Greetings and welcome to the first Saint Michael's Organic Garden 2010 update!
"Farmden" is a term I was introduced to at this year's NOFA conference (Northeast Organic Farming Association) coined by gardener Lee Reich (author of My Weedless Garden) it refers to a growing space that is more than a garden but less than a farm, which perfectly describes our Organic garden. This year we are diving into some exciting new initiatives and changes in the garden that definitely qualify it as a farmden.
One of the biggest changes this year is our conversion to rows instead of plots. Last year the garden consisted of plots of various sizes where our vegetables, herbs and flowers grew. This year we have designed a row system which entails 4' beds and 3' walk ways in an alternating pattern across our entire 1/4 acre growing space. Each row is broken down into sections of different vegetables and we will integrate herbs and flowers throughout each row based on companion relationships and aesthetic delights! The rows are intended to cut down on soil compaction because we will be able to reach across each 4' row to tend and harvest the vegetables without ever having to step in them. The 3' walk ways also make our farmden more community friendly because volunteers and visitors will know exactly where to step and where not to in addition to having plenty of space to maneuver. We are also experimenting with plastic row covers this year and we will be sure to keep you up to date on the benefits and challenges we discover with using this method. So far we have planted some of our heat loving vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant) with row covers.
Another big change for this year is a 7' deer fence that will be constructed this week. Our fence will consist of 7' metal poles spaced approximately 12' apart and a plastic fencing surrounding the entire farmden. Our hope is that this more permanent and sturdy fencing will deter our animal friends from getting into our expanding farmden. In fact we had a critter visit and dig up some of our transplants their first night in the soil, so we are greatly looking forward to the protection a nice big fence offers.
This year we started several vegetables in a biology lab greenhouse here on campus. This was the first year we successfully started and transplanted our own vegetables. One of our goals for this growing season is to learn more about seed saving and storing methods in hopes of eventually practicing the whole process of producing, storing and planting our own seeds. We are growing some new vegetables this year including: broccoli, beets, turnips, potatoes, rhubarb and zucchini. We have also transplanted 12 blueberry bushes into our new fruit plot which is located just a bit uphill from the main garden area. Next year we plan to add strawberries too!
We are really looking forward to learning from our expanding farmden this season and we can't wait to share what it produces! Stay tuned!