Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Garden

Acknowledging Women in Philanthropy
It's been a busy few weeks.  First we painted the garden shed then we had to get ready for our first fall garden. Anyone who has been reading these posts knows that I do not profess to any great gardening savvy.  I rely on others, such as those at our local UGA Extension office and my own research. I've never had a fall garden before.  But this year, Hope House will have a lovely garden - all thanks to the Women in Philanthropy. I understand that today they are releasing their grant guidelines for next year. 

Note: the tall plants are okra and the rain barrels are to the right.
Our fall garden will feature collards, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, salad greens and we're going to devote a bed to overwinter ginger and garlic.

The idea behind our garden has always been greater than just harvesting an armload of veggies.  "Reaping Hope" is all about using the garden to teach our residents life skills. I'm not just talking about gardening skills, either.  Of course we have all learned plenty about nitrogen, pests, and soil depth, but the lessons go beyond this.  We have learned that not every seed planted will sprout; that not every sprout will grow and that not every plant will thrive.  We have learned that the more one knows about what one grows the more successful one will be.  We have learned that there are immutable seasons that must be respected. These are all transferable to life in general.

Over the course of the spring and summer I have seen a shift in how our garden is viewed.  At first the residents were timid.  They didn't want to "mess anything up" and only went into the garden if I was present. Now, they have formed their own garden club: The Green Team. They each have their own raised bed to tend, though some women work in pairs to share the work (another good lesson).  This may seem like a small thing to some, but it is huge to us.  For we want to foster a community.  This is their garden, not mine.  I love it!

Of course, the children were into it from the start.  That's a no-brainer.  Take a couple of kids, add dirt and water and it all adds up to fun.  The children's garden is now sporting some pretty flowers in one bed.  I'm letting the chamomile sit, knowing it will come back full force in the spring with more cascades of lovely little daisy-like flowers. The long bed we'll plant with pansies for the fall, I think.  I have cupfuls of sunflower seeds from their summer garden.  We'll plant those again in the spring and feed some to the birds this winter.

The water reclamation is up and running with great barrels from the Gardener's Supply website.  It is so great to have these right in the garden.  It makes it easy to fill up the watering cans and water with rain water at any time.  I highly recommend this for every garden. Sustainability is another good life lesson.  If one plans ahead, one can make work easier and avoid problems down the road.

Our organic garden has been a lot of work, provided a number of good lessons and has really blossomed in so many ways.  Our herbs are continuing to grow and I have more in pots that will grow all year long in our greenhouse.  Others are dried and in spice bottles.

Next year I hope we can all apply the lessons we've learned to both our garden and our lives.  We can start early on our spring garden, in our own little greenhouse shed, and the ladies have taken to container gardening in a big way, so I anticipate a lot of independence growing as well.

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