Payson Community Garden
General Information for the Growing Season

This WELCOME PACKET contains general information about the garden, garden policies1 and guidelines to assist you in becoming a successful gardener and member of the community garden.  These guidelines are in addition to your garden agreement.  Following them helps everyone work in harmony with the many gardeners and various activities in the Community Garden.  Please read the information and refer to it first, whenever you have questions.  Your cooperation is appreciated.

1 Information provided is accurate for spring 2021 opening but may change as growing conditions change.  As a community garden our staff members are there to help you with your gardening experience. We will answer questions, give tips on better ways to grow your garden and lend a helping hand if needed.

Some Things You Should Know

    • Organic Garden – We are organic gardeners, only! We view our gardens as part of a whole system which includes the water supply, people, wildlife and even insects. We do not use chemically based synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. As organic gardeners we work with natural systems and continually build up our soil to provide healthy growing conditions for our plants.

    • Individual Gardener Agreement It is important that you understand the Garden Agreement that you signed. Read your Garden Contract in its entirety.

    • Gardening Classes –  The classes cover all you need to know to have a very successful garden this year. All classes are free and open to the public so please invite friends to attend these excellent “state of garden” classes for helpful gardening information given by local experts. The classes are available on the PCG website and the PCG YouTube Channel.

    • E-mails –– E-mails are the most efficient way to notify you of changes at the garden, updated guidelines and alerts that have been posted on the website and at the garden on the News bulletin board. Read these to keep updated, especially when there is an alert. Alerts will notify you of diseases or other problems that may affect your garden and require your immediate attention.

    • Text alerts – are sent out to gardeners who have signed up to receive them. These alerts are limited to emergency messages or weather closures. You must sign up to receive the text messages.
  • Posted Bulletins at Garden – Current topics of interest, bulletins or alerts will be posted on the PCG News bulletin board at the garden shed. Check for new postings when you come to the garden.

  • Garden Care – Plan to visit your garden at least two or three times a week throughout the season. Neglected gardens are not productive and produce weeds that affect other gardens. Because we are gardening so close to others’ gardens, please strive be a good garden neighbor and not cause problems for others.

  • Garden Site Map – shows general location of roads, rows, tools, sheds, etc. East-West rows are labeled alphabetically, A, B, C and North-South rows are labeled numerically, 1, 2, and 3. A-K is on the west side, and L-U is on the East side of the center driveway. Row one on both sides is closest to the entrance. Visit this garden site map for a general overview of the garden.

  • Hours of Operation – Scheduled open garden hours will be posted for the month, but may vary depending on weather. We are open in March from 8 am to 6 pm each Saturday. Weekday hours begin in April and continue through October. Please check the garden hours on the bottom of the home page for times as hours do change during the garden season depending on sunrise and sunset times. We are always closed on Sundays.

    Garden may be closed due to weather usually during the monsoon season with heavy rain and especially lightning. For your safety, you will be asked to leave the garden if lightning threatens. If staff asks you to leave, please do so quickly. You may sign up to receive a “text” alert when the garden is closed due to weather or other emergencies.

    The garden closes for the season at the end of October. All gardeners must have gardens and aisles cleaned up and all items removed from the garden for the winter except for boxes, heavy ridged metal trellises and large cages which must be secured firmly. All temporary trellises and covers, tomato “teepee” style cages, posts, containers, buckets and miscellaneous items should leave the garden.

  • Parking – Please, no parking in front of any gates, all the way to the street, to keep the driveway cleared for heavy equipment. You may only drive into the garden if you have a temporary physical disability and cannot carry your items into the garden, or, if you have heavy items to unload. You must then move your car back to the parking lot immediately after unloading. Use extreme caution for the safety of all gardeners.

Gardener Guidelines
Garden Staff and Garden Mentors wear bright pink, green or yellow hats or a bright green vest and are available for questions or advice. Look for a yellow flower on a garden address sign to find a mentor. They will be happy to answer your questions.

