First the No News: Texas is experiencing a record drought that is expected to last through next year. The Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA), the church’s water supplier, has declared a Stage 2 Water Shortage Condition which limits irrigation to two days a week.
Then the Good News: The Director of Utilities at CLCWA is a gardener and appears to understand that seedlings, new transplants and many vegetables need watering more frequently than twice-weekly, though the total water consumption may not be more than used in a turf lawn.
Now the Bad News: The CLCWA Drought Contingency Plan (PDF) does not exempt hand-watering from Stage 2 restrictions and the Director does not have latitude to issue a variance or special exemption for garden irrigation. Continue reading
Preface: I won’t spend time explaining why compost is important – that’s why we have Google. If you have some hours to kill, ask me about it in person.
The very first garden elements to be installed were the compost bins – they were built back in mid-October within a week of selecting the garden site. The bins are constructed from reclaimed wooden shipping pallets (approximately 40″ x 48″). The pallets are tied together using bailing wire to make a row of bins. Plastic mesh fencing was stapled across the front of the bins to hold in the compost materials.
A couple of Saturdays ago the garden had its first official workday – and it was a success! We had ten volunteers show up to work on installing the water lines and to make a “future site of…” sign to let folks know what was going on (if they can read Spanish).
The allotment plots in the BAUUC Community Garden will be 4-ft x 20-ft raised beds. The beds will be constructed by putting down a layer of cardboard over the ground (and weeds), installing the edging, then filling the raised bed with about 8 inches of imported soil. This is a typical approach for raised vegetable beds and is the method recommended by the knowledgeable folks at Urban Harvest.
Here’s a good resource to help translate gardening terms between English and Spanish. It was written for the University of California Master Gardener program by a retired State Department translator.
Based on a new understanding of the pipeline easement restrictions, the garden layout has been modified. The berries and fruit trees were removed from the plan, but the vegetable plots remain in the same general area. We will reconsider locations for an orchard next year.
Our unofficial theme song during the build process is The Garden Song, written by David Mallett back in the 70’s. If anyone has Spanish-language verses for this song, let us know!
During October BAUUC volunteers toured several community gardens in the area to observe a variety of building techniques, crop selections and garden management styles. We are grateful for the time, advice and encouragement offered by: Gerry Gafka and Betty Crockford at the Harris County Master Gardeners Precinct 2 Demonstration/Donation Garden; Oscar and the other volunteers at the Challenger 7 Community Garden in Webster; Penny Skov and Beverly Demoss at the Clear Lake United Methodist Church community garden; and Ally Hardick at the Plant a Seed ~ Feed a Need community garden at St. Chrisopher Episcopal church in League City.
Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church (BAUUC) launched the Neighborhood Project in October 2011 to engage the congregation with the local community as part of the church’s mission “to change lives and heal the world”. The BAUUC Community Garden is an extension of the Neighborhood Project. In conjunction with other outreach and service projects, the garden will be a place where members, friends and neighbors of the church can work together side-by-side despite differences in background, culture and language. Not only will this garden grow food, it will grow a community.