|Posted on February 24, 2013 at 9:05 PM|
GIVING GARDEN WORK DAY
In my prior blog update I mentioned that there was a big work day planned at the Kingston Farm and Garden Co-op Giving Garden for Saturday February 23rd. I asked all of you to wish us good weather so we could make the most use of the day and apparently all your good wishes really worked, because Saturday turned out to be very good weather. This particular work day was on a larger scale than any of our previous work efforts. The reason for this is that we had a full platoon of Washington Youth Academy Cadets who were scheduled to come and work for the benefit of the Giving Garden. That is fifty (yes 50!) young men that we had available to work on projects to get the garden off to a roaring start for the coming growing season. A lot of planning by the core group of garden volunteers went into the day - long before the platoon arrived - so that there was work enough identified to keep them fully employed, and to ensure we had our volunteers ready to lead squads of workers on specific tasks. The garden volunteers got to the garden at 8 am to set up the awning tent, chairs, snacks, and fire pits with big kettles of cider simmering for the workers. We had barely gotten all that done when the bus arrived and the workers formed up ready to start the day.
The Washington Youth Academy is a division of the National Guard Youth Challenge Progam. The academy is a quasi-military training and mentoring program for at-risk youth. It is a program designed to give these young people a second chance to become responsible and productive citizens by helping them improve their life skills, education, and employment potential. The program emphasizes discipline and personal responsibility and judging from my experience with these young men the program obviously works because it was a pleasure to spend time with them. They were very hard working, courteous and attentive, and genuinely interested in everything they were asked to work on. They spent the day clearing blackberries and scotch broom from the perimeter of the fields; moving and consolidating our compost piles; building new compost bins from salvaged pallets; clearing debris and garbage from the overall site; moving pea trellis supports; helping to get the new garden fencing largely in place; pruning grape vines; and making a new potting area and walk way next to the greenhouse.
With training from one of our hard working Giving Garden volunteers (Aline), some of the young men learned how to prune the grape vines in the vineyard.
They got about half of the large vineyard pruned before they left – going from this:
They also knocked together a three-bin compost area from salvaged pallets.
And they cleaned up the area next to the green house and laid down gravel to set up a new potting and planting up area. It started out looking like this:
And ended up looking like this:
All in all it was a very productive day and so much fun too. The Giving Garden is definitely about producing organic food, but it is also largely about community, and this was definitely a day to celebrate the kindness of the many garden supporters who work to make this project a continuing success. Hooah!
I did not do much gardening this weekend due to the Saturday work day, but on Sunday I did thin the broccoli seedlings down to one plant per square. They started out like this:
And then I ruthlessly snipped out all but the strongest plant in each cell. Leaving a nice pile of clippings for our hens and a rather less voluminous looking flat of seedlings.
The broccoli plants are now going to start the slow hardening off process. They will spend their days in the greenhouse and nights inside for a while; then they will spend nights in the greenhouse too before gradually spending more and more hours outside the greenhouse until they eventually are fully hardened off and ready to be planted up in the garden. The rest of the plants will go back under the grow lights for the time being. I did repot the basil plants before I quit for the day.
These plants are destined to be houseplants and will not go into the garden for many months yet. In the meantime, they will provide us with fresh basil for cooking.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always very interesting and inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Unfortunately, I don’t have any contribution to make this week because I did not do any harvesting (none at all I am sorry to say). However, we did use a lot of produce from our freezer and storage this week, including beans, peas, zucchini, corn, onions, garlic, and potatoes.
I am hoping to get back into my own garden next weekend to do more garden bed clean up. It is only a few short weeks away from being time to plant out some of the hardiest items and I have a lot of work yet to do in order to be ready. I wonder if I could talk that platoon of nice young men into a few hours of work in my garden?!