Your garden dimensions are 6’ x 25’ x 1′ high, separated by 3 ft. walkways. The walkways are community space and must be kept weed free by the gardener, mulched with wood chips and clear of tripping hazards, including rocks, sticks, tools and hoses.

In order to avoid damaging the water lines on the north end of your garden, please use it as the “alley” for foot traffic only. On the south end of your garden is the “street” where you may push wheelbarrows, pull wagons or carts for adding amendments or for bringing supplies to your garden.

Purchased additives that do not include “Organic” or “OMRI” on the packaging are not allowed for use in the garden. (Please bring the packaging with you to show staff). This means no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Adding amendments to your garden is your responsibility, as is tilling.

Tilling may be requested ONCE per year in the spring, if your garden is accessible (some aren’t). All the amendments you are adding to your garden should be in your garden and raked out. For the safety of the equipment operators gardens containing rocks, stepping stones and other hazards are not eligible for tilling. When you are ready – sign up at the garden shed.

No household garbage additions to the soil, except coffee grounds are permitted. If in doubt, ask!

Please do not use wagons or wheelbarrows in the alleys (3 ft. walkways containing the plumbing); use the street (5 ft. walkways) at the north side of your garden so you don’t damage the automatic watering system. Do not block access to your yellow automatic water connection—it may need repair during the season. If your connection to the automatic system is damaged please report it promptly.

Raised beds are allowed if properly placed to allow the correct aisle widths as stated above, but must be no larger than 25′ X 6′ X 1′ deep. No railroad ties are allowed, as creosote is toxic. Some types of treated wood are ok, please check with garden staff.

We have a portable bathroom and a dumpster for your use.

Please place recyclable plant containers or trays in receptacle by the dumpster. Other unwanted, but usable, garden items may be donated to other gardeners by placing them in the back, northwest corner ( known as the “store”) of the garden.

Rocks removed from your garden may be placed along the base of the garden fence. Do not hang or attach items on the fence. Empty wagons and brush off dirt before returning them to the tool area.

Secure all items in your garden against strong spring winds, monsoon wind and rain, and dust devils. Bungee cords work well for attaching plastic lids to garbage cans.

All decorations, containers, and tools must be stored inside your garden boundaries, not in aisles. Please don’t use garden address markers (green stakes) to secure or support anything.

VACATIONS –  Ask a “garden neighbor” or friend to help keep an eye on your garden while you are away. If a friend from outside the garden is watching your garden please have them sign in and out. If your garden has produce to harvest, ask your garden neighbor or friend to make sure the produce is harvested. If that is not possible put your name and dates on the “pick list” and it will be harvested for the food banks. (Do not plan for the pick list volunteers to do your harvesting – it is your responsibility.)

GARDEN ETIQUETTE – Keep your plants within your garden boundaries. Don’t touch or harvest others’ plants without permission (you may spread disease). Please do not plant in large blocks very tall plants like corn or sunflowers (too much shade for neighbors).

Put the Community Garden tools back when not in use. GG tool areaReturn hand tools to the garden shed. All purple garden tools live at the south end of the garden and purple/yellow garden tools live at the north end of the garden. Read the labels on the rack to place tools in their proper places. Please report broken tools to the monitor on duty so repairs can be made.

BUILDING CODE – No tall shade systems higher than 5 feet tall at edge of garden are allowed. Measure from native soil, ground level, at walkway. Raised beds must be no larger than 6 feet by 25 feet by 1 foot high, and must have aisles that are 3 ft. wide on the north water supply end and 5 feet wide on the south end of the garden.. Aisles in between gardens are to be 3 feet wide. Please no furniture, barrels or structures of any kind in the aisles. These items must be kept within your garden boundaries, and secured for everyone’s safety. Please keep rocks, sticks, hoses, and tools out of the walkways to prevent tripping hazards.

