Monday, June 11, 2012

June Garden News

Hello Gardeners!

The weather has been cooperating beautifully with an excellent mix of rainy weather and sunny weather, and the garden is looking fantastic.  As a reminder, if you're still setting transplants it is best to do this on an overcast day, or if you must on a sunny day do it in the evening.  Transplants can wilt very easily on hot sunny days.  Transplants also need water daily in hot sunny weather, once their roots establish after around two weeks they can go much longer without water.

June Garden Pests

We're not the only ones enjoying the gardens, the garden pest are invading and enjoying the fruits of our hard labors.  When I was in the garden yesterday I didn't see any beds that needed immediate control, but there are some of the baddies to be on the lookout for.  An important concept in organic gardening is pest thresholds.  We don't need our plants to be completely devoid of pests, having some is in fact totally fine.  A small amount of pests leaves room for predators to move in and establish themselves in the garden to do the controlling for us.  Sometimes, however, the pests pass a threshold where they will seriously impact plant output.  At that point we employ controls.

Cabbage Loopers
Flea Beetles
Cucumber Beetles

Pest Control Presentation
Time: Saturday June 16th 9am-11am
Location: King St. Memorial Garden

We'll be covering various organic pest control methods in the garden this coming Saturday.  If you have any questions about what to do it'll be a great opportunity to learn how to identify pest at threshold levels, and what to do about them.  After the presentation we'll be working on general garden maintenance as well so please join in!

Dogs in the Garden

We've had reports of dogs being brought into the garden and urinating on the beds.  If you have a dog please leave them outside the garden when you visit!  All it takes is a larger dog jumping into a bed once to ruin months of work for a fellow gardener.  Thank you!

Call for Members

The Franklin Community Garden Committee is looking for new members as the first year terms for our current committee are coming to a close and due to life needs some of our members must move on.  If you're interested in becoming more involved in the garden this is a great opportunity to help play a larger role.  If you're interested simply reply to this e-mail and we'll contact you with additional details.

Garden Maintenance and Red-Flags

The Garden Committee has decided to institute a new system for the garden this year where we'll be visiting the garden and flagging beds as a way to quickly communicate areas that need addressing.  We'll also be flagging areas in the garden at large that need work.  If you have a flag please address the issue and deposit the flag back in the shed for future use.  If you forget your key you can place the flags outside the shed entrance.

Flag Types:

Harvest - This is simply a reminder flag that the flagged crop is ready for harvest.  This does not mean you need to remove the plants!  We understand that many new gardeners don't always know when something is ready to pick.  I flagged a number of lettuce and spinach crops this weekend as ready to harvest.  With our hot weather some spinach has already gone to seed and the lettuce will soon follow so pick it while it is in its prime.  Remember with lettuce you don't need to harvest the whole plant, although you can for ease.  You can simply pick the outer leaves which will be replaced as the plant continues to grow.  If you are unclear what a flag is referring to please send an e-mail to for clarification.  If you can send a picture it'll speed the process.

Weed - An area in your bed or around your bed needs to be weeded.  In another week or two some spinach will be flagged with weed instead of harvest as once they've gone fully to seed they will be weeds effectively. If you have a weed flag please address it as soon as possible.

Weed & Woodchip - There are areas of the garden that need to be weeded and then have woodchips dumped on top for additional suppression.  If you have some time please help keep the garden looking great!

Red Triangle Award

The Friends of Franklin Community Gardens was honored with the Red Triangle Award from the Hockomock Area YMCA for its work in bringing Franklin its first community garden.

Empty Beds

We've had a few gardeners fail to plant for a number of reasons.  These beds are being re-assigned to new gardeners who should be taking over soon!

Happy Gardening!

Chris Clay
King St. Garden Coordinator
and The Franklin Community Gardens Committee

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Don't Bug Me! 6/16/12

Curious about what's been eating its way through your garden?  

Bring your questions to the Franklin Community Garden at the King Street Memorial Park on Saturday, June 16 at 9 AM, where garden coordinator Chris Clay will be discussing common garden pests and the safe, earth-friendly methods you can use to deal with them.  

The King Street Memorial Garden is an organic garden.

This event is free and open to the public.

cutworm larva

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And We Are One.

Happy Birthday to King Street Memorial Community Garden!

Thank you to all of our gardeners, supporters,
Friends, partners, and volunteers!

How awesome are those teeny iced peas and carrots?  

Cake from Whole Foods Bellingham

{so good....}

We're already rolling up the sleeves for another epic year.

