St. Joan of Arc 
Catholic Parish


SHIM Garden


August 9, 2017   Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Monday started out as a very wet day, but we were able to get some harvesting done. Had 32 workers

Did some tying up of tomatoes.

Noted that recently planted beans, cucumbers, zucchini and squash are coming up.

Harvested and taken to SHIM on Tuesday:

tomatoes 160# eggplant 10# sweet peppers 11# hot peppers 41# cucumbers 45# oregano 1.5# basil 1.5#

Harvested and picked up on Tuesday by Clem Lacher and taken to the Intersection:

Tomatoes 47# hot peppers 12# cucumbers 30# eggplant 8# beans 6# sweet green peppers 6# basil 1.5#

Diane Morrison, took 15# of tomatoes and sweet green peppers to  the Community of Christ Church on South Park Road. Diane tells me that the church produces spaghetti dinners for clients that come to dinner on the second Thursday of the month. She will also give them a copy of the Pittsburgh Catholic that had the article about the SJA Garden on the front page.

Next week contains the third Thursday of the month, so I will try to get some vegetables over to the Shiloh Baptist Church in South Park, another of the pantries that we support and have worked with in the past

I contacted Rayden Sorock, from "Grow Pittsburgh", who obtained the plastic ground cover through a grant from Grow Pittsburgh, and, I notified him of the "Pittsburgh Catholic" paper article. He was pleasantly pleased with article, and, he said that he would share the information through Grow Pittsburgh's "social media" (Facebook, etc.) Further recognition of all the good work that you parishioners do at Saint Joan of Arc. Thanks again for all of your efforts.

We WILL work the garden this evening. I don't believe that there will be much to harvest, but, there will lots of maintenance to get done.

We will NOT  have the wiener roast this evening. Perhaps on Monday, weather permitting.

Hope to see you this evening.

July 31

On Monday July 31, we had about 24-25 workers. Very hot

While many of you started to work in the garden, Mike, Marilyn and I went over to Mike LeDonne's garden that is over near Tim Trax's house. We harvested  a good bunch of cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, squash and eggplant. This added significantly to the harvest poundage for Monday

Tomatoes 55# banana peppers 5# zucchini 42# cucumbers 31# beans 19# broccoli 13# hot peppers 10# beets 7# eggplant 6#

 This total was 183# which George took to SHIM on Tuesday

Tomatoes 36# eggplant 11# sweet green peppers 10# zucchini 21# broccoli 9# hot peppers 8# yellow beans 4#
green beans 4# cucumbers 43# squash 4#

This total was 155# which was picked up by Clem (and Carol) Lacher. The veggies were kept in my garage until Tuesday morning when they picked them up and took them to the Intersection in McKeesport. 

As I mentioned to the workers on Wednesday evening, the Intersection, the food pantry in McKeesport is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If they pick up the harvest on Thursday, after a harvest on Wednesday, they have only one day to prepare for the food bank on Thursday. They then store the rest of the veggies in coolers that they have on site. I believe that if we give them their allotment on Tuesday, after a Monday harvest, they will have fresher veggies for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That was a decision that I made, and, I hope that you all agree with it.

On Wednesday August 2 we had about 18-19 workers.

A lot maintenance was accomplished. We removed the failing zucchini, removed the remaining beets, turnips and radishes all of which were spent. The carrots have been left to see how they will do. Beans were picked and at least 2 rows of failing bean plants were removed. I took the garlic to the garden. It had been curing in my shed at home, and several people removed the stalks and roots. I took them (the garlic, not the workers) home to cure for another week.  A lot of weeding and tying up of tomatoes and tomatillos was done

George cut the grass around the garden with the church tractor since Peter is out of town for a while. Mike used his weed whacker and trimmed around the garden, especially clearing up the spaces between the calla lilies.

We had a very small harvest, much of which was taken home by the workers.

The rest was taken over to SHIM by George and me and placed in their cooler.

cucumbers 12#  beans 5# hot peppers 5# tomatoes 10

We have now replanted zucchini, squash and chard.

An interesting note. After talking with Tim Trax, he advised me that they plant zucchini every 3 weeks, rather than waiting for the plants to fail. We will do that next year.  Probably the same with squash

Our succession plantings of beans has been very successful this year

Well, that's all for tonight. Have a great weekend. And, hope to see you on Monday. Don't forget the "wiener roast" on Monday. No "picnic", just hot dogs and condiments and Smores.


July 27

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

I apologize for not getting a note out yesterday. I was on a fishing charter, and, we did not get back in a timely fashion. Hence, no note. I appreciate the concern for my well-being as expressed by several of you. All is well. Looks like you people did better in the garden than I did on the boat!

Had about 18 workers.

Mike rototilled some of the areas up/around the cool season crops, and, then planted some seedlings from Tim Trax. I'm not sure what they were. Expect to be surprised when I get home.


tomatoes 70#

beans 38#

cucumbers 35#

eggplant 6#

zucchini 5#

beets 2#

peppers 2#

okra 1#

carrots 1#

Picked the remaining radishes, but, they were too fibrous to save. None of the cool season crops had good foliage to save. I believe that the cool season crops are done! We will plant more as we approach the cool, fall season.

STILL NEED WATERER SUBSTITUE(S)  FOR WEDNESDAY AUGUST 9. Please consider helping on that one date!

Nice social hour with chocolate/almond/coffee cake from Joanne. Got an email from Dianne LeDonne telling me about the "pig roast" that John Oakes set up for the social hour. Must have been a small pig to roast on the fire pit. Sorry that I missed it. Dianne promised to save me some "pulled pork". Not sure if she's pulling pork or my leg!!

Greatly appreciate the efforts of all, especially Mike and George who are organizing things while I am out of town. We expect to be back home on Saturday.

Heard about the fatal accident on Route 88. Hope that none of you were affected or related to any of the three women.  Very sad.
July 20

See you soon. Ron

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had another great night in the garden. Had 26 workers. Got a LOT done in the heat and humidity.

George weed whacked the high grass around the fire pit and under the benches. The grass will no longer tickle your butt !!

Lot of tying up of tomatoes, tomatillos. Added some stakes where some had broken. The Pole Pounder does a great job!  (I did send a Thank You note to the relative of Dianne LeDonne who made the monster.) Picked most of the blighted  and lowermost branches on the tomatoes. Put some of the calcium nitrate and magnesium sulfate on some of the plants, to try and prevent the blossom end rot due to calcium deficiency.

Harvested all of the remaining broccoli heads and pulled the plants. Then, using the drill and auger, replanted more broccoli plants in the 3 rows where the old broccoli was removed.

Planted an entire flat of cucumbers in the area where the originally planted cucumbers are coming up  and still producing. Please look out for these newly planted seedlings when you are harvesting cucumbers. The flat contained about 30-40 cucumber plants, of 4 different varieties, differing as to when they will produce.

Mike, Dianne and Rose went over to Mike's garden on the Trax farm and picked a lot of cucumbers, broccoli and zucchini. That poundage will appear in total with the SJA poundage.

Harvested: (includes veggies from Mike's garden)

cucumbers  194 pounds

peppers (sweet and hot )  22 pounds

zucchini  21 pounds

eggplant 19 pounds

broccoli  12 pounds

green beans  10 pounds

squash  10 pounds

turnips  10 pounds

Had a serious leak from the gray hose that usually lies on/along the boardwalk. Rose and I found the hose spraying up a fountain that was about 8-10 feet high when we arrived at the garden to work. I believe that it was the result of the water faucet not being shut off, and the pressure remained high in the hose. The only thing that was turned off was the hand held head on the end of the hose. We shut off the water supply and John quickly repaired the leak.

NOTE TO THE WATERERS: Both the right and left sides of the garden can be watered at the same time now. Run the water for about 2-3 hours. But, please shut off the water at the MAIN faucets. That would be the 2 WHITE handles along the pipe that comes up out of the ground. I believe that the hoses are being degraded by age and the sun, and, that, along with leaving the pressure on in the line, is causing the ruptures. To be sure, shut ALL, faucets off, but the most important are the two WHITE ones.

Another great social hour. Chocolate cake by Joanne and other snacks and drinks.

Some of the harvest was taken to SHIM and a significant amount was picked up this morning by Clem Lacher and taken to the Intersection in McKeesport.

I will be away for the coming week. Mike and George will coordinate activities. I will still get out the pre/post-work emails after I've talked with those two.

Have a good weekend. Will see you when we return in about a week.

Thanks again for all that you do for the garden and the clients who use the Food Banks.

I just got an email from Marilyn, and, she says that the article in the Pittsburgh Catholic looks good. I tried to get it on line, but could not find it. Will have to wait until we get back to see it.


July 17

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had a great evening in the garden. 24-25 workers in heat to 80+ degrees and high humidity.

Cleared the straw from the garlic and harvested quite a bit of garlic. Will allow it to dry over the next week in my shed. Then will cut off the stalks and distribute it, saving some for next year's garden planting. Looks like a great harvest.

After the garlic was harvested, Joe, AKA "Mister Rototiller", rototilled the area and we planted 3 rows of Swiss chard and one row of kale. Both of these are good summer AND cool/cold season crops, so, we should be picking them well after the rest of the garden has been put to sleep. When the plants start to come up, we will put some of the ground cover between the rows to keep weeding to a minimum.


cucumbers  120#

sweet and hot peppers 65#

beets 28#

zucchini 28#

broccoli 22#

eggplant 10#

turnips 11#

squash 8#

radishes 5#

green beans 2.5 #

basil 2#

okra 1/2 #

All of the harvest went to SHIM in morning. Thanks to George for his continued effort in this part of our work.

Lot of weeding and tying up of plants was done.

Nice social hour with fresh fruit from Theresa and cake from Joanne. Thanks again to both of you. A note: Theresa does not have access to email, so make sure that you thank her personally for her frequent contributions to the social hour.

The interview with Bill Cone from the Pittsburgh Catholic went well on Friday. I sent him several pictures of our volunteers working in the garden. He said that the article should appear in the Pittsburgh Catholic this coming Sunday.

I also sent another Thank You note and some pictures of the garden  to Rayden Soroc at Grow Pittsburgh. He said that he will use some of the information about the garden and the use of the ground cover on some of their "social media" sites. So, look for that. I assume he meant Twitter, Facebook, etc. If you find anything on those sites please let me know. I personally don't use those websites.

Again, thanks for a great evening, a fantastic harvest and all of the work that you do in the garden.


July 17

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:We will work the garden tonight. Looks like no rain, but, will be hot and humid. Please drink a lot of fluids while working. Don't just wait until all of the work is done.We will harvest the garlic tonight. After the harvest, we will rototill the area and plant the Swiss chard and the kale. AND, more weeding and tying up tomato and tomatillo plants.  And, some more removing of the lowermost branches on the tomatoes, both the ones that are blighted and ones the show no evidence of blight. Will take them off so that the lowermost 9-10 inches of the leaves are removed. This will help to control the blight. Note that once you handle the blighted leaves, do NOT touch the healthy leaves that are left on the plant above that 9-10 inches. This will transmit the virus causing the blight.Got a nice email from Becky, says that the SHIM clients appreciated all of our two previous harvests - lots of zucchini, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, radishes, lettuce, etc.Hope to see you there tonightRon
July 13

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

To say the least, the weather has made for some very interesting days.

Yesterday, I called for an "urgent" harvest to occur during the afternoon because I thought (and so did the weather man) that it was going to rain in the evening

Six workers showed up for the afternoon session in 90 degree heat with a very high humidity. We had a good few hours of hard, sweaty work.

We harvested:      

    zucchini    70 pounds

  cucumbers  62 pounds

    broccoli  27 pounds

    sweet and hot peppers 24 pounds

    eggplant 33 pounds,
     squash 5 pounds.

George and I took the produce immediately to SHIM.       

Then, much to my surprise, it did NOT rain, so we had a work session in the evening. Had about 20 workers. .

There was no harvesting to be done. BUT, we accomplished a lot. Again, in very hot and humid conditions.

Did a lot of weeding. Laid multiple rows of ground cover, between rows of vegetables and anywhere there was bare ground between rows. Please note that everywhere where there is ground cover covering the soil there are no weeds. There are some weeds coming up with the plants in the holes that were cut for the planting of the seedlings. But, otherwise the weeds are in better control.

Many of the lower blighted stems and any other stems up to about 10 inches from the ground on the tomato plants were removed. This will help somewhat with the control of the early wilt, which has already started to work on the tomatoes because of so much rain.

A lot of the tomato plants were tied up.

John repaired some problems with the irrigation system. Again, with hardware that he has donated to the garden. Please consider him if you have any plumbing needs. All of the information needed to contact him is in the advertisement page of the Sunday Bulletin. He has done some work for me personally, and I can attest to his quality of work.

Jim Lawrence, AKA "The Fence Guy" ran the fences and noted that I need to put down some herbicide along the fence line under the lowermost wire. We do not use any of it IN the garden. Weeds touching the lower wire shorts out the electricity.

Father was in attendance for the evening session (he heard Mary open the potato chip bag. Just joking father!) Father told us that the Pittsburgh Catholic Newspaper will be sending a reporter out to the Saint Joan of Arc Garden on Friday (tomorrow) at about 3:00 oclock to speak to Father and any of the others of us wish to talk with the reporter about our garden. I will ceertainly be there, and, will offer a tour and any pictures of the garden that I have in my possession. We will make certain that the reporter is aware of all of the Food Pantries that the Saint Joan of Arc Garden services.

Finally, I want to Thank all of you who are doing such a great job in the garden.

Hope to see some of you tomorrow and also on Monday. Have a great weekend, stay dry.


July 6,2017 Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Had a great night in the garden yesterday. Had about 25 workers Harvested the following:cucumbers - 172 pounds zucchini - 160 pounds yellow squash - 30 pounds hot peppers - 16 pounds radishes - 13 pounds sweet peppers - 12 pounds lettuce - 9 pounds George and I took the harvest over to SHIM, used my key to enter the building and put all of the veggies into the walk-in cooler.Did some weeding. Planted the final sweet potato slips to complete the rows that were planted a week or two ago. I still have the sweet potatoes from which I have been getting the slipes. If any of you want to collect some slips for yourself, you are welcome to some of the sweet potatoes. If I don't hear from anyone in the next few days, I will discard them. Good social hour with deserts from Joanne. The kids were more compliant with not running IN the garden. I feel safer this way. Too many things to trip over and too many stakes sticking up out of the ground. Thank You to the parents. Have a good weekend and hope to see you in the garden next week. Ron

July 5, 2017

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Hope that you had an enjoyable 4th of July Holiday weekend.

I checked the garden this morning - lots of harvesting tonight. Lots of zucchini, squash, cucumbers, sweet and hot peppers. Will deliver them to the cooler at the SHIM building this evening. I have the key for the building. Spoke with Becky, and, she will have a special group come in early tomorrow and prepare the veggies for a Pantry later in the morning

Will also do some planting tonight - have enough sweet potato slips to finish off the partially planted rows. Perhaps some other things to fill out some of the incomplete rows.

