Well, I’ve finally done it. I went and spent $30 on this “snip and drip” irrigation system:
Wow!! I’ve never done this before because I’ve never uh had a working hose outside. That’s right, for 2+ years I watered all my plants with two watering cans filled up at my kitchen sink multiple times a day (except for that short period when I thought the outside water line in our old house was working but then it turned out it was cracked and flooding our neighbors’ basements. Sorry!) Just having a hose was already pretty sweet, but then my annual freak out about not being able to water my plants while I’m at work – “If they’re drying out during the day in early May what’s going to happen in July and August??” – I realized that I could just order one of these do-it-yourself irrigation kits. So I did!
I’m not going to say too much about it because if you Google “snip and drip irrigation” you’ll get tons of reviews of various products that are essentially just a length of black soaker hose and green regular hose that you connect via little black clips. There’s another black clip for the end and you attach it to your hose with yet another black clip, and that was the only tricky part until I realized I was trying to connect them backwards. But there are lots of online videos to help you with that one. And then you turn on the water and watch the soaker hose soak the dirt around it – avoiding all the foliage!! – and breathe a big sigh of relief. Finally!
So here’s the obvious problem: it’s ugly. I figure in about a month the plants will be so big that they’ll completely cover the soaker hose and probably even the regular hose connector sections. But what to do until then?? Well, I’ve been thinking about drilling holes into the raised bed so that you don’t see the hose sticking out on either end. I also need to get some of those metal clips that hold hoses down in the dirt because I think that will make them less visible too. Ultimately, though, this is still kind of a trial run: I’m not going to drill any holes until I’m totally satisfied that the plants are getting enough water. The good thing about this system is that it comes with 50′ of soaker hose and 25′ of regular hose and you just cut them to whatever length you need. You can also get a timer so that everything gets watered automatically! But I’m not ready for that level of sophistication quite yet.
I’m mostly excited about the fact that I can water my plants without getting water on the leaves. When you water at night, getting water on the leaves is no problem because it has all night to evaporate. But when you water in the morning a lot of times droplets of water are still on the plant leaves when the sun hits them and that leads to scorching, like in this picture:
The leaf scorching isn’t really a big deal – as long as it’s only a few leaves on each plant the plant’s going to be fine and it doesn’t affect the fruit at all. But it is kind of ugly and watering this raised bed with the hose it was impossible not to get water on everything: dirt, leaves, the wall behind it, me, my cat… you get the picture.
But really, the best thing about this is that my plants will get a steady stream of water which is best for vegetables. It’s so hard to keep pots watered in the middle of the summer – I’ve been known to run home on my lunch break to water – and uneven watering leads to cracking and other vegetable problems. So now with my raised bed and irrigation system I’m all ready for summer! Let’s go, veggies.
A few days ago, the website Generocity posted a great write-up of a recent meeting of Philly-area co-ops who are coming together to forge partnership and leverage their collective strength in the service of making operational and marketing improvements. As someone who has been working on the marketing of the South Philly Food Co-op, I was particularly encouraged by this piece:
On the marketing end, Weavers Way, Swarthmore and potentially Creekside will be setting up kiosks at WXPN’s Xponential Festival on the Camden Waterfront. They will be clustered in an area called “Co-op Row” and will likely share staff and resources throughout the event.
The possibility of collectively buying ad-space on WHYY was also discussed as a way to market for the individual stores and to draw attention to co-ops generally.
This is exciting stuff for us in that any effort made by the region’s co-ops to create awareness of the co-op model will help our efforts to attract members. This kind of work will go a long way of moving our target population/geography from “nothing” to “awareness.” And as we’ve seen during this whole process that has helped us get 464 member-owners, once people hear about the Co-op and get an idea of what the cooperative form of ownership is all about, it doesn’t take much more to get them to be members.
We look forward to seeing you at our Spring General Membership meeting on May 19.
Well the raised bed vegetables had a very hot and sunny first few days but thanks to the rain earlier this week they seem to be doing just fine:
While the picture above makes them look pretty scrawny (and they are) I am feeling hopeful because of this:
Okay – this is a picture I take every year, I’m sure of it. Yes, here’s a blurry version from last year:
What these pictures are of, besides random tomato plant crowns, is that yellowish-green color of the new growth. One thing I have learned over these few years is that this is a very good sign: the plants are healthy, adequately watered and probably growing very fast. I love seeing that “growth spurt” color – then I feel like I can relax a bit because I didn’t kill all my seedlings when transplanting them. Good news!
