Community Garden Rundown

Our community garden plot is now almost cleaned out. The tomatoes are still plodding along, and a few of the carrots we planted, but then gave up on, are unexpectedly starting to thrive, but everything else is finished. This seems like a good time to reflect on what was and wasn't successful, so we can decide whether or not to pay the $10 fee and do it again next year.

Successes: The garlic I bought from the grocery store grew through cold, hot, wet and dry weather, and actually formed bulbs! The bulbs were admittedly pretty puny, but I hope that if the largest bulbs will store until next spring, I can plant them with better results next year. The garlic was also unharmed by rabbits and vandals alike.
Our peas had pretty spotty germination, I think due to cool and dry weather. But after planting a few times, quite a few grew and we ate lots of delicious peas.
The beans grew very well, eventually even shading out quite a bit of the quack grass. We harvested enough beans for several meals, although they seem to have gone downhill lately, and our last picking might be destined for the compost.
The potatoes surprised me by forming quite a few tubers, although I never saw a sign of them while weeding and the tops were all completely dead when we went to go harvest today. Although it wasn't exactly a bumper crop, there were probably about 5 pounds of potatoes there.

A pail of potatoes

Failures: I don't think it was worth it to try to grow tomatoes in a public space. As they ripen, they seem to be just too tempting to passers-by. They also didn't exactly thrive on the somewhat neglectful conditions in a garden that's out of sight.
Hardly any of the small seeds that we planted (lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, carrots) came up. If we'd had more rain in the spring, they might have. As it is, I think they all got washed away when I watered. Some of the carrots eventually came up, but a lot of them were pretty far away from where I thought I planted them.
The pepper plant was almost immediately decimated; I'm guessing the rabbits were to blame for that casualty.
One cucumber seed grew, but it disappeared after a while. I'm not sure if I should blame myself for not watering it, or the rabbits. Since I never found a crispy brown corpse, I'm guessing it was the rabbits.
Although the quackgrass and thistles grew spectacularly well, I'm including them under failures; we never managed to get the weeds under control.
Our soil was strange, too. I don't know what they put in the bed, but the water would often pool on top, but not soak down, so the top would look wet, but if you dug down an inch or even less, it would often be dry underneath. I'm guessing there's a lot of peat moss in it, since that repels water when it dries out, but I'm not sure.

In conclusion, we probably grew about $10 worth of food, maybe a little more, so we were able to recover the cost. It was sometimes fun for our three-year-old to help pick peas and beans, but the weeding was a bit unpleasant. If we decide to do it again, we will only plant small seeds if there is a lot of wet weather in the forecast, and transplants only if they are large enough to withstand rabbits, but small enough to deter poachers from carrying them away. Lower-maintenance vegetables such as peas, beans, potatoes and garlic don't offer the best monetary return, but they are the most dependable when you care for the garden less frequently.

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