St. Luke’s Employee Community Garden
Welcome to the St. Luke’s Community Gardens!
Located on a 20,000 square foot piece of land behind the hospital at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus, the Community Garden is a six year old initiative that enables St. Luke’s University Health Network employees to use the campus as an avenue to increase awareness about the importance of healthy eating and to encourage individuals to grow some of their own food.
The St. Luke’s Community Garden originated from a St. Luke employees’ suggestion. It was executed by an internal committee at the campus with the goal of initiating wellness programs that embrace the St. Luke’s culture for employees, patients and visitors.
The mission of the community garden is to strengthen our network collaboration among employees by maintaining a community garden that provides a common ground for employees and members to garden together and get to know each other.
During 2014, the inaugural year of our garden, network employees honed their gardening and plant nurturing skills on 20 plots of land at St. Luke’s Anderson campus. St. Luke’s Community Gardeners were invited to garden on campus from dawn until dusk on weekdays and weekends. Pesticides were restricted, as is the planting of shrubs and trees.
We are looking forward to our 2023 season at St. Luke's Community Gardens! Information for the 2023 season is located in the blue box above.
Gardening Tips and Tricks
Our own Paul Maserjian gives us advice on Garden Flooding:
Garden Flooding: What You Can Do to Restore Your Garden
Walking on your garden during critical flood stages can compact soil further, thereby further compromising the health of your plants. Once the soil is no longer able to be compacted, you can begin removing dead or significantly damaged plants which are beyond repair. If there are some plants you are not sure qualify as "beyond repair", leave them, you might be surprised how resilient some plants can be!
If soil and silt has accumulated on your plants, it is best to lightly spritz them clean by using a spray bottle (buy the Auto Mix Hose End Sprayer for the dual advantage of spraying off debris while depositing fertilizer). Make sure the spray nozzle is not on the direct stream setting as this can be too intense for fragile plants to handle and may result in plants being beaten down further. Plants should be sprayed clean with a fine mist to gently cleanse them of heavy soil and silt. It is best to spray plants from approximately a foot away so as diminish spray severity on vulnerable plants.
Once your garden has been properly "cleaned up" you will want to aerate the water-compacted soil to allow essential oxygen to reach the roots of your plants. This will prevent roots from rotting and dying and will help revive plants which are struggling to breathe.
Over the next couple weeks, deposit dirt and/or mulch to plants with exposed roots to add strength and protection from harsh sun rays. You may also want to add a thin layer of compost, slow release fertilizers or organic plant growth boosters. These supplements will help replace vital nutrients which have been washed away.
Once your garden springs back to normal you will want to exercise caution when watering. Oftentimes, the top layer of soil can be deceiving, appearing dry and in need of water; however, if you dig a little deeper you may find the soil below the topmost layer is plenty moist and the plants do not actually require additional watering. Check to the approximate depth of the roots to find the real moisture level or use a Digital Moisture Meter to determine the need for watering.
How to Stop Garden Flooding
Garden flooding can be prevented with a few simple garden supplies. For full gardens or raised bed gardens, you can cover plants with a plastic cover to protect against excess rainfall (buy plant protectors like the Floating Row Cover or Hot Kaps Plant Protectors). Biodegradable paper mulch is especially ideal for protecting and enriching plants suffering from flood damage (buy Rolls Planters Paper). Straw and peat moss works well to absorb moisture. Another option is to raise the level of your garden by building up the soil or by trenching around your garden to leave an area for the run off.
Last season, representatives from Burpee encouraged this growing project by providing seed packets and gardening tips for the St. Luke’s employee gardeners. They offered advice on topics like how to grow healthy vegetables from seeds, when the best time for planting certain crops during the planting season for this region and the benefits of consuming organically grown produce. This season, Burpee donated tomato plants and seeds to the members of our community garden.
Burpee has a free Garden Time smart phone app that gives information on sowing, transplanting and harvesting vegetables and herbs as an additional tool. Gardeners accessing this app will gain access to a full database of plants, local weather and links to how-to gardening videos, said Burpee representatives.
If you are looking for more ways to help your garden grow, check out the links below:
Penn State Extension College of Agricultural Sciences: