Garden Update 2020

This week has been a marathon of garden flow! It looked like the Secret Garden was going to be lost forever to the bamboo wars. When I arrived in the forest originally, the bamboo had nearly enveloped the garden. It was starting to be a hot summer in Georgia too, which only makes the plants grow more rapidly. With the effort it takes to pull one bamboo root out by hand, the project felt incredibly overwhelming. Now, in the cooler months, it’s the perfect time to fight back against the bamboo due to the slowed growth rate. Brim Scout, a former manager, contributed his time and use of a tractor ride along with tiller attachment. This allowed us to do large sweeps through the edge of the Secret Garden, breaking up the intricate web of bamboo roots. Fitz and Matt, two lovely guest members, have generously donated a hand tiller to the garden, as well as their time. They spent several days immersed in the garden, building and planting rows of cultivated growing space from the soil they reclaimed. Now, as we come out of winter, the Secret Garden is looking as beautiful as ever!

The past few months has blessed the forest with an increased amount of gardeners on staff. With many hands, the work is indeed light. It has allowed us to divide and conquer, in a way. Aaron, with his love of fruit trees and building projects, has constructed a water catchment system so that the plants can have that beautifully organic rainwater they crave. Hollie has been finding creative ways to bring attention to the pollinators and love on our flowers (we have the Echinacea in bloom at the moment!). Cheyenne, age three, has planted many a row of arugula for Tom. Just yesterday, I had support planting six small fig trees and one avocado in the Solar Fields. The fig trees were taken from the beloved mama fig tree in the Secret Garden.

Visitors to the garden are always asking me how one person can be expected to do all the gardening in the forest. The answer is that you’re not! It is a lot of space to cover, and the work involves many different skill sets. I plant a lot of seeds but people are so gracious to spend their time helping mulch, or going through the Solar Fields with a weed eater. Here in the forest, we are a membership organization. This means that every visitor to the forest agrees to participate in the community by abiding by our modes of conduct and also finding ways to contribute to the forest. As our mission is geared towards a sustainable focus, gardening is such an essential part of guest member contributions. With staff constantly turning over, it is not me who will keep the garden going over a long time. It is the many hands of the forest family who keep the garden growing.

This season in the forest, some of what we are growing includes: Mustard! Mizuna, arugula, kale, Brussel sprouts, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, kohlrabi, swiss chard, pac choi, turnips, radishes, and onions.

May the Forest Be With You

The Hostel