Harvest Time!

Swain's BeautiesLook at the beauties from the Swain’s row! I saw 4 big heads of broccoli that were on the verge of flowering.  The squash is ready, tomatoes are ripe, and greens are at their peak….EAT.  This is why we all garden…to eat the most nutritious food we can!

Some points to consider:

  1. When you pick your produce, please wash them at the hose and over the rocks (not at the sink!)  I scooped out 3 cups of mud out of one side of the sink last week.  We have a small drain fill container connected to our sinks and it fills up quickly. It helps tremendously to rinse all the mud off at the hose over the rocks, then do a final rinse at the sinks.
  2. If you have TOO much produce that you don’t know what to do with, consider selling it at the Farm Market on Saturdays from 10-1 p.m.  People are more than happy to buy fresh picked!  Figure out what the price would be (by comparing prices in the stores) and bring about $20 worth of change…dollar bills mostly.  We’ll have the table and cloths.  Cost would be $5 for vendor fee.  You would set up at the “Neighbor Table” which someone could point you to.
  3. What to do with the space after picking the produce?  Plant again!  the T (tender) vegetables on your planting guide probably should not be planted this late in the season…but all the H (hardy) plants you sure can.  Clean out the spot and get seeds back into the dirt.  There are still 90 days left for this season, anything can grow in 90 days!
    Hardy Crops

Tomatoes: Some of you have asked about why the tomato plants look droopy.  As I have felt the dirt around them, my advice would be to cultivate!!  Mix in some worm castings, blood meal, or some sort of manure with your hands around the roots.  Mix it like you’d knead bread dough.  Get the dirt nice and loose and filled with more food for the tomatoes to grow on.

Clean your tools periodically: Just like people, plants that are sick, are also contagious. Just one cut or scrape by a gardening tool previously used on an infected plant can subject healthy plants to disease. Soaking your tools in a sanitizing solution is easy and can reward your garden with strong, vibrant plants.

FYI: We’ll be rototilling the walking rows sometime over the next two weeks.  In order to spruce up everything and get ready for the next phase of planting.Call me or Ileana if you have ANY questions, that’s what we’re here for!  For the most part, you all have done fantastically.

NEXT WEEK: “Thankful for Our Food” day at the Farm Market…for our farmers, our products, and our food.

Nancy

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One of the prettiest ever

Well,

We had our issues to contend with this season, but this picture puts the title on your spring gardens as “one of the prettiest ever” Thanks for having everything cleaned out by Saturday.

We’re going to be ready for the fall season if any of you want to continue growing with us.

Nancy

God paints such pretty pictures in the garden…one of the prettiest ever.

God paints such pretty pictures in the garden…one of the prettiest ever.

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June 5, Last steps

Gardeners,
One more week of harvesting from your row….was out to the garden today and was tasting and envying some of your produce still in abundance.
PICK – Tomatoes that are green, pick and take home and ripen in the window.  Beans pick while they are young and tender.  Micro greens can be picked and eaten (they are actually more packed with nutrients at the micro stage).  Carrots and onions and corn can be very tasty in the earlier stages.  I don’t want to see ANY produce wasted.  If it has a few spots on it or bug bites…cut them away and eat the rest!
For the plants that you want to save, bring your buckets and dig up your plants…tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant, and strawberries can all be transplanted, if done carefully. Try not to disturb the roots. You’ll have to cut the stems back a bit and they might go into shock, but wait and see if they spring back to health, water often till the roots get re-established.
What to do with your row? Pick the diseased plants and any weeds that have gone to seed and dump at the end of your row.  Leave everything else.  It will add to the composting when it gets tilled in.  Take all of your unused sacks of fertilizers, tomato cages, sticks and strings, and any of your tools…., leave the stick with your name on it, please.
Return: We are missing some of our blue buckets that were in the barn stall. Please also check to see if you happened to have any tools with red paint on the handle; they belong to the garden.
Let me know… by the 14th if you want to continue gardening with us for the fall. Its a different experience from the spring garden. We’ll be opening it up for new gardeners, but we want to give you the very first spots.
Again,  GreenThumbBrigadethank you all for being a part of the farm experience.  I hope you’ve learned a lot and will continue to always grow your own food if you possibly can. That is the best way to stay healthy! You are now another one of us, the Green Thumb Brigade!
Blessings….Nancy
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Farm to Market Event next week!

