Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First Garden Class Field Trip

The Miami-Dade College North Campus Green Urban Living Center (GULC) hosted a group of TROY garden ambassadors today for an afternoon of ecology. Mr. Dell drove us over in the van, and we were kindly accompanied by Elizabeth and James. A big thanks to Marcia and Jake of GULC for taking the time to teach us about native plant and animal habitats, offering up some interesting tidbits. Did you know that many so-called weeds are actually useful plants? L to R: Mr. Dell, James, Dominick, Cristina, Antoine, Katherine, Steve, Jake, Elizabeth, Nitzy, Marcia.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Growing and growing.

Dominick's tomato time.
Nitzy loves her cherry tomatoes!
Bush beans, delicious raw or steamed.
Mint looking robust and in good company.
Tropical Mysore raspberries, at season's peak in the Gardens of Troy. Mmm.
Marinara anyone?
Snow pea teepee, doing its job.
Lookin' plump...
Happy to be outside the fence; Pablo, Erica, Eric, Josh and Kevin help bring fresh piles of horse mulch and compost inside for garden use.
Mulch and compost are brought inside and used to plant trees like this young mulberry.
Inspecting for weed action.
Nitzy expertly distinguishes between young crops and pesky weeds. Keeping garden beds free of weeds ensures maximum nutrition and moisture for food crops.
Colorful kitchen scraps. Raw food chef Cristina Archila shows off a bucket of TROY-bound compost material. Archila and husband Delio have been collecting their organic fruit and vegetable juice byproducts, which are picked up three times a week and taken to the school's quickly growing compost heap. Thanks!
The beginnings of a native forest. We planted these native stopper and lignum vitae trees outside the sidewalk on the school's west side. Thanks again to Carlos Ara for donating the trees and helping us plant them!
Roots in the City gardens, Overtown. This beautiful project, now in its third year, is managed by Permaculturist Maggie Pons, who has graciously offered TROY a plot to work. Look out for updates on TROY in Overtown soon.
Tons of tomatoes.
The big poinciana tree near the entrance to the school had been plagued with a native fungal disease, and was exuding a foul odor, reminiscent of rotten garbage. Lucky for us tree expert Carlos Ara and his crew happened to stop by for a visit. Francisco is shown here, volunteering his time, and getting a bird's eye view of the gardens. Thanks guys!
Ready for pickup.
Upon inspection, the noxious fungus can be seen as a dark ring in the center of the stump.
Eric and Pablo prepare a hole for the Jamaican Cherry tree that will replace the removed poinciana. By filling the hole with water and allowing it to slowly drain, the boys ensure that the young tree will have access to water in the crucial post-transplant period.
And the cycle continues...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friday Horse Day.

Thanks to Mr. Ryan Holloway for another successful horse manure morning. Thanks to North Miami's Enchanted Forest park and all our horse buddies as well.
Holloway thanks the horse for doing his part.
Ain't that purty?

On the fence about waste management.

Always trying to do our part to keep TROY clean and green, garden team members often take it upon themselves to go the extra mile. Commendable as that may be, sometimes valuable lessons are learned along the way. Today's lesson is DON"T STORE HEFTY BAGS FULL OF LEFTOVER CHOCOLATE MILK CARTONS ON TOP OF THE RAZOR WIRE IN THE HOT SUN. Please. Everything was going fine until the bag snagged on the razor wire and began pouring out a (disgustingly) rank yellow liquid, some of which (uggghhh) got on my pants. Luckily the bag landed in the dumpster, but the stench was almost unbearable for nearly three days.
Rotten milk=a bad bad thing.

Lady Bug Liberation.

In a last ditch effort to control the aphid infestation plaguing our collard greens, we ordered a batch of lovely lady bugs. Though they may look cute on the outside, these red polka-dotted ladies are killers! Known to devour entire populations of pesky garden pests, we thought we'd invite a few thousand to dinner.
Nitzy and Luis, bug duty.
Bugs are fun!
Here lady bug lady bug lady bug.
Bon Apetit.

Arascape donates $1000 worth of trees.

Turrel, Annie and James joined me for a beautiful morning drive down to Carlos Ara's private nursery in the Redland. Mr. Ara graciously donated and delivered a generous selection of native and fruiting trees to TROY, and promised to come help us plant them.

Check out Arascape's impressive portfolio here.
Tree party in the shade house.
Student Bibi helps decide where to plant the trees.
Volunteer Billy "Pick Ax" Hall, breaks up the oolitic limestone in preps for planting some trees.
Putting mulch around the new guava tree.
"Panama" passion fruit vine. This is a new variety for TROY, planted on the east fence, for morning sun.
Raspberries behind the bamboo.

Compost Blog Post.

Doug of Roots in the City dropped off a load of compost, courtesy of Lanette Sobel and Fertile Earth Foundation. Lanette spearheaded a composting pilot project in conjunction with the City of Miami, Roots in the City Overtown farm and a few high profile restaurants in the area. The food scraps from the restaurants were mixed with shredded yard waste and fed through an in-vessel composting unit. The result is shown here, ready to start making plants happy.

A few of our star gardeners were kind enough to take a break from math class for a few minutes to help us unload. Josh and Nick, diggin' in.
Real G's. (Gardeners)


Loco for coco. Our recent obsession has got us going nuts for this amazing fruit. Coconut water is chock full of wonderful beneficial properties and uses. This natural sports drink replenishes the valuable minerals and electrolytes our bodies need, especially in the heat of summer. Big companies in Brazil have started bottling and marketing their beloved and abundant "coco frio", and exporting it to the U.S. Lucky for Miamians, COCONUTS ARE EVERYWHERE.

Early morning rowboat rides out to a few islands in north Biscayne Bay yield "coco pups," or seedling coco palms, that can be planted in the ground, or raised in pots for future planting or sale.

Concern over potential risk of spreading the palm disease Lethal Yellow has caused a cease on coco pup collection until further research has been conducted.
Tomatoes bouncing back from the frost with a mean green vengeance. Deliciousness.
Mouth watering. T to B: Mustards, onions, lettuce, carrots, kale.
We have been hawkishly gawking at these nearly ripe bananas for weeks now, awaiting their triumphant transition from astringent to sweet. This year's record cold put a bit of a damper on the typically productive winter grow season in south Florida, so we are actually lucky to have fruit at all! They should be coming ripe real soon.