On Friday afternoon, June 3, the American Family community garden opened for planting. Jay and I got out there on Saturday morning. In the weeks leading up to opening day, I planned, started seeds, collected materials, asked lots of questions and sketched several ideas to make the most of the 10x10-foot plot. Watch a video of Jay and I building our community garden plot.
|The community garden plot before we started to work in it. The soil had been tilled three times, though not very deep at all.|
The ease of access, fertility and loose soil of raised beds are so perfect for gardening that naturally I envisioned building raised beds, even in the tiny community garden plot. I sketched out two 3 1/2-foot beds with three 1-foot rows, one down the middle and two down the sides for full access. Then I did the math - that design dedicated 30 square feet to non-productive paths (1-foot x 10 feet x 3 paths). There had to be a better design.
|I grew up with raised beds; my mom's garden is made up of eight 3-foot by 20-foot beds she has been cultivating for more than 35 years. I learned early on that once the plants go in no one, not even mom, steps into the beds.|
I next divided the 10x10 plot into quadrants with 1-foot paths down the middle of each axis. This design involved a bit more stretching but only dedicated 20 square feet to paths (1-foot x 10 feet x 2 paths). I still wasn't happy with paths that occupied 20 percent of the bed.
|We brought in 30 bags of compost ($6 from the Dane County compost site 11 minutes away). Here Jay is planting a perimeter of marigolds to keep out rabbits and beautify the bed.|
|At the time, we had the only raised bed in the garden. We started to feel a bit awkward, as Jay put it, building Trump Tower in the middle of the prairie.|
|The bed mulched with marsh hay ($3/bale) from a local farmer who delivered a huge load of hay to the garden. Delivery was much more sustainable than all of us making individual trips to local garden centers to bring back hay for mulch.|
|American (Family) Gothic|