Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Ways of Looking

The garden is done for the season. Last week, I stopped by to look at the few scraggly bean plants on the fence and spied a few bean pods still hanging on. Surprisingly, they were still green. A woman from the nearby apartment complex came up the sidewalk as I was picking, and said, "How do you see those? I walk right by and see the plants, but I don't see anything to pick."

And that's the fun thing about having a garden. You learn to look at the world in new ways. Experience with plants and growing things makes a gardener look at a big mass of green leafy vines entirely differently from someone who isn't a grower. And I still consider my self a beginner-intermediate gardener. I like going into gardens with the real experts. Their eyes are fully trained to spot problems and opportunities, where I still see almost nothing.

One thing I like about the 200 Foot Garden is that it's a way to impact a whole lot of people who are walking past the garden, who before might not have looked twice at plants growing on a fence, but over the course of this year, and our future years, they'll learn to see in entirely new ways. They'll learn to spot the beans and cucumbers, they'll know when the garden needs rain, they'll pay attention to the seedlings starting to climb up the fence. And their relationship to the world and the earth will change, ever so slightly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Still Blooming

The growing season is really pretty much over. Today it's cold and gloomy outside. I walked past the garden on the way to the T, and the few bean plants left on the fence, though still green, look forlorn. Still, on one Scarlett Runner plant a few orange blossoms waved in the breeze, a wispy denial of the oncoming winter.

Very soon, it will be time to start getting serious about planning for next year. (And we need to add compost and mulch to the garden in the next few weeks.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Urban Homesteaders League Meetup

Tracy and I attended a Meetup of the Urban Homesteader's League today in Cambridge, organized by Lisa Gross. We met a lot of very interesting people (including folks with real farm experience and lots of garden experience), and also had a chance to learn about Lasagna Mulch, helped build some raised beds (which housed said mulch), and also helped build a tiny hoop-house for a 4x6 raised bed. (Tracy wrote about the projects in more detail at Beyond Dinner.)

I'm sure some of these techniques will come in handy in the future in several of our garden projects, including the 200 Foot Garden. I'm hoping that we'll have a Urban Homesteaders Meetup in the spring at the 200 Foot Garden to show off our project and share some of what we've been learning about vertical and commuter gardens.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Clean Up Day

We had a successful fall clean up at the garden yesterday, with me, Tracy, Sarah, and Alexis all pitching in. Four pairs of hands made the work go by quickly--we pulled vines off the fence, raked leaves, picked up a little trash, and filled four big paper yard waste bags. Yvonne stopped by and said we could dump them in her compost bin a few blocks away, so I used my granny cart to ferry the bags over once we were done (and the Patriots were done with Tampa).

One pleasant surprise--we found two large cucumbers and two smaller ones buried under the leaves along the fence. There were also at least a pound of green beans to be picked (we had our share for dinner last night).

We pulled all the spent vines, but decided to leave a few of the greenest pole bean plants still attached. It just seemed a shame to pull them while they're still alive and kicking, and they provided a luscious contrast to the vibrant yellow maple trees dotting parking lot by the fence. In a few weeks, they'll die back and we'll go back and pull them out. We left the signs on the fence for now, but we need to print some new ones that will be more appropriate for the winter months. Next year, the new planting scheme of doing ten-foot blocks of the same plant along the fence should make clean-up a lot easier.

We had several people stop by and thank us for the garden (one woman went away with a cucumber and a handful of beans). We made sure to mention that we could use more help next year--I hope they'll follow up.

It was a perfect day to spend outside and a great reminder of why this whole project is worth doing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Work Day on Sunday, October 25

We're planning to have a work day on Sunday, October 25, starting at 11am. It'll be time to clean up most of the vines from the fence and rake up leaves and pick up trash. Shouldn't be too tough. There's a chance we might have some bags of compost to add to the soil, but I'm not sure we'll have the resources to get them in time.

If you're in Brookline and want to meet some fellow gardeners and help with the project (and chat), please come on by. (99 Kent Street)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Green Brookline Expo, 11am-3pm, Oct 18

I'll be at the Green Brookline Expo at Brookline High School tomorrow from 12:30-3pm, helping staff a table for Bountiful Brookline, and also there to talk to anyone who's interested in the 200 Foot Garden project (trying to recruit more helpers for next year). If you're at the Expo, I hope you'll stop by and say Hello.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cool Nights

The cool nights seem to have put an end to any thought of additional squash, but there are still cucumbers on the vines. I counted at least five, though I suspect they'll be growing very slowly. There are still lots of green cherry tomatoes (can they be fried?) and plenty of pole beans that need picking. The rain this weekend was helpful, and we're expecting more tomorrow. I was actually surprised that the vines still look as good as they do, despite the chilly weather. We'll probably see the first frost in another week or so, which means it'll be time to clean up the die-back soon. For now, I'm enjoying the green we've still got.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

beans, beans, beans

Last Friday, I picked and gave away four bags of beans, which was fun, as well as a few cucumbers. This week, I've been crazy busy and haven't had a chance visit very often. I know the beans need picking and there are a few cukes almost ready. The weather's gotten cold enough now that I don't think we'll see any more squash.

I had my first negative comment about the garden last week, when I was picking beans. An older Russian woman came up to me and said (in a heavy accent), "I hope you're not going to eat those."

me: "Well, maybe. Or else I'll give them away."

The woman went on to say that it wasn't healthy for me to eat these vegetables because it's close to the street and that heavy metals from the cars get in the veggies. I tried to reassure her that we'd had the soil tested and that the plants are safe. She continued to press: "What sort of degree do you have?" I told her that I was trained as an engineer, but that I have a degree in humanities.

"Vat kind of degree?" she demanded. "Bachelors? Masters?"

"Just a bachelor's degree, from MIT."

"I have two masters degrees," she claimed. "In engineering."

I told her that I disagreed with her assertions. She said she liked the garden, that it was beautiful, but that she didn't want me eating the food. I told her to show me some studies proving that the plants were taking up harmful amounts of heavy metals, and I'd believe her. She walked away, muttering about how crazy I am.

