Gardening Surprises

June 26, 2013

Author: Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Category: General News Stories from the Garden

In class last week, Joe, the instructor for NFI’s summer 2013 Gardening Education Program, asked us each to share something that has surprised us most about gardening so far. Its been nearly two months since the program began, and we’ve met for class five times. 

It was fun to hear the variety of responses from classmates, which included:

  • The heartbreak of plants dying
  • How much one classmate thinks about gardening throughout the day
  • Having standing water in one’s plot after the heavy rains, which has since drained away
  • How fast the weeds grow
  • How much work is required to grow just a few vegetables
  • How quickly plants from the “cucumber family” grow
  • That its possible to make a drip irrigation system from a 2-liter plastic bottle
  • How well mulching works to keep weeds away
  • The balance of mental and physical energy used when gardening i.e “I get my squats in, and I think about my seedlings all the time!”

I appreciated the reflections that my classmates had on how gardening engages the whole self – bodies, minds, heart, and soul. While there is a lot of watching involved, gardening is no “spectator sport,” but rather requires various types of energy. Upon further reflection, that idea may be what surprises me the most too.

The fruits and vegetables that we planted from seed have sprung up into little seedlings, and so many folks have begun to thin out their plants. Those who had spaces where seeds didn’t come up gladly took the extra thinned seedlings for their own plots, so that all the space is well used to grow more food.

Its been so rainy that we haven’t had to use the drip irrigation tape much, but we turned it on during the last class and got to see how it works. We worked together to smooth out any kinks in the system and the water was able to moisten the soil around our new seedlings – now their roots can streeetch out to get access to it, and gain a more stable foundation in the process.

The weather has been much hotter this week. Like other classmates who think about their seedlings throughout the day, I’m eager to get up to the garden soon to see how the plants are weathering the heat and how I can support their continued growth.

Jenn Svetlik is grateful to be a member of NFI’s Garden Education Program for the 2013 season. She’ll be reflecting on the experience throughout the summer.
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