Many lessons at the Learning Garden this season

Always, there is much learning in a garden. Many of the lessons are painfully learned the hard way. This year at the Fall City Learning Garden however, I'm happy to report that one lesson was one that came pleasurably!

Most of the Spring and early Summer Learning Garden harvest, over 60 pounds, plus 22 pounds of garlic, has so far come from only one bed, the containers, and the edges of bed #3. This area is only about 72 square feet. The Spring and early summer crops were peas, lettuce, more lettuce, kale, and radishes.

The soil was moved from our old site in the fall (we had spent so many seasons working on improving it) and then planted with cover crops. We added a small amount of compost, about a half inch, to the surface when planting, and used the cut cover crops as mulch. A teaspoon or so of organic soybean meal or composted chicken manure pellets, was added in the hole when seedlings were transplanted.

This 82 pounds of produce grown on 72 square feet, in just the early season, surprised us with its abundance. The happy lesson learned is how much can be grown in a small area! After those early crops are harvested we added a bit more compost and replanted with summer crops. So an even higher yield is expected for the whole season.

Of course, the native soil is very good, being river valley soil, and we have worked for years at stewarding the soil to maintain, and improve, its health. The garden site also has very good sun. These first few planting beds are on the south side of the Masonic Hall, which provides the them with warmth and protection. We aim to plant the right crop at the right time too, which helps with it to succeed.

A more difficult lesson was that planting so intensively (too close) made harvesting some things difficult, and some crops got shaded out by that kale as it shot up to five feet. So we did pay a small price for such an abundant harvest.