On Earth Day, SFC celebrated the official Grand Opening of the St. David's Foundation Community Garden and JP's Peace, Love & Happiness Teaching Garden. From a seed of an idea, thanks to the generosity and support of St. David's Foundation, John Paul DeJoria and JP's Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation, H-E-B, Linda & Nick van Bavel, Annette Renaud, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Austin Parks Foundation, Warren Skaaren Charitable Trust and countless others, the garden has finally fully blossomed into life! While the space is still under construction and growing daily, visitors can experience various gardening techniques for both beginners and advanced gardeners. The space has already hosted our first Special Topics Garden Class on rain gardens in March, several Citizen Gardener classes, and will continue to host more hands-on classes, field trips and summer camps, tours and volunteer days, and drop-in visitors. This garden is a place where our best ideas for self-sufficient food production come to life, and we can't wait to share it with our community.
Looking for a little inspiration for your own home garden or community garden plot? Stop by for a self-guided tour and check out some of the techniques demonstrated in the Teaching Garden:
- Olla pots--Ollas (the Spanish word for “pot”) are pots made from terra cotta fired at a low temperature that allows the material to maintain high porosity – pores through which water seeps slowly once buried underground. These pots, buried in raised garden beds, can be filled once or twice a week with water to create the perfect soil moisture for vegetables. This is a great way to conserve water during the summer and keep your plants well-watered.
- Wicking beds--Similar to the olla pots, wicking beds offer an alternative to the evaporation of hose watering. Wicking beds have reservoirs of gravel or stone below the soil that can be filled with water via tube or bamboo shoot. Filling the reservoir trains plants’ roots to grow downwards towards the source of water, which wicks upwards to water roots.
- Drip irrigation--Probably the easiest water-saving irrigation system is drip irrigation – a series of hoses with small holes or perforations that slowly water plants, mimicking rain drops. The drip irrigation system in the Teaching Garden keeps many flowers, vegetables, and succulents very happy.
- Keyhole composting--One of the most successful beds in the Teaching Garden is our keyhole compost bed – a space-efficient bed in the shape of a keyhole with a compost pile in the middle. As plant waste decomposes, it releases nutrients to the plants growing around it as well as holds onto moisture for longer periods of time.
- Companion planting--Planting multiple types of edible and non-edible plants can deter pests or maintain soil health. Planting peas with carrots, for example, will fix nitrogen in the soil so that carrots can grow hearty. Planting dill with vegetables can act as a distraction for bugs to eat instead of munching on precious veggies.
- Rain garden--A rain garden is a lower depression in the ground that absorbed and filter runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs or sidewalks. The rain garden in the Teaching Garden will capture rain coming off of our Teaching Pavilion into a vegetated patch of land full of Texas native and drought tolerant plants. This ensures less runoff and erosion and make sure that the rare storm rain is used by plants.
Interested in volunteering, receiving a tour, taking a class, or organizing a field trip to the Teaching Garden? Contact Ellen Orabone, Teaching Garden Coordinator. The garden is changing and growing every day, so be sure to visit us frequently for new future installations, such as an apiary and greenhouse!