This article was submitted by Michael Lathrop, who has been a KCCG member for 4 years and uses KCCG resources to garden with his son, Alex.
When I first learned about KCCG I was excited to know that I could buy garden starts, seeds and straw for a reduced and discounted price by joining. They also throw in the chicken poo! That allowed me to expand my garden without much added expense. I had some experience gardening over the years but Sharon Goldstein (KCCG’s Community Partner Garden Coordinator) and the staff offered helpful tips, ideas and their expertise that improved my garden and garden output.
We started out the first year just tilling up the soil and planting the starts and seeds from KCCG. The garden exploded. We had so many cucumbers that year that we got kind of tired of eating them. We made dozens of jars of refrigerator pickles and gave them away to friends, neighbors and family. We had okra that grew 9-10 feet tall. The corn grew well over our head and we’d find zucchini we missed that grew to the size of small baseball bats almost. We had so many tomatoes that we were making jars of salsa, tomato sauce, giving tomatoes away and freezing them as well. I say this because a garden had been at that location years prior but sat dormant for many years and we believe the soil was really fertile and full of nitrogen. It was a very prolific garden that first year and we really got the gardening bug in us after that.
My eldest son Alex is the catalyst and drive of the garden and my main help. His ideas of expanding and maintaining the garden have been fun to implement into the garden plan. We have family and friends that come over and help us at times but mainly it is just the two of us. We share our produce to family, friends and neighbors. It’s a great feeling to share these vegetables that we grew knowing that they are all organic and healthy.We don’t use any chemicals or pesticides on the vegetables or in the soil.
Before the start of our third gardening season we started making raised beds. We used lumber from my son’s tree care business. He has a saw mill and we use the edges of the ripped lumber that they won’t be able to. Many of the pieces have live edges or bark that is still on them so that adds a nice unique look to the raised beds. We currently have about 17 raised beds and room for about 2 or 3 more before we need to expand. All of our raised beds are 4ft wide and 6-12ft long.
We had fun designing our garden gate and arbor. We used cedar trees for the 4 posts and cedar limbs that span the top of the arbor. Our gate is made of Cyprus uprights and cedar cross pieces with a fixed spring closure. The cedar is a little gnarly and peculiar but gives the gate a unique look. A pair of deer antlers adorns the top of the arbor entrance.
This year we built a special raised bed for 3 blueberry bushes that are doing quite well and I planted two yellow raspberry bushes that produced a very succulent, sweet fruit. We added two blackberry bushes that did not produce any berries this year and started our first asparagus bed so we are excited to see how that fares next year.
As the plants expire and the summer moves on we are making way for the new batch of fall cool weather crops that are available at KCCG. We had such a great harvest of broccoli, cabbage kale and cauliflower this year. We look forward to several more months of gardening before the cold weather sets in.
Thank you KCCG!
Mike and Alex Lathrop