Garden Updates 2015

October 26

Greetings Gardeners,

I guess we could have had a work day yesterday and enjoyed some glorious Indian Summer weather. We did some good work on October 17, our recent work day, though I shouldn't really include myself in that "we." I had a bad cold that morning, and though I did come out to work, George "Wood Chips Warden" Miller sent me home early. Those who showed up did some valuable clean up, so I'll offer a shout out to the following gardeners who weeded and cleaned up the plot in the NE corner:


Tom Page

John Hanzel





I'll get our lawn mower out and chop up the tomato plants to help our compost along. I'll send out a note to let people know, in case others may want to come out and help with the compost. I think we'll still have weather warm enough to get out and clean up plots that still need work.

Our seventh annual Harvest Festival was fun and replete with fine homemade victuals, some of which I could actually taste, despite my nasal congestion. Brian Bruce and Chris Dewitt and Doug and I made some music that helped to clear the dining room. Maybe that was my imagination. I thought the music was good, especially Brian's guitar playing and fine tenor of those three.

I have a favor to ask of my fellow gardeners. I have a few indoor plants at school that have outgrown their pots. Does anybody have a few pots 6-7 inches in diameter that they would be willing to share with me? Let me know, and I'll pick them up, or you could leave them at the garden for me.

I hope you all are enjoying the last of your tomatoes, or other crops. That reminds me: I ordered a lot of garlic, so if anybody would like to plant some, let me know. I have quite a few extra heads for planting (if that isn't a set up for our resident comedian, I don't know what is).

Keepin' it green (and yellow and red and orange),


October 10

Greetings Gardeners,

As we come to the end of our seventh growing season, I want to thank all of you for pitching in to take care of our community garden and for contributing some of your produce to the Northfield Food Pantry. Collette will tally up the numbers for a more exact count, but she has already told me that we donated more than 300 pounds of fresh produce to our friends at the pantry. Way to go, and way to grow!

Because we are all such a cooperative group, I won't hesitate to ask for volunteers to help set up the tables and decorations for our harvest festival next Saturday. We'll be meeting at St. Giles at 4p to set up, so let me know if you can help.

Of course, we'll also need some gardeners to stay after the festival ends to help clean up. Let me know if you will be able to help at this end of the festivities.

Finally, please sign up to bring a dish to pass. Just "reply all" and tell us what you'll be bringing so we can try to bring a balance of protein, vegetables, other carbs and, of course, homemade desserts!

I'll kick this off by writing that Meredith and I will bring a quinoa salad (made with the quinoa we grew in the garden...those tall colorful plants you saw in our plot) and a dessert.

We will schedule a work day soon, probably Saturday 10/24, but feel free to start pulling up tomato (and other) plants and putting them in the compost area.

One last item: I have a number of large tomato cages made of  four-inch metal fencing. They are about two feet in diameter and five feet tall. I no longer need so many. If you want some, please let me know by 10/17. After that date I'll leave them near the street so the metal scavengers can pick them up.

Let's get excited about our seventh annual harvest festival!

Keepin' it green,


October 10

Greetings Gardeners,

In my previous message about the harvest festival and other items, I mentioned that we may have a work day October 24. After consulting the oracle (, I've decided we may have slightly warmer weather on this coming Saturday, October 17. Please plan to join us for our annual autumn cleanup day, 9a-12p. We'll pull tomato and cucumber and other plants, and mulch them up for our compost pile.

The other projects we have to tackle include:

--cleaning plot (northeast corner) of the overgrown weeds

--pulling/cutting weeds around the perimeter of the garden

--weeding among the pathways

We all know that "many hands...," so I look forward to seeing--and working with--you all next Saturday.

Until then, get outside and enjoy this gorgeous weather!

Keepin' it green,


September 12

Greetings Gardeners,

I'm sending you the flyer that John Hanzel created for our 7th annual Harvest Festival. Please plan to join us for a festive evening of homemade food, gardening tales (almost as good as fishing tales) and homegrown music provided by our own "in-garden" band. In other words, if you play an instrument, and would like to make some music with us, let me know so we can rehearse once or twice before the festival.

