Saturday, January 21, 2012

The harmonious garden

At Woolly Pocket, our team took on the Norman Harriton Community Garden in Los Angeles to help build a vertical farm in a community garden using our high performance Pockets, Wally Fives. Now, the garden has the ability to grow over double the amount of plants on the same plot of land while saving half the amount of water. How sweet is that?

Wooly Pocket!
Soil of Prosperity is a small-scale farming experience that educates the city's kids about the history of the area. The program provides students with a foundation for careers in agricultural production, financing, processing, marketing, distribution and other related careers.

Leondre Camel, program manager of the Belle Glade YEC, praised the City of Belle Glade, U.S. Sugar and the Sugar Cane Growers Co-op for their support of SOP. He said that two key volunteers came from the Everglades Research Station of the University of Florida's Institute for Food and Agricultural Science . "Norman Harrison and Barbara Saddler of IFAS have tremendously helped over the year," Camel said. "They have been instructors, workers and visionaries. I take my hat off to them."

Soil of Prosperity grew from a partnership among the City of Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee Regional Initiative, UFIFAS and Palm Beach County. The Regional Initiative is an economic partnership between the Collins Center for Public Policy and the South Florida Water Management District. has the following:

The quick and easy guide to getting started:

1. Stop applying all pesticides, fungicides, weed killers and sprays in and around your entire garden. No exceptions.

2. Start small, 25 square feet for example. Find the spot that ideally has sun all year in your yard. If it's shaded part of the year, that's OK too. Avoid the area next to buildings or fences because of possible contamination of the soil by paint, heavy metals or chemicals.

3. Remove whatever debris is covering the soil including rocks larger than a fingernail. If plants already grow there that you want somewhere else, dig them out with the shovel and plant them in the new location.

4. Cover your gardening area with organic material such as leaves, dried grass and fine plant material from your own or other's non-pesticide sprayed gardens.

5. Get a bucketful of good compost from someone else's garden or crumbly black sweet-smelling soil from under forest trees. Spread this thinly all over your garden. You will be inoculating your soil with all manner of soil organisms, little bugs, worms and other beneficial life forms that are going to do most of the work for you in improving your soil.

6. Use the pick or shovel to mix the top 3 inches of soil and organic material. Burying the organic material any deeper just kills the critters and wastes your energy because there may not be enough oxygen for them further down.

7. Keep the soil damp like a wrung out sponge, not soggy. Once again, you need air in the soil for life.

8. Never walk on your soil. Make a kneeling board out of a small piece of scrap plywood to avoid compacting the soil and use an old cushion to save your knees. Create the minimum width paths to be able to reach across a four foot wide bed from both sides.

9. Obtain vegetables in 4" square pots, a common size, or get plants from friends. Dig a hole slightly larger than the rootball, squeeze the sides of the pot to unstick the plant, moisten the rootball, fluff it's roots sideways and plant it. Mulch around it on the surface with organic material like leaves or straw to keep the soil moist underneath it. Water the root ball with a slow drip such as a bucket with a nail hole to allow air to be pulled down after the water.

10. Start your own compost heap in a corner of the garden. Skip the gimmicks, tumblers, boxes and devices. Just heap up all the clean organic material that you can get and mix it up occasionally, keeping it as moist as a wrung out sponge. Apply the compost periodically to the soil around your plants as a light dusting or use it to start your own seeds in a 50/50 mix of native soil and compost.
First and most obviously, you have to create a garden somewhere in your yard. This will involve clearing some space that is perhaps being used by something else in your yard, so if you have to get rid of a rock garden or move your kids’ playset, then that’s what you’ll have to do. You can’t get very far if you don’t turn up some soil and create some space, right? It’s usually a good idea to box in your garden with some kind of barrier, such as large blocks of wood or some kind of fence. This is to not only keep animals and other pests out, but also to help you have a designated space where you’ll grow your own vegetables.

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