Thursday, September 25, 2008

Great Pictures of a County Fair

County Fair

Fish eye media has some great pictures of the Fair at the above link. Children with the animals,Master preservers, stages. Someone did a such a good job of capturing the fun.

Thanks for passing it along Harmony.

Chicago is a great big city full of millions of people that is known for its neighborhoods and sense of community. From the Mayor and the awesome park district (which includes the conservatories and six nature centers) to business leaders and the University Agricultural extension service, there is enormous support for the many community gardens, network of green groups , and each year more individuals, growing food and utilizing the outdoor areas of our homes and the city. All year round there are learning opportunities through lectures and actual hands on experience.

Today a group of volunteers helped unload and group a truckload of shrubs and perennials that will be given away on Saturday to the 93 community gardens that have registered to receive plants. All the plants are free, donated by local nurseries, the Chicago Botanic Garden and others.

There is more to the green movement than lakefront parks and median planters.

Green Net Chicago

School Gardens

Greencorps Chicago

Master Food Preservers

Chicago Green Roofs

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Would You Hold A Giant Hissing Roach?

Madagascar Giant hissing cockroach

Giant African Millipede

At the Garfield Park Conservatory County Fair I not only held a giant roach, I let a great big millipede crawl around on my hand . When I arrived at the University of Illinois Extension service Master Gardener's tent,Elizabeth Bruhns ask if I would be comfortable working the insect petting zoo. It was fun. There were times when the kids were two deep all along the the table. Parents were standing by or joining in depending on their own insect issues. A hand washing station was situated right next to the Extension tent so than everyone could wash up after handling either the insects or checking out the worm bins.

Speaking of worm bins...

A volunteer demonstrates adding vegetable matter to the big wooden worm bins out in the organic vegetable garden.

A table with examples of other home waste that can be added to the worm bins.

The earth box vegetables are still going strong.

Fall crops in the square foot bed. Look how they marked off the squares with florist tape.

The demonstration garden beds are made from reused and found items like wooded pallets, cinder blocks or old bricks.

The organic demonstration garden is part of the outside gardens surrounding the Garfield Park Conservatory. After entering the main building there are exits into the outdoor gardens from several of the rooms. While open to the public every day the demonstration garden volunteers and conservatory staff are in the garden on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to answer questions and for hands on work with visitors. Starting in spring with how to prepare planting areas, through summer growing and harvest into winter garden preparation. School groups and daycare centers often arrange field trips for Tuesdays but it is not just children. Many adults are interested in learning about urban organic growing.

Demonstration Garden

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

8th ANNUAL COUNTY HARVEST FAIR at Garfield Conservatory

Looking for a fun activity this weekend ? In the Chicago IL area? Come join us at the fair.
( Garfield Park Conservatory Directions )
I will be a volunteer with the University of Illinois agricultural extension for the afternoon.

The following is from the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance newsletter detailing activities and entertainment...

The 8th annual County Fair is this Saturday September 20th at the Garfield Park Conservatory!
Saturday September 20th, 11am-5pm, throughout the Conservatory Campus, free entrance (some activities have a nominal fee)
County Fair is an annual event celebrating both the annual harvest and healthy communities. It’s family-oriented, with programs and activities for all ages. Set in an historic urban setting on Chicago’s West Side, visitors to the fair will discover agricultural traditions, see the best in urban gardening, and enjoy horticultural exhibits and demonstrations. Children’s activities, a petting zoo and harvest competitions highlight the connections between plants, food and American heritage. Food and live music make this a unique event for the entire family.

Children’s Activities

Some of this year’s down-home fun for kids includes:
a petting zoo and pony rides,
corn-husk doll making,
a story tent with the Chicago Public Library,
and lots of other family fun!

Harvest Competition

If you or someone you know is interested in entering our 2008 Harvest Competition, please note that pre-registration has closed, but it’s not too late to enter! To participate in the competition, bring your entries to the Garfield Market Place on the north end of the Conservatory campus between 9am and 10am the morning of the fair. There are nine competition categories this year, including special fruits and vegetables, single or arranged fresh flowers, and creative arrangements of sunflowers – the One Seed Chicago seed of the year. Entering the competition is free. Please visit our website to learn all the details:
All Harvest Competition entries will be on display in the Garfield Market Place until 4pm for all County Fair visitors to enjoy. Make sure to stop by to marvel at all the entries and to see who won!

Garden Demonstrations
Don’t miss all of the exciting demonstrations being held throughout the Conservatory campus during County Fair, such as composting demonstrations, food preservation demonstrations, and beekeeping demonstrations.

Recipe Swap
Jot down your favorite recipe and bring it along to this year’s County Fair. We’ll have a Recipe Swap tent where you’ll be able to share your favorites and pick up some new ideas as well. The staff of Garfield Park and Lincoln Park Conservatories have even contributed their own favorite recipes to share with you, so stop by and see what we eat!

Farmer’s Market
Enjoy a selective supply of produce, honey, soap and much more available for purchase.

Garden Tool Sharpening
Bring your garden tools along to get a tune-up!

Live Music
This year, two separate music and performance stages will highlight the excitement of youth and the power of tradition.

