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Physical Description

  • Bed 1 is approximately 305 square feet. Bed 2 is approximately 275 square feet. The perimeter of Bed 1, not including the parking lot retaining wall, is approximately 72 feet. The perimeter of Bed 2, not including the parking lot retaining wall, is approximately 60 feet.
  • The beds are gently sloped, from varying from 3-5%. To retain a maximum amount of water on the beds during rainfall, low soil swales may be created along the beds’ contour lines and at the lower edges of the beds. With careful plant selection, the amount of supplemental watering required can be minimized or eliminated.
  • The soil was donated to the project by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. It is an ideal soil, rich in organic content and loamy in texture. The pH is has not been tested, but should be very near neutral. The soil will retain moisture and strongly support the growth of virtually all kinds of plants.
  • The beds are not currently mulched. They should be covered with approximately 1-2 inches of organic mulch to retain moisture, inhibit the germination of weed seeds, inhibit erosion, and cool the soil. A total of 2-3 cubic yards of mulch will be needed for these beds.
  • The area behind the vegetable garden ranges from 2 to 3 feet wide and is approximately 25 feet long. The faucet supplying water located here. The surface is currently dirt, but should be covered with something more durable — paving stones, with gravel or mulch. Approximately 50 square feet of material will be needed to cover the soil behind the vegetable garden.
  • A portion of each planting bed will be used to give access to the utility area. A path should be built of paving stones. Hose guides should be placed here to prevent hoses from being dragged into the planting beds and damaging the plants. Approximately 50 square feet of paving stone will be needed to construct the path behind the vegetable garden.
  • Because there is no indication that is not appropriate to do so, people “cut the corner” and walk across Bed 1. Fencing, descriptive signage, and planting should provide the visual clues and physical barrier to prevent this.
  • Weep holes from the parking lot are present in the retaining wall above the garden. Runoff may also enter the garden area from cracks in the wall or perhaps from water overflowing this area. Runoff may transport pollutants (motor oil, road salt) into the vegetable garden which has the potential to reduce crop yields or be consumed by people who eat the produce. The runoff has also caused strong erosion in the southwest corner of Bed 1, where are 1 foot wide, 18 inch deep channel has been created. This channel may have been caused by runoff from the parking lot, or potentially from the melting of the large volume of snow plowed onto the garden from the parking lot.

Planting Scheme

These beds are ideally suited to becoming a “meadow” of native perennial herbaceous plants and grasses. Students can watch each type of plant grow, flower, and die back each year — each with its own characteristic growth structure and strategy, attracting different companion insects at different times of year. Though the variety of species can be increased over time, at first the number can be limited so that recognition is easier during weeding. The end result will be a beautiful and rare aesthetic feature that provides many opportunities for education.

The pollinating insects attracted by the meadow will benefit the adjacent vegetable garden. The modest height of these plants (three to six feet) will not shade the garden.

The plants will be purchased as “plugs” — flats of many small plants. This will make purchasing large numbers of plants economical.

By choosing drought-tolerant native species, the amount of supplemental watering will be greatly reduced. The first year of planting will require regular watering to properly establish the plants.

Spacing the plants approximately 12-18″ apart, Bed 1 will require about 125 plants. Bed 2 will require plants about 100 plants. The ratio of wildflowers to grasses will be about 3/1. In a natural meadow, this proportion would be reversed. At Morse, emphasis will be placed instead on supporting insect pollinators and on demonstrating botanical variety.

Recommended Species

Three of the flower species, and one of the grasses, will be selected based on aesthetics, ecological features, and availability.

Flowering Plants (“forbs”)
————————
Asclepias incarnata
Asclepias tuberosa
Aster novae-angliae
Aster novi-belgii
Coreopsis lanceolata
Echinacea purpurea
Rudbeckia hirta
Solidago caesia
Solidago canadensis
Solidago speciosa

Grasses
———————
Panicum virgatum
Schizachyrium scoparium

Student Participation

The plants will be purchased in a large enough quantity that students can all take part in their planting. This will give them a sense of ownership and participation in the renovation of the park and is a real connection with the environmental conservation lesson they so enjoy in their classrooms.

Plugs are small. Students can dig holes for planting with their hands.

Fencing and Maintenance

A low stick-and-twine fence around the perimeter of the beds will provide a visual indication that people should not enter the beds, at a low cost. The fence can be installed just after the beds are planted.

Within the beds, paving stones should be placed so that the beds can be entered for maintenance without stepping on and compacting the soil. People can reach approximately 2 feet.

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