Early last year while at the local shops, I picked up a pamphlet for a community garden in our area. Jamie and I had been talking for a while about joining one as we were running out of free garden space and we wanted to meet other like-minded souls. So in July we leased patch number 8 at the Happy Patch Community garden. It is the third from the back (the one with the weed in the corner).
The patches are all a 2.4 metre square so have plenty of room for us to grow those vegetables we don’t have room for at home. It also gets sun for most of the day which is a bonus! The Happy Patch has two sheds, one has space for everyone’s personal items; the other has community tools and watering cans for members to use. There is also a huge 44,500 litre rainwater tank.
We quickly added compost to enrich the soil and mulched it with pea-straw. We use pea-straw rather than sugarcane mulch as it is produced locally. Two weeks later we planted the first half of the bed with Pak Choy, Cabbage, Spinach, Silverbeet and two types of Broccoli seedlings we grew using heirloom seeds from the Diggers Seed club.
In August the second half of the bed was filled with purchased heirloom seedlings: Corn, Cucumber, and Watermelon, plus Carrot and Radish seeds. In spaces where we had already harvested Pak Choy and Broccoli we planted Squash and Zucchini seedlings. We also planted some non-heirloom seedlings: Red spring onions, Garlic, Marigolds and Violas.
I made some plant markers using rocks, paint and a sharpie. They are glazed with a mix of water and white glue to make them weatherproof. The kids that visit the patch love them.
As things grew we added more plant markers.
In early December we harvested our first bunch of carrots. Our 2 year old Granddaughter was a willing helper. And in case the mention of a grandchild makes you think we are older, I will just point out that we are 46 and 48 🙂
By mid-December the Watermelon and the Corn started taking off! We added some Heirloom Arugula and Rainbow Chard seeds in November in between the Watermelons and Cucumber, the Arugula grew quickly!
And we were harvesting produce every few days.
By New Year’s Day the Patch was growing so well you could barely see the ground!
It was this amazing ground cover that helped the Patch survive the week of 40-46 (104-115) degree weather. Even though the Patch gets more full sun than our garden at home we did not need to put up tents and everything survived with only one water a day.
We were so impressed we decided to lease another patch. The ones on either side of us were already taken so we got number 21. It is along the fence line so has more shade. Someone had previously put in some Celery, Parsley and Basil so we are leaving them there for now. Half the bed is being left fallow for early winter vegetable planting; we have forked it over with chicken manure and mulched with pea-straw. We plan to plant more Radish and Carrot seeds in the other half.
Meanwhile, we continue to harvest often.
And are so proud of our first Watermelon.
The flowers are bringing in the beneficial insects and the resident lizard helps keep pests at bay.
And finally, Jamie and the Patch made the paper!