So, does she have a point? I don't think so. The soil tested clean. The air is the same air she's breathing in her apartment. The street sees traffic, but not huge congestion, and the garden isn't right up against the street--there's a sidewalk and a whole parking lane between the plants and traffic. She's probably more in danger from directly breathing the car exhaust than from eating plants from the 200 Foot Garden. And even if it was possible for them to take in metals from the exhaust, no one eating from the garden consumes more than a handful of produce from it. Not enough to even fill your belly, let alone kill you.

Oh, well. You can't please everyone. Interesting.

On the same day, however, another old Russian lady was going on about the garden as I showed her the plants and the veggies. "I was thinking about moving away," she told me, waving at our project, "but now I'm going to stay."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Still Going Strong

I watered again today and could probably stand to do it again very, very soon. We continue to be short on rain. It's been so dry these past four weeks. Earlier in the week, we trimmed off some of the old leaves reduced to crispy-yuckiness by powdery mildew and drought, but most of the plants are still growing strong. Gave away four cucumbers this morning and ate a couple green beans (along with my friend Jessica, from NYC, who also enjoyed a cucumber). I need to get back to pick beans very soon before they get too big. There are still quite a few green cukes on the fence, and I also found a small tatume squash and a tiny lemon apple cucumber. As long as the weather stays moderate, we'll continue to have a lot of cukes growing and getting picked. If we get lucky, we might get some rain on Sunday, which will do the most towards keeping us going for another few weeks.

On Sunday, Tracy and I are off to visit a real farm near Amherst, MA, that's growing grain and beans. We're supposed to help sew grain bags. I'm eager to see the farm and talk to the farmers about how they get it all done.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Picking Beans

The rain this past Saturday was a huge help to the garden. Today, I went by to water (no rain in the forecast for a while to come) and there are plenty more cucumbers growing. I also picked three small ziploc bags of green beans and gave away two. I left one bag on the fence--I hope someone took it.

Yesterday, I was making dinner and needed a cucumber, so Noah and I ran over to the garden, and I picked two small green cukes and one small lemon apple cucumber. I also gave away another cucumber and some beans. In talking to people around the garden over the past few days, I have a sense that a lot more people are now picking vegetables than I thought. There are very few squash left at the moment, though there were a bunch growing last week. I'm glad that folks are feeling comfortable picking now.

We're losing more plants to powdery mildew right now. This is a common problem in all gardens, especially at the end of the summer, start of autumn.

We were pretty lucky when it came to insect pests this year. My theory is that we had very few beetle or aphid problems because this spot hasn't been a vegetable garden before. The cucumber plants in the 200 Foot Garden are huge and vigorous compared to what we had in our Roxbury community garden plot, where we had a problem with cucumber beetles. The powdery mildew will take a few more plants, but hopefully it won't have too severe of an impact. (I need to get over there with a bag and pick off the diseased leaves ASAP, but am having trouble finding the time.)

Our green bean production is low at the 200 foot garden, but I'm not sure why. It may just be because with the alternating planting that I did, the cukes and squash take up a lot of space and crowd out the beans. Next year, I plan to plant in a different scheme, with 10-foot blocks of single crops. For the beans, this should be a big help. In our Roxbury plot, we've been picking 2-3 pounds of beans (Blue Lake pole beans) twice a week, from 8 square feet of beans. And that's been going on for more than a month now. Next year, I'd love to have that sort of production from the 200 foot garden.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Do A Rain Dance

Looks like the rain got pushed back to Friday night/Saturday morning. I sure hope it gets here. This is my favorite time of year, but sometimes we get these stretches of extended dry weather that are torture on the garden. I watered again yesterday, but I know I can only get the plants just enough water to survive, not really to make progress on making those vegetables grow larger. We desperately need a good soaker. We haven't had rain since Saturday, August 29th (that's 12 days of no rain for those of you who are counting).

My neighbor Maeve helped me water a bit yesterday (and was rewarded with a cucumber for her efforts). And I picked a handful of green beans. As always, people said hello and thanks--one woman said it really brightens up her commute every day. There are at least half a dozen tatume squash almost ready to pick. The cucumbers are growing very slowly now, with the cooler, very dry weather. I did see a few lemon apple cucumbers trying to get started, so maybe the weekend's rain will give them a boost.

Monday, September 7, 2009

More Watering and Picking (my first lemon apple cucumber)

Tracy and I watered on Saturday morning and the soil looked pretty dry, though the plants seemed to be thriving. The big lemon apple cucumber I'd had my eye on was gone--someone found it before I could get to it. But we did pick a small one on Saturday and ate it--even though it looked like a cross between a lemon and an apple, it pretty much tasted just like a cucumber ( a very good one). The lemon apple cucumbers do not seem to be thriving--I don't know if many of the initial plants survived the rabbits.

We gave away one or two more cucumbers, plus a handful of green beans, and we brought home a small tatume squash to have in our dinner.

We passed by the garden on our way home from the Harbor Islands on Sunday (where we had fantasized about having a big garden on top of the North Drumlin on Spectacle Island--it'd be the garden with the best view in Boston). Some of the vines appeared damaged, either through vandalism or rough handling (my suspicion tends to go with rough handling--it takes a lot of searching through the vines and leaves to find the veggies, and if you're rough, it's easy to pinch or break a vine). Also, the powdery mildew took out a plant or two.

I went back and watered again on Sunday, because it all looked so dry (this definitely gives me a solid workout, hauling all the water by hand a couple hundred feet). I gave away a big tatume squash to an elderly woman who lives in the main building, plus cucumbers to a grandmother walking with her small grandkids. Basically, if someone comes and talks to me while I'm working, I try to make an effort to get them something from the garden (that's half the fun, actually).

I really don't have a good idea of how many vegetables we're producing, because I don't know how much people are picking when we're not around. I don't think they pick much (there hasn't been a lot for them to take yet, though I know folks aren't shy about picking the cherry tomatoes), but they definitely pick some. Working with this garden is a challenge to my inner control freak, because people pick stuff when I'm not there--so I can't count it, I can't make sure they're being careful, I can't try to make sure it goes to people who really appreciate it, and I can't make sure people don't take too much. I just have to let it go and relax. I'm getting there, though it's taking some practice.

