Sunday, September 20, 2015

Farewell to Figaro

UPDATE 4/9/16: Figaro was found nine months later in the Bronx, and has returned home to Brooklyn. 
Figaro, the little tuxedo cat with the big personality who made the Summit Street Community Garden his own, hasn’t been seen since late July. He was last spotted at the corner of Columbia and Summit Streets on July 25, and sadly, it seems as if he isn’t going to come back to us.
If any cat has nine lives, it’s Figaro, who is in his teens. Even if you don’t know his name, he’s a beloved neighborhood fixture. He has touched many of us, literally, rubbing up against your hand or offering a friendly meow. If you stopped to pet him as he strolled down the street, he would sometimes escort you to your door. It hasn’t been quite the same without seeing him saying hello to those who would visit his garden to water, weed, read or simply sit and enjoy the day. Just earlier this summer, when I snapped the photo above, a visitor stopped by to coo at him, after he made his rounds as the garden mayor, visiting someone reading in the shade and then making his way over to me to inspect my weeding work.
Most of us have a story about Figaro, and the full extent of his adventures will never be known. I once devoted a blog post to a day with Figaro in the garden. Occasionally, Figaro would bat at passing dogs’ noses from behind the safety of the garden fence, but the dogs of several garden members met Figaro’s seal of approval.
Figaro after escorting me home one night.
Several years ago, my downstairs neighbor, thinking his roommate’s black and white cat had escaped, brought a cat inside, only to realize that he now had two cats. He promptly put Figaro back outside. Another garden member recently recounted how she discovered, after several days, she had two cats in her home and realized one was Figaro. Figaro also was often the recipient of food and treats from people who didn’t realize he had a home with garden members Amy and Rob. In fact, Amy told me that the cat even played a part in bringing them together.
It’s possible that someone has unwittingly taken him in, though at this point, it’s also likely that he’s gone for good. I got off the bus a few stops away from my own, thinking I saw him, but it was a black and white cat without Figaro’s distinctive short tail. Someone in the neighborhood found a tuxedo cat, but the photos showed a black nose instead of Figaro’s white one. (I checked with the number on another missing cat poster, but that cat, happily, is now home.)
Yet I sometimes still find myself looking in the garden for any sign of him. One day I saw a dark cat with a white nose but it was the gray cat who sometimes hangs out in the garden. The gray cat, always skittish, has become increasingly bold in Figaro’s absence. Sitting at the entrance the other day, the gray cat tried to look confident and as it he belonged, but it ran off when approached. It made me a little sad; if the other cat is ready to take Figaro’s place, he must be nowhere around.
Though it’s hard not knowing for certain what happened to Figaro, this way we can speculate he has perhaps gone off to create a new life for himself. My boyfriend has a theory that all the cats on the missing posters in the neighborhood make their way to the Red Hook cruise terminal, and simply board a ship once they decide to retire from city life. I know I would like to think that perhaps Figaro is on to a new adventure, whether he’s decided to set sail on the Queen Mary 2 to Europe or has opted to go south, to see the six-toed Hemingway cats of Key West. Wherever Figaro is, I know that many of us miss him. I hope that wherever he is, he reflects fondly upon his time as the beloved Summit Street Garden cat.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Garden Meeting and Workday July 19 at 11 am

There's a garden meeting and workday scheduled for today, July 19, at 11 am.  It's going to be the hottest day of the year so far, so bring water and dress accordingly. If you'd like to become a new member, stop by for an orientation. For those who can't make it, we'll send out an email update and publish information on the blog.

The Baby Mockingbirds Have Left the Nest

The mockingbirds have left the nest and there's no more risk of getting hit in the head by birds. Here is a cute photo of one of the birds.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Be Careful of the Mockingbird Nest

I dropped by to look at my garden plot today and something hit me in the head. It was a bird. Specifically the bird pictured above. In this photo, the mockingbird is surveying his or her handiwork. It didn't hurt, but I was startled.
A dramatic re-creation of this morning.
As some of you know, there's a mockingbird nest in the grapevine by the Summit Street entrance. The birds are protective of their nest, so just be aware of them, and during your garden hours, alert visitors to the birds. The eggs seemed to have hatched in the past few weeks, and the birds leave the nest after about 12 days, so the newest garden residents should be flying and on their own soon. In the meantime, give them a wide berth (or risk getting sideswiped by a wing).