It’s coming and you won’t want to miss it. Let’s make Osceola county the place to go for locally grown, fresh produce. Meet your farmers and share with your neighbors what the farm has done for your family. Print the link below and hand it out to your neighbors. Email it to your family, your friends, your relatives, and your co workers… let them in on the best tasting local food you can buy. Come out and have a great time!

(right click on this PDF, save it and then share it)

!farm_to_market

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Garden Therapy and Farm to Market

First off, I wanted to share a garden photo with all of you.

Garden Therapy

Garden Therapy

Brooke took it one morning as she was out working in the garden.  It makes me wonder why everyone doesn’t early morning garden….soooo beautiful!  Garden therapy, Agritherapy…however you coin it, its downright peaceful to the soul!

Many of you have replanted, brought in some transplants, and are harvesting some wonderfully looking produce!  Ileana and I are still available for any questions you might have about things at this point…how to transplant, how to harvest, when to harvest, what gets pulled out what gets left, why are bugs attacking my Bok Choy??? All of these need questions require individual answers as we walk the garden with you.  Please call us, email us, text and we’ll do it.  The biggest need that I see as I walk the rows is to CULTIVATE!! Loosen the soil with the stirrup hoes or with your fingers…. if you can’t put your fingers down in at least 4 inches, then your plant is stressed…and bugs will come.

Cultivators– There several designs of cultivators and they can be short-handled tools or long-handled tools. They may be similar to a hand rake or have spinning heads that cut up weeds and loosen soil. A cultivator’s primary purpose is to loosen and aerate soil and remove very small weeds. These tools will also aerate the soil and remove minor weeds while tilling the ground.

You all know by now that we rototilled the walking rows.  PLEASE pick the weeds up that were rototilled into the walking areas and discard them.  It gives all the rows a little facelift and gets us ready for the last 2 months of growing.

The little metal trash can under the shade area is for people to dump coffee grounds. You can help yourselves to it if you want to sprinkle some nitrogen around your plants!

We are having a Farm to Market event on May 17thThis year we are spotlighting our area growers/farmers/producers and having chefs, kids activities, and food to celebrate our local abundance.  YOU are invited to display/sell your produce at this event… Or you can help with it!  Let me know if either sounds good for you and I’ll give you the details of what needs to be done.  In any case, we want the garden to shine.  In the past, we’ve had 300-350 people come for the event and of course they walk over to the garden to see it.  Please have your row in tip top shape…always, but especially for the 17th.  By doing so, you’ll encourage others to want to learn to grow their own veggies.
Thank you for giving up parking spaces on Saturday for the market vendors….they appreciate it immensely.
Let me know if you want to participate on the 17th please.
Nancy
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4/11/14 Notes from Nancy

Thanks to the quick thinking of the Johnson group, we hopefully took care of a potential problem.  One week they had big beautiful potato plants…the next week they were sick and dying from blight.  They used the Extension Services to determine what it was and cut their tops off, bagged them, and removed them from the garden.  I appreciate their effort. They were able to save some of the tubers and hopefully still have some harvest.

Starting to Harvest Many of you have been taking home your first harvests!  We thinned Swiss chard and lettuce last week and had a delightful bunch of micro greens because of it.  Yum!!  Some of you have asked when to harvest your vegetables.  Each one is different.  The lettuces can be cut off at the stem and left to regrow.  The beans are coming on and when they get nice and full, then its time to pick…waiting too long will result in tougher dry beans. I would error on the side of picking too early for most of what we have growing.  Ask your mentors….don’t chance it.

When I pick produce to take home….You’ll want to rinse it off before you load it in your car.  Use the hose by the white rocks to hose the majority of the dirt off.  Then, if you want to rinse some more, use the sinks.  PLEASE leave the sinks in clean condition for the next gardener.  The lever to open and close the drain is found under each of the sinks.  For your lettuces please get a salad spinner.  They sell them at Wal-Mart and Target and are a must for our greens.  To use the spinners:  do the initial rinsing at the garden, take them home and put a fair size into your salad spinner.  Fill it up with water and douse a few times.  Dump out the water and secure the top.  Pump a few times and remove your greens. Lay them out on a towel to air dry a few minutes and put in an open storage bag into your refrigerator.  This will wash AND plump up any of your greens.

