It’s not enough that Roxie and I have a backyard garden that can feed our family a couple of times over. (Praise be for freezers and canning jars.)
But as I mentioned in an earlier post, we now have a satellite plot about a block away from our house, at the Bonjour School community garden in Lenexa.
Long story short, the school and Lenexa United Methodist Church set up a garden plot in late April/early May as a way to build community and teach kids about where food comes from.
Problem was, they started a little late in the school and garden years. Thirteen gardeners took plots, but three or five remained open. Roxie and I were aware of this because we had been invited to the planning meeting, and then later I noticed that several plot were choked with weeds in mid May.
So, I volunteered to plant some corn in one 20 x 20 foot square plot and chronicled it in this May 17 post.
Now, 26 days later, we have a nice stand of corn:
Seven rows and about 20 plants per row, after I’ve thinned it. We probably had twice as many plants in the beginning, but corn needs some room, at least 9 to 12 inches between plant.
It it pains me to yank perfectly good plants out of the dirt, but that’s life — and death – in the garden. “Sacrificing the innocents for the greater good” is what I call it.
If we have a good year, the remaining stalks ought to yield one or two ears each — minus varmint damage, etc. If so, we ought to have more than enough sweet corn this year for fresh eating and freezing.
If not, well… The deer and raccoons could wipe us out, but that’s gardening. This is a serendipitous experiment for us. We’ll only out a few bucks for seed and my labor.
As for the corn, I planted late and in the mud. Most gardeners wait for good weather to get out into it, but not Roxie and me. The growing season waits for no one, so we don our worst clothes and slog through the slop, if we have to, to get a crop planted, weeded or harvested.
Which brings me to our latest development.
While watching the corn grow, I noticed that a few other Bonjour community garden plots were growing only weeds. One of the folks I knew, so I offered to till her plot, but she was sure she wouldn’t get around to planting anything.
Take it, she said.
That really wasn’t in my plans, but I did have some watermelon seeds left over from last year. So I tilled the 10 foot by 10 foot plot and planted seven hills of watermelon. It’s a little late, but what the heck. I’ll thin it to two plants per hill and we’ll see.
Meanwhile, I contacted the garden administrator, and it turns out that the 20X20 foot plot next to the watermelon plot was also unattended. She checked with the person who’d reserved that, and she, too, was never going to get around to planting anything.
So I tilled up the weeds, and planted that square in pumpkins. Rox and I don’t need them, but we though the kids at the school (all three of our kids graduated from Bonjour) would like them. The kids can also have some of the melons, though the corn may be done when school starts.
Only problem was, it rained more than 2 inches on the day that I intended to plant. The community garden was a soupy mess.
Some gardeners would wait for ideal weather and soil conditions. But with the calendar stuck on June 12 and not heading backward, I jumped into the muck and planted four hills (4 to 6 seeds each) of jack ‘o lantern pumpkins today and one hill (4 seeds) in which we hope to grow a giant, “Big Moon” pumpkin.
Roxie and I have high hopes because those Big Moons can grow to 200 pounds. We have no use for one of those big suckers, but the kids at Bonjour would surely be wowed by a Great Pumpkin– and, just maybe, some of them would be inspired to grow their own garden someday.]
That’s the whole idea of community gardens. Besides growing your own food, you can educate and/or learn from your fellow gardeners, while inspiring casual observers to give gardening a try.