We share the bounty of our harvest with our volunteers, donors, Parish staff and School teachers

Share the Harvest is a Ministry that shares fresh fruits and veggies with local food banks. The fruits and veggies are grown in private home gardens. Home gardeners brings extra unneeded produce to church on Sunday's, where it is picked up for distribution to a local food bank. Please contact Share the Harvest at gardenministry@aim.com for further information.

The St. Mary Garden Ministry is gratefully accepting donations in $7.50 increments. We will thank you donation by offering the gift of one share in The Garden of Eden. Donate $15.00;receive 2 shares. The more you donate, the more shares you will receive. Please send check or cash to St. Mary Garden Ministry, c/o St. Mary Church, 196 Herrick Road, Riverside, IL 60546. Include your e-mail address so we can contact you when we are ready to share the bounty of our harvest.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dear Friends,

We now have a hybrid underground/drip hose watering system in The Garden of Eden. May I brag for a moment and mention that my husband designed the system? Now we can water 6 veggie beds at once using less water, spending less time, watering more efficiently and saving money for our church budget. Stop by and take a look any time. But if you want me to explain how the system works, please volunteer with us on any Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

We are also fully planted: New blueberry bushes are in. Many types of radish seeds and swiss chard varieties are in the ground. So are curly parsley, flat leaf parsley, rosemary, German thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, and rhubarb are growing nicely. I am particularly enthused about the purple podded and yellow podded peas that are winding their way around the tuteurs. All the apple trees survived the winter.

Stop by and see our new fencing. I thought the rabbits needed to go on a diet after they ate so much swiss chard last season. It is pretty safe to assume they will be moving on to a new garden once they see the roadblocks we built.

Special thanks to the St. Mary LEAD students, who are still exuberantly volunteering to pick up trash after school. They are making a beautiful difference in our church's outdoor environment.

Not to be outdone, St. Ignatius and Fenwick students have volunteered too with some heavy digging. We can use more help every week from our Catholic High School communities. Keep it coming!

See you in the garden.
Sincerely,
Sallie
P.S. If anyone has any small plastic snakes to share, we need 4 to hang in our apple trees.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank the St. Mary School LEAD students who have been enthusiastically volunteering to pick up garbage around the Garden of Eden and the parking lot. It's astonishing how much garbage there is and how much new garbage there is every day. I can't think of a good excuse WHY there is so much garbage every day. There is no way to justify the amounts. So I am sending out a plea to everyone who thinks the garbage they throw on the ground will just vaporize...PLEASE DON'T DO IT!!!! There is a garbage can at the Parish Center entrance. USE IT!!!!

Meanwhile, thank you to the parents of the LEAD students who are doing such a fine job of raising such wonderful children who volunteer with such open and generous hearts. I salute you.

Sincerely,
Sallie

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring! If you are curious about what vegetables the St. Mary Garden Ministry will be planting this season, here's what you need to know:

For our early spring crops, we are planting: Little Snowpea White, Golden Sweet Snow Pea (the seeds were sourced in India. How cool is that?), Sugar Magnolia (the peas are green, but the pods are purple), Electric Neon Blend Swiss Chard, Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard, Golden Swiss Chard, Starburst Radish, Pearl Radish, Easter Egg II Radish, French Breakfast Radish, Red Head Radish, Sweet Baby Daikon Radish, Butter Crunch Lettuce Blend, Super Gourmet Salad Blend.

All of the above seed varieties are from Territorial Seed Company. www.territorialseed.com.

We are a few days behind in planting for two good reasons. First, we have had a few "monsoons" sweep through our area. So it's been a bit messy for digging and planting. The other reason is that my wonderful husband, Mark designed and engineered an ingenious combination underground/drip hose watering system. We have to install it before we can seed each bed. The new drip system will save precious and expensive water as well as time for our volunteer watering crew. Stop by and see it soon.

As always, we need volunteers, both adult and students. We offer service hours for 6th, 7th and 8th grade St. Mary School and area Catholic high school students. Younger children are always welcome if they bring a parent to supervise.

Sincerely,
Sallie

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Dear Friends,

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." If anyone can tell me who once said that, you will receive a free Saturday share from The Garden of Eden. Hint: if you went to church today, you will know who said it. Write to me at gardenministry@aim.com.

Truly, we need gardeners who can help just a little or a lot. We need volunteers to pick our veggies on Saturdays in The Garden of Eden. As you know, we donate practically all of the bounty of our harvest to Share The Harvest, a ministry that shares home-grown food with food pantries in the western suburbs. Last week, we didn't have enough volunteers so much or our produce was left uncut and unused in our gardens. What a pity. So many more less fortunate people could have benefitted from our naturally, locally grown produce. Let's pray for more volunteers. Anyone of any age and physical ability can help. If you are younger than 6th grade, however, please bring a parent as I can't supervise our very young folks.

So far, we have harvested: lettuce, swiss chard, kale, chives, garlic chives, oregano, mint, hot peppers, basil, italian parsley, curly parsley, sage, and radishes.

Please know that all of our volunteers go home with freshly picked veggies as our thank you gift. Your other thank you gift is knowing that you have performed a corporal work of mercy (feed the hungry).

The preschool garden has finally been put back to productive use. We are growing tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, okra, pumpkins, raspberries, blackberries, currants, basil and chives. And weeds, plenty of weeds! So for those of you who cherish memories of your children as St Mary preschool students (or perhaps your own time as a preschool student), please help us weed and water this wonderful garden. We also need a crew to weed the flower portion of the preschool garden. It has been overtaken with a perennial ribbon grass. This requires very hard labor. I don't want to sugar coat my plea. But as we in the Garden Ministry like to joke, this kind of volunteering paves a straight path right to Heaven for those willing to do the work. Are you up for it? Then contact me at gardenministry@aim.com. I will show you what needs to be done.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe 4th of July. Let's honor the founding fathers and mothers who gave birth to this great nation and the great military men and women, past and present, who keep us free.