Plants have greened up!  I hope you’ve noticed how much greener the plants are.  Good job!  As a reminder for plant health, the more balanced the soil is the less bugs, the more growth, the healthier plant all around.  as you walk your row, notice if your plants are robust, if the leaves are free from critters and mold and disease.  If there is a problem, then nip it in the bud, so to speak. green_smiley

Some of my leaves have a powdery mildew…

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew

The big leaves of the summer squash, the leaves of cucumbers, and the leaves of watermelon and cantaloupe are primarily susceptible to this fungus. It can be carried to the plant by insects or it can develop because of spores. I have talked to and visited many farms and it is very common for this area.  One solution I heard of recently was to spray one part milk and 10 parts water on the plant leaves. The person who used it says to apply it BEFORE the fungus begins. Another home method is to mix 1 tbsp. baking soda to 1/2 tsp. liquid soap to a gallon of water.  Shake and apply with spray.  The best way to control it though is to buy seeds that are resistant to powdery mildew. If you didn’t buy seeds that were, you might want to check out this website for homegrown methods of eliminating both mildew and pesticides.

http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002081329023823.html

What are some natural pesticides: 

•  Neem oil
•  BT, or Bacillus Thuringiensis
•  Diatomaceous earth
•  Garlic ground and added to a spray
•  Hot peppers ground and added to water sprays

See the link above for some other solutions.  chicken getting ready to eat hornwormBugs can do a number on any plant in a matter of hours.  Now is the time to check your tomato plants for hornworms which can eat down leaves of a whole tomato plant.  One solution for hornworms is to sprinkle with a jar full of flour and a lid with punched out holes.  Hornworms have to be pulled off and squashed…or save them in a jar and throw them to the chickens in the back of the yard at the farm….they LOVE them.  

Are you cutting herbs? They are not fully grown but we do have a good assortment of herbs for your use:
       •  Greek oregano              •  Lemon thyme             •  Dill
       •  Italian oregano             •  Pineapple sage            •  2 kinds of parsley
       •  Rosemary                      •  Aloe
       •  Chives                            •  Cilantro

Please pinch off or cut little sprigs from our herbs to take home and cook with.  What a difference to use fresh herbs in your recipes!

Thanks for parking  in the field on Saturdays. You may drive down to the top of your row by the pond if you need to unload things then park where the public parking is for the market.  This frees up space for our vendors to unload and park their cars for the market.

Dogs at the garden?   Some of you have asked about bringing dogs to the garden.  Yes, they may come if you keep them on a lease at all times and clean up after them.  They are not allowed in the equestrian barn for obvious risk factors.  Please anchor them in the dirt by the garden area and not by any of the rows.  Don’t you wish we could teach them to weed? green_smiley

Vegetables are a must on a diet.
I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.

Vegetable Quote by Jim Davis

Nancy

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3/17/2014

Thirsty plants?

The baby plants coming up in our rows might like to have a drink of milk!  Sounds far fetched?  We heard about the benefits of milk last season…and last week we gave some full strength to our yellowing onion plants.  A week later they are vibrantly green.  We sprayed our cucumbers with milk for protection against powdery mildew…We’ll see how it works.  Raw milk is sold at the Farm Market if you want to give it a try.  Excellent article below from Mother Earth News.

Parking on Saturdays:  If you have bulk items to drop off by your row, feel free to drive through the parking area at the top of the pasture and park next to your row on the north side, between the pond and the garden, unload your goods, then park your car back in the parking area.   I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Thinning and transplanting if your plants are up 3 or 4 inches, you can start thinning. Why do we thin plants?  Because to have optimum growth, each plant needs ‘elbow room’.  If they are packed closely together, they won’t grow to their full ability.   Why don’t we want to thin while they’re smaller?  Because the roots aren’t established and you could pull up the ones you want to keep along with the ones you want to thin.  At about 4 inches they have established themselves enough to root properly…but if you wait till they are much bigger then they have established themselves too much and its harder for them to recover getting yanked out and build their secondary root system again.  So how to thin?  Read the back of the packets for optimum spacing.  If it says to have the plants about 2 inches apart (as with green onions, carrots, some lettuces, etc.) Then pick a starting plant, dig down into the soil beside it and remove 2 inches of plants…getting enough soil as to lessen the disturbance of the root systems.  Leave another plant 2 inches from the first and repeat process.  What to do with the plants that have been pulled?  Either replant them or take them home and cook them up!  If you are going to replant them, separate them so you only have one plant/one root per hole…  Dig holes spaced the right distance apart for optimum growth and depth for replacing the existing plant root.  You might want to put your transplants in another part of your garden… between tomato plants for instance.  Some of you have space between collards, space between kale… Onions, carrots would fit into these spaces because they are smaller plants.  If you’re not sure, ask your mentor.  Remember, we want your row to thrive!!

