4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Plants in the ‘Hood

Neighbors and organic greenhouse farming

Finally! We gathered in the greenhouse to officially launch this organic neighborhood suburban glassed-in farm on Saturday 1.30.15. Three families from the neighborhood with a combination of 5 children and one family friend from down the road with two more children all squeezed into the greenhouse, excitedly. Their ages ranged from 6 – 11 years old.

Getting Started

I began by explaining why I started a greenhouse — that I am concerned by the use of chemicals in the growing of our food, and that I choose to eat organically cultivated foods. Touching on not only our own personal health benefits from eating cleanly grown food but also the benefits to the water, air and soil when we grow food without chemicals, the youngest of the children piped up with, “Is what we are doing going to save the world?” I was both touched and amused by her innocent question. My answer, “yes, everything we do in this greenhouse is making the world a better place” was heartfelt and sincere.

We talked about the organic soil, which I had purchased at Worm’s Way in Bloomington, the cloth growing sacks that I had chosen for the plants to grow in, the growing pellets that were being used to start some of the seeds in their germination, and the compost tea that was dripping out of my compost barrel! As well, we talked about how the greenhouse heater worked and the hydraulic windows that opened and closed based on the greenhouse temperature.

We can have a giant neighborhood salad party!

In the weeks prior to this first neighborhood gathering, I had already planted many herbs, cherry tomatoes, okra, artichoke, cucumbers, broccoli and brussel spouts into the growing pellets and many were ready to be transplanted. As I showed the children what was already growing, and as we decided together what seeds to plant today, they became so excited! They tasted nibbles of parsley and rubbed the leaves of sage, oregano, and thyme for their heavenly smell, and that same sweet 6-year old child excitedly exclaimed, “We can have a giant neighborhood salad party!” Gotta love that youthful exuberance!

I gently split the larger veggies starts from their pellets, pointing out the root systems–cukes, artichokes, broccoli–and they took turns transplanting them into the growing sacks. Young hands tend to make broad strokes, a fact which lent itself to discussion about fragility and being gentle with tools and fingers.

Demo roots

 

 

The next step was placing new seeds into the new growing pellets; if you haven’t used them before, check it out here; they work well and are fun to monitor. The pellets had been soaking in water overnight and the children clambered to have their turn at “planting food”. We planted the seeds of peppers (which have not done well at my previous attempt a few weeks prior), cukes, broccoli, okra and beans and radish. Then it came time to water; of course they all wanted to use the hose; I could see immediately that my ability to finesse the hose nozzle to produce a gentle bath was not a skill set that these young hands possessed. After adjusting the hose bib and many reminders, they each were able to water some of the plants.

Eww! What’s that?

Onto the compost tea!

Initially, those kids were a bit grossed out by the drippings in the pan under the compost barrel. But when I opened the barrel in which lay many veggie scraps, and they could look inside to see that it wasn’t gross, it was just decomposing and actually smelled good–in an earthy way–they thought the idea of decomposing was very cool! Using a drippings baster, I spritzed each of the seedlings as well as the already established small plants with a bit of that hearty tea.

Worms!

One of them quickly surmised that worms would also help the soil, so off they ran on a worm hunt. Sure enough, 3 return trips yielded 5 worms, which the two youngest gently placed in separate growing sacks. We misted them with water and wished them well. Later that afternoon, those worms were nowhere to be found, leading me to believe that they are happily burrowed into the soil.

Worm1

Stay tuned for an update soon!

"After thirty years of eating healthy foods and participating in regular, vigorous exercise, I was astounded to discover I have Coronary Artery Disease. In March of 2010, I had two stents placed in my Left Anterior Descending Artery- this was big. I consulted Robin Mallery, RN, knowing she is a local expert on Cardiac Rehabilitation. I especially respected her lifestyle of nutrition and physical fitness. Robin’s reassurance that I was doing many things correctly, and her instructions on how to fine-tune my program to deal with this life-threatening disease, was invaluable. Robin’s exquisite grasp of balancing traditional medicine with diet, exercise, relaxation and fun has helped me through this medical crisis". --Maiya Gralia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and cross-country ski instructor and coach

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