This is a note to my neighbors, for whom I’ve revitalized a Sharing Garden at the beginning of the pandemic on the corner of the property my husband and I steward in an HOA-governed suburban subdivision in the United States of America.
I’d like to encourage you to start a Sharing Garden in your neighborhood as well. It has been one of my favorite ways to connect with people during this past challenging year (many of whom I didn’t know as the literal and metaphorical fences have gone up over the years). Here’s a blog post that you may find helpful. Many more tips are in my book, Food for My Daughters and throughout this blog. My now-grown daughters were even home for part of it (one for an unexpected five months; one for five weeks).
Hi, all. One of the neighborhood children has nicknamed the radish painted on the old stump at the Sharing Garden “Mr. Radish.” I know that he was enjoyed by many over the past year. There were days when I actually needed his little uplifting smile, outstretched arms, and simple little “hi”. Yet, something happened this week that means it’s time to move on, and I trust the journey.
Neighborhood girls-on-bikes stopped by my house a couple of days ago and we got to talking. They generously offered to paint something new for our new year, and I of course love this idea so we’ve now said goodbye to Mr. Radish (with due warning to the little girl who named him). This is good — otherwise it might start feeling like Groundhog Day around here as we hit the one-year anniversary of our current shared journey! Stay tuned as the excitement mounts!
I understand many folks have taken photos near Mr. Radish (or elsewhere in the Sharing Garden). I would love to create and display a collage of photos or a rotating selection on the Sharing Gallery window next to the garden if you have a photo you are willing to share publicly. If so, you can email it to me here, or simply tack a print of it onto the window gallery. If you have anything else to add to the art gallery area, feel free! (Maybe even some day we’ll have a live musical performance during a neighborhood arts-and-garden stroll! The girls-on-bikes have some fun other ideas.)
Also, if you started a Corona Garden or are thinking of doing so, I encourage you to start planting in just a couple of weeks, rather than wait until summer, as the spring crops are more abundant and less susceptible to critters, diseases, etc. (I plant clover for rabbits as they tend to prefer that to everything else. Beyond that, I sometimes cover a bed with bird-netting, and I consider all other shared crops a “nature tax.” My goal is to simply get “enough” and I seem to spend my life re-defining what that is.)
By the way, if you are looking to maximize your organic crop production, you can grow a potential bounty of about 2 pounds per square foot per year in our climate, for a market value of $320 for a 4′ x 8′ raised bed — assuming you’ve invested in high-quality organic soil and fertilizer; followed organic growing principles on an ongoing basis; and planted densely with seasonly-appropriate choices as well as perennial herbs. (Other good things happen as a result as well.)
I’ve harvest about $2500 worth of organic food from my gardens almost every year for at least fifteen years now. (I cut it back significantly last year in preparation for leaving for Peace Corps Uganda, scheduled for June 2020 and now delayed until at least August 2021.) Here’s some bounty from this past year:
The fall crops, by the way, overwintered beautifully here in the Sharing Garden and are now the spring crops, with nice strong root systems already established. The arugula, kale, and Swiss chard will start growing more robustly shortly. Simply snip a few leaves from different plants; give them a rinse; and add to your stir fries, salads, and smoothies. I’ll be adding peas, potatoes, onions, and more soon. Plus, the garlic is up! You’ll be able to harvest that in June.
I hope you and your family are well. Enjoy your walks and bike rides. I hope the small daily changes in this little corner of the land we’ve coaxed into life with our collective love helps break up the monotony a bit, while boosting your wellness and our neighborhood joy. 🙂
Learning as I grow,