Ranch Community Garden: Grand Opening

The beginning of community.

The garden is now open for business! The chain-link part of the fence will be going up next Saturday, and the drip-system should be on by then as well. In the meantime, the plots have all been marked out for each gardener. I did get my second one, since there were leftovers, but there are still a few more yet to be claimed.

The grand opening was a fairly low-key affair. There was water and tea and a couple of trays of grocery store vegetables. The speechmaking was also kept to a minimum. Shane, who’s brainchild this is, welcomed us, and let us know that his goal for the garden is to build community. At the end of the year there would be another party, but this time using our vegetables. There were a couple of rules to go over, like no walking in the beds and no animals outside of the picnic area, then we were let loose. The rest of the time was meeting people, sharing seeds and ideas, and finding our beds.

The beds were very dry. It hadn’t rained for several weeks, and the beds have been bare to the sun in that time. It didn’t make sense to plant much, if anything, before the fence went up and the drip-system was turned on, but most of us were out there starting to water down our beds. The soil was so dry that it simply wasn’t soaking up the water with any speed. Shane let us know that if we dug small channels and divots in our beds, the water would have somewhere to pool until it could soak in. It did help.

My bed!

As I was digging in my bed and watering it, I couldn’t help but think about a documentary I watched some time ago, Blue Gold: World Water Wars. I need to watch it again, as it has a lot of information. However, what has stuck with me is the solution to desertification. This is something that we are fighting the world over as what used to be lush areas good for farming are turning into deserts. At the end of the film the narrator had a whiteboard setup and it looked like a fairly big deal. He starts with telling us to dig holes. I kept waiting for some technological or complicated next step. There wasn’t one. We need to dig holes. When soil has moisture, it is easier for it to accept more moisture up to the saturation point. When it has no moisture already in it, it is far easier for the rainfall to simply roll off the top. This is compounded if the soil has developed a crust as many clay soils do. By digging holes, you are forcing the water to stay where it is until it soaks into the surrounding soil. This moisture will then make the surrounding soil more likely to take up water the next time it rains.

It’s going to take some time to wet it all the way through. I’m sure the rain helped.

I overheard one of the gardeners quip that because we were all watering our beds today, it would be sure to rain that night. Sometimes Mother Nature is unpredictable. Sometimes, she’s right on cue. The grand opening was on Sunday. Sunday night it rained. Monday remained overcast with occasional rain and very wet snow. When the clouds were clearing this morning, I could see that the snow was more serious up in the mountains.

I will be out there again later this week. One of the women has cow manure to share, so she and I will be spreading it on our plots. Depending on how far the rain, and snow, were able to penetrate into the soil, I might even stick a few seeds in at the same time. I can’t wait to get the garden that is all mine started.

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