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Posts Tagged ‘mulching’

Well, the beds are planted, the fence is up, some paths are mulched, the bulletin boards are up, our rainbarrels have arrived, and the university is engaged.

The garden has seen some lovely help in the last week, and is looking well loved for the efforts. Thanks to the transplant donations from Ted Hutton and Alex Denicola (beloved organic market farmers) and the help of the super-fun folks who have been coming out Thursdays and Saturdays, the beds are planted with brazilian snow peas, scarlet runner beans, lettuce, chard, carrots, cherry and beefstake tomatos, celery and celeriac, leeks, radishes, basil, cabbage, parsley, onions, broccoli, and chick peas. With the warm weather, things are really starting to gro.

In an effort to make the site look adorable and loved, we mulched some of the pathways with newpaper and sawdust, which also keeps the weeds down, adds some organic matter to the soil, and clearly denotes the walking areas.

The beds are all mulched with straw, thanks to Kim Thompson and Kyla whom left it there last year. If there was only one key to ecological gardening, it would be mulch. Mulch mulch mulch! It protects the soil from getting rock-hard and crusty, it protects and feeds the soil flora and fauna, it helps the soil retain moisture, and it builds soil rather than see it erode. In nature the soil is always covered with leaf ‘litter’ or plant cover; exposed soil is wounded soil. So our beds -even our pots- are mulched, giving the garden a cozy feel. (For more great info see Ruth Stout’s book, How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back).

Riverview Herbs donated a flat of herbs to us this week. The sweet folk gave us arnica, rue, angelica, lovage, hardy sweet marjoram, mother of thyme, betony, lavender, lime mint, and roman chamomile. The herbs are planted up in a sweet new bed made of glass bricks that wraps around the signpost and in a coupld other lucky spots around the garden. Having perrenials in the garden helps to give it a much more stable feel. Huge thanks to Riverview for being generous and appreciative of the value of collective gardens.

And our rainbarrels were delivered on Friday by Steve Spinney and Steve Trim of Acadia Seaplant, accompanied by a sweet note saying how much joy it brought to see our effort. Four huge rainbarrels delivered, free of charge, complete with traces of organic nutrients, and sent with a blessing.

The next step for the rainbarrels is putting them together. Earlier in the season a great guy who is a plumbing apprentice came through the garden. He said he would be interested in figuring what we need to connect three barrels together and put in a tap we could connect a garden hose to. I am hoping to hear back from his this week, and to connect the barrels together on Saturday. If you have any knowledge in this realm, have done it before, or have any gear you could donate to the mission, please email garden@nspirg.org. It would be great to have a discusion around the best methods, tips and tricks. And if you want to learn these skills for yourself come on by Saturday around 11am. (I will post an update friday afternoon to say if we are on for this project or not: hopefully someone of knowledge gets back to me so that I can make sure we have all the gear and tools we need to).

If you hear rainbarrels and are not interested, you think they are irrelevant to you, perhaps pause for a moment and think about water. Drinking water, washing your face, rinsing your lettuce… now remember what happens when the power goes out. Yup, there goes the water. As Alex says, “Doom is certain, gloom is optional”.

And, the university is wishing further engagement with the site. This is coming in a few forms: facilities management is organizing and paying for soil tests to be done on the site to find out is the soil is contaminated. While this means we cannot dig into the soil or eat anything grown directly in earth (but things in the raised beds are fine) until the soil tests come back negative, I think this a wonderful opportunity to dialogue about the future of urban agriculture. If the soil tests do come back indicating contaminated soils then we have an opportunity to learn about which vegetables uptake which contaminants, if those toxins are passed on to the animals who eat them, and methods of bioremediation. My perspective is that urban agriculture is going to become more and more popular in the near future, more out of necessity than fashion perhaps. Food will be grown in yards and balconies all over the city, and not all of us with have the priviledge of uncontaminated soils. With the resources and fine minds of Dalhousie University we have an opportunity to build a body of local knowledge on how to safely create and urban food supply.

If you have any comments, ideas, suggestions, or energy around any of this, know this is your garden and website too. Write a post, go hang out in the garden, share these ideas, come to the garden Thursday or Saturday…

The time of the lone wolf is over. Let what we do now not be in struggle or in the name of chore, but done in a sacred manner of celebration. “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

A stitch in time saves nine.

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