Without a doubt, this spring the temperature rose ever so slowly, and we had more than ample rain. The soil in the community garden is good Jersey clay. A cover crop of buck wheat was grown in the fall on the entire plot and tilled into the soil to amend it. The soil was limed, organic chicken manure was added and it was tilled twice. That should have gotten all of us of to a great start, if only the weather cooperated. Instead we got rain; day after day it rained. During a dry day I went to visit our plot. Located at the end of the community garden and probably a bit lower than the opposite side, the soil was wet; too wet to be worked in.
A week later I came back. Now I could dig up our plot, add some additional amendments in the form of shredded leaf mulch, well composted and mix it in with the soil. It was still wet, but I managed to set up some supporting poles for the pole beans and sow the beans. A variety of onions were planted as well. A bale of hay was pulled apart and used to create paths in the plot; suppressing weeds, but more importantly keeping the feet dry and mud-free. And then it rained some more.
Each week I would check our plot, pull some weeds and hope to be able to do more. There were potatoes to be planted and tomato and pepper plants to be added. Finally, on May 25th it was warm enough to start planting the tomato plants, although the soil was still very wet in some spots of our plot. The picture shows how a small hole dug with a hand trowel filled with water instantly.
The beans were starting to come up and the first green shoots of the onions show through the soil. The temperature is now consistently warm, which should give the tomato plants a much needed boost, as well as dry out the soil a bit more.
Of course, weeds are starting to show their pesky heads in greater numbers as well and I will have to spend some time weeding. Next week the peppers will be planted and the potatoes will go in as well. Soon enough we will be able to start harvesting produce that will be given to the food bank to help others in these difficult times. In the meantime, with volunteers from the township I will be growing new organic gardeners, one volunteer at the time.
Marty Oostveen - Gardener, The Dutch Touch, LLC