We're A Go for 2010

I had a meeting with Donna the property manager for 99 Kent Street on Thursday, and she agreed that we can continue to garden the strip of ground again next year. In addition to growing a vertical garden, we're also going to put in another row of plants closer to the sidewalk. She'd like to see some herbs in there, especially perennials like lavender and rosemary. I'd like to put in some colorful peppers and eggplant and other veggies that say "pick me."

Once the current growing season is over, in addition to working on the soil, I also need to sit down and work out a budget for all these additional plants, and also figure out how many volunteers we'll need to make it all happen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lemon Apple Cukes growing and I picked our first Tatume Squash!

After being away for the weekend, I finally got down to the garden to water and weave today (I take wayward vines and thread them through the fence). I also had a chance to poke around through the plants and see what's there. I picked two large cucumbers and a few small ones--I gave all but one of them away (I kept one of the big ones for dinner tomorrow) to folks who stopped to talk with me about the garden. We should have a lot more cucumbers by the end of next week.

I did find one lemon apple cucumber that's not quite ready yet, but maybe in a few more days. I can't wait to see what they taste like.

The beans aren't ready yet, but soon. I did pick and eat two beans, but that's about it.

Most exciting was that I picked the first tatume squash. It was probably about five inches across and looked a lot like a round zucchini. We had it for dinner, with basil, lemon, and Parmesan cheese over pasta, and it tastes just like zucchini, too. Great stuff. There are quite a few growing on the vines now, and with any luck we'll be giving them away by the end of next week (or sooner).

One big question is how much people will be willing to pick through the vines to find the produce. Right now, everything is pretty close to the ground and hidden under large leaves. You really have to search if you want to find anything. My hope is that soon we'll have more vegetables growing higher up on the fence where they're more visible, so people will take them.

I'm also not sure how this will work with green beans. Will people take just one or two? Or will they come back and pick enough to help make a meal (which would make the most sense)? I might put a basket out and put already picked beans (and other stuff) in there, if it seems that people aren't taking it.

The transformation of the garden has been pretty incredible over just the past few weeks. This is what it looked like on August 11 and what it looks like now:

I need to reattach all of our signs. They must have blown down in the big storm on Saturday. Someone was kind enough to wedge them into the fence, but I need to attach them more permanently (and maybe make a couple new ones).

Today the weather was perfect to just hang out and water and chat with passersby. A perfect way to spend part of the afternoon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Cukes

While watering with Yvonne yesterday, we gave away two more cucumbers--one to Dorothy, who helped us plant the garden in July, and another to a family whose kids go to the same school as my kids. There are a few squash and lemon apple cucumbers starting to show fruit now, though they're still very small. We talked with lots of passersby about the project.

Looks like we're supposed to get a tropical storm this weekend, so nature will handle the watering while I'm out of town.

Next week I have a meeting with Donna, the property manager, to talk more about next year and what sort of things we might plant. Once I know what's permissible, I also need to give some thought to how much labor all of this will require and try assess how many volunteers we'll need (and if we can get enough). There's lots of additional potential for this little spot of ground.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Give-Away

This morning Noah and I were over at the garden taking photos, when a dad and his two daughters, Hannah and Julia, walked up and told me how much they enjoyed the garden. They've been closely watching the progress of the plants (and the dad said he's going to try to get the girls to join him in a little weeding). I told them a bit about what we're growing and hunted around under the leaves for a cucumber. I found a pretty good-sized one and gave it to them. They were delighted, and I was glad to find something readily available to share.

The whole fence row is full of blossoms, and we'll have plenty for passersby.

Friday, August 21, 2009

First Cucumber

The garden is continuing to thrive. There are tons of bean, cucumber, and squash blossoms. Tons of tiny little cucumbers are starting to grow. And even a few round fruit--either Tatume Squash or Lemon Apple Cucumbers--are starting to from. In poking through the leaves, I found one cucumber that was a few inches long and ready to pick. So I did. (And it was delicious.)

I'm not counting on harvesting much for our family out of the 200 Foot Garden. The idea is share all of this with everyone. But I won't complain if we do end up getting a few things to taste (and cook).

I need to look for a basket to attach to the fence for excess vegetables that should be picked but we still want to share with passersby. Though I'd prefer for people to pick their own. Part of the fun of a garden like this searching through the wide leaves of these plants and finding a surprise.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Work Night and Mystery Manure

Last night we had a brief work sessions. Besides me, we had Luralee, Jose Pablo, Yvonne, and Ilana. Thanks very much to all of them for helping weed and water. We ran out of daylight, so we didn't get to finish all of the weeding, but we got off to a good start.

There were also three half-full 40lb bags of composted cow manure waiting for us. I'm not sure who they were from, but thanks! I laid the organic matter down as top dressing at the start and end of the garden, where the plants are having the most trouble. We finally got about 15 minutes of heavy rain today, so that'll help work the nutrients into the soil (and give us all a day off from watering).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Work Night Tonight--7pm

Tonight (Wednesday) we're meeting at 7pm to weed and water as a group. Anyone interested is welcome to show up. I think with even a small core of volunteers, it'll go quickly.

With the current heat wave, we've been watering at least once a day, and that seems to have helped. The heat is supposed to last for a few more days. Even tonight at 7pm, it'll still be hot. Still, as long as they're not drying out, the plants are happy with the heat.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Our First Donation!

The little donation button on our blog (look to the right) actually works. Last night we got our first donation from Robert Jay Kaufman, who was walking by and was impressed with what we've been doing. Robert is a fellow author, and a guy who actually wrote a whole book about coming across things while walking around neighborhoods. At Turning Corners Press, he publishes his book Blockology, an offbeat walking guide to lower Manhattan (he's walked every single block below 14th Street).

Thanks, Robert! (It's all going into the fall soil amendment fund. Think compost and mulch.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes, We Have Sharing (of Tomatoes)

The 200 Foot Garden has shared its first vegetables already! I got this e-mail today from a woman who stopped by the garden with her ten-year-old daughter.

I read the Tab article a few weeks ago and my daughter and I have driven past a few times on our way home.

Sunday, we went for a bike ride and she was excited to be able to stop and check out each plant! She picked 2 red tomatoes (well, almost red, but they ripened a few days later!) and tried her best to re tie the tomato plant and get it through the fence as it was sagging a bit!

Thanks for the interactive garden and we look forward to checking it out some more this summer!


