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A Garden at West Cottage: Planning

A Handful of Seeds
A Handful of Seeds
Over the course of the growing season, TFP staff member Allison Daminger, along with our Boston interns, will be blogging about their experiences tending two 4 ft x 8 ft raised bed gardens located on The Food Project's farm in Dorchester. Although Allison and the youth have learned a lot through osmosis - when you work for The Food Project, it's hard not to pick up at least the basics of growing food! - watching and assisting others is quite different from having one's own garden. We hope that reading about their mistakes and successes over the course of the growing season will encourage other aspiring gardeners to dive in with a little less fear!

 

I was both excited and nervous as I loaded up a tray of seedlings and a basket of seeds from the greenhouse. Surveying my options, I felt like the proverbial kid in the candy store: how would I select a manageable variety of crops when each of the plant-lings before me called my name? Visions of ratatouille, basil pesto, and cool, crisp cucumber salad danced through my mind as I contemplated my options and flipped through my Growing Guide for more detailed information about each crop's space and sun needs.

In the end, my choices were part-impulse, part-calculation: which vegetables do I most enjoy eating? Which ones are most expensive at the store? I wanted to include multiple types of plants, so that I could try my hand at growing leafy greens, fruiting crops, herbs, and roots. Because I'm getting a late start, I reluctantly passed over the spinach and lettuces, lest they wither in the summer sun. On a whim - and because I vaguely remembered hearing that they're useful for pest control - I grabbed a bag of marigold seeds. At the very least, they'll be a visually appealing addition to my garden!

I cut myself off after close to a half hour of deliberation and began plotting my choices on a garden map. The back row was easiest: eggplant, peppers, and marigolds were my tallest plants and would need to go on the north side of my garden, so as not to shade out their tinier neighbors. Collard greens, medium-height plants, would go directly in front of them. For no real reason other than convenience, I grouped all of the plants I'd be direct-seeding (marigold, bush beans, collards, radishes, beets, and carrots) on the left-hand side of my bed and kept the transplants (eggplant, pepper, scallions, herbs, and cucumber) together on the right. In the end, my map looked like this (except messier - there were scribbles all over the place, reflecting all the times I had changed my mind!):

 

Marigold

(1)

Marigold

(1)

Eggplant

(1)

Eggplant

(1)

Eggplant

(1)

Eggplant

(1)

Pepper

(1)

Pepper

(1)

Marigold

(1)

Bush Beans

(9)

Collards

(1)

Collards

(1)

Collards 

(1)

Scallions

(3)

Basil

(2)

Cilantro

(3)

Bush Beans

(9)

Bush Beans

(9)

Radishes

(16)

Radishes

(16)

Radishes

(16)

Scallions

(3)

Basil

(2)

Parsley

(3)

Beets 

(16)

Beets

(16)

Beets

(16)

Carrots

(16)

Carrots

(16)

Carrots

(16)

Carrots

(16)

Cucumber

(2)

 

Tired before I had even begun to dig, I decided to postpone the actual planting to the following morning. I figured it couldn't hurt to let the anticipation build a little longer...

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