Cold Frames, Rare Plants - Trustees Gardeners' Gazette Oct.

Sarah Hutt

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A Message from Vidya Tikku, Director

Despite all the challenges from the pandemic this year, I am so proud of the work that our volunteers and staff have put in to keep the gardens humming with activity, with nary a pause. All our gardens have remained open and cultivated, with a collective determination to keep our gardening community healthy. My heartfelt thanks to all our garden coordinators for your creativity, determination and time. We have seen requests for garden plots more than double this year, so please reach out to your coordinator if you wish to share a plot next season. As we all work to accomodate more gardeners, we've at least been able to engage audiences from kids to seniors in dozens of workshops on growing at home in whatever space they can find, and cooking healthy seasonal food.

Our collective work and the pressing need to support local food access has garnered support from several donors and foundations. We want to give a shout out to these supporters who are making a big difference in the lives and experiences of our gardening community and youth, this year and beyond: The Boston Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, TD Bank, The Godine Family Fund, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Inc (BIDMC), The Fenway Park Demonstration Project community benefits fund maintained by City of Boston and Red Sox, MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the Beacon Hill Garden Club , the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, and all the people who signed up as Trustees members to support the community gardens. We have proposals out to some additional federal sources, fingers crossed!
It truly takes a village, and I want to thank you all for extending yourselves to help others by volunteering, coordinating a garden, sharing your plot, donating your produce to a local food pantry, welcoming your neighbors to enjoy your garden, or sharing your gardening skills with your community. Your generosity of spirit is making a big difference, especially this year.

Upcoming Events

More programs & details on our Facebook page.
Cooking the Harvest, for Kids
Thursdays through 10/29 | 4:30pm
A series of virtual interactive cooking classes for kids featuring seasonal produce!
DIY Cold Frame
Friday 10/16 | 4pm
Learn to extend your growing season well into the winter with this live virtual building demo at Oasis on Ballou urban farm.
Putting your Garden to Bed
Wednesday 10/21 | 5pm
Learn some simple steps you can take this fall to build healthier soil and reduce diseases and pests next season.
Spooky Spirits Mixology
Thursday 10/22 | 6pm
Pick up a bundle of ingredients and head home for a fun class on making your own herbal gin and some witchy seasonal cocktails featuring locally grown or foraged ingredients.

Virtual Garden Tours!
Join our online tours featuring several outstanding gardens & gardeners in each neighborhood,  Be inspired by a diverse array of creative, beautiful spaces! The tours are key fundraisers for our community gardens citywide. The JP Tour is live now at and the South End Tour will be available later this month at

Why I Love My Cold Frame
Michelle de Lima, Engagement Manager

Cold frames made of wood with a window on top are familiar to many gardeners, but you may not be aware just how versatile these structures can be. In the fall, you can transplant or seed hardy greens into a cold frame to harvest into the winter and again when they regrow in early spring, start seeds like tat soi and mizuna now for a February/March harvest, or use the frame to protect established plants like rosemary that appreciate a dry, warmer spot to overwinter. In the spring, cold frames are a great place to gradually harden off tender seedlings before transplanting and to sow or transplant early greens like arugula and lettuce a few weeks before you normally would. Making cold frames is a simpler project than you might think and can easily incorporate recycled windows, French doors, plexiglass, or greenhouse plastic. Want to see for yourself how to build one? Join us and urban farmer Apolo Catala of OASIS on Ballou for a virtual cold frame demo on October 16th!
We have new office phone numbers! For anything urgent, our cell numbers remain the same, but starting on Monday October 12, you can reach the Boston Community Gardens staff by calling the main Trustees number at 617-542-7696 and using the directory or calling us directly at:
Vidya: 978-870-1225   |   Alex: 978-338-1125   |   Jordan: 978.338.1176
Michelle: 978-338-1192   |   Peter:  978-870-1206    
Stewardship Update
Alex Carbone, Stewardship Manager

In September, our stewardship staff was busy with routine maintenance, staffing our plant sale at City Natives, and a few planned projects. Early in the month, we made a big push to cut back Japanese Knotweed at several gardens to keep it from going to seed. Knotweed is an aggressive invasive plant that grows in clumps, spreading both by its roots and by dropping its prolific seeds. Disposing of it in compost piles is discouraged as it can easily resprout and take over new areas. We placed cut material into contractor bags, where we let them sit for a few weeks before disposing of them. Be on the lookout for these pesky plants as they're typically going to seed now.
The shed at Norton & Stonehurst Community Garden in Dorchester needed a new coat of paint.
After consulting the garden coordinator Jen on color, we selected a few that would make the shed really pop!
New Native Plants for Your 2021 Garden
Jordan Takvorian, Steward

Our inventory at City Natives Nursery is ever expanding with dozens of new native species added this year. A few of my favorite additions this summer include Geum aleppicum, Astragalus canadensis and Iliamna remota. The leaves of Geum or Yellow Avens remain evergreen throughout the year and the plant thrives in moist soil making it an excellent candidate for your rain garden. Bright yellow blossoms dazzle June through August in full sun conditions. I tend to call all flowers showstoppers, but Canada Milk Vetch or Astragalus is the showstopper of all showstoppers! Large, creamy flowers reminiscent of lupine stand erect above of finely textured light green foliage blooming all summer long in full sun conditions. It’s a popular nectar source for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds alike. Iliamna or Wild Hollyhock is one that I’ve had my eyes on and am eager to truly trial in the gardens. It’s said to have been discovered growing on a gravelly island in Illinois and has a very limited native range around this river. That said it germinated well in the nursery and it’s a strong looking plant so if you’re looking for something to try that you won’t find anywhere else, this is the plant. Apple blossom pink hollyhock type flowers bloom in June and July with the plant thriving in sunny conditions.
Visit to start dreaming about your 2021 garden, but please note that we’re transitioning our website to join our Trustees colleagues and will be fully on by next year.
A Shared Harvest at the Blue Cross Gardens
Annabel Rabiyah, Garden Program Coordinator

We had an unusual but meaningful season at the Blue Cross Blue Shield workplace community gardens. Gardeners weren't allowed on site in until mid-June and even then they couldn't come in groups, so we decided to transition to a more communal market garden model. Instead of individual plots taken care of by teams, each plot featured a different variety of produce, and everyone signed up for shifts to care for the entire garden. Any leftover produce was donated to the company's cafeteria, which has been making meals for local hunger relief programs since the pandemic hit. While we weren't gardening in person together, everyone pitched in, making for two beautiful spaces with hundreds of pounds of harvested produce for donation. We checked in weekly on zoom, sharing updates and gardening techniques. This model of community gardening was so successful we might continue even after strict social distancing measures are lifted!
Coffee Grounds for Compost! Our friends at J.P. Lick's have restarted their coffee grounds program. Bagged grounds are available for contactless pickup at their JP location on Tuesdays & Thursdays while supplies last.
Progress Report FY21
Many thanks to all of you who support the gardens through volunteering, advocacy, and membership!

The Trustees · 200 High St · 200 High Street · Boston, MA 02110-3036 · USA 

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