Farmer Jane

I joined a community garden this week, and this weekend was our first planting. It’s a 6×12-ish plot in the back yard of a new friend’s home in Cockrell Hill, just on the southwest edge of Dallas. There are 6 plots in the Archer Avenue Community Garden, and ours is toward the center, next to a walkway. Four of us decided to share it, because it’s just too much for one person, and none of us have families to feed. Jon and I went in with our friend Jen and our new friend Rob.

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We started with a planning meeting over coffee, and we decided how much we could do with our space, how to divide it up, and what we wanted to plant. Then we walked over to Redenta’s Garden, an organic gardening center in Lakewood that sells heirloom seeds, natural/organic fertilizers and pesticides, seedlings, containers, and pretty much anything else you could need. We got some “bed starter,” a mix of stuff that helps enrich the health of the soil without scary chemicals, a natural bug repellent, our seeds, some seedlings, gardening gloves, and Rob’s awesome hat.

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Then we got to it! We started by weeding and deciding where everything should go. I’m going to start an asparagus bed at the end. It takes a year to produce any asparagus, but when it does start coming up, you don’t have to replant literally for decades. I didn’t put that in yet – I’m saving it for this weekend. We did plant cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and onions. I think that’s all. We saved some room for squash, zucchini, quinoa, lentils, possibly corn, and a few other things that we’ll plant over the next couple of months.

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This is the compost area that Jon’s going to try and work on. He’s thinking about building some barrels that you can turn instead of having to turn all this over in its chicken-wire cage. We’re not sure yet.

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Jen pulled up a carrot she thought was a weed! Jon ate it when he got hungry, dirt and all. This red Swiss chard was our first harvest, left over from the previous tenants. I’m about to cook it for dinner – hope it’s good! There are also four big groups of cilantro and parsley left over, so that will be nice. I think we’re going to take some out and use the space for something else, as there’s a lot of it, plus more in a pot.

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The water we used for the garden came from these cisterns that collect rainwater. Pretty cool!

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Here’s Farmer Noel planting spinach seeds.

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Here’s the finished product. We’ve got a lot of space open for more crops, and I’m really excited about it. Jon and I are hoping to put a dent in the vegetable budget over the next year, considering the prices at Central Market! I’m REALLY excited about this. I’ve been reading about personal gardening/farming/nutrition/organic agriculture for a couple of years now, and I’m so excited to put it into practice. I’m also looking forward to taking back a little control over my food supply and the satisfaction that comes with knowing I could survive by my own means if I had to, given a little bit of land. I’m also glad to be getting to know some new people in the community, including my new friends from Church in the Cliff. If any of you have any tips on anything we’re doing here, please send them along – we could use the guidance. I’m fully expecting a few hiccups along the way, as none of use has ever done anything like this before, but it is a learning process, and one that has so far been REALLY fun. I’m a farmer now!

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6 Responses

  1. Heading to water the plants now! So cool that I’ll also be able to point others here to see how we’re doing!

  2. ooh — you HAVE to put some tomato plants in. they grow pretty fast. i have some of those circular wire things to keep the plant upright if you want to use them.

    it’s also really fun to have a spice garden. basil grows and grows and it is much cheaper to cultivate than to buy at the store.

  3. Yeah, I don’t like tomatoes, but the others do, so we’re going to have some of those. I might take you up on the posts. I’m sure I’ll see you before it comes time to plant them.

    Yeah, I’ve tried basil THREE times at home, and I’ve failed. Hopefully the garden has the basil magic.

  4. y’all should come to the “class” our garden is having on the 9th!

    my basil grew like crazy last year until i brought it inside for the winter. now it’s dead. it needed lots of water and a big pot. you might be better off keeping it at home, just because you can water it easily.

    also, redenta’s sells “Garrett Juice”, which is howard garrett’s miracle concoction – fertilizer, bug repellent, holy water – it does everything.

  5. oh, a thought on the compost. they make fancy turning things, but you could just get a good storage bin, one that the lid stays on pretty well, and turn it over periodically.

  6. Hmm. Maybe Garrett Juice can save the basil the 4th time around. Give Jon any compost advice you have. Like Leah says, sometimes in a relationship, each person gets to own certain pockets of knowledge, and that’s a pocket I really don’t care about. Yes, the class sounds very helpful!

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