One thing I like about this project is the way it can involve young gardeners in a low-key way. I'm thrilled that we're already sharing garden produce with people passing by as part of their normal day. (Thanks to Cathy Neal of Bountiful Brookline for donating those tomato plants on our planting day.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back in Brookline--the garden is thriving

We're back after our long summer vacation (we didn't do any gardening while on our trip, but did get to a farmer's market and an alpaca ranch in Estes Park, Colorado). I checked out the garden yesterday--it looks great! Thanks very much to Yvonne, Alexis, Caroline, Shelly, Sarah, Maeve, and perhaps a few others, who all helped weed and water while we were gone.

Despite our fairly poor soil quality, the heat and careful watering have helped the plants grow well. The cucumbers, especially the Marketmore 76, are already flowering. Some of the pole beans have reached the top of the fence, and the Tatume squash have leafed out nicely. I think we'll have cucumbers in just about two weeks. We'll see how the rest of the plants perform. If the weather continues to cooperate, I think it'll turn out well.

We're seeing a few weeds sprouting, since the mulch we have isn't very thick, but it's nothing a few hands can't handle in 30-60 minutes.

I watered yesterday, with bucket and watering can. Doing it by hand makes it easier for passersby to approach me with questions or comments. People are still extremely enthusiastic, about both the concept and the aesthetic transformation that's already occurring on this piece of ground. It'll be even prettier once we see more blossoms all along the fence line. Last night's rain provided a good soaking that will really help boost things along when the hot, sunny weather returns.

(on the right above, you can see the Tatume Squash has large leaves after just 3 1/2 weeks in the ground and is starting to vine into fence.)

And here is a cucumber starting to bloom. I think it looks healthier than my cucumber plants in our community garden plot, which had some beetle problems.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rabbits. And off on vacation.

It was hot here today and it's been two days without rain, so I got some water on the garden. Most of the plants look pretty good, but many of the very newest bean seedlings are now missing their leaves. The stems are still there, but the cotyledons and freshest leaves are gone. I suspect rabbits or other rodents. Luckily they've left the more mature plants alone. And they don't seem interested in cucumber seedlings either.

We're about to head out of town on vacation for almost two weeks. Luckily, we've got volunteers lined up to handle the watering while we're gone. I'm not sure how much rain we'll have--the forecast looks a bit on the dry side (just scattered thunderstorms, and those too unreliable to count on for young plants).

I'll very much miss the gardens while we're gone. But the one good thing about going away in the summer is that when you get back, the plants have jumped ahead with new growth. I'm very curious to see what the garden looks like when we return.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Inspiration: The Urban Homestead by Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne

A lot of people ask where we got the idea for the 200 Foot Garden. It came from a number of sources--lots of time working in community gardens, writing about them and their issues (including in my short play, Pumpkin Patch). Plus we've been reading a ton of books on agriculture, food, and farming (and really like Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin).

Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne's book, The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City, came just at the right time for us. As we read it this spring, its section on guerrilla gardening really got us thinking. That's when I saw the spot for the 200 Foot Garden. They also publish a terrific blog, Homegrown Evolution, on urban agriculture and homesteading. (And they even posted the story and video about our garden.) The book is one that we first got from the public library, but then decided we needed to own a copy. The blog is both fun and interesting (I like the post with the chicken coop made of IKEA parts). The post that mentioned our garden generated a whole discussion about Scarlet Runner pole beans--and I learned that the blossoms are edible! I can't wait until we have some.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Budget and funding

At the moment, this is still a very small-scale project. As I mentioned in an early post, I received hundred bucks on Father's Day that I decided to put towards this project. We've gone through that cash, plus a little bit more. We've spent a little more than $160 so far, which includes signage ($16 just on laminating), seeds, pots and potting soil, soil testing. We were able to get compost donated and the lime at a discount. Volunteers have been extremely generous about sharing their tools, wagons, and supplies (and even tomato plants).

One of the best things about gardening is that it can be low-cost, and if the budget for this project stays small, it will be easier to replicate and modify for other venues and sites.

While I was at the garden today, a woman asked if she could donate to the cause. I'd been considering adding a "donate" button to this blog, in case people are interested. She said she could give me cash right there, which caught me by surprise (and explains why I'll never be rich... a sensible person would just have said, "sure" but I just stumbled around and said, "well, if you go to the web site, there will be something there...").

As this project expands, and I hope it will, we will have the need to spend more for plants and seeds, tools, mulch, additional soil testing, and soil amendments. So, for now, I've added a "donate" button to this blog, where people who are interested can contribute money towards the project. (And next time someone offers me money on the street, I'll be sure to take it and put it in my "saving for seeds" jar).

Small Work Day

We did just a little bit of work this morning--weeding, staking tomatoes, and replacing damaged signs. There were five of us--me, Tracy, Yvonne, Ilana, and Lura Lee, which was plenty of hands for the work that needed to be done. Next year, if we grow a lot more plants, or we extend the garden (all the way to the T would be interesting, and would make for a VERY long garden, with lots of different challenges), we'll need more people. But for now, a few hands at a time does great.

(Noah, with Yvonne and Ilana pulling weeds, and Tracy fixing signs.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

mini-work day on Sunday 10 a.m.

We're going to have a mini-work day tomorrow (Sunday) at 10 a.m. If you want to help out or just want to talk to us about plans for the garden, please come on by.

There won't be much to do--a tiny of bit of weeding, maybe some watering, lots of admiring seedlings and plants, put new signs up, and chat. I'm sure we'll be there less than an hour.

Walked by the garden at lunchtime today everything looked good. A couple new lemon apple cucumber seeds have sprouted. I don't think any of the Tatume squash are up yet, but I'm not sure.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Beans Have Sprouted

We had extremely hard rain last night and this morning, enough to flood parts of the Muddy River near our house. Our 200 Foot Garden is on high ground, but I did wonder if how our plants would handle the deluge.

I checked them out around noon, just as the rain stopped and it looks like they all made it through pretty well. Some of the cucumber plants look a little beaten up, but they'll recover. The mulch made a huge difference in terms of keeping the soil in place.

