Today’s the Day! Visit Indy Urban Flea and Centerpoint Brewing and Help Us Give Thanks

Each month, a really cool thing happens in downtown Indy at the Circle City Industrial Complex: an urban flea market where you’ll find new-to-you treasures of all kinds, locally grown veggies and roasted coffee, and a hopping fun brewery right next door. I’m talking about Indy Urban Flea, which is not only a really cool monthly event but also a tremendous community partner and supporter.

In April, Indy Urban Flea and Centerpoint Brewing selected the garden to be its featured community partner! Thanks to this support, we raised $327 from our seedling sale and onsite donations at Indy Urban Flea and an additional $274 from Centerpoint Brewing, which donated $1 for every pint sold to the garden (and it happened to be a gorgeous, sunny day).

That’s a grand total of $601 raised!

What does that mean for a community garden that’s entirely volunteer- and donation-driven? So, so much. We stretch every dollar, and we were blown away by our community’s response and generosity. Not only can we now cover the not-so-sexy, yet totally necessary cost of our public liability insurance next year, but we also look forward to building some new communal garden beds, like a strawberry patch for all our gardeners and neighbors to enjoy!

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself down to Indy Urban Flea today, rain or shine, and enjoy a pint from the fine folks at Centerpoint Brewing:

  • Indy Urban Flea
  • Saturday, 5/20/17, 10am-4pm
  • Circle City Industrial Complex, 1225 Brookside Ave, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
  • May’s featured organization: The Village of Merici who provides residential supported living and community integration services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Calling All Home Gardeners: Apply Today for Our First Neighborhood Garden Tour!

Calling all home gardeners: would you like to be featured in our first neighborhood garden tour? We need you – contact us at kmcommunitygarden@gmail.com today!

On August 20 from 2-5pm, the Keystone-Monon Community Garden will host a garden tour highlighting some of the amazing, quirky, fun, and productive home gardens we have right here in our neighborhood!

Keystone-Monon Grows will be part neighborhood garden tour, part community gathering, part garden fundraiser, and ALL fun. The event will feature a bicycle tour (automobiles also allowed) of 5-6 different home gardens in the Keystone-Monon neighborhood, a tour of the community garden at Arsenal Park with gardeners on hand to answer questions, and a closing community gathering at the Arsenal Park picnic shelter.

DETAILS: Please consider applying to be one of the main stops on the first of what what we hope will become a beloved annual garden tour.

Date and Time: Sunday, August 20, 2-5pm
Garden Location: All types of gardens are welcomed! Gardens must fall within the Keystone-Monon boundaries – 54th St. to the north, Keystone Ave. to the east, 38th St. and Fall Creek to the south, and the Monon Trail to the west.
Commitment: Each garden stop will feature a brief tour for attendees, including Q&A with the homeowner/gardener. This should be a fun conversation, all about your garden! All gardens should submit 3-5 photos and a brief bio about themselves and their gardens for use on our website and marketing materials.

To Apply: Send a brief statement of interest/email, your address, and 3-5 pictures of your garden space to kmcommunitygarden@gmail.com. We are looking for all types of gardens and all levels – our goal is to show anyone that a home garden is within their reach!

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Hello, Soil. Pleased to Mulch You!

This morning, we were lucky to have a visit at the garden from Kevin Allison, urban soil specialist with the Marion County Soul and Water Conversation District. Kevin is a wealth of knowledge, and we are looking forward especially to doing some fun things with cover crops this fall at the garden, using his guidance and expertise.

Yes, we get excited about things like cover crops around here. Hey, they are really cool! Cover crops = happy soil = happy plants = less work for us = more delicious veggies.

Kevin also had a really great, really simple tip for our gardeners and anyone growing their own produce: add a light layer of straw to any exposed soil in your garden. As your seeds and seedlings go in the ground, the straw keeps moisture from wicking out of your soil and has a moderating effect on soil temperature. Both of these things limit stress on your plants, make your life easier, and help your plants focus their energy on growing awesome produce for you and your family. It also adds more organic matter to your soil.

And as temperatures broke 80 degrees here in Central Indiana, conserving water and protecting plants from heat will be increasingly important!

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Kevin will be leading a FREE educational workshop, “Healthy Soil, Healthy Garden,” for us in conjunction with the seed library at Glendale Public Library on Sunday, June 11 from 3-4pm. Please come geek out over soil health with us!

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The Countdown Begins: Our Seedling Sale Is One Week Away!

The countdown to our Spring Seedling Sale and Seed Giveaway begins! One week from today, we will be selling close to 200 beautiful seedlings for your garden. All proceeds benefit the garden, which is a completely volunteer-, donation-, and community-driven endeavor.

Join us at Indy Urban Flea, pick up some seeds, buy your seedlings, and have a pint at Centerpoint Brewing! Did we mention $1 from every pint sale goes to the garden, too?

Yeah, our city is pretty rad.

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WHAT: Seedling Sale, Seed Giveaway, and Garden Meet and Greet

WHEN: Sunday, April 23, 10am-4pm

WHERE: Indy Urban Flea – Circle City Industrial Complex, 1225 Brookside Ave., Indianapolis

Download a flyer to share here.

Community: I Can Count on You, and You Can Count on Me*

As a community organization with a gardening problem, we are really thrilled to support a whole lot of new ways to connect with your neighbors this spring. Keystone-Monon is off-the-charts hopping this month, and we hope you’ll join us at an upcoming community event!

Our neighborhood has so much going on, we’ve launched an events calendar you can reference anytime.

