Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When Gardeners Gather

The Plant a Row for the Hungry gardeners that I volunteer with met today to plan this year’s garden. One reason this group of people is great is that we have a common goal of providing good food for people who need it. Another reason this group is great is that they all talk happily and knowledgeably about seeds and planting.

I am really lucky to be part of this group. Not many people get to have such lively conversations about whether to allocate some of our space to corn, about which varieties we want to grow this year, about row spacing in the bush bean plot, or about whether we should trust that the beneficial nematodes that we released into the garden (twice!) have actually managed to control the wireworm population. As the meeting went on, we found that we want to do some things the same this year, and some differently:

* We want to keep using the half-runner beans as our pole-bean crop.
* We want to keep planting the same squashes, but maybe fewer of the Seminole Pumpkin Squash, since it vines so vigorously through the garden (our other squashes are yellow summer squash and Tromboncino squash).
* We want to plant more Beauregard sweet potatoes and fewer Vardemon.
* We want to grow more sweet peppers and fewer hot peppers.
* We want to grow the same bush beans, but maybe in wide rows that have wider walkway spaces (for us to sit down in) between them. Picking bush beans while leaning over the rows is hard on our backs!
* We want to grow cucumbers, but not on the fence, where last year they got caught between the wire rabbit fencing and the wooden picket fencing.
* We want to grow more sunflowers and put them in a corner space that until now has been underutilized.
* We want to try a new melon, since our cantaloupes keep cracking before they ripen (the new melon will probably be the Sugar Nut Hybrid that has done so well in my yard).
* We want to have a field trip to Ladd’s Farm Supply store up in Cartersville for seed-potatoes (we decided to trust the nematodes!).
* We want to plan an additional harvest day each week, rather than just hope one or two of us can show up to pick on days that aren’t our whole-group workdays.
* We may try a different way to label the tomatoes, so we can keep better track of which ones do really well (our small labels that are stuck in the ground at the base of each plant tend to get lost in the mulch).

We were all reminded to start saving our newspapers and any plastic shopping (grocery-type) bags. The newspapers are used under the mulch, as part of our weed-control program. The mulch is old leaves, saved as a humongous stack of leaf-filled plastic bags. The shopping bags are for transporting veggies to the food pantry that we deliver our harvests to.

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