CTG 2014 Week 14: August 2nd To August 7th- Lacto-Fermentation Demo, Fletcher Allen Rooftop Garden Visit, and More Harvesting!


  • Lacto-Fermentation with Denise
  • Fletcher Allen Rooftop Garden: The Architecture of a Rooftop Garden & Square Foot Gardening In Action


  • Visit to Fletcher Allen: Connecting with fellow gardeners
  • Learning about fermentation
  • Harvesting, weeding, and watering those beautiful gardens!
Garden beauties

Besides providing technical assistance, resources, and education to blossoming garden leaders of all ages, VGCN strives to connect the greater gardening community together through their various programs, like the CTG program, in order to strengthen the common values we all find in growing food sustainably.  This week, we had the pleasure of meeting with some fellow garden connoisseurs at the Fletcher Allen Rooftop Garden and learned of their garden operation (pun-intended) while sharing the experiences we’ve encountered this season.  In addition to our excursion, we had another lovely lesson from Denise on lacto-fermentation, and continued harvesting the fruits of the growing gardens.  Keep reading to get the full story on week 14 of the Community Teaching Garden program!

Bites of sunshine
The Ethan Allen group working away…

Lacto-Fermentation Demo by Denise:

Food-saving techniques have been utilized by human cultures for centuries as a means of stretching harvests past their growing season while also creating a sense of food security during the off-season when fresh goods become scarce.  Methods like canning, salting, fermenting, and pickling are all preservation techniques that have been employed worldwide, and some even remain commonplace today in certain parts of the world

Lacto-fermentation seems to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts  here in the US as interest midst gardeners and cooks alike rises in this practice.  This preservation technique, which is used to make foodstuffs like sauerkraut and kimchi, is famed for its apparent health benefits that result from the cultivation of beneficial bacteria, lactobacillus, during the fermentation process.  While the lactobacilli reproduce they create a substance known as lactic acid, which kills undesired bacteria while promoting healthy gut bacteria that assist with digestion.  This also gives the fermented veggies their vinegar-like taste, but there’s actually no vinegar added during the process.

While this all sounds super scientific, and perhaps a bit intimidating, Denise showed just how simple it can be to create your own lacto-fermented goods.  All you’ll need is the veggie(s) of your choice, some non-iodized salt (sea salt & kosher work well), chilled boiled water, and a canning or mason jar.  Check out the recipe below that was adapted from Denise’s demonstration at the Ethan Allen Homestead on Monday:

Preparing fermented beets

Lacto-Fermented Beets:

Ingredients & Tools:

  • 1 qt of beets (shredded)
  • 1 TBS of salt (non-iodized)
  • 1/2 C boiled water, cooled
  • 1 medium sized bowl
  • 1 pint sized mason jar & lid
  • A spoon, and tamping stick if desired
  • A cloth


  • Shred veggies (may add ginger, garlic, spices etc for variations)
  • Mix veggies and salt in bowl, make sure salt is evenly distributed
  • Cover bowl with a cloth and let sit, approx. 15-20 minutes.  The beets will begin to produce some water.
  • Spoon beets into the mason jar, pressing down with tamping stick every few spoonfuls to make sure it is packed down and no air bubbles form
  • Fill jar approximately 1 inch from top
  • Add cooled, boiled water by approx. 1/2 inch leaving space at top of jar for bubbling to occur during fermentation process
  • Screw on lid leaving it loose enough for air/gas to escape during fermentation
  • Leave jar on kitchen counter for approximately 1 week with a plate or bowl underneath to catch bubbling liquid
  • Once bubbling ceases, after 7 days or so, tighten down the lid and place jar in fridge or cellar.

*If left unopened, jar of fermented veggies will keep for up to 1 year.  Make sure to refrigerate after opening.

**DO NOT eat any fermented goods that take on a strange coloring or appear to have mold.  This means that a mistake was made during the fermentation process and the finished good could make you very sick!

Denise on Lacto-fermentation


Hello gorgeous!!

Fletcher Allen Rooftop Gardens: Architecture & Square Foot Gardening In Action:

On Wednesday, our class ventured to Fletcher Allen to learn about the rooftop garden that sits above the Oncology and Radiation Department of the hospital.  We were met by Lisa Hoare, the Lead Teacher at the Fletcher Allen and Fanny Allen teaching garden sites, who described the architecture and origins of the garden.  The new portion of Fletcher Allen, which boasts an impressive glass facade, was built to meet LEED green building certifications, and the garden was fit into the plan to meet the required educational standards for LEED buildings.  Thus, the whole addition was designed so that the part on which the garden sits upon was able to hold the weight of the soil, garden beds, shed, and outdoor seating area.  Additionally, a series of water channels sits just underneath the surface of the garden area in order to hold draining water, which prevents leakage in the building below and also provides a water source when the plants’ root systems pull excess water from the ground.  The garden shed, which is quite a shed indeed, also boasts a rain water catchment system that provides a ‘renewable’ source of water that the gardeners often use to water their plants with.  For those of you who didn’t know, this garden is also entirely public and may be visited by anyone, in fact hospital employees and able patients often frequent this little oasis.

An example of the rooftop beds


Close-up of cultivated squares

As we were guided through the garden, which is almost entirely covered with 3 1/2 foot raised beds, Lisa explained the concept of square foot gardening that she employs in teaching her garden students. Square foot gardening was introduced and popularized by Mel Bartholomew starting in the 1980s, and since then it has expanded immensely throughout the gardening world.  Each student in the class receives a 3.5 x 3.5ft raised bed for the duration of the class that is then sectioned off with twine to create tangible 1 x 1ft squares in which to garden.  While this limits the amount of plants that can go in each square, the benefits are quite impressive.  Some of the pro’s that Lisa explained included:

  • Takes advantage of growing space
  • More deliberate seeding = less wasted seeds & better germination
  • Less weeding
  • More efficient water use

Although some drawbacks do exist in utilizing square foot gardening, it is quite a wonderful approach for gardeners of all levels, especially those who have little space or very poor soil.  To learn more about Mel Bartholomew’s method of square foot gardening you may visit: http://www.melbartholomew.com/

Wonder berries

We continued the visit by peeking at each gardener’s plot and the communal areas, one of which is home to two Hardy Kiwi plants!  After wrapping up our tour with a peek at each gardener’s plot, we said our goodbyes to the Lisa and the Fletcher Allen group.  We are excited to be hosting them at the Tommy Thompson Community Garden next week!

Some persistent pansies




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