AT THE SHED – You may ask for a water tester or hand shovel to determine if your garden needs additional watering. On the shed porch you will find daily sign-in sheets, garden maps, tilling sign-up list, team and project information sign-up sheets, garden alerts, monitor duties and sign-up calendar, Alert Flag Chart, Garden Class Calendar, and hours of operation. Inside, you will find staff contact bulletin board,  orange vests, tool boxes, plastic bags for bagging your donated produce, first aid kit, reference library (for your use but don’t remove), examples of acceptable pest and disease control products, and recipes for organic fertilizers. In front of shed you will find shelves for garden hand tools, hammers and pliers etc., and plastic bags for your food bank donations.

TILLING / FERTILIZING – You have stewardship over your garden. The preparation of your garden for planting is your responsibility. We have qualified tiller operators that will till your garden if your garden is prepared. Clear it of all items that may be in the way of the tiller or operator, remove any visible rocks, wire or metal pins, string, or other items that may get caught in the tiller tines. All the desired amendments must to be added and raked in before tilling and before you put your name on the list at the garden shed. Tilling is available ONCE per year, in the spring, and only if your garden is accessible (some aren’t).

Tilling is offered as a courtesy to the gardeners and will be done as tillers and operators are available. Tilling is done by the Tilling Team and is done at their convenience but generally your garden will be tilled in a timely manner. You may rent a tiller or bring one from home to till your own garden.

Acceptable amendments/fertilizers are: Local composted manure, leaves, alfalfa pellets, manure or alfalfa teas, sawdust, and shredded newspaper. Commercial amendments are: ORGANIC or (OMRI), fish emulsions, bone and blood meals, composts, Glen’s Magic (recipe at Plant Fair Nursery, garden shed and the fertilizer website page). Compost and manure are in the bins at the north end of the garden. There is manure located outside the garden fence for garden use and free to the public. If you know of someone who would like to donate clean manure or compost (no rocks or construction debris), please contact garden staff.

PLANTING – Please do not plant on the top of hills or rows, as instructed on some seed packages. We do not water by flood irrigation – our soil will not wick water up to the seeds. Water your level seed bed first, then plant, and cover with a moisture barrier to retain moisture. Plan your plantings so they run along and close to the soaker line and not across it. Dedicated drip irrigation emitters (no sprayers or bubblers) should go directly to the plant you are watering. Attending the Saturday garden watering class will get you off to a good start and you will learn how to best water your garden.

WATERING – You must attend the watering class, and test your watering system in person for leaks, before opening your automatic valve. Use new soaker hoses to avoid hose failures and water waste.

Do not change the existing automatic water system at your garden. If you have a problem contact a member of staff. Public water spigots (tall and painted purple) will be turned on after the freeze danger is past. The turn-on date (probably in late May) for the automatic watering system (yellow connections at your garden) will be announced on the website, sent by email and posted at the garden shed. Only soaker (not soaker/sprayer combination) hoses and dedicated drip systems with emitters that do not spray or bubble are permitted. Extra watering of your hand planted seeds may be needed until they have sprouted, but keep your spray soft and low to the ground, to avoid the spring winds from blowing the water into the air, and disturbing or flooding the tiny seeds you have planted. Water for hand watering is available in the light purple water spigots in the garden “alley” at one end of your plot. Do not use the purple water spigots as a constant means for watering your garden.They are for hand watering only.

Be water wise – our system waters adequately and as soon as your plants are up and growing, hand watering should not be necessary. It is your responsibility to check your water system to make sure it is watering properly and promptly repair or replace it if needed. Do not hand water without first testing water content of soil at the depth of the roots. Use either the moisture meter or a hand trowel to check the moisture content in your garden. If you are planting from seeds, you may consider covering the soil with a breathable cloth to help hold in moisture, and sprinkle lightly with a hand held hose, low to the ground.

The wrong way to water

The correct way to water – low and slow

Disconnect garden hoses from purple faucets immediately after use.   (Note: we have experienced major flooding from broken pressurized hoses left on the purple faucets.)

