Monday, April 12, 2010

I think I've been officially ousted from the community garden...

I think I've been ousted from the community garden.  At first, my feelings were hurt, but I think it's for the best.

Before I go, I want to show my deep-mulch method masterpiece.  I've been carrying yard debris, mostly lawn clippings, from the college waste sites to "my plot" in the community garden.  (Mine is the plot with the dried grasses covering and sitting in front a "normal" rural South African plot: bare, naked soil.  You never, ever find bare, naked soil in a natural state.  The earth considers it a wound.)  My hope was to cover my plot with deep mulch and let it overwinter.  In this way, I was hoping the mulch would smother existing weeds and then come spring, I could dig the mulch down into the soil to improve it.

Over the course of my deep-mulching project, I've had ongoing (and unsuccessful) conversations about the deep-mulching theory.  Most farmers were disbelieving.  Finally, the gentlemen in charge of the garden could see that the deep mulching was definitely killing the weeds, but he was so excited with this development, that he wanted to move my piles of mulch all around the garden to kill the weeds on other plots (instead of letting it overwinter and be turned back into the soil).

So, last week, the community garden manager informed me that the other gardeners had taken a vote, and they wanted to "uniform" the garden.  "What does that mean, exactly?"  I asked.  It means, that they want to plant all crops in uniform rows; for example, one row of 5 plots with nothing but onions, one row with 5 plots of nothing but carrots, one row with 5 plots of nothing but beets... You get the picture.

Then, I cautiously asked, "What am I supposed to plant in my plot?"  "You are to plant onions."  "Only onions?"  "Yes, only onions."

So, for months I've been working to carry mulch, painstakingly, in love of my garden-to-be next spring.  All for nothing but onions.

I explained that I was hoping to intercrop, grow a lot of food in a little space, blah, blah, blah.  Nope, only onions.  And, you'll need to pay a R50 start up fee and R10 per month there after.

"Ok.  Can I plant somewhere else, outside of the formal garden plan?" 

"Yes," he replied, and took me way back in the back of the garden.  "You can plant whatever you'd like, right here."  The plot to which he was pointing was full of weeds and would basically take me back to square one.  (I'd need to pull weeds and carry mulch, all over again.)

At first I agreed, but the more I think of it, it's a lot of work and I don't have the time to devote to such a large space as I'd like.  (Peace Corps would rather have me in the schools than in the garden.)  And quite frankly, I've felt disheartened by being bumped in such a way.  I simply don't have the heart to begin a new.

The good news is, I had a wonderful brunch on Sunday: eggs sauteed with onion, chillies and fresh lentil sprouts and gem squash sauteed with whole cumin.  YUM!

Soon, Karen


  1. That looks like a beautiful lunch. It is a very absurd situation you are in over there with the garden. It is hard to believe how hard change is to people even when the evidence of benefit is right before their eyes. I'm sorry about this for you and know you are very discouraged. Maybe you will find heart again around your trailer!

  2. Oh well. At least I've saved several cubic yards of biomass (mulch) from being torched. And even tho they're not using it in all ways it could be used, at least they're using it for something!

    And yes, I can have my very own garden plot at the trailer! :-)

  3. Goody! Will try to catch you on chat Thursday a.m.