Sincerely,
Sallie Boge

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear Friends,

I have wonderful news...

Share The Harvest, the inter-denominational ministry started by the amazing and generous Rev. Linda W., has awarded a $400.00 growing grant to our St. Mary Garden Ministry! Our only instructions are that we should spend the funds on food-producing plants, especially plants we have not yet grown and then share back with the food pantries that Share The Harvest supplies. We are thrilled and grateful for this opportunity.

Never one to let money burn a hole in my pocket, I have spent much of the funding already. Here is what I bought: 9 high bush blueberry plants (Kabluey, Semi-dwarf Northland, Patriot, Jersey, Healthy Rubel, Bluecrop, Chandler and Elizabeth), 3 currant bushes (Pink Champagne, Black Consort and Redlake), 2 gooseberry bushes (Red and Pixwell), 2 Honeyberry bushes, 11 thornless blackberry bushes (Triple Crown and Ouachita), and 12 raspberry canes (3 each of Fall Gold, Heritage, Killarney and Jewel).

I tried to be as frugal as humanely possible with the money. So here are my money-saving tips if you want to grow what we are growing this season: I used Gurney's for most of the plants. They have a coupon right now for 1/2 off when you buy $50, $100 or $200 worth of plants. For some of the plants, I used Burpee. Right now Burpee is offering free shipping on any size order. Also, they are offering 20% off if you buy three different fruit offers. Plus , they threw in a free turkey fig plant and one package of pollinator garden seeds. I practically made money on these deals!!! Not really, of course, but it made shopping much more fun by really getting our money's worth.

To accommodate some of the new plants, we will be "renting" some garden space at St. Mary's preschool garden, which we will do our best to help maintain this season. I hope the little tykes love seeing the new fruiting bushes and sharing the bounty of our harvest with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Please stop by on Saturday, April 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. when it will FINALLY be warm again, to garden with our Ministry. We need lots of help at this time and will find a job suited to your experience and physical abilities.

Sincerely,
Sallie
gardenministey@aim.com

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dear Friends,

You gotta love global warming! If my memory serves me correctly, our relatively mild winter has sped up the start to our 2016 gardening season. Our regular and garlic chives are ready for their first cutting. The rhubarb is poking red heads through the soil and I even see some green on our lavender plants. The strawberry plants have multiplied and are forming a green carpet around The Garden of Eden.

In short, we need volunteers a bit sooner than usual. So please join us every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for digging, weeding and planting of vegetable seeds.

Actually, I have already started because I just couldn't wait to get out in the garden...Radish seedlings are growing well under plastic cloches along the east entrance to the rectory. Our newest addition to our fruit "orchard", blueberry bushes, are also planted and greening up in containers along with the radishes. Our generous donors allowed me to purchase three different types of short blueberry bushes suitable for container growing.  If I close my eyes, I can just imagine how wonderful blueberry pancakes will taste later this season. Mmmmmm.

This Saturday, we will plant snow and snap peas and some lettuces. I chose a lot of Butter lettuce varieties this year because my family and I have been enjoying Gotham Greens Butter lettuce. I am getting off on a tangent here, but this brand is well worth it. The company started in New York City. Hence the name "Gotham Greens". The company uses the roof space of existing warehouse buildings and builds a greenhouse facility on top. The veggies are grown using hydroponic technology. The water they use is recycled. They employ integrated pest management, use no herbicides, hand-harvest and pack, promise non-GMO seeds, and can get the produce from the greenhouse to the table within hours. They built a greenhouse in the Pullman District of Chicago. How's that for locally grown? Well, St. Mary does not have a greenhouse , but we will be planting lettuces that I predict will taste every bit as good as Gotham Greens. We too, use non-GMO seeds, use no chemical herbicides or pesticides, hand-harvest and pack, and can get the freshly picked greens to your home in...minutes!

Looking forward to seeing you in the garden soon.

Sallie

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dear Friends,

Sorry about the abrupt end to my previous post. I am having trouble with this web site. So if you are reading this post for the first time, please scroll back one post so you can see what vegetables we will be growing in 2016. I made it to #11, so this post will start on #12:

12. Pole beans "Royal Burgundy", "Golden  Gate",  "Rattlesnake",  "Kentucky Wonder", "Sunset", "Red Noodle".

13. Carrots "Yaya" and "Tonda di Pariga".

14. Herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary "Arp" which is listed as perennial and can often withstand our Chicago winters, chives, garlic chives, Italian parsley, curly parsley, lavender, sage, basil "Mammoth Sweet".

15. Rhubarb.

16. Lettuces "Optima", "Drunken Woman Frizzled", "Buttercrunch", "Carmona", "Mottistone", "Encino", "Revolution", "Mascara", "Red Sails", "Simpson Elite", "Flashy Trout's Back", "Valmaine". Again, we are ordering varieties that you can't get in a grocery store. Another goal is to plant the most heat-tolerant varieties to so the lettuce doesn't bolt too soon with our unpredictable Chicago weather that can go from too cold to too hot rather quickly.

17. We will fill in with bush beans after the early crops finish.

So we encourage and invite you to garden with us every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to about 12:30
p.m. starting in mid to late March depending on the weather. Email me at gardenministry@aim.om if you want to work on a special, independent project at another day or time.

Sincerely,
Sallie