Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Match Made in Brookline

Harvested tomatoes to share with Tommy.
Peggy wanted to share her garden with someone.  After many years of cultivating a small portion of her yard in her spare time, she wished to expand and devote more serious attention to it.

Anna grew up with her grandmother’s and mother’s extensive back-yard gardens and was living in a condo with no outdoor space.

We met at the Garden Sharing workshop at Bountiful Brookline’s Spring into Gardening event in March. Peggy, a panelist, described her rewarding experience partnering the previous year with a neighbor who subsequently moved to another city.  Anna, in the audience, was eager to find an opportunity to grow food somewhere close by.  As it turned out, we lived a short walk from each other, and we forged a partnership to share an organic garden.   Another workshop participant, Tommy, volunteered to help us dig, accepting in return a share of our tomato harvest.
Peggy provided her previously worked garden space, which included perennial patches of strawberries, raspberries and herbs,  spring crops of garlic and mache from direct seeding the previous fall, a home compost, and her experience with a fairly conventional assortment of produce.   She had expanded her garden last year and wanted to expand further and start more seeds indoors.   Anna brought a wealth of ideas from her mother’s garden and suggestions for what seemed to Peggy exotic items like fava beans, leeks and sorrel as well as interesting varieties like Easter Egg radishes and different flavors of basil.  Anna had already combed the catalogues and was ready to order seed packets.

Peggy was especially pleased with the success of the
peppers raised from seed.

With Tommy at the shovel, we started by expanding the garden area.  We got soil tests and made organic amendments.  We netted the strawberries and kale, which had been harvested prematurely by squirrels and turkeys the previous year.  We expanded our compost capacity by building a new bin and digging a pit.  We did a lot of direct seeding while readying other plants indoors and bought some heirloom variety seedlings from the store.  With the help of Anna’s husband, Marcus, we expanded the backyard garden again and dug up the front yard for squash.

What Peggy liked best was just getting to do the actual gardening with another similarly inspired person, developing ideas together and teaching each other from our own experiences, and trying new produce.  Another advantage was having someone to depend on to look after the garden and assure harvesting when she was out of town.

Anna loved raising heirloom tomatoes.
Anna loved getting to know more of her neighbors and the mentorship of working closely with a more experienced gardener. Additionally, she relished trying out new seeds, thinking about how to time and arrange the various plantings, and having a large assortment of heirloom tomatoes (Zapotec anyone?).  Since she worked in a lab all day she especially savored being outdoors and playing with Peggy’s dog.

The biggest benefit was our friendship that developed as we worked, learned and harvested together.

We had a good season and have lots of ideas for next year!

-Peggy Ueda

Would you like to share a garden?
Contact the Bountiful Brookline Garden Match at