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Thursday, May 1, 2014

the first garden work day

This past Saturday marked the beginning of this year's community garden season.  As the community garden director, I was responsible for organizing and directing the work day, and I am happy to report it was a success!  I had been nervous about the turn out since our weather in Wisconsin has been so crummy.  Luckily we had a sunny (but cold) day and a great group of hardworking gardeners helping to get our garden ready for growing! 

After the snow melted, we assessed which beds need repairs and identify our priorities for the season.  Our beds just needed a few minor repairs, and we were able to spend the majority of our work day pulling weeds and topping off our beds with fresh, organic soil.  We splurged this year on "activiated" soil, essentially fancy compost designed to add nutrients to gardens.  As any good gardener knows, good gardening starts with good soil. 

The herb circle we built last year is still looking great, and I was happy to see a few perrenials made it through the winter!  The sage and parsley will be making another appearance this season and the chamomile reseeded itself! 

Baby chamomile!  I see some tasty tea in my future!

They're alive!  I'm realizing as I type this that I forgot to pick some sage and thyme to use in my home cooking.  I harvested a lot of herbs from our herb circle at the end of last garden season, and the edible herbs made my winter dishes extra tasty, but now they're all used up!  Time to get pick some fresh stuff. 

Last season we set aside a few beds to be educational and learning spaces.  This season, one of our educational garden beds will be dedicated to growing strawberries and edible flowers.  I like to have communal spaces like these that educate people about all the possibilities of gardening.  Most people feel like they're undertaking a lot just trying to grow the basics like tomatoes, so seeing other people grow new things is helpful.  I gave edible flowers a try last year in the garden, and this season I can't wait to grow them again!  Hopefully this communal space will give gardeners some ideas for next season. 

I was so impressed with all the work we accomplished Saturday.  It's so fun to see everyone working hard together and the beautiful transformation of our garden.  Just look at those gorgeous garden beds!

In addition to prepping our garden beds, we also added two cold frames to our garden.  One of our garden committee members built these himself.  I was beyond impressed.  He bought the supplies, measured and cut the cedar, then assembled everything at the work day (the plastic film covering was added after I took these pictures).  We are so lucky to have such talented people working hard to make our garden a beautiful place.  These cold frames will help us extend our garden season and provide a space for baby transplants needing to adjust to outside conditions. 

Getting my hands in the dirt felt so amazing.  If you've experienced a winter up north, you understand the tremendous joy that comes from finally reaching spring after months of being frozen solid.  It gets to the point that you start to forget what it was ever like to see living things outside.  I was joking with some gardeners on Saturday that spring starts to literally feel like being reborn.  Being in the garden made the end of winter finally feel real - we've almost made it to the days of nice weather and seeing living things outside again.  Thank God!

This is my happy place.  

In a few months this area will look completely different.  It's so hard to image now, but in a few months we'll (hopefully) have more veggies than we know what to do with.  I.  Can't. Wait. 

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