Sunday, July 17, 2011

Osceola Community Garden

I recently was invited to attend the annual open house for the Osceola Diversity Garden, a community garden on the north side of Osceola in southern Iowa.  The garden is located behind the Farm Bureau and ISU Extension building along Highway 65, if you're interested in seeing it yourself.  Anyone can stop and take a look at what's growing.

Once a weedy lot, this community garden is now divided into more than a dozen different plots, each measuring about 8 feet by 20 feet.  Local residents can reserve their own garden plot to grow whatever annual vegetable, herb or flower they would like.  The cost is $8 per plot, and garden tools and expert advice from volunteer Master Gardeners are included.  What a deal!  I wish I lived in Osceola.  I would love to have this sunny space to grow veggies.

The Master Gardeners also have planted several demonstration plots to show off different gardening ideas.  There is a "scratch-and-sniff" herb garden (loved this idea!), and my favorite -- a grocery bag garden!  One of the volunteers told me I could plant lettuce now in a reuseable grocery bag (with holes poked in the bottom), then move the bag to a shady spot to avoid the summer sun.  I'm going to try it out at home and see if it works.

Local gardeners have planted a wide variety of veggies in their plots.  There were several plots with nothing but tomatoes.  One plot was planted with green beans only -- just plain ol' green beans for canning.

Scratch 'N Sniff herb garden
I wish my garden looked so neat and beautiful!  And I loved this idea -- tomato trellising.

To raise money, the volunteers were selling leftover tomato seedlings for 25 cents a piece.  I couldn't resist coming home with this little guy.  It's called "Mom's tomato."  It's grown by one of the Master Gardeners, who saves the seeds from a variety of tomato that her mom used to plant back in the Victory Garden days. She doesn't know what variety it is, so she just calls it "Mom's tomato."  It's so popular in Osceola, that the farmers' market vendors sell "Mom's tomatoes" each year.  I was told it's a pinkish, meaty tomato, with an excellent flavor.  And I got some tips for how to save the seeds myself.  I'll share those with you if I ever get to that point.

What -- doesn't everyone keep tomato plants in their cupholders? :)

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