April 26, 2019
VISTA MATTERS: Pizza + Gardening = YUM!
Compost Refresher...

As we begin to wind down our beds in preparation for summer, you should add your garden waste (but not weeds or diseased leaves!) to the compost geobins. We have a small, hardworking compost team and they need your support in following a few basic principles in order to ease their load.

  1. Please, please, please cut your plants to less than 12" as anything larger makes an already arduous process even harder.
  2. If your produce has thick stumps, such as brussels sprouts, collards or cauliflower, please leave them in a pile near the compost stump or take out to the woods to dispose. Do not add them to the geobins.
  3. Some well meaning members are adding their compost in “compostable” bags. While these bags will indeed compost in 3-5 years, the garden compost process is only 3-5 months so compostable bags do not work with our current system.
  4. Please be sure to add your compost directly to the geobin. Do not leave bags or containers of any kind. It takes time to tear open and dump the bags and containers, plus the contents are typically quite 'ripe' after sitting outside until attended to by the committee. Help preserve their sense of smell!

Contributed by MJ Wentzel, Compost Committee Chair, VISTA Gardens (Pictured below).
Closing Time: Preparing Your Bed For Summer
Saturday, May 11
9:00 a.m.
Talk on how to prepare your garden for the summer shutdown with David Whitwam and Bill West 

Post Talk Pot Luck
Saturday, May 11
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Join us after the morning talk for a potluck lunch. Visit with your garden comrades, discuss what you learned and share your shut down plans, tips and best practices. It will be a great way to celebrate a successful growing season. Bring your favorite dish to share, plus your own beverages and a chair!

Assistance Needed
We need volunteers to pick up aged produce from The Community Food Pantry at the Village Presbyterian Church (blue roof) daily. We would not be able to produce the beautiful Black Gold Compost without the intake from the pantry.

Every garden member benefits from the relationship we have built with the food pantry and we need your help as summer is around the corner, and vacation coverage is needed. We sure could use your help picking up the produce.

If you can help, even for a few days, call MJ Wentzel 813-215-0780.

Trash Takeaway
As everyone likely knows, the garden does not have County trash or recycling service (the dumpster in the parking lot does not belong to VISTA and should not be used).

The community trash cans are periodically emptied by volunteers who carry the trash home or directly to the county dump. Please remember when you put things like wet weeds in the garbage that someone (feel free to let it be you!) a volunteer has to haul it away... so please don’t make it too heavy!
Gardening “Off the Grid”

Contributed by Marty Kleiner, Vice President and Infrastructure Committee Chair, VISTA Gardens (pictured left)

Every garden needs water. Yet, VISTA Gardens has no electricity and, therefore, no running water.  We are completely “off the grid.”

How do we do it?  

You may have noticed that there are three solar panels southeast of the shed. These panels are used to supply electricity to a pump in the well located beneath the shed. Water is pumped up to the storage tanks on the tower directly behind the shed. There is a switch in the tanks that turns on the pump when the water level gets too low. Before the solar panels and the water tower, someone would go to the garden every morning and manually turn the pump on with a gas-powered generator and water all of the beds. We have certainly come a long way!

Some of you may come early in the morning only to find there is no water. This happens when all of the water stored in the tanks is used between late afternoon and early morning and the sun is not yet bright enough to shine sufficient light on the solar panels. The tank will refill as soon as the sun rises high enough for the solar panels to create electricity and operate the pump. 

Some technical information for those who may be interested:

  1. The three solar panels maximum power rating is 190 Watts each for a total of 570 Watts at 24 VDC. Our solar panels are stationary and don’t track the sun, therefore we usually get about 300 Watts. Many people are more familiar with solar panels for swimming pools. Those panels are using the sun to heat the water and not create electricity.
  2. The well is over 200 feet deep. The pump is in the ground about 60 feet. The extra depth is so there is plenty of water available to pump. The water table at the garden is very high. During the wet months, the water is just a few feet deep.
  3. The water tanks hold roughly 400 gallons of water fifteen feet high.
  4. Water pressure depends on the height of the water. At fifteen feet the pressure is about 6 pounds per square inch (psi). As a reference the pressure in your house is about 60 psi. To get the same water pressure at the garden you have at home would require the water to be 150 feet high.  
  5. If you decide to put in an irrigation system on your bed, a battery operated valve that is rated for “rain barrel use” is recommended. The valves at the box stores require the 60 psi to operate properly.  

I didn’t know that!  
Many people think that Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his famous E=mc2 equation. However, he did not. He received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of photovoltaics. He is the father of the solar cells used to make electricity!
Speaking of Compost... National Composting Week
Little Villagers Egg Hunt
VISTA Gardens will NOT be celebrating the 15th annual "World Naked Gardening Day" on Saturday, May 4!

You are free to celebrate this day in the sanctuary of your own property, but please don't 'dare to bare' at the garden.

(Psst... while they day is indeed real, this article is intended to be a joke but, really, don't show up naked!)