Veggie Garden by “Lacie Seager Ruiz”

Garden description: This is a new garden since we just moved! I wanted an area that was sectioned off from the rest of the yard.
Who are the gardeners: My husband, Sal Ruiz, helped build the area and put the fencing to keep critters out. I maintain the garden and pick the veggies!
Why do you garden: It’s nice when you need produce and can just walk out into your yard. I find it relaxing and like I’m grocery shopping! I always like seeing everything bloom!
How has gardening impacted you during this time: It’s very therapeutic! I like going out and seeing little surprises like how zucchini seems to grow overnight!
What do you have in your garden? Beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green and yellow bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, serano peppers, poblano peppers, green beans, zuchinni and cucumbers!
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? No disease or pests. Just very hot weather!

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Shepherd’s Community Garden by “Good Shepherd Lutheran Church”

VGC 2020 Winner!Vegetable Gardens – 1st Place

Garden description: We are a faith based community garden. We have 7 large raised beds that all produce goes to St Stephen’s Food Pantry in Wilmington. We have 30 community garden plots that are rented out to the community with the request for a 10% donation of their harvest to the food pantry.
Who are the gardeners: This garden is tended by the congregation of the church and by the community gardeners. Its mission has expanded beyond just going vegetables and has become its own community whose members care about food insecurity and each other. In this time of isolation it has been a safe and peaceful place for people to be outside and be involved in serving ministry.
Why do you garden: We garden because we are called to be good stewards of our resources, food insecurity is a large problem in Wilmington and to create community.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: It has been an activity that has allowed people to connect safely, enjoy nature and give purpose to people’s days.
What do you have in your garden? tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans, cucumbers, watermelon, kale, choi, kohlrabi, lettuce, beets, corn, herbs, radishes, eggplant, okra and sunflowers.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? We had a rabbit problem earlier so we had to reinforce our wood fence with some wire mesh.

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Half Acre Garden by “John & Shannon”

VGC 2020 Winner!Vegetable Gardens – 2nd Place (tie)

Garden description: The main garden is a 600 sq ft rectangular fenced area. The “fence” is wire poultry netting that is attached to a post and beam skeleton of burned timbers. The wire fence is buried 8” below ground. This has kept rabbits out of the garden which had been an issue in years past. We burned the timbers to help preserve the wood but mainly for aesthetic reasons. The west side of the garden is the composting area. This open air, four-bin system is not only convenient (toss garden waste over the shoulder) but offers other benefits. Intentionally situated on the west side, it provides protection from the western winds. As the garden/yard/ food waste moves through the four-bin system, it breaks down into compost and becomes a passive source of fertilizer, leaching into the garden. The northern section is a post and beam structure taller than the other three sides. This allows for trellising crops to not cast shade on other parts of the garden. While the fenced area is where there is a concentration of annual food crops, the entire property is designed to grow food. Peach, fig, aronia, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus, strawberries, hardy kiwi, squash, herbs, mushrooms, etc. are all grown outside the garden. We call it Half Acre Garden because that is the approximate size of our property, and because it connotes that one doesn’t need a lot of land to grow a lot of different types of food.
Who are the gardeners: We are a suburban family that enjoys growing nutritious and flavorful seasonal food. We (John and Shannon) are the main caretakers. John specializes in the pre-production of the food – the growing… and Shannon specializes in the post-production — the harvesting, preparing, cooking, and preserving. Our children specialize in mainly eating the food.
Why do you garden: We have always valued physical fitness and overall health. We realize that the food system is inadequate in this country and feel compelled to have a bit more control over our access to nutritious, flavorful and affordable food. We also feel like it makes us better human beings. To observe the needs of something, to help meet those needs and then to watch it become fully what it is designed to be… is beautiful. We find joy in knowing that we have helped nurture nature. Admittedly, it isn’t completely altruistic as we do get to enjoy the beauty and bounty of it. We want to inspire people to nurture their land — to feed the soil. We become better stewards of our community when we become intentional with our actions and the impact it has on our land. We are literally putting down roots which seem to be (increasingly) lacking in our fast-paced and transient society.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: It has only confirmed our belief that there is value in producing some of one’s food and nurturing one’s land – becoming more resilient to systemic environmental and societal “shocks”. During this time we feel hope is vitally important. There is hope in a tomato flower … and hope is one of the best things to grow.
What do you have in your garden? In our main garden, we have tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peas, beans, corn, lettuces, Swiss chard, broccoli, and a variety of companion herbs and flowers.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? We focus on making the land a healthy ecosystem, giving our attention to the basics – water, food, shelter and introducing an adequate amount of biodiversity. It seems when those needs are met, disease and pests are minimal – the system balances itself. Admittedly, accepting a certain level of imperfection helps. We’re always learning and currently trying a more passive approach. We have a lot of wood chips on our property, using them as walking paths and in landscape beds. The paths are inoculated with Stropharia Rugosoannulata fungi – also known as wine cap or garden giant mushrooms. This mycelium helps the wood decompose and provides food for different insects and microbes. The mycelium helps to bind the material together and act like a sponge, holding water and then slowly releasing it when needed. It creates an underground network that help plants meet their food, water and shelter needs. Worms especially love it. Over a few years the chips break down into nutrient-rich soil. A side benefit is that the wine cap mushrooms are delicious! We also have plenty of birds and bees because we’ve provided areas of shelter, water and food for them. In turn, they help pollinate plants, aid in pest management and in general, are just pleasant to have around.

