Equipped with a shovel, a watering can, a change of shoes, and several tomato cages, Dave and Marceil Shaughnessy came prepared to do some digging. The Bloomington residents have a garden plot at the Brookside Community Garden, 10150 Xerxes Avenue South, behind the Bloomington Covenant Church, and aim to make the most of it.
The Shaughnessys are ready for sustainable gardening. They even brought a coffee can filled with homemade gnat repellent. It’s a vinegar and soap mixture designed to attract and trap pesky gnats.
Before digging into the dirt, they used an electronic soil testing meter to check the pH level and performed a fertilizer analysis. The test confirmed the need for compost. No worries, they had a few bags on hand.
It takes ongoing work to successfully garden a 10-by-15 foot plot. Carefully placed fencing keeps out deer and rabbits. Beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes and tomatoes are planted in tidy rows marked with wooden stakes. Using the companion planting method, everything is positioned to strengthen surrounding plants and help them thrive. The strong smell of onions and marigolds deters pests without the use of chemicals.
“We’re just learning. It’s a hobby and something for us to do in our retirement,” Marceil said. “Gardening keeps us busy.”
Even though this season is far from over, the Shaughnessys are already talking about what to do next year. There’s always more to plant.