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Update, Community Garden Project, MO

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Update, Community Garden Project, MO

Post  CiderSapling on 6/18/2012, 11:39 pm

I haven't been in here awhile, I've been so busy gardening, organizing, parenting, then gardening some more. There aren't enough hours in the day! But I wanted to stop in and give an update on our community garden project.

Background: We're in the heart of the city, using a vacant lot previously featuring a 3 story home. When the home burned, it was demolished - mostly by pushing debris into the basement and covering it with some dirt and grass seed. After extensive paperwork, we were able to lease the lot from the city and begin our gardening project. Lots of reading/research later, the leaders wrote out the gardening rules, which required gardeners to use MM in the planter boxes for maximum growth and sustainability.

Getting the boxes built and filled with MM was a giant chore. The gardeners weren't overly concerned about the price of the mix, being mostly middle class city folks who have never gardened before. I ended up doing all the calculations (thanks for the calculator here, BTW) then we did a mass order from a local garden supply. We were able to get everything, short of one compost variety. A trip to a local guy selling rabbit manure, and we were all set. Everyone got pretty close to the right stuff, with extra compost thrown in here and there. The general soil consistency is very regular from bed to bed. I've spent tons of time repeating info from the book and forum to the gardeners, explaining (and re-explaining) how and why this system works - especially in our small garden format.

All the boxes have been planted, each with a different result based on the personality of the gardener. The one common factor in them all: huge plants. The cool weather plants are over, and with two exceptions they did incredibly well. [One problem came from planting too late. And the other - none of my peas grew. I'm blaming a bad batch of seeds, though.] Tomatoes are growing fabulously. Squash and pumpkins are doing well. One bed is suffering from the owner's irregular watering habits, but everyone is thrilled with the rate of growth we're seeing.

I'm the only gardener who is truly using the SFG method, combined with seasonal considerations. No one else believed me when I stated faithfully that Yes! Indeed you can plant this much! Very Happy I used the grid placement recommendations in the book. I planted a pumpkin (dwarf) next to my lettuce, and now that the lettuce is over the pumpkin has tons of room. Same with the squash (bush) and peas (dwarf). Once I started to feel I had a handle on this project, I modified an old bed on my property, filled it with MM and planted corn and watermelon (my children are delighted). My radishes were amazing. The only problem plant I'm having is my peppers, and I'm pretty sure it's gardener error. I've made pages of notes to review this winter so I can plan better for next year.

The garden rules allow for cold boxes, so I'm taking that under consideration. But due to the placement of the beds and the size of the area, we have limits on how tall trellises can be (otherwise you're shading you're neighbor). One gardener has a vining pumpkin that has completely overtaken his corner of the garden - and everyone is just ignoring it. Wink

It's note all been wonderful. Honestly, it's been a really challenging road. We've had permitting problems. We've had meetings with the gardening crew with arguments and complaints. We've encountered resistance from neighbors who do not want a community garden in their neighborhood. We're still very challenged because we don't have a water source on the property. I got "stuck" with a ton of extra MM material when someone backed out after I'd placed and paid for the bulk order. More than once I've thrown my hands in the air and declared the whole project a colossal waste of time and resources. But now that the beds are in and planted, everyone is (mostly) coming on board. Things are coming together. And we're seeing fantastic results. My harvest of cool weather crops plus summer growth is convincing my fellow gardeners that you really can pack the bed.

That's where we are for now. Thanks for all the advice a few months ago as we were getting started. I'll try to get some pics up soon... the camara and I are currently having a disagreement.


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Re: Update, Community Garden Project, MO

Post  Kelejan on 6/19/2012, 12:43 am

Sounds as though you are doing a great job, CiderSapling. I hope the gardeners keep it up though the season, as usually most new gardeners give up when the weeds start to grow, but I am sure that with SFG you will not have that problem.


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Re: Update, Community Garden Project, MO

Post  CindiLou on 6/19/2012, 1:05 am

I am so glad you got it going! Can't wait to see the pictures!


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Re: Update, Community Garden Project, MO

Post  Chopper on 6/19/2012, 5:39 am

Wow. That is great news. I too await pics. Don't forget we all have cameras - our phones. Very Happy


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Re: Update, Community Garden Project, MO

Post  JustMe on 6/19/2012, 3:09 pm

Congratulations! Sounds like you have put in a lot of hard to make this happen.

Last night I heard Will Allen speak. He's the founder of Growing Power in Milwaukee, and one of the many things his organization does is to transform unused buildings and lots into productive gardens.


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Re: Update, Community Garden Project, MO

Post  Triciasgarden on 6/20/2012, 1:23 am

Wow, what an amazing undertaking and it sounds like you had great success! What did you do with getting water?


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Re: Update, Community Garden Project, MO

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