Notes from Windward: #62

The Kitchen Garden

Gaia and Tara talk about the kitchen garden

Windward's Kitchen Garden is a work in progress and visible progress has been made this year.

When Tara first encountered it, she found a fenced partially terraced hillside with a combination of cultivated and wild sections; a working water faucet with a hose; and a compost heap. Within the cultivated sections were plantings of tulip, daffodil and iris bulbs, strawberries, horseradish, garlic and mint. She also discovered that one of the sections had become a doggie latrine - so she immediately knew what her first task was.

Lakota offered to help. His first deed was to make a new deposit to the doggie latrine. After that he was banished from the garden and Tara proceeded to remove the contributions the dogs had made.

Gaia and Michael joined Tara to expand the terracing, prepare the soil, and plant. One of the terraces was extended. The soil in all the beds was turned over and weeded. Spinach, lettuce, peas, beans, onions, carrots, radishes, cantaloupe, beets, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, parsley and an eggplant were planted. Later on Gaia contributed a variety of herbs - rosemary, basil, sage, oregano, lavender, dill, borage, lemon balm, cilantro and a struggling chamomile. She also brought in geraniums and fuchsias.

Additions have been made to the compost heap. It gets regular feeding from the kitchen and, as a result, it has grown greatly. It has had infusions of coffee grounds, tea bags and eggs shells. However, it must compete with the birds and sheep for food scraps. The compost heap also gets occasional shovels full of dirt, grass and leaves. It passes the aroma test and everything seems to be cooking as it should.

There have been both successes and failures in the garden. The spinach and lettuce have provided Windward with fresh salad greens. The tomatoes are coming along well. The first green bean pod has appeared and the peas are also beginning to pod. The Windward community has been eating onions and cilantro from the garden for about a month. However, the radishes and carrots have been disappointing. The parsley and the basil never came up. Half of the cucumbers have survived. Insects are attacking the zucchini but the zucchini resist successfully.

The garden has been a rewarding challenge and a great learning experience for the garden crew. Windward enjoys the fruits of their labor and planning for next year is in progress. Plans include experimenting with heirloom plants, producing seeds, testing different plant varieties for taste and suitability to Windward's climate, creating rock gardens out of the terrace walls and honing composting skills.