Thursday, July 25, 2013

Around the Town: Community Garden

I've had the privilege to take care of a large community garden plot that is just west of our new church family, Northwood Alliance in Blaine. I'm not sure how large the square footage, but it's got it's own well, a nice greenhouse behind, and at least 15 rows and a few mounds of plants. I've always wanted a plot of land but up here prices are even worse for land than back in Nebraska. I know it's a 'far off dream' but I haven't let it die yet. In the meantime, something I can do to make that dream a reality is to help with the community garden. It helps to take ownership of how it turns out, and with daily watering, I'm invested. I have watched this garden over the summer and it is something our family shows off with pride when visitors come. 

I'll try to explain the views as you see them in the photos. The top photo is looking south from the back fence where the green house is. The photo above (with the black trash bags) is a shot of the artichoke plant (far right), and 6 potato plants in garbage bags. It's either that or tires for the cheap way! I've picked one artichoke but though I haven't cooked it yet, based on pictures from the internet, it might be too old/ripe for it to taste any good. We'll see. I had never even seen an artichoke plant before and the ones that are really healthy are just huge. It's always a learning experience in any garden. This climate's pest is the common slug, and boy are they ugly. They are anywhere from 1-6 inches and they look like...well, a dog turd. They get in the garden and eat everything. We've seen a few in the corner of the property, but the planter has taken a lot of measures to get rid of them naturally. 

This view above is a little more clear of the home-made greenhouse. A gentleman from our church made that and it's even got a ventilation system that opens and closes when it gets too hot or cold. It's an excellent design! 
The four mounds in the foreground and middle are squash and cucumbers and from when I took this picture--maybe a week ago--they have doubled, tripled, or quadrupled in size! It won't be long for those squash and lemon cucumbers to be in my kitchen.
The two rows after that are bush peas (sugar snaps), and cabbage, chives, broccoli rabe, and beets. Unfortunately I don't like too many of those, but man did we eat sugar snaps by the pound this year, and of course, all for free!

This is a side view that you can see the water tank (which holds the well water in the summer) and the large plants to the left are the shelling peas. I only got one batch of those but they were delicious. I put them in so many salads I can't even count. I think I might still have a small bag left for that one last salad. They're done now. The bush with color is an edible flower, and the one just to the left of it, out of sight, is just massive. The lettuce is planted there but is also out of sight. We've eaten curly leaf, butter, and so much romaine this summer. It's been wonderful! There are a few new heads of lettuce coming up, too. The following row is carrots, onions, beets? The bushy plants in the middle are two types of kale, with rhubarb out of sight. 

Here's a side view of the shelling peas (right), the large edible flower bush, and some cabbage. I'm not quite sure what the plant is on the left. It hasn't bloomed yet, and I do not see any veg. on the plant. It's quite large, though. 
The fence around the property was also built by a gentleman who goes to the church, and the entrance door is large and sturdy. It has a number of work pegs, and even a shelf built into it. It's really handy to just plop my keys there every day. 

Here's a nice shot of the fence line. It's the same view as above but just taken to show the length of the fence.  The white building in the back is the greenhouse.
The working relationship I have with the rightful owner of the garden, a lady at our church, has been great so far. It works so well because she is the knowledge & planter behind everything, and I'm the daily waterer. I can water, and when I have a weekend that Stefan is home, I can help weed for a long period of time, but since we live two blocks away, getting to the garden is very easy for me. The neighborhood kids like to eat what I bring back, and one has even come with us to see it. Others have asked to go, and I just need to find a time that works for all of us (on a day I'm not too tired!). It takes the load off of just one person, and I love doing a bit of work for all the produce I'm getting. It also is helping me realize a small part of owning property and doing this completely for myself one day. I have learned a lot through this experience. 

In this picture you can see how the white pump runs along inside the garden to the hose and tank in the middle of the area. The 'springy' plants up front are garlic, and behind those are rosemary and sage. Those are probably my two least favorite herbs. Next year if we're still here I'm going to try to get cilantro and mint in there--the two I use the most! 
Behind that area is the beautiful and colorful Swiss Chard and then a bit of onions followed by 3 cucumber plants. There is one long cucumber that is waiting a few more days before I pick it off to sample. I love cucumbers. The big bushy plant to the right is rhubarb. The dark green to the left are green beans. Just this evening, I went through the bottom 'shelf' of the green beans very quickly, and I got a large bowl full of them! Lukka and I snapped them this evening after we came home, and we'll feast on these until we get sick of them this summer (there are 2 full rows of them) and then we'll start flashing them and saving them for the winter. 

This final shot is looking north, facing north-east. It's the iris plants (far left), second planting of cabbage and beans, and then the beautiful tomatoes! They are packed full of green tomatoes, and quite healthy and lovely smelling. I can't wait for those babies to ripen. I am a tomato fiend in the summer, and it's been agonizing waiting for them. Early July is when tomatoes are starting to be sold at the Farmer's Markets in Nebraska, and here the season is about 4-6 weeks later. They'll probably be done and ready and dropping off in a few weeks, and I'll be ready. Overshadowed by the tomatoes is a small row of basil, and then back to the beans again. I hope you enjoyed the tour!


Are you a gardener? What is in your backyard or community garden? 


Kerri said...

Wow! What an operation. Impressive. How does the parceling out of the produce work? Does everyone who works there just come and get whatever they want?

Brewed Together said...

This looks like a wonderful garden! And what a great idea for a community to be involved so that everyone can share in the fruits (or vegetables) of the labor. Thanks for sharing! Xo, M&K at