Monday, May 12, 2014

AmFam Community garden opens!

There are many things I like about our community garden. One of my favorite things is workdays, when we rally together and get a lot done in a short time. One of the most impressive times was when 30 people moved 30 cubic yards of wood mulch in about an hour. While we didn't open the 2014 garden with that big a bang, on Saturday I had a great time with my fellow gardeners getting the garden ready for a successful summer.

Our primary purpose was to get our weedy community garden patch under control. While I don't advocate for repeat rototilling, it seemed like the only way to manage this weed bed was to beat them into submission and then smother them. We had a number of people to pull back last year's hay mulch, and then we rototilled the three rows a couple of times. Gardeners then applied a new fresh batch of hay mulch to the newly tilled beds.

Next week a different group of volunteers is going to plant asparagus and raspberries. I'm still wondering about the wisdom of us releasing that many raspberries on to our garden, but it's what people wanted to do and this area has always been an experiment. I'm game. And I'm particularly excited about the asparagus!

At the same time volunteers were hooking our hoses up to the water spigots. It feels like the garden really comes alive when this kind of equipment gets put into place.

We also had a load of 100 hay bales for gardeners to use to mulch their gardens. A couple of strong people stacked them up (strings not on the ground) so they'll last until people want to use them.

But what I'm most excited about is our little free library. Last year one of our gardeners built this library, and we installed it this weekend. I was happy to add some books my friend Tara had given me, and some of my own gently read copies of Organic Gardening and Urban Farming magazines.

Finally, it seems to us that one of the perennial challenges is figuring out who actually is using their gardens even after they signed up for a plot. It seems like every year a couple of people sign up and pay for a plot, but the never get into the garden. We don't discover this until June 15 when it's weedy and pretty much past time that another gardener could use the plot, or we could dedicated to food pantry production.

This year we put numbered flags in each plot, and are asking the gardeners to remove the flag and put it into this box to both help them find their plot and indicate that they are actively using it. I understand that for some people things come up and they simply can't garden. But maybe this way we'll find earlier those people who never even tried.

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