Saturday, May 25, 2013

Heirloom gardeners

"Heirloom" in this context refers not to Robin Kennedy and Jim Secor but instead to what they were planting late Friday afternoon on the Lucas County Historical Society museum campus. Although both are highly valued, neither is old enough to be a collectible.

Robin, Lucas County's ISU Extension horticulturalist, and Jim, an LCHS board member, are the driving force behind the Heirloom Garden, new this year at the base of the big hill. Jim did the heavy lifting involved in preparing the garden plot. Karen Mundt started many of the bedding plants (using heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange) in her greenhouse --- and others have been involved, too.

The goal Friday was to get as much as possible in the ground before all that rain predicted for the Memorial Day weekend arrived. I disturbed the process by stopping in to take a couple of photos.

The overall goal is to use the garden as a teaching tool by growing plants that would have been familiar to earlier generations of Lucas County gardeners --- from old-fashioned flowers to vegetables.

The three varieties of tomato, for example, are among the first introduced into Iowa gardens.

In one area, the Native American "three sisters" --- squash, corn and climbing beans --- have been planted companionably, as those who gardened here before EuroAmericans arrived might have done.

This all is part of what we're calling the "green revolution" taking place this spring on the museum campus, led by another LCHS board member, Kay Brown, and her crew of hard-working volunteers.

When I left Friday, Jim and Robin were talking about how to mulch the garden --- it is very large and maintenance will be an issue.

The museum grounds are looking beautiful right now. As of Tuesday, we'll be open 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through the end of September. But the buildings don't have to be open in order for guests to enjoy the grounds. Feel free to stop in at any time and look around.

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