Monday, February 27, 2012

Community gardening in Takoma Park

On this leap year, February does not feel like it should. The wonder of opening up plant covers and discovering life within have long since faded with constant opening and even some harvesting during this unusually warm month. Still, as I surveyed my plots on Sunday, I was amazed by the life taking place under my thick row cover—the one I hadn’t planned to open till early April. There, I not only found thriving bok choy, but also the wonderful colors of salad greens and the soft ferns of carrots emerging from seeds hastily thrown in November or December, as I rushed to close up before the frost.

New plots may look like this.
Community gardening means that I am gardening next to other people. That has meant that each year I have grown something different because someone else gave me a seedling. The discovery of kale and collards during my first year of growing food has changed my family’s diet forever. Only last week, I harvested enough kale (micro-greens) as I thinned out the seedlings, and made dinner with it—rinse, steam and sauté with ginger and garlic. Last year I grew butternut squash from a seedling a neighboring gardener gave me, and had a wonderful crop, which lasted till January. I learned that it tastes great and looks very appetizing when cooked with Vietnamese squash. I wonder what new thing will come my way this year.
I am not alone in the garden even at this early date. One ambitious pair made a substantial dent into their new weed-ridden plot on Sunday afternoon. See photo above. They put me to shame as I lounged around doing not much more than puttering about and absorbing the fine spirit of the place.


Takoma Park Community Garden in February 2012

One new vegetable I am trying this year is the winged bean, a vegetable I have not had since I was a child. I was thrilled to see it featured in the Baker Creek Heirloom seed catalog. Seeds are currently soaking in anticipation of planting tomorrow.


Others have already prepared their plots for the Spring planting. Yet others have some work ahead of them!

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