Tag Archives: community garden

Additional thoughts from Cheryl Nichols

Cheryl has continued to visit our gardens at the Y with her friends Arlene and Terry and has observed that almost all of  our gardens are very thirsty.  As she pointed out, the primary ingredient of  most vegetables is water and most plants need at least 1 – 2 inches of water per week.  It’s best to soak them thoroughly.  Sometimes that means watering the soil around a plant for a minute, moving to the next, then repeating the cycle until the bed is thoroughly soaked.

Cheryl also noticed one statement in my blog about her talk that wasn’t correct.  I should have said that she found the White Queen tomato variety  to be interesting, but not that it was a favorite.  She probably won’t grow it again next year because it’s lycopene content is low due to its light color.    She mentioned a Harvard study  on Saturday that discussed the health benefits of lycopene and that pointed out that the highest values of lycopene are in the darkest red tomatoes.

She suggested a fall talk on soil preparation.  What do you all think?  I personally think it would be great.  From talking to many of you at the gardens, it seems most of us did very little to amend our beds.  While I knew it was important, I was so eager to get started that I added very little to my soil.  Amending the soil over the winter is a typical task for fall gardening and action from which  I think most of our  beds would greatly benefit.

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Cooler full of veggies

It’s been about a week since  I visited my 3 community garden beds, bringing along a cooler for the veggies I picked.  My plot at WildWest Community Garden had a few onions ready to pull, a couple of peppers and two handfuls of basil.  ( I have since learned you should never pull onions, but rather dig them in order to prevent damage to the plant).

From there I went to the church gardens and harvested a bunch of chard, kale, more onions, a couple of carrots and a couple of small stalks of broccoli.  The cooler was full so I decided I’d come back another day to cut more chard and dig more onions.  As it turned out, I kept putting off cooking the chard and eventually had to throw it out which made me feel badly.

6-27-11 Water from just a couple days of rain

I also harvested more basil from my plant on the deck that has produced the largest, most amazing leaves.  I made another 1 cup batch of pesto with these leaves.  I also picked a few tiny, grape sized tomatoes.  My son and I discovered that the tub intended for sweet potato plants and that had been empty, was bulging with water from a couple days of rain.  I took the opportunity to make a few images of the potato blossom and the potato and tomato plants in containers on the deck.  The tomato plants on the deck look much better than the ones in my plot at the WildWest Community Garden.  I really think the biggest difference is the soil.  The plants in containers are in Miracle Gro Organic gardening soil and/or potting soil.

6-27-11 12 Kibets Ukrainian and one brandywine tomato lost to blossom end rot

I also removed 13 tomatoes, 12 from the Kibets Ukrainian plant.  All suffered from blossom end rot.  Unfortunately I don’t know whether I amended the soil with crushed egg shells as I had intended.  This is supposed to supply calcium.  The day I transplanted most of the tomatoes was so hectic that I forgot the egg shells when planting some of them.  Our abundant rain could also be the cause of the rot rather than a calcium deficiency. Guess it will remain a mystery.

On the one hand, the amount of food I have harvested so far is a rather disappointing amount considering the effort involved.  On the other hand, I also realize that a lot of the work was due to the fact that 2 of the 3 gardens were built from scratch.  Since it’s my first year to garden vegetables,  I’m definitely on the steep part of the learning curve.   I do feel like I’ve learned a lot. The most important knowledge I have acquired is that  I have so much more to discover.   Lessons learned will be another post.

Jodi’s Inspiration for Our Community Garden

After the Saturday lunch and learn, several attendees were touring the gardens, admiring all the lush growth and the biggest zucchini and summer squash I have ever seen!  Apparently John has been on vacation.  Boy will he be surprised when he sees his squash plants!

6-18-11 Benches with flagstones

6-18-11 Benches with flagstones

I was admiring the flagstones that Michael has placed in front of the two benches and Jodi shared a personal story with me. One of the graceful concrete benches is dedicated to the memory of her brother who died suddenly a couple of years ago.  The last thing they had done together was to plant a garden in Houston and the first thing she saw when she returned to Houston was a big bowl of tomatoes from the garden.  She was inspired by their gardening experiences together to dream of building a community garden at the YMCA in Wildwood.   I am thankful that Jodi directed her grief over the loss of her brother to dreaming big – creating and inspiring others to come together for this shared purpose.   We have all benefited from Jodi’s enthusiasm and we can celebrate Jodi’s love for her brother by experiencing our connections to gardening, our friends and families.  Thank you Jodi!

