DEAR GARDENERS

Dear Community Gardeners, 

I hope you’re all doing well! The sun and warm weather the past few days has me antsy with anticipation for summer staples like basil, tomatoes, and okra. Patience is hard to remember. 

Even though it's warming up, there is still a chance that we may have a frost or freeze in the next few weeks of April -- historically the last frost of the year has been around April 15th, give or take 2 weeks. In 2020, we had a late freeze in early May. For this reason, I recommend waiting to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, or any other warm season crops outside until the last week of April or the first week of May. If the temperature does drop to the low 30s, it could damage or kill these crops that are not tolerant of frost. 
 
NC State Extension has a great Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for annual vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
 
Happy growing,
 
Quina Weber-Shirk | she/her (Why pronouns?)
Extension Agent, Community and School Gardens
Guilford County Center
N.C. Cooperative Extension
Work cell: 336.525.6112
jjwebers@ncsu.edu

UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES

Share the Harvest

Starting May 24th

Share the Harvest will begin its tenth (10th) year on May 24th, and needs your help, now more than ever! Share the Harvest is an all-volunteer organization that collects and distributes locally grown produce to agencies in Guilford County that either prepare a meal for the hungry or have a food pantry. 
 
The need for fresh produce in our community is growing. So how can you help?

  1. Donate produce from your garden or plant an extra row just for Share the Harvest; 
  2. Volunteer to pick up donations from collection sites in the Greater Greensboro area; and/or 
  3. Volunteer to help distribute the produce to our partner agencies. Distribution takes place at the warehouse of the Interactive Resource Center (407 E Washington St, Greensboro, NC 27401).

Share the Harvest began in 2011 and has grown each year to reach more in our community. We work closely with community gardeners, church gardens, individual gardeners, and NC A&T State University Farm. Our success is due to the kindness, generosity, and dedication of our agencies and growers. In 2020, gardeners donated more than 11,000 lbs of fresh produce!

Collection and distribution will start on May 24 and continue through September 30, 2021. There are a few collection sites throughout the county where gardeners can take their extra produce.

For more information and/or to volunteer, please visit http://sharetheharvestguilfordcounty.org or email landersonsth20@gmail.com.


Designing Gathering Spaces in School & Community Gardens

April 20th, 6 pm
Join us for a presentation and discussion about designing gathering spaces in school and community gardens with Remi Ham, Assistant Teaching Professor of Horticultural Science at NC State University. Remi’s recent work has focused on designing edible teaching gardens and developing an environmental curriculum for K-12 schools. Additionally, Remi has focused on reducing food insecurity through community gardens and urban agriculture, while helping break down perceived barriers to growing one’s own food. (FREE, Register on Eventbrite). 

This is the second session in the Growing More Than Veggies series. Facilitators for this series are Quina Weber-Shirk, Cameron Waters, and Leslie Rose. Visit the Extension website to learn more.


Flower Gardening Fun-Damentals

April 20th, 6 pm

Free Gardening Class led by Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers (FREE, visit the Extension website to register)

IPM Basics

April 22, 11am
This is the last of eight classes in the Piedmont Spring Gardening Series. Hanna Smith, Horticulture Agent in Guilford County, will discuss the basics of IPM, or integrated pest management. All gardeners should practice IPM, and this class will help you get started! (FREE, visit the EventBrite page to register)

Coast-to-Coast Virtual School Garden Tour

April 27th, 2-3 pm
This event will bring hundreds of elementary schools across the country together in a virtual celebration by kids for kids to celebrate the power and promise of school gardens. From Hawaii to Washington, DC, visit and learn from seven school garden sites across the country. Lessons and activities to engage students and educators are available. Hosted by the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation and the School Garden Support Organization Network. (FREE, visit event website to register and learn more)

THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN
Do you grow herbs and edible flowers alongside vegetables in your garden? These long-standing blooms attract beneficial insects, including pollinators! And the fragrant leaves and blooms of the flowers and herbs add an amazing variety both in the garden, and on your plate. (Plus, how cool is it to eat flowers?)
 
Liz Driscoll, from NC State University, highlights a few edible flowers and herbs in A Guide to Garden Grazing:

  • Bee balm (Monarda spp.) – Monarda flowers that come in a variety of colors, including red and pink and have a sweet taste. The wild purple species (M. fistulosa) has a slightly peppery flavor. Mix the petals with cream cheese for a bagel spread. Grasp the flower head by its stalk and eat like a lollipop.
  • Calendula or Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) – Flower flavors range from a hint of honey, to tangy, peppery or even bland. Known as “poor man’s saffron,” the pretty petals have hues of yellow and orange. Liberally garnish them on any dish, from salads and soups to sandwiches or in butters. Petals can be dried and stored in a dark place.
  • Chive (Allium schoenoprasum, A. tuberosum) – Chive blossoms have a fierce onion flavor, while garlic chive blossoms offer a mild garlicky explosion. Nibble on individual flowers. Serve them whole as a garnish on poultry or seafood. They add a pinkish hue to herbal vinegar. Put blossoms in a jar, add white vinegar, seal, and steep for 5 days. Strain and save to use for salad dressings.
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) – Nasturtiums are popular edible flowers for their peppery or spicy aftertaste. They have gorgeous bright-orange, yellow, cream, or maroon flowers. Shred nasturtium flowers into salads or salad dressings, or add them to any sauce for a “Zowie!” effect. Flowers can be stuffed with a cream cheese spread for an original garden hor d’oeuvre. 
  • Violets and Pansies (Viola spp.) – Violet and pansy blooms are very colorful, mild, and available fall, winter, and spring. Use whole to decorate cakes, ice creams, and other desserts. Candy them by brushing them with sugar and freezing them to use as a garnish for cookies, scones, cakes, and pies.
 
Want to read more? Choosing and Using Edible Flowers is a guide from NC State Extension. 
 
Remember that not all flowers are edible! Some are poisonous, others may have been exposed to viral or fungal pathogens through the use of animal manures as fertilizers, and still others may have been sprayed with pesticides not approved for plants intended for consumption. An extensive list of poisonous plants can be found at: plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/category/poisonous-plants.

Eat flowers only if you are certain they are edible.

RESOURCES





Does your community garden need seeds? Contact Quina Weber-Shirk, Community & School Garden Agent, jjwebers@ncsu.edu