LTPL Grows is an initiative that continues to build on our library’s successful line-up of sustainable living programming. It began with our Seed Sharing Library, in which people can borrow seeds and grow them to produce food and then save seeds from their crops and return them to the library when the season is over. Last fall we debuted our Demonstration Garden to the public. The garden plot was designed and built by Matthew Deeds as his Eagle Scout project.
Please consider donating tools and materials for our demonstration garden. We are in need of the following supplies:
- Bags of hardwood mulch for pathways
- Lightweight wheelbarrow
- Garden rakes
The LTPL Demonstration Garden began as a means to bring to life some of the techniques learned through various programs being offered at the library. It is an organic garden, which means we use no chemicals for pest or weed control. All crops planted in the garden are open-pollinated, which means the seed can be saved from year to year. Please click on the Seed Sharing Library for more information about sharing open-pollinated seeds.
In 2017 we are proud to be working with an organization called Gardens Across America to grow some rare and endangered crops in our LTPL Demonstration Garden. It is the mission of Gardens Across America to identify and “grow-out” endangered species of food crops. The purpose is threefold: to increase the amount of available seed of the plant, to identify where each crop grows best, and to raise awareness of the plight of disappearing diversity in our food system.
Ben Cohen, our regional coordinator for Gardens Across America, delivered the seeds when he presented a program on saving seeds at the Lyon Township Public Library in April 2017.
The varieties we will be growing in the LTPL Demonstration Garden are:
Bean: ‘Barba di Frate’ – “Monk’s Beard” Landrace from hills and mountains of Northeast Italy
Bean: Ijevan Purple King” originally for Ijevan, Armenia
Squash: ‘Anasazi,’ (AKA “Hopi Groie”) a legendary squash said to be discovered in a cave in a sealed clay pot by Owosso, MI resident George Hoddy during an vacation in Arizona in the 1960s. This is a landrace variety of native squash with some variation from one plant to the next.
Since there was a bit of room left on the trellis, we planted a few ‘Potawatomi’ Lima Beans. Ben also supplied us with seed for ‘Isleta Pueblo’ Blue Corn, a very tall corn grown for centuries by Native Americans for corn meal and flour. We only have room in our garden for a 4’ X 4’ patch of corn, but we are excited to see it grow.
With the addition of the corn to the bean and squash, we have all of the “Three Sisters” that have sustained native people since ancient Mesopotamia. In the traditional planting, the corn is planted first, then when it is several inches tall the beans are planted near the stalks so they can climb as the corn grows. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil which benefits the corn. The squash is planted nearby to provide living mulch and help protect the corn and beans from predators such as raccoons. In our 2017 Demonstration Garden we opted to grow the rare beans on the trellis instead of the corn to give them the best shot at survival.
Last of all we planted two heirloom tomato plants near the gate: ‘Amish Paste’ and ‘Igleheart’s Yellow Cherry’. Both are productive varieties and we will see how they hold up to the squash vines!
In anticipation of the arrival of the seeds from Gardens Across America, South Lyon Pack 336, Den 4 Wolves from Kent Lake Elementary School built a sturdy trellis structure as a service project. We would like to thank Lowes, Home Depot, and Tractor Supply Company for donating materials for the trellis. Scouts from South Lyon Pack 336 installed a three-section compost bin in 2016.
Become a volunteer at the LTPL Demonstration Garden! We always need help with weeding and watering. Even once or twice over the course of the summer would be a big help!
Our Demonstration Garden Wish List:
- Bags of natural hardwood mulch for the paths. No dyed mulch near food crops, please!
- Bagged material: compost, peat, potting soil
- Mulch and compost: Bales of straw (spoiled straw OK), shredded leaves, grass clippings from untreated lawns
- Small, lockable shed for our wheelbarrow and garden tools. Storing those things in the very small furnace room of the library has been very difficult.
Contact Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping with the LTPL Demonstration Garden.
About the LTPL Demonstration Garden
Matthew Deeds designed and built our demonstration garden as his Eagle Scout project in 2014. We used a technique called sheet composting, or “lasagna gardening” to kill the sod and prepare the area for growing. We put layers of newspapers, leaves, and straw and allowed them to break down over the fall and winter. The next spring, Tuthill Farms donated compost to jump-start the garden, and we also had some bales of straw donated by residents for mulching. The 2015 garden was a jungle, with record-breaking size tomato plants. The next year we grew the ingredients for making salsa, and Grand River feed donated several bales of straw for mulch.
The LTPL Seed Sharing Library is a free program that lends seeds and encourages borrowers to return some seeds from their harvests to make the seed library self-sustaining. All seeds borrowed and shared at LTPL are open-pollinated seeds, and many of them are considered heirloom varieties since they have been grown for generations. We hope to nurture a culture of community, sharing, and abundance by providing a place where people can connect to the traditions of sustainability and homegrown, healthy food. Beginning and experienced gardeners alike will benefit from this new forum for exchanging seeds and information.
We use the former card catalog to organize and store the seeds. Seeds will be labeled as Easy, Intermediate, or Advanced so people can choose according to their seed-saving expertise. LTPL will support the Seed Sharing Library by providing information though flyers, books, and DVDs. We will offer programs pertaining to gardening, seed-saving, and food preservation throughout the year. Our website will provide documentation and links to online resources. For statistical purposes, registration is required to use the Seed Sharing Library and patrons must write down what they take and bring in. The program is run on the honor system and if for some reason you are unable to return seeds to the library at the end of the season you will not be penalized.
To borrow seeds from the Seed Sharing Library we ask that you fill out a registration form the first time you use it. From that point on, when you take seeds you simply write down your name, date, and what seeds you are taking on the clipboard. Take only as many as you can use in one season, and please limit yourself to one packet of each variety. Please make every effort to follow the correct seed saving instructions to assure the seeds you bring back to share at the end of the season will grow true to type.
To share seeds, first remove the seeds from their pods and clean according to the directions in the link “Harvesting & Storing Seeds”. Bring your clean, dry seeds to the library in an envelope, bag, or jar. Please use recycled containers if possible. Fill out a seed sharing form (available at the library and on the website) for each variety of seed you are sharing and tape or staple it to the container. Place your container and form in the seed drop-off box. The seeds will be packaged, labeled, and filed in the Seed Sharing Library by a staff member or volunteer.
Sources for Open Pollinated Seeds
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
- Ann Arbor Seed Company
- Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
- Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
- Seed Savers Exchange
- High Mowing Seeds
- Humble Seed
- Pinetree Garden Seeds
- Territorial Seed
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- Nature & Nurture Seeds
- Fedco Seeds
- Orchard House Heirlooms
- Seeds of Change
- Nichols Garden Nursery
- Living Seed Company
- Victory Seeds
- Michigan Heirlooms (plants only)