WPC Edible Garden – Spring Till

The Polish Hill PHCA Green Team will spearhead spring renewal of the WPC Edible Garden on the corner of Brereton and 30th @ the Park, from 8:30 – 11:30 am.

We have a lot of work to do:
– Till/Weed the cover crop were planting (Raised beds, by hand)
– A bit of carpentry to spiff up the raised bed boxes (Need some 9-Inch-Screws)
– General cleanup in prep for first planting

If Global-Climate-Weirding trend continues, the weather should be agreeable first week of April.

Tips for smart seed shopping

Though spring seems ages away, certainly some of us are thinking ahead about spring planting for summer bounty. These tips from Phipps might be useful!

Go here for the full Phipps story (paraphrased below)…

With another great year of gardening about to begin,  Phipps wants to remind their fellow green thumbs that by purchasing seeds that are organic and non-GMO, you will support purveyors whose products and practices have a more positive impact on human and environmental health. When searching for seeds, a great place to start is the Council for Responsible Genetics’ Safe Seed Resource List, a directory that includes local, national and international GMO-free vendors.

For more information, they asked Phipps Display Horticulturist Mike Bechtel, who maintains the Rooftop Edible Garden, to share his insight on how to search through seed catalogs: “I start by looking at every vegetable in the catalog, then making a list of everything I want to try growing. The list starts off long until I assess how much space I actually have, and then I start paring down to the essentials. I grow all organic vegetables, and searching for certified organic seed is sometimes difficult when you want something specific. Two of my favorite seed purveyors are Seed Savers Exchange and Heirloom Seeds which is in West Finley, Pa. Many seed companies indicate which seeds have been produced organically.”

Other seed companies recommended by Phipps staff include John Scheepers, High Mowing Seeds, Fedco, andThe Natural Gardening Company. If your goal is to avoid seeds directly linked to conglomerate seed companies, check out the Safe Seed Pledge, a voluntary pledge companies can take to commit to selling non-GMO seeds.

On Sat., Feb. 27, Phipps and Grow Pittsburgh will host their Fourth Annual Seed and Plant Swap at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland. This free, open-to-the-public event will include opportunities to obtain open-pollinated, non-GMO, non-hybrid seeds; a hands-on activity for children; a seed starting workshop; and more. Follow the link below for details, and have a happy gardening season!

Green committee meeting for volunteers on January 27


The Green Committee (aka the PHCA Green Team) is always looking for more volunteers.  The committee will have it’s first 2015 meeting at the PHCA office on January 27 at 6:30 p.m.  At the meeting, we’ll be discussing goals for this year, scheduling cleanups, and more. (There will probably be snacks, too.)  Anyone interested in being involved in green projects this year is encouraged to attend.  Please RSVP by calling us at 412.681.1950 or emailing valerie@phcapgh.org.

(Photo:  Green team volunteers during a neighborhood cleanup, June 2014.  Photo by Leslie Clague)

While we’re on the topic of green stuff, Grow Pittsburgh is again offering a great class for those who are thinking about getting into gardening this year.

a garden primer.sm

A Garden Primer is a 3-part educational series offered in February and March. The class covers all the basics, including which tools beginner gardeners will need, what and where to plant and when to harvest.

The February series is on Tuesdays: February 3, 10 and 17.  The March series is on Thursdays:  March 5, 12 and 19.  Both options are from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and are held at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church on 116 S. Highland Avenue.  The course is $50 for Grow Pittsburgh members or $60 for the general public. Free childcare and a limited number of scholarships are available. For more information, email Jake or call 412-362-4769.

Grow Pittsburgh’s vegetable gardening course is back for 2014



Who says that gardeners have the winter off?  Once the gardens have been put to bed for the winter, it’s time to study and plan next year’s growing season.  For those who are new to vegetable gardening and hope to start next year, this is a great time to learn.  Grow Pittsburgh has just announced the 2014 dates for its Garden Primer course, which covers all the basics, including which tools beginner gardeners will need, what and where to plant, and when to harvest.  In addition, those taking part in the course will be given step-by-step instruction on everything from starting a compost to properly transplanting seedlings.  All classes will take place at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church and will run from 7:00pm – 9:00pm.

The class will be offered three times:
On Tuesdays:
February 11, 18 & 25  OR    March 4, 11 & 18

On Thursdays:
April 3, 10 & 24 (note: there is no class on April 17th)

The cost is $60 ($50 for Grow Pittsburgh Members)and includes a detailed resource manual and some light snacks.  To secure your place in a class and make your payment online visit Showclix.com and select from either the February, March, or April sessions.  Payments can also be made by sending a check to Grow Pittsburgh at 6587 Hamilton Avenue, #2W, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.  A limited number of scholarships and childcare are available.  Please email info@growpittsburgh.org or call the office at 412-362-4769 for more details.