Slideshow, 6-18-11 Garden (Click to Enlarge)

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Fun “Lunch and Learn” at WildWest Community Garden

Saturday morning, 20+  gardeners gathered under the tent adjacent to the WildWest Community Garden to hear Eric Lober of Sunny Creek Farm, Villa Ridge, MO.

Eric Lober, Sunny Creek Farm, speaking with WildWest Community Gardeners

Eric Lober, Sunny Creek Farm

Unseasonably cool temperatures had several attendees wishing they had brought light jackets.  Eric talked about Sunny Creek Farm and how he and Kathy  began farming five years ago after completing a Farm Beginnings class (now known as Grow Your Farm) offered by University of Missouri.    They lease 174 acres, with about 2 1/2 acres planted in produce.  Their current focus is on raising animals – cows and chickens – for processing into meats.  They raise grass fed beef which is inspected by Swiss Meats and pasture raised chickens which are processed, inspected and immediately frozen as whole birds at a facility in Loose Creek, MO.  They sell meats and some produce to  St. Louis restaurants, attend the Wildwood Farmers Market on Saturdays, and provide  CSA(Community Supported Agriculture)  subscribers with shares of produce and meats during the season.  They also market pork raised by Todd Geisert, Washington, MO.  When asked what time they got out of bed Saturday morning, Eric replied, “5 am”, which drew laughter from the audience.

They have worked hard to re-balance the soil on their leased land.  It had been used for years to grow hay which depleted the soil’s nutrients.  Eric recommended Midwest Laboratories for thorough soil testing.  It costs about $35 per sample excluding shipping costs.  He talked about the importance of micro-nutrients in the soil and the fact that a simple NPK soil analysis doesn’t include enough information to accurately select amendments.  One of the minerals that they have found necessary to add to their soil is pelletized gypsum.

They will soon harvest potatoes.  They applied Bradfield Organic fertilizers to this year’s crop and are looking forward to seeing improvements in their production.  Several gardeners wanted to know when to harvest potatoes.  Eric said that it is variety dependent, but it is definitely some time after the plant flowers.  Yukon gold potatoes have a short season of about 60 -70 days, but they don’t keep well.   He usually marks 50 – 60 days out from the time he first sees growth after planting.  When that time arrives, he checks a plant to see how the potatoes are doing.  If they are ready, he cuts the tops off before harvesting to let the skin harden.  They have access to a mechanized potato harvester that is owned by Missouri Organic Association ( or Cooperative).  They order potato stock from Potato Gardens in Colorado.

Eric also mentioned that pests are worse in gardens with imbalanced soil.  Questions were asked about what caused eggplant leaves to look like they had been shot,  riddled with tiny holes.  The problem is likely flea beetles and Eric said that it is difficult to treat for them with organic methods.  He and Kathy have tried every organic product on the market and have given up trying to grow plants susceptible to flea beetle invasion. While he thought some of the home remedies for pests might be practical or effective in a small garden, they have found that these methods aren’t practical in a garden the size of theirs.  Regarding blossom drop, particularly with cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, he recommended Zone liquid calcium foliar spray, available at Morgan County Feed.  He cautioned that when you use foliar spray, you should apply it either early in the morning or late in the evening or the leaves will likely burn in the sun.   He also pointed out that heat and excessive moisture can cause blossom drop.  Eric said that if you have aphids, you probably have too much nitrogen in the soil.

On the subject of extending the growing season, he recommended Eliot Coleman’s book, Four Season Harvest.  An earlier Coleman book,   The Winter Harvest,   is available at the St. Louis County Library.  Methods such as hoop houses and cold frames are discussed in detail in these books.  Black plastic on the soil will also raise soil temperatures.  A hoop house greatly extends the season and allows the gardener to control the water received and protects plants from temperature extremes and wind damage.  There are seeds that can be started in August to plant in September.  He suggested kale and carrots as examples.  They usually start lettuce about 3 weeks before planting.

