20 years. Then I forgot and bought seeds for a tomato variety that I had grown before and didn’t like. What a waste of valuable garden space! Lesson learned! Anyway, I go through my notes from the previous year and see what varieties I planted and how they did in regards to yield, diseases, pests, etc. Then I ask my co-gardener, Matt, what he liked best about the garden (sugar snap peas!) and what he didn’t like (kale—but it’s good for him!). Then I trace a new garden outline into my journal from my layout map and start planning what will make the cut this year.

Kathy's husband standing between rows of trellised peas in their garden
Matt in the sugar snap peas

Knowing how many square feet you have to plant is critical to proper spacing of your plants. If there’s one complaint I hear more than any other it’s “my plants didn’t do well and I barely got anything from them.” I’d estimate that 80% of the time it’s because the gardener tried to cram too many plants into too small a space. While intensive gardening can be very successful, it is usually the result of mixing different plants with different requirements throughout the season — not planting 4 pepper plants in 4 square feet.

I’d suggest referring to this MU Extension guide for suggested spacing if you are planting a lot of one type of vegetable. If you want to do intensive gardening in a small space, consult this section of the MU Extension Missouri Master gardener manual.

While CGC gardeners will be offered seeds and plants of tried and true varieties during the season, it can be fun to look to other sources for new and exciting varieties. Your choices are mind-boggling. If this interests you, I suggest looking now while the best varieties are still available because that seed goes fast!

After deciding what plants I want to grow, I go through all my leftover seeds. Questions I ask myself are: what types have I got, how old are they, and is there enough for the upcoming season. Did you know that many seeds are good for several years if stored under cool, dark, and dry conditions? Opinions vary on seed viability lengths but here’s a quick rundown from Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog:

1 Year: onions, parsnips, parsley, salsify, spinach

2 Years: corn, peas, beans, chives, okra

3 Years: carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips

4 Years: peppers, chard, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, basil

5 Years: cauliflower, broccoli, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers,
muskmelons, celery, lettuce, endive

one red and two green tomatoes on the vine

Next up, are you growing any plants from seed at home? Each year, I grow a variety of our favorite heirloom tomatoes from seeds that I have saved from last year’s fruits. It’s really very easy, just get on the Internet and type in “saving tomato seeds.”

However, if you’re inspired to try this yourself keep in mind that only “open-pollinated” seeds will breed true and be nearly identical to the parent plant. In other words, do not attempt this with hybrid varieties unless you are okay with mystery vegetables! For tips on the necessary supplies and methods of starting various vegetable seeds at home check out this MU extension guide.

Finally, for a good overall guide to get you started, try Vegetable Gardening by James Quinn and David Trinklein, Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri.

Here’s wishing you a happy and productive 2021 gardening season!