Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trial and error

For two summers, I've tried to coax vegetables to grow in less than four hours of direct sunlight. The beans were cooperative, the cucumbers did just fine, but everything else winced. So I've put my name on the waitlist for a plot at the Dunwoody Community Garden, where direct sunlight is in abundant supply (as are advice and encouragement by other gardeners).

Dunwoody is hilly, lush with greenery, and quite beautiful through every season. But the downside of all these trees is that gardening is a challenge.

Which reminds me of the history of Dunwoody Park. We have evidence of terraces cut into the hillsides along the creek. In the early settler days, the farmers cleared the land and cut terraces so they could grow crops. Faced with the same conditions as we have today, they maximized the yield of the hilly terrain by leveling as much land as possible and clearing the way for direct sunlight. One family even had a mill on the property - its dam and millstone are still on the grounds.

Urban gardening has so many challenges those early farmers would have thought ridiculous. We can't just do with our land as we see fit. There are tree ordinances, setbacks, residential codes regarding structures visible from the street, and sundry other obstacles to raising food. But creative folks are figuring out ways to be self-reliant.

The good news is that my garden box is mobile. So I'll take it down this winter, keep my fingers crossed that I can move it to Brook Run, and get ready for a new year and a new garden.

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