And, even better, a whole lot of the bean seeds have sprouted. I'd realized late last night that I didn't check to make sure that the new mulch wasn't too heavily covering the seeds we planted. The beans are strong enough to push through, but I went along pulled back some of the mulch so the less muscular cucumber seedlings will be able to push their way through. It looks like both Scarlet Runner and Kentucky Wonder seeds have sprouted. If we can get a few warm days with sun, they'll be catching up the the plants we put in no time.

(you can just barely see the new sprouts to the left of the bean plant)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

200 Foot Garden Video (from the Brookline TAB)

The Brookline TAB story also has a video from our planting day. Check it out:

200 Foot Garden in the news

Yep, we actually made the papers this morning. The Brookline TAB came out did gave us a full-page spread on the cover of the Brookline Life section. The story, entitled The Skinniest Farm in Brookline, does a great job of capturing the project and our planting day, and also had some terrific pictures. I'm glad more people will learn about this (and maybe we'll plant some seeds for future projects, too).

Yes, We Have Mulch

I found a big surprise on the garden this today on my daily early morning walk. Mulch!

I'd talked briefly with Donna, the property manager at 99 Kent Street, about possibly adding mulch, and she'd said that they might have some in piles somewhere. Apparently yesterday, she had her landscape crew lay it out along the entire garden for us. It's just what we needed to keep down the weeds and keep the soil from running away in the thunderstorms scheduled for tonight and today. Plus it looks nice, too. Not to mention that they were very careful in placing the mulch--not a single plant on the entire stretch was damaged.

So a big thanks to Donna and her crew!
(Here's a picture of the mulch, my son Noah, and our dog Comet)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Starting to climb

I did my daily 7 a.m. check on the garden this morning. Some of the pole beans are starting to wrap themselves around the fence (some with a little help, but mostly on their own).

Unfortunately, the great signs that Kate Rhodes decorated from us were damaged by the rain. We laminated them, but also punched holes to attach them onto the fence. Lesson learned. We'll have to find a different way to attach them. Luckily, I scanned the decorated versions into our computer before hanging them, so I should be able to reprint them using our color laser printer. The signs definitely work--I saw people reading them (what's left of them) this morning while I was doing my check-in.

Also, I realized (thanks to careful fact-checking from Neal, an editor and reporter at the TAB) that I've been citing the wrong name for the standard cucumbers. They're not Market 87, instead they're Marketmore 76 cucumbers. Somehow my brain played around with the numbers and name. I bought these seeds from High Mowing Seeds.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Perfect Weather (for plants)

Today we had a full-day rainy soaker. Maybe not ideal for playing with the kids outside, but it was just what our plants needed--some deep watering for them to start settling in and extending those roots. And it'll be a big help to get all the seeds we planted full soaked. I stopped by the garden early this morning, and everything looked good and the soil hadn't washed away. Looks like we lost one Tatume seedling to stem breakage, but that's going to happen. I did see a rabbit on the other side of the fence, down the hill a bit. I hope he doesn't decide to wriggle under the fence and take a taste of our crop.

Tomorrow should be mostly sunny and warm--a good cycle for us. And no need to water tomorrow, after all the rain today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Plants Have Made It So Far

I watered the plants this morning around 9 a.m., and it looked like everything made it through the night. Even the tomatoes look like they might survive (barely).

I was able to water the entire strip with just a watering can and bucket. It took me four trips to the spigot, which was a workout, but not too bad. We might bring in some hoses (on a wagon), for other watering days. We'll have to see.

Now that everything has settled in a bit, and I had a chance to water, I can see that the soil is pretty fine (friable) without much organic matter in it, which means that when it starts to rain, we'll lose a lot of soil due to runoff. Mulch is the best way to solve this, and I've talked to the property manager--she said they might already have a mulch pile on the property that we can use, which would make life easier. If not, we might need to arrange to buy some in the next few days.

The weather forecast is for rain all day tomorrow, with thunderstorms the rest of the week. The plants will be glad for the water, but hopefully everything won't wash away before we get the mulch in.

By the end of the week, we'll need to have some sort of watering and work schedule put in place.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We Did It--Planting Day was a Hit

I'm sure there are quite a few sore backs and hands in our neighborhood tonight, but we did manage to get the 200 Foot Garden planted today.

The weather was perfect--sunny and 70s. I was out there a little before 8am, trying to get a head start on hacking out (with the hoe) the grass and weeds that covered the strip of ground we needed to plant. It wasn't long before everyone else started to arrive, and we set up a system. I continued doing the large-scale hacking and whacking (and so did Cathy Neal), and the rest of the folks worked on doing two passes to remove the weeds and shake all the dirt from the roots and bag everything up.
(Dorothy and Yvonne picking out the weeds and grass)

It took us about 2 1/2 hours, but we finally got everything pulled out and the soil cultivated such that we could plant. Cathy Neal of Bountiful Brookline brought 8 bags of compost donated from Allandale Farm, along with two bags of lime to help amend the soil. The soil needs a lot of organic matter (we hardly saw any earthworms), so next year we'll want to add even more compost.

By 10:30, the sun was hot and we were glad for the ice water that we brought and the mint ice tea that Lura Lee, our backyard neighbor, shared with everyone.

(Cathy, Sarah and Kira)

At 7 this morning, I was busily typing up the planting map that Tracy and I worked out last night (while waiting for Harry Potter to start). The map/plant list helped us make sure that we got all the plants evenly spaced across the garden, and so that we end up (we hope) with a more interesting visual pattern. To make it a little more manageable, we broke the garden into a pattern based on 20-foot sections. (Oh, one surprise--the garden is actually 180 feet long, not 200, but don't tell anyone. A little hyperbole isn't a bad thing in gardening.)

(plants waiting patiently)

Tracy and I used the map to lay out all the potted plants, and then everyone else went straight to work getting plants in the ground. It helped to have so many experienced gardeners there, who could help out with advice if folks needed it. Once the plants were set, we went back and filled in with remaining seeds (this took a while). While Sarah and I planted seeds, everyone else watered (very hard work) and cleaned up.

Lots of people stopped by to ask what we were doing, including many residents of the nearby apartment complex, who were delighted with the idea of the project. The steady stream of appreciation for our work made it all seem even more worthwhile. The signs that Kate Rhodes made will keep people up-to-date even when we're not around.