Garden End-of-Season Checklist from Grow Pittsburgh


Now that the cold weather is upon us, it’s time to start preparing our gardens for winter.  Put your garden to bed with this handy checklist courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh’s City Growers program.

 Garden Area
— Frost: A windless, cold, clear night usually means a killing frost. If one is coming, protect vulnerable plants.
— Annuals: Feed any crops that will be left in the ground for over-wintering; pull out and add non-diseased plants to the compost pile (put diseased plants in the trash). Dead material can harbor disease or pests if left in the garden plot overwinter.
— Soil: Apply soil amendments and compost to the garden area.
— Mulch: Strawberries and overwintering annuals get two inches. For fall planted perennials, spread a thin layer of mulch at planting, and then a thicker layer once the ground has frozen. Mulch bare beds with leaves, cardboard, straw, or burlap.
— Perennials: dig up, divide, and move to a new area of the garden. Plant new or replacement perennials. Pot up anything that won’t survive the winter (rosemary, for example).
— Asparagus: Cut the tops off and add a winter dressing of aged manure to the bed
— Raspberries: Cut back old growth, secure canes to stakes to protect them from wind whipping
— Trees and shrubs: stop fertilizing to allow this year’s growth to harden off before winter. Fall planting encourages good root development, allowing the plants to get established before spring. If weather is dry, provide water up until the ground freezes.
— Compost: Turn as often as possible to get it hot before winter settles in.
— Take down any hanging planters

–Inventory tools, clean, sharpen, and oil before storing for winter; repair broken tools
–Lawnmowers and weedwackers: after last mowing, run machines out of fuel and store in a dry place.

 Water System
— Hoses: drain and put them away so they don’t freeze and burst
— Rain barrels: drain all rain barrels and store (in shed or upside down and secured so they don’t blow around). Reconnect disconnected downspouts.

 Planning and Organization
–Map the different crops and their locations to refer to when planning for next year.
–Mark your perennials with permanent tags so you’ll know where and what they are when they die back at the end of the season.

For more great winterizing tips, check out the Urban Harvester, a weekly gardening blog written by Grow Pittsburgh’s Susanna Meyers.

(Photo of the Wiggins garden by Leslie Clague)

Get your garden ready for winter: free workshop on Oct 17

Grow Pittsburgh just announced a new workshop:  Putting the Garden to Bed.  It’s time to get your garden ready for winter.  If you aren’t sure what needs to be done, stop by this workshop hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County for helpful tips and tricks to make sure your garden is ready for next spring.  The workshop will be presented by Heather Mikulas at their Edible Teaching Garden.

The workshop will take place on Thursday, October 17 from 6:00 – 6:45 p.m. at 400 North Lexington Street, Pittsburgh.  To register, email gtilove@phipps.conservatory.org or call 412.441.4442 x 3925.

And here’s more information about getting your garden ready for winter from The Daily Green, Gardening Know-How, and the National Gardening Association.

(Above:  the Harmar garden in the winter.  Photo by Leslie Clague for the PHCA.)

Do you grow food in the Pittsburgh area? Stand up and be counted!

Do you participate in a community garden or community farm?   Are you growing food in your backyard?  Do you keep chickens or bees?  If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then Grow Pittsburgh is interested in hearing from you.

Grow Pittsburgh is compiling a list of current and prospective urban farmers, community farmers, community gardeners, and backyard homesteaders.  They need your feedback to set priorities as they continue to work to promote growing food in our neighborhoods.  Please help by filling out this survey for any project you are currently a part of, and by sharing the link with anyone else you know who is growing food in our region.  Not all the questions will apply to everyone who grows food in the city but Grow Pittsburgh would like to hear from as many people as possible.

Here’s the survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PGHUrbanGrowerSurvey

It should take 15-20 minutes to complete. The information collected will be processed by Grow Pittsburgh staff and Penn State/New York University researchers.  Only aggregated, anonymous information will be shared outside the Grow Pittsburgh offices.

Please direct any questions to Marisa Manheim, marisa@growpittsburgh.org or (412) 362-4769 ext.103. Paper surveys are also available on request.

(photo taken at Braddock Farms in 2010, by Larry Rippel — check out other photos from this project)