Will finish up with some more rows of ground cover between some of the rapidly growing plants (peppers, tomatoes, etc. )

Special thanks to Janine, who continues to work with the "waterers". And, a special thanks to those who watered last year and are willing to do so again this year (Janine, Susan O'Brien, Audry Wurst, Julie-Janine's friend, and, Al and Cindy Stanish. Jim Lawrence and Mary LaValle will function as back-up. But, Janine still has openings on Friday and Sunday. PLEASE consider helping to water. It will be so important as we get into the heat of the summer, and, especially when some of the "waterers" go on vacation.  Hope to see you there this evening.Ron

As always, will need to do lot of tying up of the tomatoeAnd there will be some weeding - not anywhere near as much as previously.

June 29, 2017  Hello to all of you gardeners out there:Had a great evening of work and fun on Wednesday. Had 35 workers including many children, several of whom really helped with the work. For those parents who bring their kids to the garden, PLEASE, tell them not to run IN the garden. The boardwalk is uneven with some ends of boards sticking up, there are numerous short stakes pounded into the ground along the boardwalk on both sides of the wood, which are used to keep the watering hoses away from the first several plants in each row. Falling on one of these stakes will create injuries (similar to ones that I personally took care of when I was on the Trauma Service at Mercy Hospital. It's not a pretty sight. So, please, tell them to not run in the garden, and, when you hear me, or one of the other adults tell them to stop running, please take the correction as a comment regarding everyone's safety. I'll get off my soap box now. We did a LOT of work that evening. Did a lot of tying up of the tomatoes and tomatillos. Jim Lawrence (AKA the "fence man") cleared the chicken wire away from the lower two electrical wires to keep the fence from "shorting out". Split several rolls of the ground cover and stapled it down in the spaces betweenrows of plants. This will SIGNIFICANTLY cut down on the number of weeds and weeding. We still have some more of the ground cover left and will finish up the remaining bare ground between rows.  There are a few rows with some exposed dirt, but, it will require less weeding than before. The fabric has a several year longevity, and, it should last a long time. We harvested zucchini (9 pounds), squash (2 pounds), hot peppers (3 pounds) and sweet peppers (2 pounds). I took them over to SHIM early this morning, before they had the Food Pantry open a 10:00am. Had a great picnic after the work was done. Had hot dogs, Smores, taco dip, cake, fudge and watermelon. . There has been some concern about the "spontaneity" of this "picnic". Really, it was supposed to be just a wiener roast with condiments and Smores. However, many people brought other things, and, they were appreciated. There has been a suggestion that we work with a specific schedule for the "picnics" which would include the hot dogs, Smores and people bringing appetizers, salads, deserts, etc. Last Wednesday was meant to be a spontaneous "wiener roast". So, in the future, when we call for a "wiener roast" we mean just that. When we call for a "picnic", we mean the bigger event. The wiener roast and the picnic, of course will be weather dependent.  I don't think that we can schedule either one for specific dates, i.e. the second Wednesday of the month. So, please bear with me when we have these "events". Not to make this note any longer, just let me add that I picked up some more kale and chard seeds. I will start them under grow lights in my garage, and, when they are ready to transplant, we will do so. We have some 2-3 rows below the sweet potatoes rows yet to plant. Finally, we have not had to do much watering with all of the rain that we had. But, the hot, dry days will come. And, we will need to water the garden. Nadine, who has again kindly offered to get a schedule going for the "waterers" . However, she in drastic need of people to volunteer to water specific days of the week, when necessary. As I mentioned before, it should not take too much time. Turn the water on on one side of the garden, come back 2 hours later, shut off the one side , and, open the valve for the other side, and, return in 2 hours to shut the water off. PLEASE GIVE SOME CONSIDERATION TO HELPING WITH THE WATERING. YOU CAN REACH JANINE BY PICKING HER NAME OUT OF THE ADRESS BOX ABOVE OR CALL HER AT 412.831.1053. Remember that we are not working this coming Monday because of the long holiday weekend. And, weather permitting, we will work on Wednesday July 7th. Have a great, enjoyable and safe 4th of July holiday.


June 26  Hello to all of you gardeners out there: We had a successful "Open Garden" on Sunday after all of the masses. This was our first Open Garden in all of the years that we have worked the garden. Had somewhere between 30 and 40 visitors who "toured" the garden. We had announcements in the last two Sunday Bulletins, had a 3 panel fold out poster board with an invitation posted on it, which was placed in the vestibule of the church, and even had the lectors make an announcement about the event before each mass on Saturday and Sunday. The grounds were a little wet, and we had to put a 5x7 foot tarp on the grass in front of the gate. But all went well. We served refreshments, lemonade, cookies and muffins. Everyone was impressed with our efforts in the garden on behalf of several food banks in the area. But, alas, no one signed up to volunteer to work with us. We had a lot of help getting things organized and executed: Mary and Marilyn brought cold lemonade and the cookies and muffins. They even had platters with doilies to hold the goodies. Janine brought some peach lemonade. Several of our volunteers showed the visitors around the garden-Jim Lawrence, Mary Lavelle, Judy Grosko,  Diane Morrison and Annette. George and Joann came after mass,  and, George came back at the end of the session to help clean up. A big thank you to all who helped.Tonight we will work the garden. Lots of things to do: more weeding to get done,more tomatoes to stake up and tie up, plant the remaining hot peppers,harvest about a bushel of zucchini and some squash, and plant some additional seeds.So, a lot to do. Hope to see you tonight. Plans are to work also on Wednesday and probably cancel this coming Monday because it is a holiday weekend. You all deserve a rest ! Ron PS#1: Mike had a "pole pounder" made to help with the placement of the stakes. Looks impressive. Will be worth seeing it in action ! No, it is not powered by a gasoline engine !  Human muscle power does the job, but, I think that it will be a lot easier than using the 2 pound sledge hammers, especially on the longer poles. Come and see it in action !! PS#2: If you are aware of anyone who is NOT receiving my emails and want to do so, please let me know. I had trouble with my email list in the last few weeks. PS#3: And, if any of you want me to STOP sending emails to you, please let me know and I will take you off the list.

June 24: Hello to all of you gardeners out there: We are planning to have the "Open Garden" event tomorrow, after all of the Sunday masses. The garden is quite wet in the lower left 4-5 rows with a lot of moisture in front of the gate. However, I expect that to dry up substantially with the temperature today and with the gusty winds. If those areas are not dried up by morning, the plan is to have the visitors observe the garden by walking around the perimeter fence. The grass around the fence is dry, except for the area directly in front of the gate. If it dries out much more, we might even be able to use the boardwalk for the visitors to walk up into the garden. A lot depends on what things look like in the morning. I will place an announcement on an easel in the vestibule in the church, and, ask the lectors to make an announcement before mass. Mary and Marilyn are taking care of refreshments and Janine will also bring some beverages. We will make use of the tables and benches under the tree. This morning I noticed another (new) table under the tree. Any of you responsible for that? Or, do we have another "anonymous" donor? I know that we did not finish all of the weeding, but we can tell the visitors that the garden work is a "work in progress."Hope to see some of you tomorrow, even if it is only for an hour or so.Ron

June 23: Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Because of the weather (rains), we had not worked in the garden for 9 days. Had near record rainfall of about 8 inches in 3-4 days. Had heavy flooding in Pittsburgh, all while Annette and I were away visiting family in Virginia. Got heavy rains there also. Good night of work on Wednesday with 24 volunteers. Spent most of evening weeding, some tying up the tomatoes and pounding in a few more tomato stakes. Did not get all of the weeding done, however, and, will not get it done before Sunday's "Open Garden" because of the muddy conditions. And, looks like more torrential rains later today. The Sunday "Open Garden" may have to be canceled if it rains or if the garden is too wet/muddy to handle the traffic. Wet/muddy ground and wet boardwalk will pose safety issues for the visitors and workers. Watch your email and for a notice in the vestibule of church on Sunday. If the event comes off, Mary and Marilyn are taking care of refreshments.Harvested 7-8 zucchinis, 1 squash and a whole bunch of garlic scapes. All of which were shared with the workers. If "Open Garden" takes place, and,any of you can make it on Sunday to handle garden tours and answer questions, the help would be greatly appreciated. You do not have to be present for the whole morning. Annette and I will be there all morning. Took all of the empty seedling flats back to the Trax greenhouses. If you see Tim Trax or his wife Diane please offer them "Thanks for all that they do for the garden". Stopped at Evey's Hardware today and picked up 50 more tomato stakes and another box of 500 metal staples for holding down the ground cover. No charge for these things ! When you stop in at Evey's, please thank Andy Amrhein for all that he does for the garden also. Both Tim and Andy have donated significant things to the garden. They are two of our biggest benefactors. Please visit their places of business and thank them for all that they do for us   Ro

June 21:

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Hopefully the weather will cooperate tonight and especially on Sunday for the "Open Garden" event.

The plan for tonight is a MAJOR attack on the weeds that have been neglected due to the heavy rains. PLEASE bring a hoe, or anything with you that can weed. I was in the garden a couple hours ago, and, the weeds can easily be pulled out by hand also. This weeding is very important for the garden to look neat on Sunday.

Will also need to put out a major effort in tying up the tomato plants that have grown like wildfire with all of the rain and the hot days and evenings.

I am still making more sweet potato slips, but, they have to be hardened off for a few days. So, we will plant them some time next week.

May pick some squash and zucchini that look ready to pick.

The hot pepper plants in flats on my deck will be ready to plant next week also.

Will also put in some short 2x2's along the boardwalk to keep any pulling of hoses from damaging any plants at the end of the rows closest to the boardwalk.

Added a new family to the volunteer list:  Rochelle and Shannon Aronhart, and their children Evan (age 17) and Kelsey (age 14). They may start in the garden next week or so. So, if you see new faces in the garden, please introduce yourself. It's always great to have the kids in the garden.

I have met with Sammy Jess and his father, Tom, to discuss Sammy's Boy Scout Eagle Project (building a compost bin for the garden.) Once he has things organized, he will make a presentation to Parish Council. We have been talking about a compost bin since we started the garden. Am glad to see it come to fruition. Again, it's nice to have the kids around.

I have received an email from one of our volunteers apologizing that he has not been in the garden very often lately . I told him that we are glad to see him in the garden anytime that he can make it. We all have other responsibilities, especially relating to families, so we are happy to have any help, any time!

Hope to see you in the garden tonight, and, don't forget to bring a weeding tool.


June 13: Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Had another great evening in the garden. Very hot and humid, but got a lot done. Had 20-21 volunteers. The garden is now nearly 95% planted. Joe rototilled another row for the sweet potato slips. Covered with two strips of ground cover. I will continue to harvest more slips at home until all of the available area in the ground cover is planted. Hopefully we will have a lot of good sized sweet potatoes to harvest. Planted over 20-25 sunflower plants that we started at Trax greenhouse. Jim Lawrence made over 20 wire cages that will protect the sunflower plants, so that they won't get trampled as in the past. Many of the seedlings will generate sunflower plants that will be 8-10 feet tall. Should really liven up the appearance of the garden. A special thanks to Jim Lawrence for his efforts and the cages. We will retain them for future use also. (Will need a bigger shed soon !!) Mike sprayed under the electric fence to keep the weeds off the wire (to prevent the electricity from "shorting out".) Planted two more rows of bush beans. John worked on the irrigation system. Thanks to John for all of his good work AND his donation of the hardware. Please refer to John's advertisement in the Sunday Bulletin. I can personally vouch for his plumbing talents.Lot of weeding between rows continues. Joe ran the rototiller along the open rows in which he could fit the tiller. Next year we will make sure that ALL of the area between planted rows is a little larger to get the benefit of doing this weeding by tiller and not by hand. (I am still learning things as we go along. As I told my surgical interns and residents at Mercy: "Learn something new every day, or, don't get out of bed!) Mike planted some interesting, round, pool ball-sized zucchini in the area where the other, previously planted zucchini is coming up. Will be interesting to watch them grow. Spoke with Sammy and his dad Tom Jess about an Eagle Scout Project that he is proposing. I/we will work with Sammy on the construction of a compost bin that will be used to compost the things that we remove from the garden. No more ugly piles of old, dead plants laying along the edge of the field.  A sustainability project for sure! I will show Sammy the compost bin that I helped built at the demonstration garden in South Park. He will use that as a model. Am looking forward to working with him. Please offer him as much support as you can.  As usual, a good social hour after working. And, again, another delicious cake from Joann.I spoke with Sharon Gomber in the church office today. She will place an announcement in the Sunday Bulletin about the planned "Open Garden" that we will have on Sunday morning, June 25, after all of the Sunday masses. We will have coffee and donuts. Hope that some of you will help with the project, including giving tours of the garden. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Finally, keep in mind a visit to the Oliver Miller Homestead this weekend for their "Into the Gardens" event that will occur on Sunday, June 11, from 1:30 to 4:30pm. They will also be having a plant sale to help support their activities. All of the events that they hold at the homestead are always interesting. Annette and I will not be able to be in the garden on Wednesday, but, Mike and George will be there to coordinate activities. Ron

June 12: Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Last Wednesday was another good night.  Had 25 workers. Planted pole beans at the bases of the 6 Teepees. Planted a few of each of these varieties of tomatoes (Mortgage Lifter, Big Boy, Tami G, Sweet 100s and Beef Steak). As most requested, we kept the tiny cherry tomatoes to a minimum-seems that the love of picking them verges on the same love that most have for picking beans!. Tami G was a specific suggestion made by George Yergec. Planted a flat of tomatillos at the base of the wire that was set up the week before. Tied up all of the tomato plants that needed it. Did a lot of weeding. Planted some of the hot peppers that were big enough to plant - Ancho magnifico, Beaver dam and Early Jalapeno. Still have two other varieties that are still struggling on my deck. The hot pepper plants are very slow to mature and produce. (I even know some people like that - they were the ones in Nashville who were booing when the Penguins and Crosby got their trophies. But, you can't expect much from people who throw catfish out onto the ice at a hockey game.) Mary Ellen brought some more short flag poles that were used to mark the spots where the canna lilies are planted, outside of the electric fence, so they won't get stepped on or run over by the lawnmower. John and George worked on the PVC piping and connecting the trickle tape. Will try to set up for the "Sunday Morning Open Garden" the Sunday after Father's Day Sunday. I would appreciate some help with that event. Watch for the email, Sunday Bulletin and possibly a poster in the Church vestibule. If you can help organize the morning (getting the coffee, donuts, etc.) it would be greatly appreciated. Will also need some people to be  garden "tour guides" to show off the garden. Talk to me tonight. Had a good social hour last Wednesday. As usual, a great cake from Joann, Hank brought a case of Moosehead. Tonight plans are: plant the numerous sunflower seedlings and protect them with a plastic webbed "chimney" that Jim Lawrence volunteered to make. Last year we trampled too many that were not noticed and lost. And, the big event of the evening, we will plant the sweet potato slips. Will have some other seeds to plant also, so that we have some "succession" plantings/harvestings  going on. Hope to see you in the garden tonight. Will be very hot and sunny - bring a hat or cap, sunscreen and drink lots of water (or any other beverage of your liking).Ron