Miscellaneous thoughts from Eric – he read somewhere that brown or purple green beans germinate in cooler soil vs. the warm soil temperature requirements of the white bean seed.  He and Kathy have grown corn but  it required too much land to meet it’s cross pollination needs, so they no longer plant it.  When asked about a lettuce that would better survive the heat of summer he recommended Summer Crisp Lettuce.  He suggested Route 66 Organics as a source of compost for those who would like to amend their soil.  Route 66 Organics is located in Pacific and the owner frequently comes to the Wildwood Farmers Market on Saturdays.

The event was covered by reporter Jo Beck of the Eureka-Wildwood, MO Patch. Be sure to check out her story on their web page.  Doug Smedley barbequed delicious hamburgers and hot dogs for the lunch that followed Eric’s talk.  Several garden members brought additional pot luck items – brownies, cookies, salads, watermelon and dips.  I’m pretty sure no one left hungry.  Deanna Eguires manned a snow cone machine, offering to make icy treats for any one interested.

Deanna making a snow cone for Bella

Deanna making a snow cone for Bella

Jodi Smedley introduced members of the garden committee who received rounds of applause from the audience for all their hard work in bringing the garden to reality.  We are all so grateful for the hours of planning and organization that occurred leading up to the build day, April 30.  Everyone seems excited and enthusiastic about the efforts that have transformed a field of grass into more than 40 gardens brimming with a variety of beautiful flowers and vegetables in just a couple of months.  What a great example of community working together for a common goal!  Yea, Wildwood YMCA!

 WildWest Community Garden “Lunch & Learn” 

Presto it’s pesto!

Of course making pesto isn’t quite that fast, especially when it’s the first time in awhile.  After a conversation about pesto with my neighbor  at the community garden this morning, I was inspired to make a batch.  Well, actually two batches.  I had a colander full of a variety of basil with some of the largest leaves cut from a plant that I saved from a pot of basil microgreens.

 Harvested Basil, Freshly made Pesto, and Basil Flowers

I followed a basic recipe, Classic Basil Pesto from Pestos! by Dorothy Rankin.  The recipe ingredients include basil, garlic cloves, grated Parmesan and Romano, pine nuts or walnuts and lots of olive oil.  I removed the stems and used a salad spinner to dry the washed leaves.  I added the juice of a lemon and I wasn’t too precise with my measurements when adding the basil or the cheeses.  I used equal quantities of  ParmigianoReggiano  and Stella Romano.   Rankin suggests Romano Pecorino and calls for more Parmesan than Romano because the Romano is sharper.  I didn’t find that to be an issue; maybe because I used a different brand of Romano.   I also used walnuts instead of pine nuts.  When I’ve tried pine nuts in spite of their price I’ve found them to be rancid, so I don’t buy them.  I have been told you can get tasty pine nuts at Di Gregorios Italian Market on The Hill in St. Louis but I haven’t been down there in awhile.   In my view the olive oil is a critical ingredient so I used 1/2 cup of Olea Estates oil.  This fabulous oil is available from Karl Burgart, Healthy Harvest Gardens.  He is a regular at the Ellisville Farmers Market.  I’m hoping he’ll have his shipment of Greek olives at the market tomorrow.  I’d love to include some with the pesto, maybe a fresh vegetable or two from the market and some nice pasta.  Hopefully I’ll remember to capture the dish and post after dinner tomorrow night!

Transitioning from spring to summer crops

The Latest Harvest, 6/10/11

Reflecting upon the last 2 months since I started my first community garden at the church, I thought it might be a good time to take stock of my progress.  I have had several bunches of radishes and Swiss chard from the church gardens I started at the end of March.  While I had some beautiful broccoli transplants started from seed, I have only gotten a couple of very small stems and actually had to throw one away last night because it had turned yellow in the refrigerator.  I had a reasonable harvest of small onions.  By the time the spinach was ready  to harvest, it had gone to seed.  I can definitely say that there’s no way we could have survived on the small quantity of food that I have raised.  However, I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.  I have realized that perhaps the square foot approach isn’t the best for our needs; perhaps short rows would work better.  I also think the spacing between my plants is too close.  I’m still holding out hope that I’ll have a reasonable harvest of beans, potatoes and tomatoes.  We’ll see.  I am glad that I have the farmers markets to fall back on and that I’m not depending on the production of my vegetable beds to feed us.  I’m afraid we would be pretty hungry about now.  I did have a conversation with Pat at the Ellisville Farmers Market who mentioned that since she no longer has a half acre garden, she buys produce, usually at  Theis Farm, and cans it.  I guess I can do that as a last resort.   And there’s always the option of visiting a “u pick it” farm.  Sounds like a field trip in the making and subject for another post.