That’s all until next week, except that I found these two cuties growing in a pot with some ginkgos:
A closer look reveals:
Swiss chard! I let my chard go to seed last year hoping to harvest the seeds but never getting around to it (gotta get better on that) but I guess a few seeds flew into some neighboring pots! Good thing, because my mustard greens are not looking so good.
Saturday, June 1, 2013, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148
Want to make your very own garden out of a wooden pallet for your South Philly home? Then join us at this FREE workshop! A pallet garden is the perfect solution for your urban garden.
We’ll receive a brief intro to the gardens at South Philly High School, the different methods of growing they experiment with, an overview of pallet gardening, and walk-through of pallet garden installation. Then, you’ll break into groups to make a pallet garden, receive care instructions, and enjoy some potluck snacks together.
All materials and seeds are completely free! What’s stopping you from creating a beautiful pallet garden of your own?
Want to see what our Co-op might look like? Join us for a tour of Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly.
You can select to either meet at the Fountain at East Passyunk Ave and Tasker Street at 11am to travel together via car or bike, or meet at Mariposa at 4824 Baltimore Ave at noon.
After meeting from a representative of this awesome community-owned grocery store, we’ll buy lunch and then visit Little Baby’s Ice Cream at their new Cedar Park location.
Saturday, May 11, 2013, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Mariposa Co-op, 4824 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143
(A group will be departing from the Fountain at East Passyunk and Tasker at 11am)
It finally happened!!
The raised bed has been filled with lots and lots and lots of dirt and sand and compost and now things are planted! And lest you think it’s small, let me tell you that it’s ten feet long by three feet wide, and that’s the inside measurements.
Having never had this much space to plant in, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Ha. So we just kept filling my little car’s trunk full of soil and compost and sand and rocks (for a layer of drainage on the bottom) and, yeah, it took a lot of dirt to fill that bed up. But I knew it had to be done now since my tomatoes were huge and the giganto-bean was starting to climb up the blinds. So yesterday afternoon I planted tomatoes (copia and black krim), three types of mustard greens, broccoli, bibb and romaine lettuce, some sort of long green pepper, cucumbers, thyme and chives. That’s a lot, but I was so excited about having MY OWN RAISED BED that I didn’t mind.
There are some things I think I should tell you, though, in case you are thinking about your own raised bed. The first thing is that I have no idea if this will work. The bed itself is made of untreated spruce. I did not physically nail it together – that was my father who is good at things like that. I was going to stain the whole thing, but after starting to stain that back lefthand corner of the bed I decided I didn’t like the color. But I was still a little worried about the wood rotting so I stained the inside with two coats and let it dry overnight. I have no idea if this will help or not. I also am unsure about drainage: as you can see, the bed is on cracked concrete and there is also a large rectangle of dirt inside it so I figured that would be good for drainage. I dumped a 2″ layer of pebbles inside the bed before putting anything else in and then spread some of that black landscaper’s fabric on the pebbles so that the dirt from inside the bed wouldn’t impede drainage. Then I did layers and layers of soil, sand and compost until the last foot or so which was just soil and compost. The sand is to help with drainage but, again, I’m not sure if it will work.
I think I have mentioned before that I have a bit of a cat problem, meaning that there are a few cats who like to use my yard as a litter box. After filling this huge bed with soil, I realized it was basically just a huge litter box, so I covered it with tarps held down with bricks and other potted plants when I finished filling it this past weekend. That was actually a good idea because it rained early in the week and I didn’t want to plant in waterlogged soil. The other plus from this was that when I lifted the tarps off (after a nice warm sunny day) the soil was nice and warm, perfect for little delicate baby plants. And I should tell you here that I did something highly unorthodox: I didn’t harden off my little seedlings before putting them in. Usually I do harden off, but this time was different. [Hardening off is when you set your tender seedlings outside for a little bit more time each day to get them used to this new harsher environment slooooowly.] My main reason for not hardening off is that these plants were grown in a less sunny window than what I’m used to and they were routinely subjected to temperatures as low as 55-60 degrees because I keep my house at a toasty 64 degrees in the winter. I considered getting heat mats or grow lights, but the seeds seemed to be growing pretty well without any of that. The (hopeful) payoff is that they’re hardier than little seedlings grown in an 85 degree greenhouse. And honestly, the tomatoes are so big they’re probably past the hardening-off stage already.
