Even in a region where you can grow vegetables year-round, it’s hard to resist the call of spring as a new beginning and a time to celebrate. As the birds build their nests and the peas begin to sprout, P-Patches come to life and traditions abound as gardeners reconnect at gardener gatherings and work parties.
Here at Lettuce Link, we like to start our spring by bringing together Giving Gardeners from all over the city to talk about food bank gardening. When I go to meetings like this, I’ve learned to keep two columns of notes in my notebook—one for official meeting business, and one for advice I want to try out in my own garden. When you get a group of dedicated, passionate gardeners together, good ideas sprout immediately. Here are some of the highlights from the 2011 Giving Gardener Gathering:
- Waste not. We talked quite a bit about gleaning surplus produce from individual garden plots, and the consensus seemed to be that patience and a light touch will get most gardeners on your side. Good communication ensures that none of that beautiful organic produce will go to waste!
- Greens are glorious. Sure, if you’re tracking pounds donated they might not weigh as much as squash, but you get many harvests from one plant, which means less time spent planting and replanting. Our gardeners recommend looking beyond kale and exploring the wonderful variety of Asian greens available.
- Make it fun. Growing, harvesting, and delivering fresh, nutritious food can be hard work. And with one in seven Washington households struggling to put food on the table, it’s incredibly important. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! P-Patchers rave about evening work parties filled with delicious food and drink, good company, and when the weather cooperates, stunning sunsets.
- Feed the soil. Okay, so maybe you didn’t fall for our April Fool’s joke about drinking compost tea. But your garden will love it! And did you know that the P-Patch office maintains an excellent list of Organic Gardening Resources and Tips, full of ideas about where to find compost, wood chips, and even elephant manure?
What was especially exiting about getting all of these giving gardeners together is that they represented the entire spectrum of experience, from new gardeners to about the greenest thumbs you can find, and they were from P-Patches that ranged from decades old to not-yet-built. Yet everyone had something to share and to learn, and thanks to a little cross-pollination, I think we’re in for a great year of growing and giving!
Want to get involved with your neighborhood’s Giving Garden? You don’t need to have a P-Patch plot to volunteer! Just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.