By Carol Cuccio
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.
The museum’s Victory Garden has been undergoing an overhaul during the last few months, and we are very excited about what will be “cropping up” as spring approaches. From expanding the garden beds to installing new features, the project is shaping up into something bigger and better.
Many of you may remember the Victory Garden during its humble beginnings back in the spring of 2009. We installed four “lasagna”-style raised beds, a gardening technique where a framework is built and compostable materials are layered, much like the ingredients in an actual, edible lasagna. In this specialized gardening method, layers are placed directly on top of sod, soil or, in some cases, cement; the idea is not to dig down into the earth, but to build up, creating a nutrient-dense environment that will grow produce organically, making it ideal for those without gardening tools or for the elderly.
Our original beds were made by layering newspaper on top of the grassy area in front of the curatorial office building, in the very spot where Ida McFaddin kept chickens and a milk cow. We knew the soil would be fertile there, and we loved the idea of returning the ground to its traditional agricultural roots.
We used a frame of landscaping timbers and layered materials like peat, hummus, garden soil, and compost to make our 10” deep raised beds. Since we began the program, we have facilitated many children’s garden activities, used the area as an educational teaching resource during events like our Preservation Celebration, and grown everything from herbs to towering “mammoth” sunflowers.
Going into our fourth year with our Victory Garden, we decided it was time to give the beds a facelift and rethink our focus. Tying in with this year’s theme, Tried and True: Traditions of a Southeast Texas Family, and gearing up for next year’s theme, which will center on food ways, our garden programming will have a culinary focus. We plan to teach not only how to grow your own but also how to cook your own, and involve family in meal planning and preparation as well.
The new garden will include pathways throughout, an updated compost generation system, an arbor, a park bench, and a birdbath. With our organic practices already in place, we have seen a vast improvement in the biodiversity found in this small patch of earth; and we look forward to seeing what those improvements will bring this spring. To get involved with our victory garden project, contact Carol Cuccio at (409) 832-1906 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full March 2013 issue of Viewpoints.