Friday, May 31, 2013

It's planted!

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.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cucumber, squash and broccoli, oh my!

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's planted. . . partially

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
  • South side
  • East side
  • 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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's starting to look like a garden

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  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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What an exciting day!

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.

Monday, May 6, 2013

And it's laid out

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.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Plotting (pun intended) and testing

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.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Studies show. . . .

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.