Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Monday, March 31, 2014

Garden update: my community garden plot

I am itching to get started with gardening and growing my own food, but unfortunately there isn't much space where we live without investing a significant amount of money into container gardening. I volunteer for the Wasatch Community Gardens, so there will be some bounty coming may way from there, but still, I want my own space. I decided I would rent a 4x16" plot for $25. It's not the closest community garden to my house (The Grateful Tomato Garden, five blocks away, has a four year wait list) but it's also not terribly inconvenient, though I do have to drive or ride my bike to it. When I went to meet that garden's coordinator, I got to pick out my plot.

There were about a dozen or so to choose from, all in varying states. This one is closer to the entrance, which means is is more likely that people will steal from it, but I chose it because it looked a bit bigger and it is contained. Unfortunately, Jessica (our garden steward) told me that all community gardens experience theft and vandalism, so we just have to expect that. I picked this out on Monday (March 24) and went back on Saturday to turn over the soil.

 It took me about two hours, but here is what I did: I dug into the soil about a foot deep, moved it to the side, and then got my wheelbarrow full of aged horse manure (donated for the community gardeners to use) and filled it in, then put the top soil back, removing any debris. Debris included residual plant matter, sticks from  previous plant stakes, and any rocks that had no business in my garden. I didn't really mix it in that much, it was more of a layering to add biomass to the soil.

I was very pleased to discover a significant amount of earthworms - more than I was expecting given the state of this heavy clay soil. 

 I was very tired by the end of this, but I still had things I wanted to do. Like plant seeds. According to the plan, my plot was supposed to be 4x16 feet but it was more like 3 1/2 by 22, which works out to slightly more, square footage wise. I had mapped out precisely what I wanted to plant and where according to the 4x16 schematic, so I'll have to do a little revision but this was a good start.

It is only the end of March and we had more snow again yesterday (though it did not stick - it has been unseasonably warm and all the gardeners expect there to be more freezing before May) so I only planted things I knew could take a bit of cold weather: arugula, kale, chard, michili, bok choi, and a few lettuces.

I still plan to go back with some compost and amend the top of the soil - it is so grey and heavy, whereas I am used to dark and loamy. If I end up having this same plot for a few years, it will be well fortified before long! The guy who had it before me didn't plant the things I'm planning to put in, so there is no problem crop-rotation-wise.

Meanwhile, at the Grateful Tomato Garden, garlic is up!

There are two hoop houses at the GTG and it has been declared warm enough for the plants inside to have the poly removed. It was getting up to 70 & 80 degrees in there!

This is an herb wheel which will become an herb spiral in April, all permaculture design style. I have already mapped out what we'll plant in there. It's going to be a fun project! 

 Emma and the people in the youth programs have been busy planting stuff.

Behold the compost area - I am charged with the task of renovation. This very night we will pull out the biomass, rip out the old pallets, install new ones, and replace the biomass. I have (mostly) painted signs to indicate what goes where and what processes are meant to happen. Stay tuned!

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