Everyone who worked today was extremely generous with their time, energy, and tools. The one photo I wish I had (but missed) was when Tracy arrived with all the kids in a parade of wagons and tricycles, carrying all the seedlings--thanks to Noah, Bobby, Caroline, Quilon, and Benjamin for being our young helpers today. Our more mature workers today included Tracy, Kira, Sarah, Louise, Cathy, Roberta, Lura Lee, Jose Pablo, Maeve, Yvonne, Dorothy, and Leslee. Having a dozen adults there working made it possible for us to get this whole garden in the ground in about 4 1/2 hours.

(we filled the sidewalk with a dozen workers)

The Brookline TAB (our local paper) also showed up--Neal conducted a few interviews, and Dave was there taking photos. With any luck, some info will appear in Thursday's paper.

The day felt like a tremendous success all around. The plants got in the ground, we got to know our neighbors better, and there was plenty of exercise in the sunshine.

We have a few challenges ahead--mostly around finding ways to keep these plants watered and thriving. We also need to find ways to organize more work and watering days, perhaps setting up some sort of schedule.

Right now, we need to let our muscles recover and try to be patient while these young plants try to take root.

(Tracy does a final bit of watering)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tomorrow We Dig

Tomorrow, from 8am - 12 pm, we'll be pulling weeds and putting in the vegetable seedlings. I think we should have at least 6 people there working, maybe a bit more. We've got a rough plan that should help things move smoothly, and I've worked up a planting map, so we know what needs to be planted more.

It'll take a while to hack out the weeds in 200 feet of garden, but with enough hands it'll go quickly (I hope). We have 90 plants to get in the ground:
10 Tatume Squash
23 Blue Lake Pole Beans
5 Scarlet Runner Pole Beans
8 Lemon Apple Cucumbers
38 Market 87 Cucumbers
6 Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans

plus we'll plant an additional 100-150 seeds, to fill in.

The weather should be good, so that's a plus. We've got signs (thanks to the fabulous Kate Rhodes and her cousin), and I know the water works (though we have to haul it, one watering can at a time at the moment).

There will be some surprises, I'm sure. We'll see what they are tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Fence is Complete

The new fence is all done and it looks great. It's not as tall as I thought it'd be--it's just standard height. The poles I saw yesterday must have been cut down. Moving the fence back to the retaining wall changes the whole sidewalk experience, very much for the better. It also really, really wants me to be able to plant the entire strip of ground, not just along the fence. Cathy Neal of Bountiful Brookline thought an herb garden would be a good idea, and I completely agree. It'd smell great and be a great sensory addition to what we're doing. Maybe I'll be able to sell the property management on the idea of a perennial herb garden (rosemary, lavender, creeping thyme, sage, and more). Still, one thing at a time--we need to get the vertical garden planted first.

After walking the site this morning, my original idea of just hacking out the weeds in spots where we were planting doesn't seem quite so smart anymore. I think we'll need to clear the at least the fence half of the entire strip on Sunday--so 200 ft x 1 ft. We'd better make sure we bring lots of hoes and shovels and strong arms.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Plans Coming Together: Planting This Sunday

We're starting to put the plans together for planting this weekend. Looks like we'll put stuff in the ground (and take a bunch out of the ground) Sunday morning, from 8am--noon. I should have at least half a dozen folks out there to help (if you're in Brookline and want to see what's going on (or want to help), come on down). We're right near 99 Kent Street.

Cathy Neal from Bountiful Brookline called and offered to pick up some donated compost from Allandale Farms and also pick up some of the dolomitic limestone that we need to improve the soil. (Thanks, Cathy!)

It's starting to feel like this might actually happen.

Soaking up the Sun

We had a nice sunny day today, which was good news for the plants I've started. My backyard neighbor let me put the pots out in her parking area/patio, so they could get a little extra sun (they don't get much on my back porch). I've got about 40 cucumbers and 25 pole beans raring to go.

I had to give up on a bunch of small pots that were supposed to have Blue Lake Pole Beans in them--the cool wet weather rotted them out entirely.

On the plus side, the first Scarlett Runner seeds have sprouted, and
here is the first Tatume Squash poking its head through the soil.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good News (and a little bad news)

I talked to the property manager for the site and got the super good news. The fence is on schedule--in fact they're working on it right this very moment. We have permission to start planting as of this weekend.

In an interesting twist, they're repositioning the fence, so that the posts will be set right into the concrete retaining wall that borders the parking lot. This shifts the whole thing to the other side of the two-foot wide strip of ground. This is actually good news, because it means that our volunteers don't have to spend time climbing and balancing on a 12-inch-wide retaining wall. It does change the aesthetics a bit, in that the commuters on the sidewalk won't be confronted so directly by this wall of veggies that I'd hoped for. And it'll be a little harder to pick--there will be two feet of dirt (and flowers) between the commuters and the veggies, but I don't think it'll make much difference. We'll see. I hope the impact, visually, isn't lessened too much.

The hard part with the new fence position is that the plants will have to lean over about six inches of concrete to get to the fence. I hope that this won't cause problems when the plants are young, in terms of stem development.

More good news--it looks like the fence will be a little taller than the old fence, maybe 15-18 inches taller, I'd guess close to 4.5 feet high. This is a big help for the pole beans, which can easily grow 6 feet tall. We'll have to do less trimming. And, if we can get the planting dense enough, we'll have a stronger visual impact from the fully grown garden.

I got permission, again, to use water available at the site, which will be a big help. We might just use watering cans from the spigot, we'll see.

On the downside, we can't put in a compost bin, which means that we'll have to cart away all the weeds and waste. Not a huge problem, but it makes a bit more work. I understand why they don't want it on the property. Maybe next year. (Maybe someday we'll even have worm bins.)

The really tricky part is that I've got an intensely overscheduled weekend--a family social event Friday, a neighborhood ice cream social I'm organizing on Saturday, and a writing workshop I have to help with on Sunday. Oh, and I've got a rare (but well-paying) freelance writing gig that needs to be finished by the middle of next week, which means I need to work on it this weekend). Somehow I've got to schedule a time to start putting seeds and plants in the ground this weekend, and pull together a bunch of volunteers to do it. Should be a challenge. (I'll post a time on this blog soon, for interested volunteers. We'll need folks with hoes, trowels, and compost. And a wheelbarrow or two. And paper yard waste bags.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More Sprouts Up

Five (out of ten) of the lemon apple cucumber seeds have sprouted! It helped a lot to get them on the heating pad in the basement. I think the rest will be fully emerged by tomorrow. I'm still waiting on the other seeds that I've planted, but they're all outside, where it's a lot cooler. I might bring them in to warm up their soil too, if I don't see much action tomorrow.

