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Re: A Challenge for 2003

  • Subject: Re: [cg] A Challenge for 2003
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 12:09:34 EDT

Sharon & Jim,

This is really a hoot.  Gardening in small, cramped, city spaces is hard and 
you're always making compromises to get the  best outcome.  If you need to 
make difficulties for yourselves let me tell you about our "sand and water 

Fortunately, we're in the preservation area of the Special Clinton District, 
an area two blocks away from the 50 story behemoths of Times Square where the 
low rise tenements have been preserved by a complicated zoning deal.  So for 
now, we have good, if not great sun. It' s amazing, but every individual 
garden plot in our back garden, largely because they're adjacent to those 
tenements, has a different microclimate. In addition to our beehive ( which 
produces on average 90 lbs of honey) we also  keep beneficial and toads to 
keep down some pest infestations.  Depending on whether we have construction 
or renovation work nearby, we sometimes are worried by rats and mice.  
Sometimes the roving feral cats help, other times they are a real pain - one 
year a poor woman wanted to know why the  catnip she was trying to grow kept 

As our compost bins are closed plastic jobbies, we manage to keep them out of 
our compost, most times.  We have to be very careful about baited traps and 
poisons, especially because of the nature of our very heavily used public 
garden area.  Also, because of our bees and reputation as a bird watcher's 
site, we keep organic.  Oh yes - slugs, black spot and the other blights you 
have, we have experienced in the middle of the city.  We also have a heavily 
used organic lawn that we're always reseeding.  That's a major challenge, but 
it's politically very important to have that for the neighborhood as well as 
a "pick a few sprigs for dinner" herb garden. 

To add more interest, we have a roving crazy pigeon lady who throws seeds and 
crumbs all over the neighborhood  - the Sanitation and Health Depts have 
already ticketed her, several times.  The pigeons have already eaten several  
of our tulip leaves.  She's really fortunate that our gardeners are really 
gentle souls ( I have to remind myself that NYC is a death penalty state when 
I see her pigeons munching on our heirloom tulips!) 

All of this makes gardening interesting at the CCG. If you want to duplicate 
our conditions, go for it.  

Honestly, when I hear about some of your 20' x20' plots or the 10' x40's, I 
do get envious, but  the trade off is that we can walk to the Metropolitan 
Museum, the Main NY Public of Morgan Libraries,  Lincoln Center, the Broadway 
Theaters or Times Square from the garden.  
That we can garden at all, and have managed to survive for 25 years amazes us 

We have a mixed bag in the 108 individual plots, which are either 5'x7' or 4' 
x8'  that we have at the Clinton Community Garden: some folks like to grow 
cutting gardens,  an Irishman grows potatoes and veggies in an "easy bed" , 
two folks have pools with Koi,  goldfish and perennials.   Jim - believe it 
or not, Neil, probably one of our most experienced gardeners has become 
obsessed with growing bonsai. At one point Neal had an asparagus bed, which 
he kept going for a while until he went on to his next enthusiasm.  We are 
indebted to Neal - a really fine gardener, for the beautiful work he's done 
with his front garden bed, the grape arbor, and the hundreds of gardeners 
he's given pointers to (including me) over the years.  His bonsai are getting 
to be very interesting looking 

On Veggies: 

Some folks in the garden use  cold frames or cloches starting, others start 
some of their veggies at home under lamps or on window sills.  As I live in a 
one bedroom apartment with my wife, kid, three dogs, too many books in a 
state of contolled chaos, I start some plants, but often buy started 
seedlings from the organic farmers who come into town for our greenmarket.  
Lack of space means tradeoffs - we choose to keep amaryllis, forced bulbs, 
flowering cactii and a few old orchids at home for color in the winter, as 
well as the usual philadendrons, etc.etc. 

The veggie  folks like me  start with arrugala and lettuces progressing to   
several different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, basil, beans, scallions, 
leeks,  and then lettuces and herbs until frost.  Because of space, I've 
forsaken squashes, and while other's have done well with Brussel sprounts and 
other brasscias, I've chosen not to. 

Years back, one of our gardens put a scale and a notebook by the shed so 
folks could weigh their produce and record the stats.  There wasn't much 
interest in doing this, but we discovered that the stats that our landlord - 
the Parks Dept - was more interested in getting was garden usage by the 
community.  One June Saturday, after having clicked 250 times in an afternoon 
the teenager we had bamboozed into doing the job quit on us....

Good luck with your project.

