Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fall plants for your garden

M R Gardens in the Oakley community opens its greenhouse to the public on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. September 2 to October 21 or until supplies last.

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce - an heirloom variety

Fall plants that are available include broccoli raab, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, pak choi, spinach, as well as herbs and native perennials. Most varieties are pictured here: https://squareup.com/store/m-r-gardens/

We aim for as sustainable as possible, which means not only using organic growing methods but also growing in a passive solar greenhouse heated entirely by solar gain and cooled with manual vents.

Comfrey
The greenhouse is at 441 Onteora Blvd. Contact Megan at 828.333.4151 or megan@mrgardens.net with questions.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Unlock the bottleneck–Move one car, the rest follow

Group garden coaching programs 'Grow' and 'Emergence' help get you unstuck in these transformational times


First, an aside
The recent total solar eclipse generated a lot of new attention for astrology, which happens to be a hobby of mine. Since it’s essentially the study of the seasons, I can’t help but to interweave it with gardening articles on occasion, especially as the sun enters the constellation of Virgo—which is associated with healing the Earth—where it remains for a month.

M R Gardens
Two years ago, I wrote about Virgo in the garden, and how if we use Virgo’s tendency to plan out our growing season and think through next steps, we’re more likely to have a successful garden. But Virgo is not just about planning — she has a lot of other healing and grounding attributes that create beauty and bounty. Ever since the transformational eclipse, my understanding of the planets, specifically Mercury which is associated with Virgo, is expanding, so while I don’t take back anything that I wrote two years ago, I’m also recognizing new phenomena arising which makes planning ahead simply hard to do.

Sometimes the world, and our lives, are changing so rapidly that planning one week ahead let alone several months in advance seems nearly impossible. Yet we still are compelled to move forward. There’s a bottleneck of ideas and to-do’s and dreams, and if we could just get one car out of the traffic jam, then the rest would flow.

Get unstuck - The garden is waiting for you 
M R Gardens’ new on-site “Grow” program is well-suited for those in the bottleneck – for new gardeners who would really like to get going, but the details seem so overwhelming that they don’t know where to start. All that Grow participants need to do is reserve about one afternoon a week and essentially “show up” at my farm in the Oakley community of Asheville – excited about gardening and supportive of others learning how to garden. I’m surveying applicants about the best times to get together, but envision the group meeting one weekday from 4:00 to 6:30 three times a month, although less than that in the colder months. We’ll spend between 30 minutes to an hour each class discussing a new skill, and then we’ll put the discussion into practice by gardening the remaining of the time.

Vegetable garden
We walk through all the steps entailed in growing vegetables, and perform tasks multiple times so that new skills sink in and participants can ask questions. Since each crop has its own needs, participants not only learn how to create the system but also see how each individual plant is best grown in that system. Students go home with written information so that if and when they want to try it at their own home, they have the guidance to do so. In addition, by just being in the gardens on a regular basis, and becoming inspired by the plants, you begin to uncover the vision of your own garden. Since you’re moving some of cars out of the bottleneck, you start to feel your dreams progress.

The Grow program is also well suited for folks who want to take part in the growing of their own food but don’t own a space that is sunny or large enough, or even for long-time gardeners who are open to trying out an ecologically inspired style of gardening that I like to call "Microbe Rich." In some ways, Grow is a miniature version of a participatory Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture, except with an emphasis on education. In the M R Gardens model, participants get a say in which vegetables we grow, and we adjust quantities based on the group’s needs. We also have unusual fruits, such as nutritious jujubes and chokeberries, that would not be in a typical CSA box. At the end of each workday, we harvest any vegetables, flowers and/or herbs that are in season, and you take home just the quantities that you can use.

Natives garden
On this established ecologically designed site, there is much to learn about — including fruit trees in a holistically maintained orchard, medicinal herbs, beneficial flowers, native plants and ground covers in place of grass. Participants can absorb what they are able to take in at the moment. Or for those who wish to learn a lot in a short amount of time, that opportunity is here too. Students can make this educational experience into what they want depending on the amount of independent study they initiate.

Budding ecological horticulturists, who see themselves one day making an income from gardening, should consider the parallel program, “Emergence.” Participants meet alongside the “Grow” students, and in addition volunteer at the gardens each week. When the time is right, Emergence students may start working with M R Gardens off-site clients. Fees are the same as the Grow program. Read more here.

