What’s Growing On

So right now I’m noticing a huge difference between my home plants in containers, and my raised bed plants at the community gardens. My home plants are just thriving. My herbs have really filled out the terracotta planter well, and my tomatoes are really taking off, especially my yellow pear. Unfortunately, the plants in my raised bed are really struggling. After three weeks they look the same as they did when I transplanted them.

Yellow Pear tomato, (marigold trying to sneak out of picture)

So, I fed them last week with an organic liquid fertilizer, (4-2-3), and I’ve still seen no difference. I used the same fertilizer at home too, and everything here is growing great. So, I’m going to blame the soil. Unlike my containers, I did not fill those beds. I don’t know where that soil came from, but I have been told by one woman who gardens there, the one who planned the garden site, that the soil is seriously depleted in nitrogen. Everything growing in the communal beds is also struggling. There is no compost on any of them, and I doubt anyone has been fertilizing. When I look at them I’m reminded of The Grapes of Wrath. I call them the dustbowl beds.

We have a compost area set up, and I was told someone is in charge of that, but it doesn’t look very promising to me. It is full of sod and weeds; no vegetable scraps, no egg shells, no coffee grounds. So, I’ve started bringing my compost from home to supplement it.

I have a lot of plans for salvaging my bed for next year, but I can’t afford to do those things on as large a scale as the three communal beds. I imagine other people have been implementing their own startegies, as a couple people have lush growing beds there. I’ve been thinking of talking to one of our local chicken farmers. I’ve heard that chicken manure is very high in nitrogen. Part of the problem is that I still have no communication with my fellow gardeners. There hasn’t been a meeting. Apparently there is an email list that I am part of, but I haven’t seen any emails, and I don’t know how to post to it. I’m trying to stay patient, but I’m getting frustrated by this.

Three buildings have been built on the site now, though. We have an office, and two storage sheds. Plus the gazebo has a roof on it, and we have two picnic tables. So, at least something is happening there. I am very excited to have the opportunity to garden there. I guess I just wish it seemed more like my fellow gardeners were equally excited.

Do any of you have suggestions for ways to amend depleted soil?

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Catching Up

For those of you who have been reading from the beginning, I have been posting about notes I have taken in the past. In this post, I hope to catch up on everything I have not yet mentioned, as briefly as possible, so as to allow me to post what is currently going on with me. I feel like I’m doing so many things that I want to share.

So, I planted arugula, and radicchio in containers. I used bone meal and green sand in that mix. The arugula sprouted in 4 days, and the radicchio in 5. Something’s been eating the arugula, so yesterday I added a seashell mulch to the container, hoping that would help. I need to get more of this; I’ve run out.

A friend gave me some plants from his garden for mine. I’ve dug up all the buttercup and dandelion that was plaguing south wall of my tiny yard, and I’ve planted geraniums, ornamental grass, rose campion, foxglove, lady’s mantle, poppies, and borage. There is another plant, that I have yet to identify. I am growing my appreciation of the outdoor space we have.

south wall of my yard before the dig with arugula and radicchio in foreground

south wall of my yard after the dig and transplant.

I planted my garden plot at the community garden. I did this in spite of the rain, as the slugs on my patio were stalking my squash. A couple leaves were seriously chewed before leaving here. In this plot I’ve planted buttercup squash(2), cabbage(3), pumpkin(2), yellow zucchini, green zucchini, delicata squash(3), cayenne pepper, jalapeno pepper, cinnamon basil(4), genovese basil(3), marjoram, smoky fennel(3), and borage, calendula, and alyssum to attract beneficial insects.

I used the Gaia Green fertilizer (4-4-4), 1 C/100m sq. I need to get some more mushroom compost for mulch. There is compost provided here, but after seeing what goes into the compost bins, I didn’t really want to use it. It is mostly uprooted weeds, and sod. No one has been adding any vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, or any of the other goodies that make compost great.

With Joe’s help, my husband, I got the tomatoes planted yesterday into two large self watering containers made from storage totes. It goes much faster with help. I used the same mix as for the beans and strawberries, and added about 1 C rabbit manure to the rooting area. In one container I’m growing Black Krim and Yellow Pear, in the other Bonny Best and Super Italian Paste. The Bonny Best was a surprise as I thought I grabbed a Green Zebra. Sometimes while searching for a better looking transplant, I grab a completely different cultivar. This also happened with the cinnamon basil. I wanted thai basil, and honestly, I’ve no idea what to do with cinnamon basil, any ideas? Plus, if any of you have grown any of these tomatoes, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.