WEEDING & FEEDING – Each gardener is responsible for keeping weeds and grass out of your garden and aisles. Mulching with wood chips, when available, will greatly reduce the number of weeds in your aisle. Chips are not recommended for use in your garden as mulch for weed prevention. Please pay special attention to Arizona bindweed, Bermuda grass and bullheads, which are particularly noxious. Do NOT use salt or chemicals for weed control. If you get the weed roots out, you won’t be repeating the job in 2 weeks.

If you use smelly fertilizer teas, your neighbors will thank you if you keep it covered and completely used within 24 to 48 hours. Do not use household compost unless it is fully composted (it’s black and you cannot tell what it once was). If you bring bagged scrapings from the feed store barn please make sure there are no Bermuda scrapings in the bag. (Check with staff)

HARVESTING/DONATING YOUR 20% – Rarely do we have a problem with someone picking others produce, but it does happen occasionally. You may reduce the chances by harvesting regularly. One of the Garden’s goals is to supply local food banks with fresh produce. It is disturbing, for fellow gardeners, to see your lovely produce rotting in the garden from neglect.

Pick it at its peak – don’t waste it – someone needs it! Don’t donate it if YOU wouldn’t eat it!

There will be specific times posted at the shed for you to pick your produce and bring it to the shed for weighing so that it’s fresh for the food bank. Please have a garden neighbor or friend pick for you if you will be on vacation, or are ill.

Special note: Over-ripened produce is a breeding ground for bugs and if observed in your garden you will be notified and asked to remedy the situation.

DISEASE & PEST CONTROL – Our garden experts keep a close eye on bugs and disease in the garden and rapid response is critical in preventing widespread outbreaks. Please be alert and check your garden each time you visit, especially during “bug and disease” season, for any signs of a problem. An “alert” will appear on the website when bugs or disease are seen in the garden with instructions for dealing with the problem. You will also find instructions on the PCG bulletin board. There may be an “alert flag” placed at your plot to help you identify the problem. When you have taken care of the problem please contact a staff member on duty. Attendance at the garden classes will teach you how to prevent disease and protect from a bug attack.

Diseases may spread quickly in the garden so please be mindful of requests to remove diseased plants, and if you cannot do it, please contact staff and give them permission to act on your behalf. (Failure to notify the staff may result in the plant being removed.) Discard diseased plants in the dumpster by the front gate. If a plant is diseased, first place a large plastic bag completely over it, then pull it out by roots, seal the bag, and place it in the dumpster. Avoid touching the diseased plant! Touching diseased plants then touching healthy ones will spread the disease! Do not discard diseased plants, tomato or pepper plants in the compost piles in the garden.

For pest control, use beneficial insects, row covers, hand-picking, and diatomaceous earth or garlic and pepper sprays. There will be a list of approved products you may use posted on the website and in the garden shed. Lightweight tulle netting is helpful in keeping small insects, rodents, or birds away, but remember bees must get in to pollinate. Bird netting, as used on fruit trees, is not suitable for garden use as birds get tangled in it and die. Please do not use in the garden.

Snakes, toads, lizards and salamanders are good hard working members in the garden so be nice to them. No traps of any kind, or poison for small furry creatures are allowed. If you have a problem let garden staff know.

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES – Find information on potluck dates, garden projects, and other special events on the PCG News bulletin board. Plan to attend and help with garden work projects. Everyone can help! There may be a breakfast or BBQ after a morning work project. Food is always great and many times it is from delicious produce grown in the garden.

GARDEN PROJECTS – PCG garden members are expected to volunteer for certain maintenance needs in order to ensure that the garden is a beautiful, well-kept area for everyone. Garden work projects are scheduled to help maintain the common areas in the garden. These will generally be a two to 4 hour event. Work projects cover a wide variety of needs and there is always something for everyone to help with. Sign up for projects at the garden shack.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST – Don’t forget our mandatory orientation meeting and watering class for ALL community gardeners. GARDENING CLASSES are available on this website and our YouTube channel. Click here to access our video classes.

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