Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Glance Around the Community Garden

I always find it interesting looking around at all the other plots in the community garden.  I don't know if it is the same for all community gardens, but there is such a rich diversity of plants and styles and techniques out there, and people are always happy to stop and chat about what they're doing, what problems they're having, etc.  For me this has been a totally unexpected benefit of growing out there - it really is a community.  A crazy, rich community with people from all corners of the world.

Some of the plots are still untended (though just a few) and some people I think are already starting to feel a little overwhelmed (it's weed season!) but many plots have seen a lot of work already.  There are two plots that were dug into raised rows and covered entirely in black plastic by a 76-year-old man growing more hot peppers than I could ever imagine what to do with.  (Kimchi, apparently.)

Black plastic covered rows of pepper plants

D's garden, with the soil beautifully tilled and a few seedlings planted 
My garden neighbor D and his brother have been hard at work in their 3 plots, though D said he's still waiting for the soil to warm a little bit more before he plants all his seeds.  D comes in the early morning several times each week and produces an amazing amount of food.  His gardening style is very traditional.  He mostly plants summer crops, tills in aged manure and plants in rows.  He cultivates all this soil with a metal rake, maintaining a nice dust mulch by scraping through the top inch or so of soil several times per week, until about August when he's harvested what he wants and decides to let the weeds reclaim the garden.

M's garden plot
M's garden is always well-tended.  He comes in the early evening and grows a more contemporary garden.  He has established wide raised beds, with lots of added compost and mulches.  He grows year-round, doesn't till at all, and frequently plants several different plants in the same bed.  He also seems to know everyone at the garden, and is always willing to answer questions, swap information, or lend out a tool or a hand.  He is sort of the garden ambassador.

A crazy garden
Two plots down is a guy I've met a couple times but whose name I never seem to remember.  He's another veteran of the community garden, and seems to know an awful lot about growing, but his style is a little less tidy.  It always looks that way.  I'm not kidding - always.  He grows a lot of stuff, the mess just moves around to make room for plants as necessary.

And then there's me.  Somehow, my garden always looks sort of vaguely unfinished - a hodge-podge of gardening techniques used in a non-committal manner with varying degrees of success (e.g. the broccoli bed half-covered with jerry-rigged tulle.)  The new gardeners all seem to think I know what I'm doing - maybe because I had such a good lead on the season - but maybe the look of my garden reflects me pretty well.  Uncertain, undecided.  Still feeling my way around this gardening business and figuring out what it all means to me.

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