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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sukkot in the Garden

There is no better time to visit the Shalom Teaching Garden behind Temple Anshe Sholom then right Sukkot time!

Our garden, even in this first experimental attempt to establish a garden is lush with success. We have three gorgeous eggplants, many tomatoes, some zucchinis and cucumbers. Along with the edibles there are some wondrous smells...coriander, lemon balm, mint, lavender, rosemary...just a pinch away.

If you haven't been out to the garden lately, do come by as part of your Sukkot, to enjoy the sights and smells of our garden before we put it to sleep for the winter.

We have truly been blessed with rain in its time, with sun and with thoughtful gardeners who have tended the Shalom Garden.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Beauty of Soil

Sometimes when I'm watering the garden I am mesmerized by the plant life; the variations of leaf types, stems, pollinating flowers, fruiting bodies. But yesterday my attention was drawn to what was the common denominator in the garden.

At the base of all that living plant matter is soil. Dirt, earth, adamah - in's the carbon based topping of our material planet from which all life springs forth. Look close and it's not just dark brown stuff. It's a complex combination of sand, organic matter, pulverized rock. What G!d used in our creation...soil and the breath...ruach.

As I am breathing in and out, gazing at the soil that is home to our community garden, there is a moment of deep connection;

Shema Israel Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echad

In our community garden Oneness abounds.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pinching Back Plants

Since our amazing garden planting party on June 27th, our new plants have take to strawbale living very nicely. Thanks to our roster of dedicated waterers, our plants are getting that daily dose of H2O they desperately need to survive these hot summer days.

A combination of heat and a fertile place to grow has inspired a few of our herbs to bolt to seed. The talmud teaches that every blade of grass has it's own angel whispering 'grow, grow'. In this case I imagine the plants hearing, ' it hot, maybe time to make flowers and more seed for next year'! In any case, this week it was time to pinch back some of the plants.

Pinching back plants involves your thumb and forefinger placed firmly on a longer leggy stem on the top end of the plant and squeezing it off just under some leaves. This sends a signal to the plant to activate the dormant buds beneath and sets them off resulting in a much bushier plant. In the case of herbs, such as basil, this is a very desireable trait.

I couldn't help thinking of my own growing places as I was conducting this time honoured garden ritual. I found myself recalling times in my life where I had leapt ahead impulsively yearning to get to some new situation or experience...and life pinched me back. Looking back now I have to marvel at the plant's wise reaction and recognize how those experiences forced me to dig deeper, and grow myself wider and more stable. Nobody likes to get pinched...but it's good to know how much stronger we grow through life's little lessons.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Happy Canada Day!

At our recent gathering to plant the Shalom Teaching Garden there was an informal discussion about what to do with the extra spaces left in our garden.

One great suggestion was to plant Nasturiums. There is still time to plant from seed and enjoy this cheery flower with amazing benefits.

Did you know that Nasturiums:

  • are edible with the flowers mildly nutty and the leaves rather peppery?
  • discourage aphids from eating neighbouring plants?
  • have a natural antibiotic property?
  • have seeds and flower buds that can be pickled and are like capers?
Feel free to pick up a pack of Nasturium seeds and plant them around the Shalom Teaching Garden. Consider it a 'random act of beauty' in honour of Canada Day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Garden Planting Party

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Garden Reflections by Anne

It was a perfect day for planting, a bit overcast, not too windy, with rain sure to fall. I was surprised to see so many friends show up, some with plants purchased locally, and some people bringing plants from their own gardens.

We planted lots of herbs like basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and lavender. We have tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, arugula, cucumber, and leaf lettuce. Everyone seemed to enjoy digging, watering, and planting the plants they bought.

Now we can watch and tend the garden - and we'll reap the benefits in just a few months. I hope to plant some nasturtiums in the coming week; they'll brighten up the bales and can be eaten in salads. I can't wait to see what happens as the straw bales become better seasoned.

The lemonade and sandwiches were enjoyed by everyone. I thought the jazz music was a perfect touch to the gathering and I'll bet our little plants benefited from the good vibrations bouncing around our little corner of the park.

I was glad to see some old friends and to meet a few new ones. I can't think of a better way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday. I liked the way the project for the 2010 season was described, waking up the garden in the spring, putting the garden to bed in the fall, and in the summer - water, water, water.

~ contributed by Anne Dolina

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting Our Hands Dirty

Gardening has always been something that feeds my soul. There are such miracles in the garden!

