It was a great day last Saturday! With the help and energy of yet another contingent of TCNJ student volunteers under the direction of Professor Michael Nordquist and the Community Gardens Committee we accomplished what we have been trying to do all season – decimating a huge mulch pile and putting its contents onto the paths of the Ewing Community Gardens on Whitehead Road Extension. This was a fabulous accomplishment and will make a tremendous difference to the gardeners who use the site. Gardeners have already commented on how much easier the site is to use this year since they didn’t have to do quite so much bushwhacking to get to their plots. The efforts of the students Saturday have sustained and greatly improved upon our previous efforts. In addition, we were delighted to have the compost bins set up for the gardeners use. Now they won’t have to cart out the weedy debris but can be more environmentally friendly and compost it on site. The weeding and the planting efforts that they contributed were just the icing on the cake!
Ewing Township, the Green Team and most especially the community gardeners have been the recipients of a number of student volunteer community service days this year are all deeply grateful for all of the hard work that the students put in. We believe that in addition to implementing more environmentally friendly practices at the gardens, the cleanup days, so wonderfully supported by the students, are helping to create the community in our community gardens.
For more photos from the day, check the Photos page on the Green Team website.
On display at the gardens this season is a demonstration of a method of planting recently employed on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. Plotholder Dion Calzado, from Bohol has employed the “surgical method of planting” used in his homeland and welcomes visits from fellow gardeners.
The “surgical method of planting” is a combination of no-till methodology and Three Sisters planting approach. In Dion’s homeland, holes are dug in the ground in the midst of the residue of crops and weeds from the previous season and seeds are inserted. The area around each hole remains untilled. Dion explained that in the Philippines this methodology is employed because of a lack of large farm animals to do the tilling, in this case the caribou or water buffalo. However, this methodology will definitely find support amongst the no-till advocates who believe that tilling the soil causes soil erosion and compression, destroys soil organisms vital to the health of the soil, and helps to return natural nutrients to the land by leaving crop residues from the previous year in place to decompose naturally. (For an overview of the benefits of the no-till methodology see http://notillgardening.com/.)
In addition Dion employs a variation of the Three Sisters method of companion planting. He has planted corn, watermelon and tomatoes. The Three Sisters has Native American roots and consists of inter-planting corn, beans and squash in close proximity to provide mutual benefits. The corn provides the climbing structure for the beans, the beans supply nitrogen to the soil and the squash acts as a mulch, preventing the sun from drying out the soil and preventing weeds. The prickliness of the vines can also deter some pests.
Feel free to visit with Dion at his site to see the results of his labors. A sign marks his plot. Check out some photos from his labors below.