I’m pretty comfortable with tomatoes and mine this year seem to be doing well. But I planted all these other things that I’ve never tried before, like the gherkins above. Cucumbers?? I have no idea what I’m doing. They seem to be growing, though. And on that note, THE BEAN:
This is another case when I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just went along and planted these beans and then hey, only one came up! Turns out I should have soaked them overnight first. But luckily the strongest bean in the world is growing right along and now has beans:
Now I am wondering if I should come up with some sort of contraption to keep the birds/squirrels/cats/racoons out of the raised bed or just hope for the best. And maybe I need some irrigation? Oh the possibilities!
Hello, supporters of the South Philly Food Co-op! Once again thanks your all of your words of encouragement, your participation in our many outreach and fund-raising events AND especially your membership in the Co-op. If you haven’t joined yet then thanks for the first two things and we’re looking forward to having you as a member soon.
The Board of Directors of the Co-op takes its responsibility as the stewards of your member equity very seriously and to that end seeks to be as open and transparent as possible about all the work being done on behalf of the members to open a store. One of the ways the Co-op does this is by sharing the reports they receive each month from the various committees. These reports offer a concise and informative insider view of the various projects and goals being pursued by the Bookkeeping, Membership, Programs and Events, Marketing and Communications, Legal, Real Estate, Leadership, Business Outreach, Grants, IT, Speakers Bureau and Operations committees.
Click this link to view or download a PDF of the April committee reports. If you have any questions, feel free to post them as a comment to this blog post OR email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s another way to get all the latest news about the Co-op? Come to our May general membership meeting on Sunday, May 19. (Details here.) Whether you’re a member or not, you are welcome to the meeting so you can find out as much you want to know about our efforts to date and take part in (if a member) or witness (if not) the process of voting for our board members.
Finally the weather is warm and soon I’ll be putting all these guys outside:
In their soon-to-be new home!
Ten feet long by three feet wide means space for lots of veggies and soon there will be a trellis on the wall for giganto-bean, cucumbers and tomatoes. Exciting! But there are lots of other things coming back out too, like a little ginkgo:
That little thing spent the winter looking like a stick stuck in the ground but I figured if these trees have been around since the dinosaurs they must be pretty tough. Same (except for the dinosaurs part) goes for the mint:
This mint has been planted and dug up and replanted so many times I’ve lost count. But now they are in a big container so that my entire backyard doesn’t turn into a mint forest.
And some bulbs finally came out!
Winter Wolf’s Bane:
The Winter Wolf’s Bane even looks good after it’s done flowering:
And here is one little blue squill in the deceased bathtub (RIP):
I also have lots of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries but that “wing” of the yard is not done yet. Soon!
And they need your help!
In partnership with South Philly High, LoMo has launched a fundraising campaign for a new SPHS campus master plan which would create what would be Philly’s first public school rooftop farm, right in South Philly.
With the plan to work with a local landscape architecture firm and expand to the roof, they’d be able to produce a massive amount of food for the neighborhood.
The 2013 Spring General Membership meeting will be held on Sunday, May 19, 2013 from 3:30 – 6 p.m. in the Community Room at PEP (Programs Employing People) located at 1200 South Broad Street (Broad & Federal Streets), Philadelphia, PA 19146.
The agenda for the meeting can be found HERE. Apart from getting updates from the various committees (including real estate site selection!), elections for six board members will occur at the meeting. You can see the list of nominees and get other voting information HERE.
Not able to make it to the meeting on May 19th? Fret not. You can vote by absentee ballot. Click HERE to download the ballot. Please note, however, that your ballot must be received in the mail by 5:00 p.m. Friday, May 17, 2013 to be counted. Send absentee ballots to:
South Philly Food Co-op
PO Box 31506
Philadelphia, PA 19147.
For those of you able to make it to the meeting, light refreshments will be made available. As always, there will be community spirit and friendliness to spare. Come on out on May 19th for a couple hours of community, updates, voting, and overall growth of the South Philly Food Co-op.