There are tons of things growing in the garden now, it is really quite exciting. Thus, please come help yourself! One of the tomato plants has new ripe little orange tomatoes almost daily, and the squash are coming to size quickly too. There is lots of lettuce. It is a bit bitter, however when put in a salad with tomatoes, chickpeas, and some curried squash it is amazing. The radish greens are also great in the same salad. There's radishes ready too, and the eggplants just came out this weekend. The eggplants are ready to be harvested when they shine in the sun rather than being dull. The cucumbers are loving the trellis and there's lots of ones getting close to harvest, they will be ready in days. Like the squash the eggplant and cucumbers should be cut off with garden shears or scissors. Come on by and check it out, and enjoy. There are baby watermelon and gourds too, and itty bitty pumpkins starting to grow too, if you want to see something kind of cute.
We have vegetables! Maybe not tons, but certainly some. There are new summer squash every day, and the occasional cucumber too. The summer squash are ready when they are 6-8 inches long and a few inches in diameter. They ought to be cut off up at the top so that more can grow in their place. The lettuce is also ready for harvest. With that lettuce all you need to do is cut the leaves off at the base and then they will continue to regrow for the rest of summer. If you want to help out around the place the biggest to-dos are pulling up weeds, especially tall ones. The grass is growing along the pathways which is fine, but as it tries to creep into the beds it needs to be pulled. As do any tall weeds as those are not so visually appealing, and the place needs to be kept somewhat pretty. The same goes for tall weeds along the perimeter, both in and outside the fence. These need to keep being pulled so that the place looks nice.
Since the last update there has been tons of growth, all over the place. I can't believe how much can change in a week or two, or even on a daily basis. Today was an exciting one, as there are now itty bitty squash starting to grow on some of the plants. We are also fortunate enough to As far as puttering around please feel welcome to whenever you want. There are not a ton of weeds in the beds, however the grass keeps creeping up the sides and getting into them. There's a weed pile on the side that you can just add them too, I'll take care of that as it gets bigger. With these hot days feel free to turn on the hose and water it too, there's a sprinkler that works quite well for the middle and most of the perimeter beds have at least some soaker hose. There's a handle for the hose too, usually just floating around on the paths or near the fence, that can be used to get those hard-to-reach places. Just be careful dragging the hose around so it doesn't take out the plants, they're still pretty fragile. Stop by to check it out, but until you do here is a little preview:
Herbs (I'd almost given up on them, maybe the seeds didn't all get washed away)
Broccoli - it really took off after a slow start
Pumpkin (I think)
Those squash-bearing beauties from a distance
And there is one other exciting update. We have a sign! So in case you needed a formal invitation, here it is:
A bit hard to read in this picture, but it says "Welcome to the Peds Patch Neighborhood Garden"
If you've stopped by recently you will notice there are new changes every day. I can't believe how fast some of these things grow. Today it was pumpkins and more squash popping up, and some watermelon too I think. Anyone know why the squash aren't so happy with us? I'm thinking it might be watering from above, and now there are some soaker hoses around them so hopefully they will like that more. At least, until I have a chance to figure out what else they may be needing. Things are growing so well that there is now a new task to add to the contributions list: thinning out the plants. This will be particularly important for the beets, carrots, squash (on the southeast corner) and pumpkins as there are a whole bunch popping up in the same area and there will never be space for them all to grow there. This seems like one of the harder jobs, because I am so excited to see the new plants that I don't want to pull any of them out, even if I know that it is in the best interest for the garden. So, if you have less empathy for the plants please come on over and pull some out. As always, if you have questions, suggestions, concerns or just want to say hi send an e-mail. I'd be happy to set up a time to meet people at the garden this weekend if you're looking for company to work in it. Take care and enjoy the sun, looks like summer is finally here.
Did anyone read the Sunday paper this week? If so, did you see the great article about the garden? Or maybe you are looking at this page because you found out about the garden from the article. In that case, welcome! Has anyone stopped by lately? Some of the things are growing like crazy, and there's literally new stuff popping up every day. Just this weekend the beets, spinach, lettuce, pumpkins and wax beans starting peaking out. It is so exciting. If you want to help out, the rest of the tomato plants (the tallest ones along the north and east borders) need to be gently tied to supports. So far sticks have done the trick, but if you want to use something else that's fine too. Weeding is the ongoing task, mostly in the paths right now or along the base of the beds so they don't start creeping up and into them. That's it, not much to do at the moment. The biggest thing is to come on out and wander around frequently to see how things are changing by the day.
