Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Weeds are Toast!

This years group of community gardeners at the Meridian Community Garden are a force to be reckoned with!  In just two hours they managed to sheet mulch with black plastic nearly half an acre after measuring and attaching drip irrigation line.  This improvement to our garden will save us so many man hours.  We will no longer have never ending hours of weeding by hand.  Our soil will warm up a little quicker in the Spring and this mulch will help us conserve water.

This group took on this project with gusto!  Truthfully we had no idea what we were doing.  Members Youtubed the project, tried out different methods  and assigned tasks like a seasoned team.  The thin plastic is layered over drip irrigation tubing and then the edges are held in place with soil.  We left a few walking paths through the garden for ease of harvesting and because we needed a place to steal dirt from.

The plastic had to be cut to length from an enormous and very heavy roll.  Having nothing to hang the roll from we rolled it up and down a little access road.  Then the cut sheet had to be carried into the garden and laid straight.

Some of us really got into our work!  At this point the team is on a roll!  We lay four rows down and then skip a row.  There are over 60 rows in this garden and the team finished the project in two hours!  They are AMAZING!!!

As you can see everyone got involved.  The very young were eager to try out the shovels and helped roll the big roll of plastic.  Our main body of gardeners are in the 30 to 50 year range but we have many gardeners both younger and older than that.

I took a number of small groups on a tour of the area that we planted a month ago.  I encouraged everyone to taste what we were growing.  A clear favorite was giant red mustard- one of the crops I choose despite it rating very low on my survey.  The kids got a kick out of pulling and tasting the radishes and they were very eager to try the Asian Greens, Spinach, Lettuce, Kale, and Lambs Quarters.

I love that I can include my children and the other members children in this garden experience.  I have a fantastic time answering their questions and showing them what to do in the garden.  The enthusiasm of our members and their families makes me feel very blessed.  I am so glad I began this journey five years ago and that I pursued it to this point.  Our garden is a fantastic success and we look forward to a bountiful year.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Found Object Project

You will need a few basic items to create a container garden from a found object.  These are what I used for this project.
A cordless drill
Left over latex paint
Weed cloth
Box cutter
Potting Soil
Depending on what your object is you may decide to use a cheap plastic pot as an insert.

 First I will admit that this "found object" did not require a great deal of imagination to turn into a planter box for my patio.  However, the simple steps I used to turn it into a miniature garden could be used for a variety of found objects.  The most important step is also the first.  Be sure to provide drainage for your new planter.  Unless you want to grow a bog garden this is essential to the health of your plants.  Because my container was made of wood, I simply used a drill bit to provide the drainage holes.

Second because I wanted to pretty it up I painted the box with latex paint and lined it with weed cloth.  The holes where small but I prefer to keep as much of my potting mix in my container and not running all over the table top where this will live.  A bit more decorating with some acrylic paint to add lettering and my container was ready for soil.

 The girls helped me fill the box with soil.  We used a rather cheap potting soil for two reasons. This container will be emptied every year and the herbs we will be growing will not mind poor soil.  We planted the box with lemon balm, peppermint, kale, Swiss chard, green onions, cilantro, and some red romaine lettuce seed.  This will likely get crowded...but we are happy to eat anyone who runs out of room!  I will poke a few nasturtium seeds in to add some color and we will call it done.
I will post pictures in a few weeks to show how this has grown....but for me this is the perfect kind of project...most of the plants were started from seed and cost us pennies.  Many were volunteers in the garden, so we can say that this project cost us under $10 after buying the potting soil!  Not bad for a pretty little garden.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gathering Media Attention for Your Community Garden

I love answering the door when opportunity knocks!  For the last week or so I have been working on a story for a local publication about my journey creating a community garden.  The article takes a look at what drove me to create the garden, the challenges that we faced (once I had found other gardeners), and where we hope to take the garden in the future.  I was honored to be asked and even more excited when I learned it was to be a cover story for the magazine.  My story quickly became 1700 words when only 1550 were needed- but I figure that is what editing is for!  I need to gather some photographs for the article and then I will wait anxiously until July when it will be published.

Another exciting development is the addition of our drip lines!  The city has completed the top portion of the system and I spent some time yesterday laying out the netafim lines that we brought from our last location.  These are set every 36 inches and we will lay our black plastic mulch down over them.  This will give us some awesome benefits.  The ground will warm quickly early in the season, the mulch will suppress weeds and our water use will be 75% more efficient!

Our seedlings are coming along wonderfully.  Unfortunately, so are the weeds, which means I will soon be spending my afternoons weeding between tiny seedlings.  The above picture shows a Swiss Chard seedling.  Everything is up now.  Tiny lettuce seedlings, kale, radishes, beets, peas, sunflowers, nasturtiums, spinach, potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic and wheat will soon be large enough to out compete the weeds.  I love this time of year as our garden soil slowly turn to green with new growth.