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The Back Forty by “Gail”

Garden description: My garden is limited in space as it is in a 55+ community. Plants chosen must be productive and appropriate for the parameters as well as attractive for my neighbors.
Who are the gardeners: Myself.
Why do you garden: Can’t seem to help doing it. Love to watch them grow and enjoy eating the results.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: Calms and centers me.
What do you have in your garden? Spinach followed by green beans ( four plantings); lettuce (three varieties) with second seeding for fall; radishes followed beets; chard for summer greens followed by kale in the fall; cucumbers (seven plants); tomatoes (5 plants); parsley; dill; chives for seasoning and drying.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? Cucumbers are experiencing a leaf blight. Last year I lost some tomatoes to horn worm. So far this year, organic spray is successful.

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Tickle Bee Garden by “The Newell Family”

Garden description: As with any garden, ours is continually evolving and has many influences. The starting point for this one was searching for a place to locate apple trees on our small suburban lot. My husband’s family has a long-standing tradition of homeade apple pies, and after reading the children’s book, The Apple Pie Tree, I decided we needed to grow our own. Given our space constraints, and our desire to maintain a sunny, open lawn in the backyard for the kids to play in, I wanted to try an espalier, and the front yard was the most promising location. My husband, who frequently encourages me to “go all the way”, nudged me along when I became enamoured with the idea of a Belgian fence espalier, so I had posts and wires set in the same materials as our backyard fence installation. Since it is in our front yard, we wanted to (try to) keep the garden neat and somewhat formal if possible. We decided on raised beds, both to delineate the garden shape and to provide an extra level of protection against potential lead contamination. From there, we planted what we and the kids like to eat! My father used to employ “tickle bees” to get me laughing as a kid, a tradition he has passed on to my kids. This was what was going on as I was asking for garden name suggestions, and hence, “Tickle Bee Garden”
Who are the gardeners: Myself and my husband, Willie, our 4 year old daughters, Adrienne & August, and our 3 year old son, Isaac (supervised by our dogs, Sarah and Ruby)
Why do you garden: I garden because I grew up gardening and not having one feels empty. I love the irreplaceable and intoxicating smell of tomato plants and fresh strawberries still warm from the sun. I love to have my hands in the dirt, to plan and wait and watch what comes up. I garden to learn and experiment and have much tastier food than what you can find at the grocery store. And I garden to have my kids enjoy these simple pleasures and to know where their food comes from and what’s involved in growing it.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: Our garden has been a great outlet, both for us and the kids. It keeps us physically active and out in the sun and fresh air, helps us bond as a family, is a good educational tool for the kids, and of, course supplies fresh, delicious produce, as long as we can beat the squirrels to it! Since it is in our front yard, it has been a nice way to interact with neighbors in a socially distant way, just chatting with people as they walk by.
What do you have in your garden? Apples, pears, pomegranates, persimmon, strawberries, sugar snap peas, beets, mustard and other greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, watermelon, bell peppers, sunflowers, marigolds, nasturtiums, carrots, basil, parsley, cilantro & dill
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? All the neighborhood squirrels and rabbits love it! Tempted to cage it, but not terribly keen on this idea for the front yard. Apples and pears have cedar apple rust. Next year I may per-emptively spray for this. I use insecticidal soap occasionally for aphids on the fruit trees. One of the pomegranates has some sort of canker that I have yet to identify and treat.

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In The Garden with Gail by “Gail Hermenau”

VGC 2020 Winner!Vegetable Gardens – 2nd Place (tie)

Garden description: My small but intensive vegetable garden includes a variety of seasonal vegetables from spring through fall. I grow everything using organic methods and compost all of the plant material generated in my yard. Nothing leaves the property! I enjoy growing many varieties of vegetables and using them in my kitchen.
Who are the gardeners: Gail Hermenau- I have been gardening since I was a young girl. I love growing vegetables and herbs to use in my kitchen to provide nutritious, delicious, recipes for my family. There’s nothing better than going out to the garden to harvest fresh vegetables and herbs to prepare a meal. You can’t get anything fresher than that!
Why do you garden: Besides the fact that I love to grow food, I love to cook food, I love to eat food!, I find it very rewarding. Even after all my years of gardening I still find it miraculous what can be produced from the tiniest of seeds.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: I always find working in my garden very therapeutic but especially this year. My garden has been a solace this year, every day I would be thankful I had my garden to work in during isolation.
What do you have in your garden? Cabbage, potatoes, leeks, shallots, lettuce, peas, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, sweet corn, tomatoes, artichokes, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, bush beans, arugula, radishes, peppers, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, lovage, lavender, zinnias, cosmos, monarda, echinacea, and sunflowers.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? Sometimes, I practice crop rotation, good garden hygiene, good watering practices, scout early for pests, and early intervention if pest or disease are present.

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