September Garden Notes: thanks to Jerry Micheels, we now have new new red wheelbarrow. Jerry took the other barrow back to Ace Hardware and got a replacement that had some air in its tire, huzzah! Now we can haul our dead plants into the woods when we clean up the garden to prepare for winter (fall work day TBA).

I think I've finally gotten rid of those pesky yellow jackets in the compost area. I sprayed their nest again with insecticide, and then we had torrential rainfall last week, and the combination seems to have eradicated the bees and their underground nest. I love honeybees, but this other species is not welcome in our garden!

If you haven't done so already, please remember to give some of your homegrown produce to the Northfield Food Pantry. I think we're still taking donations there each week. If not, it's easy to drop off food Monday-Friday, 8.30-4.30. Call the pantry for directions (it's in the shopping center with Jewel on Waukegan Road in Glenview).

We hope to see everybody at our harvest fest. Bring family and neighbors, too!

Keepin' it green (and now yellow and red),


August 16

Greetings Gardeners,

A gardener reported to me this morning that she had observed a bunny hopping along one of our garden paths. I suspect this is the culprit that has been eating the leaves of my bean plants (and maybe others). I just wish rabbits ate japanese beetles...! Tracey set a "have a heart" trap near Marita and Sandy's plot because their beans have also been nibbled. We hope to catch and move Peter's relative soon. I'll check the fence again, but I suspect this one got inside when the gate was left ajar.

I sprayed the bees' nest on Thursday night and afterwards I raked the area--big mistake! The bees that weren't sprayed swarmed, and one stung me, so I evacuated the area and will try again soon. I really took one on the chin for the team on that foray.

In the meantime, please dump compost material in the areas that are not blocked by yellow ("crime scene") tape. It's not a crime for bees to nest in our garden, but that was the tape that was available. And it IS a nuisance to have bees there!

Keepin' it Green,


August 11

Greetings Gardeners,

A few days ago I noticed yellow jackets flying in and out of the compost pile nearest some of our garden plots. I went this evening and sprayed into the opening, and I think that took care of the problem. I'll shovel out that section of compost so it won't contaminate the entire pile.

A couple of gardeners reported that they had seen small bunnies near their plots. I carefully inspected the fencing around the entire garden, and I found a small hole at the base of it, near the compost area. I dug a small trench and buried the fence and shored it up with soil and a brick, so I'm confident that the bunnies will not be sneaking in again. Let me know if you see any of these pests inside the garden again.

I know pest may seem like a strong word when used in connection with soft, furry widdle wabbits. A couple of weeks ago a full grown rabbit was found lying in the parking lot. I told another gardener that was one less critter that could eat our produce, and she chided me for being cold hearted. I pointed out that rabbits multiply faster than some weeds, and they do as much or more damage to our plants and vegetables. She grudgingly agreed that rabbits do eat vegetables, and then she disposed of the rabbit in the woods.

John Hanzel replaced the broken sprayer on the south gray hose. I'll replace the one on the north hose soon.

When you're feeling strong and you want to pull some big weeds, please feel free to yank out all of the plants/trees growing between the compost area and the (east side) fence. Toss them into the woods, thanks!

One last note: produce that grows in the pathways will be donated to the food pantry. Our plants are going wild this season, and I know the pantry truly appreciates our contributions.

Keepin' it Green,


July 20

Greetings Gardeners,

Most of you know that I'm not adverse to getting my hands dirty, and a couple of years ago I was writing enthusiastically about the pleasures of spreading wood chips around our beautiful garden.

Having written that, I am amazed at how quickly the most recent load of chips has been moved from the parking lot into our garden. I had the chips delivered July 9, and I thought I'd be moving chips this week, after returning from a week in N. and S. Dakota. Instead, there is a tiny pile left that I'll move today, maybe two or three wheelbarrow loads.

