Saturday, February 12, 2011

Talk About Ambitious...

I have been debating quietly to myself for several months now about taking a Master Gardener course this spring. The spring course runs March-May in my county this year, and my baby is due May 29th. I honestly wasn't even sure if they would let me do it, but the idea was very tempting. After my first son was born I found it very difficult to get out of the house for - oh, about a year, so with the second one coming I kept thinking, "Maybe this is my last chance for a while."

Then a couple weeks ago I had my first "third trimester" evening, where I basically gobble a bunch of food at 4:30 and pass out on the couch by 6:30. You really do forget what pregnancy is like after it's over, but one night was enough to remind me that evening courses are not going to be an option for the next several months.

So, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to rent a community garden plot instead. For those not familiar with community gardens in the US, there are many differences from one to the next. I think the very best ones are on privately owned land, have access to water, and permit growers to keep the same plot from year to year if they prefer, with year-round gardening potential. Understandly, these are hard to find because once a serious gardener has one they will not easily give it up. My community garden doesn't have any of these features: there is no water access and all the plots are plowed at the beginning of April and the end of September. There is apparently a bit of a theft problem, not surprising given the high-density housing across the street. And, plots are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so someone else could easily be assigned your plot next year. As N's uncle T said, "That doesn't sound like it gives the gardeners much incentive to do anything for the land."

Still, I can't help but be excited. The gardens are in the middle of a big open space, so they get incredible sunlight and I expect the squirrels to be less of a problem. They are approximately 25x30, and I will probably only try to garden a fraction of that, leaving me the rest of it for water collection and storage. I'm going to try to come up with something clever. I walked through the plots once a couple years ago and was totally impressed at the various arrangements people had in place to collect water, clearly motivated by not wanting to haul it from their cars! Suggestions are welcome.

Plus, I had decided not to put myself through the tragedy of growing tomatoes this year, in the hopes of letting some of the virus from last year subside from my soil. But I do love fresh tomatoes! So I'm going to try them in the community garden plot and not beat myself up too much if they die from lack of water or get stolen, or whatever, and just consider them a bonus if they succeed. I'll let you all know when I have a more specific plan for using the space!

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