This past spring I was a busy little bee. Almost literally. I worked on my research, worked as a botanical consultant, volunteered with the Kids in the Garden program, and helped design and plant a garden on campus.
The PES Salad Bowl Garden.
My friend Mags came up with the idea and got the grant money from UCD to carry it out. She has a lot of experience with "biointensive" food gardening, having lived and worked in Willits, CA learning mini-farming from John Jeavons. (We used his book, "How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine," and it was indispensable).
The concept of our garden is based on French-style potager gardens which are basically kitchen gardens with an emphasis on vegetables that are designed for aesthetics. Our goal was to grow ready-to-eat food for the students, staff, and faculty who work in the PES building.
We were given six large beds in the courtyard of the PES building (Plant and Environmental Sciences), which was five more beds than we thought we would get! The beds have an irrigation system and we were assigned a groundskeeper, Bryan, to help us with weeding and keeping everything tidy.
We designed the garden in the winter and had a whole weekend planting party in March to double-dig the beds, put in the concrete paths, and plant the seedlings.
It took us 6 hours to put in these paths! The paths are designed to make the largest beds at the end of the path more accessible, so people won't have to step into the garden to harvest the veggies. They also allow us to divide the garden into sections for different colors/varieties of vegetables.
We decided to make the facing beds mirror image. In the smallest beds closest to the door we planted spinach, bunching onions, and snap peas.
In the middle beds we planted bok choi, Asian mustard, fennel, cilantro, and arugula.
In the largest beds (with paths) we planted many different types of lettuce, with different colors in each diamond. We also planted pak choi and snap peas. Throughout the gardens there are edible flowers like calendula, nasturtium, and pansies, as well as herbs and chives.
The garden is entirely organic, and we took shifts watering it by hand for a long time. We also put bird netting over it for a while, because of a healthy fear of rabbits.
Here are the small and medium beds after only a month or so of growth!!
We put informative signage up so everyone knew what was growing. That was mostly for me because I'm always looking at plants and wishing there were signs so I knew what I was seeing. I guess going to college on an arboretum does that to you.
When the garden was ready, we had harvest days where everyone from the PES building was invited to come pick and eat a salad for lunch. We supplied buckets of water for washing, a salad spinner, dressing, salt and pepper. They brought their bowls and forks. And we all ate up.
YUM! I've never been one to eat much salad to be honest. But I am now a devotee. I also found my new favorite dressing: Annie's Lemon and Chive.
We tore out the bolting plants in May and planted a spring/summer garden that is going strong. I've taken lots of pictures, so look out for a post about that garden soon!