Important Note: The Community Garden is an “Organic” garden, meaning we do not use artificial chemicals in fertilizer, pesticides or plant amendments. Any outside supply of these items should be reviewed with staff to be sure it does not have artificial chemicals.
A Good Garden Season begins with Good Soil Preparation
Your garden has had amendments added to it over the last few years but those amendments have been consumed by the organisms that live in your garden, a process necessary to make the nutrients in your soil available to the plants. Soil improvement may be necessary every year. There are tools for your use available at the garden.
SOIL – How to improve your soil.
- Add manure – found in the bins at the rear of the garden. Manure should be aged before adding to your garden.
- Add compost – also found at the rear of the garden. The garden compost has been generated through the mixing of previous years plant trimmings, manure and some soil from the garden.
- Purchased compost – usually comes in a bag, or bulk from Plant Fair Nursery. Purchased compost must be organic or natural. No chemicals or fertilizers may be part of the ingredients. Please ask before you purchase and add to your garden.
- Alfalfa – may be added. Used in pellet form it adds nitrogen to the soil. All plants need nitrogen for good green growth. Alfalfa pellets break down faster than in the bale and should be worked into the soil. Alfalfa Pellets – containing Cured Alfalfa and Cane Molasses and no other ingredients are available at Tractor Supply.
- Other amendments – there are other amendments you may wish to use in your garden and as long as they are organic or OMRI approved for use in organic gardens they may be used. If in doubt please ask staff members before purchasing and using.
BOXES – to build or not to build
A box around your garden provides many benefits but it is not a necessity. If you choose to build a box you will find a variety of boxes to look at in the garden. The advantages of a box are: soil is contained within the bed, gardening depth for the soil is easier to increase and maintain, soil warms faster, and drainage is improved.To avoid damage to the water supply pipes please do not drive wheelbarrows, or pull wagons down the “alley”.A garden is 6’x25’x1′ high. It is better to measure and confirm the size before building your box. Height for box sides may range from 4″ to 12″ and redwood, pine or cedar are acceptable. Some treated wood may be allowed, please check before using any treated wood. The distance between beds is: 3′ on each side, 3′ on the “alley” which is where the water lines are, and 5′ on the “street” side. Please use wheelbarrows and wagons on the “street” side to bring amendments to your garden. Please see Leo prior to purchasing material or starting the construction of your garden box.
Spreading at least 2 inches of chips in all aisles/walkways around your garden will greatly reduce the number of weeds! You will be happy later on in the season.
You are responsible for keeping all the aisles/walkways around your garden free of weeds, sticks, rocks, hoses and any other items that may pose a hazard to other gardeners.
Each garden has an address sign. Please do not hang anything on or place hoses around the sign.
All containers must be kept within your garden. This includes: tool buckets, watering cans, alfalfa tea barrels, etc. All lids should be securely fastened to their containers – Bungee cords work great for keeping the lids on containers. We have very strong winds in the garden in the spring and during the monsoon season.
You may request tilling of your garden in the spring. The tilling will be done by garden staff after you have added all your amendments, ie: manure, alfalfa pellets, compost, etc. and raked it in. Sign-up on the tilling list at the garden shed. Tilling is done by the Tilling Team at their convenience but generally in a timely manner. If you are requesting your garden be tilled, please remove any items that may be in the way of the tiller or operator. Remove any large, visible rocks, in or outside your garden, wire, or string etc before signing up. Rocks that are approximately two inches in diameter or larger may be very damaging to tillers, especially the walk-behind tillers presently being used. We want to continue to provide tilling service at the garden and require your assistance to assure that our tillers remain in good working condition. You may rent a tiller or bring one from home to till your garden.
Soaker lines and some dedicated drip systems may be used when connecting to the automatic water system. The gardens are automatically watered 3 times a week during normal weather and 4 times a week when the temperature rises. Hand watering, using the purple faucets, is allowed when you are planting seeds and for newly transplanted veggies. Please do not connect your water system to the purple lines and use it as a constant means for watering your garden.
Garden hoses are not provided by the Garden. You may share a garden hose with neighboring gardeners. All hoses must be disconnected from the purple faucets after use and removed from the aisle. We have experienced problems with connected hoses rupturing and causing major water spills. Please do not connect your garden water system to the purple lines for watering – purple lines are for hand watering your garden if necessary.
The automatic water system is adequate to water your garden and keep your plants healthy and happy. If you feel the need to hand water please check your soil before you water. You are responsible to insure your garden water system is operating properly – no leaks, broken lines, plugged hoses, or missing parts. Please attend the class on watering for instruction on effective watering techniques, how to test your soil before you hand water, and proper hose and connection methods for building your water system and how to connect to the automatic water system. Keep garden hoses within your garden and not in the aisles/walkways.
Covers for your garden serve a multitude of purposes – from moisture conservation to shade and insect protection.
Covers at seed planting time protect the seedlings from washing away as you water and help maintain moisture or keep warmth in the soil. There are many types of covers and weights – light, medium or heavy. Each has a purpose. A light weight cover may be used for wind and insect protection, medium for light shade, or heavy if frost threatens transplants. Plastic is also used although care should be taken when using plastic as tender sprouts may burn from excessive heat buildup. All covers and supporting hoops must be securely fastened or weighted down and kept out of the aisles around your garden.
Hoops, made either from 1/2″ PVC or concrete ladders, may be used to cover your garden as plants get taller. One 10′ length will make an arch of the appropriate height to cover your garden without encroaching on the “sunlight space” of the garden next to you. Height of covers should not exceed 5′ above native ground level. Use rebar stakes to anchor the PVC pipes and also secure the concrete ladders. Beds with boxes may use pipe straps to anchor PVC pipes or ladders to the insides of boxes.
There are staff members available to answer your questions. Please don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you may have. And take time to walk through the garden and see what others are doing in their garden. It’s great fun!