Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The secret garden revealed!

In addition to managing the Ginsberg Garden site, the other interns and I have been gardening at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. We work at two gardens each with their own unique charms. One of them is between greenhouses one and two. We call it the secret garden because of its secluded location. There is one main bed with four raised beds. We had first arrived at the secret garden at the beginning of May and cleared the beds of the cover crop from the previous season. Also we composted several dried out sunflower stalks. These sunflowers seeded almost every corner of the garden so now we have many, many sunflower seedlings. We tilled with rakes, planted and now the garden is buzzing with:


Along with all these new additions we also are nurturing several volunteer plants and perennials. One of the raised beds has almost been completely colonized by strawberries that recently have started to bear fruit.
The strawberries take up most of the bed space, but one of the corners has a teepee with cucumber seedlings planted along its base. The other raised beds in the garden are showcasing different small scale gardening techniques.
The bed pictured above is our companion planting bed. Companion planting is placing different plants in close proxmity to one another because it is believed that they aid in nutrient uptake, pest reduction, weed reduction, attract pollinators, etc. We learned of the pairings we did through the book Roses Love Garlic by Louise Riotte. There is little to no scientific evidence in support of companion planting, however, many gardeners, and farmers believe it works.

This bed is using the methods outlined in Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening. A gird is placed on the bed cordonning it off into foot by foot squares which serves as a guideline for spacing. An example would be that one corn would fit in one square while sixteen beets can be in the same space. There are other aspects to the technique that we chose not to follow, such as the soil requirements. The author wants his readers to use a specially measured out soil mixture, but we simply used the soil that was preexisting in the bed.

The final bed is being used to test the idea of a polyculture bed, which I first read about on the blog Homegrown Evolution ( Several different vegetable and herb seeds were broadcast (thrown evenly over the surface of the bed, not in rows). A thin layer of topsoil was placed over the seeds and was watered. The vegetables chosen all have differing maturation times and plant families so it serves to save space because multiple things can be grown in the same area without plants crowding out, and directly competing for nutrients.

In other news we have picked a date for the Earthworks Urban Farm fieldtrip: August 8th!! All those wanting to go... mark your calendars! Toodles.

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