Tag Archives: gardens

A Rainy Day Photo Shoot!


By Michelle Soto

Meg and I thought we could use this rainy day to our advantage and show some photos of our muscle powered tools that we use to create the gardens.  As we were planning and budgeting to create new gardens and revitalize more green spaces at Healcrest, we made a decision to not rent heavy gas powered machinery and to invest in quality earth moving tools that we can use for years to come.

We still use lawn mowers for grass cutting, but pretty much everything else up at the farm is a hand tool.  This definitely increases the time and energy it takes to build a garden bed, but the finished products are high quality beds that will be around for years to come, completely free of knotweed roots, rocks, and anything else that might impede the growing process.

We’ve found that the beds that we built last year have needed a few wheelbarrows of compost of them and some leaf mulch in the aisles, but are free of invasive weeds.  The hard pan clay that is just right under our top soil was turned with compost last year and has matured into a dark rich layer of soil, perfect for growing.

Planting into these beds will continue for a few more weeks! Official volunteer days are on Sundays from 11-4.  We won’t make you jump on a broad fork for you can help some baby seedlings find a good home!

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Michelle loves to use the little digging fork to turn earth

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Meg attacks knotweed, clearing a new path through the woods

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Michelle jumps on the broad fork, using all her body weight!

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Meg is shifting soil with the brand new shifter that Suzy built or the farm

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Filed under Events, Gardening, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Sustainable Living, Urban Farming, Volunteer

Family Time on the Farm


By Michelle Soto

This past week my family came into town ready to work on the farm!  Many of my memories of childhood involve helping my dad in the yard and in the garden.  Every spring we’d get a load of wood mulch delivered to the house and I would use my child sized shovel and wheelbarrow to mulch the rose bushes and the edges of garden beds.  I loved the smell of the mulch.  It smelled woody and alive and signaled that spring was here.  My dad’s biggest hobby was working in the yard, he’d come home every day after work, take a power nap, change into work clothes and spend the rest of the afternoon outside.  He’s the type of guy who only has ONE kind of grass in his yard, and absolutely no weeds.  Anywhere.

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It was reminiscent of these afternoons to spend some days with him at Healcrest.  His assignment: tree stump removal.  And not just any tree stump.  A 50 year old black locust (he counted those rings during a break one day) which was in the middle of our newest garden.  While my dad worked on the stump, my mom and aunt weeded our garlic patch, which had mulched itself with garlic mustard plants.  They caught them all before they went to flower, and the garlic patch is vibrant and sending up what soon will be delicious garlic scapes.
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Other areas of the garden are quickly growing as the days and nights are warming up.  The mints: lemon balm, peppermint, horehound, catnip, catmint, and chocolate mint are providing us with new herbs to harvest every week.  About half of our seedlings are moved into the greenhouse and awaiting transplant.  And of course, the lovely wild cherry trees are going to burst into bloom any day this week.
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Till next time,
Michelle and the Farm Team

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Filed under Gardening, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Urban Farming