Most mornings you will find the Springmoor Garden Club, a group of almost thirty gardeners: pulling weeds, watering plants or picking their vegetables. They are early risers and up and out before it is too hot each day. The season starts in April and will run through October. While the deer and the bunnies have had a healthy feast this year so have the residents at Springmoor. It’s an added benefit to live next door to one of the garden club members!
This week we asked them to write our garden story.
In preparation for planting, what did you do to prepare your section of the garden?
Everyone is extremely thankful for Thom Morgan, Springmoor’s Ground Manager, as he and his crew till the soil for each garden plot. After this step, everyone varies in their garden preparations. Because of the heavy mulch from years past, everyone has ample weeding to do. Some start in the late winter pulling weeds. Some use a weed-block. And others keep the weeds away, without using chemicals, by adding wood-chip mulch and newspaper (in abundance) to cover the ground. Lots of hoes and pole diggers were used to prepare the soil and plant.
What are you growing in your garden this year?
- The most popular plants this season were: tomatoes and peppers (sweet peppers and Tabasco peppers).
- Others vegetables included: cucumbers, squash, zucchini, okra, eggplant, and corn.
- Herbs on the list: basil, cilantro, mint, parsley, thyme, and rosemary.
- There were a few fruits: cantaloupe (hopefully writes the gardener) and watermelon (to cover the ground, decrease weed growth and keep the bunnies away).
- Flowers included: zinnias, snapdragons and marigolds. One gardener planted a pokeberry for the birds to enjoy!
Before you moved to Springmoor, did you have a garden? How long have you been gardening?
The answers for this questions range from “this is my first year” to “in my youth, my gardening was with my mother and dad.” She then added, “I can dig any problems, griefs, or hard feelings right into the soil.”
What’s different here than in your previous gardens?
These answers will make you smile. All of them were written with explanation marks (so be sure to read them that way too!)
- “Someone else tills the soil!”
- “There is loads of sunshine in the garden!”
- “I can’t shoot the bunnies here!”
- “Down East the soil is sand!”
Is there one vegetable, herb, flower or fruit that is more successful than another?
Most everyone agrees it’s the tomatoes. One gardener says, “The tomatoes make it all worthwhile.” From another gardener, “The cucumbers have done great. I harvest at least three a day. They put the tomatoes to shame!”
What have you done to keep the bunnies and deer from eating your crops?
A few helpful hints from our garden group: sprinkle cayenne pepper, plant marigolds, rosemary and hot peppers, add hair from your hairbrush, add a fence and/or pray! “Next year, I’ll plant melons too.” One gardener says that he’s had a bunny stretch out on the grass beside his plot as he worked and just waited for him to leave. “They are quite at home in this big garden!” And some write that they just “like to share. Well, the bunnies aren’t too good with sharing the parsley. They like to keep it all to themselves.”
What helpful hint can you pass along to new gardeners?
- Get a good helper!
- Don’t plant anything that won’t be used. Remember we don’t cook at Springmoor.
- Layer your plot with newspapers for control of weeds. It also helps hold the moisture in the soil. Cover with cypress mulch.
- Place a half bag of rich topsoil around each plant when you first plant it.
- Use an arbor to keep cucumbers off the ground.
- Keep flowers cut to keep them coming!
- Give tomatoes one inch of water per week.
- Plant early!!! You can always replant, but the early jump seemed to work well for others.
- Don’t give up! It’s fun and if things don’t pan out – there’s always next year!
- Be optimistic, water often, and ask advice from other gardeners.
- Don’t over fertilize and try to turn soil as deep as possible before planting.
- This one is the best: with a wink in her eye and a sly smile, she writes, “Get a BB gun, set up a tent by your plot, get comfortable and shoot the rabbits! Also, preparing the soil helps too.”
- How often do you work in your garden? What time of day?
Most of our gardeners are early risers and in the garden every two or three days. Before it’s hot they are out pulling on the weeds and watering. A few prefer the evening hours when there is more shade.
