Despite yet another late April smattering of snow this morning, it’s a great spring day in our neck o’ the woods! Reason? Yesterday we received word that our proposal for a Master Gardener Volunteer “demonstration” or “learning” garden we hope to develop in partnership with SEEDS has been approved! We definitely have our work cut out for us, but what a great site! Thank you, SEEDS, for your great leadership!
Not familiar with SEEDS? The name is an acronym for Seeking Ecology Education and Design Solutions; it’s a marvelous nonprofit organization that contributes in many ways to building better, more ecologically responsible communities. Please check out their web site: http://www.ecoseeds.org/.
We’re also very grateful to the City of
and Garfield Township
Recreational Authority, owner of the site, for the trust shown in SEEDS in
supporting our project. Traverse City
The site is a small area within the Grand Traverse Commons Barns Area near the northwest corner of
Silver Lake Rd and Franke Rd,
just outside Traverse City. It slopes gently toward the south, enough
that we’ll take care to avoid soil erosion but not enough to require terracing.
The soil is sandy, not too different in texture from my own home garden. I’ve submitted a soil sample for testing and
will include those results in a future post.
This afternoon I took the following photos standing at the northeast corner of the plot we plan to develop. The first is looking south toward
Silver Lake Rd. To the right is part of the much larger SEEDS
garden, which we’ll enjoy watching as it’s further developed this year. The hole in the left center of the photo is
the location where geothermal units are to be installed for energy-saving
temperature control in the historic barns; the closest two of these are seen in
the second photo, looking northeast. Our small plot won’t extend quite as far
as the hole, but most of our work will have to wait until the units are in
place. The small white building contains
a pump that supplies irrigation water (not potable!) for the gardens.
Our main goal is to provide a site for learning, teaching, and encouraging others to grow food, especially families with children. Our methods will be strictly organic, and will involve no power equipment and no unnecessary turning of the soil—we’ll just loosen it as needed with broadforks, letting beneficial soil organisms do the heavy lifting. We’ll use straw as a mulch for weed control and moisture retention, and high-quality compost applied on top (not tilled in!) as our main soil additive. Depending on our soil test results, we may add other organic amendments, but the utmost care will be taken to protect water quality—we’ll avoid excessive fertilization. Initially our crops will be mainly annual and biennial vegetables and kitchen herbs, but some perennials and small fruits may be added in following years. Especially since we want to involve children in the project, safety and sanitation will be the our first and foremost considerations. Our garden design will involve growing beds rather than single rows; the beds will be no wider that three feet, allowing easy reach-in by children.
We hope you’ll share in our experiences, at least through this blog; and when you can, please come and visit us at the garden!