Rather than thank a couple of people who I know were responsible for spreading chips, I'll just thank everybody who helped out. I don't want to omit anybody, and I know that a number of us pitched in and shoveled and rolled and dumped and spread these chips. Sooo, thank you, thank you, thank you, to all wood chip movers (and shakers)!

The garden looks fabulous with a fresh bed of wood chips happily decomposing as we troop in and take care of our plants. The plants are towering above the chips, swaying in the gentle breeze, collecting sunlight and transforming it into the chlorophyll that will make our plants happy and healthy. What a difference a wet June and July can make! Now that we're getting some sunlight in between rain showers (or flash floods like last Saturday), our plants are shooting up and producing the fruits of our labors.

I'm happy to inform everybody that we have 2.5 plots dedicated to growing food for the Northfield Food Pantry: numbers 27, 28 and the eastern half of number 8. Thanks to Sue and Colette and everyone else who is helping to plant, care for, pick produce from these plots. Thanks also to all who are delivering our amazing produce to the pantry.

When you have produce to donate to the pantry, place it in the grey and white cooler next to the building, or send Colette and email notifying her to pick produce from your plot if you're out of town.

I'm thinking of getting rid of the two plastic wheelbarrow/carts this week. If anybody wants one of them, let me know. I think two barrows/carts is sufficient for our needs. If people think we need more, let me know. Without a tool storage shed, it's challenging to keep the building wall uncluttered. Thanks to all who help keeping that area organized and tidy.

Let's keep on keepin' it green,



July 2

Greetings Gardeners,

I sat down to write a thank you to the gardeners who came out on short notice to help pull weeds from plot 28, our second food pantry plot: Tom,  John,  Martha,  Meredith, Sue and Gary.

We made relatively short work of this project, and now Colette will amend the soil and plant vegetables to grow for the Northfield Food Pantry. If anybody would like to give her a hand turning the soil and planting, please contact her directly:

--Thanks also to Doug and Barb for their help weeding in the pathways.

--Big thanks to George for weeding and cleaning up the compost area. I'll order woodchips so that we can spread some around the compost area and on pathways that are muddy.

Other updates:

Tracey Solano has come with a fun way for all of us to celebrate our garden AND to socialize a bit before or after we tend to our gardens. She has posted a variety of photos that our resident photographer, John Hanzel, has taken over the years. Using these images, Tracey has created a community garden bulletin board in the hallway of the education building (that brick building near the garden).

Please join us for a look at our new bulletin board tomorrow July 2, between 5.30-7p. Enjoy some cool watermelon after weeding in your garden plot!

We also invite you to post announcements and pictures on the board. We'll have an envelope inside the tool bin where we can place items to be posted on the board. The church secretary is in the building T-Th, 9a-2p (she keeps the doors locked, so just knock on the doors at the church end of the building).

We'll soon have a new scale for weighing produce donated to the food pantry. Sue S. is also providing us with plastic bags to package our produce and stickers to label our produce. Thanks for pulling this together, Sue!

The St. Giles grounds crew does NOT use pesticides on the lawn or trees, so we're getting closer to being truly an organic garden, hooray!

Please be vigilant about weeding the pathways near your own plot. I know there are a couple of plots that are overgrown with weeds, and I'm working with those gardeners this weekend to get those areas cleaned up and ready for growing.

Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to our community garden.

Keepin' it Green,



May 9

Greetings Gardeners,

Don't let this cool, wet weather bring you down. The water is much needed (though I wasn't thinking that as I got off the train yesterday at 5p and was instantly soaked!), and the cool temperatures are actually quite conducive for growing greens: broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, peas, radishes and more.

Speaking of water, all of us have to be more cognizant about turning OFF our hose at the main spigot (the education building). To explain for new gardeners (and remind returning gardeners): last year water was left on several times and this oversight resulted in flooding some individual plots.