Utilize your whole row: This takes practice…am I planting too much, too close together?  Two rows that are good examples of space utilization are Ileana ROMAN row, and Lenning LISBOA.  Please wander down and take a look at how they’ve maximized the space they have.  

Milk as Soil Food

MilkUsing milk on your compost and in your garden will probably come as a surprise to most. Upon closer inspection, however, it starts to make sense. The amino acids, proteins, enzymes and natural sugars that make milk a food for humans and animals are the same ingredients in nurturing healthy communities of microbes, fungi and beneficial bacteria in your compost and garden soil. Raw milk is the best, as it hasn’t been exposed to heat that alters the components in milk that provide a perfect food for the soil and plants, but any milk will provide nutrition and benefits. Using milk on crops and soils is another ancient technique that has been lost to large scale modern industrial agriculture.

Milk is a research-proven fungicide and soft bodied insecticide – insects have no pancreas to digest the milk sugars. Dr. Wagner Bettiol, a Brazilian research scientist, found that milk was effective in the treatment of powdery mildew on zucchini. His research was subsequently replicated by New Zealand melon growers who tested it against the leading commercially available chemical fungicide and found that milk out-performed everything else. To their surprise, they also found that the milk worked as a foliar fertilizer, producing larger and tastier melons than the control group.

Recently David Wetzel, a Nebraska farmer completed a 10 year study on applying milk at different rates to his pastures, and recorded the results with the help of the local Agricultural Extension agent Terry Gompert, a university soil specialist, a weed specialist and an insect researcher.

What they found was amazing- the grass production was drastically increased; the soil porosity or ability to absorb air and water doubled; microbe activity and populations increased; cows were healthier and produced more milk on treated pastures; the brix or sugar level in the pasture tripled, indicating more nutrients were stored in the grass than before. Grasshoppers abandoned the treated pastures- the sugars are a poison to soft bodied insects as they do not have a pancreas to process the sugars. This also explains why insects will leave healthy, high brix level plants alone, as they contain more sugars than the stressed and sickly ones. Milk Works As Fertilizer.

For the home gardener, the ratio can range from 100% milk to a 20% mixture with water, with no loss of benefits. Use as a spray on the compost and garden soil prior to planting, and as needed when insects appear. Spray directly on the insects and around the areas they inhabit. When combined with molasses, it becomes a highly beneficial soil drench. A proven solution is 20% milk – 1 cup of milk to 4 cups of water, or 2 cups milk to 8 cups water for larger gardens.

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Tomatoes, Peppers, and Checking up

Need your order:

Black Kow $5, tomatoes $4, peppers $4, strawberries $4! The plants are in 1 gal. pots and are healthy and locally grown! I’m picking up a bunch on Friday, so let me know by Thursday night what your wish list is. The Black Kow is stacked by the fence. Please don’t remove it or the plants on the table before they’re paid for.

Mentor Shane Belson has a new job and will be moving to Washington State soon. Our deep loss…their gain. Shane and Kendra have been the stalwarts of this local food scene since its inception. They have been in the forefront of every Farm to Fork Event that we’ve had. Shane even made all of the artisan’s bread for one of them! He and Kendra started out being non-working shareholders in the CSA back in 2009. Then, when it changed to the rent-a-row, they still stayed on and perfected their gardening talents. We’ll miss them both.

So for those of you that had Shane as a mentor, you now have me! 🙂 Starting next Saturday, the 22nd, I will be helping you with any questions you have about your row. Feel free to email me questions, to ask for hands on help, or whatever else you might need. We want you to succeed with your spring garden!!

