I joined NFI's Gardening Education Project this summer for many reasons, but one of them is that I would be able to learn a lot about gardening while having guaranteed space in a great community garden. I'd had bad luck gardening at my house and had only been on waitlists for community garden space.
However, when the opportunity arose to move out closer to the community garden, in the Ft. Totten area, into a house with a large yard that the landlady didn't mind being converted into garden space, I eagerly seized the opportunity.
I'm not sure I would've done so with such little hesitation if it hadn't been for the GEP giving me the confidence to know I would be able to create a productive garden from the ground up.
In getting started transforming a part of the lawn into garden space, I knew what to do. I knew where to go to get the soil tested and how to create a good sample.
When we began to dig into the lawn, I knew how to double dig and why its so good for the soil to do so. When the soil turned up very sandy, I knew (in part from the soil test results), what sort of amendments would need to be done in order to make the land productive.
Franciscan Earth Corps offered to come over and help dig and have a time of reflection together on what being connected to nature and sustainable living mean for us in this time and place. It was a beautiful way to break ground at the new home!
In the beds in which we were able to add amendments, we planted spinach, kale, and chard for fall and winter crops. For the rest of the ground which we hope to plant in the spring, I feel better prepared to improve it -- I know more about composting, have learned how to vermicompost (not without some initial challenges, but the worms seem well now!), and know how to plant a cover crop for the winter which will should contribute to improving the soil too.
All in all, I have NFI to thank not only for a delicious, productive summer harvest (which is still producing much fruit!) but also the ability to take gardening to my new home, and hopefully begin a lifelong practice of gardening.
Jenn Svetlik is very grateful to be a 2013 GEP class participant, and has been blogging about her experience as a novice gardener throughout the summer.