As the rich summer air begins to dissipate and a colder, fresher one sets in; the change of the season signals the end of another growing year. As I begin to cut down the stalks, and compost down my garden beds, I reflect on what worked and what would be good to try next time.
Does there need to be more organics in the soil?
Does straw mulching reduce watering?
Should I try different trellising structures?
I find it easier reflecting on the season while the gardens still have much of their structure: I can see where everything went and if it thrived. For myself, growing is a lifelong project, each year there are changes to make and situations to adapt to. Right now I am tending 3 garden plots that are across a few municipalities. You might even call me an addict.
I have been leasing a community garden plot with the Richmond Food Security Society for several years. They provide many different types of gardens for residents. My plot occasionally floods in the rainy months; last year I would find that the beds were under several inches of water. While there was storm drainage put in this year, I built up the sides to raise the beds by up to a foot. I am hoping this will reduce the likelihood of flooding. In addition, the higher soil warms up earlier and I find it is easier to control weeds.
I have been finding all sorts of compostable organics to build up the bed depth: grasses (no seeds), cuttings, clippings, and plants at the end of their lifecycle. For a while I would go around to coffee shops to get [free!] giant bags of coffee grounds. While it may look like a mess (sorry Mom), I have a sense that next year’s soil will be the best yet; it will facilitate the growth of rich, nutrient filled vegetables.
My entire community garden plot has been reconstructed out of salvaged lumber. The high sides has allowed me to build up the soil, preventing flooding and increasing growing vigor. The 6 foot trellises provided a sturdy foundation for the rows of climbing beans.
Whether you’re an experienced builder or someone learning how to put a small corner garden together, if you are thinking about a project that could use untreated lumber let us know! If you have questions, advice or just want to chat about how this year’s growing season, please connect with us.