Master Gardeners can readily attest that fall doesn’t have to be a time for gardeners to throw mulch on top of the beds and walk away.
A series of free fall gardening classes is scheduled at the Firehouse Friends Community Garden located behind the Mount Airy Fire Department on 439 Rockford St. The classes will be held today and on Sept. 14 and 28 at 3 p.m.
Master Gardener Joy Barlow and Firehouse Friends Community Garden Coordinator Maggie Simmons both said they were excited to offer the class to anyone who is interested. Local master gardeners will give participants hands on demonstrations on how to plant, maintain and harvest in a raised bed vegetable garden.
“The first planting we did in the community garden was last August so our first garden was a fall garden,” said Barlow. She said other topics that will be discussed at the classes will include pest control, both physical and chemical and the basics of garden location and required tools.”
“Volunteers are welcome,” added Simmons. “Anyone can learn more about gardening and be more active by taking part in the garden.” In fact, the group is seeking volunteers to help maintain and harvest in the beds. They also are considering renting some beds for use to families, churches and other groups who would maintain the beds and harvest the produce.
Barlow said that seeing the community come together when the beds were first installed was inspiring. She estimated that it took 45 minutes to assemble the 16 vegetable beds in the garden that was made possible with a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Barlow said that with the exception of corn, anything a gardener could plant in the spring can, with the proper timing, be planted in the fall. The two said they have been surprised that more have not volunteered to help harvest crops from the beds which include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mixed greens, carrots, spinach, beets and bok choi.
“It is something to see how people are unaware of how much richer and how much better fresh vegetables taste,” commented Barlow. “They are amazed at the difference … especially carrots.”
They said that working in the community garden does not require a long-term commitment. Persons may work a limited amount of time just for the knowledge and exercise as well as the produce. Much of what has been raised in the beds goes to help local causes. Persons can come and weed for just an hour and take home fresh vegetables for themselves, for instance.
“This (the community garden) is more about fun and as an educational experience,” said Simmons. “Kids are welcome. It’s a good thing for them to learn in the community garden.” She said the garden has sign-in sheets and information in a kiosk at the site to help anyone who wants to weed or harvest in the garden.
Nationwide, gardening has experienced an upsurge of interest because of rising food costs. Using knowledge to make the family garden produce more and to extend the growing season may once again be important, not just a hobby.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.