Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pictures of the Flood

A bunch of photos of our garden, some flood mayhem, and the progress on the greenhouse, courtesy of Trev Hedge.
Fence. Interesting view of the front of Fertile Underground

Cobbles. Donation from neighbor: on Pine St., ; dormant/rubbish for about 3 yrs.; will be using in our Serpentine bed, in front of Garden

Beds. Seen from the front of the Garden, Pearl St. Side.

Beds. Greenhouse can be seen in the background.

Beds. local lovers claim their space in the pastoral garden.

Hotboxes. Dauna spent a bunch of time making sure that our Greens are going to go a few months into the cold of winter, protected by some of the donations that membrs have given us, like these storm windows.

Serp Bed Green. Even a light freezing doesn't deter some of the plants.The Rosemary plant, with Lamb's Ear, and another well-growing herb from the Back Serpentine Bed.

Spaulding Firebrick. Spaulding brick donated a load of industrial brick to us for use in the Greenhouse project. Some of this load of "rejects" is actually firebrick. It seems logical that those firebricks should all be used at our Rumford Stove Fireplace. Hopefully, we'll be able to throw a grill across the bottom bricks and have a cook-out across some nice Cherry tree wood.

Mike. Some guy named d'Spazio working in the Greenhouse (a.k.a. Sunhaus). I think he's one of our itinerant workers from the South [Side of Providence], trying to earn his day's ration. It looks like he's earned about the Tide's worth of credit for this job. Well Done!

Sheman Faktory. Our itinerant worker d'Spazio, seen through the blessing of the vestal saints, Ancient Bottle, and Rev.Bullsh*t wine; finishing his chores to collect that Tide, so that he may redeem it at the Fertile Underground Grocery, for a coveted jar of pecan butter.

Flood1-4. Not much to say, just overall shots of the effects of the Gremlins.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recent News

This comes from Mike:

Hey Gang,
I took the chance in todays thaw to go down to the garden. Walking in, I saw some funny sights, results from yesterday' storm.
The two beds in front, to the left, were both moved a couple feet from where they'd been. Huh'; And there was a bunch of recycling trash scattered about. The trash can was knocked over. A lot of leaves everywhere.
All the cold frame glass was intact, which surprised me, seeing as how much chaos was else everywhere. Greenhouse was in tip-top shape. I noticed some strange claw marks on one styrofoam piece. Looked like some wild gremlin scratches, bigger than a dog like Cate. Maybe that hawk, but-
Then, as I walk back toward the garden, I saw that the giant pine beam from in front of the greenhouse, bed the squash were in this year-- that giant beam was moved about fifteen feet right up next to yarrow's steps!! WHAT!? And another of those beams was moved a foot or so.
At this point I could think of nothing else than some giant strong gremlin was playing havoc in our garden. I calld Dauna.
She said we musta got hit by one of them twisters!!! There was a bunch of them back in the fifties in that neighborhood, just some microclimate because wer'e at the mouth of the bay. ( We were in that last night here on George M Cohan Boulevard. Our house was swaying. up here on the third floor it was notable, like being on a boat. especially with all that water splashing onthe windows. )
Soon after, I saw Yarrow, and he said it been flooding. They got some in their shop too, (remember that giant puddle that forms between yarrows and gerrys???) and we started seeing the watermark left all over the garden. On the back wall it was about ten inches!!! The line was up to the edge of all the beds, I guess water filling in the channels. The marks on the greenhouse are high! They go about 15 inches up the side right next to the door. Right up to the top brick on our new wall. Water came in the channel a lot, from what I can see. It is hard to even believe!! Well, everything is really fine, some tools may have got soaked but everything was amazing tranquil!! Nothing really distrubed.
Many of the new beds were moved around, all the ones on the serpentine. We should switch those around anyway, and get 'em off the rocks.

----- Fertile Weatherground, Illuminated Press Freely, Providence. 12/13/10 D'Spacio et al.

I got the front bed inside the greenhouse all filled in with compost. Beautiful day, all warm and amicable. The soil moved nice, unlike the other day when the ground was frozen. I learned that the large front window is perfectly sized to fit Gerry wide wheelbarrow! So I was just pouring it in through the front.
That bed is ready to plant. We've potted up about 40 plant-folks who are currently living in there, and they should go in. Also I have some seeds of winter-hardy varieties of lettuce, watercress, spinach, & chard. I can definitely use help planting the greenhouse, and generally organizing and preparing to tend a new group of plants.
I don't know when I will have a chance to get back over, but if there is a good day for you, maybe we could do it then. After Wednesday. And speaking of Wednesday,

We'll be meeting at Brower's this Wednesday after 7:30.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why Communal? BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. Here's why.