June 24:  Hello to all of you gardeners out there  We are planning to have the "Open Garden" event tomorrow, after all of the Sunday masses. The garden is quite wet in the lower left 4-5 rows with a lot of moisture in front of the gate. However, I expect that to dry up substantially with the temperature today and with the gusty winds. If those areas are not dried up by morning, the plan is to have the visitors observe the garden by walking around the perimeter fence. The grass around the fence is dry, except for the area directly in front of the gate. If it dries out much more, we might even be able to use the boardwalk for the visitors to walk up into the garden. A lot depends on what things look like in the morning. I will place an announcement on an easel in the vestibule in the church, and, ask the lectors to make an announcement before mass. Mary and Marilyn are taking care of refreshments and Janine will also bring some beverages. We will make use of the tables and benches under the tree. This morning I noticed another (new) table under the tree. Any of you responsible for that? Or, do we have another "anonymous" donor? I know that we did not finish all of the weeding, but we can tell the visitors that the garden work is a "work in progress."Hope to see some of you tomorrow, even if it is only for an hour or so.  Ron

June 7:  Hello to all of you gardeners out there: We had another great night in the garden this past Monday. Had 19 volunteers. The ground was a little damp, but we were able to do some maintenance. No planting. Built 6 Teepees for the pole beans. Put up about 15-20 feet of wire fencing for the tomatillos.  Staked up nearly all of the tomato plants, and had to tie up many of them with plastic ties. They seem to be growing like mad. Mike planted some of his spaghetti squash up amongst the other squash and zucchini plants. Twine was wrapped around all of the Teepees for the pole beans. The ladies did a fantastic job of weeding between the  rows of the cool season crops. I have never seen weeds take root so fast. I believe that we will be very thankful for the ground cover, in which we plant the tomatoes and peppers. It should cut down on the weeding very significantly. John and George laid out all of the PVC piping for the irrigation system. It will be connected and functional soon. Rose stopped by the garden yesterday and planted more of the Malabar vining spinach since many of the seeds we already planted didn't germinate. Thanks to Rose for her own seeds and for coming in on her own time yesterday. She placed some tongue depressors to mark where she planted the seeds. So, look out and do not disturb the plants when they come up. I saw Peter when I went down to check the garden (to see if we can work tonight) and thanked him for cutting the grass around the garden. We will need to put some markers up where Mike planted the canna lilies in front of the electric fence, because Peter nipped several of the plants with the mower. They are hard to see while they are so small, so we will put up some markers (flag poles, etc.) to prevent that from recurring. Again, a great social hour with delicious cakes from Joann and Theresa. Thanks.We were able to work even though we had some heavy rain in the afternoon, and, even had some slight drizzle after I got home from the garden. Finally, a reminder from Mary Olesky:   Sunday, June 11 from 1:30 to 4:30pm, the Oliver Miller Homestead will be open with a demonstration of "Into the Gardens."  Price of admission is only $2.00 and they are having a plant sale. For those of you who have not been to the farmstead, it is right off of the traffic circle or "round-about"  on Corrigan drive. I have attended several functions there, and, it is a very interesting historical place to visit. The volunteers and docents that work there are very knowledgeable about the homestead and are great sources for historical information. And, children seem to really enjoy the visit. Please support this local activity if you can. Lots of planting tonight. Hope to see you in the garden this evening.. Ron

May 22:: Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Had a great night in the garden on Monday. Had 24-25 adults and 8-9 children.Laid down multiple rows of the ground cover and planted tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini (green and yellow) and cucumbers. The zucchini and cucumbers in "hills". Jim Lawrence policed the electric fence and the chicken wire, repairing as needed. John Oakes took out the old watering service and replaced it with a much easier to use system. Now there are two sides to the watering manifold, one for the left and one for the right. There are two faucets off of each side (a similar setup as before.) The timers were removed. To water, turn on either the right or left side main, turn valves, and use the appropriate faucet(s). Pull the hose up the boardwalk carefully as we have not yet put in the protective short stakes that will prevent the hose from damaging the plants along the boardwalk. If needed there are multiple watering buckets near the water manifold. If any problems with watering, call me, or George Murray. I spoke with Tim Trax about getting the electricity turned on. Mike LeDonne planted all of the canna lilies along the front edge of the garden. Be on the lookout for them, trying not to step on them, etc. I have the sunflower plants that we planted in the greenhouse, and, as soon as they are a little bigger, we will plant then along the interior fence as we have done in the past. Will also put up a more readily seen barrier around the plants so that we don't traumatize them the way we have in the past. I have selected sunflowers that will grow to 8-10 feet. Should look good once they start to grow. New faces in the crowd on Monday, Mary Lynn Muha and her children. Mike and Meghan Gerber were there with their children for the fist time this season. Welcome to all. Thanks to everyone who worked on Monday. Monday is Memorial day along with the holiday weekend. NO WORK ON MONDAY, MEMORIAL DAY.ALSO, NOWORK IN THE GARDEN TONIGHT - VERY COLD AND WET, RAINING RIGHT NOW. Hope to see you next Wednesday, May 31 when we will plant the rest of the garden..Have a great holiday weekend and hope that the Penguins will win tomorrow evening.PS. Janine Hannan is still looking for some more help with the watering. Please, contact her at 412.831.1053 or [email protected]  Ron

May 18:Hello to all of you workers out there: We had another good night in the garden. It was certainly hot, but, it did cool as we worked and as the sun was covered by clouds later in the evening. We had 21 workers. We moved the large palette of the ground cover fabric into the shed. We will start to use it next week when we start to plant seedlings. Jim Lawrence brought back the bird feeder that he repaired. Earlier in the day, Joe came to the garden and did another rototilling pass on both sides of the garden. It will make planting much easier.  

Peter, from the church cut the grass around the garden. Workers planted about 8-10 rows of spinach, lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots and turnips. The two Tee Pees were put together at our last session on Monday had the vining spinach planted at their bases. Once these early season crops are harvested, we will succession plant something else in that area. The two Georges, Yurgec and Murray, turned on the water and the planted rows were watered thoroughly. John  Oakes came to garden and told us the he is going to revise the present irrigation system, making it much easier to do the watering. Had a nice social hour. Expecting significant rain in the next several days, so, should not have to worry about watering until next week. However, Janine tells me that she is in desperate need of waterers this year. Please consider emailing or calling her to schedule any help that you can contribute (412.831.1053 or [email protected]). The watering is extremely important, adding significantly to the success of the garden yield. Hope to see you next week, when we can get to the real plantings. Please note that we will get back to our usual 6:00pm start now that the heavy weeding has been accomplished. I greatly appreciate all of you help in this "no fun" chore. I understand that all of you hated the weeding as much as you hate picking the beans!  Weeding will be SIGNIFICANTLY less work with all of the ground cover that we will be using!!! Thanks to the grant from Grow Pittsburgh.  Ron

May 17:Hello to all of you gardeners out there:Had a great day on Monday.   Received the shipment of the 12 300 foot rolls of landscape fabric, and, they were put into the shed to be used when we start to plant seedlings (will help immensely by keeping the weeds down.) Had 26 workers, so, got the entire left side of garden weeded, and, it was rototilled by Joe. The pile of weeds on the left side of the plot now looks like a mountain of green! Also built two Tee Pees for the vining spinach. Had a brief social hour. But, several of us left the garden early and went to the meeting in the Domremy Pavilion for the discussion on the "new" grouping for the Church Alive. Seems a little more positive for Saint Joan's, but, will have to wait and see. Several workers were able to get home to watch the Penguins win. Lets hope that we can win at least one in Ottawa. GO PENS !!!!! Tonight, I would like to get several rows of things planted: the vining spinach, some regular spinach, peas, turnips, beets, green and yellow beans, etc.Thanks to all of you who did such a backbreaking job on the weeds! Hope to see you tonight.By the way, the Penguin game does not start until 8:00pm, so, we should be able to get a lot done.Ron

 May 14: Hello to all of you gardeners out there:I hope that all of you had a nice Mother's Day. Tomorrow will be a crazy day. I will be at the church in the morning to meet the delivery truck which will be bringing the 12 300-foot rolls of ground cover that was donated to us by Grow Pittsburgh. I have to sign for the delivery, and will have the pallet dropped off at the entrance to the shed/garage, and, we will have to move the rolls into the shed in the evening. We have conflicting things going on Monday evening. I would like to get going on the left side of the garden with weeding, getting done as much as we can.I will also bring seeds for the cool season crops. Several rows can be planted in the upper portion of the right side.   Would also like to have several wooden tripods built for the pole beans and for the climbing, heat tolerant spinach that grew so well last year. There will also be a Penguins hockey game that evening. And, Father Phil is having a meeting at 7:00pm concerning the "new" parish "grouping" with St. Louise de Marillac.So there is a lot going on. Annette and I will be at the garden from 5:00 to 7:00pm, and, then go to the meeting (dirty clothes and all.) Mike and Dianne will load all of the garden supplies into my car, and, Annette and I will take the car home. Mike, and anyone else who wants to help him, can plant the cool season seeds. I expect that about 6-7 rows will be planted.I anticipate that some of you will also want to go to the meeting. In any event, work in the garden should stop at about 7:00pm so that some or you can go to the meeting and some to watch the game. Sorry for the long note,, but had a lot to say. Hope to see you there tomorrow. The weather report looks good for Monday and Wednesday, so, we should still be able to get a lot done. Ro

May 9:

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We had a good night in the garden yesterday - we completed the removal of ALL of the weeds in the right half of the garden with all 21 volunteers working very hard. After we finished with that Joe Czarney rototilled the entire space. We are ready to plant on that side! We had a brief social hour and made it home to watch a disappointing Penguins game. Hopefully, they will win tomorrow night in Washington.

I want to sincerely thank all of you who showed up.

Please note that we will not work in the garden tomorrow (Wednesday, May 10) because most of us will be attending the Appreciation Dinner for the volunteers who work at the Fish Fry.

I will let you know when we will work in the garden again. Perhaps on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, if we can swing it.

Ron Boron

April 29, 2017: Hello to all of you gardeners out there:First, some good news. I, on behalf of the SJA Church Garden, applied to Grow Pittsburgh for a Sustainability Grant. I told the story of our garden, how we got started, how big the garden is, how much fresh vegetables that we produced over the last four or so years for the SHIM and other Food Banks, etc. I just yesterday received word that our application will be fulfilled. I asked for 12 rolls of black, WOVEN, ground cover. The rolls are 300 feet long and 3 feet wide. That will cover 24 rows of plantings across the entire 100 feet of the garden. This WOVEN ground cover (landscape fabric) will keep the weeds down and help with the conservation or water. The WOVEN fabric will not tear apart as our previous fabric did with the least amount of trauma. As in the past, it will be used for plants such as tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, etc. This product will NOT be degraded by the UV light from the sun. It can be reused over and over again. I look forward to using it this year. Another piece of good news - the garlic is growing nicely with minimal weeds between the plants thanks to the straw that was used for mulching. Now, for the bad news - the garden looks like a jungle with weeds all over the place. Before I went up into the garden, yesterday,  I left my car keys and wallet in the car with Annette and tied a long string to my belt and the car door handle before I chanced going up the boardwalk. I did not want to get lost in the greenery!  The entire garden is covered with some of the biggest weeds that I have ever seen. I don't believe that the new, organic product (Burn Out) that I got will work on these very large and mature weeds.  And, I don't want to use RoundUp.   Tim Trax believes that Burn Out will not work on MATURE weeds, and, these are MATURE weeds! So, we will have to pull/dig them out. Rototilling them into the ground will just make matters worse. I believe that that's what happened last year and led to the problem this year. So, I would like to call for as many as you who can make it, come to the garden this coming Monday and Wednesday to do the work. We will also need to move the picnic tables, and benches out of the shed. And, we will have some major work to be done on the plastic netting above the electric fence. So, please come to the garden on Monday and Wednesday, for 5:00pm if you can, later if need be. The more workers that we have the sooner the job will get done. Also, please bring along as many wire coat hangers that you can. We will need to make the U-shaped pins that will hold the fabric in place.
Sincerely, Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator.

May 14: Hello to all of you gardeners out there: I hope that all of you had a nice Mother's Day. Tomorrow will be a crazy day. I will be at the church in the morning to meet the delivery truck which will be bringing the 12 300-foot rolls of ground cover that was donated to us by Grow Pittsburgh. I have to sign for the delivery, and will have the pallet dropped off at the entrance to the shed/garage, and, we will have to move the rolls into the shed in the evening. We have conflicting things going on Monday evening. I would like to get going on the left side of the garden with weeding, getting done as much as we can. I will also bring seeds for the cool season crops. Several rows can be planted in the upper portion of the right side. Would also like to have several wooden tripods built for the pole beans and for the climbing, heat tolerant spinach that grew so well last year. There will also be a Penguins hockey game that evening. And, Father Phil is having a meeting at 7:00pm concerning the "new" parish "grouping" with St. Louise de Marillac.So there is a lot going on.

Annette and I will be at the garden from 5:00 to 7:00pm, and, then go to the meeting (dirty clothes and all.)

Mike and Dianne will load all of the garden supplies into my car, and, Annette and I will take the car home.

Mike, and anyone else who wants to help him, can plant the cool season seeds. I expect that about 6-7 rows will be planted.

I anticipate that some of you will also want to go to the meeting.

In any event, work in the garden should stop at about 7:00pm so that some or you can go to the meeting and some to watch the game.

Sorry for the long note,, but had a lot to say. Hope to see you there tomorrow.

The weather report looks good for Monday and Wednesday, so, we should still be able to get a lot done.


November 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there,

This should be the final email for the 2016 gardening year.

We had a fantastic year-end worker recognition party on Monday, November 14. Thanks to Father Phil for sponsoring the event, to Mona for the great food (especially the cauliflower pizza), Audrey for the delicious cake and all of you workers who brought salads and appetizers. Thanks to Tim Trax for the apple cider. Thanks to Marilyn and Mary who designed and produced the ?certificates? that went to some of the workers. Thanks to Steve who made sure that the bar was accommodating to all the workers. And, I wantto personally thank all of you for my special gift of the 2017 Garden Calendarthat contained multiple notes from many of the workers. It so reminded me of myhigh school graduation year book. The gift cards to Panera and Red Robin willbe enjoyed by Annette and me when we stop there for lunch or dinner.  Also, thanks for the cash that was included.I will put that to good use in the garden, when the 2017 Seed Catalogs start toarrive in January.

