Heraclitus once said: “You can never step into the same river twice.”
I say: “You can never step into the same garden twice.”
Both statements are equally true as both rivers and gardens are highly dynamic and ever changing organic entities.
A Special Story Told from the Heart
A few days ago when I was at the garden I noticed a young couple at a bed where I had planted some horseradish. I was all the way across the garden at the Children’s Plot. From my horrified perspective, it appeared that she was pulling out plants so I decided to walk over and see what was going on. Turned out the young woman was pulling weeds. She was wearing a nice dress and shoes. I commented that she wasn’t dressed for gardening, hoping to hear the story that I knew was there. A person normally doesn’t come to the garden dressed for church to pull weeds. She didn’t disappoint me. I got to hear her story, or at least part of it.
Stephanie was her name. She was in the garden so she could feel close to her grandmother who was dying that day in Austin. She was not able to be with her grandmother, but she told me that she felt close to her in the garden because her grandmother loved to garden and would have approved of her pulling weeds. Gardens are special places with lots of potential for comforting the human spirit and for providing lessons about sharing.
Culmination of November 2016 Leaf Awareness Campaign has begun.
I was thinking about the far-reaching positive implications a community garden has on residents as I shoveled out some of the leaves from the November 2016 Leaf Awareness Campaign this morning. Those leaves and over 2,000 more bags of them, instead of going to the landfill, have been transitioned into compost for growing plants that can feed people and provide beauty. The soil created in the Teepee over the winter will be used to create an extension of Pollinator Heaven and also to plant the beans for our summer bean teepee.
After completing the extension for Pollinator Heaven, the remainder of the newly made compost will be placed around the teepee. The green environmental cloth will be removed and the supporting poles will be used to grow pole beans. Children will be able to go inside this structure. We also will be planting colorful annuals around the teepee, making it another space of beauty in the garden as well as another tribute to Native Americans to compliment the Medicine Wheel in the back area of the garden. The folks who live in Garland who deposited sacks of leaves instead of putting them curbside can take pride in these results. Those who didn't will have a second chance this fall to assist in mitigating the flow of leaves to landfill.
Sharon Lawless, President of the North Garland High School Environmental Club, with member Samantha McNeil pose by a pot decorated and gifted to them from the Beaver MST First Grade. – May 3, 2017
Educational and Heart Connections from Garland First Graders to Garland High School Students
Today Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green met down at the garden at 6 PM with some members from the Garland Environmental Club. The main purpose of this meeting was to plant sweet potato slips in the large pot you see in the photo above. Last week when 69 first graders visited the garden, they planted sweet potato slips and they also decorated a large pot for the NGHS Environmental Club to use for their sweet potato slips. A lot of folks don’t realize this but sweet potatoes are very nutritious AND so are their leaves!
Unlike varieties of the white potato such as the Irish potato, Russet Potato, and Gold potato—the sweet potato is not a member of the nightshade family. This means that, unlike the varieties of white potato, we can eat the leaves of the sweet potato—and believe me this plant supplies plenty of leaves. That’s what the trellis is for that you see in the photo above—to hold the vines and make it easy to harvest the leaves for salads all summer long and into the fall.
Sweet potatoes have a rather long period to grow to maturity—from May to November (about a week before our first frost). Many set the harvest date for Halloween. Then they have a couple of weeks to cure before Thanksgiving. You need to let sweet potatoes stay in a dark cool place after harvesting for about 10 days. It is recommended that you don’t clean them beyond brushing off a little dirt with your hands. After they sit for 10 days, then clean them more thoroughly.
Sharing Garden Knowledge
It pleased me tonight to read the following email from Jane to Vicki Casco, the teacher from Beaver who was the liaison with Loving Garland Green for the Beaver first grade tour. [Note: During the tour last week, the first graders presented the results of various studies they had performed re-growing vegetables from produce they had eaten. These experiments included such activities as saving the bottom part of Romaine lettuce, putting it in water and re-growing it.]
I just wanted to share this picture with you. Shannon Lawless, President of NGHS Environmental Club on the left, and another member of the club met me this evening to make their first harvest of their project and to plant their sweet potato slips. They were very touched by the pot your students autographed/decorated for them. And I mean they were really impressed!
On a side note: They harvested some radishes tonight. They are going to try to regrow radishes from the tops like your students projects! They were impressed with your students projects!