Thank you, again!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Educational and Event Calendar

The latest GardenMail:

Hello Gardeners,

Every indication shows that we've passed the last of the cold weather, and have entered into prime gardening time.  The average last frost date for Franklin Massachusetts is May 1st, and the extended forecast shows pleasant weather in our future.  If you haven't had a chance to get down to the garden an prepare your bed now is a good time.  We have early weeds that are starting to go to seed, so get them pulled now before they spread the next generation into your bed and your neighbors!  Remember that you are responsible for weeding your bed and the area around it!

When you visit the garden you may also notice a new structure in it, we now have a garden shed with tools in it thanks to a generous grant from the Franklin Rotary!  The shed has a keyed lock on the front, and you can obtain your key to the lock at the Recreation department.  Please be sure to lock the shed after you leave, and return any tools you've borrowed.   If you'd like to further suppress weeds in your area feel free to take woodchips from the large pile and add them on top of any weed hotspots.  The wheelbarrow and tools in the shed makes moving them easy, and there are gardening gloves in the shed to aid handling.

The water seems to be running slowly, but hasn't been officially turned on.  We're in contact with the town to have to water turned on fully as soon as possible.

We have a number of gardening events coming up in May!

May 12th: 9:30 am to 11:30 am - An Introduction to Gardening and Garden Planning at the YMCA 45 Forge Hill Road Franklin, MA
May 19th: 9:00 am to 11:00 am - A Tomato Planting & Support Demonstration at the King St. Memorial Garden
May 28th: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm - King St. Memorial Garden 1st Anniversary Celebration at the King St. Memorial Garden

We hope to see you there!

The Franklin Community Garden Committee

Additional Event Info

An Introduction to Gardening and Garden Planning
Hosted By: Chris Clay, Friends of Franklin Community Gardens, and the YMCA
May 12th: 9:00 am to 11:00 am
YMCA 45 Forge Hill Road Franklin, MA

This class will give you a basic introduction to gardening and what you need to do to have a successful harvest.  We'll also go over the basics of planning out what you'll be putting in your garden throughout the growing season, and have materials on hand to help you plan your garden for this year.  All those who attend will also be able to pickup some free seeds, and meet fellow gardeners.

A Tomato Planting & Support Demonstration
Hosted By: Chris Clay and Friends of Franklin Community Gardens
May 19th: 9:00 am to 11:00 am
King St. Memorial Community Garden

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable among home gardeners, and with good reason.  The flavor of a tomato fresh off the vine is something you simply cannot find at the supermarket.  They also happen to be my favorite vegetable, and in this presentation I'll go over the tips and tricks for successful tomato growing I've collected.  I'll also cover additional information on tomato varieties, how to prune tomatoes, and setup proper support structures for optimal tomato health.

King St. Memorial Garden 1st Anniversary Celebration
Hosted By: The Friends of Franklin Community Gardens and the Franklin Community Garden Committee
May 28th: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
King St. Memorial Community Garden

On May 28th, 2011 the King St. Memorial Community Garden official opened for gardening.  Join us as we celebrate the our first successful first year of gardening, and the many years to come.  There will be seedlings on hand for sale to support The Friends of Franklin Community Gardens efforts to continue to expand on the garden, and other events and activities.  Drop by to share a story, a piece of cake, or just the view.

Thank You, Chris!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Freeze Warning! Be Prepared

A note to our Gardeners from King Street Garden Coordinator Chris Clay:

Hello Everyone,

Tonight is the reason we don't plant our tomatoes and other hot weather plants until May, despite the amazing weather we've been having.  There is a strong chance of freeze tonight, and if you have planted tomatoes in your plot they will need protection to survive the night if the temperature dips to freezing.  If you do have tomatoes planted you have a couple of options to save them.

One is to transplant them out of the garden and keep them indoors overnight.  Tomato root systems are incredibly durable and can handle the transfer.  This is the only fool proof way to save them that I know of.

Another would be to purchase some floating row covers to cover your plot.  They will provide at least a couple of degrees of protection and may make the difference, though it will be dicey.  You can add additional coverage by placing multiple 2 liter bottles filled with warm water in the plot under the row covers.  This will provide a couple more degrees of protection.  If you buy a light floating row cover leave the cloth as doubled up as you can while covering the bed.  If you have other non-tomato warm weather plants this may be your best chance to save them.

Option three is to gamble that the weather service is wrong and see what happens.  In the worst case scenario you can always replant.

