What an amazing and unpredictable year! As all gardeners know, each year is a bit different from the last. 2013 is no exception to this rule. After a very long and snowy winter, we experienced a wet spring with lots and lots of rain early on. We should have known that we were getting all our rain at once. When July and August came, rainfall essentially stopped. It is remarkable how the garden persevered despite the dry conditions though. So far, we have donated approximately 1,500 pounds of chemical free produce and eggs.
A Recap of the Successes
Planting Weekend took place in mid-May 2013 with a wonderful group of volunteers who helped prepare each of the plots, planted and prepared meals for all of us.
So, things got off to a great start with a gorgeous garden growing rapidly. Produce donations started in mid-June and have continued each week since.
The Bountiful Hope Board of Directors established a goal to increase the variety of the donation to include healthy and nutritious salad components. Aligning with that goal, we planted many different kinds of produce this year and have been happy to celebrate a “rainbow” of color each week.
Extending the Season with a Hoop House
Another goal for this year was to finish construction of the hoop house with the dream of extending the season into the late fall. So, with that in mind, we are happy to report that the hoop house sides and plastic were put on and we have already begun preparation to plant several plants that tolerate low temperatures and hopefully will continue to produce late into the fall.
We took a field trip this summer to a local CSA (Community Support Agriculture) just down the road in New Glarus WI who shared a tremendous amount of information at their amazing facility. This information inspired us to start using a germination chamber and begin transplanting many of our plants to increase sprouting predictability.
This fall, we are experimenting with the use of a small germination chamber to start a late fall/early winter crop of very fast growing plants such as lettuce, carrots, radishes, and baby bok choy. We will grow these in containers in the hoop house under a coldframe and also in a small south facing green house that Pat Holmstrom has made available to us to use this fall. This will help us learn more about how to germinate late in the season and put that knowledge to work next spring to get things started earlier.
Our first Intern!
Avery Erb helped us during the summer 2013 as our first intern. We enjoyed the opportunity to work with her as she learned more about gardening and plans take her experiences with her as she embarks on her college career at Oberlin College. Best of luck Avery and thanks for all your hard work!
It isn’t all Sunshine and Rainbows!
Every gardener can tell you that each year, something just doesn’t work as you have planned it. This year is no exception for us here at Bountiful Hope. We attempted a new technique for the squash this year and found that it didn’t work. Unfortunately we didn’t have a bounty of squash like we have had in past years. Lucky for us though, the gardeners in the community shared their squash in large numbers with the Green County Food pantry.
The other challenge was the cucumbers and bell peppers. The dry conditions prevented these guys from delivering as expected. The cucumbers are gone now, buried under a bed of mulch ready to grow something else in that spot next year. The bell peppers flowered again after the nice rains that finally came, so we are holding out hope that they will have a final push this fall and share some peppers until the first frost.