Finally, a report on the ?poundage? for this year. I did not have all of the figures at the time of the recognition dinner, so, here they are. Grand Total Poundage for 2016 was 5,829# (about 800 pounds more than last year.) The breakout this year was 3,852 pounds to SHIM and 1,977 pounds to ?other?organizations: ?The Intersection?, a Food Bank in McKeesport, run by the Mercy nuns. All of the produce that went there was taken there by Carol and Clem Lacher. The rest of the ?other? category went to the Shiloh Baptist Church,South Park Meals on Wheels, and, finally, to our garden volunteers and to Mona in the kitchen (used for the Fish Fries, bereavements, etc.)

Well, that is about it for the year. A very big THANK YOU for all that you do for the garden. And, I hope to see you in the spring. Ron Boron,Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

PS, I just saw an email from Mike LeDonne, and, he reports that he and George Murray spread straw on the garlic patch today. Thanks, guys. 

October 12, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there,  Sorry to be behind on my garden reports. Things have been kind of hectic lately.  Last Wednesday, October 5, we did a small amount of work but had a great social hour, our second or third wiener roast of the year. Had 27 people. Took down the final cucumber trellises and Teepees.  Yesterday, Monday October 10, we had 12 workers in the garden. Was quite chilly, but we had a good time. Harvested 87# of chard, 20# of hot peppers and 8# of lettuce all of which George took to SHIM this morning.  In regards plans for the immediate future, look forward to these. Last year we picked 348# of sweet potatoes on October 19. This year we will harvest the sweet potatoes  before the first frost, or, when the ends of the vines start to yellow, so, that will be soon. I'll be sure to let you all know when that will occur. We will plant our garlic sometime in the next 2-3 weeks. If any of you will have a bale of straw or hay anytime after we plant the garlic, please let me know so that we can use it to mulch the garlic. If not, we will have to buy 3 or 4 bales. There is not much more left in the garden. We will be picking the remaining veggies and plants soon, hopefully before the first frost. And, two final projects before the cold really sets in, I would like to paint the white fence posts and varnish or stain the picnic benches.  I have the paint and varnish and several brushes that I purchased earlier this year. The second project is to label and pick up the irrigation system and store it in the shed. We have already rolled up and tied up some of the irrigation tape, which will also be re-used next year.  Not sure yet whether we will work tomorrow, Wednesday October 12. Awaiting weather report. That could be the day we pull most everything except the sweet potatoes. Hope to see you then.

Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator.

September 28, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there, Had a good but cool evening yesterday. Had 21 workers in the garden. Got a lot done.  Harvested total of 169# okra 35# sweet green peppers 30#  varied hot peppers -28#    herbs (basil, oregano, sage, cilantro) 24# green beans 20# sweet banana peppers 16# tomatoes 10# Armenian cucumbers 6# Pulled all of the remaining tomato plants - not producing, and with cool nights, will stop producing. Pulled the remaining green bush beans and all of the green pole beans. Took down the Teepees. Removed all of the short wooden pegs that were placed along the boardwalk (they were used to keep the hoses from damaging the plants.) I was out of town over the weekend, but I understand that the Sunday Church Bulletin reproduced the gracious Thank You letter from Sister Claudia  Stehle from the McKeesport Food Bank that serves the homeless in McKeesport. Also was informed that a representative from SHIM spoke at the masses, and, expressed thanks for the vegetables that our garden produces. The vegetables that were harvested last evening were picked up by Carol Lacher's husband this morning and are to be taken to McKeesport to their Food Bank today.Had a very nice social hour after last evening's work and enjoyed another delicious cake from Joanne. Next week will plant more late, cool season crops.  Hope to see you then. In the meantime enjoy the weekend.                                        Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

September 13, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Well, the garden is certainly winding down. Harvest from last event was taken to SHIM today.

chard 111#

tomatoes 45#

cucumbers 39 #

okra 36#

green beans 25#

hot peppers 24#

green peppers 15#

spinach 7#

broccoli 1#

Total 303#  A nice harvest considering that the tomatoes have taken a BIG hit with the early and late blight.

Harvested only, minimal if any maintenance done.

Jim and Mike cut the grass. Again, thanks to Jim Lawrence for the lawnmower.

Nice social hour, even though the Steeler game started at 7pm. Thanks to Mary LaValle for the homemade wine and bread. Thanks also to Joanne for the (?butterscotch) brownies.

Appreciate all of your hard work.

Plan for Wednesday (provided it does not rain) is to make whatever harvest we can and take it to Shiloh Baptist Church (they have their monthly Food Pantry on the third Thursday of the month.) Will plan some serious maintenance for Wednesday (taking down tomato plants, beans plants, etc. , that are failing or dead.) Will also want to make some room in the back left corner of the shed for the tall bookcase (which is laying on the ground, in front of the shed) to store supplies and get some of them off the floor in the garage.

Ron  Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

September 7, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there,

Thanks to the 21 of you who showed up on a not regularly scheduled day to work (a Tuesday) due to the holiday (Labor Day) and because there was only one Food Pantry this week. The harvest had to be taken over to SHIM in the evening after being harvested because it was going to be transported to the refugees in Prospect Park today (Wednesday).

We harvested 312 pounds: tomatoes 185#, chard 79# cucumbers 20#, okra 17#, green peppers 6#, beans 5# and one zucchini at 0.5#.

One large seed head from one of the sunflowers was harvested since it had fallen down. The seeds were removed from the flower and will be taken to SHIM with one of the next harvests. Some of the clients using the Food Pantry use the seeds in various ways, cooked, pickled, etc.

We did not have time to do any garden maintenance last night. We will do that on Monday of next week.

A short social hour was enjoyed by all. Thanks in part to Joanne who, again, sent a delicious cake. Also, enjoyed some of Theresa's pickled peppers and her homemade wine.

The second, third and fourth plantings of some of the crops are doing well (zucchini, beans, cold season seeds, etc.) But the late blight is killing the tomato plants .

Enjoy that long time off until Monday and have a good weekend.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator for the Saint Joan of Arc Garden

Sept 1, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had a good night in the garden, before the rains came. Had about 20-22 workers. Didn't get an accurate count.

Harvested 210# of veggies.

tomatoes 103#

chard 44#

cucumbers 20#

spaghetti squash 12#

okra 10#

sweet green peppers 12#

hot peppers 1#

Called Carol Lacher when I got home, and her husband was here in the morning to pick up the produce. Went to the McKeesport Food Pantry run by the Mercy nuns.

Had planned for a weenie roast at garden-side, but rain intervened, and, thanks to an offer from Mary Olesky, we went to her house for our social hour and picnic. THANK YOU, MARY, FOR OFFERING TO HOST THE SOCIAL HOUR/PICNIC. Hope that all of your visitors also enjoyed your gardens - very nice.  John Oaks brought the hotdogs, Cindy brought the buns, and every one brought a salad, appetizer or a dessert. Also, Isabelle, the young girl who is doing some community hours in the garden, baked a zucchini bread and brought it. All in all, a great evening in the garden and at Mary's house thanks to work on everyone's part.

Would tell all of you to take it easy until next week, but most of you will be working at the church today (getting ready for the Fish Fry) and again on Friday (for the actual Fish Fry.) The parish should be grateful AND PROUD of all that you do for the church.

Speaking of next week, Monday is a holiday, so, there will be no work in the garden that evening. I think that the garden is slowing down and can probably wait until Wednesday for a harvest. I will check the garden over the weekend and see how it's doing.

Again, Thanks to Mary for hosting the social hour/picnic, and, thanks to all who brought some food to eat.

Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

August 30, 2016

Hello to allof you gardeners out there:

Had anothergreat evening in the garden yesterday. Had 21 workers.

Removed a lot of tomato plants that were severely wilted, and, had no tomatoes and no blossoms. Had both early and late blight. Seeing more and more tomatoes with blemishes from the late blight. The early blight affects only the leaves, especially the lower leaves, but, the plant can still produce some edible tomatoes. The late blight affects the leaves AND the stems AND the tomatoes. Placed 3-4green, metal stakes to support some of the falling, yet producing tomato plants. Janine noticed a problem with the right side drip irrigation. John found that the filter to that side had become clogged with some dirt. Cleaned the filter and everything working well. For the waterers, if you have any issues with the irrigation system, please let me know by email and we will address the matter.

Good harvest? total of 428 pounds

        Tomatoes 230#

        Hot peppers 41#

        Chard 39#

        Beans 33#

        Okra 20#

        Basel 20#

        Cucumbers 12#

        Squash/zucchini 13#

        Parsley 11#

        Spinach 5#

        Green peppers 4#

About 25-30pounds of veggies went to Mona in the kitchen to be used for the Fish Fry this coming Friday. Had a great social hour with another great cake from Joanne. Planning fora weenie roast tomorrow (Wednesday), weather permitting. No rain in theforecast, with a partly cloudy/partly sunny day (depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty.) Temps look to be in the mid to high seventies in the evening. Will supply hot dogs, buns, condiments (will add chopped onions this time, by request), and drinks. Please bring an appetizer or desert. Any harvest from tomorrow will be given to the ?Intersection? Food Pantry in McKeesport which is run by a group of nuns under the direction of Sister Peg O?Neill. The veggies are picked from my garage (the day after harvesting) and taken to the Food Pantry at ?Intersection? by Carol Lacher, one of our parishioners. Please see the attached Thank You note from Sister Claudia Stehle, dated August 25. I hope to continue to share some of our harvests with this organization. Hope the weather holds as predicted, and, hope to see you in the garden for some workand the weenie roast.

Ron Boron,Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

August 23, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Another great day in the garden. Temps not so high, actually cool later in the evening. Had 31 workers.

Busy night with harvesting:

            Tomatoes 355 # Beans 63# Cucumbers 44 #  Zucchini/squash 38 #

            Chard 21 # Okra 17 # Lettuce 12 # Spinach 7 # Sweet peppers 7 #

            Hot peppers 6 # Cabbage 1 # Broccoli 1 #

Also, did a lot of maintenance: placed several heavy metal posts to support falling tomatoes plants and stakes, pulled out a couple rows of green and yellow beans (harvesting the beans, throwing away the plants.) Removed several broccoli, cabbage, squash and zucchini plants (wilted and/or rotted from the rain).  Did a lot of weeding. Planted beets, lettuce, beans where we pulled some of the plants.   Then, had a great social hour. Thanks to all for the celebration of our 50thWedding Anniversary. The celebration, cake and champagne were a surprise and greatly appreciated.  Thanks also to Joanne for her cake.

Again, thanks for all of your work and for making the celebration of our wedding anniversary so special.

Hope to see you on Wednesday and hope that the weather gets to be more tolerable.

Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

August 18, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Thanks to all of you who showed up for the "Urgent Maintenance" of the garden last evening on Thursday (not a "regular" working night.) Had 19 workers.  Spent most of the time adding metal post supports to falling tomato plants and  tying up tomato plants. Have put up the 24 recently bought green metal stakes. They work very well. Will get another dozen since I expect we will have further problems with the large weight of the tomatoes on the plants. Hopefully this will help correct the problem with the tomatoes touching the ground. Between losing some that way, and with many of the tomatoes  cracking/bursting on the vines due to the excessive amount of rain that we have had, I would estimate that we have lost about 150 pounds of tomatoes. The heavy rains have also caused some of the other plants to rot. Had to pull out at least 15-20 broccoli and some cabbage plants. A lot of weeding was also done-a backbreaking chore. Mike's plot of lettuce that he usually plants at the bottom left garden near the boardwalk did not germinate - either because the seed was old, rotted with all of the rain or was washed out with the rain that rolls down along the boardwalk. Theresa salvaged some of the fallen tomatoes. And Dianne Morrison harvested some okra for her own use. Again, thanks for coming out on the spur of the moment. Your work is greatly appreciated. When I gave the veggies to the following people/groups, they were GREATLY appreciative in receiving them: McKeesport Food Pantry (Carol Lacher), Shiloh Baptist Church (Alma Gilliam), and South Park Meals on Wheels at Grace Lutheran Church (Pam Mason). Had a short social hour with chips, pretzels and drinks. All in all a good night. Again, thanks for all of the great work that you continue to do for the garden.  Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

PS: I called some of you about working last evening, but I have only a few of your phone numbers. If you are willing, please email me your phone (either home or cell) so that I might be able to call you if necessary. If you don't want to share, that's OK,

August 16, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Due to the crazy weather the last week or so, we were not able to harvest on Monday because of the rain. More rain was predicted for today, Tuesday, but not until evening. The morning and the afternoon were clear, but extremely hot and humid. The garden appeared ?workable?. Therefore, I called for an urgent harvest to b emade today (Tuesday) during the sunny afternoon. Sent out an urgent email about12 o?clock and called a few workers personally. George, Joe, Harry and his wife Carolyn, Theresa and her sister Annmarie, Annette and I got to work about 12:30and worked for 2 and ½ hours. Accomplished a lot. Harvested: 230 pounds of tomatoes, 129 pounds of zucchini and squash, 50 pounds of cucumbers, 23 pounds of okra and 15 pounds ofgreen beans. That does not include about 15 pounds of green beans, and 4-5pounds of zucchini and squash that were given to Mona Musser for the up coming Fish Fry and about 10-15 pounds of veggies that were taken home by the workers. After the harvesting, Joe and I placed about 7-8 green metal stakes to support the tomato plants and stakes that had fallen over due to the heavy load of tomatoes.  Once we were finished, I contacted Becky Henninger at SHIM, and was advised that the harvest was not completed in time for her to take it over to a food pantry that they were having at the Prospect Park location today. Therefore, all of the produce was brought to my house, and, it will be distributed to several other possible locations that can also make good use of the veggies: some will be picked up tomorrow by Pam Mason who works with the South Park Meals on Wheels working through the Grace Lutheran Church. I will also contact Alma Gilliam at the Shiloh Baptist Church Food Pantry and Carol Lacher, a Saint Joan of Arc parishioner, who makes food for a McKeesport food pantry that services some of the homeless in McKeesport. Please be assured that none of the vegetables will go to waste. I especially want to thank all of those who came out to work on this very hot day.  God bless you all. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is our usual work day. I will check the garden late in the morning or early afternoon, and, if we can safely work, I will let you know that we will work in the evening. There will be a lot of weeding and tying up to do .And, if we find any more problematic tomato stakes, they will be addressed. Once we clear the weeds from areas that have been cleared of spent plants, we will plant more seed for a late season harvest. Please keep in mind the Garden in the Park event to take place on Saturday from 9:00am to1:00pm at the South Park Demonstration Garden on Corrigan Drive. Please refer to a recent email and attachment that I sent to you. Again, thanks to all who worked so hard today!

Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator.

