Garland Urban Vegetable Garden replaces a flower bed.
Yesterday was an exciting day! It began with an email I received from a woman who lives in our Coomer Creek area. She thanked me for inspiring her to replace the flower bed in her front yard with a vegetable bed. It always feels good to be recognized and thanked. Note: flower gardens aren't bad because flowers feed bees and some flowers are edible. Thus they are not the negative ROI of lawns. However, you can usually get a better ROI if you plant vegetables and fruit bushes because you not only feed the bees, you feed yourself.
A 4' x 8' concrete block bed complete with trellis was added to the Garland Community Garden on April 19. Regina and Cary Majors are the Loving Garland Green Stewards of this garden which contains six okra plants, three zucchini plants, three cucumbers, mint, radishes (to be planted today) and marigolds. Cary, who works in the IT Department of the American Heart Association, is currently attending a course in permaculture design. Regina who works in the medical field is also a professional chef. She is bringing German Chocolate cupcakes to our Monday meeting to celebrate Gene Rodgers 40th 29th birthday.
Members of Loving Garland Green Install Another Garden at the Garland Community Garden
Regina Majors--one of the appointed Loving Garland Green Stewards for this new bed.
As the snail goes, we are quickly getting beds installed at 4022 Naaman School Road here in Garland Texas. Yesterday we put in a raised bed made of 32 repurposed concrete blocks donated by Liz Berry. These blocks came from my first attempt at a raised bed last year. Someone forget to mention that sunlight is required for a garden. I set up this bed in my back yard which is more or less a forest.
Part of our mission to encourage Garland residents to grow food and thus grow a prosperous and healthy community, includes using our site, generously licensed to us by the Garland Parks Department, as a sampler to demonstrate to folks that urban gardens can come in all shapes and sizes. Thus far we have a 4' x 7' raised bed made from wood that we got from a Garland Home Depot 70% off lumber pile. The wood for this bed cost about $5. New it would have cost about $20.00 with tax. By the time the bed is filled with amended soil (a must) and the plants are installed, the total cost of the bed is between $60.00 to $70.00. This, of course, does not include labor. However, it is good to consider this is mostly a one-time expense. If you save your seeds and compost, the only expense you have next year is your water--and there are even water conservation methods you can deploy to reduce the amount water needed up to 50%.
In addition to the 4' x 7' bed we have three small 2' x 2' raised beds also made of salvaged lumber. These beds contain sunflowers, marigolds, blackberry plants and a zucchini. Now we have a raised bed made of concrete blocks. Soon to be added are two containers, repurposed from trash cans that will contain eggplant and a tomato. After that, you can expect to see a keyhole garden installed on the Garland Community Garden site on May 3.
Charlie is installing the trellis for the zucchini and cucumbers as Cary supervises. In the group photo, you see the Pareto Principle in action: four of the five members who showed up installed a raised bed. (I am taking the photo.) It took five of us 3 hours to install the 4' x 8' concrete block bed. This includes everything--from setting up the bricks to building the trellis to installing the plants. The estimate does not include hauling the blocks to the site which took me two hours (loading and unloading them from my car.) An fairly accurate guesstimate for installing this size and type of raised bed is 17 person hours. Thus if you are one person with no friends or family, you could expect to spend about 17 hours setting up such a bed. The good news is that you would only need to do it once.
Burgi's Urban Garden
After lunch yesterday (here in Garland of course) Regina, Cary, Charlie and I went over to Burgi's home. Burgi, like the four of us, lives in the Coomer Creek area. Burgi had invited us over to see her garden. Below is a photo of her 4' x 7' square foot garden. Note the two by fours that line the edge of the mulch. Burgi got these end cuts free from Home Depot. They are stabilized with wire, bent into a horseshoe and inserted in the ground. That's the great thing about visiting other people's urban gardens: you can always learn from them and get some great ideas for your own garden. We will be putting this kind of border around the mulch at 4022 Naaman School Road.
If you want lessons in growing garlic, Burgi is definitely the woman to talk to. Below is a photo of Cary and Burgi with just one of her garlic beds. Of course, being a vampire, I kept my distance.
Regina and Cary's Urban Garden
Like Charlie, Regina and Cary have a pool in their back yard. (I did take note of their diving board and will return in late May as I love to dive.) Pools do present certain challenges that yards without them don't have. However, with a little determination, and raised beds, you can succeed in having great gardens as Charlie has demonstrated with his poolside garden, now in its third season. The bed in the foreground at Cary and Regina's poolside is wedge-shaped to accommodate the area around the pool.
Regina and Cary are well on their way to becoming professional urban farmers. While we were there, we saw their chickens. When chickens are a little older, they will be moved out of the spare bedroom and into their very own luxurious chicken ranch by the pool.
Considering the excessive interest in the chickens demonstrated by their two large dogs, it's very wise that Regina and Cary have purchased a chicken coop to assemble from Roaches Feed and Seed here in Garland along with their chicks.