Adam Honigman

<< Subj:     Re: [cg] A Challenge for 2003
 Date:  4/10/03 10:36:34 AM Eastern Daylight Time
 From:  jimcall@mail.casagarden.com (Jim  Call)
 Sender:    community_garden-admin@mallorn.com
 Reply-to:  jimcall@mail.casagarden.com
 To:    community_garden@mallorn.com, gordonse@one.net (Sharon Gordon)
 Thanks Sharon for sharing this "challenge" with us.  I'd love to see 
pictures of this small garden throughout the growing season to view its plant 
design and progress. Quite a challenge!  Not sure how you going to 
incorporate all those plantings into such a small space.  
 Is there such a gardening technique as "Bonsai biointensive gardening" (just 
kidding :) ?  
 Good luck with your efforts,   Jim
 Oh yeah, many of you may wish to visit the website...
 Great site.  This family shows you how to grow your own organic garden in a 
small yard.   Very informative.  
 ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
 From: Sharon Gordon <gordonse@one.net>
 Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 09:17:51 -0400
 >Each year I like to challenge myself to learn something new, make better use
 >of my garden space, or experiment with new varieties or techniques,
 >or...being a person with irrepressible gardening tendencies...all of the
 >above :-).  So this year I've decided to challenge my gardening skills with
 >***Clinton Corner -- Ecology Action Internship Challenge*** .
 >***How the Challenge is Set UP***
 >As far as I know, the community gardeners with the most challenging
 >conditions with respect to space are the NY Clinton Community Gardeners.
 >The majority of the plots seem to be 5 feet by 7 feet (35 square feet),
 >about the size of a queen size bed.  Many people have wondered just what you
 >can produce in a garden space that small.  From experience with biointensive
 >gardening techniques, I've seen that 100 - 200 pounds of produce is
 >possible, depending on what is grown and if you can get in two or three
 >crops during the area's growing season.  Still, I wondered what would happen
 >if that were all the space I had.  How would it work if in order to get a
 >variety of produce, I had just one plant of a particular vegetable for
 >instance rather than an entire biointensive bed?  Could I use a few
 >permaculture techniques to make more use of the space? In order to find out,
 >I'm reserving a space in my plot to find out.  In my case the beds are four
 >feet wide, and I'm using 9 feet of length for 36 square feet.
 >In the meanwhile, a gardener I know is working to raise and save the money
 >to take the third level of biointensive gardening training which is a full
 >time internship.  So to help make that possible, I thought I'd figure out
 >what I would have spent on the produce from my CC--EAIC bed, and send that
 >amount to the gardener for the internship fund.
 >***What I'm Planning to Grow***
 >I'm still working on the plan, but so far I've worked out a way to plant:
 >22 different vegetables
 >10 different flowers
 >10 different herbs
 >3 different grains/seeds
 >***If you'd like to do a similar challenge***
 >1) Select a portion of your plot of the approximate size to focus on.  If
 >one side is near the north border of your plot, this provides a great
 >opportunity to take advantage of vertical space without shading the rest of
 >your plot.
 >Possible plot sizes in feet:
 >6x6  (36 square feet)
 >5x7  (35 square feet), Clinton configuration
 >4x9  (36 square feet), 4 feet wide allows most people to reach into the bed
 >without stepping into it
 >3x12 (36 square feet), 3 feet wide allows shorter people and most children
 >to reach all parts of the bed
 >2x18 (36 square feet), good strategy if you have a border bed against a
 >fence or wall
 >1x35 (35 square feet), this provides the square footage, but pretty much
 >turns the bed into a row garden and loses the advantages of a biointensive
 >2) Plan an intensive planting and when to start seeds in flats so that the
 >bed can be kept fully planted.  Information to help with this is available
 >in Jeavons' book on biointensive planting.  If you'd like to grow a portion
 >of a nutritionally complete diet and keep soil fertility in good shape, One
 >Circle by Duhon and some nutrition software are helpful additions.
 >3) Plant seed flats and prepare garden bed.  Plant plants when appropriate.
 >4) Collect harvest data.
 >5) If you'd like to make this a double challenge similar to what I am doing,
 >you could donate equivalent money to setting up more community gardens,
 >gardener training, groups that work to end hunger, or designate the actual
 >produce from the bed to a food bank, soup kitchen, house for victims of
 >domestic violence, or person who is no longer able to garden.  Or if you are
 >an actual NY gardener and 5x7 IS your entire plot, you could help show what
 >is possible on these parcels of treasured land.
 >6) Share your results with others in ways that might encourage others to
 >garden and/or create more garden plots.
 >   Bountiful Gardens.  http://www.bountifulgardens.org .  Has Duhon book,
 >Jeavons book, One Circle example booklets, information on learning to grow
 >biointensively, information on Ecology Action training and internships in
 >addition to other information, tools, and open pollinated seeds.
 >   Duhon, David, 1985. One Circle: How to Grow a Complete Diet in Less Than
 >1000 Square Feet.
 >   Ecology Action. http://www.growbiointensive.org .  Workshops on
 >biointensive gardening and other resources.
 >   Jeavons, John, 2002. How to Grow More Vegetables than You Ever Thought
 >Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine, 6th ed.
 >   Nutrition Software.  Best resource is if you have access to an online
 >nutritionists software.  Many universities have this for staff and students.
 >Less complete information on main nutrients can be calculated using
 >MasterCook or Dietpower software or similar software.  First use the Jeavons
 >book to calculate your expected yields from your challenge plot. Secondly,
 >estimate how many days of food that would be if you are doing a One Circle
 >style portion of a complete diet challenge.  If it's 20 days for example,
 >then divide each vegetable yield by 20 to get the average amount of each
 >vegetable you would eat per day.  10 pounds of tomatoes divided by 20 days
 >equals 1/2 pound of tomatoes per day for example (enough for a tomato
 >sandwich for lunch AND pizza sauce for dinner :-) ).  If you are using
 >recipe software, create a new recipe called something like 2003 Challenge
 >Plot.  Then enter .5 pounds tomatoes and the daily amounts of all the other
 >vegetables.  Choose the recipe to Serve 1.  Then check the nutritional
 >analysis of the recipe.  For a Dietpower type program, create a fake person
 >with your age and height who wants to maintain current weight or a standard
 >healthy weight.  Type in the .5 pounds of tomatoes plus all the other
 >vegetables as one day's daily intake.  Then check the nutritional analysis.
 >Or alternatively make the day's intake a recipe that serves one, and have
 >the fake person eat one serving.
 >   Permaculture.  If you'd like to figure out ways to increase the use of
 >multiple levels of gardening space, permaculture books are helful.  See
 >especially ones by Mollison or Hemenway.
 >***Want to Do a Challenge?***
 >If so, I'd enjoy hearing about what you choose for yourself and the
 >abundance your challenge plot produces.
 > >>

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