Summer is coming early to North Texas this year. Since a couple of months, there are several big sunflower plants growing in my first raised bed. I’m still not sure, if these are self-seeders from the previous season, or a critter left some seeds of the Common Sunflowers from a nearby field in my bed. The chances are great, that some of the seeds I’ve been sowing haven’t produced last year. And now, we have some big shading plants standing tall in the Community Garden. They produce a lot of smaller heads. But they look very pretty and are very nice pollinator attractors (honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds). The birds will be happy to have fresh sunflower seeds in late Summer, again.
The idea building a Community Garden and provide food for people in need in our little city (not so little anymore) started years (decades) ago. Back then, Metro Relief was still located at the east side of the S. Colony Blvd/Paige Rd. corner. There was a little grassy, fenced lot behind the building. A few people came together and began to build raised beds and started to garden. Most the material came from the gardeners’ or other community members’ donations.
When Metro Relief moved to the other side of Paige Road., the plot was not available any longer and the Community Garden had to move to a different location. After a long process going through the city and the Denton County Government, the Community Garden found its new location next to the Lakeside Theater by Main Street. The garden had a lot more volunteers and became much bigger. It was a 100′ x 50′ fenced area with 27 raised beds at the end. The main idea still was to grow a garden for people in need. But unfortunately, the garden wouldn’t last no longer than one season. 😦
After some debating and discussion, Christi, Roseanne and I came to the conclusion it might be best to talk to Christi’s Church members, if we could have a little bit of land to build a new garden for the Community. We would work side by side with their Church Garden. Said, done! In November 2016, we had a meeting with the Church Garden members. And in February 2017, we built the first beds at the third location. Now, in the second season we have six 8′ x 4′ raised beds. We ladies grow a lot of food out of this small garden. Everything, what we can donate goes straight to the NTX Community Food Pantry. In the pantry, people can get next to breads, meats, imperishable items, hygiene products etc., some fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. But our garden is not the only organization, that donates to fresh foods to the pantry. Many churches, school gardens, and home gardens provide the pantry with fresh items as well. It is also encouraged, if home gardeners have extra foods, they can provide it to the NTX Community Food Pantry. 🙂
Kevin and Sara came with me to the Community Garden, this evening. I wanted to check on the crop. And since it is warm, we have to water more frequently. Kevin’s mouth was watering, looking all the tomatoes growing on the vines. Sara wanted to catch and play with a ladybug. I had to advise her to be careful, and make sure it is a ladybug, not an Asian Lady Beetle. These beetles look almost the same as a ladybug, but they are mean and bite. Everything looks great in the garden. I can’t wait for the tomatoes turn red for harvest. I’m still stoked, I’m finally growing tomatoes in Texas. Wally, one of the Church Gardeners, taught me well. I listened, and put it into practice. A lot of the tomatoes will go to the NTX Community Food Pantry; and some I’ll take home. They will be the fruits of my and the other gardeners’ labor. Sara likes the onion, we harvested this evening: “Wow, this onion is big! I can’t wait to eat it. Yummy, yummy!”
Roseanne and I planted more vegetables and herbs in the Community Garden, this morning. She wanted to get some tomatoes, cucumbers, and sunflowers in her bed. In the meantime, I planted more herbs around my second bed. My tomato plants are doing very well. I’ve been doing something right. 🙂 The kale, the onions, and the savoy cabbage are coming along as well. They will be the next item to be harvested and going to the pantry.
While everything seems to do very well, my broccoli and the last year’s kale went into bloom. I just wait until they’ll go to seed. Then I can harvest those seeds for the next cool crop season. As long as the broccoli and the kale blooms, the Cabbage White butterfly enjoys the nectar of the bright yellow flowers. It just needs to stop laying eggs on the cabbages.
Since my second bed was put together by the church gardeners, all I had to do is plant some tomatoes, peppers, basil, tomatillos, etc. But I also planted more flowers for our pollinators in the first bed. Last year, we had bees and beautiful butterflies visiting the garden. I would like to see, if a hummingbird is coming over for a visit as well. Pollinators are so important for a vegetable/fruit garden. Some plants get wind pollinated, others need a little help from our insect and bird friends. While most of the flowers still have to grow, before they will bloom; I captured photos of some flowers, which are in bloom right now. And of course, the vegetables are growing very well too.
Finally, I made it over to The Colony Community Garden. If it is not sickness in our house, it is the rain that kept me away for a few weeks.About three weeks ago, I cut off the broccoli heads. But I left the rest in my raised bed. When I came back, I found more broccoli grown to my surprise (I did that with the kale all year, and it worked as well). I guess, the rain and the cooler weather was the perfect “chemistry” for the broccoli to keep giving. Probably by next week, I can cut some more. The red cabbages formed tight balls. Now, they need to grow. Katie’s brussels sprouts get bigger and are almost ready for the harvest. Christi was sowing some root vegetables in Winter. In a few weeks, there is a good chance we can pull some radishes. The Church Garden is looking good, too. Onions, savoy cabbages, spinach and other Winter goodies are doing very well in their beds. I also had a big smile, when I saw the Dianthus are coming back blooming in my bed. They like the warm days and cool nights. Everything looks so good. But we all can’t wait for warmer weather. We want to get the tomatoes, peppers, beans, etc. in the soil and grow some good vegetables for the local food pantry.
This year, my plans are: to get more herbs in the beds; I would like to concentrate only on a few vegetables, instead of many. And then rotate the crop. I hope to get a higher yield this way. I’ll keep you updated. 🙂 In the meantime:
🐞🌷Happy Gardening, y’all! 🌷🐞
… was my thought this morning. The North Texas nights are around the freezing point. And during the day, we get mild temperatures of upper 60s to low 70s (20ºC – 22ºC). It supposed to get cooler by the end of the week. But I’m tired to wait for Spring. And by that time, I have to plant the Spring/Summer crop.
Over the last years, I gained quite a bit of knowledge in gardening. And I’m still learning a lot. What grows best, and what crop I should stay away from in our region. But I’m also very stubborn and try and try and try. Sometimes I outgrow the advises, and put pumpkins and squashes in the garden, anyway. I curse the squash vine borers. But if it wasn’t for that one or two pumpkins, I probably had given up already. 😀
The Texas roller coaster weather throws another challenge in my direction. Over the last few weeks, I lost some crop due to the daily temperature changes. I watched carefully, what survived in the Community Garden, the Church Garden and my own garden. I just keep adding to it. My family likes their cabbages and kale. And screw it! I will keep gardening, anyway!!!!” 😉