In case you didn't know, we're sort of famous in Sioux Falls. Okay, famous might be the wrong word, but there was an article about the garden in one of the free magazines distributed in town (ETC for her) and we are going to be in the Argus Leader on Sunday.
The garden is doing great. The tomato plants still look a tad wilted but they are getting stronger every day and I am much more hopeful about them. The peppers too for that matter. New things are popping up every day too. I just noticed some baby beets and carrots and more broccoli. The cucumber and squash are getting much bigger leaves too. Stop on by and check it out.
Wondering what you can do to be involved? If you want to get dirty come on by and weed. The most important areas are the beds themselves, and the edges right around them so that the weeds don't creep on up. There is some grass in the beds too that can get pulled out. Another big one is going to be making trellises. Anyone know how? We could use a few. The tomato plants also need to be supported, either tying them to a stake or big stick or getting some kind of cage around them. As always, spread the word so that people know the garden exists and where it is (17th and Lake, just north of the Sanford Cancer Center and behind a little blue house, in case you forgot). Oh, and if you want to plant something that isn't there give a holler and we'll see what we can do. There is a place or two we may be able to squeeze something in, but would really like to discuss it first so we can ensure that all the plants will still have the proper amount of space and light when they get big.
Anybody have gallon milk (or other liquid) cartons or empty coffee cans? We could sure use them to protect the tomatoes and peppers a bit. This wind is taking a toll on them. Despite having been kept outside for a while prior to being transplanted the seedlings are having a hard time transitioning to the more open garden and the elements. So if you have any containers that you can get rid of we would love to use them around the plants. They would need to have the bottom and top cut off and then can just be slipped over the seedlings. Another big help would be if someone could water the garden earlier in the day. There is a sprinkler, hose, and handheld sprayer in the garden. If the wind cooperates the entire garden can be watered at once with the sprinkler in the middle, but if it is like today it might need to be done in a couple chunks. Please be careful with the hose though, making sure it isn't running over areas where fragile little plants are coming up. The fence is also pretty wimpy as it is only intended to keep out bunnies, so please run the hose through the bottom of it rather than over the top. And always, if you want to weed come on out. There are more broccoli and carrots by the day, and the squash and cucumber plants are noticeably bigger than they were even a few days ago. Come on by and check out the changes. As always, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions please feel free to leave them on the webpage. Oh, and if you water the garden please leave a comment stating so as well so that others know it has been done.
The exciting news of the day is that the entire garden is planted. The tomatoes were getting antsy to have more space, though admittedly I'm still a bit nervous about how they're going to do on their own. The peppers looked pretty fragile too, but I suspect they are more hardy than I give them credit for. Of note, the garden has been carefully planned so that there is enough space for each of the plants as they grow up, so please do not plant anything else. Pictures will be coming, but while you wait think of this as an incentive to stop by and check out the changes. Thanks to everyone who has inquired as to how they can help out. Since everything is in we are now essentially waiting for weeds to pop up and pulling them out when they do so. Feel free to partake! If there are others at the garden when you stop by take the chance to introduce yourself. As we are starting to see plants, and getting excited about the garden actually coming to fruition, I want to emphasize that there is no individual ownership of anything in it, rather that the entire garden is to be maintained and cared for by everyone and that the produce will be first come first serve to whomever wants it, whether or not they have worked in the garden. One of the major goals of the project is to involve the community in urban agriculture and the process of growing food. It is about the journey as much as the destination, maybe even more so. If you have kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews or neighbor kids or know of any other kids who might be interested please bring them by to check out the garden and see everything popping up and growing.
So it's official, the plants are growing! The compost is completely spread too, which is another HUGE step. It's now time to wait and see how the plot withstands these thunderstorms we're supposed to get the next day or two. The beds have been holding up relatively well with the rain we've been getting, but now with another layer of loose soil on top there could be some more runoff again. Which is why we're waiting to put the rest of the seeds in, lest they get washed away too. The tomato and pepper plants have been getting used to the outdoors though, and seem to be doing great. They are getting pretty big and I can't wait to move them to the garden. Pictures to come, but until then stop by and come check out the little plants, they're kind of cute. There isn't a whole lot to be done right now, but as always if you notice some weeds (or grass as the case may be) popping up in the beds feel free to pull them out. The plants we want are growing nicely in rows or small groups as indicated by the markers. As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns feel free to comment on the blog or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, the compost did come today. Lots of it. Lots and lots. As did the advice from several people that things need to get planted soon, since it does look like warm weather may be here to stay. Ah! That means lots of work. Thank goodness there have also been lots of e-mails with interest in helping.
