The Church Garden (aka Love Garden) got off to a rocky start in 2011, but lately things are looking up. Here’s what has happened so far this year.
On April 7th, my wife and I planted potatoes at the garden plot. We had three 100 foot rows, with potatoes planted one feet apart and covered with 2-3″ of soil. That’s 300 seed potatoes we planted, which we managed to do in about an hour. When I checked on the potatoes about two weeks later, they were coming up through the soil and looking good.
The potatoes harvested from that planting, like all the food from this garden, were going to go to several area kitchens and food pantries. Last year we took food to the United Caring Shelter, Potter’s Wheel, Evansville Christian Life Center, and the Evansville Rescue Mission. That’s the whole purpose of this garden – to grow food for area charities so they can have fresh vegetables to serve for those who might not otherwise have access to them.
Then on April 26th, my wife got an email from the church secretary, whose family owns the farm where we have our garden plot. “Just wanted to prepare you that the farm is under water”, she said. What? Under water? I had no idea that land ever flooded. The farm is on level ground, several miles from any river or stream.
Or so I thought. Pigeon Creek floods regularly in that area, about every five years according to an article in a local newspaper. I guess 2011 was its year to flood! The garden plot wound up under about a foot of water for almost two weeks, and the potatoes rotted in the ground.
That’s not the first time we’ve had trouble growing potatoes for this garden project. Rewind to last year. We had cut about 75 pounds of seed potatoes, and spread them out on a tarp to dry in one of the meeting rooms at our church. Last year we had another spot where we were going to plant potatoes and sweet corn. It was, however, right on the Ohio River, and we found out it floods pretty much every year. Before we could get the taters planted, the river rose up out of its banks, and the field was under water. By the time the field dried out, we decided it was too late to plant potatoes.
Back to the present. The good news is that the waters have receded, and the garden plot dried out enough I could get it tilled yesterday. We have a planting session scheduled for Saturday morning. Weather permitting, of course! We have tomatoes, squash and cucumber seedlings ready to be planted. Next week we hope to get a row of sweet potatoes planted, and turnips are planned for a fall crop after the squash is done for.
We’ve now got a 30 by 100 foot garden plot ready for planting. Hopefully our flooding troubles are over for this year. If we can get the veggies planted, and get a little rain this summer, we should have a nice amount of produce to donate. We’re doing things a bit different this year. We’re going to trellis the cucumbers, skip growing green beans, and use some different short-vine tomatoes with our stake and weave training method. I’ll post more updates as the garden progresses.