WHITMAN — A group of community gardeners have hopes for bumper crops of vegetables, herbs and flowers this summer.
Passersby may have noticed the raised garden beds on the old Essex Street softball field in Whitman with dozens of tomato plants, peppers and even multi-colored flowers in the outfield —the new Whitman Community Garden.
On Tuesday, July 7, there were gardeners at the patch tending to their various plots all raised and wooden boxed each space is approximately 4X8, and 6X12-feet, but are personalized the vegetables and herbs to their taste.
DPW Superintendent Bruce Martin has been overseeing the garden plot availability and DPW workers have helped several people construct the raised beds. They had 30 plots in total at the start of the season in early April.
“The DPW takes the applications and maintains the area making sure the water works for the public hose,” Martin said. “We assist in helping build the boxes if needed but most have put their own together.”
The boxes have been especially convenient for those who have little space but would like their own garden or are perhaps modestly finding their green thumbs.
Owners have their own garden to water, weed and within the rules of the community garden adhere to growing their crops, he said.
There is a Facebook page (for those who request to join) where garden tips, photos and other gardening socialization is posted.
Diallo Ferguson of Whitman is a first time gardener.
“It has always been an interest and when I heard about the plot gardens it struck a chord. I knew I wanted to do it and it was a great opportunity. So far so good,” he said on his generation of produce.
He called the experience fun as he learned how to garden, proudly exclaiming that he had successfully harvested kale, zucchini, mint and cilantro. He is also seeing tomatoes on the vine that are still in stages of green but he is hopeful they are on a strong track.
Ferguson said people are helpful in offering to help with weeding and general tips.
Girl Scout Troop 66187 parent Tarcia Davis said the girls ages 12 to14 decided they would also maintain a plot as a project. She assisted with creating the Facebook page and the girls painted the welcome sign at the front gate.
The gardening projects has been a great learning experience as the Girl Scouts’ mission is teaching skills (with guidance and pointers) as the girls become more independent. The four girls who are maintaining the plot have some assistance from parents but the idea is to help them become skilled through the process, said Davis.
Having started the vegetables from seeds and not plants they learned quickly that they had placed the seeds too far in the soil and had to start again. Their hope is to pass the plot on to the next younger troops so they can experience the process and benefits as well.
Davis is also developing a farm stand by August to encourage sharing and swapping produce in an organized fashion.
Lee Anne Burton of Whitman a beekeeper has up kept half a dozen hives in the outfield that are assisting with the pollination and benefits for the gardens development.
The group of growers is learning from one another as they also recently released a large quantity of ladybugs as part of a natural insecticide.
Burton updated her fellow gardeners and The Express on the bees’ status.
“Last Thursday I checked on Queen Nova and her attendants, the hive is growing, full of new babies, lots of comb-building going on. I added a third brood box to the hive and will remove the feeder next week.
She also applauded Martin for weed whacking to keep the area neat.
She is planning the next boxes numbers 5-6 to be the honey boxes, called Honey Supers.
“Hopefully we will be able to harvest some from this hive in the late summer early fall. It looks strong, about 30,000 bees or so, and is growing nicely! Burton posted.
In April there were a dozen plots many have been filled but there are additional spaces for inquiries contact the Whitman DPW.