Oh boy, oh boy! We are SOOOOO excited! We’ve been waiting and waiting all winter…until NOW!!

Shortly after we moved here last year, our church started building a community garden. The produce would be given to the local food bank. The men’s group got together, and built four raised beds in the lot behind the church. And, the city installed a spigot for us (with reduced water rates). By the time the work was done, we only had time for some late-summer planting. However, we ended up with LOTS of beautiful cabbage!

In the bed we’d been assigned, Brian and I planted collards at that time but they didn’t do so well. In fact, the pastor asked if he needed to perform funeral rites for our raised bed. Yes, it was THAT bad! We had planted some leftover collards from the same plat at our house and those did phenomenal! They were grown in different soil. And, while collards like full sun, the ones at our house only received partial sun. Gardening is SO CONFUSING!!

This past winter, the guys all got together again, and planted 16 more raised beds. The church also arranged for a local firm selling “black gold” soil to deliver that. All of the beds have been full and ready for a few weeks now. In the meantime, the individuals involved with the garden committee started signing up to care for specific beds. And, they all have seedlings started at their homes.

I figured I’d better be safe because of my past history of having a black thumb. If you have gardening deficits like I do, you do the obvious. You grow something that is almost impossible to kill. Something so hardy that it borders on invasive. Something like…OKRA! We grew a ton of that in our backyard last year so I definitely wanted that one!!

Mason experimented with growing potatoes last year. He used grow bags, put whole potatoes (from the grocery store) in them, fertilized, and faithfully watered them for weeks on end. And, when he dumped those out last fall, and plucked out the beautiful round balls of yumminess, we were all amazed!! The fun thing for kids about growing potatoes is that you can only guess about what’s going on under the soil until harvest day. So, everything that comes out of the dirt is a surprise! Seriously. It’s like finding dirty Easter eggs!

When the garden committee heard about Mason’s excellent potato crop, they promptly put him in charge of the tater bed for this year.

The garden coordinator told us we needed to get specific things in the ground this week (including potatoes) so we loaded up the truck with supplies, and headed down the mountain. Brian tested the soil in the beds, “fixed” it with organic fertilizers (that science stuff is far too abstract for my right-brained self), and planted collards first. Down the middle of the collard raised bed, he planted several garlic plants that our neighbor had pulled and given to us just the night before. They are beautiful! Collards and garlic are good companion plants.

It’s too early for okra so I also (nervously!) signed up to plant carrot seeds as well. And, I planted a row of onions in the middle of that bed, which is a companion plant for carrots.

And, Mason very happily got on his knees, and dug deep holes for his bed of potatoes!

This weekend, Mason is adding peas to his potato bed (peas are a nitrogen fixer) and Brian will be planting beets, along with peas in that bed as well. The beet and pea seeds are currently soaking.

We are having SO MUCH FUN with the community garden! If you have one in your town, I highly recommend volunteering your time to help with it. If you don’t have one, maybe a local church or organization can get one started with your help? 🙂

On the home front, we have beets and strawberries in the ground, along with a greenhouse full of goodies that are waiting to be moved outdoors in three to four weeks. We also have countless wild blackberry vines (we’re still pulling frozen blackberries out of the freezer from last year) and two blueberry bushes that produce a ton of fruit.

Of course, what we can’t eat or store we’ll be donating to the local food bank as well.

And, we have several fruit and nut trees that we just planted. They’re too young to produce yet but, in a few years, we’ll be swimming in apples, cherries, pears, peaches, and pecans. Unless I kill them, of course…


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