  • Seeds that have all the encoded information to produce a particular plant and...more seeds!
  • Tendrils on climbing plants that reach from side to side looking for support on their journey upward.
  • Flowers that turn to face the sun as it travels across the sky.
Watching our friend, Rhonda, getting her hands dirty planting lettuce, was one such miracle today. "It's the first time I've ever planted anything", she shared with us, with joy and awe on her face.

This is what the teaching garden was built for. So folks young and old could experience the wonder of the earth and the plants and food that it produces. G-d creates and people partner with creation and miracles happen.

Come visit the Shalom Community Teaching Garden.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Planting

Friday morning, June 25th, 2010 was humid and sunny. I was fortunate to have my eldest son, Jacob, home for a few days and willing to help schlep stuff for his mother and help prepare the Shalom Teaching Garden for its first event! He was also great at taking pictures and short videos and promised to perform that important job at the Sunday party.

We've invited quite a few people to a Sunday Planting Party at 2pm. We have asked everyone to bring a plant, either vegetable or herb, either dug up from their own garden or purchased. So far, I've heard back from nearly 20 people who are coming for sure! I'm delighted. Being goal oriented I set 20 as my target for success and I'm pleased that there were willing supporters to come out and kick start our garden.

Some people who could not attend were even so kind as to bring in plants early! Friday night at the oneg, another interested member told me she is bringing LOTS of plants because when she told the nursery about our project they slashed their prices and even donated some plants for us. With wonderful supporter promoters at large in the community, soon everyone will be hearing about our little garden and its mission.

PS. I'm going to have to convince this special person that she needs to be on our planning committee. Her name even evokes a plant!

See you by the garden Sunday at 2pm.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Garden Simmers

It`s Father`s Day and I couldn`t help thinking how proud my Dad z`l would be to learn about the Shalom Community Teaching Garden.

Dad was a farmer and so were his parents and his grandparents. Like our people in biblical times, he had an intimate relationship with the land, its rhythms and seasons. Dad believed that everyone should know how to grow their own food from the land.

I used to bring my school friends home to our farm and Dad was always shocked when they didn`t know the difference between HAY and STRAW. `Hay is for eating and Straw is for bedding`, he would explain to my city friends, shaking his head in amazement. Dad only had the chance to attend school up to grade 8, but he was worldly wise and able to coax our rocky Grey-Bruce acres to grow all manner of abundance and care for all kinds of livestock.

I had my first teaching experience in the Shalom Garden this week. There`s not much there yet except 34 strawbales fermenting and some soil on top of the well done ones! So my first lesson was teaching the difference between HAY and STRAW. What a great way to honour my father!

Kehila students participated in planting some ground cover into the sides of our strawbales. We`re not sure if they will take off, but if they do our bales will be covered with greenery by the end of the summer. Luckily it rained this morning so I didn`t go in to water.

Come and see the garden simmering. Next Sunday JUNE 27th is our planting party. We hope you will join us and bring a plant (vegetable and herbs please) to add to our garden.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Join Our Team

There's an opportunity for you to join the Shalom Community Teaching Garden team. We need your commitment and desire to help us fulfill our mission of 'caring for the earth' and 'feeding the hungry'. Contact Judy Mendelson or Paula Baruch to learn what you can do to help make our garden project a bountiful success.

The Shalom Community Teaching Garden site was visit by Councillor Brian McHattie and a member of our city's community garden staff in mid May 2010. They were impressed by our garden plan and the unique mission we are undertaking.

Our garden sits on Churchill Park land behind Temple Anshe Sholom. The land actually belongs to the Royal Botanical Gardens, who lease the land to the city for park use. A lease agreement is being prepared between the RBG and Hamilton City which allows for our garden. We were thrilled to get the go ahead for our project last week.

This project is dependent on cooperation and support from Temple Anshe Sholom's Social Action Committee, Temple Playhouse, Temple Religious School, George R. Allan Elementary School and Kehila Jewish Community Day School. Members from each of these groups were present for Councillor McHattie's visit in May.

Our community garden is unique for two main reasons:

1. It is designed to be used as an outdoor classroom to teach organic gardening practices, how to grow food. The food grown will be donated to a local foodbank and a portion will be utilized to celebrate the garden in the fall months. Our teaching will emphasize the values of 'caring for the earth' and 'feeding the hungry'.

2. Our garden is experimenting with strawbale growing technique. In this method strawbales are laid out, seasoned to begin a fermenting process, topped with a couple inches of soil and planted. The straw provides a great growing medium and environment provided it is watered regularly. There is no digging and the plants are raised for easy access to those who find gardening a physical challenge.

Stay tuned for more garden updates!