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Re: late into the garden

  • Subject: Re: [cg] late into the garden
  • From: "Dr. H. Michael Simmons" <simmonsm@bloomington.in.us>
  • Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 14:56:42 -0500 (EST)


     I can sympathize with your impatience to get into the garden, but
there may be something to your garden administrator's reluctance to plow
or allow tilling of any kind if the soil is too wet.  You mentioned heavy
clay soil.  If tilled or spaded when wet, the soil structure suffers and
will not recover acceptable tilth until it has gone through a number of
freeze-thaw cycles.  In addition, walking or driving a tractor on wet clay
will compact the
soil.  Unfortunately, if a winter cover such as rye is planted (the only
winter cover with reliable germination when we have to plant here in
Indiana), a spring tilling is usually required.  We are looking at a
phased elimination of spring tilling with the use of mulching rather than
a winter cover for some of our community gardens.  Good luck with
communicating the need for options for community gardeners.  Sensitivity
to the needs of the people doing the gardening is certainly essential to a
successful program.

H. Michael Simmons
Community Gardening Program
Bloomington Parks and Recreation
Bloomington, Indiana

 On Sat, 1 Jun 2002, Harmon Seaver

>     We were only allowed into the community gardens this year last
> weekend, May 25. The excuse was that the ground was too wet to plow
> until then. Normally here peas, potatoes, and cabbage family should be
> planted by May 1st. Obviously the people who are running this, county
> employees, are not gardeners. We don't want them to plow at all in the
> first place. At least 95% of the gardeners are Hmong, most of whom go in
> and till up their plots with hoes anyway, and the rest either have
> rototillers or can rent one.
>      Is anyone else having to deal with such ignorance, and what are
> they doing about it? We've tried reasoning with the powers that be, even
> serve on the "guidance committee" to which they pay absolutely no heed.
> Not only do they open the gardens too late, but they want to close them
> right after the first frost, totally ignoring the fact that many crops,
> especially root crops, keep right on growing, and shouldn't be harvested
> until much later. This is the first year, in fact, that we got them to
> stop applying chemical fertilizers, and allowing people to keep the same
> plot from year to year, however, it's very frustrating to build raised
> beds (what works best here in the heavy clay and what most Hmong do
> anyway) and then have them plowed away.
>      I'm wanting to start writing letters to the editor, publicizing
> their stupidity, but my wife, who serves on the committee, wants to
> continue to try to reason with them -- but so far that fails to work.
> Has anyone been through this and know the answer?

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