Supporting Community Gardens Since 1983

Felt banner saying "Community Garden Coalition Since 1983"Did you know? The Community Garden Coalition has been around since 1983, supporting gardens, health, nutrition and community.

This year, we counted 31 member gardens to which we offer support. Right now, we’re getting ready to be a part of CoMo Gives, a donation project that has just as much community spirit as we do. We hope you’ll shake down the couch cushions for a few extra dollars to see if you can help us fund another year of water, mowers, mulch and hoses!

It all starts on #GivingTuesday!

(Wondering about the lovely felt banner pictured here? To the best of our knowledge it was made by generous and talented former CGC board member Barb Michaels.)

Season’s End 2018

snow on leaves of a brassicaWell, that was an early snow! The 2018 gardening season has come to a close with some record low temperatures in Mid-Missouri this month. Before you shift away from thinking about gardening for the winter, 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. 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 December 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 some new members, too. Contact your garden leader or our board members to get involved.

Boone County Buzz: Our Insect Hotel Has Tenants! YAY!

Kathy Doisy

Kathy Doisy

In case anyone is wondering if our insect hotel is working, I have proof! If you look at the bamboo on the lower right, you can see that several of the holes have been covered with green pieces of leaves (Fig.1). This is the work of leaf-cutter bees (Fig.2). In July, a friend found me a mini-insect hotel that was going for cheap at Aldi’s — you know something is getting trendy when Aldi’s starts selling it. Anyway, while it didn’t have quite the flair of the one my beloved made for me, I thought why not? Well as you can see several of the holes have been sealed with mud by mason bees (Figs. 3 and 4).

Bamboo tubes filled with cut pieces of leaf.

Figure 1. Brood chambers of leaf-cutter bees.

Mason bees and leaf-cutter bees are represented by several species in the family Megachilidae. Most of the bees in this family are solitary bees meaning that each female performs all her own tasks, unlike the division of labor in a honey bee colony. She collects pollen on fine hairs on the underneath of her abdomen (this pollen spreads easily to the next flower making them excellent pollinators), then finds an appropriate tube to lay an egg in, while provisioning it with pollen for when her hungry larva hatches.

Picture of small bee on flower

Figure 2. Common species of leaf-cutter bee (USDA ARS free image).

She then seals that part of the tube with either a piece of leaf or mud, depending on the species, and goes looking for more pollen to repeat the process until all the space in that tube is filled. Whew, sounds exhausting! Which is why these small, gentle bees don’t waste their time defending their brood like honey bees. The only way you’ll get stung by one of these is if you grab it.

Image of bamboo tubes sealed with mud that looks like masonry.

Figure 3. Brood chambers of Mason bees.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting — at least to me. I went out to look at our homemade insect hotel and found that a new, different species has recently been using some of the tubes and stuffing the openings with grass (Fig. 5). I did a little research and found out there are several species of “grass-carrying” wasps in the family Sphecidae that also use these tubes for their brood. These wasps aren’t as good at pollinating as our solitary bees, but I’m a big fan of diversity and isn’t that grass cute? I’m hoping to catch one in the act.

Picture of small dark bee on flower.

Figure 4. Species of Mason bee (USDA ARS free image).

Picture of bamboo tubes with long pieces of grass sticking out the ends.

Figure 5. Brood chambers for “grass-carrying” wasps.

I think the take home point of this whole endeavor is highlighted by the fact that we live just a couple of blocks from the massive Brookside student apartment complex. Can sweet little pollinators thrive so close to all that concrete and trash? Apparently, yes. You can live downtown and still help nature. In fact, recent research indicates higher abundance and diversity of native bees in urban areas where there are higher densities of flowers and less pesticide use than fields in rural areas (D.M. Hall, et al. 2017. The City as a Refuge for Insect Pollinators. Conservation Biology 31:24-29.)

So, no more excuses! Start doing your part! Why not put a few native plants along the border of your veggie garden? If you don’t want a perennial, then plant a few annual sunflowers or zinnias. Both are good nectar sources for many insects and make lovely bouquets. For more information on helping these pollinators while producing nourishing food for yourself and friends, take a look at this website:

The Honeybee Conservancy

Community Gardens on the Edible Columbia Tour

This coming Sunday, June 24, from 2-5 p.m., join Peaceworks’ Center for Sustainable Living for the 2018 Edible Columbia Garden Tour. This year, the tour is exploring several new and very interesting topics, like butterfly and pollinator gardens, fruit trees, irrigation techniques, raised beds and unique uses of yard space for food production! And you’ll get to visit two Community Garden Coalition member gardens: Ash Street Community Garden and Ann Street Community Garden.

past tour participants at the Urban Farm Continue reading

Boone County Buzz: We Love Squash (So Do Bugs)

round zucchini growingWhen I hear stories of gardeners abandoning cucurbits (AKA zucchini and other squash) on people’s doorsteps, I wish this was my problem. Why do I have trouble growing these plants? I don’t use pesticides. If you want to kill some bees and reduce your yield, treat your zucchini plants with an insecticide.