Utilize your whole row:

Your 4′ x 80′ patch of good rich dirt, adequate water, and seeds of choice can feed a lot of hungry appetites, if the planning is done and the care is given. So…..

  • Plant and space according to the packet instructions.
  • We’ll talk about thinning in a future email.
  • Plan for successive plantings: beans for instance, should be planted every 3 weeks for a continuous harvest into June.
     If you planted beans on the 15th of February
    You can plant them again in another part of the row on March 9,
    And plant them again in another part of the row on April 6
    This will have you picking beans up until we close our rows, the second week of June.
    Each crop of beans will give you continuous pickings for about 3-4 weeks.
  • What other crops could be on this successive planting schedule?
    Beets                    Carrots
    Onions                 Cucumbers
    Lettuces               Radishes
    Turnips                Mustard greens
  • If you have any questions about what, please ask!

What vegetables will continue growing after the first picking and which ones will only give one harvest? Let’s go down the list because this is important to know.

  1. Beans will give you 3-4 weeks of pickings and then can be pulled and plant something else in its place.
  2. Cabbage can be cut and will produce subsequent smaller side cabbages. Broccoli also the same.
  3. Squash, cucumbers, eggplant, Swiss chard, tomatoes, spinach, peas, and peppers all can keep producing as you happily pick the ripe ones and tuck them into your harvest bag.
  4. Turnips, radishes, onions, carrots, beets, kohlrabi…..one planting/one harvest only.
  5. What about lettuce? Most of the lettuce mixes can be grown and cut when they’re young by breaking off leaves and leaving the root to continue growing. They will continue to supply you with new leaves throughout the season. In the case of Romaine, Butter-head varieties, I would cut the whole head and use it. I’ve tried it both ways and prefer it whole. if you cut it off at the root, you will probably get a smaller version of another head in its place. You will notice that the first harvests of each plant usually is the most tender and full.

What should I be planting now?

Just about everything. Refer to your vegetable planting calendar for Central Florida to see the full list of what could be planted in Feb-March. For sure are beans, beets, cantaloupe, celery, carrots to name a few. Throw in some flower seeds, too; they will attract bees and beneficial insects.  Some of you have picked up heirloom seeds to try, or vegetables that you haven’t ever eaten…Bravo!! I would have never discovered yellow mini’s (tomatoes), if we hadn’t stepped out of the box. They are my all-time favorite….until I try something I like better 🙂

Have fun with all the varieties of produce that spring planting affords us!
As with all things, please give God thanks. If we eat something from those tiny little seeds that we’ve all planted, it will be because of His goodness.
Nancy

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Dear Future Farmers

You never know…you might be!!

This rain has been perfect for the new plants, and these next few days of sunshine you’ll see surprising growth.

I’m pleased with most of the rows. You’ve prepared your soil well, and the plants will thrive in it. So, what do you do now that the seeds are in the ground?

Using egg shells is a clever way to start your seeds. When they get big enough to plant in the ground, you could crush the egg shell a bit and have an extra dose of composting to grow in!

Now that your rows are starting to get planted and the sun is out more than the rain clouds are, you’ll see the miracle of what you have just begun. To put a lifeless, little bit of a seed into rich earth, wait a couple of days and then see a bit of green popping its way through the dirt will always be one of God’s miracles…let alone the fact that in about a month to six weeks you can eat from it!

What do I do at this point?
There are a few weeds showing up already on the rows….should you pull them? Unless you are sure of what is a weed and what is a vegetable plant, I would leave them for a bit until what you planted gets a bit bigger and more obvious. If you planted in rows, then you will be able to tell which ones are the plants, they will all be in a row. Everything else will be a weed. We have to get the weeds out before they go to seed themselves, but they’re tiny enough right now that you have some time.

What about thinning…I planted too many seeds too close together.
I hope you all kept your seed packets when you get to this point. Each packet will tell you how far apart each plant should be planted for optimum growth. We had a lone arugula plant in one part of our garden which got to be about 3 feet height and 3 feet wide. Our other arugula plants that were spaced closer together only grew to be about half that size. Read the packets. All of your plants that are growing from seed are too small to thin right now, they need to get established and to get some meat on their bones. Once they start growing you’ll be able to tell which plants are the strongest (those you’ll want to keep) and you can pull out some of the weaker ones. Also, at this time, the plants you pull/thin will be big enough to be micro greens or baby carrots to take home and through in a salad….or to replant safely in a bare spot of your garden. In the meantime, you can watch this video gives for detailed instructions on how to thin lettuce:

The principal is the same for all the seedlings in your care, remove the ones that are smaller and crowded, leave the healthier ones to thrive.

