Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
For many weather-related reasons, 2013 was a challenging year for all vegetable growers in Central Virginia, but that’s behind us now and we’re excited about beginning our 2014 growing season. To help balance our challenges, 2013 brought several very positive factors: our strongest participation by volunteers in the five year tenure of the Community Kitchen Garden (THANK YOU!); summer temperatures not as hot as the past two years; and the installation of drip irrigation in our “Back 40” section. Plus we had significant support from donors.
During the past three years we have accomplished an average per year yield of 9,925 lbs. Over the five years of the Community Kitchen Garden’s operation our efforts have produced 46,585 lbs. –- or 23.3 tons! — of high-quality, fresh produce to support FeedMore programs in Central Virginia. That amount of produce has supplemented 186,340 meals with the nutrition provided by fresh vegetables.
We had numerous star performers in 2013 – in addition to our fabulous volunteers – including Jasper cherry tomatoes (937 lbs.), Mission bell eggplant (1,833 lbs.), Swiss chard (379 lbs.), turnips (448 lbs.), Red Pontiac potatoes (626 lbs.), and we even grew 54 lbs. of nice celery, an accomplishment because celery isn’t recommended for this area by the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Spring and summer planting plans for 2014 are set. (Click on the garden layouts and the image will enlarge for easier viewing.) We’ve already sown seed in the Massey Greenhouse for beets, Swiss chard, lettuce, celery, leeks, onions, oregano, parsley, basil and other items, and the greenhouse activity will continue through March.
The 2014 plans include the implementation of a four-year plant family crop rotation plan.
“Springing” ahead, in anticipation of last week’s snowstorm, we started our planting of Red Pontiac seed potatoes thanks to long-time seasonal gardener Lisa Shiffert and her son Wylie who volunteered for the day.
If you or your organization would like to get involved on the ground floor with the 2014 Community Kitchen Garden, call or email Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator Brian Vick (804) 307-0428, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Come join us! A complete 2014 Community Kitchen Garden volunteer calendar, including HandsOn Greater Richmond volunteer opportunities will be posted soon.