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Starting a New Garden

23 October 2021 10:50

My husband and I are accomplished gardeners. Our old apartment in Austin had a large balcony that we absolutely filled with potted plants. We grew a few different kinds of mint, parsley, cilantro, all kinds of peppers, and different herbs that I would use for truly homemade herbal tea. We grew both Italian sweet basil and tulsi, or Indian holy basil. The bees that made the commute up to our third story balcony blessed us with a new hybrid between the two.

Our garden was so overactive that you could see it from the street, and currently persists in the promotional photos for the building.

A few green thumbs up there in 302

Our new place in Dallas has no balcony or yard, so we were unable to take our plants with us. They are in the care of various other residents at that building. I hope they're doing well.

What better opportunity to start anew? We signed up for a local community garden here in town. We got a 4x4 plot, well enough for a few good-size plants. We started with some okra seeds, because we just happened to have some when we toured the garden for the first time together.

Sproing! Okra coming up fast

We completely forgot about the seeds for a good few weeks. We had a couple of downpoors in the mean time, and by the time we got back to plant more things, we had a couple healthy-looking okra sprouts!

We gave the okra guys a ladder to climb and got to work with the rest of the plot. We selected a few things that we think would survive an October sowing in North Texas, divided the plot into nine segments, and planted seeds in the configuration recommended by the packet.

A chart of our sub-plots. The notebook is a Delfonics Rollbahn Mini

We planted a week ago and watered sporadically since then. I dropped by this morning to check on how things were doing. A few sprouts here and there, I'm most impressed by the arugula.

It's a VEGETABLE.

I shouldn't be suprised. Arugula is a weed. We'll have to watch it to make sure it doesn't take over the whole community garden.

I took a few extra moments to take in the rest of the place. It's a very beautiful, peaceful place. The garden is situated under a few highway overpasses, but situated such that all the plots get plenty of sun throughout the day. Both water and power run to the plot, so it's just about perfect for a community garden. There is considerable highway noise, but it's elevated and obstructed, so it filters down to the garden as nearly indistiguishable white noise. It's a great setting in which to meditate.

The other plots offer inspiration for things to plant, as well as general gardening tips. We have some very resourceful neighbors.

These plants drink better than I do!

Depleted wine and liquor bottles are used in place of Aqua globes, if the plot owner is unable to water for a certain interval of time.

Not particularly effective as fish fertilizer

These are cocktail stirrers from a nearby seafood bar and grill where the community has their happy hours. Here, they are used as plant markers.

Work smarter, not harder!

The water faucets are communal, installed on each row of plots. Here we have somebody who put a Y-valve on one, and installed a water timer on one of the outlets. Very clever, I'll consider a similar setup if watering becomes too much of a hassle or we go on vacation.

There are a couple of community-maintained plots, for pollination and herbs. It's a lot easier and cheaper to go down to the community garden when I need some parsley for a recipe than go to the store. It almost seems to taste better, too.

Little gnome tending to the community oregano

I was not alone in the garden this morning. A squirrel was darting up and down the tree in the middle of the garden and between all the planter boxes. He performed some impressive acrobatics. He was clearly busy with something.

I got low and crept behind him, camera at the level. It's hard to get a good shot of a squirrel who's moving with purpose. Frankly, I'm not satisfied with any of the shots I got of him. Here's about as close as I got:

Little furry earth-mover

It seems that he was hard at work harvesting nuts from the tree and burying them in the planter boxes. I guess I'll know the reaon why if one day our plot has an oak tree hanging out of it.

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