American Traditional Music Stage
Musical performances representing traditional genres of the past will be tucked in the shade of the Garfield Park Conservatory’s front yard. Jug bands, jam sessions, and the old timey stylings of Chicago folk artist Mark Dvorak are all part of this musical area and its offerings. Located on the northwest side of the Conservatory’s city block.

Jug Band Workshop by The Hump Night Thumpers
Join the Hump Night Thumpers in a 30-minute workshop and jam where you can pick up an instrument and play along! The Thumpers will introduce audiences to the unique instruments of this genre. Jugs and washboards will be provided!

Jug Band Performance by The Hump Night Thumpers
The classic jug band era was shaped by urban black musicians in Southern river cities like Memphis and Louisville. Former vaudeville entertainers and string band musicians took to the streets with inexpensive and homemade instruments, mixed Dixieland jazz and ragtime with the blues, and created a genre that some have called "the world's happiest music." The Hump Night Thumpers meet weekly at the Old Town School of Folk Music to learn songs, build instruments, and study the history of the genre. Each member plays a variety of instruments, including guitar, ukulele, washtub bass, washboard, kazoo, spoons, and, of course, jugs of all shapes and sizes. Performances might include traditional blues, jazz, or ragtime songs, newer songs written during the '60's, or original songs written by the group, but are always upbeat and guaranteed to inspire curiosity among the audience.
Folk Club Jam led by Mark Dvorak
Bring your instrument and join local folk hero Mark Dvorak as he leads a classic string-band jam. Don’t play? No problem - foot tappers needed.

Solo Performance by Mark Dvorak
“ of a vanishing breed... Although all of us benefit from the tradition, Dvorak is one of the few who keep it alive. Listen. Join in.” Utah Phillips
As a musician, storyteller, poet and teacher, Mark Dvorak has carved his place firmly in the Chicago and national folk scene. The Woodstock Folk Festival honored Mark with their 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award and his song The Saddest Town in Illinois recently reached #10 on Neil Young’s Living With War song list. Mark’s 11th CD, What a Wonderful World, is a compilation assembled from over 16 years in the recording studio. Come hear a local treasure that the Chicago Tribune called, simply “Masterful.”

Blues Performance by Robin Watson
East Garfield resident, Robin Watson, is an awesome entertainer whose song styling and rich quality have been compared to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, and Nina Simone wrapped into one. The combination of her musical talent, engaging entertainment skills, and fun-filled interaction with her audiences ranks her among the best. She has given soul-stirring performances at many Chicago hotspots, including a year-long run at the historical Como Inn, 5 years at Harrah’s and Empress Casinos, Pheasant Run Resort, as well as stellar performances in Brazil, South America, the Caribbean, the United Nations, and the Inauguration of President Jimmy Carter.

Performance by The Oak Park Farmer’s Market Band
Old-time music is a form of North American folk music, with roots in the folk traditions of many countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland and Africa. This musical form developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dance, buck dance and clogging. Picked fresh from the Oak Park Farmer Market, this traditional string band has been entertaining audiences throughout the city for years. Banjo, guitar, fiddle and maybe even a tin whistle will fill the air.

Contemporary Youth Music Stage
Music and performance acts, both by youth and for youth will occur at the Youth Stage throughout the day. Located on the south side of the Conservatory’s city block.

Performance by Nice Peter
Augmented by serious musicianship, Nice Peter's hysterical original acoustic pop songs are a terrific change of pace for any modern music lover. Trained at the Improv Olympic in Chicago, lead singer Pete Shukoff brings his improv comedy experience to the rock and roll stage for all ages and performs a special interactive set for kids. Audiences across the US and UK are laughing, dancing, and raving about this one-of-a-kind band with a truly unique live experience.

Performance by Tha Pope
Tha Pope "Chicago Youngest Celebrity" has captivated and generated the largest following of young people from ages 3-20 in Chicago history. With his charming personality, stylish swagger and phenomenal dance & Rap abilities, Tha Pope has been compared to the likes of Usher, Chris Brown and other great entertainers and performers. Due to the highly publicized gun violence and deaths with young teens, Tha Pope has teamed up with WPWX Power 92 morning personality Tray The Chocolate Jock in Chicago along with local politicians, business men and women to form the “Stop The Violence Tour” which visits Chicago Public and Charter schools to speak to the kids in regards to curtailing gun and gang violence. After the discussions then Tha Pope takes the stage for his high energy performance.

Performance by Kids Works
Andrea Salloum from Kidworks Touring Theatre Co. will lead a group of 25 participants, ages 4 and up, on a journey through the continent of Africa. Children will learn to speak Swahili, dress in headwraps, play games from the Congo, learn the Ku-Ku dance and the Limbo, play the Djembe Drum and act out an African Wedding Ceremony.

Performance by the Julian Dancing Dolls
Straight from Percy L. Julian High School on the South Side of Chicago, the Julian Dancing Dolls are an energetic bunch of young ladies who perform some of the most cutting-edge dance moves. Don’t miss them strut their stuff on our Contemporary Youth Music Stage!

