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Re: Plot markers

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Plot markers
  • From: Alliums <garlicgrower@snip.net>
  • Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2002 07:23:08 -0500

Cary wrote:

>As far as
>anyone can remember, the plots were always mapped and staked in April,
>leased from May to October, then cleared and plowed in the fall, to be
>repeated next year.  

This is how we handle our regular plots, ESPECIALLY the ones that are given
to new folks.   Gardening is a lot of work -- far more work than many folks
realize.  A good percentage of folks sign up for plots, find out how much
work gardening is, then disappear.  If you don't plow or till yearly, folk
inherit a weedy mess -- which discourages folks from signing up in the first
place.  

Also, a messy looking garden tends to make the neighbors unhappy -- if you
don't plow the weedy areas yearly, you're going to have to at least mulch
them so that things at least look tended.  It's part of that 100% politics
that Adam is always talking about! ;-)

>This seemed like an incredible waste of energy by both
>the County and the gardeners, 

It depends on how you're handling it.  We don't close until November, then I
encourage folks to sheet compost through the winter -- covering their plots
with leaves, leftover Halloween hay bales & pumpkins, Christmas tree
branches. etc  In March or April, all the organic matter is tilled into the
soil, then the annual plots are mapped and staked.  This encourages winter
gardening for those who want to do it, but gets EVERYONE to consider soil
building whether they are planning to come out to the garden through the
winter or not.  Most towns are awash with leaves in autumn -- why let them
go to waste when they could be building soil in your community garden?

We also have a perennial area for herbs, shrubs, fruit trees, etc that is
not tilled -- it is heavily mulched with cardboard, wood chips and leaves
each fall to keep the weeds down.  If you help take care of the herbs, you
can use as much as they bear.

If you aren't cover-cropping after plowing in the fall, you might be setting
yourself up for an erosion problem.  

>so I am pushing a move to year-round plots.  

I would make year-round plots a privilege -- those who have proven that they
know what they are doing, get to have year-round plots that aren't plowed
and they can build soil as they like -- cluster them together so that the
tractor can get to the "new folks plots." You'll have to set up a way to
handle plots that lose their ownership -- it really is nasty to give someone
a weed-choked lot to start their time in your community garden.  

If you're dealing with senior citizens, LOTS of them love tillage.  It's
taken me 11 years to get my best gardener, an African-American gentleman in
his mid 70s to sheet compost in winter (in season, at least now he dumps all
his weeds in my compost bin instead of the woods like he used to!).  If we
stopped plowing, my senior citizen gardeners would revolt -- they want
"clean plots" and they will rototill between the rows as often as they can
convince someone to do it for them!

>Lehigh County Office of Solid Waste

What state is Lehigh County in?  If you're the one in PA, I think you're way
optimistic about year-round gardening -- you get more snow and cold than we
do and the aforementioned African-American gentleman and I are the only ones
enthusiatic about winter greens, alliums and root crops.  If you can do
better than sheet-composting in winter in Zone 6 or colder for more than 25%
of your gardeners, then you need to be a speaker at the next ACGA conference
-- it's inspiration *I* need to get my gardeners moving! :-)

Good luck and ask more questions!

Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

A mission of 
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460


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