August 9, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there,

Another great evening in the garden yesterday. Very hot and humid. Had 22 workers. Harvested 451 pounds of cabbage, chard, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beans, carrots, sweet green peppers, cucumbers, okra, lettuce, kale, oregano and spinach. This was the first good day for the tomatoes and cucumbers. Pulled all of the carrots. Some decent sized ones at 6-8 inches. With a lot of smaller ones. Will not sow as densely next year. First time I ever grew carrots. Some of bush bean plants were failing as were of couple of rows of lettuce that were pretty well destroyed by insects. So, they were all pulled. Did a lot of tying up of tomatoes. Jim Lawrence spent the entire evening clearing out the weeds and grass below the electric fence. The power is now back on. When the weeds touch the lowermost wire, it shorts out the fence. Had to use more of the metal posts to help support some of the tomato plants. John Oakes spent more time on the irrigation system. Janine was instructed in its use and she will teach the other waterers. Right now, until we get a better feel for the system, we will leave it on manual and not use the timers to start and finish. Also it looks like we will have to water the right and left sides separately, so as to get better pressure on the upper rows of the garden. An experiment in progress. A good social hour after work. Again thanks to Joanne for the delicious spice cake. looks like a lot of rain in the forecast, so, will have to wait and see whether we can work on Wednesday. Planning to do the OPEN GARDEN this Sunday. Will depend on the weather. I weather is OK will make announcement before the Saturday and Sunday masses and invite parishioners for Sunday, 9am until 1Pm. Will have cookies and lemonade for guests. Would appreciate if some of the regular volunteers would be able to guide the visitors on a garden tour. Don?t need to be there all morning, even an hour would be appreciated. Let me know if you can make it, and, at what time. I will be there during the whole time. I will also have a poster board of pictures from last year's garden.    Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

August 4, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there, 

A good night in the garden. Very hot, but had 29 workers.  Lot of tying up tomatoes, hilling up and weeding.Cleared some weeds from below the wires. Speaking of the fence, I noted some defoliation of some of the bean plants on the Teepees near the upper right side of the garden. That was associated with some bending in of the chicken wire. I think that that was due to a deer poking its head into the garden and enjoying a salad, without getting shocked, because the current was shorted out by weeds and plants touching the wire. No hoof marks IN the garden. Tried to correct some of that situation, but will need to more aggressively clear the wires and spray again under the lowermost wire. Several of the sunflowers were also touching the wires. Appreciated your making my grandchildren feel welcome in the garden. They helped with weeding, hilling up and trimming some of the sunflowers back from the fence. Mike planted some more zucchini plants that he started at home. Will start to plant some later season crops soon also. Harvested a small amount, estimated at zucchini 10 pounds, squash 3 pounds, lettuce 7 pounds and spinach 5 pounds. Gave all of this small harvest to the workers.Had a nice social hour. Theresa brought zucchini parmesan that was delicious.

Thanks again to all who worked last night. Enjoy the weekend, and, hope to see you next Monday.   Ron

August 2, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there.  Sorry that I missed a good evening in the garden. Understand that it was quite hot. Thanks to the 25 volunteers who showed up.   Harvested a total of 174 pounds: zucchini and squash 68#onions 31#chard 29#beans 23#tomatoes 12# (mostly cherry tomatoes- only 6 larger ones so far) okra 3# lettuce 2# broccoli 2# spinach 1# cucumbers 1# Thanks again to those of you who brought a cake (Joanne) and salsa. Lot of work done fixing several broken tomato stakes - fixed with some of the green metal stakes. We may need to get some new stakes. The old ones may be too dry and break easily under the load of the many tomatoes. Also think that the stakes need to be driven further into the ground when we set them . Lot of tying up of tomatoes and weeding was also done. George tells me that all of the work was done by 8pm and social hour was cut short by threatening skies with rain. Thanks again for all of your good work. Will see you on Wednesday.          Ron

July 27, 2017 

Hello to all of you gardeners out there

Another great but hot night in the garden. Temps in the mid-eighties with high humidity and lots of bugs. Spent the first hour and ten minutes harvesting over 400 pounds of veggies. George and I took them over to SHIM right after harvesting. Becky Henninger made a special effort along with her daughter?s help to accept the produce at the SHIM building right after it was harvested. We appreciate her cooperation.The garden has been growing like a jungle with all of the heat, some rain and hard work of the waterers.Speaking of watering, John Oakes completed the drip irrigation system by placing the final rows of trickle tape on some of the upper rows of vegetables. Once we get through with the rain forecast for today, we will try the system in manual mode. I will let you know when we try that (after the oncoming rain).

Weights from last night were

Squash 230 #

Chard 79#

Cabbage 64#

Onions 31#

Green beans 11#

Okra 10#

Kale 10#

Spinach 8#

Hot peppers 1#

Banana peppers 1.5#

Broccoli 1# (first head of this year)

After all of the harvesting, did some weeding, securing some of the falling tomato stakes and grass cutting. All in all, a great night. And thanks for all of the great snacks. Hope to see you next week. Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator, Saint Joan of Arc Church

July 19, 2017

Hello to all of you gardeners out there,

Had a fantastic evening yesterday in the garden. Had 28 workers.  Harvested 515 pounds of chard, basil, onions, turnips, lettuce, beets, yellow squash, zucchini and spinach.Planted the last of the sweet potato slips.Planted broccoli and cabbage where we pulled and harvested the above. Got the plants from Tim Trax.  Did some weeding and tying up of the tomatoes.  John Oakes spent the entire evening working on the irrigation system. Nearly completed. Really appreciate what John is doing. Thank You, John.  I will not be in the garden tomorrow, So, George and Mike will be in charge.No harvesting, since we picked most everything yesterday.  Nice social hour with goodies from Joanne (lemon/zucchini cake) and Theresa (chips and salsa and cheese dip).  Really appreciate all of the efforts by the ladies for the social hour.  Was good to see Rich back in the garden. Especially when he figured out how to get the cork out of a wine bottle, without a corkscrew. Things to do tomorrow:Tie up the rest of the tomatoes. Trim away the lowermost leaves and stems (from the ground up to 10 inches from the ground). Will allow for better air circulation and cut down on the blight.Continue weeding. The weeds are growing like wild fire in the heat and with all of the watering being done by the waterers. We can do with a little less heat, but, can't do without the watering. Help John in any way that you can.George will bring down all of the stuff that I usually take down for the evening. I suspect that it will be a short work session, but enjoy the social hour.  Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arce Garden Coordinator

July 14,2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had another great evening in the garden. A little hot but got a lot done.

Had about 25 workers. Mike and Joe cut the grass.

George repaired one of the broken wooden picnic benches.

Did a LOT of tomato tying up, some weeding and some hilling up.

Placed 3 metal posts and some plastic netting over the row of beans on the right lower part of garden ? Thought they were bush beans but they may be pole beans. We will see.

Removed some flowers from the bolting turnips and parsnips. Tied up the pole beans so as to train them up the Teepees. They seem to have a lack of direction (no geotropism, no heliotropism). The two leftmost Teepees have heat tolerant, climbing spinach which is doing well. Something new this year. John Oakes completed the PVC piping on the left side of the boardwalk and pressure tested the one on the right. Both looking good. Tim Trax came and dropped off a large roll of the trickle tape. We will need about 3,400 feet to cover all of the rows in the garden. John will get the appropriate fittings to attach the trickle tape to the PVC pipes and we will be ready to go. The system will be controlled by two timers that will be scheduled appropriately. The waterers will still be needed to check that the garden is being watered completely. May need to do minimal hand watering, but, that should be minimal. Tim also brought some flats to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Some of which were planted in the few empty spaces that were left in the garden. Like Mike says ? NO VACANCY. Discussed with Father and the workers about the OPEN GARDEN that we will have some time on a Sunday morning in the next week or two. Will probably run from 8:30am to 1:00pm, serving lemonade and cookies. Want to catch the people after mass. This will be a good time to do this as the garden is looking great. A chance to show the parishioners what we are doing and why. Perhaps even recruit some more workers for the garden. Expect to do a LOT of harvesting next Monday ? squash, zucchini, chard, kale, lots of lettuce and pull all of the remaining radishes, parsnips, beets and turnips. Not sure what to do with the remaining carrots. They were planted too thickly and are small. Will decide on Monday. The heads of cabbage are coming along nicely and some may be harvested. Tomatoes coming along nicely but none ripe yet. However, early blight is starting. Joanne again sent delicious zucchini bread for the social hour. Someone brought some homemade humus. Didn?t get a name to associate with that, but, Thank You also. All in all, a great evening. We got some rain through the night, but we need lots more. Hope to see you on Monday.    Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

July 12, 2016

 Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had a great night in the garden last evening, despite the heat and humidity. Had 29 workers.Big event of the evening was the harvesting of the garlic. Had three varieties, Deerfield Purple, Vietnam Red and Turkish giant. The bulbs and the leaves were brought back to my house, will allow them to cure for a week or so and then cut the roots and the leaves off. Will distribute some to all of the workers and the rest will go to SHIM. After the garlic was dug up, Joe rototilled the rows and we planted a flat if sweet green peppers that Mike got from Tim Trax. Donated of course. Please frequent Trax Market, and, if you get the chance, thank Tim for his continued generosity. After planting the peppers, we still had some space left, and we planted lettuce and beans. A lot of tying up, hilling up and weeding was done. It seems that the tomato plants are growing wild, thanks to the warm days and nights and the excellent watering being done by our waterers. Noticed the first evidence of the early blight on the tomatoes. Will need to remove these branches and leaves, without touching the healthy parts of the plant-that will decrease spread of the disease.Planted some more beans in two rows in the right lower part of the garden where nothing was coming up. I apologize to Mike for digging up a row that he planted last week. These beans are purple in color, and, will offer something different. Not sure if they will taste any different.Picked a few green beans. Sister made it for the evening, even with the heat that causes her problems. She gave me a gift ? a sign that says ?Gardeners know the best dirt?. Applies to all of us. Thanks Sister Kathy. Last night when we finished work and closed the gate and set the electric fence, I was told that it seemed like the electricity was not on. So, I checked it, only to take quite a jolt of a shock. I must have been grounded, because it was a strong charge. Will be a little more careful in the future. Hope that the deer, and other critters get zapped and keep away. The chicken wire along the bottom of the fence also seems to be working well. Not critter damage evident as yet in the garden. Janine had some difficulty trying to change a hose. Asked that I leave a set of pliers near the water pipe. Did that, inside of a Ziplock bag. If you need to use them, please replace them in the bag and leave it on the water pipe stand as the waterers don?t have a key to the shed.

Obtained a hand wrench with an unusual pentagonal head that can be used if we need to access the water manhole in front of the garage door. It is also in a Ziplock bag and hangs on a nail on the inside right side wall near the garage door. It also has a note in the bag to easily locate the wrench. If used, please put it back in the same location.

John Oakes had a busy evening laying the PVC piping on the right side of the boardwalk. Multiple (32) T?s were place. The drip irrigation tape will be attached to these T?s. The irrigation tape will extend all of the way to the end of the row. I will get the irrigation tape from Tim Trax. Will need 3400 feet of irrigation tape. Again, something that Tim donates to the garden. John expects to get the left side of the garden piped tomorrow. Will begin to try out and set the irrigation patterns soon. The drip irrigation system will have several advantages. Less water wastage. Less water ON the plants will decrease spread of disease (blight, fungus, etc.) Had a very nice and long social hour. Appreciate Joanne?s zucchini bread, Dianne?s zucchini and chocolate chip cookies, and the fruit compote brought by Sister Kathy.  Cindy gave me a name and a phone number for the Shiloh Baptist Church to which we may offer some of our vegetables if we have any difficulty getting them to SHIM. We now have two additional places that will accept produce if necessary. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for more very hot temperatures and high humidity. If conditions are too bad, I will cancel tomorrow?s work. Watch for an email later in the afternoon, when I make the decision. Sorry about the length of this note, but had a lot to say (as usual).

Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator.

June 28,2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We had another great night in the garden. A little warm, but we got a lot done. Had 26 workers.Did a lot of weeding, hilling up and tying up of tomato plants . Much to everyone?s surprise, the transplanted bush beans are doing well and now have beans that are about 3-4 inches long. Never transplanted beans before. Learning something new every day.  Harvested all of the lettuce since it was bolting and will get bitter in this heat. Collected about 35-40 bags of lettuce. The rows from which the lettuce was harvested will be replanted with a new crop on Wednesday. Actually, the rows were rototilled today by Joe Czarney and George Murray, and will be replanted tomorrow. Appreciate Joe letting us use his rototiller for interim tilling.Had a VERY long social hour after work. Had to do something in the heat! The harvesting of the lettuce on Monday evening did not make it in time to be sent over to the SHIM Pantry in Prospect Park, as SHIM wanted the harvest on Monday MORNING. Fear not, the harvest did not go to waste ? The workers took home about half of the harvest. The rest was taken to the parish office to be shared with the workers in the church (parish secretary, parish custodian, the Youth Group Director, Sister Kathy and some of the shut-ins that she helps now and then.) The rest was sent with Carol Lacher (who managed the Shawl Ministry and is a member of our parish) to a Food Bank in McKeesport. Carol has volunteered with this McKeesport Food Pantry for a long time, frequently preparing meals in her own home for the homeless that visit the pantry In the future, if we have problems getting our produce over to SHIM, we will work with other Food Pantries in the area. Hope to see you tomorrow (Wednesday) when we will continue with weeding, tying up, hilling up and doing some succession planting where we picked all of the lettuce on Monday.

Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

 June 23,2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had a good evening in the garden tonight. Had 19 workers.

Did a lot of weeding, hilling up, etc.  Planted several rows of bush beans,  and chard (Rainbow and Giant Fordhook varieties) and some lettuce  George cut the grass with the lawnmower that was repaired at Every Hardware today. We appreciate all of the help given to us by Andy. Please patronize his store.  The transplanted bush beans from Bednar's nursery are doing well - first time I ever transplanted beans.  Harvested about 10-12 bags (from Andy also) of lettuce. Sent all of it home with the workers.  All of the rest of the cool season crops (radishes, and especially the beets) should be ready to pick next week or so. Then will plant another crop there.  More discussion with John Oates regarding the watering system. Will speak with Tim Trax and John some evening soon and decide when to start and exactly what we want to do. Will rely on Tim's experience with trickle tape and John's plumber experience.  A lot less work tonight, so we had to extend the social session a little longer. Thanks again to George for bringing Joan's special pound cake, covered with caramel and chocolate - fantastic. And, no calories at all, George says.

Have a great weekend - you deserve it. Hope to see you all on Monday.