Peas and other cold hardy plants should do fine tonight, though a row cover never hurts.  This is primarily a warning for anyone who has planted warm weather plants.


Chris Clay

If you don't have any row covers, I have had luck with old towels and blankets, prop them up with sticks or pots or whatever works.  Just be sure to remove them in the morning!
 ~ Amy

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day Workday Saturday April 21

Hello to our Gardeners, Supporters, and Friends!

This weekend is Earth Day and the Town of Franklin is encouraging everyone to pitch in around town on Sunday 4/22 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  
We hope that you will help us out at the Community Garden location at King Street Memorial Park!
The forecast is for Rain on Sunday, 70% probability in the morning.  Good for the planet, Bad for our workday.

So, we are moving our particular community garden Earth Day event up a day---It will be held on Saturday instead from 9-12 a.m. 

We have a big pile of fresh wood chips to spread, weeds to pull (yes, already!), rocks to pile, compost to turn, pollinator garden beds to dig (flowers!), and more.

Please come lend a hand!  Community Service Certificates will be available for those who need them.

While we have a few gloves, shovels and rakes here at the garden, there might not be enough to go around.  
Please bring your own labeled tools and heavy duty gloves if you can.

If you have extra garden tools or equipment that you would like to donate to the Garden, we'd LOVE to have them!

Thanks to our great new shed---built for us by the awesome Tri-County RVTHS students & paid for with a Franklin Rotary grant!---we now have a place to safely store them.

The water at the garden is not on yet, that will happen some time in mid-May. We will have ice water there to drink for our volunteers this Saturday morning.
How about packing a picnic? 

Thanks for your continued support & we hope to see you at the Garden on Saturday!

Need a map to find us?  The Google map link is below:

Thank you for helping out!

The Franklin Community Garden Green Team

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Can You Help Out Thursday Morning? 3/22

Hello Gardeners, Friends, and Supporters!

Just found out this morning that tomorrow our new garden shed (paid for by an awesome grant from the Franklin Rotary Club!) will be constructed on site at the King Street Memorial Garden.  The students at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School will be there setting it up.

When: Thursday, March 22
Time:  In the morning, around 9 am

If you are able to join us and lend a hand (or a round of applause!) we'd love to have you.

Bring something cool to drink, it will be quite warm out.

If you would like to donate any gardening tools we now have a place for them to live! 

Many thanks to the students and staff at Tri-County RVTHS, the Franklin DPW, the Franklin Rotary Club, Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, Franklin Lumber for the great discount, and all of our gardeners and volunteers!

Hope you can join us at the Garden!

Many Hands make light work!

Deepest Thanks,

Your Friends from the Franklin Community Garden

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Peas, and Thank You!

Franklin's Steve Sherlock joined us for the "Give Peas a Chance" event and shared it on the Franklin Matters website, please hop over and take a look!

It was a great day to say hello to old friends, meet new ones, and get inspired to get growing.

Garden Coordinator Chris Clay spoke about planting and trellis options while his son Gabe happily poked peas into the rich, dark, and crumbly soil  in the Franklin Food Pantry's Giving Garden bed.

Many folks took advantage of the free pea seed, and there is more seed coming from our Friends at American Meadows in Vermont.  We'll be sure to make seed available to anyone who would like to grow some and will announce the next distribution on this site and on our Facebook page.

Would you please consider growing extra produce this year to share?
Donate it to the The Franklin Food Pantry! (or your local food pantry, for our readers from out of town.)
There will be more info about the FFP and their fresh produce initiative in the upcoming days, stay tuned.

If you do not have garden space in the ground where you are, peas will happily grow in containers.

No space at home?  There's always your workplace---consider starting a community garden with your co-workers.  Even with only a couple of containers you can grow a lot more than you think! No excuse not to.
Just saying.

Thank you all for Giving peas a chance!

In awe of all the awesomeness of the day,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Celebration & Pea Planting Demonstration - March 17th 10am!

The time for planting peas is close at hand, and St. Patty's day is a great day to get them in the ground.  The warm weather this week should put soil temperatures right where we want them for germination!  This post will contain some basic information to help you prepare for the event.

What is the difference between Vining and Bush style peas?

I grow both varieties of peas, and I stand 6'5" tall.  These are my vining peas in June, and as you can see they're approaching 7' tall.  When I finally took them down they had total vine lengths close to 10' and had flopped over.  Vining peas will totally dominate a raised bed and really aren't appropriate for our community garden setting.  If you have room for tall vines, however, the variety show in this picture is Sugar Snap, and it is easily my favorite variety of pea.

