Monday, May 17, 2010

Remington Tree Planting

You all have heard me talk about the Remington community garden a lot since my very first garden plot is there this year. But the urban agriculture community in the neighborhood extends way beyond the garden at 28th and Fox St.

Neighbors excited to expand the greenery in the city and grow food crops got together this past weekend to plant fruit trees and blueberry bushes outside of the 7-11. So much enthusiasm was nice to see.

One concern for the many urban agriculture projects springing up is the ability to sustain them. Fruit trees need to be pruned, mulched, watered, and protected against pests. It's a lot like getting a puppy from the pound- they're cute and fun, but they sure require a lot of work!

I hear the Remington folks have set up a rotational schedule to figure out how to keep the trees maintained. This is a great idea to responsibly maintain a collectively owned garden. Now I've just got to ask around and find out who gets to eat the fruit!

Serviceberries (or Juneberries) were planted along with blueberry bushes, and I think some hazelnut.

Herring Run has a fun Berry Festival on July 10th if you'd like to taste serviceberries or other local fruit.

A great map of the orchard plan:

So many motivated and helpful gardeners! New neighbors even helped a friend of mine move his seedlings several blocks away into a guerrilla planter near an area where other fruit trees are planted.

As we built and set up the planter, many neighbors engaged in the favorite Baltimore past-time of sitting on the porch watched our work. I keep wondering if all of these gardens springing up will inspire other neighbors to start a garden on their own, or if they will just see it as a some project that other people are doing.

I have been thinking for a long time about how to expand participation in urban agriculture beyond the close knit group of people of a similar social circle. Many neighbors in Remington walk by the garden and are appreciative, and I'd love to come up with a way to let more people know that they can get involved in gardening, composting, and sustainable living too.

There are a ton of resources in the city like Parks & People, so the help and advice are out there. It's a matter of getting people to see gardening as a project that they can start themselves, instead of just watching other people do it. But how to do that effectively?

I'd love to hear your thoughts about expanding the urban ag community across social and economic groups!

I actually didn't stay long at the tree planting because I needed to go over to my garden to spend a few hours thinning the radishes and kale and ripping off all of the diseased leaves on my beets (it's not a terrible illness I don't think, but I just want to make sure it doesn't spread.)

Another gardening friend of mine told me this might be leaf miners, and that the best thing to do is to tear off any leaves that look blighted. There isn't really any other way to treat the pests, and the damage is mainly cosmetic, although it can stunt the beets.

Any other opinions?

One other fun garden project from this weekend:

Discovering that bok choy sends out edible seed pods!

After my baby bok choy bolted and sent out flowers, I left a few of the biggest plants to harvest their seeds for next year. I actually had no idea how the seeds would appear, and was pleasantly surprised to see the cool looking pods.

I ripped out some of the smaller flowering plants and was curious to see how the pods would taste. They are similar to miniature peas in texture and taste, kind of like a pea-broccoli mix.

I can imagine steaming these and using them as a garnish or detail for a really classy Asian meal. Woodberry Kitchen, here I come!

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