Carver’s Teen Garden Update-Now With More Nature

We started our container garden at Carver with a couple of simple goals: create some urban green space and grow something edible.

As we noted in a previous post, the urban green space thing has resulted in attracting an ecosystem’s worth of Nature to the slab of concrete behind the library. There is at least one toad that visits the damp, shady containers. All manner of insects have also taken up residence or refuge here, as well. And, of course, a truly staggering number of spiders.

Little Web of Horrors

We have even made a little headway in the area of food growth. Many of our initial plants succumbed to the heat (that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it).  But we did a lot of adding on within the last month, and so here’s our update.

This is a selection of plants added back in July.

Spearmint, two varieties each of tomatoes, strawberries and sweet potato. Plus a couple other little cuttings.

Preparing containers for tomatoes (or, “putting dirt in pots”)

The tomato plants—after taking out a few that just weren’t thriving—now number at eight, and have created a veritable TOMATO FOREST.  Every plant is blooming like crazy, although we haven’t gotten any tomatoes yet.

We’re going to have to send in a search party to find the tomato crop.

Next up, take a look at the strawberries:

Berry makers!

We are getting periodic strawberries growing, although they aren’t making it to maturity. We contend it’s the heat (seriously). Both our varieties produce fall crops, so we’re hoping that a break in the insufferable heat will lead to yumminess.

Here is our crookneck yellow squash.

IT’S LEAFY CTHULU

It looks like it’s really trying to make squash, but in any case, we’re impressed with its “Cthulu of Vegetables” appearance.

One truly impressive success, if we do say so ourselves, has been our herb garden.

Mojito mint, basil, basil, spearmint, Cuban oregano, garden sage, rue, bronze fennel, Italian basil, aloe vera. Yes, mostly mints and basils by volume.

Some of the herbs (like the mints and Italian basil) were transplanted, one (Cuban oregano) was propagated from a cutting, but two of the basil plants we grew from seed (bombs). The basil is mostly enjoying the heat, which honestly makes us wonder if there’s something wrong with it. The spearmint plant has done so well that we’ve even started making cuttings of it to send home with teens. We’re hoping to be able to propagate more herbs.

Speaking of seed planting, we did toss a few seeds harvested from a jack-o-lantern a couple of years ago into a container. They actually sprouted. And then we realized that pumpkins have enormous root systems. Far too mighty for our containers.

So we took over a patch of grass in front of the library for a pumpkin patch, because who’s going to stop us?

Pumpkin seedling. We also put up signs imploring the groundskeepers not mow them down, because honestly they could totally stop us with a weed whacker.

We weren’t sure how well this idea would go. Would the pumpkins take to the front mini-lawn? Would they survive the heat? Would the groundskeepers ignore the signs, disperse the border rocks and make mortal enemies of us forever?

Well, so far, so good.

That same pumpkin seedling, yesterday.

We don’t know if there will be pumpkins—and we still have to figure out how to keep the future vines safe—but the three pumpkin plants are doing the best they can and producing leaves the size of a hand.  We also took a couple of sweet potato vine cuttings and planted them on the other side of the building, near the pomegranate tree.

That’s right. TRY AND STOP US.

There’s more than just vegetables and fruit growing here, though.

That’s vinca, or periwinkle, in front and Egyptian cotton in back.

And we also threw some rice grains into some buckets of dirt and water. Much to our surprise, rice grew.

Attractive orange bucket with Liberian rice.

We were given a well established rice plant by a local gardener (who also gave us the grains and cotton seeds), but it was summarily executed for harboring mosquito larvae. The other rice buckets are indoors now, and we’re keeping an eye on them.

As you might already know, plain old dirt doesn’t really cut it for growing things. Nutrients need to be added with stuff like compost which is pretty much decomposing plant parts. Our friends in the city’s Solid Waste department gave us a compost bin, so that we can try our hand at making our own.

George did manage to escape the compost bin while setting it up, narrowly avoiding becoming its first victim.

We’re not sure if we’ll be able to create some quality decomposing plant material, but hey, you can’t not try. And the instructions for the compost bin make it clear that, if we need a little guidance, we’re already in the right place.

You can find information at the library? WHO KNEW?

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