First off, we moved several 50-pound bags of cow manure. This was spread up and down the rows of cabbages and peppers that didn’t get manure prior to planting.
Then we placed old newspapers down around the plants, about 5-6 sheets thick. Tom must have been so impressed with our muscles moving the bags of manure that he then made us shovel mulch all over the newspapers to a depth of several inches. Who knew that there was such an art to putting down mulch?! As the location of the veggie garden is quite open and can get pretty windy, the mulch had to completely cover the edges of the newspapers so that the wind would not be able to get underneath and blow them away. Then we had to go back and make sure that there was no mulch touching the plants, especially the stems of the tomato plants, as this can damage them.
While some of us continued to shovel mulch, a couple of ladies moved on to the next task of the day. Tom wanted to get some squash seeds planted. They thought they were getting out of the shoveling … but no! Apparently, squash seeds grow best when planted in little ‘hills’. This means making small mounds of organic matter (about 2 shovels full), and then covering them fully with dirt (more shoveling). The hills should be spread out about 4 feet apart. Next we rolled out the black plastic over the hills, and then, you guessed it, we shoveled dirt onto the edges of the plastic to prevent it from blowing away. Finally we got to the easy part – making holes into the plastic by cutting X marks, and then popping three seeds into the dirt, about 2-3 inches apart. In about 10-12 days the seeds should begin to germinate. Depending on how many seeds do actually germinate in each hill, some of the seedlings may be thinned out to give more space to the remaining plants.
All in all it was a good day’s work but we still have many more days of work to go. Teams of volunteers and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden staff will be working regularly each week to get it all done. I’m hoping that we didn’t scare away the volunteers with all the shoveling this week – we need them to come back and do some more work next week!