By Betsy Thorpe
On Saturday afternoon mulch was placed over the portions of the West Nashville Community Farm’s garden where tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, potatoes, and cucumbers are growing. The mulch will suppress the growth of weeds and will also help retain moisture in the ground. The use of mulch rather than herbicides to free the garden of weeds is one example of the numerous sustainable agricultural practices employed by Nashville Urban Harvest and the West Nashville Community Farm’s volunteers.
Earlier in the day volunteers erected a bamboo tee pee near newly planted bean sprouts. The sprouts originated from a rare variety of seeds donated to the farm by the heritage and heirloom company Sand Mountain Seeds. As they grow the beans will climb up the bamboo poles, saving the growers valuable cultivation space. To improve the garden’s ecological biodiversity a maze of Sunflowers was planted throughout the plot. The Sunflowers will also attract attract beneficial insects to the garden. To encourage cross pollination by wild honey bees, David, the farm’s manager added blackberry and raspberry plants to the garden’s backside.
Volunteers also added companion plants to the garden utilizing a method that not only helps decrease the use of organic pesticides but also increases the gardens productivity. Companion plants send off a scent that tricks or dissuades a particular plant’s pests. Radishes were planted with squash, and sage was planted with onion, and mint and basil starts were placed near the tomato plants.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or in learning how to apply sustainable agricultural practices to their own garden should visit the farm on Saturday mornings between 9 am and noon. Sarah from Nashville Urban Harvest is asking for donations of dried grass clippings. The dried grass will be used to help make more mulch for the garden and can be dropped off at the farm on Saturday mornings. For information on how to purchase a share of this years harvest contact Nashville Urban Harvest. The West Nashville Community Garden is located at 1211 57th Avenue North.