The cool, moist weather rotted out a good number of the Blue Lake Pole bean seeds that we planted a couple weeks ago. Some we tried to start in small six packs (which wasn't enough room, I think), and others in small pots. Very few of the seeds in the six packs germinated (maybe 4 out of 24), and about half of the others have finally emerged. When I dumped out the six packs, there was no sign of the bean seed--they'd just vanished.

No word yet on when the fence replacement will occur. I've got my fingers crossed that it'll happen this week.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Seeds Planted

Finally I got a chance to plant some more seeds this afternoon. On Tuesday we drove our Zipcar over to Mahoney's Garden center in Brighton and bought a bunch of potting soil and 4" and 6" pots (using up most of the rest of my budget), but I didn't get to plant anything yesterday..

For the new seeds, I mixed together some seed starter mix, potting soil, and a bucket of compost from our outdoor compost bin. (My worm bins don't have a lot of extra castings at the moment.) I planted ten pots with lemon apple cucumbers, nine with scarlet runner pole beans, and nine more pots with Kentucky Wonder pole beans. I'm running out of room on our back porch. With any luck the plants will be up and ready to go as soon as the fence is replaced.

The weather in Boston has been unseasonably cool and wet, for weeks and weeks. This has slowed the germination of all the seeds I've got sitting outdoors. We had sun today, but highs were only in the 60s. I have a whole bunch of Blue Lake Pole Beans in small six-packs that have yet to germinate. I've actually taken them back inside and put them on the heating mat and under the lights to see if I can get them to sprout. We'll see. They might have rotted out in the cool and damp.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen Blue Lake Pole Beans have sprouted. The photo above is of the cucumbers and beans waiting to get in the ground.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Good News: soil test results are in

Got good news via e-mail this morning. I received the results of the soil test that I sent to UMass and we're still good to go. There are no dangerous levels of lead, cadmium, or other heavy metals, which was the big concern. I'm very relieved. This was an important hurdle for this project--if it had come back dirty, then the project would have to be off (we could just plant flowers, I guess).

The report is quite detailed, giving the percentage of organic material (we could use more) and other essential nutrients (we need more magnesium), and they even tell you what soil amendments you should use to bring the soil to its most productive level. In general, though, the soil is better than I'd expected.

I realize that we need to do a soil test of our own community garden plot, ASAP, to know what we should do to improve the soil.

So, now the big thing keeping this project from leaping ahead full throttle is the fence replacement. I've got a call into the property manager to try to get a status update. I hope this return of the rain won't delay things, because I've got 40 cucumber seedlings on my back porch eager to get in the ground.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cucumbers are up (inside)

The weather here in Boston has been abysmal lately. Constant cloud cover, rain almost every day, and cool temps. Good for the greens in our family garden plot, but not good for starting the cucumber and bean seeds for the 200 Foot Garden.

Even though it's July, I decided to bring the cucumber seed pots indoors and get them on the heating mat and under the lights. Cucumbers like lots of heat when it comes to germination.

Looks like I made the right choice, because they've already sprouted. I'll get them outside on the back porch as soon as possible, but I might keep them under the lights for a few days, if the weather stays this gloomy and cool.

I still have the bean pots on our back deck, but I might bring them inside, too, and see if I can get them some light and heat.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Starting Some Seeds

This afternoon, my son, Noah, and I rounded up a bunch of old plastic yogurt containers that we've been saving for seed starting, filled them with soil, and planted 40 cucumber seeds. And tonight, Tracy planted 50 bean seeds. It's warm enough now that we can just leave them out on our back porch and try to be patient. If they all come up, we'll be in pretty good shape to get stuff actually in the ground and growing in time.

I also shipped off a bag of dirt to UMass for soil testing. I just hope it gets there in one piece.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What It Looks Like Now

I took a couple photos today to show what the site looks like now. It doesn't look like much, just a weedy stretch of chain link fence. But if this really happens, it could look very different by August and September. (Plus a new fence will make it look a lot better, too. But we can't take any credit for that.)

We got a Yes, now what?

The good news is that we got permission, but that just means that daydreams need to turn into reality. There are quite a few steps that need to happen next.

Yesterday, I gathered soil samples, so we can send it off to UMass-Amherst to get it tested. We need to make sure there aren't high levels of any dangerous metals (lead, arsenic, etc.) that might make our produce unsafe. I gathered 12 soil samples of about 1 cup each, mixed them together, dried them out overnight, and then mixed them all together again, and bagged up 1 cup to send to UMass, along with a check for $13. This is a critical point in the project, though we'll probably have to start planting before we get results, just because time is short. I've got my fingers crossed. If it turns out badly, we'll pull everything up, and help plant flowers.

We need to start some seeds right away! Ideally, as soon as the fence has been replaced, we'll have seedlings available to put into the ground. My son, Noah (age 9) and I counted our our Blue Lake pole bean seeds (100) and cucumber seeds (40) this afternoon. We probably need about 200 plants total, of all varieties. Looks like we already have enough bean and cucumber seeds. There's a chance, we might get some seedlings donated from a local nursery. But tomorrow, I figure we'll start as many seeds as we can in our various containers.

I also ordered seeds tonight--some vining summer squash, Tatume, from Victory Seeds. And since, I was there, I also ordered some Scarlet Runner pole beans (because they'll look nice), some Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans (for variety), and some lemon apple cucumbers (because they'll give some yellow to the wall of green and they're kinda funky looking).

I've started talking to neighbors, looking for volunteers, though I have a lot more work to do on this. I'm hoping to be able to borrow a garden cart from our backyard neighbor, because we no longer have a car (see our Choosing No Car blog).

Tomorrow night, we'll plant seeds using our leftover potting soil, seed starter mix, and worm castings from our worm bins.

