Friday, June 18, 2010

The Comploo: A Gardener's Dream Come True

Gardeners adore compost. It's a cure-all for whatever ails in the garden. The bucket on the counter turns into all that plants need to grow well to feed a household. Vegetable and fruit castoffs return to the bucket to return to the bin and then to the garden again. Tea bags, yard waste, garden leavings, and kitchen scraps all go in and come out as plant-scrumptious hummus. (The kind eaten indirectly rather than the other garlic-laden delight, of course.)

Bakoko's little creation - the Comploo - is something near to a dream come true. Taking advantage of the heat produced during the composting process, the Comploo is a sweet little building that it's easy to imagine tucked somewhere near the garden as a perfect spot to take a bit of a break between chores. Or a cozy place on a rainy afternoon for viewing the garden, plotting new plantings, or just basking in the glow of all those adorable vegetables. Heated by food, garden and yard scraps merrily composting away in bins that round the edges, when the plotting and planning is done just open a bin to scoop some of that wonderful stuff out.

Designed with public spaces like community gardens or parks (or even a cafe growing the majority of its food just out the back door) the Comploo creates a space for gathering that takes advantage of plant materials in place. Talk about a great way to warm people up to the idea of their own composting after touring the vegetable patch to see what's in season!

All images courtesy of Bakoko.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Decorating Tips from Bees

Busy, buzzing pollinators bees are a gardeners best friend. Favorite fruits and vegetables would not grace our plates if it weren't for these flying friends. Well, now these little critters have gone a step further: home decorating. You've heard of The Not So Big House? Well, welcome to the bee's version! Using flower petals to make some of the prettiest little nests a garden fairy could ask for, this particular bee makes a number of these in close proximity and snuggles a single egg inside each one.

Inspired? Well, next to the row planted for the hungry add one specifically for the bees! By planting a row of flowers or setting up a section of native plants not only will pollinators be attracted to your garden, but those tiny immune systems will get a healthy boost in the battle against Colony Collapse Disorder. Get buzzzy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Local Food Week in Michigan

Whether your garden sits on a roof, in a series of pots, or at one of our community garden sites you can celebrate Local Foods Week in Michigan! Running from Sunday, May 16th through Saturday, May 22nd, Local Foods Week is an opportunity to find, enjoy, and celebrate some of the best in local foods Michigan has to offer.

Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

Plant a row for the hungry. A great way to celebrate local food is to decide to share it, and planting a row for the hungry is one of the best ways to do that. Whether or not you've signed up for the potato pledge, you can pick up a few extra plants at the Project Grow plant sale and know those little gems will help a neighbor. Now, how cool is that?

Head to the farmer's market. One of the most fun ways out there to celebrate local food is a trip to the farmers market. Meet the growers and producers that are just around the corner or right in your backyard, sample their wares, and take home a few favorites.

Consider growing some of your own. Think of this as the year to finally plant that garden, sneak a few tomato or basil plants in the flowerbed out front to start that edible landscape you've always been thinking of, or do a combo pot of edible flowers, herbs, and greens!

Take a local farm tour and see what's out there. SIMBY (Sustainability in My Back Yard) Agritours is another fun way to meet growers and producers in person, but this time on the farm. Check out their schedule of upcoming tours and hop on along!

Join a CSA. Fresh vegetables grown locally by folks on the ground - literally - of the local food movement. Another one of the best and easiest ways to be part of a local food movement find a comprehensive guide at The Farmer's Marketer.

Volunteer with Project Grow. You can't get much more local than a community garden. Check out ways you can lend a hand and be part of the fun!

Got more ideas? Let us know and we'll be more than glad to share them with our readers!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flavors of Spring

A spring garden is full of more than a few bits of bounty. Peas, rhubarb, mint, a few small greens, and the first blush of strawberries fill the rows and come into the kitchen to emerge on plates and in bowls in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Radishes are an early favorite adding a bit of zing to a rainy day sandwich, and the greens can be added to salad or that very same sandwich. Combine peas and mint and savor the fresh taste of spring, too!

Then head on over to the Project Grow Plant Sale to see what great tomatoes, peppers, and basils are on offer to start the summer garden rolling. Check out the full list of plants and start planning and plotting!

Project Grow Plant Sale
Saturday, May 15th and Sunday, May 16th
Saturday, May 22nd
8am - 2pm

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Planting a Few Ideas

These rainy days can make it tricky to stay out of the garden, to say the least, so here are a few ideas to put your mind in the garden until your hands and trowel can get there, too.

The Perennial Care Manual: A Plant by Plant Guide: What to Do and When to Do It by Nancy Ondra was recently reviewed over at Cold Climate Gardening. If you're thinking about planting perennials (and who isn't at least giving it a fleeting thought in spring?) this is the book to crack before heading to the nursery. Or right after you get back with that impulse buy, which I'd also like to know who in spring has not fallen prey to?

While thinking about perennials, give some additional thought to incorporating native plants. Beneficials absolutely adore native plants, and since they're well adapted to the region (being native and all) they'll require less water and a little less maintenance over time. Not sure where to start? Check out the local Wild Ones Chapter to talk to professionals and others trying out different ideas, too!

And don't forget to stop by the Project Grow Plant Sale this weekend to match tasty vegetables starts with that assortment of perennials!

Project Grow Plant Sale
Saturday, May 15th and Sunday, May 16th
Saturday, May 22nd
8am - 2pm

Monday, May 10, 2010

Plant Sale Coming Up!

It's time to give serious thought to what will go in this year's garden. We've talked before about seeds, planning tools, and even about experimenting with a virtual garden to see what might happen. Now's the time to put that research into action to start taking home harvests like the one pictured here!

Join us Saturday, May 15th and Sunday, May 16th in front of The People's Coop talking plants, gardening, and all sorts of other fun green stuff! We'll be there once more on Saturday, May 22nd for one more chance at some terrific tomatoes, peppers, basils, and great conversation!

Project Grow Annual Plant Sale
Saturday, May 15th
Sunday, May 16th
Saturday, May 22nd
8am - 2pm
People's Food Coop

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slow Food Huron Valley Ark of Taste Dinner

We've talked about scrumptious fungus, heirloom potatoes, and classes to help decide what to grow in the garden, but here's a chance to try some of those great local foods for yourself. Think of it as research for the garden or next trip to the Farmer's Market!

The Ark of Taste Dinner is a five course meal (plan for an elastic waistband!) that will knock your socks off. By promoting these foods to your taste buds, the Ark of Taste and Slow Food (check out the Huron Valley chapter, too!) raises the chances of keeping them growing for future generations. Wander over to the Grange Kitchen and Bar to sample some of this amazing fare and see what your taste buds would plant!

Ark of Taste Dinner
Thursday, April 22nd
7pm - 10pm
118 West Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
$65/per person
Reservations required so sign up now!