What happens to all of the items in your garden? Do you share with neighbors, cook them, can them, donate to the food bank or just eat them everyday?
Best advice from the blog writer – make friends with a gardener. They love to share their harvest.
What’s your favorite way to prepare you vegetables?
- Wash and eat!
- Tomato aspic
- Gazpacho – tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers (Vidalia onions and celery too)
- Cucumbers and vinegar
- Caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar
- But the all time favorite is the tomato sandwich – white bread and mayo!
Spring is in full bloom on the Springmoor campus. From the azaleas to the dogwoods, from the gardens to the hallways, from the orchids to the bunnies, from the tulips to the phlox: you will find magnificant spring colors everywhere.
The gardeners have tilled their soil and begun planting their vegetables. The skies are bright blue and the temperatures are warm with a light breeze. Welcome to spring in North Carolina! Join us for a tour of the community.
Around the Campus
Through the Hallways
If you are trying to find our new residents, Sally and John Neal, check the Fitness Center first! These two arrived at Springmoor in June and have taken advantage of many of our exercise classes, the saltwater lap pool, the surrounding parks and neighborhoods, the area tennis courts and golf courses. They love to be outside working in the garden or going for a run. Active would be the first word that comes to mind when you describe Sally and John.
In the Garden
Sally is a certified NC Master Gardener. She is in the process of transferring her membership from Lee County to Wake County as she plans to work at the Southern Ideal Home Show, and the North Carolina State Fair. She has been an active volunteer with this state-supported organization since 1998. Her speciality is plant propagation especially with African Violets. Sitting in her bay window were two vases of freshly cut curly willow that she was rooting. She said this will be “a perfect added touch for her holiday floral arrangements.”
On the Court
John loves the tennis court. Singles or doubles, a tournament or a challenge match, he is happy to have a racquet in his hand. He and his doubles partner, a former Wake Forest University Tennis Team player, have traveled across the southeast playing in tournaments. They are practicing again at a much more steady pace now that John and Sally are back in Raleigh.
At the Pool
If they are not in the garden or on the tennis court, you will see them downstairs at the Pathways Wellness Center Pool. Three days a week is their plan. John swims a minimum of a mile each day (yes, that is 72 lengths and he usually adds another 6 or 8 laps just to be sure he counted correctly). Sally joins him on the weekends and when she is not in her Tai Chi or Line Dancing classes. She says that Tai Chi is great for balance and working her muscles. She loves the new class and the instructor’s technique. Although she has been taking classes for 8 years prior to their Springmoor move, she continues to learn something new with each class. Tai Chi is before lunch, Line Dancing is after lunch and Swing Dancing is their new Sunday activity at the Elks Club.
Around the Neighborhood
Not only do they take advantage of all that Springmoor has to offer but they are out and about in the neighborhood too! John can be seen most mornings on his four to five mile run, down Sawmill and Lead Mine through Baileywick Park and back to Dunkin Donuts for his early morning cup of coffee. Walking, running, exploring – an eight time marathon runner – John uses his GPS to track his miles, his calories and his path. He says one of Springmoor’s greatest assets is its neighborhood location. Nestled into rolling hills and greenways, there is always a new route to discover. On a sunny day, you can find him on the paths at Umstead State Park or the North Carolina Art Museum Greenway. (Only 15 minutes from their new home – great when he wants to go for a longer run.).
The soil was tilled, the fertilizer added, the seeds planted (some in paper cups), the stakes put in and the watering began. Much to the gardener’s delight Raleigh has had 9.5” of rain since March! Today, the gardeners are beginning to pick their cucumbers, zucchini and peppers.
When the garden idea first began, Springmoor had thirty truckloads of dirt brought in. Twenty-six plots were created for individual resident’s gardens. Today, you will find twenty-two residents working early in the morning or late in the afternoon pulling weeds, watering or harvesting their fresh vegetables. Some share a space with a friend. Some share a space with a spouse. And one resident enjoys his time in the garden with his dog, Beau. A happy pair the two of them make when the sun is shining and the humidity is low.
