Two Bettys Bulletin

Urban Farmhands

June 8th, 2015

President & founder Molly Gaines and lead gardner Jill Seifert Thiel strive to educate us on how to grow our own food in the city. They customize raised vegetable gardens to fit the specific needs of their clients while using sustainable growing practices, Urban Farmhands helps plan, design & maintain your garden to ensure a harvest that supports the health of your family, pollinators and the community. We asked Molly a few questions for further insight on home gardening.

What are some common mistakes you see people doing when trying to start and maintain their own vegetable garden?
The most common mistake is to not paying enough attention to the soil. Healthy soil is really the foundation for a healthy and productive garden. This is why we only work with raised beds; we can control the soil. It’s important that the soil be nutrient-rich and have the right balance of nutrients for plants. Before plants go in the ground, a lot of time and attention should be given to soil preparation. For existing soil, this may mean soil testing and then a lot of amending with compost, etc. For raised beds, we like a combo of topsoil (for structure), pine bark, compost and manure. Another common mistake is that people get really excited about the possibilities at the beginning of the gardening season, and then plant way too much, too closely. Planting intensively is really great and important to do, especially in the city, but you have to be really intentional about it: trellising vertically, using square-foot-gardening techniques and integrating companion planting methods. Otherwise, the garden can quickly feel overwhelming and like a major chore. It should really be one of the most enjoyable, rewarding projects of the summer!
Are there any things people can do in the early spring and late summer that will ensure a long and healthy growing season for their gardens?
See soil comments above. The garden should be cleaned out well at the end of the growing season. It’s also a prime time to work in a lot of compost so beds are ready for planting spring veggies such as peas, spinach and lettuce. If you find yourself with excess herbs, peppers, tomatoes, etc. at the end of the season, don’t let them rot on the vine! You don’t have to do extensive canning, either. Consider simple preservation methods, such as flash-freezing peppers; blanching and freezing greens such as kale and chard, and drying herbs in bundles. Come January, you will be grateful for the flavor and nutrients of your home-grown frozen veggies and greens in your favorite soups or stir-fries.
Can you talk a bit about the group Ladies of Enterprise to which you belong?
I belong to group of really bright, thoughtful women who own their own businesses of various sizes. We come together monthly to share experiences and learn how we can grow our businesses in ways that makes sense for us. Women-owned businesses, and moms who own their own businesses, face some unique challenges. It’s wonderful to be able to have a support group as we move along this exciting and challenging journey.

Posted in Education