Kathy Doisy

Kathy Doisy

My first job at MU was on an EPA program called “Rebuttable Presumption Against Registration.” Our job was to send the EPA data on the pros and cons of using various pesticides. Essentially asking whether the risk was worth the benefit. Based on that experience, when it comes to flea and tick control I’m on-board with man-made chemicals. (I apologize to my Kitty Boys but there is nothing worse than a home flea infestation). However, putting chemicals on something I’m eventually going to eat just doesn’t happen unless it’s absolutely, positively necessary. That means that to harvest a lot of squash and other cucurbits I have to do some serious plant monitoring. My methods are working pretty well, as we have gone from losing our plants to insect pests by the first of July, to harvests still going on in September (knock on wood)! My freezer is filled every year with my version of a delicious summer squash bisque! (If you want the recipe email me!)

adult squash bug

Figure 1. Squash bug approximately ½ to ¾ inch long. Photo, Keith Weller, USDA.

When it comes to growing squash or cucumbers around here, the big problems are squash bugs, squash borers and cucumber beetles. Anyone who has ever grown squash two years in a row knows what a squash bug looks like (Figure 1). The squash borer adult is more elusive (Figure 2). Our cucumber beetles tend to be the twelve-spotted variety (Figure 4).

adult squash vine borer, photo by Jesse Christopherson

Figure 2. Squash borer approximately ½ to ¾ inch long. Photo, Jesse Christopherson

Here’s what is working for me with the squash bugs and borers.

First, I clean up my garden waste after the first hard freeze in the fall. This way I’m removing overwintering sites for many pests including the squash bugs. Then in the spring, I plant two separate patches with summer squash as far apart as possible and leave 4 or 5 plants per mound. Depending on your garden size I recommend planting your cucumbers and winter squash in the same fashion. It may be crowded at first but it is inevitable in gardens over a year old that one of these pests will kill some of your plants.

Most mornings I get up early (it’s really nice out then — it’s cool, the birds are singing), I put on my flexible garden gloves, take my 5-gallon bucket of soapy water and an aerial (butterfly) net to the garden. First I sneak up on my plants looking for adult squash borers laying eggs near the base of my plants. It’s their larvae in the plant stems that make your otherwise healthy zucchini plant suddenly collapse and die. If you see one you have to act FAST. I swoop the net on top of it and then hold up the end of the net so they will fly up into it. Catching them on the wing is more difficult, but when you succeed it’s thrilling (well at least for a 62 year-old woman).

Squash bug eggs and immature squash bugs. Photo, Zsofia Szendrei,

Figure 3. Squash bug eggs and immature squash bugs. Photo, Zsofia Szendrei, Michigan State University

Then, when I’m done scouting for those I start looking for adult and immature squash bugs, but more importantly squash bug eggs (Figure 3). These are usually laid in clusters anywhere on the plant. When I see the eggs or immature bugs on a plant leaf or stem I remove part or all of that leaf and plunge it under the water in my bucket. If I see an adult or near-adult bug I crush it with my gloved hand or step on it. I’ve killed thousands and never been hurt, so don’t be afraid to do it.

spotted cucumber beetle

Figure 4. Spotted cucumber beetle approximately 1/3 inch long. Photo, DrPhotoMoto

Unfortunately I don’t have much luck removing cucumber beetles by hand. The damage they do to my cucumbers by feeding is negligible, but they do a lot of damage by transmitting a bacterial wilt, which is why I plant several vines on each patch. Usually one of them makes it! For other ideas on how to deal with these pests, take a look at the websites below.

Missouri Botanical Garden – Cucumber beetles

Missouri Botanical Garden – Squash borers

Missouri Botanical Garden – Squash bugs

Warm Season Plants & Seeds This Weekend

It’s time to plant all those delicious heat-loving veggies like tomatoes, peppers sweet potatoes and eggplant! For community gardeners, the CGC will host a plant and seed distribution this weekend, so make some time to come by and get what you need to fill out your garden and fill up your plates this summer.

ripe eggplant on its plant


Saturday, May 19

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday, May 20
12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Claudell Lane Garden
711 Claudell Lane

 

Plants are free to member gardeners, but we welcome donations of $1-$2 per 4-pack to help offset the cost. Row cover will be available for sale. Plus, we still have lots of seeds to offer you for various vegetables and flowers!


ESPAÑOL

Jardineros/as: Tendremos una distribución de plantas para la temporada cálida el sábado 19 de mayo de 10-2 y el domingo 20 de mayo de 12-2. Las plantas estarán disponibles por una donación de 50 centavos cada una en el Jardín de Claudell. Tendremos tomates, pimientos, berenjenas y camote. Si necesita semillas, estas estarán disponibles los mismos días a la misma hora, o puede contactar a Mira a su email: mirabai911@hotmail.com.