Most mornings you will find the Springmoor Garden Club, a group of almost thirty gardeners: pulling weeds, watering plants or picking their vegetables. They are early risers and up and out before it is too hot each day. The season starts in April and will run through October. While the deer and the bunnies have had a healthy feast this year so have the residents at Springmoor. It’s an added benefit to live next door to one of the garden club members!
This week we asked them to write our garden story.
In preparation for planting, what did you do to prepare your section of the garden?
Everyone is extremely thankful for Thom Morgan, Springmoor’s Ground Manager, as he and his crew till the soil for each garden plot. After this step, everyone varies in their garden preparations. Because of the heavy mulch from years past, everyone has ample weeding to do. Some start in the late winter pulling weeds. Some use a weed-block. And others keep the weeds away, without using chemicals, by adding wood-chip mulch and newspaper (in abundance) to cover the ground. Lots of hoes and pole diggers were used to prepare the soil and plant.
What are you growing in your garden this year?
- The most popular plants this season were: tomatoes and peppers (sweet peppers and Tabasco peppers).
- Others vegetables included: cucumbers, squash, zucchini, okra, eggplant, and corn.
- Herbs on the list: basil, cilantro, mint, parsley, thyme, and rosemary.
- There were a few fruits: cantaloupe (hopefully writes the gardener) and watermelon (to cover the ground, decrease weed growth and keep the bunnies away).
- Flowers included: zinnias, snapdragons and marigolds. One gardener planted a pokeberry for the birds to enjoy!
Before you moved to Springmoor, did you have a garden? How long have you been gardening?
The answers for this questions range from “this is my first year” to “in my youth, my gardening was with my mother and dad.” She then added, “I can dig any problems, griefs, or hard feelings right into the soil.”
What’s different here than in your previous gardens?
These answers will make you smile. All of them were written with explanation marks (so be sure to read them that way too!)
- “Someone else tills the soil!”
- “There is loads of sunshine in the garden!”
- “I can’t shoot the bunnies here!”
- “Down East the soil is sand!”
Is there one vegetable, herb, flower or fruit that is more successful than another?
Most everyone agrees it’s the tomatoes. One gardener says, “The tomatoes make it all worthwhile.” From another gardener, “The cucumbers have done great. I harvest at least three a day. They put the tomatoes to shame!”
What have you done to keep the bunnies and deer from eating your crops?
A few helpful hints from our garden group: sprinkle cayenne pepper, plant marigolds, rosemary and hot peppers, add hair from your hairbrush, add a fence and/or pray! “Next year, I’ll plant melons too.” One gardener says that he’s had a bunny stretch out on the grass beside his plot as he worked and just waited for him to leave. “They are quite at home in this big garden!” And some write that they just “like to share. Well, the bunnies aren’t too good with sharing the parsley. They like to keep it all to themselves.”
What helpful hint can you pass along to new gardeners?
- Get a good helper!
- Don’t plant anything that won’t be used. Remember we don’t cook at Springmoor.
- Layer your plot with newspapers for control of weeds. It also helps hold the moisture in the soil. Cover with cypress mulch.
- Place a half bag of rich topsoil around each plant when you first plant it.
- Use an arbor to keep cucumbers off the ground.
- Keep flowers cut to keep them coming!
- Give tomatoes one inch of water per week.
- Plant early!!! You can always replant, but the early jump seemed to work well for others.
- Don’t give up! It’s fun and if things don’t pan out – there’s always next year!
- Be optimistic, water often, and ask advice from other gardeners.
- Don’t over fertilize and try to turn soil as deep as possible before planting.
- This one is the best: with a wink in her eye and a sly smile, she writes, “Get a BB gun, set up a tent by your plot, get comfortable and shoot the rabbits! Also, preparing the soil helps too.”
- How often do you work in your garden? What time of day?
Most of our gardeners are early risers and in the garden every two or three days. Before it’s hot they are out pulling on the weeds and watering. A few prefer the evening hours when there is more shade.
What happens to all of the items in your garden? Do you share with neighbors, cook them, can them, donate to the food bank or just eat them everyday?
Best advice from the blog writer – make friends with a gardener. They love to share their harvest.
What’s your favorite way to prepare you vegetables?
- Wash and eat!
- Tomato aspic
- Gazpacho – tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers (Vidalia onions and celery too)
- Cucumbers and vinegar
- Caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar
- But the all time favorite is the tomato sandwich – white bread and mayo!
With their sun hats and vegetable baskets, you will spot them walking to their gardens most every morning. You can share a plot or have your own. It’s a great way to get a little sunshine and exercise. And of course, you’ll be eating well too!