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Pat’s Garden – Thinking About Growing

Pat and I have been working on her new garden space for a couple of weeks now, and it’s been quite a journey so far! I have truly loved being a part of her learning experience and watching her eyes widen as she encounters unexpected aspects of gardening. Most of all, she has come to understand first hand, the amount of thought that goes into creating your first garden. I think that, after picking your first homegrown greenbeans, this is one of the most exciting parts! Understanding how plants work and learning about soil – the place from where most of our nutrition comes – brings us closer to nature and our food and is a truly awesome experience.

We began with the consideration of where to situate the bed – the first and most important decision. We played with several ideas and eventually chose the smaller of the available spaces for its greater sun exposure. Shadier spots yield less anyway, so the smaller space won’t necessarily produce fewer veggies! Also, this space is much easier to access and is closer to her front door for those quick trips from the kitchen for some extra cilantro!

Then we worked on her soil. Although our spot got a decent amount of sun, it was pretty heavy soil – predominantly clay. Before we would plant, we would have to add some organic matter to break up the clay, add air to the soil and improve water drainage, a must for growing plant roots. This is also essential to encourage friendly bugs and worms who keep the soil, and our plants, healthy. So we removed the weeds and tilled the dirt and both agreed we wouldn’t need to visit the gym any time soon! Gardening is a GREAT workout! And you (eventually) get a great meal for your troubles! We amended her soil with compost and composted manure for nutrients and organic matter, and later added some of Cedar Grove’s ‘Soil Building Compost’ which is great for breaking up clay soil and doubles as an awesome mulch which we’ll be using later. Now the soil is packed with nutrients, is light enough for new roots to grow easily, and is a perfect home for all those helpful soil critters. After all the work we put in building this ideal soil structure, it became clear how important it is to avoid squashing the soil. We made sure that Pat could access all parts of the bed easily from all sides without standing on it, and then stood back to take a look. The bed was ready!

This week, we finally got to planting and the fun and lessons continued… It’s only a short while until she’ll have beautiful, homegrown produce & herbs right outside her door. I hope that she’ll also find she’s cultivated something even more wonderful – an understanding and love of growing her own food!

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