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Show #16/2003. Community Garden

Summary of Show

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach, Florida IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE and from Eric's initial impression appears to be a vibrant community. Lois Frankel is the Mayor and tells us a little about West Palm Beach and why this is a special place. It's located in south eastern Florida and is the capital city of a major county, Palm Beach County. The city sits on the waterfront and is the governmental and cultural center of the county.
For More Information Click here

Grant To Develop A Community Garden
Many of these individuals are currently involved and pulling together with a very special community effort. West Palm Beach and this neighborhood, called Coleman Park, have been awarded a grant for the DEVELOPMENT OF A COMMUNITY GARDEN. The Mayor is honored to have received the grant, they're one of 6 communities across the country so honored.
For More Information Click here

BILL DAWSON & Growing To Green
BILL DAWSON is the "Growing To Green" Coordinator with Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio and the man responsible for overseeing the instillation of this community garden. Bill has had a lifelong love of horticulture and gardening. He was born and raised in Columbus and has always been a nature boy, he has always appreciated nature, plants and the environment.
For More Information Click here

History Of Community Gardens
Eric wants to know some HISTORY ABOUT COMMUNITY GARDENS. Bill fills us in. Community gardens go way back. We've gardened forever but gardens in the neighborhood really came together with the war efforts when almost every family or neighborhood had a garden. In many cases women and children tended them while the men were off to war. Soon after the war they became victory gardens. But during World War II these neighborhood and personal gardens were producing 40% of the food in the country.
For More Information Click here

Community Garden Benefits
There are many BENEFITS TO A COMMUNITY GARDEN. Bill mentions several. Some may think a community garden is a few tomatoes in an abandoned lot in the inner city. It can be that but what happens around them is a generational thing. The mom, grandma, daughter all come together separate from their busy lives to take the time to be together and garden.
For More Information Click here

The Planning Process
But, there is a lot more to the process than saying I want to build a community garden. There is a lot of work that goes into the PLANNING PROCESS. One needs to teach organization and provide the needed education; and, that's what they do at the Franklin Park Conservatory and the Growing To Green Program. If you were to come to Bill and say you wanted to start a community garden in the neighborhood he would emphasize starting with a core group.
For More Information Click here

Long Term Sustainability
Eric has seen a number of community gardens that are beautiful, lush and full of flowers, turning out a tremendous amount of food; then there are the other gardens that are full of weeds. The question is - how do you build in the LONG TERM SUSTAINABILITY where 5 years from now the garden will still be a vibrant part of the community. Bill feels that is the most important thing they teach in an 8 week class on community gardening. In that class they teach everything from organization to sustainability.
For More Information Click here

How Is the Food Utilized
Most of the gardens Bill builds are fairly large scale, in other words not just 1 little box. Instead he may build 12 or 16 fairly good sized raised beds. Seems like that would put out a lot more than the volunteers could eat. WHAT DO THEY DO WITH THE EXTRA? They build large gardens because they, number 1, want to provide for the participants that are working in the garden and the community at large. They are growing for their families and hopefully putting some up for the winter. But additionally the extra food goes out to the local food pantries.
For More Information Click here

Raised Beds Are A Great Option
Especially when growing vegetables it's important to have the soil tested. Another way to take charge is to utilize raised beds. RAISED BEDS provide lots of opportunities. One is the soil. We don't always know what we're planting in when we come into an abandoned lot or field. We can't be sure about the history. Raised beds are a great option.
For More Information Click here

Construction Of The Raised Beds
Sometimes the best design in a garden is the simplest design, one that achieves what we want functionally as well as aesthetically. These are attractive beds and are something the home gardener could easily put together and they should last for years. THESE WERE CONSTRUCTED using 2 by 6's with 4 by 4 corner posts screwed together with deck screws. It's an easy construction. For older people like Bill a raised bed makes life easier, there is less bending. If gardening with children, it's good because they can reach right in and work both sides of the bed without trampling the soil.
For More Information Click here

How Much Can Be Grown In A Small Space
It's amazing HOW MUCH CAN BE GROWN in a small space like these raised beds. Relating back to Bill's garden in Ohio he has 3, four by four foot raised beds that are on his patio. He produces enough in those beds to feed a family of 4, share some with friends and neighbors and is still able to put some in sauces and freeze some as well. So, producing in beds like these maximizes space. You can plant things a little closer, you can go vertical which is important, maximize your space by staking or trellising.
For More Information Click here

