1. This season has brought in some wonderful repeat volunteers. They are good workers, dependable, fun, and eager to help out. It makes a big difference in the day-to-day-running of the garden.
2. We have been part of 3 different garden tours in the neighborhood, this season. We are a regular annual demonstration garden for the Civic Garden Center's Community Garden Development Training class. We were also part of Vitality Cincinnati's spring event. (Vitality yoga teachers-in-training help pay for their training by volunteering in the local community gardens.) For Father's Day, the Lloyd Library sponsored a tour, The Gardens of Earthy Delight, on Walnut Hills gardens. Despite the heat, about 25 people came through.
3. Our compost system will serve as a demo for the Civic Garden Center's Master Composter class, in August.
4. The vote isn't in, yet, but I think we're going to have a really great cabbage season. This is one of the favorite vegetables in the garden, and they can be really persnickety. Nonetheless, they look pretty healthy, so far -- as long as I can keep the worms off of them! Also, our raspberries, blackberries, and gooseberries are more abundant than ever before. On top of that, we got black currants for the first time, this year. The red currants continue to be quite prolific. We are still looking for a good spot to establish strawberries, as well as cure our apple tree of scab, all toward the goal of having as long a fruit season as possible in a part of the world where fruit wouldn't be locally grown, year round.
What challenges did or does your project face?
1. We lost one of our bee hives, over the winter, because they'd been weakened by mites in the fall. Regardless, Kendra purchased another hive, which is strong and thriving. She has also learned a lot about mites and how to treat the hives of them. She expects a good honey harvest, this year.
2. Pest and plant disease continue to challenge us. It looks like some of our soil is contaminated with fusarium wilt. Apparently, the only way to combat it is to grow resistant varieties of crops. That means we may need to sacrifice a bed of collards, this year, and hope we can grow a better crop, next year, that isn't affected by this disease. The harlequin beetles, cabbage worms, squash vine borers, and a few other pests are beginning to show up with the summer heat. We may or may not get cucumbers. We may have a reduced squash crop. We continue to fight these pests.
3. We have been trying to establish native pollinating plants in our "Back 40". This is proving more difficult than we thought, given the need for nursing the new young plants more closely than we always have time for. Nonetheless, it's still a project we want to see through, little by little.
How are you working to overcome them?
- Education around best practices for healthy plants and soils -- not only fighting pests and diseases directly, but through practices that diversify the garden ecosystem and strengthen it.
- We will continue to brainstorm and problem-solve on making the best use of our time, as well as finding the funds that will appropriately support the work needed in the garden. It is a full-time garden that gets run on part-time hours, at the moment.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
I am happy to serve as a resource to any other gardeners out there who have questions about all number of things, from growing food/plants to fundraising, volunteer management, and organizational techniques.
The best place to find photos from the garden is via our social media accounts: https://www.facebook.com/JulieHanserGarden/, and https://www.instagram.com/juliehansergarden/.