Spring is here, and that means it's time to plan those summer gardens. Have you ever thought about building a garden at your workplace, but you just didn't know where to start? Could your home garden use some inspiration?
Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta has successfully produced an on-site garden for the past five years, and food & beverage director Kirsten Gleaves offers these tips on how to start a home or workplace garden and make it successful.
Get Your Team Involved
With a committee of 10 employees, the garden is an ongoing teambuilding project. Planting and upkeep are done by employees; the gardening boxes were built by the convention center's engineering department; and staff volunteers oversee the watering, pruning, and maintenance.
Work With the Space You Have
Is it a rooftop? A small grassy area next to a cooling tower (like Cobb Galleria Centre's), or maybe you just don't have the space at all? In that case, go vertical! That's what we plan to do this summer at our sister venue, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Vertical gardens can be just as productive, and the D.I.Y. ideas are endless.
Choosing the Right Items to Plant
Over the years, Cobb Galleria Centre's garden has grown thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, peppermint, onions, and basil, as well as a diverse array of other foods such as fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and seven varieties of peppers.
For the first year, keep it simple and limit it to one or two vegetables and a handful of herbs. Find out what plants thrive in your climate, and stick with those.
Two years ago, Cobb Galleria Centre started a composting program, and that compost is utilized in the garden soil. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, flour, sweet potatoes, lettuce, and other green, leafy vegetables are the core ingredients in the Centre's 65-gallon compost bin. Since starting the composting program, the garden has thrived. The yield is prolific each summer thanks to the nutrient-rich soil.
Have a Plan for How to Use What the Garden Yields
Once the garden is harvested, culinary director/executive chef Nick Walker gets to work. He uses the garden's products in just about everything the kitchen produces. During peak season, we will pick a 5-gallon bucket full of basil every other day. It is used to make pesto, basil oil, and compound butter. The tomatoes are used in a variety of sauces. This summer, the garden will focus on peppers, which Walker plans to use for a variety of pepper-flavored sauces, seasonings, and more. With clients focused more and more on local products and knowing where their food comes from, what could be more local than an on-site garden?
Cobb Galleria Centre is one of Atlanta's premier convention, meeting, and event venues. For more information about Cobb Galleria Centre, visit cobbgalleria.com.
Check out the latest information about our garden: cobbgalleria.com/planted-summer-garden.
Learn more about our composting program: cobbgalleria.com/cobb-galleria-centre-starts-composting-program.