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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Record rains create extraordinary produce growth in SBCC gardens

Nate Stephenson
Jackson Hayes pulls invasive weeds from the permaculture garden on Thursday, March 14, 2019, on West Campus at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Hayes believes the recent rain could result in a mini super bloom for the garden.

City College’s Permaculture Gardens are bursting with beautiful colors after the recent record-breaking rainfall and heavy winds.

“I don’t think we’ve really had to water them at all this semester,” said garden manager Jackson Hayes.

Hayes said he typically waters the garden three times a week, but because of the 22.9 inches of rainfall in Santa Barbara County this year, he hasn’t had to this semester.

Besides working at City College’s gardens, Hayes majors in environmental studies at UCSB.

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He said rainwater provides more natural minerals, nitrogen and carbon, which attracts more natural pollinators than hose water does.

Last semester, student Joey Slade worked alongside Hayes to implement mulch, which helped create waterways in the garden. The organic mulch acts like a sponge with the downfall and reduces the reliance on artificial mulch.

The West Campus garden is located on a downward slope which makes it easier for the water to disperse evenly throughout the crops.

“Right now is the time to be planting, especially after all this rain,” Slade said. “Winter is preparation for the summer time.”

Slade will be taking over as garden manager next semester after Hayes graduates from UCSB and moves on.

In addition to the rise of blooming flowers, the rainfall has also increased food production in the gardens.

Hayes said the garden produces about 10 pounds of produce on an average Monday that goes directly to The Pantry on campus.  

Slade said he plans to continue planting sustainable food sources when he takes over as manager to continue donating food to The Pantry and spices and herbs to the JBS Cafe.

Some of the vegetables he is planting include peppers, squash, and tomatoes.

Hayes and Slade also began growing the crops at home and then bring the sprouts to campus to be planted.

Not all the crops have benefitted from this season’s rare downpours, however. Hayes and Slade both said a batch of Fava Beans became overwatered and ultimately didn’t make it through.

The permaculture garden was approved to expand in four more plots on West Campus.

The volunteer group meets 10 a.m. to noon Fridays at the West Campus Garden and welcomes more volunteers to help plant crops for next year’s harvest.

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