Succession Planting
It's worth noting that these gardens are planted throughout the season, they're not planted just 1 time. The vegetables will fruit, they will be picked, then there's another cycle. IT'S SUCCESSION PLANTING. Bill grows 3 crops in Ohio where he lives. He starts out with the cool season crops. Plant your peas and potatoes on St. Patrick's day in his area. So he's planting peas and potatoes, the cool season crops, in March and April followed by the warm season plants May through September and beyond, when the tomatoes and peppers are done he then plants cool season crops again.
For More Information Click here

What Do We Plant
OK, the beds are made, we're convinced we're going to plant a raised garden. The guys are excited, it's time to play in the dirt, they're like little kids ready to play in the soil. WHAT PLANTS DO WE SELECT, how do we plant them, what kind of things should we consider? Bill plants things he likes to eat, he thinks about his preferred menus. Plan your garden around different menus, whether herbs, spices, tomatoes, peppers, the salads, all those things you like to eat.
For More Information Click here

Planting Tomatoes
It's important to not crowd the plants. If they don't get enough sunlight they're not going to develop properly. They discuss PLANTING PROCEDURES and look at a tomato plant. The tomato is in the Solanaceae family and one thing that's unique is the little adventitious roots that are popping out. They go all the way up and down the stem which is amazing. Oftentimes greenhouse plants that come into the store are a little wimpy.
For More Information Click here

Two Types Of Tomatoes
There are 2 main TYPES OF TOMATOES, determinate and indeterminate. The tag on the plant should identify the type. Determinate growers basically grow to about 3 feet and stop. Many heirloom varieties are indeterminate and will grow until they have to be pruned at the desired height. Look at the space you're growing in.
For More Information Click here

Blossom End Rot
One of the biggest problems with tomatoes is that nasty black crack on the bottom. It's BLOSSOM END ROT and caused by a calcium deficiency. Make sure the nutrition of the soil is correct. But even if everything has been done correctly from a nutritional standpoint blossom end rot can be a problem. Calcium is a water soluble nutrient. If you don't maintain proper watering conditions, the calcium is carried into the root system of the plant with the water.
For More Information Click here

Water At The Base Of The Plant
Another consideration - Overhead watering can be a problem. Different plants have different watering needs. WATERING AT THE BASE OF THE PLANT allows you to water the root system not the leaves. The leaves don't need that much water, they'll take it up from the roots. If watering overhead and there is disease on the plant it will splash the disease around to other plants, the other tomatoes. So avoid overhead watering, give each plant the correct amount of water but apply the water at the roots.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

West Palm Beach Marriott

Coleman Park

Franklin Park Conservatory

Growing To Green

Tomato Articles from Cornell University:

Tomato Diseases

Tomato Varieties

Plant List

Show #16/2003. Community Garden

Transcript of Show

With each successive generation kids are becoming more and more detached from where their food comes from. In this Episode we look at a program that's getting kids and adults alike back in the garden.

West Palm Beach, Florida IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE and from Eric's initial impression appears to be a vibrant community. Lois Frankel is the Mayor and tells us a little about West Palm Beach and why this is a special place. It's located in south eastern Florida and is the capital city of a major county, Palm Beach County. The city sits on the waterfront and is the governmental and cultural center of the county. Aside from its natural beauty it has a cultural diversity that makes it special. They take a lot of pride in being a multi cultural city. One sees folks from every race, color and creed.

Many of these individuals are currently involved and pulling together with a very special community effort. West Palm Beach and this neighborhood, called Coleman Park, have been awarded a grant for the DEVELOPMENT OF A COMMUNITY GARDEN. The Mayor is honored to have received the grant, they're one of 6 communities across the country so honored. Having this community garden tended by nearby students adds value, one that's hard to value monetarily. The kids are involved, their parents are involved, it's a wonderful way of connecting the folks from the community. It's a great initiative. The Mayor loves when kids read and reading is very important but sometimes children need to get past their text books and computers and get out in real life. And, that's what's happening today. Everyone is learning first hand about being responsible. This is their garden, they will be responsible for the flowers and vegetables. Everyone must pull together to make sure the plants live. And, in the process they will be learning about nutrition and food, where food comes from and how to make things grow. It is a wonderful initiative, a great opportunity for those in the neighborhood. Eric is impressed and thanks the Mayor for joining us on GardenSMART and is off to learn more.

