A photo of my greenhouse on the left posted a week or so ago and then one of it today in my kitchen--bursting at the seams and overflowing into my kitchen with seedlings that are fast-becoming plants.
Over the weekend I moved my portable greenhouse from my dining room into my kitchen where the plants can get better light. Also, over the weekend, I increased the square footage of my urban garden from 435 to 636 square feet--large enough to supply three adults with all their vegetable and fruit needs for a year.
All this flurry of gardening activity is remarkable in light of the fact that I planted my first garden in June of 2013. Yes, from time to time I attempted to grow a few tomato plants and once or twice I tried to plant a real vegetable garden--only to have the plants die before maturity. But last year was my first successful attempt at planting of a variety of vegetables and a few fruit treee and berry bushes and plants. The only things that did not grow well were squash and two tomato plants. However I did have great success with one of the tomato plants--a small pear-shaped tomato, from which I saved the seeds and have 50 seedlings started in my greenhouse. All of the other crops were enormously successful: okra, carrots, kale, cilantro, lettuce, Swiss chard, grapes, blueberries, and egg plant.
Why the Sudden Success?
I attribute it all to raised garden beds which are filled with amended soil (1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 sphagnum moss). After the plants are up about five inches, I add straw mulch to help slow down the drying of the bed as well as to keep the roots cool. The vermiculite and spahgnum or peat moss help with water retention and reduce the need for water.
I used less water last summer with my front-yard garden than I did when it was a lawn. You see, when the space around the beds (now covered in wood mulch) does not need to be watered, it cuts the square footage of the area to be watered by almost half. I expect to use even less water this summer since last year I had converted only about one-third of my front lawn. This year it will be two-thirds converted to garden space.
Another Urban Garden
Today I'm busy writing a grant to be presented to the Neighborhood Vitality Matching Grant Program. This program will be administered by Loving Garland Green. We are proposing to install one raised garden bed for residents of Garland who apply on a first/come, first/serve basis and who agree to the two requirements of our program: 1) to keep records of crop yields and submit them at least on a monthly basis to Loving Garland Green and 2) to pass it forward within the year--by assisting another resident in establishing an urban garden and/or by sharing at least 10% of their produce with another family.
If and when we are funded for this program, residents of Garland will receive an email address to write to in order to enroll in this program. We will make this announcement on our website at LovingGarlandGreen.org, on Eat Green DFW, on NextDoor, and likely somewhere on the City of Garland's website.
Residents who do not own their own home and whose landlord does not provide permission for them to establish a raised bed will be provided the option to use this program to build a garden plot in the Garland Community Garden located at 4022 Naaman School Road.
Members of Loving Garland Green are convinced the majority of those who participate in our program won't stop with one garden bed. Before long, they too will be bitten by the garden bug. We can expect many more urban gardens springing up all over our city of Garland. And even more magic will transpire because gardens bring people together.
Bringing people together--neighbors to neighbors and family members to family members--is one of the best aspects of gardens. However, gardens do much more: gardens make people and communities healthier; gardens make communities more food secure; and gardens stimulate local economies.
How Urban Agriculture is Revitalizing Local Economies
Urban Agriculture is Important for Food Security
Resilient City Food Systems