In November 2017, our landlord told us we could no longer use her land for our Spruce Park community garden (SPCG I). For insurance reasons, she thought that the sooner we could be out of the space the better. We bid farewell to our home of eight gardening years in early December.
Since then we’ve been casting about our neighborhood to find a new home. Thanks to the generosity of another landowner in the neighborhood, we found a new location in mid-May and had our first garden work day in SPCG II today, 23 June 2018.
During this month we’ve been moving our tools and supplies into our new home and developing a potential design for how we’ll use this space.
It’s an interesting time to start a community garden - irrigation/sprinkler water and rain water are increasingly difficult to come by while the seasonal shifts we’re experiencing affect the success of planting fruits and vegetables when “we always did”. Decreasing chill hours raise serious concerns about what fruit might be appropriate. But we’re lucky to be able to think about it all and identify plants that we hope will have a high probability of success during these coming years of climate instability.
The earliest photos I have from the original garden members date from February 2010, when much work on soil preparation had already been completed. The first garden was developed on compacted soils that had been used to dump construction debris and had most recently been used to park cars. We are very fortunate that the soils in SPCG II, while still unamended native soils, do not suffer from the same kind of compaction and don’t seem to have much in the way of debris.
By 2015, SPCG was a thriving garden with lush vegetation. These two photographs were taken from approximately the same location. The fruit trees, which had just been planted in 2010 (first image), had, by 2015 (second image), become large trees, bearing heavily, and (to our chagrin) a beacon to every peach beetle within five miles! By the way, the fruit trees are barely visible along the clearly visible back fence in the 2010 image. In the 2015 image, the fence is pretty much invisible behind the exuberant growth of the fruit and surrounding trees!
One thing that has changed over the intervening years is the addition to our gardening community of artist Aidan Ashley. Aidan has recently become interested in drone technology and made the first aerial images of the garden today. I’ll continue to document the development of the garden on the ground but Aidan’s imagery will give us all a bird’s-eye view of the garden as it evolves from a vacant lot into a community gardening space for Spruce Park.