DEAR GARDENERS

Dear Community Gardeners, 

I wanted to share with you two research-based mobile apps that I’ve found to be helpful in the garden. I’ve found these two phone apps useful when I’m out in the garden and come across a curious insect, or am trying to remember if the plant sprout is a weed or a seedling I planted. Remember that identification and garden planning apps are only as good as the information in their systems -- for this reason I rely on apps from universities or trusted science organizations. 
 
Sow - A Planting Companion, from Alabama Cooperative Extension Service and NC A&T University Extension. The “SOW – A Planting Companion” app is designed to tell you the optimum time to plant each crop in your home garden. Simply choose your location and start planting. Click on the photo of a crop to see more information including:
  • Estimated days to harvest
  • Estimated yield per plant
  • Spacing between plants
  • Planting depth below ground level
  • Suggested varieties
  • Special notes as needed
 
Seek by iNaturalist (California Academy of Sciences & National Geographic)
Take your nature knowledge up a notch with Seek! Use the power of image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals all around you. Earn badges for seeing different types of birds, amphibians, plants, and fungi and participate in monthly observation challenges.

Get outside and point the Seek Camera at living things.

Identify wildlife, plants, and fungi and learn about the organisms all around you
Earn badges for observing different types of species and participating in challenges
 
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.


Free Gardening Classes led by Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers


  • May 13 - Grow Your Best Vegetable Garden
  • June 17: Planning and Planting for Pollinators
  • July 22: Extending the Harvest - Fall Vegetable Gardening



Growing More Than Veggies

Alongside fresh produce, community and school gardens grow deep relationships and community engagement, provide space for physical and mental wellness, and support life-long learning and academic success. This series will focus on aspects of community development highlighted through gardening. All programs will be held the 3rd Tuesday of the month, from 6–7 p.m. We plan to offer 4 sessions in the spring and 4 more in the fall.

Facilitators for this series are Quina Weber-Shirk, Cameron Waters, and Leslie Rose. (FREE, visit the Extension website to register)
  • May 18: Drip Irrigation
  • June 15: Share the Bounty: Donating Fresh Produce



Canning & Food Preservation led by FCS Agent Vincent Webb ($15 in-person class, visit the Extension website to learn more and register).

Learn to can and preserve seasonal food with Guilford County FCS Agent.

Each class is in person and hands on:
  • May 13: Strawberries
  • June 24: Green Beans
  • July 22: Peach Jam
  • August 19: Blueberries
  • Sept 2: Pickling
  • Oct 21: Apples
  • Nov 18: Jerky


School Garden Mentor Training (Free, virtual, Visit the Eventbrite page for more information and to register.)

June 8th, 9am - 12pm

All school garden advocates are encouraged to attend! This online workshop will be led by Guilford County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and Quina Weber-Shirk, Community & School Garden Extension Agent.

Topics include:
  • the role of an EMGV school garden mentor in Guilford County, NC
  • the benefits of school gardens for youth
  • how to start a school garden and build a garden team
  • how to design and build a school garden
  • how to plan and select plants
  • where to find resources from NC Cooperative Extension

THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN

Last week, we got a delivery of leaf mulch for the Mixed Greens Community Garden, at the NC Cooperative Extension Guilford County Center. You can see it in the picture below, on the right. The rich black pile doesn’t look much like leaves, because they’ve already been shredded and composted at the city of Greensboro’s White Street Landfill. We use the wood chips as a thick mulch and weed barrier in the paths between our garden beds. 

If you haven’t added mulch to your garden yet, May is a good time to do the heavy lifting and spreading before it gets too hot. NC State Cooperative Extension recommends adding a 1-3 inch layer of leaf mulch around your established plants (after seeds have germinated and the plant has several sets of leaves). 

Benefits of organic mulch: 
(note: here organic means “relating to or derived from living matter,” in contrast to inorganic mulch like plastic sheeting)

  • Acts as a barrier for weeds by reducing weed emergence from seed.
  • Conserve moisture in the soil: acts like insulation and reduces evaporation and keeps plant roots cool (reduces soil temperatures in the summer by 8-10 degrees F).
  • Adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down (decreasing soil compaction and increasing water-holding capacity).
  • Organic mulches prevent water splash, decreasing the spread of plant diseases. Many diseases are spread by water splashing from the soil up on the leaves or from a diseased leaf to a healthy one.

Read more from NC Cooperative Extension:
  • Garden Care, from Vegetable Gardening; A Beginner's Guide  
  • General Garden Care, from the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook, ch 16. Vegetable Gardening
  • Soil Management and Fertility, from the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook, ch 17. Organic Gardening (includes a list of commonly used organic mulches)

RESOURCES

Resources:





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