Thanks for turning off the water COMPLETELY!

If you were unable to participate in our first work day, don't despair. There are plenty of weeds and grass growing, so please take some time to help pull these out.

The area that needs immediate attention is the compost plot, which is right in the middle of the east side of the garden. You'll be able to recognize it by all of the grass that is covering it.

The Northbrook Garden Club will be donating more perennials to us on Saturday May 16, and then we'll have to transplant them around the outside of our garden. I'll keep you posted about when the transplanting will take place (possibly May 23).

I'm still awaiting word from our grounds keeping team about the soil/compost mixture. I'll find out this weekend and share the information with everybody soon.

In the meantime, keep those seedlings warm and lighted, and turn the water off!

Keepin' it Green,



May 3

Greetings Gardeners,

We had a wonderful turnout for our first work day, and the weather was incomparable. Many, many thanks to all who came out and worked on our community garden and accomplished the following tasks:

--pulling up black fabric (it's almost all gone now, hooray!)

--raking leaves, pulling out dead plants and pulling weeds around the perimeter of the garden (the perennials)

--pulling grass and weeds from the pathways (especially among the plots on the northeast side of the garden)

--transplanting Easter lilies inside the fence

--transplanting more perennials outside the fence (compliments of Natasha)

--built a new frame for a new gardener

--rototilling a couple of plots for gardeners

--reinforced a couple of fence posts

--shored up some of the fencing with soil so that bunnies won't be sneaking inside and    sampling our produce

Our garden looks like it's ready for growing! It was a real pleasure working in and around the garden on Saturday. Returning gardeners met new gardeners, people brought refreshments, people worked in pairs and threesomes and talked and socialized and it felt and sounded like a real community...of people who happen to enjoy digging in the dirt and growing plants.

I spoke with the church landscaping contact, and he will find out what the soil mixture consists of. He did say that the soil mixture could be delivered this Wed. If anybody would like to order some soil, here is the info. again:

1 cubic yard....will raise a 10' x 10' plot about four inches....$85 (includes delivery fee)

People can split a cubic yard if they want to also.

Let me know ASAP if you want some of this dirt.

I also have seeds to share, and I am starting cherry tomatoes, green tomatoes, winter squash, watermelon and quinoa. Let me know if you want some of these. They'll be ready to transplant in a couple of weeks.

Thanks again for all of your help in cleaning up our garden. We're going to enjoy the results of our hard work soon.

See you in the garden,



April 26

Greetings Gardeners!

It was great to see so many new faces in the garden today, and the weather was pleasant and a much needed change from our gloomy, wet Earth Day on Saturday.

I have spoken with the person at our church who works with the landscaping crew, and he told me today that they could deliver a mixture of topsoil and compost for $85 per cubic yard. One cubic yard will fill one full plot (100 square feet) about four inches. Let me know if you are interested in ordering dirt for your plot, and I'll make the order. The soil will then be delivered and placed in the corner of the parking lot nearest the garden.

At Earth Day the Northbrook Library had a table and I picked up a leaflet that describes a program they are running 4/25-5/31. They want all gardeners to send pictures of what we're doing to prepare our gardens (or anything we've grown so far)--outdoors or inside. Photos will be displayed in the library and on their website.

Send photos to:

Or use #nbkgardens when posting to the library's Facebook, twitter and Instagram accounts.

At our work day this Saturday May 2, we'll be:

--weeding pathways inside the garden

--weeding around the perimeter of the garden

--pulling black fabric in one pathway and in one garden plot

--building two frames around a new gardener's plot

--reinforcing a couple of fence posts

--transplanting Easter lilies inside the garden and daffodils outside

John, would you kindly bring your electric drill and tool box, so we can put the frames together?

Steve and Martha, would one of you kindly bring your small rototiller, so that some gardeners may turn over the solid in their plots?

I'll bring seeds for sharing. Please bring seeds also, if you have some to share. I've started lots of cherry tomatoes, and I'll share these plants in a few weeks when they're ready to transplant.

