The Garden is located on All Saints Lutheran Church property which was started in January of 2000. It was approved by the church council as well as the Meadows Place council and the Mayor. The original design was for 10,000 square feet. However, we quickly learned that the needs of the community exceeded the vegetable production, and so, a garden expansion was required. Therefore, the final size is 30,000 square feet. Due to the diversity of the community, we included an international garden. This is where people who come from all around the world bring us seeds, and we plant the seeds. They harvest the various vegetables that are native to their country. This community garden represents all the major cultures found in Houston, Texas.
Our biggest obstacle by far is the gumbo type soil. We are combating that by making a compost pile in place, adding manure where it needs to be, and using gypsum to break up the clay to help it drain better. We sent a soil sample to Texas A & M to have it analyzed. They said we have a 7.03 pH which is an alkaline soil. A neutral ph is 7.0.
The growing of various vegetables is divided into fall and winter crops, and spring and summer crops. All of the crop remains (after harvest is complete) are plowed back into the soil to improve the conditions of the soil. In Houston, you can garden year round. We plant in the spring typically starting around March 15 for the summer crops and in the fall in late September and October for the winter crops. The soil has to be cool enough so the winter seeds can germinate. Sometimes it’s too hot for the plants to grow in September.
We also let people participate in the garden by doing non-paid volunteer work. For example, one Saturday, two Cub Scout troops came out and harvested 34 bags (30 gallons each) of parsnips and rutabagas for the East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministries.
There are 5 or more lawn businesses that have provided us with biomass in addition to people in the community. This is what we use to make the compost piles. Examples of biomass are: leaves, grass clippings, small branches (1/2 in. or smaller), palm leaves, flowers, fruit from trees, banana trees, all kinds of vines, weeds, pine needles, coffee grounds, guinea pig manure, wood chips, mulch, pine cones, acorns, sycamore seeds, and other vegetable matter from the garden. Note that biomass is a renewable energy source, and is biological material from living or recently living organisms.
Michael Streeb has been involved with God’s Garden since 2000 when it was established. His background includes working on his Grandfather’s farms in both Texas and Oklahoma during the summers he was growing up. He has been a speaker at the Meadows Place Garden club. He has the vision, knowledge (B.S. in Botany), and the methodology for developing the garden from a bare patch of grass to what it is today: 30,000 sq. ft. of organic garden which is run like a farm. The vegetables it has produced over the years have had a positive impact on the lives of many people in the community. These include people in the immediate neighborhood plus several food banks. In addition, he has helped several school children fulfill their community service hours. Michael is dedicated to ensuring the garden continues to serve the community by practicing regenerative agriculture methods.
Lorraine Streeb has been interested in gardening from a young age. When she was young, her father and uncle grew crops on her great grandmother’s place in the country where she spent quite a few weekends. She helped her father with the backyard garden from age 10 on. She noticed how a lot of people could not afford the fresh vegetables in the grocery stores, so when her husband Mike decided to make a garden to serve people in need, she pitched right in. Her main function has been planning, planting and harvesting.
A list of garden vegetables is available. Should you desire additional information on tools used. etc., feel free to contact us.
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