 Ron Boron, Saint Joan of Arc Garden Coordinator

June 20, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Very hot last evening. Temps to 84-85 degrees, did cool off a little later in evening.  In spite of very high temps, had 36 workers ? largest group of the year so far. A testament to their willingness to work on this very worthwhile project,  Obtained 4 donated flats of plants from Bednar?s Nursery ? corn, beans and cucumbers. Did not have room to plant the corn, so offered it to the workers. Jim Lawrence took the flat. Hope that it grows well for him. Planted 2 flats of bean plants and the cucumbers.  Planted flats of parsley and rosemary, which we started in the Trax greenhouse.  Harvested: red, white and black radishes, parsnips, turnips, lettuce and spinach. All of the early cool season crops are bolting in the heat. Will have to pull most of them soon. When I got the lettuce and spinach home, misted it in the bags in which they were harvested. Then placed in cooler with ice to prevent wilting. Planted more sweet potato slips. The sweet potato row is almost complete. Have some more slips forming roots at home. When we plant these slips, the sweet potato row will be done. Accomplished LOT of hilling up, weeding and applying ties to support the tomatoes.  George, Harry and Annette and some others removed the foliage from the radishes, parsnips and turnips, and, they washed all of these vegetables on site.  Annette and Dianne LeDonne cleaned up and straightened out the shed.  Good social hour after all of the hard work. George brought JoAnne?s lemon cake to share during the social hour. Thanks again to JoAnne.  The garden is looking GREAT. It looks good enough that we can consider having the OPEN GARDEN (like an Open House) some Sunday soon. Janine has suggested that we do this on a Sunday morning after all of the masses, having coffee and donuts. Would do this so that the parish can appreciate what we are doing for the community. Would also do this later on in the summer when the garden is in its full glory.  Again, a big thanks to Janine and the waterers for their diligent watering during this hot weather. We are working on getting a drip irrigation system set up. In the final stages, talking with John Oates and Tim Trax about using trickle tape for the watering.  Again, and again, Thanks for all of the hard work being done by you in the garden.         Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

June 15, 2016 

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had a great evening yesterday. Aside from few sprinkles at the beginning and end of the evening, we had a fun time at yesterday's picnic. Twenty nine people showed up.

 Although the evening was billed as a no work event, Mike had to plant some more beans. Mike's philosophy is that no space in the garden is allowed to go without something growing in it. Would say that the garden is now 99% planted.  Will put up the NO VACANCY sign soon.George arrived early and managed the fire pit which allowed for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. 

Many people brought other goodies: appetizers, desserts, beer and wine.

We partied until the skies darkened and it began to thunder, so, we ended the evening a little early.

Thanks to all who came and all who brought goodies to the event. We will do this occasionally during the summer and fall.

A final note regarding our first harvest of the season from last week: (early, cool season crops)

     radishes      16 pounds

     lettuce         20 pounds

     spinach         4 pounds

     beet greens  9 pounds

     parsnips       1 pound

     oregano        4 pounds

Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

June 14, 2016 

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Another great evening in the garden. Cooler weather. Had 26 workers.

Tied up some plants. Did a lot of weeding. And, some hilling up. Harvested: lettuce, radishes, garlic scapes, sage, spinach, beets/greens, parsnips/greens, and turnip/greens. Some of the vegetables were washed before being bagged.

Planted some additional pole beans that I received from a friend. A special Indian long bean.  Built a  raised hill/row , covered it with landscape fabric and planted about 3/4 of a long row with sweet potato slips. I have the potatoes  from which the slips came. I will collect more in the upcoming 2-3 weeks and when they grow roots (which is very fast) will finish out the row.

Planted sunflowers along the inside perimeter of the fence. These plantings are marked with a 2-3 foot flag pole (pole, but no flag). Please DO NOT walk on the plantings, and, (attention to the waterers, please water these plantings just as you would the rest of the garden.)

Also marked the hills in which squash seeds were planted last week. The hills are between some of the cool season crops in the upper reaches of the garden.( Attention to the waterers, please water these hills also.)

The grass was cut.

Initially there was no power in the wires of the electric fence. That was corrected by cutting down any vegetation that was touching the wire. Also, Jim Lawrence checked the fence and found that there was one area where the chicken wire was touching the lowermost wire, shorting it out. VIOLA, the fence is working again.

 Father blessed all of the workers and the garden. (I thanked God that the fence was working,)

When Annette and I got home, we watered (misted) all of the veggies, and, placed some (lettuce and spinach) in three large coolers with ice to keep them from wilting too much. All of the produce in bags filled the back of my Suburban - so, a good harvest. Took all of it to SHIM this morning (Tuesday).

I had a long conversation with John Oates, a new worker to the garden this year, and, a plumber. He, I, Mike and George will discuss the feasibility of setting up a drip irrigation system to water the garden. Drip irrigation seems like the best way to go. And, actually, that was the method recommended by Tim Trax earlier this year for a garden of this size.

Finally, hope to have a little picnic on Wednesday, after working the garden. There should not be too much to do now. About 98% of the garden is planted. Will need to maintain things now - weeding, hilling, tying up, etc.

On Wednesday, I will pick up some hot dogs, buns, condiments, stuff to make Smores, and, perhaps some potato salad and bean salad. If, some of you bring desert, that would be great.

Hope to see all of you on Wednesday.

Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

June 9, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Another great night in the SJA Garden.

Had 18 workers (Ron was out of town again). Dianne LeDonne thinks that he's MIA (Missing in action).  Did a lot of weeding, hilling up and some seeding. Squash planted amongst the radishes, etc. so that they will be coming up when the cool season crops are declining. Seeds planted last week are up due to the heat and rains.  The chicken wire was placed around the base of the electric fence to keep out the bunnies. And, some of the workers found out the hard way that the power has been turned on in the electric fence. Had a fire in the fire pit - was appreciated as the cool temps followed the setting sun.  The brownies made by Pat Jess were appreciated by all.  Also, enjoyed by all (until after 9:00pm) was the guitar and banjo playing by Jim Lawrence and Ernie (Rose Barker's husband). Sorry that I missed that.  So, it sounds like a lot of work was done and a good time was had by all.  Again, thanks to all, especially George and Mike who take over for me when I am otherwise tied up.

Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

 June 7, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We had a great night this past Monday evening. Had 18 workers who got a little wet at 6:00pm and were finished (7:20pm) before the bigger rain hit and before the Penguin game. Great win for the Penguins. Got a lot done. Set the stakes for the remaining tomatoes, tied up the bigger tomato plants, and ?hilled up? at the base of many of the plants. Finished planting pole beans in the remaining vacant 3 teepees. These teepees were planted with some "special" seeds from Rose Barker and Dr. Chauhan (my family PCP). The bean seeds from his wife are of Indian origin and should produce large amounts of very long-podded beans. Planted beans in an incomplete row of tomatoes. Planted another whole row of bush beans. Also did some weeding (as usual.)

Will need to talk with Mike LeDonne about ?what? was planted in the rows that had the hills for cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Will finish those rows once we know that information. Would like to plant one Teepee of cucumbers of a climbing variety (something new to try and grow ?vertical?.  I now have a promise of at least 50 sweet potato slips. I will pick them up when I get back into town. So will save one row for the sweet potatoes.

All of the good work was followed by an abbreviated ?social hour? due to the incipient rain looming on the horizon and the Penguin game.  Would like to sincerely Thank George for taking care of things while I was away. And, as usual Thanks to Joan for another one of her delicious cakes.  Keep tuned for an email late tomorrow regarding the plans for Wednesday. And, again, thanks for all of the great work that you do in this effort.

Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

June 2, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had a FANTASTIC evening in the garden yesterday. Had 28 workers who toiled in the very hot temperatures. Many got home a little late for the Penguin game. It was a great game with a win in overtime. It?s nice to go to games 3 and 4 in California with 2 wins already under the belt. Go Pens.

We accomplished a LOT. Mike cut the grass. Jeff, George and Mike fixed the corner fence posts which were tilting into to garden. Mike spoke with Brian Trax earlier in the day about the problem with no electricity in the fence. They are working to get it fixed. Probably, some bunnies have had a field day with some of the broccoli and cabbage. Mike got some additional plants from Trax and replaced the eaten ones. The flea beetles are eating the eggplant ? nothing new.

We planted a lot of seedlings: tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, herbs, and kale.

Seeds for the following were planted: a new variety of climbing, heat tolerant spinach, pole beans, Swiss chard, squash and zucchini.

Tee-pees were built for the pole beans and climbing spinach.

George brought a box of 100 short stakes that were used to mark and label the rows.

Rose weeded the garlic bed. The plants are looking great.

We had our first few radishes from the earlier planted ?cool season crops.?  The "harvest" begins.

Social hour was shortened because of the Penguin game, but we all had a good time and a LOT was accomplished.

Thanks again to all of you for the great work that you do in the garden.

 Finally, please give some consideration to helping with the watering. Janine is having a hard time getting volunteers for that important job. Keep in mind that we will shortly set up the five sprinklers, which will make the job a lot easier and faster. Contact Janine Hannan at [email protected]

Ron Boron, Saint Joan Garden Coordinator

 June 1, 2016

I just heard from Janine, who schedules the "waterers" who water the garden (obviously). She is in DESPERATE need of volunteers to help water the garden. She has some friends, who are not even members of our parish, who help. BUT, she is in need for more volunteers to help.

I know that it takes time to water, especially by hand and watering can. BUT, please note that, once the entire garden is planted (and that should be tonight)  we will mount five (5) tripod sprinklers about the garden, and, hopefully cover the entire garden. It will take some time to get the hosing circuitry straightened out, but the sprinklers should eliminate most, if not all, of the hand watering. We are hoping that the water can be turned on, the waterers can leave and come back in two or three hours to check that the watering was OK. I'm sure that this will take some experimenting with the system, but, it should help immensely.

As I have said in the past, the watering has been one (if not THE) most important factor in the success of our garden. We have consistently produced more vegetable poundage than any of the other gardens, and, it's not just because we have the biggest. 

Let's not drop the ball on this one!

Also, note that there will be plenty of seedlings left over tonight. You are welcome to any that are left. Please take some, because, if I bring them home and put them back on the deck tonight, Annette will kill me!

Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

May 25, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We had a GREAT night in the garden last evening. Nice weather, soil was damp be workable. Had 21 volunteers. A new face in the crowd - Hank Pennline. Welcome aboard Hank!

Mike cut the grass - was very high after all of the rain. (The grass was high-not Mike).

Some weeding was done (as always is the case).

"Don" the manager for the help working for the Trax's Market, come to the garden and we talked about the lack of power for the electric fence. He assured us that the power was "on", but, when we closed for the night, No Power. Will speak with Tim Trax. Am worried about the plantings if the power does not get "on". Will also check with Jeff Lange (our "go to guy" who handles our "utilities" and see if he has any suggestions.

Got the ENTIRE left side of the garden planted last evening:

      Tomatoes, eggplant,  okra, cabbage and broccoli.

Social hour was  a great surprise with Jim Lawrence playing his guitar and harmonica - everyone enjoyed his playing!Janine Hannan, who has offered to continue making the watering schedule again this year, is asking for volunteers who can help on a regular scheduled or "fill in" basis. So, please consider helping in this area.  I am convinced that our improved harvests over the last couple of years have been a direct result of the watering that is done on a regular basis, especially when things dry up, like they did the last 2 years.  Again, thanks to all of you who have become our garden "regulars" and to our new volunteers. If you can, please solicit new volunteers. The more help that we have, the easier/faster the work gets done.

And, again, thanks to Jim for the fantastic entertainment.

Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator

May 17, 2016

 Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Had a good but chilly evening in the garden.  19 workers including some new ones. Please make them feel welcome when you see a new face in the garden 

Worked from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, in time to get home to watch the Penguins beat the Tampa Nay Lightning in overtime. Go Pens! 

Spent most of our efforts clearing out the weeds and grass under the wire - finally got that done. Will now get Tim Trax to turn on the power, to keep the critters out of the garden. No damage so far.

Added the white plastic ribbons to the top of the plastic netting above the wire fence. To make the netting more visible to the deer. They had jumped over the wire fence, so, we added 4 feet of plastic netting above the wire. But, it's hard to see. The ribbons will make it more evident to the deer

Noted that the split copper pipe carrying water to the watering manifold was repaired. Will need to set up a watering schedule soon. I believe that the attention to watering last year really contributed to the good harvests.

The grass was cut over the weekend.

The benches under the tree were sanded - will varnish them and paint the white fence posts soon.

The rye grass planted a few weeks ago has taken hold in front of the garden.

More weeds were taken out of the garden proper.

Nice, but cool, social hour.

Remember, NO work in the garden on Wednesday this week (tomorrow), because of the Fish Fry Recognition dinner. Hope to see you all on Monday.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

May 3, 2016

 Hello to all of you gardeners out there.

Had a great meeting this evening. Had 24 people present. Discussed our last year's efforts and plans for this year. Hope to try some different things this year. Some different vegetables and a lot more "vertical" growing.NO work planned for the garden tomorrow (Wednesday, May 4). And, the weather does not look so good .  Latest weather forecasts say the there is only a 10% chance of a frost after May 10. So, we will start planting some more tender plants after that date. The things growing in the greenhouse are still to young to get outside, and, they will need to be "hardened off" for a week or two anyway. Look out for more email as to when we will resume work in the garden.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

May 1,2016

 Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Please note that we will NOT be working in the garden on Monday evening, May 2.  However, please remember to attend the Tuesday (May 3) evening meeting at 6:30pm in the Multipurpose Room on the 3rd floor of the school. We will be discussing the plans for the 2016 garden at Saint Joan of Arc. We will discuss what has already been done and what the future has in store for us. We will be trying a number of "new things" this year. If you cannot make the meeting, continue to pay attention to your emails and the church Bulletin for relevant information.  Also,[please note that there was an error in this Sunday's Church Bulletin. It stated that work in the garden will be on Mondays and Tuesdays. That was a mistake. We are still planning to work on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Sorry for any confusion.  Hope to see you on Tuesday.

April 28, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there: We had a great first night in the garden on Monday. Was a little bit cool as the evening progressed. We had 16 workers.  Got a lot done.  Much to everyone?s dismay, we did some weeding to begin with. Probably 10-15 wheelbarrows full. Removed the straw from the garlic. Saved it and will use it to cover the rye grass that we will plant on the bare areas in the grassy area in front of the garden where the manure was dumped. Cut the grass. Weeds whacked along the fence line.  Planted 15rows of beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, spinach, carrots, onions andshallots (cool season crops).  Had a little?social hour? afterwards. I remembered to bring the beer, soda, Gatorade andwine. But, I forgot to bring the wine cups. Sorry, will not make that mistakeagain! Was a crazy day for me before the garden session. 

Depending on the weather, I hope to be able to continue the Monday and Wednesday routine.Watch for my emails. And, don?t forget the meeting on Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30 inthe Multi-Purpose Room in the school. Bring a friend, Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

April 25, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Well, it?s that time of year again. Time to get going on the garden. We have accomplished a few things already. I have ordered some seeds,and have a lot of seeds left over from last year.  We have seeds from several sources, but the biggest has been the Agway store in 84 Pennsylvania in Washington County. Their donations have been greatly appreciated. Earlier this month we rototilled the garden with the ?monster? rototiller from Evey Hardware. The fence and the gate have been repaired. The cement pavers, that were moved to allow the Bobcat to enter the garden and spread the manure, have been replaced. The picnic tables and the benches have been brought out of the shed and placed under the big tree.