Notice any pests yet?
They’ll be coming so watch for their signs. Look to see the health of your plant. Are there any yellowing, or spots, or bits of the leaves being eaten? All of these denote that there is something going on that needs your attention. Let me know if you see somethinFriendly stink bugsg and I’ll check your row specifically when I’m out to the garden. One resource found on our Gardener Resources Page is Insect Pest Finder. They offer ways to determine what insect is bothering your plant by the description of the damage, and then provide organic solutions to the deal with that specific pest. Otherwise, do 2 things. Google “natural ways to eliminate pests”, and get yourself a spray bottle to use. Try whatever you do on a small area first…and PLEASE make sure that it is natural/organic. With the rain or sprinklers going, nothing you apply will stay long on the plants. Our sprinklers come on early, early morning so if you sprayed at 6-7 am the solution would have a better chance to set on the plant. the healthier the soil and the plant, the less chance of bugs….they feed on the weak and diseased.

Do I have to add anything more to the soil?
Do you all realize that the soil is alive? It has as many microorganisms rummaging around as your body does. If your plants look green, healthy and are growing then the soil is good. If not, then there are other ways to get them healthy.

  • Fish emulsion. They sell it at home depot. Just mix it with some water and pour directly on your plants that look a little bedraggled.
  • Coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil, which greens up everything. To apply the grounds, sprinkle them away from the stem of the plant in a circle around it. Its best not to use them on little seedlings as they are too strong for the roots.
  • Added compost is great too. Some of you have asked about bringing your food scraps to the garden. Please do your composting at home as we are not equipped to handle food scraps, yet. “Black cow” which is sold at home depot for $5 a bag is composted cow manure.

All of this is good, IF your plants look like they need something extra.

Good job, everyone!
Nancy

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As you begin…

Here are some points to remember as you begin your gardening:

Soil amendments: 
Black Kow, peat moss and Vermiculite or Perlite.  You can get these from Home Depot or Kissimmee Valley Feed & Ranch Supply, Inc.  You don’t HAVE to add these, but it will help as they help to balance out the soil.
 
Disposing of weeds or old plants:  
If the plants are not diseased, they may be put in the 2 wooden compost bins under the shade area. All weeds are to be dumped on the north side of your row.  When you pull plant material from the dirt, please shake it all off and leave your good garden dirt on your row! 
 
Planting your seeds:  IMG_0288_sm
One point to remember is to plant 6 inches in from the sides of your row, Otherwise, when the walking rows get tilled, you’ll lose some of your plants because they’ll be too close to the pathway. 
 
Walk your row:  
Do this every time you go to the garden and look for bugs, tracts in the dirt from an animal, the health and well being of the plants and the soil. Alert your mentor with anything that looks suspicious.
 
Garden tools:  
They are in the horse barn, first stall to the right.  Buckets for weeds, hoes, rakes, shovels.  Ours have the red paint on the handles. You may want to mark your own tools; they all begin to look alike when laying next to each other.
 
Parking:  
With the market on Saturdays, please park in the parking lots so the vendors can have access to the shade area.  All other times you are welcome to park closer to the garden.  The market is closed for the next two weeks because of the fair, and will resume on March 1st.
 
Rocks:  
We recently updated our irrigation and put down the white rocks to the north and south of the garden.  I don’t mind the kids playing IN the rocks but please don’t carry them away. We need them!  Also, as tempting as they are to mark vegetables in your rows, please refrain. 🙂
 
Garden hours:
All days but Sunday…6 am to dusk.  Email your mentor for the gate code if you’ve forgotten it.
 
Bathrooms:  
Found in the horse barn, first door to the right.  Please leave the sink clean as this is used by the equestrian business also.
 
I am anxious to see some things growing your rows!  Have fun this season, share thoughts and ideas with each other, and recipes, too!  
 
Nancy
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