Thursday, June 17, 2010

Working at Kirby Creek Community Garden in Grand Prairie

Saturday the 19th will be fun since we are having "salsa day" as we take a break from the gardening and composting tasks.

About a dozen of us showed up Wednesday June 16th to work. Many of us are working on our volunteer/service hours in order to earn our certification as Master Composters and to receive the Shepherd's Compost bin with aerator insert.

At the garden, the plants that looked wonderful the Wednesday before looked pretty bad today, either from lack of water or chlorosis or a fungus. The leaves had turned yellow and mottled and a few plants just looked deadish. We are checking to determine exactly what caused the problem.

Squash bugs had really taken over the squash plants. We washed them off, trying to drown them, but they are survivors!

We weeded, pruned damaged leaves, mulched, and did other tasks to make the garden better. Vijit and Tracy have been watering, but that takes a long time with as many beds as there are. Hopefully, the city will be able to fix the irrigation system so that the veggie beds will be watered through drip irrigation instead of hand watering. As we learned in Master Gardening, drip irrigation is always superior.

There were lots of cherry tomatoes and we had those at our "rest and eat" time. Liz brought the zucchini quiche and it was delicious. We enjoyed the cherry tomatoes with the chutney Viit brought that his wife made. Margaret brought strawberries and blackberries - it was a fun break and we got to hear more about Billy's document that lists all the planting dates, harvesting dates, etc., on one page. Vijit is going to make a copy for each of us.

Looking at the two tiny cantaloupes (one golf ball size, one tennis ball size), Billy pointed to a flower and the bee pollinated it and said a new cantaloupe may grow there. This was very interesting to me.

Saturday, we're also going to cut away vines that are growing around two more bean/cucumber frames and move those so that the butter beans can grow upward. Some of the cucumber vines were growing horizontal along the ground under those frames currently in place in the cuke bed and Billy and I weaved the extensions into the fencing on the frames so they will grow upright and, hopefully, the squash bugs won't get into the cukes.

We discussed placing Savin around the perimeter of the cuke bed to kill baby squash bugs and a more toxic insecticide around the perimeter to kill adult squash bugs. However, we decided not to do that, since the insecticide would be sucked into the roots of the cukes, thus negating the organic emphases of the garden.

We are going to plant pumpkin, zucchini, and watermelon Saturday. We pulled weeds from beds with nothing growing in order to prepare for planting. There is a gas tiller that can be used to till those beds, but if we do a lasagna garden in one or more, we won't need to till that/those.

We also know to plant radishes at random among plants. I checked resources and nasturtiums and some marigolds also help. This is called "companion planting."

All in all, an interesting day - not much breeze and hot, but it feels good to learn.

We may experiment with one bed by doing it as a lasagna garden, as suggested by Liz.

We are hoping to see the grass, both in the bedded area as well as around the outside of the fence, mowed so that we can rake up clippings and start a second compost bin soon plus add more browns and greens to the one there now. There is a fenced in area in the SW corner of the community garden that contains lots of leaves.

Another task for Saturday is to do something with the triple wood slat compost bins that have been ignored for a long time.

We did harvest beans, squash, peppers, and there are a few eggplants growing (we didn't harvest the latter).

Community gardens are becomming more and more popular and one great advantage to working in one is learning from experienced vegetable gardeners. I appreciate everything I'm learning. Having been a city girl all my life and leading a non-domestic type life, I am really graining an appreciation of the basics and pratical tasks that can make us feel terrific as we succeed at them.

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