Planting and sowing
Finally it was time to plant! There was so much to do that we needed to spread it out over a few days.
While Jon and I were setting up the garden plots on the first day, Ann sowed radishes and beans. The next day Ady planted onions, and I planted butter lettuce and sowed seeds for red lettuce. Ann sowed seeds for pole beans, and then she and Caleb planted tomatoes.
The last thing we did after planting that day was set up the sprinkler system for the season! We have 2 different sprinklers throughout the plot that are set on a timer which waters everything twice a day. It’s pretty fancy.
We can’t wait to see what pops up first for harvest! A few days after planting we had a lot of heavy rain, which was great for the plants… that is the ones that could handle it. Most of the onions got pounded down and washed away, but everything else was thankfully unharmed.
The beginnings of the garden
Last fall we got all the harvest in, dropped out of sight for the winter and now it is spring! Kelly and Max actually want us back in their garden. Cool! Planting started late this year due to all the cold weather and snow that went into May. We had our volunteers ready and excited to get started! As soon as the temperature warmed up, we had our garden plan, seedlings and seeds ready to plant.
First, though, we had to get the soil ready!
Tilling the soil makes it more workable and it actually can improve plant health over time. Miles and Sean volunteered to till one cloudy day in the middle of May.
Once the soil was ready, it was almost time to plant! Next we had to lay out the plant beds and make walking paths. It felt great to start fresh with a new plan and bare soil this season!
More to come about planting and harvesting!
I think we have reached a measure of equilibrium regarding the garden. That is not to say it is in perfect shape or producing to its maximum potential. No, not that. However, for this first year’s effort, we are finally reaping reward for our angst and effort. We are delivering food twice weekly to the Greater Lake Country Food Bank – 290 pounds to date!
Colors abound in the long row of tomato plants as red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes ripen and heirloom varieties such as mortgage lifters and san marzano weigh heavy on their drooping branches. Rows of deep burgundy beets are yielding dozens weekly and the green beans just won’t quit. Multi-colored carrots will be ready soon but we are giving them a little more time to lengthen. Eggplants are late coming but look super healthy. Our kale patch has been a hearty producer, sturdy, steady and strong like the bodies it will nourish. The cucumbers are beyond huge. New zucchini, spinach, radishes and lettuces are coming in for a second round to keep us going to late October if we are lucky. The soil has been rich and taking it easy on us. We have been lucky to be free of pests so far.
For the first time, a week ago, it was my turn to take our pickings downtown to the Food Bank and get to personally meet the folks down there who are working so hard. They were so delightful and appreciative of my boxes of vegetables. They tried to give me some peanut butter ice cream in exchange and I laughed and begged off and finally accepted a bottle of water which tasted so good after a long stint in the garden. I watched some people shopping in the small store which is only part of what this organization does to help feed the hungry. All vegetables and dairy products are free and shelf items sell at a very nominal amount, mostly $1.50. Families were carefully taking stock of everything and making their decisions. It felt good to see the end game in this process and know that the effort is worthwhile.
Pastry chef, Heather, with very capable leadership and a touch of good old-fashioned guilt therapy, has marshalled a handful of us who now dedicate a few hours consistently to the fun stuff – the harvest! We’re not quite able to keep up with everything, especially the weeds, but it is not as bad as it got midsummer when we were saved by the volunteer efforts of Christ English Lutheran Church. Ruth Olson, editor of the Fulton Neighborhood News has been instrumental in keeping the neighborhood aware of our progress by writing a few articles and it resulted this week in a new volunteer from the area who loves to garden and wants to help us out! Thank you Ruth.
Of course I am always grateful to Travis Dahlke at Hands for Harvest for inspiring this journey to begin with.
A Fabulous Day in the Garden
On Wednesday morning, Ann and I went to the garden. We met Melissa Pohlman, pastor of Christ English Lutheran Church, 3 other adult volunteers and about ten teens, some there strictly for service work and a few from a program called Emerge. Emerge is a non-profit worth paying attention to because of their community work in the northside of Minneapolis, one aspect of which is to train and create jobs for hard-to-employ individuals. Christ English Lutheran is all about service work in the community and their volunteers some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet.
They all descended cheerfully on our mess of a garden to help our effort! How lucky is that? I hate to tell you how much we needed their work. This first year has been a struggle finding enough volunteers to keep up. In fact we weren’t keeping up with it. The owners of the property, Max and Kelly, have had to put up with an eyesore of late because there was so much weeding and tending to be done.
In three hours time, all of us worked hard to really tackle the weeding. We staked up tomato plants that were heaving under the weight of branches and heavy fruit. We harvested 40 pounds of chard, leeks, green onions, cucumbers, beans, and carrots and filled 15 bags for the compost heap. Of course, in gratitude, we were downright obligated to feed pizza and lemonade to these hungry, thirsty workers at the Cucina. After lunch, Ann immediately dropped our booty off at the food bank and then the two of us spent another hour or so cleaning up the garden.
On Sunday I plan to spend a couple of hours (with helpers, I hope), harvesting more food and planting seeds in newly-opened spaces