BILL DAWSON is the "Growing To Green" Coordinator with Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio and the man responsible for overseeing the instillation of this community garden. Bill has had a lifelong love of horticulture and gardening. He was born and raised in Columbus and has always been a nature boy, he has always appreciated nature, plants and the environment. He believes he got those traits from his grandparents. His grandmother was native American, his grandfather on the other side was German, a hard worker. His grandfather always came and built a garden in their yard. They had a big one acre garden that supplied their family and other families with food. His grandfather always had young Bill doing chores around the garden - stirring the manure tea, carrying rocks from one side of the barn to the other, often for no apparent reason other than to build character. Learning these early lessons has stuck with Bill all these years. Eric can relate, his father used the same character development program. It, too, was very effective.

Bill has been involved with community gardens for a long time. Eric wants to know some HISTORY ABOUT COMMUNITY GARDENS. Bill fills us in. Community gardens go way back. We've gardened forever but gardens in the neighborhood really came together with the war efforts when almost every family or neighborhood had a garden. In many cases women and children tended them while the men were off to war. Soon after the war they became victory gardens. But during World War II these neighborhood and personal gardens were producing 40% of the food in the country. 40% is a huge number, a staggering number. Later it moved into the school garden movement where kids were learning about gardening and that went on for decades. In the 1970's there was a resurgence with the "hippy" movement, the communes, where the younger generation was growing food for themselves. The latest movement, since the early 2000's, has centered around the economy and health and wellness issues. Childhood obesity and diabetes are prevalent in our inner city neighborhoods and these gardens are helping.

There are many BENEFITS TO A COMMUNITY GARDEN. Bill mentions several. Some may think a community garden is a few tomatoes in an abandoned lot in the inner city. It can be that but what happens around them is a generational thing. The mom, grandma, daughter all come together separate from their busy lives to take the time to be together and garden. Safety, beauty, having programs for the children, they're part of the wonderful things that happen around these gardens. It goes beyond having local food and knowing what's in and on the food.

But, there is a lot more to the process than saying I want to build a community garden. There is a lot of work that goes into the PLANNING PROCESS. One needs to teach organization and provide the needed education; and, that's what they do at the Franklin Park Conservatory and the Growing To Green Program. If you were to come to Bill and say you wanted to start a community garden in the neighborhood he would emphasize starting with a core group. This group should help organize, provide resources and help teach the group what will be needed to be put in place. They can go out into the neighborhood, start notifying and letting people know about their project because in every neighborhood one finds many resources within that neighborhood. In most neighborhoods one will find a carpenter, an electrician, a plumber, a grant writer, parents of children, etc. that would like to be involved in the garden. These type resources are typically available and can provide some of the needed skills and when that happens those in the neighborhood have a vested interest in the community garden. You're building ownership of the gardens by seeking out those resources or people.

Eric has seen a number of community gardens that are beautiful, lush and full of flowers, turning out a tremendous amount of food; then there are the other gardens that are full of weeds. The question is - how do you build in the LONG TERM SUSTAINABILITY where 5 years from now the garden will still be a vibrant part of the community. Bill feels that is the most important thing they teach in an 8 week class on community gardening. In that class they teach everything from organization to sustainability. They work with the folks on building a sustainability program, what will the garden look like next year and the following year. So, they build a plan with input from the community. One example is the red monkey. They were working with an early childhood center, with little kids. They brought in the stakeholders - the teachers, parents, the administration, even the school cook, to start. How will they get involved? The outside community will look at that garden twenty four, seven. What are their feelings about the garden, do they want to be involved? So everyone sat in a big room and 1 gentleman stood up and said he saw a red monkey in the garden. Bill had a kind of internal laugh but realized no idea is a bad idea so they continued on and after the planning and building of the garden began they found a sculptor who built an 8 foot tall red, momma monkey. When the kids aren't sitting in the monkey's lap, Bill is. It's the centerpiece of the garden. And, think how the person that suggested the monkey feels. He feels a special sense of pride in the garden, he's invested in the garden. He had input into the garden. Plus they added in an old canoe in one of the beds, now the kids are sailing the high seas, putting rocks in the garden, they're using their imaginations. But they're also learning about edible foods, learning about native plants and learning about the outdoor environment.

