Cultivating Nature and Friendships

October 10th, 2016

Our Family Garden Education program teaches our families how to garden and cultivate friendships while cultivating nature! Through the generosity of a Kohl’s grant, we are able to fund our vegetable garden. This growing season, we have four beautiful new Cedar raised vegetable beds. Beginning in April, our UW-Extension Master Gardeners planned and planted our crops with guest families and RMHC staff.

Our gardeners follow the Square Foot Gardening method (SFG), from the book by Mel Bartholomew. Our soil is 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss. It is light, weed free and nutritious for vegetables. Since the beds are raised, the soil has better air circulation, making it easier to work with. The beds are 3’x5’ and 4’x5’, so even our littlest people can reach the center to plant and harvest.

We used string to make a grid of one foot squares in each bed. Following SFG principles, we planted the recommended number of seeds or plants in each square. We also planned for cucumbers to replace peas, lettuce and radish to replace harvested potatoes, and more spinach, rainbow chard and kale as space allowed. In our four beds we successfully grew and are harvesting peas, green and yellow bush beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, patty pan squash, zucchini, cherry and Roma tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, kale, beets, carrots, radish, peppers, onions and kohlrabi. We grew containers of strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic chives, mint and oregano. We had a Jack and the Beanstalk tower of green beans and our Ketchup and Fries plant, a tomato grafted onto a potato plant. We also dedicated one bed to herbs for use in cooking. We have basil, parsley, cilantro, stevia, pineapple sage, nasturtium, rosemary and thyme.

Every Thursday we garden together, enjoying the simple pleasures of being outside, harvesting what we have nurtured and being a part of nature. We read books about the garden (and write our own), play garden games, raise monarch caterpillars and learn about the many birds we see. This is our families’ back yard, they can pick ripe vegetables anytime and use them in their family meals. We also take our vegetables and herbs up to the kitchen for general use. Every day in the garden is an adventure!

We are growing gardeners, cultivating friendship and harvesting hope.

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