Cultivating the Community Garden

The NOLA Artist Incubator has been hard at work establishing a vegetable garden to grow food for the community of St Roch. We’re pleased to update you on our progress!

A total of nine beds have been assembled and placed in the garden. Currently we have planted seeds of corn, sunflowers and squash in the large bed at the back of the property (in consideration of sunlight and the shade they will cast when they grow). We have planted multiple tomato varieties in the three slimmer beds in the center and plan to add marigolds and basil as companion plants soon. One large bed at the entrance has been planted solely of pepper varieties, per community feedback and at the request of neighbors. In our other beds in the garden we have planted green onions, lettuce, turnips, lovage, chives, and celery.

In the two large beds closer to the back of the property we have planted two varieties of native muscadine grapes. A total of four Carlos Muscadine and Southland Muscadine have been planted with hopes that they will grow along the arbor. In this section we intend to a grow fruits and plan to plant strawberries in one side and watermelon in the other bed in the remaining planting areas.

We also planted two native trees, Mayhaw, to border this fruit production area. These trees thrive in the South and produce small, tart, berry-sized fruits, most commonly used for making jelly.

In three of these beds we have included worm composting bins. These are intended to add nutrients to our soil. So far we have added coffee grounds, banana peels, and torn egg cartons and shredded paper to the bottom of the bins.

We intend to add coco coir to the bins and then order our worms. No less than two hundred red wrigglers will be added to each bin in order to supply fresh worm castings to the soil and enhance productivity in these larger beds.

No onions or citrus may be added as they are harmful to the worms. We plan to focus on using only nitrogen rich food scraps as our amendments in these bins.

The tomato’s have bamboo trellises to aid in upright growth and amendments specifically for these plants have been added. A side dressing of manure, coffee grinds, and egg shells were added in all of the tomato growing beds to help the nitrogen depleting plants thrive. In addition we will not be growing tomatoes in these beds next year and plan to employ crop rotation for our next planting season. We’ll plant legumes and nitrogen enhancing plants in these beds next spring.

Neighbors are already commenting on what a wonderful transformation the new garden beds have added to our garden. They look forward to coming by with their baskets to harvest when the plants mature. The best part is the new neighbors that have been visiting from further away. We have planted the start of something that is bringing people to the garden to learn about vegetables, and we are delighted to have such a welcomed reception from the community!

This project is made possible with support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) —Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Community Resources Connection (CRC) Inc.

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