Friday, January 30, 2009

Edible Flowers

Flowers should be an integral part of any garden. They attract pollinators and pest predators and can also be a feast for the tummy as well as the eye. Edible flowers can add color and flavor to summer salads.

Nasturtiums are easy to grow and the entire plant - leaves, stems, and blossoms - is edible. They offer a nice hint of spice, and are a favorite of bees and hummingbirds, alike.

Calendula is another bright face in the garden that is easy to grow. Just pick the flowers, pluck off the petals, and sprinkle them about the salad.

Violas, a.k.a.Johnny-Jump-Ups are another favorite. These tiny flower "faces" offer a welcome dash of cool purple to a salad and make an utterly charming cake decoration, too. A self-seeding bienniel, this flower "jumps up" the next season where you least expect it.
Annual and perennial edible flowers abound and can be grown in containers as well as right amongst your vegetables. For hints on growing them, check out the following classes at Project Grow as well as the Organic Gardening Certification courses.

Introduction to Organic Gardening
Saturday, February 21st
10am, Leslie Science Center

Container Gardening and Raised Beds - From Vegetables to Flowers
Saturday, February 28th
11am, Leslie Science Center

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gardening and Conservation

Looking for some simple ways to be green while saving some "green"? These ten steps offer some great suggestions that result in conservation of all kinds. Steps Nine and Four - Plant a Vegetable garden and Reduce Waste (with a compost bin!) - were a couple of our favorites along with the rain barrel, and alternative lawn covers. And, with all that great garden produce you can invite your friends to eat out at your place!

And don't feel shy about getting started. Upcoming Project Grow classes will get you to your greenest summer yet!

Building Your Own Hoophouse and Winter Seed Sowing - Two classes that offer some good basic information on ways to get an early start on the season as well as extending it a bit longer. Both offered on Saturday, February 7th for a day of gardening excitement in the heart of winter!

Introduction to Organic Gardening - Cheaper than using artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides this class on Saturday, February 21st will further green your green thumb and show you all the fun there is to be had with organic gardening.

Container Gardening and Raised Beds - From Vegetables to Flowers - Even if you don't have loads of room - maybe only a small patio, balcony, or yard - you can still grow some of your favorite vegetables and flowers in a tight space. Great for low-vision or mobility-impaired gardeners, too, join us on Saturday, February 28th to learn some tricks of the trade.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Joy of Seeds in Winter

Winter is not usually the time folks consider for puting out seeds, but the National Gardening Association suggests it is a great time for some cool season annuals like cosmos and lettuce. If this piques your interest, come along to our Winter Seed Sowing Class to get the scoop. Monica Miller, author of Fun with Winter Seed Sowing, will share some tricks of the trade and send participants home with a pot of their very own winter-sown seeds!

Winter Seed Sowing
Saturday, February 7th
1pm - 2pm
Leslie Science Center
1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor

Friday, January 23, 2009

Green in Winter

While perhaps a project larger than most of us would consider, this article about the process of building a greenhouse is enlightening. It makes our upcoming class on building your own hoophouse even more inspiring!

A greenhouse can be made of glass or plastic and tends to be a permanent structure, while a hoophouse is made of plastic and is often "portable" or removable. The controlled heat of a greenhouse makes it possible to grow year-round, while a hoophouse usually only extends the growing season - a little earlier in spring and a little later in fall. (Although if one builds a cold-frame inside as Elliott Coleman suggests, you can grow right on through winter!)

Building Your Own Hoophouse
Saturday, February 7th
10am - 11:30am
Leslie Science Center

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Garden Applications Now Available!

It's hard to believe with all that snow and cold, but it's time to start thinking about your Project Grow garden plot! Applications are now being accepted for the 2009 growing season, and we recommend settling in to get it filled out. Grab a hot cup of something, and ignore the snow outside for a moment while you peruse the maps and garden descriptions, read about the programs we offer, upcoming classes, and plan on joining us to grow all sorts of goodies.

Looking for inspiration on what to grow? Check out Project Grow's Flickr page, and some seed catalogs, too. Here's a few suggestions, but we'd love to add your favorites to our list, too! Just let us know.

Seed Savers Exchange - a wide variety of heirloom seeds and probably one of the best garlic selections going.

Renee's Garden - a good selection of mixes - including flowers and vegetable-flower trios - these seeds are also available around town at stores like Downtown Home and Garden

Kitchen Garden Seeds - another interesting selection of seeds, tools, and ideas.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Greening your Garden

This great article in the New York Times about the Sustainable Sites Initiative is a really fascinating read. The idea is to offer guidelines for landscaping similar to those that now exist for green building. Use of native plants, permeable walkways, and rainwater catching (for lack of a better phrase) are integral parts of the system.

To view the full report, visit and offer your two-cents until January 20th.

Feel inspired to begin creating your own sustainable site?

Well, you can:

Sign up for the Landscaping with Native Plants class taught by Greg Vaclavek of Native Plant Nursery. Better yet you could take the whole Organic Gardening Certificate Program offered in conjunction with Washtenaw Community College.

Or you can attend The Stewardship Network Conference at the end of this month! An inspirational two days of talks and presentations about native plants and restoration efforts in Michigan and the Midwest.

Sign up for your own Project Grow garden spot and try your hand at green gardening! (Keep checking the site for this year's application. They fill up fast, so don't hesitate!)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Certify Yourself!

Registration is already underway at Washtenaw Community College for the Organic Gardener Certificate Program! We're in our third year of offering this exciting series of classes that cover everything from the basics of organic gardening to growing fruit organically to gardening with native plants, and space is filling up as fast as ever.

Whether you decide you want to take classes individually or go for the certificate, you're guaranteed a great learning opportunity. Seven courses are required for the certificate, along with 20 hours of volunteer service in the community. Students have gone on to work with organizations like Avalon Housing and local schools to create projects that continue to grow along with the organic gardens they create.

Instructors Erica Kempter and Mike Levine of Nature and Nuture, LLC team up with Greg Vaclavek of Native Plant Nursery to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom. All local nursery owners that focus on methods of organic growing, organic landscaping, and organic weed control, they share a wealth of unique information.

Don't miss this opportunity to jump start and rejuvenate your garden skills! Register online (just add the classes to your WCC cart) or call WCC Live, Work, Learn at (734) 973-3607.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Houseplants in Winter

Organic Gardening this great little piece about transferring the principles of organic gardening to houseplants in winter. It offers tips on watering, feeding, and lighting, too, that ought to keep things green and blooming on these chilly days.

Wondering what to do now with that holiday plant? Never fear! These articles on caring for poinsettias, cacti, and amaryllis should get you off to a good start.