Most of the gardens Bill builds are fairly large scale, in other words not just 1 little box. Instead he may build 12 or 16 fairly good sized raised beds. Seems like that would put out a lot more than the volunteers could eat. WHAT DO THEY DO WITH THE EXTRA? They build large gardens because they, number 1, want to provide for the participants that are working in the garden and the community at large. They are growing for their families and hopefully putting some up for the winter. But additionally the extra food goes out to the local food pantries. This means there are entrepreneurial efforts going on in these gardens. They're teaching teens and young children business skills. The participants, many young adults, are making sales presentations to local restaurants. They're selling basil and herbs to these businesses. So, it's an entrepreneurial endeavor and that provides seed money for the following year which helps sustainability.

Especially when growing vegetables it's important to have the soil tested. Another way to take charge is to utilize raised beds. RAISED BEDS provide lots of opportunities. One is the soil. We don't always know what we're planting in when we come into an abandoned lot or field. We can't be sure about the history. Raised beds are a great option. You can add the type of soil you want in the bed.

Sometimes the best design in a garden is the simplest design, one that achieves what we want functionally as well as aesthetically. These are attractive beds and are something the home gardener could easily put together and they should last for years. THESE WERE CONSTRUCTED using 2 by 6's with 4 by 4 corner posts screwed together with deck screws. It's an easy construction. For older people like Bill a raised bed makes life easier, there is less bending. If gardening with children, it's good because they can reach right in and work both sides of the bed without trampling the soil. It also provides a higher water column which makes for better drainage. Bill has used a weed fabric to line the beds. The fabric keeps the soil in place. For raised beds as well as containers there is a difference between using a soilless media like bark, peat, sometimes pearlite or other volcanic type materials and sandy loamy soil or clay or whatever might be in the ground. Water requirements are different for a raised bed compared to the soil in ones backyard. Raised bed requirements are what might be considered a little more needy because they're up in the elements. Wind is hitting them, thus they tend to dry out a little more quickly. But Bill suggests people use what he calls his Dawson digit device, his finger. Just plunge it into the soil next to the plant. If it's wet, don't water, if moist, wait a day, if dry, then you know that the plant needs water. Wait until the plant is on the moist side of dry, then add water. Push your finger next to the root zone, that's a common sense way to monitor your plants watering needs.

It's amazing HOW MUCH CAN BE GROWN in a small space like these raised beds. Relating back to Bill's garden in Ohio he has 3, four by four foot raised beds that are on his patio. He produces enough in those beds to feed a family of 4, share some with friends and neighbors and is still able to put some in sauces and freeze some as well. So, producing in beds like these maximizes space. You can plant things a little closer, you can go vertical which is important, maximize your space by staking or trellising. By doing this you can produce a lot in a small area. Many people today have small yards, condos or apartments and don't have huge backyards, thus can't till up a half an acre like grandpa. It doesn't matter how much space you have, if you simply have a small patio, back deck or sliver of land along the side of the house one can most likely find space for a raised bed. And the output is tremendous. It is important to find the right conditions. For a vegetable garden 6 hours of sun is required. A raised bed is easier to work, easier to manage, it's easier to garden. And, there are fewer weeds.

It's worth noting that these gardens are planted throughout the season, they're not planted just 1 time. The vegetables will fruit, they will be picked, then there's another cycle. IT'S SUCCESSION PLANTING. Bill grows 3 crops in Ohio where he lives. He starts out with the cool season crops. Plant your peas and potatoes on St. Patrick's day in his area. So he's planting peas and potatoes, the cool season crops, in March and April followed by the warm season plants May through September and beyond, when the tomatoes and peppers are done he then plants cool season crops again. This means he's eating a fresh salad at Thanksgiving. Eric thinks it's fun to see the garden as it rolls throughout the year, it's fun to reestablish a garden and have a whole new range of vegetables growing. And, it's fun for the whole family.

OK, the beds are made, we're convinced we're going to plant a raised garden. The guys are excited, it's time to play in the dirt, they're like little kids ready to play in the soil. WHAT PLANTS DO WE SELECT, how do we plant them, what kind of things should we consider? Bill plants things he likes to eat, he thinks about his preferred menus. Plan your garden around different menus, whether herbs, spices, tomatoes, peppers, the salads, all those things you like to eat. If you like hot peppers, plant hot peppers, banana peppers, cherry tomatoes, versus heirlooms, think about what your family likes to eat and plan your garden accordingly. It's practical and sensible.