Owner/Teacher Megan Riley
More on astrology
The total eclipse was an important one for Virgo. The eclipse happened at the edge of the Leo constellation, just before Virgo starts, and was also in-line with the Regulus, a multi-star system 79 light years away from the sun with a diameter more than three times the sun. For thousands of years (some sources say 2,000; others say 4,000), Regulus was in Leo, but just recently moved into Virgo, where it remains for the next 2 to 4,000 years. Since Regulus symbolizes regality, it could represent leaders in our communities.

When the moon moved in front of our sun August 21, for a brief moment in time, this regal star system in the constellation of Virgo could be called our “sun,” and so some astrologers might say, Virgo became “queen,” yet with the heart of the lion (Leo) backing her. That is fitting as we enter a time of healing the Earth, which Virgos do best. Those of us who have committed to taking small steps over a long period of time to hone a craft for the benefit of all are finally starting to feel a payoff—and how rewarding that payoff feels after so much time spent honing the craft. Those who feel like they are at the beginning of their Virgo journey, experiencing a bottleneck from all the details, are rest assured that now is the time to move forward — to let one car out of the jam, so that the rest can soon follow.

HOW TO APPLY

To apply for Grow or Emergence, contact me (Megan) at 828.333.4151 and we’ll set up an appointment to talk in the gardens. The main requirements are a love for the work of gardening, a collaborative spirit capable of creating a good learning environment for others, and an acceptance of others’ backgrounds and beliefs. References might be checked to ensure students have a proven track record in group learning environments. This program is mostly suited for students who learn by doing, but most learning styles are addressed. If you like to share recipes with fellow students for both food and medicinal herbs, then that’s a bonus! Please apply as soon as possible. The first payment is due October 20, and we'll meet soon after to start building the soil for next year's garden.

Squash garden

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Saturday sales - sustainable plants!

M R Gardens opens its greenhouse to the public on Saturdays April through June 10, with sales from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


We aim for "as sustainable as possible," which means not only using organic methods but also growing in a passive solar greenhouse heated entirely by solar gain and cooled with manual vents.

Fireweed - Chamerion angustifolium. Native, beneficial, medicinal and edible. 
Sliding Scale! We offer a sliding scale, with a minimum of $1.00 a plant, for the last sale of the spring season, June 10. The special is for remaining vegetable starts and select herbs: tulsi, stinging nettles, catnip, alyssum, angelica, ashwagandha, balloon flower, borage and parsley. We continue to offer other herbs and native perennials at regular price ($4.00 to $7.00) and can give discounts by the flat.

Current availability - week of June 10

Culinary herbs: Rosemary, parsley, thyme, marjoram

Ground covers: Roman chamomile, alyssum, creeping thyme, marjoram

Southeast native perennials (all started by seed): Bee balm (Bradbury's), culver's root, early sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), fireweed, Lobelia (great blue), mountain mint, rattlesnake master, three varieties of Rudbeckia, including a bicolor daisy, vervain (Verbena stricta), white doll's daisy (Boltonia), and several types of asters.

Medicinal herbs: Many of the plants listed in the natives and ground covers sections have medicinal properties. In addition, we have angelica, ashwagandha, balloon flower, catnip, comfrey, gotu kola, hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis as well as Agastache), lavender, stinging nettles and tulsi.

Plants that benefit the garden: Almost all of the plants listed as ground covers or medicinal and native plants attract beneficial insects to the gardens, i.e. pollinators or predators of pests to help keep the ecosystem in balance. University studies have rated mountain mint as one of the best attractor plants. In addition, comfrey's leaves provide "green manure" or fertilization when clipped and scattered around the garden.

Vegetable starts: We have a handful of tomatoes (heirloom slicers and Romas), ground cherries and habanero peppers left. To get an idea of the types of varieties we typically offer, see our full list at: https://squareup.com/store/m-r-gardens/. Be sure to order ahead of the season next year to so you get the varieties you'd like.


Find us at 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville in the Oakley community. Contact megan@mrgardens.net or 828.333.4151 (office line) with questions or to set up an appointment. 

Lavender - L. angustifolium
Hyssop - H. officinalis. Medicinal and beneficial.
Alyssum - "Royal carpet" has a mix of white and light purple flowers
Comfrey's leaves can be used as a green manure in the garden
Angelica - medicinal herb and beneficial flower