Tuesday, July 10, 2012

At the Community Garden

Things are rolling right along at the community garden. I am so glad we decided to get a plot here, it gives us the extra growing space we need, and the ritual and true community nature of gardening here are wonderful. It really has become something of a ritual: walking the leisurely five minutes up to the garden on these warm beautiful summer evenings to water our plot, walking home later with a basket piled high with peas and lettuce. It's literally straight up our street about six blocks, and I have fallen in love with the walk: we pass all kinds of small houses like our own, filled with people of different colors, many of them young couples like ourselves. Most of the yards have been torn up and turned into gardens, like our own, and it is so encouraging to see this practical way of life here on a residential street. And on each walk, we can see the changes since the last walk, that one family's tomato vines have grown taller, and that the couple on the corner has added a new raised bed today. We now know all the dogs and cats on the street, and many of the human faces too. One yard is planted entirely in rows of raspberries. In front of another house, the inhabitants tilled up their curb strip (except there is no curb: past our block, there are no sidewalks, but also no traffic) and planted it full of sunflowers. Many times Jessa or Elliot is there to walk with, having stopped by our house after work or to check on the rabbits.

Three rows of beans (one of Empress and two of Blue Lake), growing wonderfully. I'm thankful they're so big now that they out-compete the weeds! You can also see that I planted sunflowers fairly randomly throughout the plot.

Our two lonely corn plants, the only ones surviving after two full plantings of this bed. We found gopher pilings, but can't trap them because it is against city policy. So we replanted the rest of this bed in leeks, rainbow chard and parsnips, and are hoping that the gophers have moved elsewhere.

To make the most of our 10' x 20' plot, we made a path in an incomplete loop around the inside of it, you can see it where the bark chips are. The middle bed contains winter squash (Queensland Blue, Red Kuri, and Sunshine) and two red cabbage starts. Behind them there are four potato plants, buttercrunch lettuce, and a row of cilantro.

The snap peas (Oregon Sugar Pod) have been going for broke, much to our delight! They did incredibly well here, but not so great at the house. 

A view of the whole plot. One the near (south) end are two types of heirloom carrots, Chantenay Red Core and Scarlet Nantes, and our compost bin. Two days ago I cut back the massive comfrey bush on the right, as it was encroaching on the carrots and the newly planted leeks. I saved a pile of the leaves and they are currently brewing into comfrey tea to use as fertilizer. I also pulled out the two big poppy plants in the corn bed. I saved a handful of heads which are currently drying in the sun in the backyard so I can save the seed. They are gorgeous purple blooms, and I want to someday be able to plant a big bank of them along a driveway or as a border to something. Oh, dreams of owning property....

I love wandering around the community garden to see how other people have arranged their plots, and what they are growing. Some are haphazard, some are very tidy, and some are amazingly creative. There are hops, raspberries, blueberries, huge pea vines and bean teepees, and pretty much every vegetable that grows in this climate. It is a whole heap of inspiration in one place, and we get the community piece to boot, watering the plots of our garden neighbors when they are out of town, and meeting lots of people who live in our neighborhood. Jessa and Elliot's plot is kitty-corner to ours, a woman who lives a block from us has the big plot right across the pathway, and a good friend of Matt's from college, who he hadn't seen in years, is a few plots away! Community, indeed.

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