“Companion planting” is a gardening term that took on a new meaning this summer. The Farmer’s Almanac states that “Companion planting is the practice of growing certain plants alongside each other in order to reap the benefits of their complementary characteristics, such as their nutrient requirements, growth habits, or pest-repelling abilities.” Ask any seasoned gardener and they will dazzle you with a list of such combinations. Or, maybe just google it. A gardener will talk your ear off.
This summer was the first year for the Tri-Faith Garden and Orchard. This year was one of learning and interesting adventures. But, most importantly, it was a year of growing plants with companions. Volunteers from TI, CCC, AMI, and Tri-Faith rallied to the call to begin growing produce for Omaha food pantries. In addition, alliances and connections were forged in the community.
It was a striking sight this spring to see so many cars in the TI parking lot sprout people carrying shovels who had come to plant the orchard. Not an easy task to dig large holes in the hard clay soil on a steep bumpy hillside. The preparing and planting of the 8 raised beds took a team of dedicated, and sometimes muddy yet smiling, volunteers. (The beds were built and filled with soil from and by Big Garden.) Throughout the summer, the volunteers became garden companions as they tended, weeded and picked, and as the produce began to find its way to recipients in the community.
The Tri-Faith Garden and Orchard experienced the same harsh weather that our yards and gardens endured: hail, wind, too hot, too dry, too wet, critters and other “pests” which even the Extension Office could not identify with any certainty. Yet, there was produce to deliver each week to the CCC pantry, the Clair Memorial United Methodist Church pantry, Chabad House, Benson Plant, and Food Rescue, and to the Intercultural Senior Center.
Now at season’s end, the orchard has been mulched and the tree trunks wrapped to protect them from the rabbits. The garden has been put to bed; covered with shredded leaves. Now is the time to plan for next year when we hope to expand our plantings and our volunteer companions. We would love to have you as a garden companion.
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