Below is an update by Jim Demosthenes about the gardens at Topsham Public Library. The gardens are maintained by a talented group of volunteers.
Our demonstration gardens behind the library are producing vegetables to help support food security needs in our community.
Last October seed garlic was planted on the keyhole garden, a round mounded garden area that includes a compost bin to naturally provide soil nutrients to the plant roots. Individual cloves were separated from the bulb and planted in the soil. Newspaper and straw was applied on top of the mound to help prevent weeds from growing and to protect moisture content in the soil. The cloves began to grow roots in the fall. After overwintering, the garlic began to grow green shoots out of the soil and the root system, established in the fall, began to mature. In June garlic scapes were harvested. Scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant. They can be used as an addition to a flower bouquet, and they are delicious to eat! By removing the scapes, the plant energy is directed to the root system to produce larger garlic bulbs. In early July the green shoots began to die indicating that harvesting the garlic bulbs would need to be completed within the next few weeks. Otherwise, the cloves contained in the bulbs would start to separate and garlic storage could be compromised. In mid July the bulbs were harvested, allowed to naturally dry for several days, and then cleaned and cut. A total of thirty one bulbs were harvested. Five bulbs were set aside to replant in October as seed garlic for next year’s crop (avoiding the cost of purchasing additional seed garlic). The remaining garlic bulbs (similar to the one on display) were donated to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP) in Brunswick.
Within the same garden are onion plants which are growing nicely. They will be harvested in the fall and donated to MCHPP as well.
The construction of the keyhole garden (with compost bin) helps to maintain moisture and provide food for the plants. No additional watering, artificial fertilizers, or weeding was needed. This demonstration garden shows how easily food can be grown and also shows one of the many ways the Topsham Public Library contributes to the needs of the community.