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The Southside Permaculture fellows hit the ground running at the start of the summer with several projects in the works, both in the garden and out in the community. 

Almost all of the petal beds around the herb spiral have been planted with pollinator plants, cabbages, spinach, Thai and cayenne peppers, squash, and carrots. If you come to visit the park you can even see the few red radishes that have started peaking up above the soil telling us summer is indeed on its way and fast approaching.  There are also bushes of arugula that popped up everywhere, which is delicious cooked in stir-fries or raw in salads if you like spicy greens.

Some even started growing in the parking lot!

We also planted our annual garden with a whopping 18 tomato plants, eggplants, and basil. The opposite side of the bed is now home to some young blueberry bushes which can already be seen producing some delicious berries. The rest of the annual bed is home to the three sisters’ garden, which follows indigenous practices of planting corn, beans, and squash together in the same bed to maximize production while maintaining the health of the soil.

The corn takes up a lot of nitrogen from the soil, but the beans are nitrogen-fixing legumes, so the soil retains a balanced level of nitrogen. The squash provides shade with their big leaves for the soil, reducing the amount of water needed to keep the plants healthy. The tall corn stalks provide a natural trellis for the climbing beans which have already sprouted up! Read more about the Lenape tradition in our other blog post about the Three Sisters!

Big plans have been implemented at the top of the park as well, including the swales dug by the amazing middle school soccer club team. Now you can see the orchard that we planted on the first Monday of June.

The swales are to catch rainwater and were constructed using the posts from the website about contour mapping and swale digging. The trees were planted according to Herbein’s planting guides, which ensures the trees benefit the most from the stored rainwater, the inoculated wood chips, and the companion plants that we will add to the trench of the swale. 

Next week we also will be adding our newest form of deer defense, hedge rows, which you can read all about in our new deer mitigation page or in this article about natural ways to deter deer from eating your crops. The hedges will be purchased from Edge of the Woods, a local all-native plant nursery just outside of Bethlehem. We will be planting more than 40 plants of Spicebush, Inkberry, and Northern Bayberry to make a thick, low-growing hedge to keep the deer away from our crops.

Soon we will be having an event with the Bethlehem Area Public Library, providing a tour and hosting a planting event where attendees can bring home a painted pot with a seed of their choice. If you are interested in taking a tour or hosting one for your organization visit our contact us page or come talk to us at the Bethlehem Farmer’s Market or the Greenway Market!

2 Replies to “Starting Summer with a Bang”

  1. Thank you so much for all that you are doing in Southside Bethlehem and in the Lehigh Valley to help establish permaculture principles, earth care, and people care in your on-site gardens and your “grassroots” education and hands on projects. They’re great, and they’re making a difference!

    1. Thank you for your comment! We love hearing from people in the community who have an interest in what we are trying to accomplish. We’d love to learn more about FOCUS International, and we know of another Lehigh initiative that is in line with your current Lehigh Valley Healing Project who’d we love to connect with you if you’re interested.

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