Challenge Accepted!

I am very happy to report that the raised garden beds planned by our Church congregation’s eagle scout candidate have been constructed and filled. As I noted earlier in the season, community gardens can be a wonderful resource. Yes, they provide fresh produce for those in need. Just as importantly, they bring people together to share work and knowledge. Gardens can literally grow communities.

In anticipation of these garden beds being built, I started some extra cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins this spring. I made one small miscalculation, however. Community gardens require a community of gardeners. Even though there are many gardeners in our congregation, we need to act in a coordinated, unified fashion to make our garden successful. That is going to take time. The current goal is to have our first planting in spring, 2022. I am totally okay with that plan. The raised beds aren’t going anywhere (they are one third full of gravel, after all).

However, I still had extra plants sitting around, growing ever more pot-bound. I was perfectly content to toss them in the compost bin. Mr. Food It Yourself was not content with this plan. “Can’t you find space for them?”, he asked. Well, I am not one to turn down a garden-related challenge. Did I find space for my plants? Yes, yes I did.

The four zucchini and yellow summer squash plants fit nicely between the front yard tomatoes. If the plants do thrive and produce we will have plenty of squash for ourselves, our neighbors, and our local food pantry. (Yes, we already checked and our local food pantry is able to accept fresh produce.) I only had one extra cucumber, so that went in the raised bed where the other cucumbers are growing. What is the harm in one more? None that I can see.

This left the pumpkins, of which there were 6, two each in three pots. Where could I plant six vining, heavy feeding, sun-loving pumpkins? There was only one location- the loam pile. The remnants of the load of loam/compost mix we purchased a few years ago sits in a sunny location in the front yard. The soil is still high quality. By planting into the top of the mound, the pumpkin vines will have room to run. Here is how it all worked out:

First, I made a well in the loam crater. Then, I added fresh chicken run sweepings (aka chicken poop) and compost, which I mixed into the loam. (I would like to take a moment to publicly thank Mr. Food It Yourself for the snazzy wheel barrow he bought me for my birthday.) Mixing the high nutrient stuff thoroughly with the loam is an important step. Fresh compost, especially the very-high-nitrogen coop sweepings, can damage plant roots. It also makes up for skipping the gym.

Finally, the struggling, pot-bound vines were transplanted into the amended loam pile and watered deeply. I have started watching pumpkin carving tutorials in anticipation of creating a grand jack-o-lantern display in October.

I am glad my husband challenged me to find places for my extra plants. Will they thrive? Will they be eaten by rabbits? Nobody can say for sure, but we have the potential. What unexpected turns has your garden taken this year? How have you handled the challenge? Share in the comments!