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Spring is almost here and it is time to start planning your garden! Here at the Well Fed Garden, we have been busy all winter prepping our soil and planning for spring and summer planting. Here are some tips that we have learned over the years.

Good soil:

Healthy soil is the key to a healthy garden. Your plants will get the nutrients they need to grow into healthy fruits and vegetables from the soil. Make sure that your soil has all the essentials by getting your soil tested through the NC Agronomic Services (http://www.ncagr.gov). Healthy soil is made up of lots of living organisms. Make sure you add lots of organic matter through compost and cover cropping to keep your soil healthy.

Water:

Your plants will need water, and lots of it! It is cold now, but NC summers can be hot with little rain. Before you plant, think about where your water will come from and how will you get it to your plants. Think about ways to conserve water, such as water catchment tanks and drip irrigation. Adding natural mulch such as leaves and twigs can also help you conserve moisture in your garden bed.

What to plant:

Plant what you eat. Do you eat a lot of salad? Plant lots of greens. Do you hate tomatoes? Don’t plant tomatoes. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste – make sure you are planting what you will use. If you accidently plant too much of something, consider donating it to a local food bank that collects fresh fruits and veggies. If you have extra space in your garden bed, plant a row for the hungry with the Inter Faith Food Shuttle.

Start early:

Make sure you get the most out of the growing season. Use row cover to start spring crops such as lettuce or bak choi a few weeks early. Many warm weather plants, such as tomatoes or peppers, you can start early indoors. Plant your seeds in small containers in a warm sunny spot inside. Transplant them outdoors after April 1st.

Check out this great guide through NC State University for planting dates in our region: https://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/files/library/71/VegPlantingGuide.pdf

Happy Gardening!

 

Written by Morgan Malone, Farm Manager

After a summer of growing sweet potatoes, the fall harvest was much anticipated.

We started on a crisp Saturday morning around 9am. As we got to know each other, the excitement for the treasure hunt was emanating. This year we had volunteers from Jamie Kirk Hahn (JKH) foundation day of service, NCSU Agroecology, and the community to help with the bountiful harvest.

Bella Pepper, resident farm dog, keeping an eye on the winding vines during the summer while the sweet potatoes grew beneath the soil.

Here is a peak into our Great Sweet Potato Harvest:

We started off by cutting the vines back and rolling them up to expose the sweet potatoes that had been so patiently growing all summer long with no interruptions.

We had an assembly line going, and those that were not cutting were gathering the greens and moving them into our compost pile.

Then we used a broadfork to loosen up the soil around the sweet potatoes.

“One small step for man, one giant leap for sweet potatoes”

 

How rewarding it is to find a large cluster of sweet potatoes buried beneath the surface of the soil!

But sometimes, you will take time to dig for your sweet treasure, only to find that it is a rock. The excitement was still worth it.

We found friends along the way

Many hands make light work

And in the end, we had an ample harvest

“Sweet potatoes for miles and miles”

Finally, we crowned our Sweet Potato Queen!

 

Written by Lubana Lanewala, Garden Apprentice

Just in time for the shorter days and cooler nights the Well Fed Garden has come out with a new selection of local teas. We have grown, dried and packaged all the herbal teas at the Well Fed Garden. They make the perfect evening cup of tea after a meal at the Irregardless and are a great gift for anyone.

The Process:

Step 1: the herbs

All of our herbs are grown organically at the Well Fed Garden. We use sustainable practices to produce a variety of healthy and tasty herbs for our teas.

Step 2: harvest

Here is a sample of our oregano harvest. We aim to harvest all of our herbs when they are in peak freshness. Rosemary, mountain mint, and cilantro are examples of cool season herbs. Tarragon, basil, and chamomile are warm season herbs. Some herbs like oregano and sage are available almost all year.

Step 3: dehydrate

We dehydrate the herbs to preserve them all year. We dehydrate each herb separately to preserve their unique flavor and scent.

Step 4: the blend

We have a unique selection of home-made blends.

Our Lemon Tulsi is a calming blend of lemon verbena, tulsi, and tarragon flowers.

Our Lavender includes the buds and leaves of the French Lavender plant known for its aromatherapeutic qualities.

Our Garden Mist is the newest blend of mountain mint, oregano, and thyme. It is a refreshing pick me up for those winter blues.

We are continuously creating new blends. Find more of our blends at the Irregardless Cafe.

Step 5: Enjoy

There is nothing better than to steep a warm cup of tea after a cold morning working on the farm.

Written by Morgan Malone, Garden Manager

Here at The Well Fed Community Garden, we use a lot of compost to grow our produce. We can’t produce as much as we need just yet, but we gather as much food waste from our community as we can manage to turn into soil. Here is our recipe for compost that grows beautiful produce for us:

Ingredients:

  • Veggie scraps
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Leaf Mulch
  • Shovel
  • Sweat and Muscles (for turning the compost)
  • Compost area (preferably enclosed to keep away unwanted critters)

Directions:

1.) Add veggie scraps (we get ours from Irregardless Cafe and Catering and from our volunteers)

2) Let the chickens eat some of the scraps…they add fertilizer to the compost anyway!

3) Mix up some coffee grounds (we get ours from Déjà Brew that a our volunteer Joe brings)

4) Add in Leaf Mulch from your local leaf mulchery. Capital Mulch Company, Leaf & Limb and City of Raleigh Yard Waste Center are some sources.

5) Fold the ingredients to combine

6) Cover and let it bake! This will ensure that the ingredients will be getting the heat it needs to decompose. Depending on how much heat, rain and worms are in your pile, it can take 3 months to a year to get a complete compost.

Be sure to turn the compost once or twice a month until ready. Your compost should look like moist, dark soil.

If you don’t want your own compost pile or do not have the ability to have one – bring your extra scraps and coffee grounds to us! Located at 1321 Athens Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606 – you can stop by anytime and drop off your scraps.

Written by Lubana Lanewala, Garden Apprentice