The peas in front of me in this picture are a bush variety Alaska in early June.  From here they'll grow an additional foot or so.  Bush varieties can be just as productive as vining varieties if not more so.  They are perfect for raised beds, and often require no supports or minimal support to grow.

What is the difference between the different varieties of Peas?
In addition to bush or vining you'll often see peas described as English(Shelling), Snap Peas, and Snow Peas.  In the image below you have Snow Peas on the left and Snap Peas on the right.

English varieties are grown specifically for shelling.  Their pods are often tough and stringy making it very difficult to eat.  It can take a lot of work to shell all your peas, but they are an amazing treat.  My favorite Bush English varieties of peas are Alaska and Laxton's Progress #9.

Snap Pea varieties are grown to be picked when the pod is full, and they have an edible pod.  They can be shelled like English varieties, but the pod is often the tastiest part.  My favorite Bush Snap Pea varieties are Sugar Ann and Sugar Daddy.  

Snow Pea varieties are grown to be picked before the peas have grown.  These are the big flat pods you'll often see in stir fry dishes.  Though they can be picked after the peas have formed, they're usually gain a bitter starchy flavor as the peas develop.  My favorite Bush Snow Pea variety is Oregon Sugar Pod II

Do you need to soak your peas before you plant them? 
You do not need to soak your peas before you plant them, and it can lead to the seed dying if the seed is planted in ground that is too cold and damp.  That said, if the ground is at least 40F and ideally between 50-55F then soaking your peas can speed germination.

I happen to soak my peas before I plant them most years.  With the mild winter and very warm weather we've had this is a year I'll be soaking.  To prepare the solution to soak them in I dissolve 75mg of Vitamin C(Half of your average over the counter tablet) in one quart of water.   There is research that the vitamin C aids early plant development, and as you can see from the pictures my peas do quite well.  I do want to stress, however, that you do not have to soak your seeds to have healthy plants!

What kind of support do I need for my peas?
The great thing about bush varieties is they don't need much support at all, but when the winds really get going in New England even the strongest bush pea plant can be flattened without some support.

Narrow Bamboo is perhaps the most versatile and easiest to use support for peas.  You can build a tepee with them and plant peas around the base, you can stick them in a straight line one  pole for every pea plant.  You can build a frame out of them and string twine between them.  You can plunge both ends into the ground to form hoops and grow the plants in the middle.  I'll have some on hand for demonstrations at the garden.

Galvanized Garden Fencing is what I use for all of my pea supports.  It can easily be worked into rounds with just a pair of wire cutting pliers, and will last through many seasons.  When the weather is particularly wet or windy you may need to support them with additional bamboo stakes.

If you have any additional questions feel free to ask and I'll add them to this post as edits.  Just send a mail to

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Give Peas a Chance! March 17

Franklin Community Garden
Spring Celebration 
 Pea Planting Demonstration

Saturday, March 17th
@ 10 a.m.

Cost: Free

King Street Memorial Community Garden
located at King Street Memorial Park in Franklin

Sponsored by:
The Friends of Franklin Community Gardens, Inc

All are welcome to attend!

The Friends of Franklin Community Gardens will celebrate the beginning of the 2012 spring season by hosting a Pea Planting demonstration at King Street Memorial Community Garden on Saturday, March 17th beginning at 10 AM (weather permitting). 
March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, is the traditional day in New England to plant spring peas.  Free seeds will be available while supplies last. 
Garden Coordinator Chris Clay will lead this educational event. Learn about pea types, planting requirements, trellising options, and more.

Get your garden off to an early start by planting a spring crop of fresh sugar snap, snow, or shell peas this year

 Give Peas a Chance!

Rain date: Sunday, March 18

Contact: Chris Clay @  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Got Seeds? Plant some this weekend! Really! Winter Sowing 101

I know, I know, it's February, just barely into the first week.

And you have your packets of seeds ready to go because:

A) you are super-organized and ordered them early, 
or, like me,
B)  have plenty left over from last year that did not get planted (spinach!),
or perhaps
C) you planted heirlooms and saved your own seed (A+ for sustainability!)
D) all of the above (seed junkie!)

You see them at the store, taunting you: "Buy Me." 
(and me and me and me.....)

But you have only so much space to start seeds inside. 
Not enough for everything you want to start.

And maybe no grow light, or only one, or no sunny windows, or bad luck starting seeds.

