It's finally spring--which means gardening season is here! This year, instead of purchasing a CSA (Community-Supported-Agriculture) share, I decided to buy a Denver Urban Garden (DUG) plot. There was a super long wait list and after lots of phone-tag and e-mailing I was able to score a fairly large plot (pictured below) for only $35 for the whole spring/ summer season. This past Saturday I finally met my very own first DUG plot--Academia Sandoval School--located over in the Highlands, a pleasant 3.6 mile bike ride from my home.
Saturday morning I was bursting with excitement! However, while I've spent years watching my green-thumb'ed-mother garden, I've never actually gardened myself--I was nervous, not to mention clueless. I intended to check out the Farmers Almanac to see when good days to plant would be but I completely forgot about it, and I arrived at my garden with seeds in hand and the sun higher in the sky than I preferred.
I didn't know where to begin, so I asked myself, "What's the most logical thing to do first?" Immediately I thought, "Play in the dirt!" and began to recall childhood memories playing King of the Hill with neighbor-friends on a huge, looming and reeking compost pile in the middle of my steaming-hot, black driveway. All-smiles, I entered the community toolshed to look for something to play with. I emerged with a small, handheld garden fork and began to rake the plot as though it were a zen garden. Cluelessly tilling the soil I quickly realized I needed gloves; there was lots of broken glass and deeply-rooted weeds. I'm certainly not against getting my hands dirty, but I do dislike dry dirt wedged under my nails, so back to the toolshed I went to see what I could find.... plenty of kids gloves! (The garden is located right next to an elementary school) I tugged on some precious, little, green-and-red lady-bug gloves, and got back to work preparing the space and spreading fresh compost (freely provided, I might add). This didn't take long and before I knew it, I was again asking myself, "What now?"
I gathered my seed pouches and started to read the back, but this overwhelmed me--for such small packets, there was a lot of info, and a lot of different info on each packet! I chose to skip the reading :-) (I'm more of a hand-on learner) and decided to organize the plot into little plots and figure out where each vegetable/ plant would go.
I purchased Botanical Interests, Inc.
Carrot Carnival Blend
Beet Gourmet Blend
Eggplant Black Beauty
Ruby Red Swiss Chard
Blue Winter Kale
Sweet Cal Wonder Peppers
Sunflower Elves Blend
Zinnia Pastel Sunset
I started to lay out the seed packets on the plot, using a garden hoe to mark each packets territory. I changed my mind a lot considering only landscape design (what would look good next to what, and what made sense [to me] being close together) Here is what I came up with:
I decided tomato plants should go in the back because they are tall and may provide needed shade for the kale and chard, I bunched all the root vegetables towards the front where there would be a lot of traffic heading to and from the community shed, and lastly I planted the zinnias, sunflowers, and big-leafy eggplant alongside the shed for all to enjoy. After using a garden ho to dig trenches for the seeds, planting and covering up the seeds, I realized I was left with a huge open space in the center of my plot, so I lined the root vegetables and leafy greens with a row of cilantro and chives, respectively, leaving room for a stone walk way down the center of the plot (We'll see if that ever happens...), or perhaps more vegetables.
It wasn't until I came back to water on Sunday (lobster-baked from the late-afternoon Saturday sun) that I realized I hadn't even considered the direction of the moving sun. All my full sun vegetables are covered with shade and my vegetables that do well with shade are fully exposed to sun for the majority of the day. Le sigh. I should've done my reading...
Stay tuned for amateur gardener updates--there's a strong possibility of miserable failure, but I might just succeed... Wish me luck and please leave any helpful gardening comments/ suggestions!
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Katherine M. Coleman : RYT & CNT / biophilia, LLC : yoga & holisitc nutrition therapy / 303 578 2378