Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gardening Club

You've heard of Book Club. You've heard of Cooking Club. Ever heard of Gardening Club?

My church started a Gardening Club last year to help families interested in gardening (newbies, greenhorns, and seasoned veterans are all invited). My husband and I jumped at the chance to get advice from people who know and to fellowship with friends in the same boat as us (newbies).

This year we have started a full-fledged vegetable garden. It's so exciting for us, but very scary and worrisome at the same time. What if we fail? What if nothing grows? What if our garden is ravaged by weeds?

Fortunately, a good friend of ours is a gardener by trade and is always willing to lend a helping hand, answer questions, and provide moral support. And tonight was Gardening Club night. The theme was Q&A. Us greenhorns asked a question, and the resident expert provided the answers.

This is our resident expert, Steve Moore. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy, or WYSIWYG--what you see is what you get. A true farmer, he's more comfortable working the soil, shucking beans, and putting up corn than he is behind a desk and computer. He's got a great sense of humor, which really helps make gardening fun. In fact, he told us a story that one of the members f our congregation mistook him for a homeless man tonight! He was leaning against the church building, his shirt slightly rumpled, shorts faded, carrying a backpack. I guess it could happen to anyone. :)

So what did I learn at Gardening Club? I learned that, if you don't have space for a tranditional compost pile, you can do a smaller version in a plastic tote that you can keep in your house or wherever is more convenient for you. It's a good idea to add some red worms to the materials in the tote--they'll help break down your scraps really quickly.

I learned that you should never, ever put cheese or meat scraps into your compost pile. Doing so can attract rats. Thankfully, I've not done that, although I did see a large black rat scurry across our dirt road just yesterday (we live out in the country). We had a rabbit run under our truck just a few days ago, so the little critters out there must be aware of our garden. That can only mean two things--1) make sure to never, ever put cheese or meat scraps on our compost and 2) it's time to put up some chicken wire around our garden's fence!

I also learned that manure is really good for gardens, too, if you're not able to compost. If it's "fresh" manure, you should reserve it for vegetables that grow above ground, such as tomatoes and peppers, instead of in-ground or on-ground like onions and lettuce. But if the manure comes in a bag like you would buy at Lowe's, then it's probably sterilized manure and safe to use in any spot of your garden. Go figure!

My daughter went with me to Gardening Club, and she played the "I have to go potty...no, I don't" game all throughout the meeting (she is potty-training), so I missed out on most of the meeting. But I did get a free potted lily plant that one of the club members brought! And I learned a few useful tips.

So maybe you're ready to garden. Or maybe you just want to do some research to help you get started for the Fall planting season or next Spring. Grab a few friends, create your own Gardening Club and share tips and success stories with each other. It's a great opportunity for you to get out of the house and, hopefully, learn something that will help you and your family be self-reliant.

Next month: We meet on May 12 at Steve Moore's house for a tour of his 100% organic garden! Steve and his wife Carol make the most awesome kale smoothies--yes, made with kale and absolutely delicious! Everyone is supposed to be 12 servings of dessert (i.e. cookies, etc). I might bring 12 Ants on a Log, definitely a healthier alternative to cookies or cupcakes. :)

What are your gardening success stories or lessons learned? Please share them! Post a comment here. I'd love to hear what your gardening experience has been like!

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