Every year, I grow a vegetable garden. And for the past two years, I've grown two vegetable gardens. One in my parking strip at home, which I refer to as my Victory Garden, and the second is my community garden plot at Haagen Park. My community plot was 20' by 20' and cost $40 for the whole season and included a spring tilling and water. In other words, a great deal.
Every year in January, after I write my garden plant hit list, I start designing my vegetable garden plans. The picture above, was the plan I created for the community plot.
The garden plan kept me busy dreaming until April. I decided that I wanted to design a garden that would attract park visitors into my garden to explore. I chose to add a bench that I found cheap at a garage sale and refurbished and painted in bright colors. My theme was an orange and purple garden.
I painted 'come take a seat and rest your feet and watch our garden grow' on the back of the bench. And visitors responded to the invitation. I found many people sitting on the bench when I would come tend the plot. And it always made me feel happy. One thing that I didn't expect, was that the kids would come sit on the bench and chat with me while I weeded and watered the plot.
I guided kids, parents, and camp counselors through my garden and invited them to touch the tassels of the corn, the prickly cucumbers and taste the sweet sungold tomatoes. Their life stories filled my ears while they explored.
Everyone loved the green ladder with purple flowers painted on it. I found the ladder for free two years ago. After I painted it green and put it in my 2011 garden, I received a note under a rock asking if they could paint flowers on it. I was thrilled, but the flowers never arrived, so I painted them on the ladder this past spring with my outdoor paint pens. An easy project.
The most popular plant in the plot was the Indigo Rose Tomato that was introduced this past summer by OSU. The tomatoes started out a dark purplish black and everyone wanted to touch them. When the green spot on the bottom of the tomato turned red, they were ripe. And I shared them with everyone who asked. They tasted mild and were pretty mixed into tomato salads.
I decided to try mulching with straw for the first time in my vegetable garden. And the slugs loved it! I've never seen such big slugs in my vegetable garden. I cut them in half with my scissors.
Now, I need you to use your imagination here...look closely under that cucumber leaf and you will see the profile of a brown wild rabbit. The rabbit moved into my cucumber bed in June and began snacking on my zinnia seedlings. I didn't know that rabbits liked zinnias until this summer. And when I tended the plot it would sit under the tomato plants and twitch it's ears at me.
Then I would sit on my bench and take in the noise of the park; soccer practice, kids playing on the playground and families enjoying time together.
And snack on tomatoes and nasturtium blossoms.
I snapped pictures on my phone, like this bee on a cardoon blossom.
I picked massive bouquets of sunflowers.
And I was asked for seeds from my garden this year for the first time, even at home.
This next year, I have decided not to grow a second vegetable garden. Instead, I will volunteer my time at a local teaching garden and the garden at Fort Vancouver. I can't wait.