Helping Austin create and sustain community gardens
Ila: It’s very hard to manage. It grows in sunny spots. You don’t want it in your garden or paths. It can take over if left alone. The only way to get it out is to dig it up. Tilling is a bad idea because it can break it up and cause even more growth. You can also take 5-6 sheets of newspaper, wet it down, and put it on top of the Bermuda grass. This won’t kill it, but it slows it down. Once dug up, its okay to go in a compost pile if it will heat up hot enough to destroy it.
Kellyn: Creating barriers (for example, cardboard) helps and landscape fabric can help but once it breaks through, you have to replace the fabric.
Dwight: You just have to dig it out. Take a cheap steak knife and dig down about 4” to uproot it completely. Vinegar can scorch and halt growth, but it will also scorch everything else growing, so it’s best to dig it up.
Zach: Commercial grade landscape fabric, unavailable in big box stores, is effective. It’s spun fabric, not woven. Fabric is okay to use in pathways, but it should also be covered with at least 3” of another material (mulch, granite, etc.) Stay on top of pulling it up. Late March/April is when it becomes active, so the best time to sheet mulch is then. It’s dormant in the Fall, so that’s not a good time to mulch over it.
Solarization may also be effective: this is when you take a large sheet of plastic (used or new) and spread it over a patch of Bermuda grass and seal it from air getting in. If you do this in the May/June timeframe, it will get hot enough to cook and kill the grass.
There’s an organic systemic herbicide that has recently become available as well (systemic means it gets into the plant’s “veins” and kills it from the inside), but it is still expensive and difficult to find. It’s also broad spectrum, so it will kill everything growing around it.
Ila: Solarization is hard to do effectively because it kills microorganisms in the soil and is problematic if it rains.
Kellyn: In her experience, solarization attracts fire ants and doesn’t kill Bermuda grass, but does kill other weeds.
Zach: Bottom line is that there is no magic bullet, and you need to try several different strategies to control Bermuda grass.
Kellyn: Molasses! It adds microbes to the soil and chases the ants off. Spinosad is also a natural deterrent. Whatever you use, you should apply at least a week before you plan to work the soil.
Dwight: There’s a new product by Fertilome called “Come and get it” which ants will take to the nest and it will kill them (rather than just displacing them.) It’s very effective but not very affordable. You can also dig up the ants and remove them on your own.
Kellyn: Pouring hot water in the mound is effective if you dig down a bit first so that you’ll be sure to hit the queen.
Zach: Orange oil is cheap and effective.
Kellyn: Molasses is even cheaper.
Dwight and Kellyn: Beneficial nematodes also work. But note that the soil must be kept moist or they will die. These should also be applied in the evening/night.
Zach: Boric acid and diatomaceous earth also work. If you dust the mound with these products, the ants will dissipate.
Kellyn: But those products will kill beneficial bugs as well. If you use molasses, it should be sprayed over ALL of the soil even if it’s not infested. It can also be sprayed on plants.
(Question from audience: how do you find the center of the ant mound?)
Kellyn: Start digging and pay attention to where you see most of the ants coming from. That’s where the queen will be. Walk away for a while, then come back with hot water or other method to take them out.
Dwight: Dig it up! Don’t wash whatever you are wearing when you dig it up. Just throw it out, or it will spread the oils to your other clothing. Also don’t burn the poison ivy!
Kellyn: Use an old bread bag or some other plastic bag over your hands/arms when you are digging it up, and throw them out when you’re done.
Zach: Poison ivy only grows in the shade. You have to dig it up. The best way to treat rashes on your skin is to use dish soap on it several times a day, that will dry it out. Definitely take care of poison ivy before it gets too hot outside, because your sweat will break the barrier of protection. The best way to get rid of poison ivy in my experience is with machinery.
Meredith (and audience): Deer, chickens, and goats will also eat it. You can cut off the leafy parts and go back a few days later to apply citrus oil to kill the rest.
Kellyn: A lot of snails during rainy seasons, but pests usually go with the plants (cabbage worms during cabbage season, for example.)
Dwight: Spring is when the harlequin bugs come out. Pull up cabbage-family plants to get rid of them.
Kellyn: Stink bugs are important to treat at first sight. Copper fungicide can kill them if they’re still small. So will insecticidal soap and Spinosad.
Zach: Stink bugs are getting worse every year. My favorite way to treat is a homemade spray with crushed mint, garlic, and pepper. Also, artichokes are a great trap crop for stink bugs. They love artichokes. So do snails.
