Having finally gotten the start-up gardens sown in mid July with seeds harvested from previous gardens (that were already two years old) it was a time of great anticipation to see what would come forth. The heat and rain worked together beautifully, and an amazing array of vegetables and herbs presented themselves! Tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, eggplant, yellow squash, beets, basil, oregano, dill, parsley, savory, cilantro, corn, pole beans, cucumber, beets, cauliflower, watermelon....we even had two mango trees, four lemon bushes, three orange trees and one avocado sprout!
To say we've been ecstatic is an understatement! However, the greatest joy has been sharing with others. We've been able to give an abundance of herbs and produce to food banks, neighbors and shut ins. We've even had a few share about how they were able to root our herbs and plant them successfully - what a blessing to hear! Education and duplication is a part of our vision, and even on this small scale it's happening.
Working With Wildlife
The biggest concern in getting the gardens going was the wildlife. We have deer, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, opossums, and all sorts of birds. The goal was to find a solution that would not harm the wildlife or displace them, but that would deter them from eating the garden. The netting that was used to keep out the wildlife worked perfectly and I highly recommend it. We erected some metal poles with hooks and ran the netting around the perimeter of the garden and placed some on top to keep the birds out. If you're interested, this is what was used: Garden Netting
Fortunately the spaces in the netting were big enough to allow the bees in. One bubblebee in particular seemed to be faithfully in the garden every morning when I went out to work. I would talk to him as we both carried out our duties, going from plant to plant. I fondly named him Bennie the Bee and would greet him each morning. When the cucumber plants set out flowers in abundance, I found the garden full of bees and decided to name the rest of them "The Jets", so I had Bennie and The Jets in full force!
Along with the bees, we also purchased lady bugs and praying mantis' and set them in the garden to take charge of all the little pests. The best part was actually having the lady bugs hatch new larvae. What a treat to see them reproducing right in front of us!
The greatest challenge though was actually the roly polys...and boy was it a battle. Planting from seed straight into the garden provides opportunity for them (and ants) to collect and eat the seeds. It seemed their main interest was in the spinach and lettuce and we fought for a number of weeks - my planting and them eating. Finally it was decided to do a major planting of seed so that SOMETHING would have to make it through. A row of thick seed was sown with the hopes they wouldn't take it all....and it worked!
As fall approached and weather started to cool, some of the plants rejuvenated, however, a few weeks ago the first freeze in North Carolina rolled through. It lasted for a few nights and we covered the plants and monitored closely in the event we would need to do a quick harvest. Thankfully, the garden survived and kept right on going. We even still have watermelon growing! This coming week, the lower temps will become full time and the gardens are going to be turned into a temporary greenhouse by putting plastic over the netting already in place. It will be an experiment to see if this will actually allow us to keep gardening through the winter. At this time we still have tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, beets, garlic, all the herbs, and pole beans still producing and we're going to add some more winter crops. We're also hoping that this will provide protection for the tropical trees and bushes we were able to sprout. We'll see how it goes and share our results at a later time.
While The Delsa is underway with our Building Campaign we have also been actively applying for grants. One such grant is the Annual Fundraiser/Grant that is offered by SeedMoney. They are another nonprofit that supports gardens that align with their own mission to provide food for others and/or educate on gardening. Because of the success of The Delsa's start up gardens and our larger vision, we were selected to participate in this year's event! Yay!
The event runs for 30 days - November 15th through December 15th. The Delsa has those 30 days to meet or exceed a threshold of $5000.00 in contributions. If we accomplish this, SeedMoney will provide additional grants based on various components of the fundraiser. These monies will be used to purchase a much needed shed to house tools, equipment and materials; help create the temporary greenhouse; and allow us to buy additional tools and amendments to increase our production and size next year.
Please join hands with us in meeting this goal! You are welcome to share this SeedMoney Fundraiser link with others as well. This will allow us to continue blessing others with much needed food.
From my heart to yours....