Here is a helpful graphic as to where you might find the angry birds, but my plot is kind of in the middle of the garden, so just be aware of them wherever you are. These birds are protective parents!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Photos from the 2015 Summit Street Community Garden Tag & Bake Sale

View of the Summit Street Community Garden Tag & Bake sale on Saturday, June 13
Thanks to all the gardeners who contributed time and items to make the 2015 summer Summit Street Community Garden Tag & Bake Sale a success! We also owe thanks to Pardon Me for Asking and Word on Columbia Street for posting about the event, and gratitude to Kings Coffee for the delicious cold-brew donation and to The Brooklyn Herborium for the beverages and container use.

If you didn't make it to this tag and bake sale, mark your calendars for our next event on Saturday, September 19.

Delicious baked goods included oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate-chip pretzel bars and coconut and lime quickbread, as well as macaroons, strawberry biscuits and streusel, chocolate chip cookies and carrot cake.

It looked as if it was going to rain for a bit, but it turned out to be a beautiful day.
Unofficial mascot of the tag sale. He soon found a good, loving home. 
P is for Party!
I was tempted to buy these shirts so people would think I was way more fit. It's easier than working out and training.

Yes, this is a cat hot water bottle.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Garden Updates: June 7

Blogging from the garden!
It’s another beautiful day in the garden. Right now, the breeze is bringing both scents of garden blooms, as well as the sounds of a ukulele player who is currently serenading the plants (and me). While I plan on gardening today, first I’m going to post about a few things discussed in the most recent garden meeting, as well as items I’ve collected from recent group emails.

Tag sale
Don’t forget the Summit Street Garden Tag & Bake Sale is on Saturday, June 13, from 10 am–3 pm. Shawna has sent out an invitation to sign up for shifts and for baked goods and food. Shifts are 9­–11 am, 11 am –1 pm, 1–3 pm and 3–4 pm (breakdown), with three to four people per shift.

Remember to sign up for garden hours
There are still plenty of spots open for June, and the garden is looking gorgeous right now.
This could be your view when you sign up for hours.
Grilling season
The grill is now repaired, with new grates and a new ignition system, thanks to Shawn.

No food scraps in the compost, please
Sondra recently sent out a friendly reminder not to put kitchen scraps in the compost. It makes for smelly compost that attracts flies, so it's best if the compost contributions are limited only to garden cuttings. If you’d like to compost food items, the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket on Carroll Street, between Court and Smith streets, accepts food compost from 8 am–1 pm on Sundays. Compost can also be dropped in the rotating box (not the compost box) in the Backyard Garden, but if you’re not sure where to drop it off, please check with a member there.
Thinking about putting kitchen scraps here? Don't do it! This compost is for garden cuttings only. 
Moonflower by the arbor
Be careful not to pull up the moonflower planted by the grapevine near the arbor. Claire has sent a helpful photo to let us know what it looks like, and says, “This is a photo of a young moonflower plant, an annual with amazing white trumpet flowers later in the season. It's in the morning glory family and its flowers have a similar shape, but it doesn't drop seeds for next year.”
This is a photo of a young moonflower, courtesy of Claire.

Birch tree
Some concern has been expressed about the health of river birch at the back of the garden—specifically a menacing dead branch. Claire has spoken with a community gardener who is helping another local garden with some tree trimming, and she’ll keep us posted on the birch tree status.
River birch
Herbs in the garden
Lily sent out an email to the garden about her herb gardening throughout the communal areas. “Probably most people are aware that one of my biggest gardening interests is the propagation, growth, harvesting, sharing, and eating of herbs of all sorts,” she writes. “To this end, I have begun populating some of the common areas (Mediterranean Mound, patio planters) with tasty edibles for everyone to share.”

Expect a map to come shortly. Lily also says that she plans to incorporate more herbs and edible flowers both into the section she has adopted (the shady patio by the pines), and other sections of the garden. She also thanks Stephanie and Claire for the contributions of some herbs—including spearmint, basil and sage—into the garden this season. She also would like to hear from fellow gardeners as to what we would like to see be available for communal harvest this summer. So far, she’s suggested more basil, cilantro and rosemary, but she’s open to suggestions and help with the herbs project.
Thank you to Lindsey, who set up a Tumblr account. I’m afraid I’m the one holding things up now, as I haven’t had the time to sit down and take a look at uploading yet. I hope to have a new site launched by the end of the summer! In the meantime, you can find news and updates here.

Carpenter bees
The carpenter bee activity by the shed seems to have eased up a bit for now. In the last meeting, putting wood elsewhere for them to bore was suggested, though everyone seems to have pointed to a direction where they usually aren’t gardening (but someone else is.) So we’ll see how things go with the bees. They’re good pollinators and rarely sting, but they can be a little intimidating.

OK, that’s enough typing for me—time to get my hands dirty! Happy gardening!