WildWest Community Garden looking fabulous!

Plot 36, Love the colors of the lizard and the marigolds!

Plot 36, Love the colors of the lizard and the marigolds!

Over the weekend, I planted some squash and cucumber seeds at the garden.  While I was there, I decided to shoot more images of various plots, just to show the fabulous progress, the variety of plant varieties and styles of gardening.  I only had my small camera with me and wasn’t really satisfied with some of the images when I returned home and began to edit them.  So, after showering, I decided to go back by the garden  before heading to the grocery store and re-shoot a few of the images.   I have a habit of putting my wedding ring and other ring in my pants pockets while around the house, and slipping them on as I leave the house.  However, this time, since my hands were dry and I planned to put on lotion, I left them in my pocket when I left the house.    I arrived at the garden and re-shot a few images.  When I got back in the car, I went to put on my rings and realized that I didn’t have my wedding band.  I spent about 15 minutes attempting to re-trace my steps, which was a challenge since I had roamed the garden, in particular trying to re-shoot a strawberry.  I searched the grass in multiple locations where I remembered kneeling and gave up the hunt, thinking perhaps I didn’t really have it in my pocket but had dropped it at home.  I went on to the grocery store, and then searched at home, to no avail.  My husband, son and I went back to the garden and searched for about 30 minutes before dinner with no luck.  I remembered a friend who owns 2 metal detectors and made arrangements to borrow them on Sunday.  Sunday afternoon I picked up both detectors and spent about 1 1/2 hours searching by myself, again with no luck.  I returned home, hot and sweaty, and ready for lunch around 2 pm.  My son agreed to go back to the garden with me when it had cooled off some.  We did an experiment with my other ring, safely tied to a long piece of red yarn and hidden in the grass, to figure out how the detector might sound when it passed over the ring.  Frankly, it wasn’t too encouraging as we couldn’t really get consistent results.   However, we went back to the gardens around 5:15 pm.  Imagine my excitement when around 5:45, my son came to me with a grin on his face and the ring in his hand!  He found it on the main path inside the east gate.  I was thrilled and we were happy to celebrate with dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, Wild Horse Grill.

Gallery of Images from Saturday and Sunday, June 4 & 5,

WildWest Community Garden

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That’s the good news and you can bet I won’t be walking around, kneeling down, with my rings in my pocket.  That was a close call.  Coincidentally, a couple of years ago my son lost his high school ring by leaving it on the bumper of his truck.  All he remembered was putting it there and later driving off.  We live on a steep and narrow private road, with lots of rocks, leaves and bushes on either side of the road.  He was sure it was gone forever.  I offered to walk our road and look for it, rationalizing that it would have likely fallen off before he made it to the main road.  Of course because it’s downhill, it could also have rolled a long way after falling.  I began my search, looking at all the leaves and vegetation along the road, thinking if it landed there, we would never find it.  I was about 2/3 of the way down the road when I spotted the ring about 2 feet from the road’s edge.  He was thrilled.  I told him Sunday, now we’re even.  Amazing that we found one another’s rings, lost in seemingly hopeless conditions.

I was searching online for information about climates in various states and how they are changing.  This is an interesting article on the many ways climate change affects biodiversity.  After 5 years in Missouri, all I can say is our weather is definitely nothing if not unpredictable.  I always thought Texas weather was wild and crazy, but it seems worse here.  It’s certainly had an impact on my nascent veggie gardening, in particular with my tomato plants.  I’m embarrassed by my sickly tomato plants, especially when compared to their neighbors.  I have plot 17 which is adjacent to Plot 3 (Arlene and Terry) and Plot 4 (Chrissie).  Everything in their gardens looks so healthy and the tomato plants are strong, covered with blossoms and/or fruits beginning to ripen.  It’s frustrating because one of the things I wanted to accomplish this year was to grow heirloom tomatoes from seed.  I ordered several varieties, most with a Ukranian heritage from Amishland Heirloom Seed.  I accept total responsibility for the poor health of my tomato plants as the seeds I purchased performed beautifully.  Following the recommendations of Lisa von Saunder, owner of Amishland, I soaked my seeds and started them, along with some I had saved from farmers market tomatoes purchased in 2007.  My husband built a warming box and a light stand with 2 fluorescent shop lights.  I planted the seeds in sterile organic potting soil once they sprouted and began the nurturing process.  I misted the seeds and kept them covered with a clear plastic lid to create a warm greenhouse effect in our 60 degree basement.  I was so excited when I had an almost 100% germination rate.

