Thursday, July 19, 2018

So much new-ness, so much to digest

It’s mid-July, and I’m just now taking a moment to reflect on all the new-ness that popped up at M R Gardens this past spring. Thank goodness for photos to remind me of all that happened. Believe it or not, this post (which has grown quite lengthy) summarizes just the highlights!

Biggest Change
M R Gardens now has a tiny home!



It’s currently listed on AirBnB, and we plan to eventually post on additional vacation websites that specifically reach out to people who want to be involved with or learn from the farm. When the house is not booked for guests, we can use the space for a temporary office that’s a closer walk to the greenhouse than the home office (which is helpful when tabulating plant inventory). The tiny home may be our first big step in eventually creating a learning/healing retreat-type experience, as well as expanding the types of audiences that gain from the farm. Funny that such a little building (8-foot by 24-foot) can inspire such a significant component to the farm.

Most Delightful Moment
Roots and Wings School of Art and Design brought about 15 of their preschoolers to M R Gardens end of May. 




We spent an hour together, first walking through the greenhouses and gardens, learning tidbits along the way, and then seeding winter squash and scallions together. They saw what the seed will turn into when I showed them a full-grown scallion, passing it around so they could get a whiff of the onion. The students and chaperones then sat in the shade and enjoyed a picnic lunch.





The following Saturdays, parents returned with the students to buy plants for their own garden, and one bright little one repeated to me something she had learned (how one of the yellow Roma heirloom tomatoes looks like a lemon). I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, and I hope this first preschool tour at M R Gardens is not the last!

Most Amazing Moment
I had not been to Emily’s property in Five Points (near UNCA) since fall of 2016 when I helped her create a landscape design. Her property has some gardening challenges because it is surrounded by black walnuts, which produces a poison that can deter some plants’ growth.

Emily's backyard - Fall 2016

Emily's main goal is to attract wildlife, but we needed to stick to nectar plants rather than ones that produce a lot of pollen for allergy concerns. After completing her design, I gave her a list of local nurseries where she could purchase the shade plants that my nursery doesn’t currently produce, and introduced her to my helper Brooke. The two were almost entirely self-sufficient from that point on.
 
It's nearly always breath-taking to walk into a natives garden after not visiting it for two or three years. The plants are so small when we plant them, and in the first year or two, their growth above ground is often slow because they put most their energy into their roots. I think my experience at Emily’s was particularly amazing because I saw all of Emily’s “insides”—her plant knowledge, love for wildlife, and commitment to healthy ecosystems—blossom on the outside into this beautiful landscape. I also knew that she and Brooke had formed a special professional bond to create this little urban oasis together.

Mid-May 2018





Most Fun Moment
When there’s so much fun on a daily basis with my work, it’s hard to pick the “most fun” but that’s what comes to mind when I think back to mid-April, planting with Lin and Tim, M R Gardens clients who live in Southeast Asheville, along with their helper Flint, who is also a student of M R Gardens’ Emergence program. Lin and Tim like to joke about their age, and didn’t want to waste any time creating a landscape so that they have “plenty of time to enjoy it.” (By the way, they’re about two of the most hip, youthful acting people I know!)

I don’t think they had a full picture in their minds of the transformation we were making to their backyard until we placed out all the pots to be planted, and Tim said good-naturedly “Holy Sh*t!” 


Mid-April planting day
Flint and Lin watering

Don't worry - Tim is just taking a break. He helped plenty
One unique piece about this project is that Lin wanted to incorporate some of her favorite ornamentals that aren’t necessarily natives. So we ended up adding a few plants that I don’t typically work with—and I loved seeing how they enhanced the aesthetics of the natives. Great teamwork in creating this design!

Mid-June, Lilies are popping, next to the Catmint.

Heuchera, Columbine, and Foamflower



 
Late June, a wood chip pathway was added

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spring in the Greenhouse - Open Saturdays


M R Gardens in the Oakley community of Asheville opens its sustainable nursery to the public Saturdays, April 7 through June 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We offer seasonal vegetable starts, culinary herbs, groundcovers, Southeast native perennials, medicinal herbs and other plants that benefit the garden. If you can't make it on Saturdays, we can be open by appointment.





Tours of the passive solar greenhouse are held at 1 p.m. on April 7, April 14, June 2 and June 9.

Find us at 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville. Contact megan@mrgardens.net or 828.333.4151 with questions.

Current Availability – Week of June 9
More discounts this week!
Just $1: Parsley, Dill, Swiss Chard, Celeriac, Marigold and Calendula
Half-Off: The rest of our vegetable starts, Comfrey, Hyssop, Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Tulsi and Black Eyed Susans.

Vegetable Starts: Tomatoes: Yellow Roma and Ruby Orr are our remaining varieties. We also have Sweet Red Peppers (Ace); Eggplant: Asian (Orient Charm) and Italian (Beatrice); Celeriac and Swiss Chard.

Culinary Herbs: Dill, Lavender, Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley

Medicinal Herbs: Ashwagandha, Calendula, Comfrey, Chamomile, Lavender, Gotu Kola, Hyssop, Stinging Nettle, Tulsi

Groundcovers: Catmint, Creeping Thyme, Roman Chamomile, Sedum - Dragon’s Blood (red) and Oregon (yellow) varieties

Southeast Native Perennials: Asters, Black Eyed Susans, Bee Balm, Boltonia, Liatris, Milkweed, Mountain Mint, Rattlesnake Master

Other Flowers: Marigold, Moonflower

Check back to this page as current availability is updated regularly.

View photos and descriptions of the plants at: https://squareup.com/store/m-r-gardens/.


Rudbeckia - Black Eyed Susan or Bicolor Daisy
We aim for as sustainable as possible, using organic methods and growing in a passive solar greenhouse heated entirely by solar gain and cooled with manual vents. We grow on a small scale with attention on quality.

Friday, March 9, 2018

2018 Passive solar greenhouse tours

Join the 2018 tours of M R Gardens’ one-of-a-kind passive solar greenhouse!

Saturdays, April 7, April 14, June 2 and June 9 at 1 p.m.
441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville

v Why build a passive solar greenhouse instead of a typical one?
v Why is it shaped differently?
v What are all the barrels for?
v Why does it produce high quality plants?

These questions and more will be answered.
Owner Megan Riley in front of the passive solar greenhouse. Photos by Vickie Burick
With only solar gain to heat it and manual vents to cool it, M R Gardens’ 800 square foot greenhouse maintains ideal growing conditions despite wide fluctuations in outside temperatures. January 2018 put the greenhouse to the test with more than two weeks of outside lows in the single digits or mid-twenties. Yet inside the house, overnight temperatures remained above 40F, which is suitable for the plants in the greenhouse at that time. In more typical weather, the nightly minimum is rarely below 50F, especially as the days lengthen. We could further increase overnight temperatures by sealing up cracks around vents. The building’s design also prevents the interior from overheating, as we ventilate it even on these cold winter days to keep it below 90F in sunny weather.

Inside the greenhouse.
The tour is typically 40 minutes. We ask for $5 per person and appreciate any additional contribution if the tour was especially helpful for you. Please RSVP to megan@mrgardens.net or 828.333.4151. The April 7 tour, which includes a brief walk through the native and edible landscape, is part of the Asheville New In Town Meetup Group. If you choose this date, reserve soon as it's almost full. If these dates don't work for you, we also offer tours for individuals or small groups at pre-arranged times. See our online store.