I started gardening with my mother when I was about 3 years old. There has always been a bit of a magical allure to putting a tiny little seed snugly in the dirt, giving it a little bit of water occasionally and watching a beautiful, green leafy plant unfurl from that seed.
Over the years I gathered quite a bit of experience with various vegetables and flowers that I have grown to enjoy eating or gathering into bouquets and passing on to friends and family. As I grew older, I considered myself a fairly knowledgeable gardener, but one thing I am most knowledgeable about is that there is always something new to learn.
At Inn Along the Way we are in our fourth year of gardening and here are a few things we have gleaned:
We can plant five helianthus plants one year and the next year we will have roughly 150 in that row!
Deer love the flowers of sunflowers and the leaves of phlox. I am sure they really love blueberry bushes.
Another thing we all learned is that it has been very hard to watch asparagus come up lush and thick and not be able to cut and eat any. Next year will be the year.
We learned to enjoy a summer of tomatoes because they may not do so well another year, and allowing pumpkins to crawl freely gives you pumpkins among your raspberries and your blueberries. Pumpkins are so beautiful when they turn orange that we allow them free range.
We learned Eagle Scouts build beautiful raised beds that produce many, many bouquets of flowers, batches of pesto, a year’s worth of garlic, and onions galore.
We have realized electric fences keep the deer out, but not birds or tree frogs, both of which are welcome. We also realized excessive rain finds its way down to the lower end of the garden and can swallow boots quite effectively, but asparagus and rhubarb thrive in that boot-swallowing mud while dahlia bulbs that produce an average crop of blooms most years will revel in a wet spring and summer and bloom repeatedly for months.
The gardening team at Inn Along the Way met faithfully every Wednesday morning all spring and summer and into the fall as we put the garden to bed for the winter. We are planning on an array of raised beds in that lower end of the garden to thwart the rains next year.
In moving from a tilled garden to a no-till, we have found joy in recycling cardboard into a weed- deterring, worm-feeding medium that will carry us through future years of sharing fresh vegetables and flowering bouquets with the Lunch Bunch and others who share our growing community of Inn Along the Way.
It seems that there is always more to do, but that will be next year. We look forward to it. We will open our grant request for garden donations online at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 15. No donation is too small or too big, and all will be very much appreciated.
To donate to the Inn Along the Way garden, go to donate.seedmoney.org/8730/inn-along-the-way-garden-is-growing.
For more information, please call Sherry Flint or check our website. We also have a monthly newsletter, if you would like to keep informed of all the activities that are happening at Inn Along the Way.
Remember, if you’ve lost a loved one and are grieving; are a caregiver, in need of support; if you are at a point of transition and in need of a sounding board or friendly companionship, you are not alone. Call 751-6261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Inn Along the Way is a nonprofit with the goal of transforming the historic Chapman Farm in Damariscotta into an innovative, neighborhood-style setting for older adults and caregivers.)