My First Garden Experience

By Julia Hamilton

When I was in kindergarten my town library had a garden program where children could pick four different types of seeds to plant. The library supplied the seeds, the soil, and peat planters. The four types of seeds I chose for my garden were tomato, cucumber, zucchini, and carrots. I planted them, watered them, and made sure they got enough sun.

Merrimac Public Library. Photo Credit: Julia Hamilton.

In a couple of weeks sprouts began to pop through the soil, and I was so excited. As the pants grew bigger we saw that the plants would soon need to be transplanted. We chose to do a container garden and picked out large clay pots to transfer the plants into. There are woods behind my house that have animals that might eat our garden, so we decided to get a garden fence to put around the plants to protect them. The garden was growing well and the plants started to flower, which would soon turn into vegetables. We had a trip planned one weekend, and watered our plants well and made sure the fence was secure.

Tomato. Photo Credit: Julia Hamilton

When we left the zucchini plants were about three or four feet high with a lot of flowers. They were on the end of our container garden. When we got back from our trip we could not wait to see how our garden was doing. We were surprised about what we saw on our return home. The tall zucchini plants that we had left a few days before were eaten down to the stems. Our best guess was that some deer got into our yard and ate all of our promising zucchini blossoms. They had not gotten to the rest of the plants so we did get to enjoy our tomato, cucumbers, and carrots. We learned a lesson with our first garden. Make sure that your fence is tall enough to protect your plants of you have wildlife around.

Cucumber. Photo Credit: Julia Hamilton

Camaraderie in Community Gardens

A look inside the plots at our community garden. Photo taken by Jones Farm.

Each year my parents and I grow edible plants and decorative flowers in Spring and Summer. We have a plot in a community garden down the street from our house, where other people in town also rent plots and grow whatever crops they want. I’ve learned by having this plot over the years that there is a sense of camaraderie and a lot of teamwork in a community garden. I see this in a couple different areas- in the upkeep of the community garden land, and in seeing excess crops being shared between gardeners.

There is always help needed at a community garden. At ours, there is regular weeding and mowing that needs to be done in the grass aisles in between each plot. Sometimes the fences need to be mended, the watering tanks need to be fixed, and gas needs to be put in the lawn mowers and rototillers. The organizer of the garden seeks help with all of these tasks from plot owners. Without it, no one would be able to use the land because it would become messy and unorganized, so community gardeners depend on each other to keep the land workable.

A monarch butterfly on a milkweed plant at our garden.

I’ve also seen lots of sharing between gardeners, especially in mid to late summer when plants are growing with copious amounts of fruit and vegetables. There’s a picnic table at the entrance to the plots where gardeners often put a basket or bag of excess produce that’s up for grabs. My parents and I have done that quite a few times, especially when our tomato harvest becomes too much for three people to eat and we’ve exhausted everyone we know with bags of them. Whatever is left on that table always gets taken, which is nice to see. You know that the surplus goods did not go to waste. I also see recipes and planting techniques shared between gardeners, which we do often with our plot neighbor, who’s a master farmer.

Our excess harvest of cherry tomatoes last year that we put in a bucket and left at the table at our community garden for anyone to take.

I think the bond between people in a community garden comes from not only needing to rely on others to have the land be functional and organized, but also because gardening itself is an act that’s all about giving. With a good harvest, you’re giving yourself and your family homegrown produce, and you could have excess crops to give to others who don’t have a garden so they can experience farm fresh food too. In a community garden, it’s all about teamwork to make the gardening season successful for all.