Saturday, January 6, 2024

FUN Fall Harvest in 2023 and a Look Ahead in 2024


Harvest October 25, 2023: cilantro, kale, and peppers

Food Uniting Neighbors had a fantastic fall harvest this year! Our garden was overflowing with a variety of fresh produce, including: 3 varieties of lettuce, hearty bok choy and kale, sweet turnips and hakurei turnips, delicious gazelle spinach, cilantro, earthy beets, and for the first time ever, we grew rutabagas!

We harvested our delicious summer peppers until the end of October. At our last harvest for the season in December, our garden was still providing us with beautiful romaine lettuce, vibrant rutabagas, and sweet beets.

Hakurei and globe top turnips 

Black seeded simpson and leaf lettuce


As winter settles in, the FUN team is already dreaming of spring. We're spending our days poring over seed catalogs and meticulously planning our next season's crops. We can't wait to get our hands dirty again and fill our garden with even more fresh, healthy food for our community.

Gazelle spinach

We're hoping that 2024 will blossom with joy and that our next harvest will be even more bountiful than the last. We're looking forward to the next season, sharing our love of growing food, and nourishing our community!

Friday, September 29, 2023

FUN this Summer


July 26, 2023

It’s been a banner year in Bee Happy Garden with over 1300 pounds of food donated to the community. Our summer crops flourished, with bountiful harvests of tomatoes, 5 varieties of squash, 3 varieties of cucumbers, green bean, and loads of peppers both sweet and spicy.

5 Varieties of Squash

As we always like to try growing something we haven’t tried before, as well as meet the needs of the clients, FUN decided to grow 2 types of Korean squash, aehobak and puthobak. These are C. muschata varieties and not affected by the dreaded squash vine borer. The squash was a big hit!

In the picture to the left, top row is yellow summer squash and zucchini. Round puthobak, long aehobak, with tromboncino at the bottom.

Two new-to-us varieties of tomatoes proved to be winners: Verona, a large grape indeterminate variety, and Sunrise Sauce, a yellow-gold determinate plum tomato, thank you Johnny’s Select. Romas and stupice varieties added to the collection.
Piccolino, sweet slice and diva cucumbers

Peppers are prolific, thanks to our ardent pepper plant provider, Harry. In the sweet category, we have banana, corno di toro, and shishito. On the hot side of things, we have chili peppers, cayenne, jalapenos, Hungarian wax, and orange habaneros.

We started the fall plantings throughout September.  Kale, collards, rutabaga, cilantro, leaf lettuce, spinach and turnips are growing well. Beets, bok choy, Romaine lettuce, and hakurei turnips will be transplanted soon.

We look forward to sharing the fall harvest with you!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Summer FUN has Just Begun

Globe Turnips 22May2023
 FUN loves the end of May to the beginning of June, when the last of the cool weather crops have been harvested and the titan tunnels (thanks to Gardeners’ Supply) are put in place at Bee happy Garden. FUN had a great spring harvest with lots of buttercrunch lettuce, leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, collards, hakurei turnips, bok choy, purple top white globe turnips, and green onions. We would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Johnny Selected Seeds, Botanical Interest, and Harris Seeds for their generous seed donations.

The tender summer crops are well established, FUN has already harvested pounds and pounds of squash and cucumbers. We have planted 5 varieties of squash, 5 varieties of tomatoes, 7 varieties of peppers, 3 varieties of cucumbers and 3 varieties of green beans - all of which are growing like gangbusters. Check out the progress in the pictures below. 

We look forward to wonderful summer season as we introduce you to vegetables new to the Bee Happy Garden.

Bee Happy Entrance 26June2023
Bee Happy Entrance 24May2023

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

A FUN Start to the Spring Season

Seedling under grow lights 13Feb2023

      From grow rack...

Plants in cold frame 22Mar2023

     to cold frame...

Lettuce 29Mar2023

     to garden....

