Namaste: Yoga in the Garden Turns Out to Be THE BEST THING EVER

About a month ago, one of our neighbors and new friends, John-Payton Rowley of SoBeFit and yogaindy.com, approached us with a great idea: yoga in the garden. Earlier this week thanks to JP, we hosted our first by-donation Yoga in the Garden class, and we could not have pictured a more beautiful way to spend a Tuesday evening!

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Not only was the day a gorgeous one (always a big question mark in Central Indiana at the end of July), but JP walked us through a wonderful, energizing, grounding yoga practice. We heard the sounds of the park – a basketball bouncing on the court, kids playing in the splash pad, a skateboarder at the skate park, laughter, car stereos going past on 46th St., birds chirping in the treetops above, and the breeze rustling through leaves. We watched ants make their ways across our mats and felt grass in our fingers. JP encouraged and smiled and laughed, and we smiled and laughed back.

Long story short: it was a perfect evening with some really wonderful humans. We cannot thank John-Payton enough for bringing this idea to fruition!

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To us, this is what community’s all about: an amazing neighbor who has a clear passion and skill that jives perfectly with what we’re trying to accomplish, offering up a great an idea, making it happen seamlessly and beautifully… AND watching our neighbors, in turn, come out in droves to be a part of it!

We will be bringing JP back as soon as we possibly can in August for another great evening! THANK YOU to JP and to everyone who made it such a great success.

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In the meantime, we will be hosting a second Yoga in the Garden gathering with Lisa Daugherty of CITYOGA on Tues., Aug. 1 from 6-7pm. This special evening will be held in conjunction with the Keystone-Monon Neighborhood Association’s National Night Out at Arsenal Park! Yoga, a garden, and a neighborhood potluck? Talk about good community vibes.

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First Ever “Yoga in the Garden” By-Donation Class: This Tues., 7/25!

We cannot wait for John-Payton Rowley from yogaindy.com to lead our very first by-donation yoga class at the garden this coming Tues., 7/25 from 6-7pm!

As John-Payton explains, yoga is a way to merge mind body and soul into all aspects of being, in everything we do. We focus on meeting your personal goals through yoga practices – whether it be enhancing body-image, creating healthier eating patterns, gaining newer levels of physical and mental strength, weight-loss, rehabilitating injuries, creating healthier family space, relieving depression and anxiety, getting past fears, or gaining relaxation and stress relief.

We can feel the good vibes already. Set your intention right now to join us. RSVP at our Facebook page – or just show up!

Bring your yoga mat (if you have one – a limited number of extras will be available) and water bottle, and wear comfortable clothes that let you move. A portion of donations will go to garden operations and building. Pay what you are able!

WHEN: Tues., July 25, 6-7pm
WHERE: Keystone-Monon Community Garden at Arsenal Park, 1400 E. 46th St., Indianapolis IN 46205
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: John-Payton Rowley is a Certified Yoga Teacher, Personal Trainer, Athletic Trainer, Mentor, and Youth Development Coach. He started his career at the YMCA working with the youth leadership program. He received his teacher training through CITYOGA School of Yoga and Health which changed his life and gave him an invaluable deeper understanding and connection to the earth, our environment, and how we grow our food. He has a powerful intention to connect yoga and community gardens and to showcase the love and understanding of our community on a deep level. He is the resident yoga teacher at SoBeFit in South Broad Ripple and manifests human transformation, mind, body, and spirit.


“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” — May Sarton

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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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!

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!

Got Worms? FREE Educational Workshop on Vermicomposting, 6/22!

WHAT: Got Worms? Turn Your Trash to Treasure with Home Worm Composting

WHEN: Wednesday, July 22, 6:30-7:30 pm

WHERE: Indy Hostel, 4903 Winthrop Ave, Indianapolis, IN

Join the Keystone-Monon Community Garden and Keith O’Dell of Castaway Compost for this FREE interactive, hands on workshop on how to start your own worm composting system. Vermicomposting is a fun, easy way to turn your food waste into “black gold,” or worm compost, that can keep your garden and house plants healthy and strong.

Vermicomposting is a great project for kids (of all ages), and anyone can do it, even if you don’t have a lot of space for a traditional composting bin system.

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SPECIAL THANKS to community partner Indy Hostel for hosting us! Feel free to bring your own chairs or blankets, drinks, and food. We’ll also provide a brief update about the garden’s status and when we expect to begin building.

Keith will provide us with his expertise, and attendees will have the opportunity to purchase supplies from Castaway Compost to start their own home vermicomposting bins.

ABOUT KEITH O’DELL AND CASTAWAY COMPOST: Castaway Compost was formed by accident. I was trying to answer two questions: how to improve crop production in Kenya and Honduras (Missionary friends) and how to get rid of hundreds of pounds of coffee grounds (work). Several months of Internet surfing and discussions with interested parties led me from composting to hydroponics to aquaculture and finally to worm composting. Castaway Compost was formed. I haven’t completely answered the two questions – I’m still learning – but I do have many working worm bins, thriving gardens and lawn and hundreds of pounds of worm compost.