Desert Oasis Garden: Seeding and Construction

I have recently been working on implementing my research on small farming and plant pairing into my school’s sustainable garden. Before we started working on anything though, we needed to have the correct foundation to grow on. I worked with Ms. Dixon and my partner, Greta, to help construct a flat surface for the beds to go on. After what seemed like an eternity of shoveling and leveling out the dry, unforgiving soil, we managed to finish. The construction of the beds is absolutely essential for what we had in mind for the garden. First, the levelness means that they will be aesthetically pleasing. More than that though, the beds allow us to grow in soil that is otherwise nutrient deficient and allows us to restore the soil with organic matter. 2014-04-24 11.47.36 Image: raised bed under construction, by Greta My next project was to help seed the larger portion of the Desert Oasis Garden. Before that, organic matter (compost) was placed down on the ground in order to create a somewhat habitable place for plants to grow. Next, large objects such as rocks and plastics that had mysteriously made their way into the compost had to be cleaned up. Finally, a sprinkler was set up to irrigate, because although the garden is supposed to be sustainable, additional water is required for most of the plants. We proceeded to scatter seeds over the entire area of the garden that contained compost. Last, we raked a little to make sure the seeds were planted in the ground to grow. Even after a week, we began to see progress in the garden, and now, two weeks later there is an abundance of green that is sprouting from the ground. I have no doubt that if the plants continue to be tended to, then the garden will continue to replenish the soil and be a viable contribution to the community. 2014-04-24 11.47.39 Image: by Greta, more complete raised bed Finally, Ms. Dixon, Greta, and I planned out the garden beds and how we were going to plant the rest of the food. We ended up dividing the beds into categories based of similar care label needs. For example, we created an Herb bed, an Old World bed, and a Southwestern bed. In actuality, the plants were also grouped by which ones would need trellising or some sort of other support, and by how much water they would need. This was important because it would probably be a bad idea to plant things that needed more water such as carrots in a bed that had less irrigation lines, while planting melons in areas that had too much irrigation (over watering melons dulls their flavor). So, we proceeded with planting the chile in one of the beds with the trellising as well as the beans, since they also needed less water. We ended up planting rattlesnake pole beans, zuni beans, teparry beans, and lima beans. On the other half of the bed we planted melons and sunflowers. We strategically placed the melons at the very end of the bed, because that area received the least irrigation and would allow the melons to spill over the bed as they grew. We placed the sunflowers where the irrigation was looped in order to make sure they had the most amount of water in the bed. 2014-05-17 12.53.37 Image: by Greta, composted and seeded portion of Desert Oasis Garden Thus, while it was not always easy, I am proud to have helped work on the planning and implementation of the foundations and planting of the actual garden. I look forward to coming back in the fall and seeing the progress as well as a fresher lunch menu. More than anything though, I have found just how possible it is to incorporate sustainable growing and healthy food into an urban lifestyle. Maggie

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4 thoughts on “Desert Oasis Garden: Seeding and Construction

  1. I like how you talked about dividing the beds based on need, I think you could talk a little more about that. Also I want to know what seeds were planted in each bed, the herbs, southwest plants, and the old world plants. How did you decide to divide the beds into these three categories? Was it also because they have similar needs, or just for the sake of neat categories? Also I think you could go into more depth about how the plants are going to be used in the dining hall, such as the yield you will have, and what it will be used for (which would be aided by knowing specifically what plants you will be growing). I like the pictures dividing up the text, as well as how they are ordered and chronologic.

  2. I like how you narrated the entire experience! I especially enjoyed the paragraph where you described your thought process in seeding the beds. I would like to know, however, how you made the beds. Where did you get the wood from? What was your experience in building them?

  3. Wow. This is an interesting post. I love how you told us what happened in a step format. I also love the quality of the pictures. They really add to the post. The only thing with the pictures is that they should be captioned. Because I know what your project was and what you had to do, I understood the pictures. But for someone who does not know what your project is, the pictures might be a hinderance. Just having the captions just help clarify things just a bit more. But the ones that you captioned helped so much. This post was interesting and thorough enough that it was interesting to read. Keep up the good work.

  4. Maggie – it is not clear that you were preparing the ground for the cover crop which will be used to help improve the soil for the eventual orchard. When I first started reading, I thought you were writing about the raised bed. Need to make sure that you are defining each different garden project.

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