Performance by the Charlie Snyder Quartet
Classic jazz played straight up by four of Chicago’s most talented high school musicians. The Charlie Snyder Quartet includes students from the Merit School of Music and Northwestern University Jazz Camp. Come hear the next generation of American jazz.

Garfield Conservatory Directions

Monday, September 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day September 15 2008

Considering how much rain fell from Friday evening untill mid-day Sunday (without respite),the garden does not look completely wasted. Just a bit bedraggled.

Tall asters and many the grass in bloom held up very well.

Panicum,both species and cultivar stood straight after drying over night.

Gillardia looks splayed but still blooming.

A single stem of goldenrod is beginning to open.

The asters were covered with bees flying after several days under cover during heavy rain. Unlike honey bees they store little food and suffer if weather does not permit collection for a time.

Logs have pretty fungal decorations .

The flooded back garden is drying out, no standing pools of water left.

The hobbit garden hosta blooms draw both bees and humming birds and follow the dry creekbed like a wave.

A lone blue gentian.

I still have not moved those turtlehead.
Check May Dreams Gardens GBBD post for a list of blog bloomers.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Aronia arbutifolia - Red Chokeberry...update on cuttings from last year.

In 2007 I took a cutting from an aronia/chokeberry to use in the raingarden.
Last years posting 2007/09/growing-from-seed-taking-cuttings shows that it had rooted well and was growing.
Well I have not planted that cutting yet because I was worried about the rabbits eating it to the ground and keeping it that way. After the stems are thick enough and the shrub mature enough the critters seem to look for other food sources,(unless snow is deep enough to allow access to the tips).

So look what a year brings in growth. That is a 3 foot yardstick to show how tall the aronia has grown. After overwintering in the red folgers coffee can, buried and covered with a wire cage, it was transplanted to a larger container. I sort of wish I had just planted it into the ground and caged last year. Now I must dig a much bigger hole.

Look close and you can even see a few berries that will turn red as the leaves change making a lovely fall display . Several pictures of habit, berries and red foliage if you check the link .

The seedlings of Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis), Echinacea pallida and Baptisia australis (Blue Wild Indigo) were all planted out and growing well, but have not flowered this year. Patience is required when growing from seed.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

'Growing Trees From Seed'

A practical guide to growing native trees,vines and shrubs
by Henry Kock
with Paul Aird,John Ambrose and Gerald Waldren.

This is not a picture book although there are many illustrations. It is a practical guide.

It has plans for obtaining the seed.
One of which is...
"Fruits that squirrels drop to the ground can be picked up if your timing is right. High crowns make it hard to obtain some seed without help."

Reasons to plant seeds...
Preserving stress-tolerant trees and shrubs.
"Our indigenous trees and shrubs are in the early stages of developing a seed bank of mature,stress-tolerant individuals on disturbed sites."

Advise on how to tell when the fruit is ready to collect.
"Fruit maturity is associated with a shift in color. For large seeded species cut a few fruits open (using a good pair of pruning shears) to assure seeds are sound and have not been eaten by weevils. "

Stuff to carry with while seed seeking ...
envelopes and paper bags for dry fruit and seeds
plastic bags for moist seeds and cuttings
a compact umbrella to catch seeds shaken or tossed
pencils and tags
a swiss army knife
pruning shears
a water bottle
fiels notebook
a container to carry everything

Planting strategy...
"Natural soil developes in layers and root systems have evolved to exploit those layers. Mixing the soil disturbs this natural process."
"It is the decomposition process at the soil surface that is important, not the final product."

And many pages of individual species information...
"Clematis flowers are a rich source of nectar and are bee pollinated, the fruits mature in October.
The embryo is not fully developed when the fruit is ripe and natural germination is delayed until the second spring. Treatment requires a 24 hour soak,a 30 day warm moist, then 60 day cold moist stratification."

In the preface Henry Kock states his aim "to pass on knowledge of native woody plants and to inspire the gathering and growing of seeds to help restore and sustain the precious diversity of our natural heritage." He died before the book was finished but with a little help from friends and his wife the book was published.

Thank you Henry Kock.

Henry Kock

picture of a tree planted 18 years ago by Henry Kock


Naturalizing your city backyard - A visit with Henry Kock
by Walter Muma

Henry Kock is an Interpretive Horticulturist at the University of Guelph. He transformed his own urban backyard into a woodland with over 100 tree, shrub and herbaceous species along with stumps, logs, a marshy hollow and a brush pile. In this yard, there is abundant life and food with no feeders. The daily foraging of predators prevents possible outbreak of pests.

KOCK Reflections on protecting our trees

All trees have associates and defences. Predators and parasites keep insect pests in check (like gleaner fish on a dolphin) and the defence mechanisms of a tree's immune system protect it from diseases. Biodiversity is necessary for these systems to work well. When a new insect species, like gypsy moth, forest tent caterpillar or fall cankerworm, migrates into an area, it takes a few years before predators and parasites such as birds, mammals and other insects, discover and develop a "taste" for the new organism, and learn to find it frequently. It may take a while, but it always happens. Insects, like animals, are subject to a whole range of viral and bacterial diseases as well and it takes time for these disease organisms to adapt to a new host.