Compost, a mixture of decayed plants and other organic matter, is considered gardener’s gold. Since the soil in our plots is still fairly heavy clay, amending this soil with compost enriches it and makes it more friable, or loose. Water will drain faster after rain and during dry periods the soil will not bake solid as clay has a tendency to do. We are fortunate the Duke Farm's community garden provides a variety of items to be used by the gardeners; bales of hay, compost, wood chips, as well as some tools. Prior to planting the beds in our plot we added wheel barrel after wheel barrel of compost and mixed it in with the soil. And once the rain stopped planting began.
Now, weeks later you can see the progress. The beans are actually up 6 inches and will start to climb the support frame soon. In some places a few beans became waterlogged and did not sprout; so, new beans will be sown.
The tomato plants are standing taller and soon we will have to put support cages around them. The potatoes, five pounds of them, have been planted as well. As they start growing they will need to be “hilled up”. That means once the plant is 6 to 8 inches tall, you add soil around the plant and repeat this as they grow taller. When the plants reach their mature height you add mulch to “the hills” to conserve moisture, while also suppressing weeds.
A volunteer provided me with sweet pepper plants which will be planted next week in the one remaining bed. Then it is just a matter of weeding, watering in case of dry weather and feeding, while watching out for pests. After some hard work early on in the garden, we can take it little easier now, hoping for sun and rain in just the right proportions. Well, I can dream, can’t I?
Marty Oostveen, Gardener, The Dutch Touch, LLC