Summer Tuesdays are gardening days at the Center, but with all the rain (and even a couple of late snows) it came down to June 2 as the drop-dead date for planting this year. It was just too wet till that late Tuesday to consider digging and planting.
For many years now we’ve had the great fortune to work with a group of Arapahoe County Master Gardeners, and every student gets the opportunity to plant, cultivate and harvest in our garden. With only one day to do it, Kimberley organized everyone into groups that would have half an hour to spend planting. A few staff members got their hands dirty too.
Designed as a sensory garden as well as vegetable garden, the vegetables are planted in a unique raised bed, a stone and masonry circle three feet off the ground with a planting space nearly 25 feet in diameter. This raised circle is surrounded by a concrete walk which in turn is encircled by more plantings and three flagstone footpaths that radiate out to the edges of the garden another 30 feet or more. These outer beds are home to a number of perennials such as lilacs, roses, day lilies, snowball plants, batista,thyme, Russian sage and butterfly plants – as well as select trees. Lots of lovely smells out there to last the entire growing season, but there are also the exquisitely soft leaves of Lamb’s Ear to test with your fingers!
This year’s plantings included a variety of heirloom and modern tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers, Japanese eggplant, squash and cucumbers, as well as basil and other herbs. We harvested chives and cilantro, left over perennials in the big bed. The chives were already blooming wildly and our newest Tech Instructor, Chris Parsons, munched on their flowers after planting several tomatoes. The flowers of chives are quite tasty!
Of course, we have students from all over the United States, and last year our Georgia students requested to plant collard greens, so we added them to the list and the are back this year. This year James, whose home state is Tennessee, asked if we could plant okra, so it’s in the garden now too.
Andy is from the Garden State of New Jersey, but had never gardened before.
“That was totally fun,” he said as he headed back to class. “I definitely want to do that again!”
For others it was a relaxing return to a hobby they’ve enjoyed before.
As the summer progresses on into fall, we’ll use the produce and herbs in Home Management classes, while unused treasures will go home with students to their apartments or with staff members. Nothing will be wasted.
With the expertise of our eight volunteer Master Gardeners, it’s another great opportunity for our blind students to learn about their capacities as blind people and to find yet another way to enjoy the fruitful days of a Colorado summer!
Below is this year’s planting list from our Master Gardeners, supplied by Rana who has worked with us for nearly a decade:
CCB Veggie List
- Tomatoes (10)
- Peppers hot and sweet
- Green beans
- Zucchini/ Yellow squash
- Pumpkins (center of the bed. Carving and Edible)
- Collard greens
- Basil (at least 6)
- Lemon Verbena
- Oregano (we have)
- Mint (have LOTS)
- Sage (we have?)
- Chives (have)
- Cilantro (seed)
- Chamomile (it came back
- Tarragon (we have)