Quilted Earth

With more than an acre of land, a half dozen families from Burundi and a well intentioned group of overly caffeinated volunteers, the community garden plots took bloom today. Actually, without irrigation this week, the rock hard caliche land left us little room to do any significant gardening. Yet we were able to take several truck loads of donated wood, blocks and brick to carefully deliniate the 18 garden plots. Each one is more than 8′ x 15′.

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We had more than 70 seed packets to distribute. I have a feeling this land will soon be full of sunflowers, okra and more melon than we know what to do with.

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A couple local coffee shops provided the first bit of grounds to help turn the land from a sea of Bermuda to something a bit more productive. We are going to need all of Phoenix to up their coffee drinking in the next few months. I thought I’d gathered quite a bit of grounds — not enough for even one plot.

Yet another exercise in learning patience.

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Graciously, Greg came forward to give more than a dozen tools to the community shed. Plus, any excuse I can get to visit the Urban Farm merits the drive. I wandered through his yard of apple trees — heavy with misshapen pale green fruit — and rows of early summer vegetables that look like a heavenly salad bar for any lucky rabbit.

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Trying to make sure each plot is the same size and marked appropriately is a bit more of a challenge than I realized. Come to find out, spacial planning is not my forte. Thankfully, the roommate has a much keener eye. He put us to work and soon enough the earth was lined with recycled materials. Soon the refugees scattered among the plots, selecting the site for their future garden bounty.

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(One might think pick axing the earth without gloves would hurt? One would be right. Then again, my prissy hands were holding the camera and remain splinter and blister-free.)

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It was a beautiful day in the garden and while it will be months until anything significant comes out of this communal space, we made progress today. I am so thankful for the handful of friends who helped and sincerely appreciate the miraculous generosity of those who’ve given seeds, time and money.

Small small catch monkey.


15 Replies to “Quilted Earth”

  1. A productive day. You will be so happy when the gardens are abundant with lots of wonderful produce! Fabulous, my friend. Great community project. Have a lovely weekend! (Btw, photo #9 is great! And, from where are those vibrant orange flowers?)

  2. Looks like a great day! Good think roomy is good with spacial planning.

    Can’t wait to see the progress over the coming months.

  3. Wouldn’t it be easier to use a rototiller? You could probably rent or borrow one for a bit and get it all done, much easier than the ax.

  4. Oh, can you rent a rototiller? My back and hand hurt just looking at all that work.

    Great job, Kelli! This is going to be fabulous!

  5. Hey Kelli,

    I have a rototiller that would help some if you need it at some point. Also, I like to do seed starts so if y’all would tell me what you want for transplants I can start them for the fall and you would just pay for what it would cost me for the seeds and seed starting dirt. You could either give me the seeds or tell me what you’d like and I could order the seeds. I always order from Baker Creek each year. It’s alot cheaper that way compared to buying the transplants at Lowe’s or a nursery, especially for large gardens.

  6. I beg to differ…I think a great deal of significance has already come from your space!! Community working together, planning a better future–can’t get much more significant than that!
    And yes, go rent a rototiller! As long as your soil isn’t full of huge rocks (as mine is), it will make everyone’s life soooo much easier. Then you can get on with the fun parts like ammending the soil and planting.

  7. It’s really inspiring to see so many people coming together. I guess you know there’s some work ahead when you’re using a pick axe on your garden though, Wow! Wish I could send you a couple loads of manure!

  8. Slowly but surely wins the race! It is wonderful to see the community garden taking shape. Keep up the good work (and don’t be afraid to use power tools when necessary!)

  9. It’s always amazing to see how quickly a good project goes from a new born idea to really doing something. Bravo to you and to all the volunteers!

  10. Hi,

    Just a thought from another gardener, but you might want to divvie those plots up so that they’re 3’x20′ with a 4′ walking space in between. The dez will tend to eat your nutrients away if the space is much larger than that and exposed.

    I couldn’t tell from the pics whether your space is N/S or E/W oriented, but you’ll probably want to have the rows in a N/S orientation.

    Dripworks.com has a good product called T-tape that works pretty well here and won’t get salted up like the soaker lines. Soakers will only lead to frustration with all of the salts in the water. You may be able to find it locally, but the dripworks site is a good source of what’s available.

    I used to help out a little with this group: http://communitygardensoftucson.org/ Maybe you could come down south and visit sometime.


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