Ladybugs are good bugs and you can tell them apart from similar bad bugs (cucumber beetles) because they are round and don’t have a pinched body.
http://bugguide.net/ is a good place to go to identify bugs
Snails are easy to trap with beer. Kellyn recommends putting some in a large yogurt container. Be sure to kill them/empty daily. The round shell snails are bad, but the conch/swirl shelled snails are okay. Generally, if you see both, you should get rid of all of them.
Kellyn: The best way to prevent squash vine borers is to bury a barrier about 1/2″ down around the plant base when the plant is small. A plastic or cardboard cylinder will work.
Ila: Squash vine borers are almost inevitable. Successive plantings can help you to get a lot of squash before it’s all killed by vine borers. One variety of squash that tolerates them well is zuchetta. It grows rampantly and is always putting down new roots, so it will continue to grow. It also takes up a lot of space.
Kellyn: Row covers also work. If you make it to hot weather (June/July) without the vine borers, they typically won’t be an issue. They hate the heat.
Zach: The most important thing to remember when treating pests is to treat the right pest. A great resource to help is the Travis County Master Gardener hotline. They are quick to respond, and they are funded based on how much work they get, so use them! They can be reached at 512.854.9600 (ask for the Master Gardener Desk). For more information about the Travis County Master Gardeners, visit : http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/travis/master-gardeners/
Zach: Diversity and sanitation are important. Plant diverse plants to invite beneficials. Stay away from mono-cropping. Grow as much flowering material as possible and get a good food chain going. Parsley, dill, and cilantro are great once they flower/go to seed, so let them go.
Kellyn: Build a bug hotel. Consider companion planting, which only really works when you have a lot of both companion plants. Sometimes it’s good to let another plant become a “sacrificial lamb” and become the haven for pests. Be careful when using (organic) pesticides, because they kill beneficials too.
Lemon balm, lemon grass, marigolds, and any citrus-smelling plants are helpful to deter pests. If you are using these around your other plants, one won’t do, you need to box the plant in to completely eradicate. This is usually impractical, but planting some deterrents will definitely help.
Dwight: The best defense is healthy plants. Pick tomatoes as soon as they start to blush.
Ila: Khakiweed is another weed that is almost worse than bermuda grass, get rid of it too!
Starting April 20th, we’ll dive into the 2015 series of panel discussions about topics of interest to community gardeners. Speakers on each panel will include longtime community gardeners and community experts on the topic to be discussed. If you’re knowledgeable about any of the topics listed and would like to serve as a speaker, please contact sariATsustainablefoodcenterDOTorg.
All panel discussions will take place 6:30-8pm (during the Coalition of Austin Community Gardens meeting time) at Sustainable Food Center, 2921 E. 17th St., Bldg. C, 78702 (at MLK and Alexander).
Directions & Parking Instructions: SFC is located near the MLK MetroRail stop at Alexander St. and E. MLK Blvd. Heading east on MLK, take a right at the flashing yellow light at Alexander. You’ll pass the MetroRail station and will see People Fund up ahead. SFC’s building is directly behind People Fund. There is plenty of free parking around the SFC building.
|April 20, 2015
||Managing Pests & Invasives at Community Gardens, Facebook Event
|May 18, 2015
||Administrative Best Practices and Volunteer Management at Community Gardens|
|July 20, 2015||Urban Livestock (Chickens & Bees) at Community Gardens|
|September 21, 2015
||Children at the Community Garden|
|November 16, 2015||Fundraising, Grantwriting, and Accepting Donations and Services for Community Gardens|
Community gardening is on the rise in Austin!
Join the 2014 Community Garden Tour
Saturday, Oct. 25th, from 12 – 3 pm.
This free, friendly-to-all-ages, open-house style tour provides the opportunity to visit an inspiring array of gardens throughout the Austin area where participants are growing food and growing communitytogether. Get on your bike, in your car, or on your feet and check out this showcase of urban food-growing strategies! Enjoy visiting with gardeners, kids’ activities, and the opportunity to get your hands dirty by helping at a work day along the way: Adelphi Acre Community Garden is breaking ground on Saturday as well!
