So much to do and so little time is how the saying goes, but there is always time to help build a veggie garden in your community. On November 13, 2018 we broke ground on transforming the back yard at Degree 18 Juice Bar in to a veggie producing garden with a greenhouse.
Putting farm to table in action, they are now growing food only yards away from where their customers will consume their produce. Excitement about this garden project abounded. With the help of their staff we moved to preparing their soil and getting the beds set for the seedlings.
We started by removing as many rocks as possible from the grow area. Then we removed unwanted bushes and weeds. We then used the garden tiller to soften the soil and mix in the compost. Once the compost was well mixed we formed the grow beds with the pathways, we added a bit more compost to the beds. To finish off the preparation, we watered the beds and then we covered them with black plastic sheeting to keep moisture in, rain water out and to help the worms and bacteria grow in the dark.
Charlie ventured with this project on his own, he took some tips from how we built our greenhouse and a few days later he had the greenhouse built. The greenhouse protects the seedlings so they can grow and develop a good root system before they are transplanted into the ground beds.
A greenhouse is possibly the most essential tool needed for successful germination and propagation. Seedlings are very sensitive during the early stages of their lives, so making sure that rain, wind and other elements are controlled is crucial to helping these little guys find greater success.
The planting began before the greenhouse was completed. Since time was of the essence, we needed to move along as quickly as possible. We created a soil mix for the trays using 65% compost and 35% perlite. This mix provides good drainage and helps the air move into the soil allowing for better root development once the seeds have germinated. Perlite also keeps the soil from becoming compacted. Using 1020 trays and 72 cell tray inserts, we began planting the seeds. Once the greenhouse was completed, all the little seedlings were moved inside. The seeds that were planted included kale, lettuce, cilantro, jalapeños, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, arugula and more.
Seedling care included watering daily in the morning. Larger plants were transplanted into bigger pots and trays were rotated as needed to prevent the seedlings from leaning or reaching towards the sun.
The plants with well developed root systems were the first ones to be transplanted. Planting the stronger plants in the ground gives them a greater chance of success.
On January 16 we moved all the healthy and thriving plants into the ground beds which had now been uncovered and were ready for their new tenants. The entire Degree 18 crew pitched in. We worked for several hours to get the little guys in the ground and with that many hands we were able get the job done efficiently.
Now the nurturing stage for the plants begins. Many could potentially fail due to the wind and strong rain storms we get here on the North East side of Puerto Rico, but we are ready. There are excess plants in the greenhouse, so if any plants fail we will simply replace them. Our estimations are that by early to mid march they should begin harvesting from the garden. After mid march we will see many other veggies come to maturity and joining the ingredient list at Degree 18.
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