Simpson St. update

We are almost half way through the month of November and it is time for an update on the garden in front of our apartment. We have mostly recovered from the drought and heat of last summer. Temperatures have been mild for mid-November, and we have received regular rains.



At the time this picture was taken (mid-October), the only summer holdouts are the tomatoes, the okra, and a few bean plants. We planted a mixture of cool weather greens, cabbage, and broccoli in the front bed. The rear bed has a fall/winter cover crop mix. This mix will grow until early next spring when I will cut it down and incorporate its nutrients into the bed.

This was the flower bed. It will grow greens for this winter.

This was the flower bed. It will grow greens for this winter.

This bed is going to be converted into a functional (I hope) greenhouse for the colder months. I will construct a skeleton from bamboo  and cover it with plastic. The solar gain should help keep the bed productive throughout the winter, and allow me to start spring plants earlier.

Our fall okra plant is all its glory

Our fall okra plant is all its glory

Of all the plants we grew this year, the okra received the most attention. Many people were surprised to learn that okra came from such a spectacular plant!

Okra flower

Okra flower

Here is a closer look at the okra flower. Okra is in the Hibiscus family.

Simpson fall cover

Here is the fall/winter cover crop. This is a mixture of red clover, hairy vetch, peas, and winter wheat. They will add a significant amount of organic matter and nitrogen when they are incorporated into the soil. Farmers have long understood the benefits of using a cover crop for their fields. They reduce soil erosion, help retain soil moisture, increase fertility, help to suppress soil disease, and reduce the need for additional inputs (these are often in the forms of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides).

This is the first garden that I have planned, constructed, and maintained myself. I have learned the importance of planning, and more thorough record keeping. There were times in the year when we had excess produce, and we need to do a better job of marketing these next season. Productivity can be increased with successional planting (the next crop is in the ground before, or right after, a plant is removed).

One of the greatest things I have learned is the educational potential that urban gardens hold. People still feel a connection with their agrarian roots, and enjoy getting outdoors and creating thing with their hands. Neighbors ask me questions about food and gardens, and people from the school’s office next door stop by to see how things are evolving. I would like to hold more workshops next year, installing gardens in public spaces, especially in areas that are lacking.


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