By Thom Morgan, Springmoor Landscape Manager
Springmoor Donates Spare Veggies to Food Bank
It was January 2009, and I was thinking about what Springmoor residents and staff could do in the way of a community outreach project when I heard of the Plant a Row program in which a lot of local organizations were participating. It seemed like a great fit for our community: Springmoor had a half-acre of land that we set aside in March 2000, and we had 24 resident gardeners who were very adept at growing fresh vegetables.
Plant a Row, by the way, encourages gardeners to plot one extra row of their vegetable garden and donate the resulting produce to their local food bank. I asked Springmoor Executive Director Fred Conner to see if we could participate and he thought it was a good idea; at the same time, another staff member approached him to see if Springmoor could participate in Stop Hunger Now, which is another community outreach program that helps malnourished residents of impoverished countries. Springmoor ended up taking part in both programs, and just finished packing more than 40,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now.
In order for Springmoor to participate, we had to choose a local food bank, and decided to donate to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, which is close to our community.
After a tour of the food bank warehouse, I realized that they did not have any fresh vegetables, and was excited that we would be able to help fill a need. By February 2009, we set aside a plot for the Plant a Row program and planted snow peas and spinach; by April, the first harvest was ready to be donated. It wasn’t very much—just two pounds of snow peas, but I convinced myself that we had to start somewhere!
The Springmoor resident gardeners were notified of the Plant a Row program, and by May, donations started pouring in. By December 2009, Springmoor had donated 553 pounds of vegetables. We donated 638 pounds in 2010; 588 pounds in 2011; 577 pounds in 2012, and 445 pounds in 2013. In total, we have surpassed the one ton mark with 2,781 pounds donated to the local food bank, which—the director tells me—translated to 2,336 meals! I couldn’t be happier with the program, and the generosity of resident gardeners!
The point of me sharing this with you is that little by little—vegetable by vegetable—you can also make a difference, and participate in the Plant a Row program through your neighborhood, church, scout group, etc. Sharing makes gardening that much more fun—and rewarding!
Springmoor Floral Focal Points: What’s Blooming in April:
· Dogwood (Cornus florida), which is probably our most popular tree, is deciduous and grows roughly 30 feet tall, and 30 feet wide; our varieties have white, pink, or red flower bracts.
· Red bud (Cercis Canadensis) is another Springtime favorite that is deciduous, grows 25-feet tall, and spreads 25-feet.Varieties have either deep pink or white flowers along their branches.
· Crabapple (Malus sp.) grows 25-feet tall (and just as wide). Our varieties have white to deep-pink flowers. Crabapples do develop fruit in the fall, which drop and can be a maintenance problem.
· Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata) grows about 30-feet by 30-feet, and is a real show-off when in bloom. Blooms are pink, and look like miniature roses.
· Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is a small, semi-evergreen tree, which is native to North Carolina. You have probably seen it blooming in the lowlands as you drive to the coast. Blooms are three inches in diameter, and are white, fragrant flowers.
· Azaleas (Azalea sp.) Look for the early and midseason azaleas to bloom now.
· Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica) is used as a companion plant to rhododendrons.
· This evergreen grows six-feet tall, and four-feet wide. White flowers bloom hanging down in chains. New varieties leaf out with red, which turns to green, later in the summer.
· India hawthorn (Rhaphiolepsis umbellata) is another evergreen shrub that grows four feet tall, by four feet wide. Leaves are dark and waxy, and the flowers are pink.
April Gardening To-Do List:
If you fertilized your roses on Valentine’s Day, then the next feeding will be the last couple days of April, using any good-quality rose food.
April 15 is supposed to be the last frost-free date for Piedmont North Carolina so zucchini and yellow squash can be planted at this time. Corn, tomatoes and beans can also be planted. Although they are available, peppers and eggplant like the heat so it is best to wait until mid-May to plant these vegetables.
You can prune all your early spring shrubs now, such as forsythia and quince.
Fertilize trees and shrubs that you planted last year one time this month with10:10:10 fertilizer or 8:8:8 fertilizer.
April is the last month to plant large trees that are balled and covered in burlap; it is better to wait until they go dormant again after first frost in November if you are not able to plant them now.
NEXT MONTH: If the grass is greener on the other side, they must not have a dog.