FUN has a great start on the growing season. Lettuce, snow peas and sugar snap peas, were the first crops we planted, followed by kale, spinach, turnips, collards and onions. One of the tomato varieties has out-grown the grow rack and is happily living in the dining room – that’s what you get for starting seeds too soon because you are so excited to begin. Inside, peppers are growing strong, 5 varieties of squash are thriving under the grow lights and cucumbers are just starting to emerge. 
Peace Garden 30Maar2023

The fantastic gardeners at Peace Garden are off to a great start with carrots, lettuce, spinach, garlic, and cilantro....and that's just in one of the beds.

We are looking forward to a FUN and beautiful season!

Friday, January 6, 2023

Have a FUN 2023!

 From start…                                                 to finish...

Seedlings Feb. 2022

Harvest July 27, 2022

                 FUN had a fantastic year, harvesting 1242 pounds of produce in Bee Happy Garden, almost 3 gallons of honey from our apiary, and 293 pounds of food by our wonderful gardeners at Peace Garden.

We started our seedlings in February, placing our first transplants in the ground in early spring with a few beds of kale, spinach and peas. In May, we planted the tender summer seedlings - 4 varieties of tomatoes, 7 varieties of peppers, 5 varieties of squash, cucumbers, tomatillos, sweet potato slips, and sowed seeds for green beans. We added more herbs – cilantro, Italian basil, lemon basil, Thai basil, parsley, rosemary, mint and peppermint. We ended the year with a prolific planting in September, harvesting mustard greens, kale, collards, broccoli, Swiss chard, and turnips until the first week of December!

Mini Jack Pumpkins
Baby Butternuts

Some things went well – our fall crops were phenomenal. Some things were a challenge – there were some very well-fed voles as they enjoyed our sweet potatoes, Baby Butternuts and Mini Jack pumpkins. You learn something new every season, make the best of it, and plan for the next year.

That’s what we are doing right now, planning for our next season. May your new year be bountiful, may you continue to grow, and may you always have FUN!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

FUN with Tromboncino

2 feet long!
One of the most interesting vegetables FUN grows is tromboncino squash (aka zucchino rampicante), an Italian heirloom of vining zucchini. It grows well in the shade and extremely well in the sun. As a Cucurbita moschata variety it is fairly disease and insect resistant (vine borers don’t like the spiny stems) in the humid Northern Virginia climate. Best of all, the food pantry clients love it!

Tromboncino vines

It needs a lot of space to spread and a strong trellis as it loves to climb, producing 15+ foot runners and long, slender fruit with a bulbous end. The necks are seedless so they are very easy to prepare for cooking. 

Sliced tromboncino

  It tastes like firm, mild zucchini and can be used in any dish that uses summer squash. The fruit can be left on the vine until the skin turns creamy-tan (like a butternut) and harvested as a winter squash. Great tasting on the grill, sauteed, or in pasta.

Tromboncino and rigatoni


Saturday, February 5, 2022

FUN for All

It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update – but now FUN is back and FUN-er than ever. Things have changed at the Bee Happy Garden, here’s a quick update.

As announced in May, a second set of beds was added, then a fence as some critters found our seedlings too succulent to resist. An efficient drip line irrigation system was installed, that not only saves time but saves water. Following manufacturing setbacks and shipping delays that everyone experienced during COVID, the much anticipated paved pathways were installed and completed in August. Soon after, high-sided raised beds were put in place. This provides an opportunity for our volunteers who use wheelchairs to work at a comfortable level.

Many, many thanks to the Tactical Landscaping Company who did a   phenomenal job installing the beautiful pavers. Heartfelt gratitude for the support of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, whose grant made the hardscape possible and who are doing amazing things every day to improve the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis.

FUN Fall Harvest in 2023 and a Look Ahead in 2024

  Harvest October 25, 2023: cilantro, kale, and peppers Food Uniting Neighbors had a fantastic fall harvest this year! Our garden was overfl...