And anyway, it's too early.
Nope. Wrong.

Start some anyway.  Now. 
Not Inside, 

Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers
Annuals and Perennials.

Yes, you can.
It is called winter sowing, and right now, this weekend, you can get started.

But there is a hitch:  You need to do this in containers that have a lid. 
Find some.
Gallon water or milk jugs,
Plastic take-out containers,
Plastic shoe boxes
You get it.

I am not going to write a winter sowing primer here on this blog, instead, I'm going to point you toward those who have already written about it and let you have fun learning more.  

the place you want to start.

the seed lists

Franklin, Ma is in zone 6A

The Winter Sowing Discussion Forum on Dave's Garden
be prepared to get hooked.

Kevin Lee Jacobs in Connecticut has done an excellent job listing which vegetables can be winter-sown in February, March, and April on his site
He is in the same zone as Franklin, 5B-6A
Here's the post:

According to Jacobs, these vegetables and herbs can be winter-sown in January and February:
Brussels sprouts
Thymus serpyllum (Creeping Thyme)
Salvia (common sage)
You can even winter sow tomatoes next month and they will be hardier for it.

Are you inspired? Good.  
Now go forth and sow.  

have fun,  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Math

You say Groundhog.

I say Woodchuck.

 groundhog (Marmota monax)

Some say Marmot, Whistle-pig, or Land Beaver.

A groundhog is a rodent.

Rodents = Trouble.

(sorry, Mickey M.)


Here's some garden math for you:

Rodent + Garden = Damage.

Groundhog = Rodent

Rodent = Groundhog.


Groundhog + Garden = Damage.

And If
Groundhog + Groundhog =
 Groundhogs to the Nth power, 

Well, I'm not a math wiz (science is more my thing)
 but I think it is safe to conclude :

Groundhogs to the Nth power = Nightmare on Garden Street.

Here's hoping those fur beasts sleep all through the rest of winter
 and forget to wake up come summer as well!

happy groundhog day, friends!  -Amy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Renewals & Wait List Info is Here!

Hello Friends!
Here's the news you have been waiting for:

The Franklin Community Garden Committee
Opens 2012 Garden Bed Renewals and Waiting List
For King Street Memorial Community Garden


  • Beginning Wednesday, February 1st, gardeners who maintained a raised bed at the King Street Memorial Community Garden may begin to renew for the 2012 season.
  • Gardeners have until Friday, March 2nd to complete the renewal application and submit payment. 
  • Gardeners in good standing have already been contacted by the committee.
  • The season fee is $40 and is payable to The Town of Franklin. The application will be processed through the Franklin Recreation Department, 150 Emmons Street (Old Town Hall)
  • There is no online registration for renewals.  Gardeners must call Franklin Recreation at 508-520-4909 or visit during office hours.
  • Garden beds not renewed by Friday, March 2nd will be assigned to the next person on the wait list.  
  • Gardeners may not reassign their plot to anyone else.

Wait List:

  • The Community Garden Committee will also open a rolling waiting list for the garden beginning February 1st
  • Available gardens will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis and assignments will begin Monday, March 5th pending available space at the garden.
  • Sign up for the waiting list ONLINE at by following the links to "Online Registration", then "Register for Activities" then select "Community Garden"
  • There is no fee to join the wait list; the $40 fee will only be charged when a garden is assigned.

If you have any questions, please contact the Franklin Community Garden Committee at

Quick! Grab your calendar (or open your calendar app!) and write this down:

Save the Date:
Saturday, March 17
(peas and thank you)

Spring Celebration and Pea Planting Demonstration
the King Street Garden! 

Weather permitting; more info to follow.  

The public is invited!

oh, yes, FREE SEEDS!!! (while supplies last)

~In Spring We Trust~

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Heralding in the New Gardening Year

A visit to the King Street Garden today in short sleeves, 55 degrees and sunny!


Happy New Year, Gardeners!


Are you getting your seed catalogs yet?

Making resolutions?

To-do lists?

Sketching out garden plot plans?

The real spring will be here before we know it.


If to-do lists are your thing, Listen Up:

The Franklin Community Garden Committee is seeking additional members.

Prove your Passion. 

Get Involved!

(Once a month, sometimes twice, usually a Monday evening, 6:30, at the Town Hall.)

Next meeting slated for Monday, Jan 9th at 6:30 

Resolve to be there!

Dig In!

It's going to be another great year.

(Just like last year, only better.)


Thanks in advance for your help!