A discussion of how we can increase the security our local food supply at a time when rising fuel costs, climate change and political turmoil make it particularly vulnerable. As seen through the lens of the Imani Gardens, located at 1680 Pacific Street and 87-91 Schenectady Street.
Fall is the time we get our garden ready for the coming winter. It is the time when summer crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, okra, beans, squash and other crops that prefer warm weather are dying off and other crops that prefer cooler temperatures such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and mustard are coming into their own.
Accordingly, we spent several weekends preparing our gardens for the change in seasons. It all began in early October when we planted 7 trays of seedlings in our greenhouse, trays of lettuce, spinach, kale and mustard. In the greenhouse, temperatures got into the 90s during the day. Our passive solar system consisting of six 55 gallon drums filled with water on which the seed trays sat helped retain the heat during the nights and keep the greenhouse cooler during the days. By the end of October, we had seedlings that were a couple of inches high and ready for the rigors of the real world.
On October 18th, Guy D'Angelo, a long time garden supporter and 20+ year organic gardener from Center Moriches Long Island came to teach a class on fall crops. Guy explained the ways he developed in his garden to extend the growing season using hoop houses and proper crop selection to five eager students. The group then planted garlic bulbs in one of Imani II's 13 raised beds and sprinkled rye seeds on another bed as a cover crop. Finally we put a hoop house over a third bed already planted with spinach seedlings and a cover crop.
On October 22nd, Repair The World, a Jewish philanthropic organization, brought in high school students from a school in Fort Green for a work day. The 20 or so eager students spread a layer of wood chips over Imani I, learned the secrets of chicken husbandry with our chickens and helped fetch leaves from a nearby park for our compost pile in Imani II. All of this hard work was rewarded with a BBQ at our outdoor grill. Much fun and learning for all.
Finally on October 31st, four permaculture enthusiasts from the permaculture meetups, New York City Permaculture Meetup and Brooklyn Permaculture Meetup came for a garden tour and work day in the garden. This group stripped the remaining 10 beds of summer crops and placed the spent plants in a pile at the back of the garden for a future fungi project. We then spread a thin layer of mulch over the stripped beds and planted the 200+ seedlings from our greenhouse into the beds. Finally we sprinkled a cover crop seed mixture over the beds.
After all this hard work, Imani Garden is ready for the fall weather, coming for sure in the weeks and months ahead.
Many thanks to all for their hard work and enthusiasm!