Thursday, March 17, 2011

Planting with PAR

At the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry (PAR) garden for which I am a volunteer, we continued this week with the early spring planting. Only one other person in the whole group had ever made seed tapes before, so we started our Wednesday session in the Carriage House, making seed tapes out of toilet paper, Elmer's glue, and carrot seeds. We haven't planted carrots before at PAR, so this is a double experiment for us.

Some of these gardeners work with children at other projects, and they were particularly happy to discover how easy making seed tapes is. The hardest part (especially for the people who didn't bring their reading glasses to the garden) was getting the seeds onto the glue without dropping huge numbers of them in a pile all at once.

Fred, our other gardener who has made seed tapes, gets around the "tiny seed" problem by using pelletized seeds. He drops one at a time, with tweezers, at the correct spacing onto his homemade seed tape. I am less precise in placing seeds onto my seed tapes, but I usually have to do a little thinning as a result.

There were enough of us present that it didn't take long before we had a lot of seed tape ready to go.

After we had plenty, we tidied up (put the newspaper back into the recycling bin where we found it) and moved to the garden to work. Planting the seed tapes didn't take long, either, but we had plenty of other tasks to keep us occupied. Broccoli was planted along the edges of the bed in which the carrots are now planted.

We also planted more potatoes and onions. We didn't finish getting these in the ground, because parts of their bed were still too wet from the previous day's rain. We made a lot of progress, though.

We are really fortunate that the city had someone weed-whack our cover crop (the garden is on city property), the Austrian winter peas. The greenery was becoming startlingly thick, and it was going to be heck to turn under, even with a heavy duty rototiller. The potato/onion/carrot/broccoli areas had already been tilled by Doug (thank you!). If we are lucky, he will be able to till the rest of the garden in a couple of weeks, shifting the good organic residue of the peas down into the soil, where we need it.

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