Archive | May, 2013

3 Ways to Support Friday’s All-Resident Garden Party

30 May
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If you are coming to tomorrow’s party (or even if you aren’t) there are a few things you can do to show your support for the garden:


1. Bring water (for drinking) and/or a bag of ice.

2. Bring cups for wine and/or water.

3. BYO cups or  water bottles to drink from.

Several of us will be setting up starting around 6pm, but you can drop stuff in the community room –or with the 230 Jay Street doorman–starting Friday afternoon.  (Party is rain or shine) And RSVPs are appreciated!  Send them to Thanks!  -Denise


Budget Planning for 2013 Garden

29 May

CVEarthLab’s Educational Garden for Children is self-funded. Over the past 3 years, we’ve invested nearly $5000. in cash, donations in kind and grant awards to get the garden off the ground. (We applied for one grant this year, but we didn’t get it.)

Besides planting and watering, the garden requires a lot of manpower and a variety of resources. Sustaining its success will require an assortment of efforts and skills, including fundraising, grant researching and writing, researching and writing proposals for the board, website maintenance and content creation, internal and external communications, taking and posting photographs, soil quality testing and stewardship, harvest potluck party planning and prep, mulch contributions, errand running, weather proofing, cat and squirrel deterring, making or buying organic pest sprays and fertilizers, and all sorts of creative problem solving. And money! Our most expensive supplies include planting soil (@ $10 per 2 cubic foot bag) compost ($13 per 16 cubic quart ) and mulch ($5 per cubic foot).

Thankfully, most of the overall expense (@ $5000.) was for start-up costs. We expect future annual costs to be much lower. Still, maintenance expenses are significant. It will take about $500. to fill the four raised beds (around 90 ft3 total) that need to be replenished this year in order to maintain safe soil quality.

Therefore, we ask that each CVEarthLab member family or individual commits to water the garden 7-10 times, and do at least three of the following four crucial duties this year:

1.  Collect and deliver 2-3 bags full of mulch (about 15-20 lbs).  Free mulch is available from Green Wood Cemetery.

2. Help run one volunteer activity, such as a fundraising event, garden pot luck dinner, garden clean up, or host an educational garden activity.

3. Donate one bag of potting soil (about 1.5 cubic feet; $10).

4. Donate $20 in cash.

Thank you.

Still Waiting to Harvest the Garlic…

25 May



Our garlic came from Hood River Organic, a farm that offers this harvesting advice on their garlic calendar:   Harvesting Garlic  When the leaves of the garlic plant begin to turn brown, it is time for harvesting garlic. You want to harvest your garlic when the plant has three to four fairly strong green leaves remaining. Keep an eye on your softnecks because they will be ready to harvest earlier than the hardnecks.  

I’m hoping we’ll be able to dig up something within the next couple weeks.  -Denise

ISO Supplies + Volunteers for Informational Event 5.31

23 May


You’ll be seeing flyers for the upcoming “Get to Know the Garden!” party very soon.  On Friday May 31st, in the evening, CVEarthlab will host an informal gathering for any CV resident (including those who don’t have small children) who is interested in learning about the garden and the communal herb beds/pots we plan to offer.

Of course all CVEarthlab’ers are invited and encouraged to attend — and to pitch in!  Please post a comment if you’d like to volunteer time on Friday the 31st. We’ll need some volunteer grown ups and kids to show off the plantings, raised beds, terraces and our fancy custom-crafted cold frame — or to help with refreshment set up or clean up. Fred is hoping to donate some wine (woot!) but we’ll also need supplies and loaners such as serving glasses (preferably recyclable plastic), fresh fruit, water pitchers and maybe even some upright lawn chairs. I’ll have more specific information early next week, after we get a sense of headcount, but for now, please consider if and how you might want to be part of this event. The party is rain or shine, we’ll be inside the community room if the weather isn’t nice.

I’m pretty excited–it will be nice to present such a positive project to the community! Thanks so much!  -Denise

Heavy Metals, Soil + Kid’s Brains

11 May


I write a newsletter for work, and I’m dedicating this week’s to Ansley:  The steward of our soil! Click here to read more about heavy metal pollution.  Thanks!  -Denise


Sunflowers . .. maybe!

11 May

snipped sunflower seed pack picI and a few kids planted sunflowers seeds along the fence next to the slide a couple of weekends ago (on Sunday, April 21).  The seeds were pretty old, but a few seem to have made it — I’ve seen 3 coming up so far and I heard one successful seedling was transplanted yesterday.  Try not to stomp on them!

Not only would they create a pretty visual wall between the slide and the parking lot if they grow — they can get 7 to 10 feet tall! — but they may help our soil.  The New York Times had an article last year about a garden up in the Bronx — La Finca del Sur — that is experimenting with using sunflowers to pull heavy metal contaminants like mercury and lead from their garden’s polluted soil.  Our soil has somewhat elevated lead levels based on tests (see results below) some parents had done on soil in what is now the slide area  and the shady strip between the sidewalk and 230 Jay Street by a program at Brooklyn College a few years back).  This is why we try to keep the soil covered with grass or mulch, and why we want to make sure we don’t throw soil from the ground into our vegetable beds.  We tested the soil in our vegetable beds again, and the lead level hasn’t changed much from last year, though some others have  (our contact at Brooklyn College soil testing program says the changes aren’t worrisome):

Learn more about the soil test results here.

See play area soil test results from 2011 below:

We’ll be transplanting and spreading any mulch we have on Sunday afternoon — all those tomato and cucumber seedlings that are growing out of their pots . . . though unfortunately not in my apartment . . . The snap peas, lettuces, and radishes outside are really growing!

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