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DFW Urban Farmers Are On the Rise

At peace in the garden.  .  .  At the end of the Saturday workday two Loving Garland Green members take time to enjoy the beauty and peace of the Garland Community Garden.

Yesterday was our end-of-the-month Saturday workday down at the Garland Community Garden.  I was a little concerned because our millennial segment with their great youthful energy as represented by the North Garland High School Key Club was not going to be able to attend due to a walk to raise funds for Alzheimer’s combined with Homecoming Saturday evening.  [Loving Garland Green is not the only community nonprofit this active group supports.]

However, as it turned out, those of us from the more mature set did just fine.  We managed to turn seven large piles of compost; clean up our compost area; put in 13 fence posts to support a reed screening around the compost area; replace the bricks that had fallen down around the spiral garden; transplant romaine lettuce, two pepper plants, arugula, and Swiss chard into the children’s garden; sow turnip and cabbage seed in two other beds; and harvest about 30 pounds of sweet potatoes.

 

This is what Nancy Lovett's sweet potato patch looked like before she and Jane dug out the sweet potatoes.  Now all these green leaves are in the compost.  Nothing is wasted in the garden.

 

Nancy Lovett and Jane Stroud demonstrate what 30 pounds of sweet potatoes look like.  After harvesting, sweet potatoes must be placed in a dry dark place to cure for about two weeks.  During this time their skins harden and they develop their flavor.

Workdays at the Garland Community Garden are not all work.

First of all we had homemade blueberry muffins with coffee—of course made by Charlie.  What a great way to begin.

It is so much fun to be working with friends in the garden.  Although we didn’t take time to smell the roses, we did take time to discover the resident pawpaw tree has a companion shrub that is not often seen any more:  an elderberry bush.  The dark purple berries contain vitamins A and B, and more vitamin C than oranges. They are also high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. In fact, elderberry fruits have historically been used to treat many ailments, such as respiratory problems, colds, and flus. Plus, they are tasty when used in juices, jellies, jams, teas, pies, and wine. You can use the umbrella-shaped, elderberry blossoms for making a delicious fritters or even champagne.  These bushes make a great addition to an edible landscape.  I plan to add a couple to my woodland garden this year.

 

We also took time to appreciate a hornworm we discovered in the soil when harvesting the sweet potatoes.  That’s another great thing about a garden—it often spurs the gardener on to learn more.  As later that evening I learned more about what hookworms eventually turn into: Sphinx moths (Sphingidae) sometimes called “hawk moths”  or “hummingbird moths”. These are the largest moths in the world. These moths have the world’s longest tongues (proboscis) of any moth of butterfly.  Some tongues are up to 14 inches long.  

In most cases the larvae move underground to finish pupation, although some spin very weak silk cocoons while development continues. Depending on the species and conditions, pupation can last for several months. During the pupa stage, the moths are a hard, brown cylindrical shape. During summer, pupation can last only two weeks, although larvae that start the pupa stage in autumn will overwinter and emerge as adults in spring.  [I think the one we found will overwinter and emerge in the spring.  We put it back into the soil.]

The garden is a wonderful schoolyard as well as a place for happy social interaction with friends.  This morning as I reflected on yesterday—all the exercise I got along with the subsequent knowledge I gained, I thought about how this phenomenon of interest in urban farming, nature and living more sustainably is spreading wide and far throughout the DFW area. 

 

If George spoke English:  "I don't know how those brown deposits got on the poster."

On Friday, Charlie and I stopped in at Gecko Hardware in East Dallas—no doubt our favorite hardware store.  Andrea Ridout, Garland resident, founder and manager of Gecko Hardware, had promised us some free seeds a week prior and we went in to pick them out.  There in the back of the store we saw Andrea busy in conference with another woman—no doubt about some upcoming community course or event on the topic of urban farming.  The wall behind them was plastered with lovely gecko drawings from a recent contest that Gecko hardware sponsored for children.

On a table next to Andrea there were several “living wreaths” in progress.  They were planted with various types of small succulents.  If this had been our first visit, we would have been shocked to see a rooster at the end of the table crowing. However, since this was not our first visit, we knew it was George, the mascot for Gecko Hardware.  He rules the roost there at Gecko—up to a point.  On Friday the point came when George made several deposits on a poster he was standing on.  Then it was back to the cage for George.

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IF YOU LOVE OKRA

We invite you to come to the Garland Community Garden at 4022 Naaman School Road and harvest okra to your heart's content.

Two requests of those who wish to do this:

1.  Only harvest the okra plants which are scattered throughout the garden.  Please to not harvest from other crops.

2.  Be careful when harvesting to not damage the plant.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, September 27, 2015