Kibits Ukranian tomato seedling, 3/13/11

Kibits Ukranian tomato seedling, 3/13/11

Each night I would turn out the lights and mist the seedlings.  As they grew, I transplanted from the small peat pots, to yogurt cups, then to plastic beverage cups, then to even larger containers.  I misted the foliage with Espoma’s Gro-Tone.   I frantically struggled to keep up with their growth.

5-5-11 Seedlings growing in basement - basil, tomatoes, broccoli

5-5-11 Seedlings growing in basement - basil, tomatoes, broccoli

Soon the table was covered with green, but the weather was not cooperating.  I gave away probably 15 Brandywine transplants in March or April.  I tried on several occasions to harden off the plants, but was continually hampered by cold and windy weather.  When I heard about the formation of the YMCA garden, I was excited to be able to participate.  I finally planted 7 tomato plants on May 6, before we had completed a trellis for them. I still hadn’t been able to harden them off, but we were leaving May 12, returning May 16 and I wanted to get them planted.   It was extremely windy that day and I thought I could stake them minimally and they would be OK until we installed the trellis on May 8.  However, by May 8, they were looking rather puny.  The weather was warm and windy, then it turned cold again while we were gone.  The night we returned, the temperature dropped to 37 degrees.   So I should probably say that my “initiation by fire/ice” experiment was  a failure.  I still have transplants at home, waiting for bigger pots or a spot at the garden.  I’m struggling with whether I should pull out some of the plants there and replace with some from home or give them awhile longer.

Even though I lost a lot of time looking for my ring, I’m glad I spent time looking around the garden.

6-5-11 Plot 30, Globe artichoke

6-5-11 Plot 30, Globe artichoke

I had never seen an artichoke plant (Plot  30) before or zucchini growing, (Plot 15).   I think my next trellis will be patterned after the one in Plot 39, Emily and Eric’s garden.  I may also convert part of my “Square Foot” garden to single, short rows as The Garden Society did in Plot 2.    After all, there are no rules in gardening, that’s part of the fun.

Initiation by fire (or ice) – seedlings straight to the real world

May 11, the day before we left for the  wedding in Texas,  I transplanted tomato seedlings – again.  I replaced the broken Yellow Trifele plant with another one almost the same size.   All the tomato seedlings were getting gangly and desperate to be in the ground or at least in bigger pots.  I transplanted them and left them under the covered deck in hopes that the water in the pots would be enough to keep them until we return.  Like I said, initiation by fire.   It was 90 degrees on Wednesday May 11 and humid.  I changed clothes 3 times!  First to clean up enough to take the animals to the kennel after working with transplants for a couple of hours.   When I returned from the kennel, I still had native plants and herbs  to plant.  It’s a challenge when the herb sale is the last weekend of April, the native plant sale is the first weekend in May, and all the community gardening activity is finally in full swing.  After walking down the hill  through the tall grass to plant several plants, including the pipe vine next to the ladder,  I needed to take a quick shower before heading out for the last errands  and last watering at the two gardens.  I had a meeting at church at 6:30 so I had to come home and clean up, again, before leaving for the meeting.  We left the morning of May 12 for Texas, leaving my plants to fiend for themselves.

5-11-11 Transplanting tomato plant, again

Yellow trifele replacing the broken YT plant.
 
Friends said it was cold and rainy here in Missouri while we were in Texas.   May 16, the evening we returned, the overnight temperature was 37 degrees.  This prompted me to change my  post title to include ” ice”.  The weather has been so variable – 90 degrees, followed by cold, wind and rain, then repeat.   I was hoping to finally water and move the transplants from the shaded deck area  today but it is currently raining and 59 degrees.    Yesterday I made it by the WildWest Community garden and the church gardens.  The tomato plants at the WildWest garden definitely suffered from the cold and the winds.  I harvested more radishes, green onions, a few beet greens, a little spinach and about 11 oz of Swiss chard at the church community garden.

