If you’re a seasoned grower in search of other gardening enthusiasts, a green thumb eager to try your luck at growing your own food, or an aspiring gardener in need of some guidance, then you’ve come to the right place! Welcome to the Gardeners Club Blog, the place where I’ll update you on what we’re growing in the BUF’s brand new Home Demonstration Garden! Here, you can expect to find funny stories, colorful pictures, delicious recipes, and useful gardening tips and tricks throughout the growing season. If you’re in the Gardeners Club, you’ll also receive an email with our monthly newsletter attached as well as other helpful resources, but are always encouraged to check the blog! Just as a reminder, it’s never too late to join the Gardeners Club and enjoy our many offerings:
Free seeds and starts
Free vegetable growing guides
Potluck lunches on the BUF
Home garden visits from BUF staff
Produce from the Demo Garden!
If you’re interested, sign-up here on the Sustainable Berea website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have! And don’t forget to mark your calendars--our first meeting will be held on March 14th at 11:00 AM on the BUF and again on the 2nd Saturday of each month through October.
To officially kick-off the Gardeners Club Blog, I want to start by introducing myself--my name is Hattie Nunley and I’m the new Assistant Director of the BUF! I’m a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky with degrees in Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Science and have a few years of farming experience under my belt. I’m very passionate about growing and sharing food and am excited to help folks in Berea do the same through our Gardeners Club, workshops, and other outreach projects. I know that I’m going to learn so much from everyone in the Gardeners Club and am looking forward to getting to know everyone and creating a new community of growers on the BUF!
Now for some background on the Demo Garden. This year, we set aside a 1,000 ft2 plot as a model of what a productive backyard vegetable garden can look like in hope that it will spark a conversation about the role gardening plays in creating a community food system and be a hub for the transfer of knowledge, the sharpening of skills, and the sharing of stories and delicious food. Thus, the Gardeners Club was born! Like everything else on the BUF, the Demo Garden is bio-intensive, meaning that almost all of our work is performed by hand, few external inputs are used, and resources are conserved in order to sustainably grow more food on a smaller scale. Not only does this save us money and energy, but it improves the health of our soil in the long-run and allows the Demo Garden to exist in a closed-loop system along with the rest of the BUF. We’re experimenting with certain practices in this space, such as intercropping, companion planting, and integrated pest management to collect and share information on how environmentally-friendly growing methods can be used right in your backyard! In each blog post, I’ll highlight one of these alternative growing topics and break it down so it’s easy to try on your own!
So, what’s been going on in the Demo Garden lately? This past month or so, we’ve been taking advantage of the unusually warm weather to get the Demo Garden beds ready for planting. This includes digging up turf grass and weeds, loosening tough soil with a broad-fork, shaping the beds, adding wood chip pathways and compost, and stale seed bedding to kill weed seeds in the top couple inches of the soil that recently germinated. Weeds can quickly get out of control and become the bane of every gardener’s existence, so knocking them out by hoeing right before you plant is a must! However, as we’re probably all aware, this has been an exceptionally soggy spring and it’s never a good idea to work in the garden when it’s wet. Why’s that? Soil can easily become compacted in wet conditions, meaning that its pore space that allows plant roots to obtain the air, water, and nutrients needed to grow can be dramatically reduced. Once this happens, it’s difficult to repair the damaged soil structure. Therefore, we’ve been using rainy days as a chance to plan what the growing season will look like. We’ve decided to grow over 20 different crops and flowers in this small space from March through October and are hoping we didn’t bite off more than we can chew! Planning is no easy task, even on a small scale, but taking the time to research the varieties you will use really pays off. After a couple weeks of playing around with different configurations and perusing seed catalogs, we settled on a design and are getting all of our ducks in a row to begin planting cool season crops in early-mid March! This spring will be filled with peas, lettuce, spinach, chard, beets, and radishes followed by broccoli and cabbage a little later! While the former group of veggies can be seeded directly into the ground, it’s always best to start cruciferous crops like broccoli and cabbage indoors first to give the seedlings a leg up on the chilly air and emerging insect pests. More on that to come...
Well, I think that’s enough for now! Again, the first Gardeners Club meeting will be held on March 14th and we’ll go into garden planning, site selection, and starting seeds in much more depth, so sign-up if you haven’t already and come on out to join us! Weather permitting, we’ll even sow some seeds together in the Demo Garden! I’ll have handouts and pea seeds for everyone and, since it’s going to be “Pi Day,” I’ll be baking a pie for everyone that makes it out to the BUF! What will you be bringing to the potluck? Let us know in the comments!
Looking forward to growing with you all!