May 30th delivered a beautiful evening here in eastern Iowa, and the perfect opportunity for a handful of neighbors to join and tend to some gardening detail. After a group of dedicated volunteers worked hard over Memorial Day weekend to weed our potato patch, several more of us met last night for what was dubbed a “Potato Hilling Party.” The idea was pretty simple. Now that the rows had been freshly cleaned, we would pull loose dirt into mounds around the plants. This serves several functions including increased protection for the developing potatoes from the sun, moisture conservation, and better suppression of weeds.
At the time of this work, it had been pretty dry, (though we got a nice, much-needed shower today) and in turn the ground was pretty hard. So to make the task easier, garden director Mike Boyle ran a tiller up and down between the rows which allowed the rest of us to easily rake the loose soil into hills around the plants.
With such wonderful help, and the lion’s share of the project (pulling weeds) already done, it didn’t take long to finish the job. Our thirteen rows of Kennebecs, Russets and Yukon Golds are in good shape; well protected as we enter the warmer months and set to yield another bumper crop. And it’s probably worth noting that this was all done through traditional gardening methods- which to put it bluntly means relying on elbow grease instead of chemicals.
At Hardacre Community Garden we don’t use synthetic herbicides or pesticides, and nutrients are spread through compost and organic fertilizers. It might mean a little extra work from time to time, but we’ll take it in order to provide healthy, natural foods and to fulfill our obligation as stewards of the land. The results are quite favorable, if we don’t say so ourselves…
Once the potatoes were finished our attention turned to the radishes, many of which are prime for the picking.
All in all, a job well done. Once the work was complete, we got a chance to visit and catch up on progress with the rest of the garden. Mike led us across a makeshift bridge to have a look at the new plot on the east side of Crooked Creek. Here he has been hard at it, having recently planted sweet potatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, onions, tomatoes and more. This will also soon be the site of several rows of delicious Iowa sweet corn.
This truly was a great evening in the garden. A gorgeous night to get a little exercise and fresh air, to visit with neighbors and even learn a thing or two. (Did you know pickles can be made from watermelon rinds?… How about limes? All news to me!) Of course, even greater benefits will come in a couple of months when the harvest is shared throughout the community.
And that’s what Hardacre Community Garden is all about.
Sound like something you’d like to get involved with? We have a pretty informal structure when it comes to volunteering. We don’t ask that you make appointments or try to set a schedule. We know people are busy, and plans can quickly change. Instead, we simply invite anyone who wants to lend a hand for an hour or two to stop out at anytime. Generally, someone will be working at the site in the evenings and on weekends, so come by when you’re available- there’s always something to do. And you don’t need to be a green thumb to help out. In fact, we love showing newbies the ropes. One of the many aspects of our garden that makes it such a wonderful asset to the community is the educational opportunity it provides. Rather just a beginner or a seasoned pro, we’ve got a place for you.
There is also an opportunity coming up to stop by and see things for yourself. On Saturday, June 9 we will host an Open House from 9-5. This is a chance for the public to have a look around the grounds, ask questions and share in some fresh garden snacks. The event is being held at the same time as Tipton’s city-wide garage sales, so if you’re out making the rounds be sure and plan to visit.
Additional questions can be left in the comment section below, or on our Facebook page linked in the menu to the right.
Thanks for your interest, and we hope to see you at the garden soon!