In the gardens you will find a large variety of vegetables. This year you will see everything from tomatoes, peppers, squash, and zucchini, to corn, okra, watermelon, peas and cucumbers. There are a few herbs such as dill, cilantro and basil that will add a little flavor to the resident’s summer menu. The flowers are abundant too! It’s not hard to see the colorful sunflowers, marigolds, gladiolas, daylilies and impatiens. Each week, when the zinnias are blooming, the residents will bring a vase filled with these bright flowers to the business office. What a lovely display they make for our administrative offices! Asked what gardening tips they can share for a successful season, one resident replied, “having a partner is my secret but don’t tell anyone because I might have to share her!” Her garden expert’s name will remain a mystery to all of us. Another couple, still on our waiting-list, has started a garden this year too. They come three or four days a week to take an exercise class and then head out to their garden to tend to their vegetables.
Thom Morgan, our Landscape Director is responsible for getting thing started each season. This year he had several tall pines removed to provide more sunshine for everyone. With a good base of soil, he now only needs to till the garden plots, test for acid and the alkaline pH. For the gardens that are left open, he sews in a red top clover to provide nitrogen to the soil when it is tilled. He tells us this is called “laying fallow and it allows the soil to rest, so to speak.” The bluebird boxes are full which means the gardens are getting help with insect removal from the bluebird parents that are feeding their young. Continue reading →
The month of May at Springmoor includes a train trip on the Piedmont, an exercise and fitness event and a Durham Bulls baseball game. Mark your calendars for the Duplin Winery Tour and the Rodin Exhibit at Methodist University plus a tour and lunch at the newly remodeled RDU International Airport.
There are theatre, ballet and symphony trips scheduled too. Or if you prefer the restaurant scene, we are planning Out to Lunch and Dinner events for Raleigh’s newest restaurants. There is a party to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and a luncheon to include a Fashion Show. The events calendar has activities for everyone’s style – if you prefer to explore the area, shop, exercise, dine or be entertained at the theatre – it’s time to mark your calendar!
At the Station
David Robinson, a NC Department of Transportation Railroad Consultant and Springmoor Resident is our host on the Piedmont Train trip to Burlington. We will tour the Railroad Station and see the Whistlestop exhibit. The history of this station dates back to 1856. The present Amtrak station was originally the site of a large locomotive repair shop. During the Civil War, troops left the station by rail for the Battle of Manassas. This marked the first time in American history that military personnel were transported by rail into combat. Our day will also include a boxed lunch and time for many questions with our very own train consultant. David has entertained and educated us before and the sell-out crowd for this trip indicates it will be a great day on the rail!
At the Ballpark
An All-American pastime– a night at the ballpark! The Durham Bulls – Buffalo Bison baseball game is on the schedule for this month. Richard Settle, our Executive Liaison will also join the Springmoor group for a night at the DBAP. Join Wool E. Bull and your neighbors for a fun night of the Bull’s seven-game homestand. A few fastballs, curve balls, popcorn, cotton candy and peanuts will all make for a perfect evening to welcome in summer’s favorite pastime.
In the Gardens
The JC Raulston Arboretum and The Duplin Winery tours are on the calendar too. The Wake County Master Gardener’s will be our host for an educational walk through the NC State University gardens. The nationally acclaimed arboretum is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of Southeastern plants. You will be awed by the many colors and varieties in their southern landscape collections. Towards the end of the month, Springmoor travels to Rose Hill and the Duplin Winery, to discover a hidden gem with rustic charm and southern hospitality. The three generations of family history is sure to be entertaining as they share their stories from 1970 when Muscadine grapes were considered the “wonder crop” to the present day award winning 1.4 million gallon wine production facility. These two days should certainly be on your calendar this month! Continue reading →