My daughter and I have been invited by our dear friend Christine to come see her plot at the Glenwood Community Garden. As we enter the Garden we are asked by a garden gnome to kindly stay on the path. There is something very calming about being out here, everything seems to be in a zen state and like minded people who have come here this evening to harvest, weed and socialise are smiling at us as we make our way over to Christine’s plot. This is her favorite part of being part of a gardening community; the friendliness and knowledge of everyone. She loves that they are all there for one common reason; to grow organic veggies and fruit. As we walk, we talk:
What exactly is a community garden is, and how does it work?
Community garden is a group of people with the same interest in mind. A place to grow veggies, fruits, etc and learn from one another. The Glenwood Community Garden is an organic garden and there are restriction on what can be used for fertilizer and insect and weed control. We also sustain our own beehive to help with pollination of our plants. Many of us live in condo’s, apartments, or have small yards that are not enough to actually grow food. So the community garden is an great way to get your garden going.
What first sparked your interest in joining a community garden?
I really wanted to grow veggies and herbs. I had tried at home in pots and such with no avail. I also wanted my daughter to see how food grows and get her excited about it as well.
What do you grow in your garden, and have you found that by growing your own produce you are feeding your family more health conscious meals?
This year, I am growing, tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, peppers, strawberries, corn, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, potatoes, peas and squash. And yes – we are eating healthier now. I’d rather go to the garden t0 grab some lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and radishes and make a delicious salad then go to a restaurant or store and get something else.
What is the favorite thing you have cooked using ingredients from your garden?
Well, I love my salads with my fresh veggies and grilled chicken but I can not wait until the corn is ready. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into those delicious cobs.
How much time does it take to first plant, then maintain a plot of your size?
The plot is 10 x 15. 2010, my first year as a gardener, I did not really know what I was getting into. I had tilled the entire garden with a shovel, which took about an hour and a 1/2. Then adding manure and compost and tilling that into the soil, which also took about the same amount of time. Then planting seeds, not in any particular order took about 1 hour. I would say I spent probably 4 to 5 hours for prep time in the garden. I water every other day and weed, always weeding… which takes about an hour or so. I had a really difficult year. I went through 9 tomato and 6 pepper plants, either from frost or disease. The corn never really got any cobs on it, my squash did really well, but not the cucumbers. Carrots and radishes, didn’t get big. I did not know about fertilizers or pest control, so I definitely struggled the first year.
After that first year I decided to do some research during the winter months. I wanted to grow in 2011, but it was a lot of work for little return in 2010. So I researched the different plants that grow best in high altitude, what is best to plant, different green houses, organic weed-, pest control and fertilizers. I just wanted my garden to do much better then the previous year. I also picked the brains of some of the gardeners that had amazing gardens. They are usually a wealth of knowledge and willing to share!!
2011 so far has been a great year. My veggies are growing amazing, I am going to have to change a few things up and try some new tactics in 2012, but I am excited for the process. This year, I have spend much more time in the garden and it shows. I still go over every other day, unless it is unusually hot.
How much does it cost to keep your slot, and have you saved money on produce since starting the garden?
The cost of the plot is $30 a year. I definitely have saved this summer. I don’t buy nearly as much veggies as I did in previous years, because I have a garden I can get them from and I KNOW that they are organic!
Glenwood Community Gardens are partially funded by the Rotary Clubs of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. If you visit their website www.glenwoodcommunitygarden.org you will see that their mission statement is to grow CROPS: Commitment to our gardening community with Rules to benefit the gardens, Organic principles to maintain our health, Participation for the success of all, and the sharing of knowlegde and food with others.
They contribute to the comminity not only by allowing people without a yard at home to grow, but also incourage all excess produce from the gardens to be donated via a Foodshare Program.