Mark your calendars, get involved, and make some new friends:

*This blog post title comes from my sons’ new favorite book, Counting on Community, by Innosanto Nagara. It’s beautiful and is read daily over here!

And Just Like That, the Garden Is READY… Thanks to Our Neighborhood Friends and Supporters!

Did you know that 10 cubic yards of compost would equal somewhere around 120 wheelbarrow loads? Now can you imagine the backbreaking effort it would require to move all of that from the parking area at Arsenal Park through the grass to the garden?

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It is impossible to overstate how much two amazing neighborhood partners helped us out this weekend. For the second year, local landscaper Robert Sickle and neighborhood business partner Hoosier Tools have lifted our load immensely. Thanks to them, our gardeners who finished the job, and some beautiful weather this morning, our garden beds are now ready to be planted!

Please help us thank our neighborhood partners who made all of this possible: 

  • Huge thanks to Hoosier Tools, who for the second year in a row donated the use of a Bobcat, allowing us to move our load of compost from the parking area to the garden. They even covered the gas, which was incredibly kind. Thanks to Stephen Lee for this generous donation (317-466-5060). Hoosier Tools has all kinds of items available for rent, especially for all your spring garden and home projects.
  • Local landscaper Robert Sickle (317-224-8184) spent his Friday afternoon commandeering a Bobcat and moving 10 cubic yards of compost to the garden, which saved us from the backbreaking labor of moving it my wheelbarrow. Robert does beautiful work and provides free estimates – call him today! And thank you, thank you, thank you again.

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  • GreenCycle not only provided us with absolutely gorgeous (and slightly discounted) compost, but they also were gracious about our need to move our delivery date back a week due to weather.

We simply could not have created this garden without the help and support of people like Robert Sickle, Steve Lee at Hoosier Tools, and the fine folks at GreenCycle – not to mention the gardeners who came out this morning to get this beautiful stuff into all of our beds! What a beautiful way to spend the day. Thanks to all!

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GARDEN 101: Decode your seed packet and begin planning your spring garden

Spring has sprung, the grass is ‘ris. I wonder where the birdies is!*

It’s the first day of spring, and here in Central Indiana, the buds are popping out on the trees, and we are itching to dig in the dirt! But when should you start? What should you plant? And hoe? I mean, how?

DECODING YOUR SEED PACKET:
The secret to finding out when and how to plant your garden? The seed packet.

Here’s an example of the amazing amount of information contained in just one little seed packet. Key things to pay attention to:

  • Days from planting to harvest and recommended season (front of package)
  • Planting information (depth, spacing)
  • When to plant and recommendations for indoor seedling starting vs. outdoor direct seeding (really, this and the depth/spacing information tells you everything you need to know to get started)
  • Date packaged (the germination rate, or the number of seeds that will successfully sprout, decreases with age, but don’t chuck your seeds from the last season or two! Just plan to plant extra seeds)

For those new to gardening, sowing seeds directly into your garden beds can be such a beautifully simple, rewarding way to plant. You might be surprised at how many crops grow wonderfully just from dropping seed into soil (and actually prefer it), particularly some of the more cold hardy crops planted in early-spring or later in the fall.

Some of our favorites, which we will start seeding sometime in mid- to late-April:

  • Lettuces
  • Greens like kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens
  • Root vegetables like carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips
  • Cabbage
  • Peas

THE NEVER-ENDING HARVEST
The cool thing about lettuces and greens: once they start growing, you can harvest them forever (or in the case of lettuce, until it gets too hot and the plants bolt, or go to seed). With lettuces and other delicate greens, just give them a “haircut” when harvesting, trimming off what you plan to eat and leaving the bulk of the plant and center leaves in tact. Come back a week later, and you won’t even be able to tell you trimmed them.

With greens like chard, kale, and collard greens, harvest the outermost leaves, breaking the entire leaf and stem off from the primary plant stalk. Always leave several of the innermost leaves in tact, and your plants will continue to grow and produce. These types of greens are cold hardy, but they will also last through the heat of summer!

(This is maybe one of the dorkier things I’ve ever searched for on YouTube, but if you’d like to see the technique for harvesting chard, kale, and collards, check it out).

BUT WHEN DO I PLANT WHAT?! MEET YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND, THE GARDEN CALENDAR
Okay, so we’ve identified some cooler weather crops above, but what about our heat loving plants, like tomatoes, squash, peppers, delicate herbs, and other more exotic plants?
The biggest thing: you’ll want to learn your average last frost day (in the spring) and your average first frost day (in the fall) to understand your growing season. Here in Indianapolis, we’re looking at the following:

  • Average last frost day (in the spring): Area C – April 26-May 5
  • Average first frost day (in the fall): Area F/G – Anywhere from October 6-October 25

Again, a good place to start is your seed packet OR check out the following amazing references:

ONE LAST THING…
One of the funnest things about gardening is uncovering your own gardening philosophy and seeing how it aligns – or differs – from what you consider to be “you.” 

For a beginning garden, consider purchasing some of your plant starts. And on that note, here’s your shameless self-promotion warning:

  • The Keystone-Monon Community Garden is hosting a seedling sale on 4/23 from 10am-4pm at Indy Urban Flea, 1225 E Brookside Ave, Indianapolis!
  • Come pick up a few of these beauties, grow your own food, and support the garden, a completely volunteer- and community-driven endeavor!

*Every spring, this pops into my head. It was one of my late, great grandmother Mildred’s favorite quotes each spring. Grandma Farm, as we called her, also had the most amazing backyard garden in the south suburbs of Chicago when I was a kid!