Friday, September 20, 2013

Indoor Community Garden Begins Again

So, I decided to do it again. Rented a bed at the Oakland County Greenhouse Complex in order to grow food - greens, root crops and herbs - for this winter. Got raves about the salad greens Vicki and I grew last winter and it was so great having the fresh food all season. It wasn't cheap in the short run - $150 for the 6x10 bed, but that covers 7 months, September through mid-April. So you figure it is only about $21.00 a month for the use of the bed.

Bed 35 is my home for the winter. Right in the middle of the greenhouse, it should stay a bit warmer than the beds I had last year. I added some amendments to the peat mix that is in the bed - humus and topsoil, plus some "Terra-sorb" moisture granules that may help keep the bed a bit wetter. Have a real problem getting the peat mix wet in the beginning as the greenhouse was dry all summer. Once peat dries down it becomes hydrophilic or wants to resist getting wet again. So this week I've watered and watered agin, preparing the bed to get some seeds.

Transplants are frowned upon and have to be kept in quarantine before being planted so, even though I have some transplants, I decided to sow the bed all from seed. The timing is great, though, as this week is the full moon and seeds come up readily at the full moon.
One of the nicest things about the greenhouse is the mix of people who do garden there. To the left is a picture of Nicole, one of my neighbors. Got to know Nicole last year as she tried to grow peppers and tomatoes. The greenhouse is kept at some pretty cool temperatures so the warm season crops are virtually impossible to get to bear fruit. Cool season crops like salad greens, root crops, all the brassica family and some herbs are the best choices. Been sharing with all the other gardeners I've met and have asked them about what crops they are planting. Since this is only the third year of the program, many people say they are learning from what they did last year.

My crops this year are as follows - 3 kinds of lettuces and a greens mix, broccoli raab, kale, onions, fingerling potatoes, beets, dill, nasturtiums, two kinds of spinach, both the new zealand variety and  an heirloom bloomsdale variety. Radishes, chard and a couple other crops round out the mix.
Gardeners have a wide variety of experience. Kelly, my neighbor seen above, is a newbie and has very little garden experience. She lives quite a ways away so I've offered to water her bed for her more frequently. Some of the gardeners are quite seasoned outdoor gardeners and have been growing vegetables for decades. I think one thing brings us all together - we all immensely enjoy having a warm, verdant spot to go to in the chilly months of January and February. On a snowy, sunny day when the outdoor temps are in the 20s, it is great to have a large greenhouse to go to and bask in the warm 80 degree sunshine.

Last night I finished planting the bed and gave it a little style. Used my purple glass totem for a decoration in the middle of the bed. The totem serves more that decoration, it provides an easy way for me to immediately spot my bed amongst 60 others. I also put up some bamboo pole teepees for the snap beans and as soon as I did, realized that they'll be too small. May just leave them or if I find a bit of cash - go out and buy a few taller poles. Gardeners do decorate their beds, one already has a gnome and a mushroom in hers and one gal has brought in a clock to help her keep better track of time while she's there.

All in all, it is a nice way to keep the garden addiction going throughout the winter. There are more beds available, contact the Oakland County Parks and Recreation offices and you can purchase a bed with a debit or credit card over the phone. The complex is at Scott Lake and Watkins Lake roads right next door to Waterford Oaks, the county park. Hours are Tues- Thurs 4-7pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings until 1pm. The greenhouse is closed on Mondays.

Meanwhile work in the nursery and at the markets goes on. Yesterday, Pam and I cleared a bunch of brush from an area in Vicki's yard in order to establish a place for the smaller pots to overwinter. Going to try and overwinter the babies with some protection on the ground in this back corner. We still have a bit of brush to go and then level the soil and finally put down weed mat to prepare the area - but we made a huge dent in it yesterday.

Going to a new market this next week - the Walled Lake Farmers Market. Has a couple of great established vegetable vendors and a mix of crafts and food items. Nice little market, not far from home, and not too expensive to set up. We'll give it a try through October and see if we can develop a new market for next year. I'll be there Wednesdays from 7-1.

Hoping you are enjoying the autumnal equinox in your garden.

Linking to Tootsie Time - Fertilizer Friday for her roundup of gardeners around the world. Check it out!

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