Summit Street Community Garden Tag & Bake Sale on Saturday, June 13

The Summit Street Community Garden, at the corner of Summit and Columbia streets, is having a tag and bake sale on Saturday, June 13, from 10 am-3 pm. Enjoy delicious baked goods, coffee, herbal tea, lemonade and popcorn, and find bargains on toys, household items, clothes, jewelry, music and more. All sales go toward beautifying the garden.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spring 2015 Garden Tasks & Updates

Happy spring!
The first meeting of the Summit Street Community Garden was held on April 19, 2015. If you weren't able to attend the meeting or would like a refresher on what was discussed, here are some notes, as well as some spring photos of the garden.

Spring garden hour chores. Wondering what to do during your garden hours? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Check perimeters for trash, not only within the garden, but outside the gate, clinging to the borders.
  • Trim the grass by the beds where the lawnmower will not reach. 
    The lawnmower can't reach the edges of some beds and boxes.
  • Deadhead daffodils and other faded spring blooms in the borders.
    Many of the bulbs in the border beds are in full bloom, but some are fading and need to be deadheaded.
  • Clear walkway weeds. Note: Part of the round patio has been adopted and is receiving special attention, so be careful in this area to make sure you’re not pulling up good things. 
    Path weeds (self-explanatory and ubiquitous).
  • Cut up compost contributions.

Screens on top of the compost. (Not pictured: Humming bumblebees.)
Compost. For compost success, the pieces need to be relatively small, if possible. If you don’t have time to cut up sticks and contributions, then place them to the side for break-up later. There are screens on top of the sections where you shouldn’t contribute. (Also, a note: This area is full of bumblebee activity.)

Lawn. The grass is done resting and the poles have come down.

The grapevine may have already been pruned. 
Grapevine. The grapevine over the arbor is getting heavy and needs to be pruned. The wires will be tightened. If you’re interested in pruning but not sure how, talk to Claire for instruction.

Borders. Border work is going well. Six sections of the garden’s border beds are receiving attention, and there are some sections still available for adoption.

Water. Keep an eye on the water spigot. It seems to have been leaking.

Learning. There are some interesting workshops coming up from Green Thumb NYC. Visit the GreenThumb website and sign up for the email list for more information.

Remember the first day of spring?

Winter maintenance. Do we have to think about winter already? But this is a friendly reminder: The garden’s sidewalk is relatively shady and at a slight incline/decline, so the walking conditions can become a bit hazardous. Remember to try to keep the sidewalk clear during the winter. Options for a new de-icer that’s somewhat more paw-friendly for pets is being explored.

This is especially exciting if you remember the old table.

We now have new tables (complete with flat surfaces) and chairs. Yay!


Meetings. The garden meeting dates were set for the upcoming season. Meetings start at 11 am on the following Sundays and last about 30–45 minutes, followed by workdays. Meetings will have snacks! If you’d like to bring some, please do!

Sunday, May 17 at 11 am
Sunday, June 14 at 11 am
Sunday, July 19 at 11 am
Sunday, September 6 at 11 am
Sunday, October 18 at 11 am

Those interested in becoming new members should attend a garden meeting for an orientation. Once contact information is provided, a member will follow up with you about becoming a member.

Events. Dates were set for two upcoming fundraisers. A tag and bake sale will be held Saturday, June 13. The fall event, which may include music, a tag sale, food and possibly art, will occur Saturday, September 19.


Blog. This blog will most likely move to a new CMS, but the archives will remain here. Stay tuned for details. 

Signs. To create signs for upcoming meetings and events, there will be shared PSD files so they can be easily updated as needed.

Below are some additional photos of the garden this spring, but it's best seen in person. Sign up for garden hours or stop by and enjoy the Summit Street Community Garden! 
The garden in the morning. 
Plenty of spring blooms are flowering.
The bumblebees are enjoying the flowering trees.
There's plenty of spring activity within the members' garden plots.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Spring! First Garden Workday, Meeting and Hours Sign-Up!

Some of the garden's first crocuses
Judging by the increase in garden emails lately, we're all ready for spring. The good news is that the bulbs are coming up, and the first garden hours, workday and meeting are just around the corner!

Garden Workday, Sunday, March 29 
Join us for the first (short) garden workday on Sunday, March 29 from 11:30 am–2 pm. We'll be cleaning up garden debris and composting. Details on an April workday are coming soon!

Garden Hours Begin Wednesday, April 1
Consider signing up for an April shift.

First Garden Meeting of 2015, Sunday, April 19
At 11 am, we will meet in the garden to discuss garden plans, set the season's agenda and welcome new members.

Want to become a member? 
Simply attend a garden meeting for an orientation!

The garden on the first day of spring
Ivory hellebores
Some of the first crocuses of spring
—information courtesy Gardener Amy, images from Claire, text by Josie