“WHOOSH!” That’s how fast our volunteers set up raised beds in our garden last Sunday! With 30+ volunteers working morning and afternoon shifts, we got many garden jobs done in no time!
Starting at 8 AM on Sunday morning, the first group of volunteers arrived to begin cutting up 16-foot long cedar planks into 4-foot long pieces for our raised beds. We needed to make 20 boxes (4’X4′) to make10 raised beds (4’X8′). Here is a picture of Joe, one of the garden committee members/master carpenter for the day, busy at work.
Our 5 carpenters were on a roll on Sunday morning- the lumber was all cut up by 10AM and 20 beds were finished before lunch break! Thanks, Joe, Steve, Matt, Baptiste and Phil!
These raised beds will be the feature of our ‘partner plot’ program where JHU gardeners partner up with groups from our surrounding community. We are accepting applications for both the partner plot and communal row programs until March 1st!
The afternoon volunteers arrived shortly before 1PM and they diligently layered wet newspaper in the bottom of each raised bed before they filled each bed up with 6-inches of compost brought to us by Waste Neutral, a company that turns food scraps from JHU cafeterias and other local institutions into rich compost. The wet newspaper acts as a weed barrier, this is an organic method for getting rid of weeds without stripping off the top layer of soil and all the organic goodness in it. We confirmed that the newspaper was printed in soy ink, so we need not worry about other heavy metals in the soil. This work was made all the easier with the brand new wheelbarrow donated to us by our neighborhood Ace Hardware store, thank you, Ace!
Each compost-filled raised bed was then watered down to prevent the loose compost from flying away. Our volunteers had a lot of fun splashing the water around! We will be placing a soil order fairly soon. Once the soil gets mixed into the raised beds, our gardeners will be all set to go!
While some volunteers worked on our raised beds, others were busy working on our future strawberry patch, which we began working on back in December. We confirmed this week that Brickman group,the landscaping firm that services JHU’s Eastern campus will help us with tilling the grounds for the strawberry patch and communal rows! We decided that instead of letting the old grass, weeds, and organic matters sit in a pile , we could put them all back into the soil. The black landscaping fabric will ‘fry’ most remaining weeds in the soil. In a couple of weeks, Brickman’s gardeners will come with a heavy duty tiller and turn that soil nice and loose for us. This first season, we will be planting lots and lot of clover in the strawberry patch. The clover will be tilled into the soil later this year. By next spring (if not sooner), we will be ready for our strawberries!
Pictures speak a thousand words – the two pictures below illustrate the dramatic transformation of our garden in less than a day’s work. We are so grateful that so many volunteers donated their time and energy this past Sunday. We certainly hope that everyone had fun with us. One of our goals is to bring together people from different parts of the greater Johns Hopkins community. This weekend, we had students and staff from Homewood campus, the School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins at Eastern and the Space Telescope Science Institute, in addition, many spouses of JHU graduates students joined us in the garden. We hope these volunteers will all return for more soil-covered fun in the future!
We still have plenty of work to do before our soft opening day on March 26 (for example, the shed still needs to be moved!), keep an eye on our calendar for future events, we look forward to spending our next workday with you!
-Anna and Wei-ting