On April 15, we planted 21 flats of seeds in Tim Trax?s greenhouse,mainly tomatoes and peppers. On April 20 the boardwalk the goes up the center of the garden was replaced. And, today, April 25, we planted 12 more flats of seeds in the greenhouse, mainly herbs, kale, hot peppers and some additional tomatoes.

So, we have gotten under way. This coming Wednesday, April27, at 5:00pm, we will start some additional plantings in the ground.Mainly, we will be planting ?cool season crops?, i.e. peas, lettuce, radishes,turnips, carrots, spinach, collards, onions and shallots. So, if you can makeit, please come and play in the dirt with us. And, bring a friend!

Finally, and importantly, we will have the initial general meeting of all volunteers, in the Multi-Purpose Room on the 3rd Floor of the school, on Tuesday May 3at 6:30pm.

April 21, 2016

Hello to allof you Gardeners out there:

Spring is here and it is time to get going on the church garden for 2016. Last year the SJA garden produced over 5,084 pounds of fresh vegetables, most of which went to the SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Ministry) Food Pantry. The SJA volunteers work in the garden on Monday and Tuesday evenings until dark or until the work is done. The ?digging in the dirt? is followed by a brief ?social hour?. We hope at attract some new volunteers to help on this very worthwhile project.Join us for some ?digging in the dirt? and some great camaraderie. Our first organizational meeting will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room on the 3rd floor of the SJA school at 6:30pm on Tuesday May 3. Come to the meeting, and, if you can?t make it, but still want to help, contact me at [email protected] or contact the parish office. Please watch the Sunday Bulletins for information about our progress as we work on this project.                    Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator  

April 2, 2016

Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Had a fantastic day in the garden today ? bright and sunny,a little chilly, moderate winds, and LOTS of help from the volunteers.  Had 9 workers (including me): Carlos, MikeLeDonne, George Murray, Gino, Joe Czarny, Jim Lawrence Joe Malits and AlMorrison. We accomplished a lot more than I had hoped.  The fencing was repaired where needed ? some of the upperplastic netting had come loose, the gate had to be reset on its hinges, some ofthe white wooden posts had to be made more secure by pounding some wedges intothe ground alongside the post hole, and some of the Electric Fence Signs had tobe secured. George and Alan did most of that work.  The previously placed piles of horse manure had to be spread beforethe ground could be rototilled. Thanks to Andy Amrhein at Evey?s Hardware for the loanof the ?Monster? rototiller. Most of the rototilling was done by Carlos and JoeCzarny, with help from Mike LeDonne and George Murray.  Several of the 2-foot square cement pavers (moved so that theBobcat could be brought in to spread the manure several weeks ago) werereplaced and leveled. Multiple people worked on this heavy project.  All of the garden and picnic benches were brought out of theshed and placed under the big tree, and, they were secured with chain and lock.  All excess manure that was left on the grass in front of the garden was raked up and put into the garden. 

As usual, we ?socialized? a bit after the work was done withsome hot chocolate.The soil/ground in the entire garden is in GREAT shape. Should be easy to do plantings of both seed and seedlings. Sometime inthe next week or so we will directly plant about 10 pounds of onions andshallots, peas, radishes, carrots and spinach. We will also get some seedsplanted in flats at Tim Trax?s green house. He allowed us to do that last year,and, we got a great head start to many of the things we planted in the garden.Working with him over the past several years has been a pleasure, and, wegreatly appreciate his efforts and all of his advice. Along the lines ofadvice, I still sorely miss the expertise rendered by Frank Triglia. He was theconsummate Italian gardener and he taught me many things that I never learnedin books or my Master Gardener Classes. 

Finally, look to the Sunday Bulletins and your email for information regarding the upcoming plans.

Again, THANKS to all of you guys who helped today. A specialthanks to Carlos. He gets an A+ for mastering the rototilling Beast. I?m surethat he will be a little sore tomorrow morning.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator at Saint Joan?s Garden.

August 17, 2015

Another great night in the garden, with 31 workers, on a very hot and humid evening (84-85* with 50% humidity. Appreciated all who came!  Harvested a LOT of vegetables: tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet green peppers, hot peppers, okra, long beans, cabbage, chard, kale, zucchini, squash and pac choi.  The recently planted zucchini have 2-3 leaves and the recently planted beans have a nice flower set. Should start producing beans in a week or two. Mike?s lettuce patch in the bottom right hand corner of the left side not doing anything. I think that it may not be getting any/enough watering.  Attention to the waterers: I placed some short (1-2 feet long) sticks/small pegs, etc. marking Mike?s lettuce patch, as well as all of the zucchini ?hills?. Please make sure that you water them well. That also goes for the most recently planted sweet pepper plants that are on the bottom left and top right of the garden. I know that watering is getting to be tougher and tougher as we go through the hot days. But, hang in there please! We all appreciate what you are doing for the garden !!!  Collected 3-4 more tomato horn worms, all with the parasitic wasp eggs on their surfaces. Had some discussion about whether to leave them alone and let the parasitic wasp do their killing job or to kill the worm outright. I?d don?t like them eating the foliage. There?s been enough damage to the foliage by the early blight, so, I?d like to have them either killed or given to Mona, who feeds them to the bass in her pond.  Have a small (1-2mm) black beetle on the Brussels sprouts. Will spray them with Sevin.  Mike and Carlos chased a ?small? bunny out of the garden. But, I think that there are groundhogs doing the damage to the tomatoes and the kale. So, I set the trap up again and baited it with a cut up tomato and some cantaloupe. If anyone, particularly the waterers, who are in the garden daily, find something in the trap, give me a call and I will take care of the critter.  Had a great social hour. Theresa brought some delicious meatballs, George brought another great cake (apple) from Joan. Audrey brought lots of a tortilla rollups that were also great tasting. Several people brought other snacks, chips, etc.  Thanks to all who contributed.  Diane LeDonne?s brother from out of town came and worked with us tonight. Thanks.  George will take all of tonight?s harvest to SHIM in the morning. George has been doing this all year. Thank You George.  Am reminding everyone about the ?social gathering? on Wednesday. No work in the garden. Just a hotdog roast with Smores for desert. Will have the usual drinks available. If you wish to bring something more, please do so. But, I have been told to ?keep it simple, nothing fancy?. We?ll have our usual celebratory dinner at the end of the season.  Sorry about the length of this note, but it was a great night, and, I am proud of all that you did tonight in the blistering heat! Thank you all!  Hope to see you on Wednesday.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

August 13, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Another great night in the garden. 27 workers. We did a lot better than the Pirates.  We harvested: tomatoes (100#), chard (30#), kale (10#), hot peppers (20#), okra (15#), and long beans (10#). Since SHIM could not handle the harvest this week, we gave all of it to the Saint Joan of Arc Kitchen where Mona will use it to make soups, etc. for the upcoming September Fish Fry. George took the vegetables to the kitchen this morning.  Some weeding and watering was done.  And, again, more tying up of tomato plants. The most recently planted zucchinis have broken ground.

Mona reported that, when she watered the garden earlier this week she collected 22 of those tomato hookworms. She says that the fish in her pond are enjoying the meal.  Conservation/sustainability at work, nothing goes to waste!  Thanks to Theresa who made the delicious brownies. And, thanks to Joan Murray for the two delicious cakes. Ralph and Chris brought some Cokes to drink, thank you. Thanks to John and Joyce for the chips/pretzels. Mary brought two boxes of wine. THANK YOU TO ALL.  I reviewed last year?s harvest schedule, from Becky, and, indeed, we took harvests over to SHIM almost exclusively on Tuesday mornings. There were only three exceptions. So we will need to harvest as much as we can on Mondays. If we have to do any harvesting on Wednesday, Becky said that she would have to make some special arrangements. And, that is difficult because of all that is going on at SHIM on the other days. So, let?s work with Becky and SHIM and try to accommodate them.  I will be picking the ?special? tomatoes from the plants with the red cups on their stakes and take them to the Master Gardener?s Day in the Park event on Saturday. They will be used at the ?Tomato Tasting? booth. If you can make it to the day?s events, it will start at 9:00am and last until 1:00pm. I will be speaking on ?Community Gardens? with a special emphasis on the Saint Joan of Arc Garden at 11:00am. For more information look to the email that I sent earlier for a full listing of the goings on.  Have a great weekend, and I hope to see you on Saturday, at the South Park Demonstration Garden at the corner of McKonkey and Corrigan, or Monday in the garden.  Finally, we will tentatively plan on having another picnic, like the one in July, at our garden next Wednesday, August 19.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

August 10,2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:  Last evening we had a great time in the garden, bothered only by a few drops of rain. (Alas, no ?wet T-shirt competition. I had wanted to give the winner 2 tickets to an upcoming Pirates game. ) Had 28 workers. Thank You. Thanks to Jeff and his ?crew? for their fine work on the water service. We now have a new service pipe (the hydrant is gone), with the old manifold. The new line is very nicely secured to the 4?x4? post next to the gate. It seems to be working very well.  We harvested: kale, tomatoes, tomatillos, chard, squash, okra, sweet green peppers, hot peppers, green peppers, eggplant, cabbage, and the long Asian pole beans.  We did a lot of tying up of the tomatoes. Many of the tomatoes are so heavy that they have some of the plants pulling over their stakes. We added additional staking to secure the plants. Those tomatoes that were touching the ground have been partially eaten by some critter(s). Will need to reset the trap. We captured several tomato hook worms that have been defoliating some of the branches on the tomatoes. When you are working in the tomato patch and see some of these defoliated (no leaves, only stems) branches on the tomato plants, look for the green worm that is about two inches long. It may have many white ?appendages? that look like small uncooked grains of white rice sticking to the worm. The white things are eggs deposited on/into the worm by a parasitic wasp. The eggs get nourishment from the worm and actually kill it in the end. However, if you see any of these worms, dispose of them.  A lot of weeding was also accomplished.  Our second and third planting of beans are doing well. But the replanted zucchini have not yet broken the ground. Attention to the ?waterers?: please water those ?hills? of soil in the bare areas of the garden. We planted more zucchini seeds. They are located in the bare soil areas on both sides of the garden. You should recognize the areas by the slightly elevated "hills." We hope to get a good crop of zucchinis before the first frost.   Thanks to George for again taking the harvest over to SHIMM in the morning.  Again, thanks to all for all of your good/hard work.

 Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

July 20, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:  Another great night in the garden. Had 29 volunteers working in the heat. And, got a lot done.Picked all of the remaining beans and pulled the plants. Replanted 4 more rows of beans. Will add other things in the same area on next workday. Picked a lot of Pac choi. Lot of kale, many squash, zucchini and some cucumbers. Also a few okra.  The hit of the evening with the harvesting the garlic. Not as big an "event" as harvesting the sweet potatoes. But interesting since this was our very first garlic harvesting. I will take all the bulbs to cure/dry a 2-4 weeks, give some to the workers and the rest to the Food Pantry. Might also save some of the bigger ones to plant next year.  Did some tying up of tomatoes, and weeding.

 Joe rototilled the empty bean patch, where the garlic was harvested, and several other areas.  Jeff, Mike and George fixed the water hydrant. Had to get some new parts. But, seems to be working well. So, the "waterers" can get back to work. Am still looking at sprinklers or some other watering mechanism. A big thanks to Jeff for all of his effort.  George took the harvest (except the garlic) too SHIM in the morning today. A nice social hour after  all of the hard work. Looks like some more nice weather for the next several days. Will still have a lot to do on Wednesday.  So, Thanks for all of your hard work and hope to see you on Wednesday,Ron Boron, Garden CoordinatorPS: Thanks for taking such good care of the garden while I was on vacation.

July 8, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:  Sounds like you guys and gals had a great time last night in the garden. Twenty four workers. That's great! Especially with all of the screwed up weather. Diane LeDonne reports that you had a great harvest - lots of beans, squash, zucchini and some okra and broccoli. George will take it over to SHIM this morning.  Apparently the "social" session afterwards was good also. Thanks to Kelly and the boys for the chocolate chip cookies, to George's wife for the zucchini bread, and to the Langs for their family home brew. And, thanks to Mike and Diane for handling the liquid refreshments. And, Diane for keeping me informed about what is going on.  Sorry I missed the work and the socialization. Thanks to all for all of your efforts.  Becky Henninger from SHIM thinks that this will be a banner year for harvest poundage.  Keep up the good work.  Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

July 1, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:  Yesterday was another great day in the garden. Had 24 workers.  Ground was a little wet, but mostly workable. Did the usual tying up on tomatillos and tomatoes. The usual ?hilling? up.  The usual weeding. Cleaned up the dirt/mud/weeds around the pavers at the entrance to the garden. Put up a few more protective stakes along the walk to prevent damage by hoses while watering. Maintenance never ends!  Harvestedabout half a bushel of green beans, and one ?trug? (the small plastic containers that we got from SHIM this year and started to use during harvests) of summer squash and zucchini which were distributed among the workers since there will not be a Food Pantry until late next week.  Noted a couple of ?nearly? ready to pick sweet green peppers, some serrano hot peppers and one banana pepper. The tomatoes are coming along nicely with all of the rain and the warm temperatures. However, along with all of the rain comes the wilt and fungus. Will continue to clear away the lowermost leaves from the plants to keep the air circulating and hope that the rest of the foliage dries out before nightfall each day. Insects also doing their ?thing? on the eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli! But, we can ?fix? that.  Again, had a nice social hour after all of the work was done.  Really a great group of workers. And, Thanks to those of you who bring snacks and wine to the garden. We all appreciate that.I, and, I am sure, all of the clients that visit the Food Pantry really appreciate your efforts.  Have a great Holiday!!
Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

June 30, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there: Another good night in the garden, between the rain drops. Had 21 workers. Didn?t rain hard enough to conduct the Wet Tee-shirt Contest. So that event was postponed to a later date. Did a lot of harvesting: several big tubs of chard, kale and Romaine lettuce. A tub full of zucchini, one small head of cabbageand one very small head of broccoli.  Mike transplanted some of the smaller Romaine lettuce plants.  Tied up some more tomato plants, trimmed some of the plants (especially the sunflowers) away from the electric fence (when plants, foliage, weeds, etc. touch any of the wires it shorts out the system.)  Removed a lot of the yellow, wilted, diseased leaves as well as leaves that were touching the ground at the base of plants in order to cut down on disease issues (especially wilt) with all of the rain that we have had. When it rains, or when we water, the water hits the ground and the spores splash up onto the plants and spread the disease. Air circulation under the plants is also improved by removing these leaves and will also help to cut down on the spread of disease. The electric fence is working better, seems like it?s getting more power. Washed the produce last evening after harvest and took it over to SHIM this morning. They will take it over to the refugees in Prospect Park in Whitehall were SHIM has a second Food Pantry.  All in all, a good night. I expect harvests to get much larger with all of the rain and warmer weather. Thanks to all that showed up last night and allowed us to get all of the work done The ?break?, after all of the work was done, was appreciated by most of those who came to work.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

June 24, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Another good evening in the garden. Had 18 volunteers. Got a lot done.  Allan cut the grass earlier in the day.  Did a lot of weeding, ?hilling up? around many plants (glad to have you back Joe M.) Did a lot of tying up, especially of the tomatoes and the tomatillos.  Pruned many of the tomato plants by removing the bottom 8-9 inches of leaves, and cutting down the plant to 2-3 main trunks to allow for better air circulation and improved tomato production. This will also cut down on the spread of mold, fungus and wilt all of which like wet dark places to grow. Planted the very last of the potato slips. All of the previously planted ones have taken and are doing well. Harvested a large tub of chard and a large tub of Romaine lettuce. Took them over to the Food Pantry this morning (Wednesday) for the 10:00 am Food Pantry. When I got there at 8:30 there were already 15-20 people in line.Picked the last of the garlic scapes? Father Pribonic and some of the other workers took some home to sauté.  Picked the first (small, 5 inch) head of broccoli, which was about to go to seed.Noted that we have some 4-6 inch zucchinis and some 2 inch yellow squash. Should be ready in 2-3 weeks, or sooner if the wet weather and hot temperatures persist. Insects eating the
pac choi, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and especially the eggplant. Will spray as soon as the rain (coming in today) stops.

