As the vegetables growing in my raised bed gardens are giving way to fall I am slowly cutting things down to start preparing for next years plans. This seasons yield of crop wasn’t as good as last years as we had many grey mornings throughout the summer and the fact that I planted three weeks later due to an extended trip to Florida, yet I still managed to produce enough food to enjoy throughout the season but didn’t quite produce enough to can to make it throughout the winter. The Pacific Northwest can have some pretty tricky seasons given the differences in sunshine and rainfall.
This time of year brings about different emotions as I am sad that the gardens are ending yet happy to not have to worry so much about tending to their needs each morning before work. To every season turn, turn, turn.
I have learned some valuable lessons this year like the fact that plants like squash and cucumbers need more space to thrive and I will be looking at building crawl screens next year to allow them more room to grow up. Last year I developed an automatic sprinkler system where one single sprinkler head rotates to cover all of the gardens. The problem is that in doing this my lawn was getting the brunt of the H2O and stayed wet most of the time and grew to a point where at times I needed to cut it twice a week. I will tweak this system for next season by installing small sprinkler heads right into the raised bed gardens to create more of drip type system.
My thoughts on building a neighborhood network of raised bed gardening is still fresh in my mind and over the winter I will build on the idea to try to bring people in to a small organization where each member will have two 4’x4′ gardens where they will grow just one type of vegetable, or maybe two depending on how many members join. I love this idea because it gives each member the opportunity to become an expert at growing just one or two specific species of plants. We will all work together to assist each other in the construction of these raised beds along with putting together self watering systems. We can also pool our money together to get better prices on things like organic fertilizer, soil, peat moss, vermiculite and canning equipment and books. I figure that we could all meet at a specific location each Saturday to share our vegetables and stories.
I believe that this form of community gardening allows for each member to learn at a comfortable pace those specific vegetable they will growing and takes away the pressure of gathering at a specific location of a large garden somewhere in the neighborhood which has always been the traditional model of community gardening. Many times the older model leaves people behind as several members seem to want to take complete control. With this new model Allen can become the Tomato King and Sandra can become the Queen of Lettuce. It builds both pride and a personal respect for nature and community as each member thrives in ways of caring for their own back yard garden. And what better way is there of teaching our children the values of both nature and community? Not only will we share gardening stories but also sharing recipe’s, meals and experiences.
With the simple fact that we all live in a city where large yards are rare this idea also solves the problem of needed space for larger gardens. Rather than moving out to the country where larger lots are available it is much easier to simply utilize the little bit of land we have and share the products. Most of us who live in Cities live here for reasons of convenience. We are closer to work, closer to neighbors should we need help and closer to the stores we shop at.
This will be one of my projects over the winter and I will share more thoughts and progress each step of the way. Happy Fall Season to everyone!