Will it ever end? This is what many winter-hating, hibernating New Yorkers, particularly garden-loving New Yorkers, grumbled daily from inside their cozy aeries and their walking igloo coats as they suffered an epically long, dark winter of discontent. The beds of the Children’s Garden at Campos still lay sleeping in hay well into March, while the temperatures dipped below freezing. The sun rarely peeked out behind dreary skies and the soil seemed as lifeless as our spirits. This snowy scene below was the official start to our spring (in a nearby family home in Connecticut); a spring that still hasn’t completely arrived. But hope does spring eternal, and signs of life are beginning to emerge now. Gardening season has begun!!
Straw Bale and Small Space Workshop at Grow Together Conference
Before anyone even thought about digging in the dirt, suddenly it was time for the 31st Annual GreenThumbNYC Grow Together Conference on March 21, 2015. Usually, by this same time in past years, the weather has helped get our garden jones on, but it finally took the conference to get hibernating gardeners out of their caves to test the weather. The Grow Together conference featured Keynote Speaker LaDonna Redmond, a food justice activist from Chicago and Minneapolis, along with exciting new workshops and returning favorites, including many hands-on and youth-focused workshops for gardeners of all ages. NYC Foodscape, with Campos Community Garden head Chris Batenhurst, was back at this year’s conference, to lead its Straw Bale and Small Space Gardening workshop. The workshop gave tips on growing food in small spaces, highlighting some of its small space garden projects, including the famous straw bale garden at the Children’s Garden at Campos, as well as demo and other small space garden projects from The Talking Farm and others, and giving a hands-on demo in prepping and growing in straw. Click here for the slides from the presentation.
Here is one of last year’s straw bales, still looking strong and fertile for planting greens any day now.
Late Start to Seedlings
The lack of warm sun on windowsills and extended winter blues kept gardening gnomes from arriving to inspire seed starting. But in the final week of March, NYC Foodscape started a hundred or so plants, from lettuces, greens, brassicas, herbs, okra, eggplants, cucumbers, a dozen types of peppers, from sweet to fiery hot, and over 15 kinds of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colors.
Thanks to Seed Savers Exchange and its Community Seed Resource Program‘s generous donation of seeds, seed saving equipment, packets and labels, Campos Community Garden will be a veritable trading post of heirloom vegetable seeds. Stay tuned for seed swapping/saving events at Campos in the Spring and Fall. Saving seeds is an essential DIY for folks who care about food sovereignty and who want to know where their food comes from.
Pray for Peas
As gardening tradition dictates, we “go green” on St. Patrick’s Day by planting peas, usually our first ritual kickoff of gardening season. But with soil temperatures well below 60-65 degrees, the ideal temperature for peas to germinate, even the peas were still hibernating.
The peas for the Children’s garden finally went in the last weekend in March–with temperatures still down near the limit, but waiting any longer was not an option if you wanted to have healthy pea plants that don’t face hotter weather that turn sweet peas starchy, and if you want to reuse the space later.
Two rows each of Green Arrow and Purple Podded Green in one bed, and two rows of Amish Snaps in the other. A light covering help spur growth and keep the animals from nibbling at the seedlings once they do pop up.
Roots and Shoots in Cool Earth
A nice welcome were last fall’s garlic and shallots–up they come, and in goes this spring’s radishes and beets, along with early lettuce, spinach and asian greens. Also, wintered-over hardy greens are reappearing and the strawberries and lavender thankfully made it through the harsh winter! The sage is a tough call–we shall see.
- Breakfast and Polish Polenza Radishes
- Golden Beets
- White Turnips
- Rouge Long Onions
- Rouge D’Hiver Lettuce
- Pirat Butterhead
- Asian Salad Greens
- Bloomsdale Spinach