To join the bike tour, please meet at Blackshear Community Garden at 2011 E. 9th St. at 12 pm. We will bike 6 miles (approx. 32 minutes total). Route maps will be handed out on site. The bike tour will visit Blackshear Community Garden, Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church Garden, Good Soil Community Garden, Homewood Heights Community Garden, Boggy Creek Farm, and will culminate at Festival Beach Community Garden.
For more detail and bike route, visit here:https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zTGw0wAgEtzY.kccje7hmGth8
Tell your family and friends… Austin’s got it GROWIN’ ON!
Presented by: The Coalition of Austin Community Gardens, Sustainable Food Center, and
City of Austin Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Community Garden Program
Join us at Blackshear Neighborhood Garden Saturday March 9th from 2-5pm for our big spring work party! We will be giving the garden a facelift after a long winter and getting new seeds and plants in the ground.
We are also hosting a Plant Sale! Lone Star Nursery will be delivering a wide variety of veggie starts available for purchase at the garden. Everyone is welcome to come check out their selection and stock up for springtime. Join us at 2011 E. 9th Street for this great opportunity.
If you’ve noticed Wintertime on the wane and are hankering to get your hands in the earth again, come on and join friends of Blackshear Neighborhood Garden at the
FREE HUGELKULTUR WORKSHOP!
CHILDCARE PROVIDED by GrowinTogether after school program!
Coffee, tea, and snacks provided for your refreshment!
You’re invited to join the Blackshear Gardeners and Neighbors for our quarterly potluck and party!
This Sunday 6/17
8pm live music by The Cans and My Neighbor Nancy
What to Bring:
a dish and/or drinks to share
your own place setting
a chair if you’d like
We hope you can come out to meet neighbors, enjoy the garden, and check out our projects: rainwater collection, sustainable building techniques, chickens, shared garden rows, and compost.
Email caitlin.macklin[at]gmail.com with questions.
Find out how to contribute to the economic, social, and environmental vitality of your neighborhood by starting a community garden. In this workshop, we will cover:
– Community Organizing
– How to Secure Land
– Garden Organization Structures
– Fundraising & Community Outreach
We will also take a tour of New Day Community Garden, led by one of the community garden coordinators. This garden was started on the grounds of the Baha’i Center.
There is a high interest in community gardening in Austin, and very limited spaces available at the current community gardens. Come learn about how we can work together to start more gardens!
Registration is required for this free class. To register visit this link.
Questions? Contact Josh at 236-0074 x105 or josh (at) sustainablefoodcenter (dot) org.
When: Saturday, June 16, 9:00am-1:00pm
Where: Austin Baha’i Center, 2215 E.M. Franklin Avenue, Austin, TX 78723
Join us for the 3rd Annual Austin Community Gardening Tour on Saturday, April 28th, from 12 – 4pm. This free, friendly-to-all-ages, open-house style tour provides the opportunity to visit an inspiring array of gardens throughout the Austin area where participants are growing food and growing community together. Get on your bike, in your car, or on your feet and check out this showcase of urban food-growing strategies! Enjoy instructional talks, celebrations, kids’ activities, and the opportunity to get your hands dirty by helping at a work day along the way.
The tour is followed by a Celebration of Community Gardening at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard, 1106 E. 11th St., from 6 – 9 pm. Enjoy local food at a p•tl♣ck picnic and learn what’s been going on in the world of community gardens over the past year from the City and Coalition representatives. Then dance to infectious beats from The Flyin’ A’s under the light of a moontower.
March 31st grow-together film will be played at the Attic Film festival at the St. JOhns For The City Building.
March 10 th community party at Capitol Village apartments.
For more info go to: grow-together.org:)
We are also looking for a bi-lingual garden leader to help us out at our Food pantry at Gateway Church. The food pantry hours are 10 am until 12 pm every Wednesday.
New garden work day hours for fall/winter: Sundays 2-5pm. Want to garden but can’t get a plot? Sign up for a monthly shift in our shared community rows.
Cob Wall Workshop sponsored and taught by the fine folks at Design~Build~Live! Saturday November 12th 9am-5pm. Learn about this sustainable building practice while contributing to our garden’s kid play space. Go to designbuildlive.org to register or contact Caitlin for more information.
Our quarterly Garden Dinner will be November 19th at 6pm. Please join us for fellowship and good times in the garden. Bring a dish to share and your own place setting.
December Work Party will be Saturday Dec. 3rd 9am-1pm. The Urban Farm Tour will roll through then as well, so come be part of the magic! Projects on tap: Solar Panel Mounting and Compost Pile Reorganization.