Please bring your own work gloves and weeding tools.

Saturday is supposed to be a beautiful day for gardening. See you all soon.

Keepin' it Green,

James Brooks


April 14

Hello Gardeners,

I was tired when I typed my previous message, and I omitted the name of one more new gardener, so I'd like to welcome her now.

She is Natasha Ziskind, and she'll be growing all kinds of amazing vegetables in plot 12, next to Doug and Barb Gerleman's plot.

Welcome Natasha! I'm looking forward to learning more about gardening from you.

Best Wishes,

James Brooks


April 13

Greetings Gardeners, New and Returning:

I'm delighted to send this welcoming message to our 33 gardeners, and I'd like to introduce new gardeners to our returning members. I've attached a garden grid so you may look at the plots and see where our new gardeners will be growing in relation to other plots.

Let's give a warm welcome to:

Jim Hensel (plot 3)

Tanya Lagunov (plot 25)

Larisa Stupinsky (plot 19)

Sarakate Rice (plot 15)

Paula Rim (plot 10)

Julia (plot 4)

and a welcome back to Cynthia and Jon Hallas (plot 26) and Martha McGuire (half of plot 6).

I have a couple of announcements to share with everybody.

1. Please check with me before using supplies that you may find next to the (education) building. I had a half wheelbarrow of potting soil mixed with some special blend that Sue S. had prepared for our perennials, and somebody added it to their plot. Not a huge deal, but it was being saved for transplanting more perennials this spring. Just ask me before using in the future.

2. If you haven't yet made your payment for your plot, please send me a check and make it payable to St. Giles Church (write Community Garden on the memo line). Full plot fee $40; half plot fee $20. If you have already sent or dropped off a check to the church, please let me know that as well because I'm keeping a record of payments.

3. Our first work day will be Saturday May 2, 10-12. Please bring your own gloves and weeding tools. We'll be weeding the pathways and the perimeter of the garden. We'll also be pulling up the last of the black fabric between plots 4, 9, 3, 8, 2, 7.

4. Several gardeners have asked about getting more soil to add to their plots (because their plots have sunken over time, due to settling). I've spoken with Red's and they have a "Garden Mix" of soil, sand and compost.  One cubic yard covers 81 square feet with 4" of soil. This Garden Mix costs $127 for one cubic yard or $166 for two cubic yards. There is a delivery fee of $25 for the total order (whether we order 1 or more cubic yards).

Let me know if you're interested in buying this Garden Mix and I'll place the order for all of us so it will be delivered at one time. If anybody has found a different deal at another nursery or garden supply center, let me know and I'll be glad to coordinate ordering and delivering soil.

5. I've started 45 plants for us in my basement, and I'd like to share the seedlings with anybody who is interested in growing these plants in their gardens. I'll be at the Earth Day event at the Village Green on April 25, so please come see me to pick up some starter plants:

--cherry tomatoes (a mixed blend of green, yellow, orange, red and white)


--winter squash


--quinoa (very colorful flowers)

I also have a bag full of seed packets, and I'd like to share these with you all also. I've got lettuce, green beans, yellow wax beans, carrots, chard, kale, green zebra tomatoes, spinach, leeks, radishes, cucumbers, marigolds, broccoli and more. Tell me what you're interested in and chances are I've got some seeds you can use. Most of these can be planted outside in a couple of weeks. Some have longer growing seasons and should be started indoors (all tomatoes, winter squashes, melons, peppers).

Thanks for reading through this lengthy newsletter. Welcome again to all of our new gardeners, and welcome back to our returnees. I'm looking forward to an abundant growing season, and to seeing you all in our community garden.

Best Green Wishes,

James Brooks


St. Giles Community Garden of Feedin'

3706 Oak Avenue

Northbrook, Illinois   60062


   April 2019   
Upcoming Events


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7:30 PM
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Overeaters Anonymous
11:00 AM
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