This is copied from Mike Giroux's blog at We've been talking a lot about this at our meetings lately, as we navigate the transition from last year into this year with new people and new ideas.

What Communal Garden? Why Communal Garden? When Who How?

A Communal Garden operates on the principle that all participants share in the work, and all share in the harvest. When we pool our resources, skills, and energy, the Whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. This is a way for individuals of all skill-sets, time commitments, and physical aptitudes to play on our strengths and form a common fabric of support to cultivate a successful and beautiful garden.

Farming has gradually receded from modern life, and more recently, quality has receded from the produce we are supplied. All of us know the frustration of slicing through a tomato only to find the middle icy and white. All the more disappointing considering we pay more than ever for this below-average food. It is this simple consideration which opens up many people to the concept of growing their own. And the fact remains, it’s impossible to buy Food You Grew Yourself.

Most of us have memories and ideas about Grandma’s Garden, or a friend who grew up with chickens, or even had the experience of growing up on a farm themselves. But the specific tasks, timing, and logistics may remain mysterious. Farming is an art which may take generations to master; but every journey begins with one step!

We aspire to re-think urban life, this time including neighborhood gardens that supply the predominant majority of the residents food. Land is now becoming available for this vision, and it is up to us to effectively use the space to grow delicious and healthy food! We choose Communal Gardening as the best option, and this letter is meant to explain why.

“So, the nice thing about having the whole garden be communal is that you can plant much more efficiently, keep track of crop rotations, and actually practice AGRICULTURE as opposed to Growing vegetables as a HOBBY. Like, we were on our way to making it sort of like a communal FARM, which would be a unique thing in Providence…” – Andrea Starr, Fertile Underground.

There are many reasons for gardening this way; we may even call it “Family Style” Gardening. There are a variety of chores on a farm, and as you know, a variety of skills available to different people, some more than others! But truly, there is something for everyone when it comes to the work of a farm. Much of it is simple meditative tasks, like watering plants and weeding. Other jobs come up which require the physical construction of the space, building beds, toolsheds, compost, and on. Designing water catchment and compost systems are other jobs for the thinkers and doers. And the enormous information on plant care: feeding, planting in companionship and proper soil conditions, timing of planting, transplanting, harvest. There is something for everyone, and the beauty of “family” gardening is that no one has to know everything! We are a full body, with working parts.

Gardeners usually enjoy sharing knowledge about plants while in the company of such plants and open ears. In our ideal Communal Garden, a resident ‘expert’ is there attending the crops and discovering their needs for the day. Willing members may listen to these needs and be shown the process of carrying out the work. Some may be slow at first, but there is plenty of practice to be had!

When we all work together, we all share the responsibility. This is virtually essential in the life-style we have. It is much simpler to attend to a garden that is next to your home; the necessities of making special trips to the garden every day from elsewhere in the city may become trying. When we share the work, we may visit less frequently, and then carry out a larger amount of work on the full space.

In farming there is an “economy of scale” when you may view crops in larger amounts than is available to the standard 4×8’ bed. As with so many things, once a rhythm is established, the working goes easier. Because of this, it is not much harder to care for a long row of plants as opposed to a short one. It takes more time, yes, but not much more thinking! As a group we can grow a large amount of food and there will be plenty for all.

Tending the garden as a whole gives us greater options and freedom as gardeners.

“…by communally gardening the whole site rather than individual beds, we are able to take advantage of the various micro-climates of the site, manage crop rotations, etc. Things that affect the bountifulness of the harvest. We got a LOT of food out that garden last year because we were able to plant relatively huge amounts of each crop we had, as opposed to just a few of each, which would have been the case if we tried to do “personal” or “individual” bed -style urban gardening. And I learned a lot about how we could improve on what we did produce, as I’m hoping others of you did as well.” – Andrea Starr

This letter was written by Michael Giroux on April 5th, 2010.
If you would like to join our group, the Fertile Underground, please contact Dauna Noble at (401) 480-6782. You may also sign up for our email list, for more information. We are located on Pearl Street in Providence, Rhode Island. Our open meetings and work-days are regularly Thursdays from 330-dusk, and Saturday from 1-4. Any day may find members there, between Pine and Broad Street. Feel free to visit, and consider to join!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ecoRI article about Mike and our greenhouse.

This glowing article does a wonderful job of communicating many of our group's goals and purposes. Thanks for being a great spokesperson, Mike!