8 Friends And 1 Communal Vegetable Garden; Sharing Work, Fellowship And Bounty

by Shani on October 12, 2012

This is the first installment of an ongoing series about 8 friends and their communal garden.

Planning Session

Last Sunday a group of friends met at a Brookland home over mimosas to plan a communal vegetable garden. Most of us don’t have the space for a large vegetable garden, some bring a wealth of gardening knowledge, other not so much. What we all have in common is raucous enduring friendships and a love for all things green. It all started when Tender, a Brookland homeowner, realized that he could make better use of his large back yard and figured why not make it a group effort? The result was a planning session a few days later where we fleshed out a tentative planting schedule and decided what to plant. The group agreed to a few ground rules 1) When the garden is planted, the care and maintenance work will be done as group 2) we will split the costs of materials 3) we will take turns providing food so it doesn’t fall on Tender every time and 4) have fun! The steps of our plan are outlined below. We will follow-up with updates here on the blog as we go, hopefully we will have some great results and tips to share!

Garden Area Today

Phase 1) Prepare the bed. We decided we need to get started now – and we are calling it operation “measure/kill/till”. The measurement came into play as a rough estimate of the space needed once we determined what veggies we would try to grow. We didn’t want to resort to killing the grass by using a chemical treatment, but we felt we had to. If it were earlier in the season, we would have laid down a tarp, and if the sod was thick enough we would have tried to cut and roll it off. So, chemicals it was. So we started. Once the grass is dead, we will start tilling and do other bed preparations.

Killing Off The Grass

Phase 2) The group plans to get together again in a few weeks. The agenda will be firming up planting schedule, final fall prep and planting anything that can go in the ground now. Potential plants to put in now are horseradish,  rhubarb, and turnip greens. Sometime during the fall or winter we will build a shed.

Phase 3) In the spring we will lay down newspaper, mulch, and plant. Our tentative planning schedule is:
Pre frost - spinach, carrots,  beets, radishes,
After frost – brussel sprouts, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, butternut squash, regular squash, tomatoes, watermelon, tomatillos

Phase 4) Maintain, weed, water

Phase 5) Eating, drinking and being merry!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick October 12, 2012 at 7:46 am

This is fantastic!

When we went on the Brookland House & Garden tour this past Spring we observed that hardly any of the gardens were edible. We, truthfully my wife, have been organically vegetable gardening for four years and we love it. I’m sure you’ll get lots of advice from other veggie gardeners but if I could offer up only one suggestion it would be to utilize a drip irrigation system and place it on an automatic timer. The benefits: it saves a lot time and effort every day, your tender veggies are assured an appropriate amount of water everyday, no need to worry if you go out of town for awhile, and it’s fairly inexpensive. The downside: none.

If your interested in taking a look at our watering system send me an email and we can arrange a time.

Here’s link to a photo of our raised beds we built this past Spring: http://randomwalkway.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-new-beds.html

P.S. One other odd tip…buy a plastic owl. As nutty as it sounds it’s definitely worth the investment ($30 bucks or so) as it keeps most but not all birds and squirrels away from our hard earned bounty so long as its moved about once a week (otherwise the critters figure out it’s not the real deal). We got one on Amazon with a tiny solar panel on its head that causes the head to rotate every couple minutes (kinda hilarious): http://tinyurl.com/8n9d74l

P.S.S. (or is it P.P.S?) We grow a leafy veggie called molokhia. It’s also called Egyptian spinach and is something I’ve never seen in any grocery store. Once cooked it has a slight similarity to okra in terms of its mucilaginous quality. We love it and it grows like crazy. If you want to try it out we have plenty of seeds and can pass some along to you.

Happy gardening!!!!!

Reply

Shani October 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Wow Rick, Thanks!! First off, I am so buying that owl! I forgot to add in the post that one of our agreements was to be as organic as possible. Yes, on the drip irrigation. Since we are starting with such a blank slate, it only makes sense. Plus, we didn’t want the watering to become onerous. Wow! Those cedar beds are gorgeous! We also have a lot of raised beds at my house made out of repurposed materials like wooden shipping crates.

Glad you liked the story. Our hope is to maybe inspire others to give it a shot. It is a lot less work with everyone chipping in. I’ll have another update soon when the bed is prepared.

Reply

Rick October 14, 2012 at 10:20 am

That sounds great Shani. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

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