Did I mention we have a lot of compost? Thanks a ton to the people who helped spread it out tonight. We made it through about half of the pile and have covered all the areas of the garden that we need to. There is still a ton left though so the plan is to add more to the areas that are not yet planted.
The areas that are planted are the west side and the southwest triangle, so those need to be left alone. Unless you notice weeds and feel like pulling them out, in which case, please do! The rows that are planted will have a marker at each end.
Current ways to contribute: Bring your own shovel (and wheelbarrow) or share with others. Add compost to the following areas to a total depth of 6-10 inches:
North side (the perimeter rectangle, away from the hospital) - this area already seems built up, but that isn't all from compost, so expect it to be a good 6 inches higher than the rest of the garden
All the 1/4 circles in the middle
Northwest, northeast and southeast triangles
Rake it even, being careful to keep a path in between areas. Feel free to take off the mesh green fence to get wheelbarrows and such in, but please put it back when you are done so that bunnies can't get in (hopefully).
(North is up on this picture)
Please leave a comment after you have worked in the garden letting people know what you did so that others don't go back and do the same thing. Of note, if you need compost please feel free to take some, it looks like we've got a fair amount leftover. Getting rid of that pile is also on the list of to-dos.
Lastly, it is highly encouraged that people leave comments regarding when they are going to be at the garden and what equipment they might be able to bring so that others can coordinate to join you and possibly share tools. There is currently no storage at the site so no gardening tools can be provided. If you have questions please e-mail email@example.com
Things continue to fall into place. The garden did get tilled last weekend. The city of Sioux Falls has offered to deliver free compost to the garden site which is scheduled to happen tomorrow. So if you stop by, be prepared to see a massive mound in front. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Upon visiting the site the first difference, as mentioned above, is that it is tilled. Secondly, there is now a critter fence up around it, and once the last little portion is in place (which will happen after the compost is spread out) it should be sufficiently bunny-proof. Sanford has been gracious enough to let us borrow some soaker hoses, so we might actually be good on supplies for watering. They've also given permission to use some basic gardening equipment, which is also appreciated. Finally, there may be more people around the site, as the word is getting out. There have been responses both from a flier sent out at Sanford and those around the community, as well as people contacting us after hearing from a friend. Thanks everyone, keep talking. Each day the plot is looking more and more like a garden.
If you want to help out feel free to stop by or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next major task is going to be spreading out the compost over the entire garden. There are already some bitty weeds peaking up on the paths so those will need to be taken care of. Expect it to be another week or two before things get planted, it's still getting chilly at night even if that is hard to forget on a day like today. Any thoughts and suggestions on what, when and how to plant veggies would also be appreciated.
Big news today. We have a tiller! This may seem basic but it's thrilling. Renting one, and getting it there and back, were becoming quite problematic, and that is without considering that I've no experience with one and am not exactly what you would call mechanically inclined. So, while spreading the word today I was ecstatic to find someone who not only has one, and knows how to use it, but is willing to bring it right to the plot for us to borrow (and may even till it herself with her kiddo, which is great - that's what this garden is about). So this weekend, or the beginning of next week, it will be tilled and stuff will be ready to go in. The broccoli is getting so antsy that it can't come soon enough. Everything else is still in the making. It's exciting to know that the city will also deliver compost, so that is another huge hassle eliminated. It is so exciting to see things fall into place. What was just an expanse of dirt last week will be a garden by next. Granted the plants need some time to come up, but you get the idea. It's also fun to see others get excited about it too, and jumping at the bit to do what they can to help out. I can't wait to see where this is going to go. It's like standing at the top of a hill getting ready to roll a snowball down, knowing the gist of what will happen but not really sure how big it will be or what it will look like when it gets to the bottom This is picking up momentum and it's exhilarating.