Should have lots to harvest next week (Monday). Hope to see you then.

So, all in all a great night. Again, thanks to all who came to work last evening.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

June 11, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:  Another great night in the garden. 28-29 workers. Very hot!  The rain over the several days before did a nice job on the garden.  Father blessed the garden,  Moved the lower sweet potato row up about 2 feet, was too close to the herb garden. Joe Czarny rototilled the bed and that made it easier to plant the 198 sweet potato slips. I?m hoping for a 200# harvest this year.  The electricity is back on. Hopefully it will deter the intruder(s). I did set the Have-a-Heart Trap in between the rows of kale below the staked tomato rows on the left that the critter almost totally decimated. Attention to waterers, or anyone else who may pass by the garden: If you note that there is a ?critter? in the trap, call me (cell 412.760.7387) and I or someone will promptly pick up the trap and find the critter a nice new home somewhere in the park.  Numerous tomato and tomatillo plants were tied up. They are growing well and have flowers and some have tomatoes already.  Harvested 10# of kale and 4# of chard. Our firstharvest of the season. Delivered it to SHIM this morning for the Food Pantry later in the morning.  Did a lot of weeding and hilling-up. Planted more sunflowers along the left, back and right sides of the garden. Those sites were marked with 3 foot sticks (old flag sticks). Waterers please water these spots also.  I checked the garden this morning to get some pictures and to see if we had a critter in the trap (empty).The garden had already been watered before I got there. Whoever did it, did a fantastic job. Most of the individual plants were well watered as well as the rows of other plantings. A big THANK YOU to the Janine and her watering team for all of your nice work. Watering last year made a big difference in the amount harvested, and, we hope for the same thing this year.  I?m still looking into a watering/sprinkling/drip irrigation system. No decisions yet.  Thanks, to ALL OF YOU for getting this worthwhile project off/into the ground!!!!  A little more rain during this very hot spell would be great, Father Pribonic and Sister Kathy, please do your thing!!!

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

June 4, 2015

 Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We had another great night in the garden, cool and no rain. Got a lot done. Twenty plus people working. Thanks!!!!  Planted two hills of cucumbers that did not previously produce any plants. Planted bush beans in some of the areas where none come up. Planted two flats of kale along the right edge of the garden where we had left several rows short of the end of the planting area. Made sure that they were not too close to the electric fence. But we will have to watch this. Planted another row in the herb section ? more Thai basil and some Genovese basil. Planted some eggplant in an empty spot in the upper right corner. As Mike says ? ?Let there be no vacancy in the garden?.  Replaced the disintegrated landscape fabric over the sweet potato bed and secured it with staples. Will plant most of the sweet potatoes on Monday, but, I will continue collecting ?slips? for another few weeks and plant them when they get roots.  A lot of weeding was done with hoes and hand trowels, but, Joe Czarny made the biggest difference when he found space between rows of plants to run his rototiller. Saved a lot of time and backs. Rest of weeding was done with hoes and hand trowels.  The ?surprise? (mentioned in the last email) was a new tool that I just got in the mail on Monday afternoon. It is a garden auger that, when attached to a battery operated drill, will very easily make holes in which to place the seedlings. It?s a fantastic addition to our armamentarium. I am sorry that I did not get it sooner. I apologize to all of you whom had to dig the 349 holes earlier in the week.  A lot of ?hilling up? was also done.  The garden is almost 100% planted. Still need to see what Mike DeDonne wants to do with the 4x8 foot area near the garlic/herb patch. That?s his ?private? garden. He usually thins out some of the lettuce and transplants it in that area.  Attention to the waterers: I got two praying mantis egg sacs from Becky at SHIM. One has produced thousands of praying mantises. I let them loose in the upper left side of the garden. There is a small piece of white netting and the clear plastic cup that holds the egg sac lying on the ground in that area. Please try to not disturb that area too much when watering. Hopefully the insects will spread throughout the garden eating other insects. The little things are only about ¼ of an inch in length.  If/when you see any in the garden this summer please let me know. They should grow to about 3 inches in length. When they become adults, you may catch them eating other insects. Or, you might see the female biting off the head of the male, after they mate (normal for that species!!!)  Also, of interest, while Shari was watering this morning, she observed a blue bird in/on one of the birdhouses. Let?s hope that it doesn?t munch on the praying mantises. Gave some plants to workers and I took half of a flat of Thai basil to SHIM for their use.  Have a great weekend, and, hope to see you on Monday.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

June 2, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We had a cold but a good night in the garden. Invigorating to say the least!

Had 21-22 volunteers working. Alan cut the grass earlier in the day, and, George used the weed whacker around the edges and under the fence. Joe Czarny used his rototiller and made the planting go a lot easier last night. No blisters from the hand trowels, like last week. After the complaints about the number of holes that had to be dug, I ordered a ?plant auger? - a gadget that is attached to a battery operated 3/8 inch drill that will ?drill? varied sized holes. I?m sorry that I did not get it sooner. There will still be times this year that it will prove useful. Some people suggested that we use a ?post hole digger? (I have one, but that would really be ?overkill?.) Planted tomatoes, eggplant, Pac choy, Brussels sprouts, lots of herbs and filled in some spaces with more broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Lot of weeding and ?hilling up? accomplished. Removed some of the leaves from the chard that were infested with ?leaf miners?. These are larvae that eat the ?stuff? out between the upper and lower leaf surfaces of the chard. Put up 30 warning signs for the electric fence. Hope that the deer can read! Removed weeds (mostly grass) and straw from the garlic. The garlic won?t be harvested until July. The garden is now nearly 100% planted. We might find a space or two in which to plant something. I?m sure that when Mike comes back, he will find some space to plant a few things. He always likes to be able to put up the NO VACANCY sign! Some volunteers took home some of the remaining plants.  I will see to it that anything left over is used and not thrown away. And, after all of that, and even with the cool/cold evening, we found time to ?socialize? and have something to drink after we were done. Again, Thanks for all that you do in the garden for this worthy cause.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

  May 27, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there: We had another great night in the garden yesterday. The weather was great. No rain and not too much heat. We had about 25 volunteers working. Thanks to all of you.

Jeff and several others painted the garage/shed. Jeff had done the roof earlier in the day, working from his Bobcat. The shed looks great. Jeff picked a color that matches the color of the brick and stonework on the church and the pavilion. You may have noticed that Mike LeDonne (who helped with the painting) had 18 different colors of paint on this shirt and shorts. When asked about that he said that the shirt and shorts were (somewhat??) old (like about 15 years, maybe!!!) When we next see Diane, we will have to ask if that is true-I believe it!! We replaced about 20-25 tomato plants that did not make it through the shock of transplantation. Many of the others were tied up a little more support. Joe Czarny erected two teepees to support some special climbing bean plants that were a gift to the garden from a friend of mine.We planted over 150-175 hot pepper plants and about 100 sweet pepper plants. Thanks to all of you ladies who now have blisters on your hands. Joe Malits spent the evening ?hilling up? around most of the plants in the garden. He does a fantastic job with that. The garden is about 85% planted. Next week we will plant the herbs, eggplant and Brussels sprouts.

I will have several flats of things that we have not planted. At one of our sessions in the next week or so, I will let you know what is available, and, you are welcome to take what you wish. I will bring them some evening.  

A couple of watering problems were brought to my attention by Janine. I believe that those problems have been fixed. Janine, if there are any more issues, please let me know. I am still looking at alternative means of watering, i.e. sprinklers, trickle tape, soaker hoses, etc. I am open to suggestions.

Sharon (parish office) completed the laminating of the electric fence signs and they will go up soon. Thank you Sharon. Thanks to Irene and Ron for getting them produced.

So, all in all a great night! Now we need a good soaking rain.

Thanks again to all of you who have been working so hard!!!!!

 Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

May 21, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Last evening was another great night for work in the gardenHad 24-25 volunteers in attendance..  The garden plot is now approximately 3/4 planted. Last evening we planted: multiple varieties of each of the following: tomatoes, tomatillos, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard and okra.We noted that Jeff Lang had put a primer coat of paint on the shed roof the day before. The plan is to have some workers complete the painting next Wednesday (May 27) evening. Jeff will be bringing the paint. I will check with him as to the necessity for paint brushes and/or rollers and trays. There will be no work on this coming Monday evening because of the holiday. I will try to schedule another evening to fill out the rest of the garden. We will have to plant sweet and hot peppers, herbs, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, eggplant and pac choi.  If we have any room left, we will plant additional tomatoes. Most of the straw and weeds in the garlic beds were removed. But more work will need to be done in that area. 

George made some additional repairs on the water hydrant. Mike called me today to say that Tim Trax turned the power on the fence, so it will be electrified. So be careful.   New signs for the posts that hold the fence wire were made by Irene and Ron Reed.  They are being laminated in the church office by Nancy and/or Sharon. So, as we approach the holiday weekend, please have a pleasant, dry and safe weekend. Watch for emails as the week begins.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

May 13, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We WILL be work in the garden tonight (but just the men), as long as it does not rain anymore. The present situation with the boardwalk is just too unsafe. Someone will trip/fall and really hurt themselves if we don't re-do this. The work tonight will involve mainly fixing the boardwalk that goes up the center of the garden plot. We will lift all of the planks, dig/hoe/mattock out a deeper trench, tamp the ground with a tamper (what else would you use?) And replace the boards. I would like the top of the boards to be just at or below the level of the soil. So, the ladies get a day off.  Hope to see the guys tonight.        Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

April 29,2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

We are going to try and do some work in the garden on Wednesday, April 29, starting about 5:00pm.  I'm asking for help from the guys, because we will be doing some of the heavy maintenance work. I'd like to accomplish several things: reset the concrete pavers in the gate area (they were moved to allow us to get the Bobcat in to spread the manure.) Second, I'd like to repair the fence (mainly in the upper sections where the plastic "chicken wire" is present. Thirdly I' like to get a start, at least, on setting the wooden walkway up the center of the garden. All of that is a pretty hefty workload. But, if we can accomplish some of that, it would be great,The weather is "supposed" to be better - warmer and hopefully dry. I will check out the garden around noon. If the ground is able to be worked for the walk, I will send out an email that we will be working. If conditions are not acceptable, I will send out a note that the work for the evening is cancelled

 If you can make it, please come. The more hands the easier it will be and the sooner it will get done.

Mike and I planted several  more flats of seeds at Tim Trax's greenhouse today. The 40 or so flats that we planted in the last couple of weeks are doing well. AND, the sweet potato "slips" are coming along very well on a windowsill in my house.

Spring is here, but tell that to the weatherman. We want to get the "cool season" crops" in soon (lettuce, spinach, etc.)

Hope to see you guys on Wednesday.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator for the Saint Joan Garden

April 22, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there: 

Thanks for a great meeting last night. We covered a lot of ground (joke!!) yesterday in a short time as some of you had other meetings to attend. I greatly appreciate the fantastic turnout.

Thanks also to the new volunteers who came. We are pleased to have you with us. For the "oldies" in our group, please meet. greet and make the "newbies" feel welcome when you see them in the garden for the first time.

I believe that I have email set up for the new members of our group who have access to email. If you are a "new" volunteer to the garden group, please confirm that you got this email by sending back confirmation, so that I can be sure that we are connected.

As we move forward, I will be keeping you posted on the goings on and what sort of help will be needed for specific projects before we begin the "regular" Monday and Wednesday evening sessions. Also, keep an eye on the Sunday Church Bulletin for additional announcements. In the meantime pray for some dry weather so that we can get started soon.

Biggest projects for right now are fixing the fence, replacing the cement pavers that we moved to allow the Bobcat into the garden with the manure and replacing the wooden walkway that goes up the center of the garden

Thanks again for a great meeting and turnout.

Ron Boron, Garden Coordinator

March 8, 2015

Hello to all of you gardeners out there:

Here?s hoping that you had a great Easter.

Spring has arrived (according to the calendar anyway.) So, work has begun in the garden.

On April 3, Mike LeDonne, Tim Trax and I planted numerous flats of seeds in one of Tim?s greenhouse. They will serve as a portion of the vegetables plants that will be planted in the garden. I anticipate that we will have another session in the next week or so. Tim allows us to do this in his greenhouse and helps in many other ways with the JMA/SHIM Garden.

Yesterday, April 6, Andy Amrhein used his truck and trailer to deliver Jeff Lang?s Bobcat to the garden.  Jeff used the Bobcat to move all three piles of manure into the garden. Mike and I then spread it around. Jeff and the Bobcat made the work easier, and, it was accomplished in 2 ½ hours. Then the rains came. Perfect timing!!

If you have been anywhere near the garden recently, you may have noticed that the garlic that we planted in the fall, is coming up through the straw that covers the garlic bed. It will be harvested in July.

You may also have noticed a bird house that was put up to the left of the garden. Three more have been built and will be placed around the garden soon. We are hoping that they will attract insect-eating birds, especially Bluebirds.

Finally, and, most importantly, please plan on attending the Opening/Planning Meeting of the garden volunteers at 6:30pm on Tuesday April 21 in the school.

Please bring a friend to the meeting. Over the winter, we have recruited several new people to come and ?play in the dirt? and to ?socialize? afterwards.

Watch for additional announcements (regarding the room for the meeting, etc.) via email and in the Sunday Bulletin.

Ron Boron, SJA Garden Coordinator