Step 1: Permission

So, I had this cool idea for a 200 Foot Garden. I talked to a few people about it, and they all thought it sounded great. My wife, Tracy, was on board to help, and a couple neighbors are interested, too. We had to decide--do we go guerrilla, and just plant our beans, squash, peas, and cucumbers and see what happens, or do we ask permission?

As fun as it would be to make all this happen in secret, the fact is that we needed to ask permission. Otherwise, the landscape crews that sometimes trim the weeds would just cut down our veggies.

First we had to figure out who owns the land--the apartment complex or the city. Answer: the apartment complex, which is a mixed-income, somewhat subsidized development, with a large population of senior citizens.

I figured I wanted to make it as easy to say yes as possible, so I wanted our needs to be extremely simple. Could we make this happen if all they could give us was a Yes? I was pretty sure we could, though water would be a handy thing, too.

I put together this one-page proposal:

The 200 Foot Garden Project

What’s the idea? To create a vegetable garden to benefit the Brookline community that will enhance visual beauty, bring together neighbors, and supply healthy vegetables.

Where? A small strip of ground approximately 2 feet wide by 200 feet long, by 99 Kent Street, bounded on one side by a retaining wall and on the other by the sidewalk. A three-foot high chain-link fence runs along the sidewalk.
When? As soon as possible. This is a good time to plant beans, squash, and cucumbers. By mid-July, it’ll be getting too late. This project would run through October.

What do we need? Permission to plant climbing vegetable plants along the length of the retaining wall. The plants will be a mix of pole beans, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. These plants will be threaded through the fence and grow such that apartment complex residents and passersby walking to and from Brookline Village can easily pick ripe vegetables and fruit from the sidewalk. The plants will be trimmed and maintained so as not to impinge upon the sidewalk access and will be trimmed at the top, to remain no taller than the fence. Depending on space available, we might also plant a row of lower plants along the retaining wall, inside the fence, and harvest them with volunteers—the vegetables would be left in a basket in the apartment complex for residents and management, and in another basket hung on the fence, at the end of the installation.

In addition, it would be helpful to have access to water from the spigots on the apartment building. If this is not possible, we will bring in water by hand. We’d like to be able to place litter picked from the ground in your trash can/dumpster, and if possible, set up a compost bin at the end of the parking lot (but neither of these are requirements—we can haul it out, if necessary).

Benefits to the apartment complex and management: We will maintain this small strip of land, reducing landscaping costs and efforts by management. This project will promote goodwill between the complex, management, and the neighborhood and town. The garden will provide free vegetables to the residents and management of the complex, as well as neighbors. The project will enhance the visual aspects of this stretch of land. We will keep the piece of ground free of trash and litter, and we will remove all weeds during the summer, and remove all vines and old plants in the fall.

Costs to the complex? None. We’re not asking for any funds, just permission to plant. Though if you provide us with water, that is some cost to you (if possible, we’d plan to mulch in order to keep down water needs). If liability is a concern, we’re willing to sign waivers and ensure that all volunteers also sign liability waivers.

Who are we? We’re Patrick and Tracy Gabridge, neighbors from around the corner (MM Netherlands Road) with an interest in gardening, as well as MMMMM, a resident at 55 Village Way. Patrick has managed two different community gardens in Roxbury and is a graduate of the Master Urban Gardener Program offered by the Boston Natural Areas Network. He’s also an officer of the Riverway Island Neighborhood Association. Tracy is a librarian at MIT and writes a blog, Beyond Dinner, about sustainable agriculture and food. If we get permission to plant, there are a number of other neighbors who are likely to join us in this project, plus we’d put out flyers encouraging residents of the complex to take part. We can be reached at ###### (home) or ####### (cell), or by e-mail at pat@gabridge.com.
Thanks for taking the time to consider our proposal. Please contact us with any questions and let us know how we can make this happen.

I dropped it off at the management office in April, but also got some bad news. The property manager had just resigned, and they had an interim manager until they could hire someone permanent. I knew that was likely to be a problem, but I left the proposal anyway, and I got a phone number.

No response. I left about 4 or 5 phone messages over the next two months, but had no luck. Life got busy, so I started to write it off. Maybe next year.

Then I talked to a friend who lives in the complex. She said that a new manager was just hired--I asked her to get person's name, and went by the next day, with a copy of the proposal.

This time, I got to talk directly to the new manger, who was extremely receptive to the idea. She said she'd bring it to her supervisors, but that there was one problem. They just contracted with a company to replace the fence. So we couldn't plant right away. The good news, however, is that the fence needs to be done by July 15th. If everything else fell into place, we could plant on or around the 16th. Pretty late, but if we had seedlings, we could still get plants in place and producing veggies by September.

Last week, I got the call--permission has been granted. We're good to go.

What is the 200 Foot Garden Project?

(by Patrick)

In Brookline, between our house and the T stop in Brookline Village, a 3.5 foot high chain-link fence runs along a narrow strip of land between the sidewalk and a parking lot for a neighboring apartment complex. The fence has seen better days, and the the 2 foot-wide strip of ground is often full of various weeds and litter. I have a strong interest in gardening, especially in community gardens (I used to manage two different community gardens in Roxbury, before we moved to Brookline 3 years ago). Lately, I've been reading a lot about vertical gardening, especially in urban settings.

Wouldn't it be interesting to have this 200 foot stretch of fence be more visually interesting, for all the commuters that walk by? And what if, on people's commute, they could help themselves to a vegetable or two?

Last year, when we redid the tiny strip of ground in front of our condo building with our neighbors, a volunteer tomato plant sprouted, probably from a castaway seed from some passerby's sandwich. This tomato grew in a small crack between the sidewalk and our cobblestones. Over the summer, neighbors cared for it, and it grew to produce tomatoes for anyone to take (and they did).

So I came up with an idea, that started to turn into a plan--let's plant vegetables along this entire 200 foot length of fence. It'll be a commuter garden. It can provide a bit of delight to people walking by, and it can remind people that vegetable gardening is something that can be done anywhere, not just in a big yard or community garden plot. The project can also help bring together neighbors, and for the true city folks, it can show them what vegetable plants look like (yes, kids, beans don't just come from the supermarket).

So that's the plan. I came up with the idea back in April, and started trying to get it to happen. Now it looks like it might.