August 17, 2020 story and photos by Joshua Ross
Welcome to the Hingham Anchor's newest section, "Green Living."
The goal of the "Green Living" section is to highlight the incredible work done by Hingham's green activists, the schools' Green Teams, and spotlight new legislation being introduced and passed by our local and state elected officials.
There are many local green efforts that we plan to introduce to our readers and the Anchor welcomes your suggestions for green content as we move forward.
To kick things off, however, I want to share my own personal interest in green living through gardening.
By no means am I an expert gardener. I'd say my growing success rate is around 60%. However, we are lucky to have very knowledgeable, dare I say, professionals in Hingham who are more than eager to share what they know with the rest of us. In fact, this new "Green Living" section will be populated mostly by these folks who know way more than I do. People like Peter Swanson, a retired science teacher who is part of a sustainability project in Honduras teaching locals how to farm. Andrew Ayer, who started and runs the "A Sustainable Hingham" Facebook page, which covers everything from gardening, reducing waste, climate change and any green initiatives. Janice McPhillips, a composting guru and works with our schools to teach all about growing at Holly Hill Farms. Anne Morin, a Canadian transplant and an environmental scientist, recently started Go Green Hingham (IG @gogreenhingham) to address climate change in Hingham. And Katie Roberts, Director of Science at Hingham Public Schools, who not only led the construction of one of the only fully functioning greenhouses at a public high school but is also working to introduce new and exciting programs at every grade level. Katie also introduced the all-new hydroponic setups in every 7th-grade science classroom.
We are very excited to hear from all these contributors, as well as many more individuals, groups, and organizations around town. We hope the overall theme of the Anchor's "Green Living" section is to show how the average person can be successful in gardening, sustainability, and increasing awareness of climate change. First up, fall gardening.
Most people think that since summer is almost over, the time to start growing vegetables has passed. This is not true. I just planted a whole new set of fall/winter crops this weekend. The popularity in home gardens has risen the past few years but peaked this year with COVID-19 pandemic. The combination of rising grocery prices and people's more time spent at home has made first-time gardeners of many folks in town. I've had gardens for almost ten years, and this is the first time I've tried a second crop of the season. Your guess is as good as mine if this will work, but I've listened to the local experts, so I'm pretty confident I'll be successful.
Here are some photos of the process planting of my fall crop, so you can see it's not that difficult to do on your own.
This is my compost pile. As Peter Swanson and Janice McPhillips will tell you, there's a science to composting. I throw everything in one pile and stir. I throw my grass clippings, leaves, charcoal ashes, and raw food scraps. Recently, Mr. Swanson gave me red composting worms to help with the process by adding fertilizer to the mixture. I continually add these materials and stir will a pitchfork every few days. More sophisticated set ups, which we will feature in future articles, have three separate bins (or sections) for the different stages of composting. Once I'm ready to use the compost, I sift it through a homemade sifter to get rid of the large material that still needs to decompose. Every few weeks, I end up with about a half a tote full. Don't worry if you don't have your own compost (yet!) to use for your garden. There are some very good organic composts mixtures available at your local garden centers.
For my first go-around at fall crops, I've planted beets in the ground and several veggies out of the ground until the weather cools down a bit. I mixed some of my compost with soil and organic fertilized soil from the store. Most root vegetables will be ready to plant in the ground now and will last through the first frost, which is usually around mid-November in Hingham. Plenty of time to grow a new crop.
For my seedlings, I planted arugula, spinach, mesculin lettuce mix, dill, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. I used my compost mix. Because most of these like cooler weather, I keep them on my back steps (outside of my greenhouse) because it gets some sun during the day but gets a lot of shade. I will move them into my greenhouse as they get bigger and stronger. Below is a useful chart I found that outlines when and what to grow during this time of year.
We hope you find our new "Green Living" section helpful and informative. If you have a story idea for us, please submit it here.