The big accomplishment of the day has been to rope off all the sections of the garden. It is no longer just a thought in my head but plotted out! And there is now at least a small pile of compost that can be worked into the soil, hopefully tomorrow if it is dry enough. We'll see how much can get done in one day before the rains come. Alright, so here it is. You can't get a good view of it in the picture, so feel free to stop on by and see the real thing. If we're there working say hi, or join in if you'd like.
The perimeter is staked out, and finally a more formal plan of what is going where is almost in place. I've still got a few questions to ask some more experienced gardeners over the weekend to decide for sure how much of what to plan for, but the outline is at least created. The perimeter has been marked too, which makes it much more easy to visualize. Tomorrow when it's light I'll have a chance to actually diagram it out in the dirt. Speaking of dirt, that got tested today too. It's a bit alkaline, and fertilizer will need to be added to get the nutrients up where they need to be. It was kind of fun to feel like I was back in chemistry with the mixing and waiting and checking against a color scale.
So there isn't much to say on the actual gardening front. Okay, maybe one thing. I was thinking this evening how excited I am to meet with a couple people to discuss the project and what to do from here, and figured out that the anticipation is as much about the garden as a chance to get to know people and form new friendships. I firmly believe that this happens when people share experiences and work together and this garden is going to facilitate just that. It was one of those, whoa-this-has-so-much-potential-I-can't-wait-to-see-how-it-turns-out moments.
As if that thought wasn't enough to reignite my flame after it faltered a bit with today's snow, I was forwarded several research studies regarding community gardens and couldn't wait to share them. The results are not necessarily surprising, but good to see anyhow. One demonstrated that gardening, nutrition and cooking program decreased body mass index (BMI) and weight gain in children and increased dietary fiber intake. Another study showed that gardening improves self-esteem, increase physical activity and improves diet. It increases levels of community attachment and sense of community among those involved in it. European research suggests that those who live close to gardens are three times more likely to be physically active and 40% less likely to be overweight. These positive effects may be especially applicable to children, which is one more reason that you should get involved and bring the kids.
Things continue to fall into place. The seedlings are growing by the day, I'm pretty sure this must be the equivalent of the gangly teenage years. The garden is getting planned, and the soil about ready to get worked. If all goes according to plan that should start this weekend, maybe even sooner.
The most exciting thing perhaps was the creation of a beautiful flier which will soon be plastered throughout Sanford's halls (okay, not actually the halls but at least bulletin boards) and the city of Sioux Falls. If you know of a bulletin board, let me know and we'll add this announcement to it. It's officially time to get the word out about this project, and hope for a good response.
Everyone knows, however, that word of mouth is the best advertising. So if you're reading this tell your friends, neighbors, mailman, or whomever else you encounter about the project. Ask people if they garden, or if they want to. Use it as a conversation starter. Get your gossip on.
When are things actually going to happen, you wonder? As mentioned, the plan is for this weekend. First things first, the land needs to be worked, layout plotted out, and compost applied. So if you have the urge to do some manual labor and get your hands dirty plan to join in the groundbreaking. If you've got a truck to haul compost, or gardening tools, you'll be in even higher demand.
Currently in the planning stages this will be a vegetable garden located at the corner of W 17th St and S Lake Ave on the Sanford campus. It will be created and maintained by volunteer community members and the produce harvested will be for anyone who would like it.
Thankfully it seems like spring has finally arrived and we can start getting ready for planting. We are still in the process of recruiting people to help with this endeavor, from planning and gathering supplies to the actual manual labor. Anyone with gardening experience who would like to share their wisdom would be particularly helpful in these beginning stages.
Of note, it was quite inspiring to hear Lisa Taylor, a proponent of urban agriculture from Seattle, give a lecture on how gardening can save the world. Maybe a bit ambitious topic, but her point was that when you start growing food where people can see it the garden becomes a place to meet people and form relationships. These connections, in turn, are ultimately the most important variable of success in the event of a disaster. She's a great speaker and shared a wealth of information, we were lucky to have her come to town and a big thanks to the Sioux Falls Green Project for bringing her to town.
Please follow along for each step of this exciting project. If you would like to be involved just give a shout, we would love to have you. No gardening experience is necessary, and children are encouraged to help out too. If you don't want to get your hands dirty, but still want to have a part, feel free to contact us as well and we will find a way to put your talents to use.