Masonic Home Garden Blossoms...
Thanks to our many hard working volunteers, and to the generous donations and contributions of many local businesses, the gardening facilities at the Masonic Home of Helena are now complete, and the residents of the home are not only engaged in many gardening activities but reaping the benefits that derive from eating fresh, wholesome, organic produce as well.
Since our Spring update, here's what's happened:
First, we finished construction of the deer fencing that surrounds the large, flat-bed garden in the back of the home, to include installation of three separate gates, one of which is large enough to accommodate pick-up truck access. The other two gates provide easy access for the residents of the home, and ready access to the composting area, where we installed a large, 3-bin composting system made from rough stock fir. The composting system is being used to recycle waste product from the garden as well as waste product from the Masonic Home kitchen. We should have plenty of compost come this fall and next spring to add back to the garden soil.
The flat-bed garden currently is in full bloom, although some produce such as radishes, certain lettuces, and spinach have already been fully harvested.
Many types of produce are currently being harvested from the garden including peas, carrots, beets, Yukon Gold potatoes and kale.
Harvesting will continue over the summer months and into fall and we anticipate bountiful harvesting of many vegetables including seven different varietes of summer and winter squash; Yukon Gold, red and russet potatoes; corn, string beans, cabbage, and onions; cucumbers, Romaine lettuce, celery, and kale; and, of course, lots and lots of different types of tomatos, and a wide variety of herbs including fennel, cilantro, basil and parsley.
After experimenting with a couple of different approaches to watering, we have finally settled on a system that appears to work really well for the large flat-bed garden. The Masonic Home is serviced by a large, 52,000 gallon water tank which is fed by two nearby artesian wells. The garden sits directly beneath this water tower and the grounds crew at the Masonic Home installed for us a new watering bib that ties directly into lines coming from this system. We ran about 200' of 3/4" hose from the bib to the garden where we split the line in two to feed two separate "rain bird" sprinklers. An automatic timer turns water on early in the morning and allows us to control the frequency of watering, and the length of time during which water is applied. So far, so good!
Finally, we have recently completed the construction, filing, and planting of a large 6' X 24" raised bed flower garden in the front of the home, to include packed, decomposed granite and clay walkways around the bed.
Although garden construction and installation is now complete, there remains much to be done at the Masonic Home garden. We'll be the first to admit that our largest crop continues to be native weeds, and weeding is a never-ending proposition that requires constant attention and upkeep. Also, very soon nearly all the produce being grown will be ready to harvest, and harvesting and preparation of the food the garding is producing also will require considerable time. To the many hard-working volunteers who continue to support our efforts in these and other tasks that must be done to maintain the resiliancy and bounty of the garden: Thank you!