It's important to not crowd the plants. If they don't get enough sunlight they're not going to develop properly. They discuss PLANTING PROCEDURES and look at a tomato plant. The tomato is in the Solanaceae family and one thing that's unique is the little adventitious roots that are popping out. They go all the way up and down the stem which is amazing. Oftentimes greenhouse plants that come into the store are a little wimpy. They don't get wind and thunderstorms in a greenhouse and when they arrive in an outside garden they can be floppy or un-sturdy. One advantage of tomatoes is they can be planted quite deep, which provides a lot of stability. Roots can often grow around the pot while forming in a container. That also doesn't lend itself to a structurally sound plant. When you plant the tomato deep the roots will go out from the stem in a 360 degree pattern which makes a strong foundation for the plant. It will be sturdy and will have a much stronger root system.

There are 2 main TYPES OF TOMATOES, determinate and indeterminate. The tag on the plant should identify the type. Determinate growers basically grow to about 3 feet and stop. Many heirloom varieties are indeterminate and will grow until they have to be pruned at the desired height. Look at the space you're growing in. If a small garden, like these, ideally one would use a determinate variety, if you have more space, possibly an heirloom or indeterminate variety would work better. As mentioned tomatoes need a lot of sun and they need a lot of water.

One of the biggest problems with tomatoes is that nasty black crack on the bottom. It's BLOSSOM END ROT and caused by a calcium deficiency. Make sure the nutrition of the soil is correct. But even if everything has been done correctly from a nutritional standpoint blossom end rot can be a problem. Calcium is a water soluble nutrient. If you don't maintain proper watering conditions, the calcium is carried into the root system of the plant with the water. So if you run your beds dry and your plants do fruit, you can still get blossom end rot and that basically is a water deficiency, not a calcium deficiency. But they are related.

Another consideration - Overhead watering can be a problem. Different plants have different watering needs. WATERING AT THE BASE OF THE PLANT allows you to water the root system not the leaves. The leaves don't need that much water, they'll take it up from the roots. If watering overhead and there is disease on the plant it will splash the disease around to other plants, the other tomatoes. So avoid overhead watering, give each plant the correct amount of water but apply the water at the roots. And, the best way to know when to water is to look at the plant, observe it's needs, nothing beats that. The plants will generally tell you when they're healthy and when they're not happy. Often times plants droop when they have too much water, you can usually tell when they don't have enough water. Look for disease spots, look for insect damage. It takes some vigilance but that may only require 5 minutes a day. Go out there, glance at them, put your finger in the soil. If they need water, water them, if bugs are present pick them off, if you see yellow leaves they probably are getting too much water. Check on the plant, if it's not healthy, it will let you know. And a happy and healthy plant tends to resist insects and disease and healthy plants grow faster. Watching everyday, staying vigilant is a great way to keep the plant producing more and more and will help get more life and more fruit from your plants.

The guys talk about other vegetables like lettuce, beans, squash and peppers. What are the considerations for those plants? Back to common sense, read the seed packet, read the plant label. There are certainly fertilizer options. Eric likes to give them manure every couple of weeks. There is about 2 percent nitrogen in most manure which is a great way to keep the plants healthy. It also traps moisture around the plant, just like mulch. Everybody should be composting. When you pull those weeds, have spent vegetables, use kitchen scraps put them in a compost pile. You'll need a place to compost but there are even kitchen composters available today. Put the compost back into your garden as an organic matter and a mulch and as a nutrient. Your garden will flourish.

Eric asks Bill a question that's plagued him as a vegetable gardener. He used to follow his father around the garden and his dad would have his little pocket knife with him, he would be looking at squash and there would be those nasty little gashes at the bottom of the trunk where the worms had gotten in and his dad would cut them out and kill the worm. Is there any way to prevent or get rid of those pests? Bill feels it gets back to inspection, monitoring really. Keep a close eye on your plant, as soon as you see that first slit or little bit of dust where the worm has bored in, he goes in the house and gets a paper clip, straightens it out and pokes in the hole and kills the worm. But, it's really inspection and giving the plant all it needs - water, nutrients, etc. A healthy plant is less prone to attack. Keep your eyes on your plants, get involved with your plants. And, sometimes failure is a good thing, you learn from your mistakes.

Eric thanks Bill. It's been a fantastic day, we've learned a lot. We appreciate Bill's insight, expertise and passion for gardening. It's a wonderful thing he's doing with community gardens

LINKS

West Palm Beach Marriott

Coleman Park

Franklin Park Conservatory

Growing To Green

Tomato Articles from Cornell University:

Tomato Diseases

Tomato Varieties

Plant List


   
 
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