Radish harvest, 5-18-11 (6 red, 5 white)

Swiss chard, green onions, spinach and beet greens 5-18-11

The chard, broccoli, onions,  shallots and potatoes at the church garden are looking good.   The Waltham broccoli was planted April 7, the chard planted April 2, and the potatoes planted 4-17.

Broccoli

Chard

Potatoes

April 20, I planted 3 Yukon Gold seed potatoes in a tub on  our deck.   After covering initially, I have “hilled” them on 3 different occasions – the last May 11.  Basically I am covering with soil until the leaves are covered.

April 20

5-18-11 Potatoes after "hilling" 3 times

I am trying to do the same with the potato plants I have planted at the church community garden.

If it stops raining, I’ll try to move the transplants and hopefully document their status.

Reflecting on my vegetable gardening so far this year, I have concluded a few things:

1.  Swiss chard and radishes are easy to grow.  The challenge is convincing your family that they’re worth eating.

2.  The weather can drive you crazy if you let it.  Gardening is more fun in the shade.  Unfortunately vegetables really like the sun.

3.  Starting transplants from seeds is only a small part of the battle.  Actually getting them planted at the right time and keeping them alive long enough to reach production is a challenge I have yet to meet.

Hurrying as fast as I can . . .

Yesterday I spent part of the day shopping for a dress to wear to the outdoor wedding coming up this weekend in Texas.  It was also trying to rain, so I really couldn’t get much done outside.  I purchased 12 more bags of cedar mulch and took to the church community garden.  I didn’t have room for the wheelbarrow so I ended up carrying one bag at a time from the car to the bed.  You can see that some of the mulch is dark – ie, wet.  When I carried the 6 bags down the day before,  they were dry and I carried them down 2 at a time.  It’s a trade off – when I bought the 6 bags, I picked them out, loaded them into my car at the store.  When I bought the 12 bags, I paid for them and had them loaded from outside stock, which of course was wet.  I probably still need 8 – 10 bags to finish the second bed, so I’ll probably try to load dry bags from inside the store.

5-10-11 North church bed mulched, south bed mulch in progress

I worked about 2 hours at the church beds and about 30 minutes at Wild West bed.  I was soaked and covered in mulch by the time I left the church beds.  It was about 88 degrees, mostly overcast, but so humid that sweat was pouring down my face and onto my glasses.  I know some of my friends may not believe that women “sweat”, but I guarantee this was not a “glow”.  Nothing like high humidity and still air combined with a little work.  Perhaps it bears repeating Ahmed Kathrada’s quote:  “People who have wild ideas about how to run the earth ought to start with a small garden”.  It’s amazing how easy it is to underestimate the amount of work involved.  Which brings me to the importance of commitment.   Jodi Smedley is obviously committed to the success of the WildWest Community garden.  When I arrived at the Y garden a few minutes before 5, she and Rebecca were hauling dirt from the south of the garden to the newest beds on the north end of the garden on their personal time.  Jodi has been working tirelessly and cheerfully on this project along with others that I’m sure she would list but unfortunately I only know the names of a few – Julie, Rebecca, Michael, Deanna.

After getting home about 5:45, we played around a few minutes with empty water bottles and methods for watering my plants while I’m gone.  I purchased one Ferry-Morris ceramic watering spike, but at $4 each, I’m looking for a cheaper solution.

Ceramic watering spike I’m mainly concerned about the container plants on the deck, since that’s where I have new tomato transplants.  I think I’m going to try just putting a small hole in the neck of  plastic bottles and pray I get the right flow rate.  On several forums people suggest using rope to wick water from a large container.  I might try that too.  I’ll definitely move to a shaded spot and group them together in mass to reduce the loss from wind.  It doesn’t help that they’re elevated on the second floor.

Earlier in the day we had decided to have BBQ for dinner since it had been ages.  We tried PM BBQ, http://www.pmbbq.com/.  They have been open just over a year, next door to Wildhorse Grill on Long Road.  Pros:  Friendly staff, great brisket, chicken, pork and ribs, $2.75 beers.  (Between the two of us, we sampled all four meats).  Cons: small eating area, limited selection of beer, all disposables – paper boats, styrofoam cups, plastic utensils, bus your own table.  Personally not fond of creamy potato salad.  Smokehouse beans OK, will try sweet potato fries and cole slaw next time.