As weather stations, radios and our cell phones are all abuzz with the latest flash flood warnings, the agenda of the Colgate Community Garden team turns to evasive action. If you’re wondering why there hasn’t been a follow-up to our last Community Garden work party and dinner, or why there’s been a decrease in our Instagram activity, we apologize. Though we count ourselves lucky to be safe and dry at home, standing water has covered the beds and paths three times since the night of June 24th.
On the morning of the 25th, the garden woke up to around two feet of water and a strong current flowing through the pepper, squash and tomato beds. The neighboring creek had surged over its banks and, covering the parking lots of the Newell and Parker apartment complexes, carried recycling bins down into the garden. In spite of the perilous conditions, the intrepid Community Garden interns ventured out in a canoe to inspect the situation. Nothing was to be done at that point unfortunately, but once the majority of the standing water was gone, we transplanted many peppers, tomatoes and squash that had survived but would struggle if they remained where they were.
Expecting the worst, we were surprised by how many crops made it through the first flood. Cucumbers (fact of the week: these belong to a family of vegetables known as “cucurbits”), cabbage, beans, kale, chard, melons, squash and the pumpkin patch were all still viable. Thankfully, these crops include our famed “spiral bed”, visible from space! Everything is currently underwater once again, but any remaining crops will be the focus of the garden team’s efforts for the rest of the season. The garden has a healthy dose of wood chips, gravel and cardboard washed over it, with most of the wood chips from our paths covering the tomato bed.
The flooding may be undeniably unfortunate, but with the hit to our potential harvests it carries a chance for learning. Cultivating the areas we’ve identified as salvageable will involve learning about organic fungicide and pesticide substitutes, and maintaining the nutrient content of soil. We’re getting things rolling in the Colgate Community Garden greenhouse, located just past the townhouses, and will update with details soon!
For now, everyone in the Sustainability Office is supportive of the salvaging we can do and we are all simply waiting for the soil to dry enough to clean up the area. Once the standing water in the garden has receded, be looking for a CCG Clean Up Day event and come help us salvage what is left! For more information, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.