A couple of months ago in the excitement of Spring I went to the Sunshine Community Gardens annual sale. It was like I would imagine Wal-Mart at 5am the Friday after Thanksgiving, with a slightly different crowd of course. There was a line around the block to get in. Each popular vegetable had its own tent, and the tomato tent was the worst. I had an idea of what I might want, but there were varieties of tomatoes everywhere and hundreds of people picking through them. Plants were broken and toppled over, and Tara was afraid to enter. I’m amazed that I made it out with 10 good plants and no bruises. Then we went over to the peppers and eggplant tent, which was much more organized with a line to get in and a steady flow of civilized people looking for what they wanted. By then I had also obtained a list of the plants offered with descriptions. That helped a lot because by the time we got into the tent I knew what I wanted.
After my frenzied heart had settled down, we went exploring. Nancy was sitting at a table in the trailer just hanging out and we started to talk. At the time I was only reading Square Foot Gardening and was full of exciting new ideas about how my garden could produce so much. My whole plan was based only on those techniques. Nancy, being the pleasantly opinionated woman that she is, put me in my place. She has been gardening at the community gardens for 10 years. Now, I’m not sure if she has actually tried Square Foot Gardening, but she believes that for Texas at least, it might not be so practical. Nancy tried to talk me out of the idea altogether and almost had me convinced, but being the stubborn person that I am I decided to at least try it for myself. So far so good, although I do have a bit of a pest problem I need to handle at the moment. Of course Nancy predicted it, but to my defense everyone has problems with aphids and ants especially in Texas.
Since then I’ve been gardening with Nancy once a week at the gardens. They have a fairly large vegetable garden that people pitch into and all the produce goes to the Micah 6 Pantry. A couple of weeks ago we planted cucumbers and zucchini in there. Nancy also has a vegetable plot that she’s growing a number of things in. I’m quite impressed with the size of her onions, and her potatoes are growing like weeds. I can’t wait to dig them up. A few plots over Nancy has a flower garden. It will take me some time before I get down all the plant varieties. I have so much to learn about native plants and flowers. Among the seasonal poppies and larkspurs, that we’ve been slowly clearing from the gardens, are several different types of Salvia. The Salvia Purpurea in particular she says is not available in stores because it is so hard to propagate. I want to see if I can do it, but I’m sure that I will need several chippings to try it out.
For now, though, I just show up at the gardens and Nancy tells me what we are doing for the day. I almost always come home with beautifully cut flowers, new tips on how to harvest vegetables and recipes to try. Did you know that if you put the base of your lettuce in cold water immediately it will keep for days without wilting?