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Re: late into the garden

  • Subject: Re: [cg] late into the garden
  • From: Sally McCabe <sallymcc@libertynet.org>
  • Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 22:52:49 -0400


These are GARDENS, for goodness sake--isn't the need to plow a bit of 
an artifact? Here in Philadelphia we have more than 1000 community 
gardens, and each one decides for itself when to open and when to 
close. And to my knowledge NONE of them get plowed, EVER.  In my own 
community garden, we allow returning gardeners in whenever they 
choose, and in fact require them to have planted by May 1 (Last frost 
here is around May 1, first frost around Halloween).

With the kids' garden, however, we don't let them in until May, 
because we need to get the infrastructure (fencing, paths, any 
structures, and common areas) in order before we're ready for them. I 
suspect that this "being ready", especially with the plowing, is the 
case in your situation as well, not animosity. It does show a bit on 
condescension on their parts, though.

I suggest that you remind whoever is administering the garden that it 
would save a hell of a lot of money if they stopped plowing 
altogether. This would take things out of the dictates of soil 
structure, and put them in the hands of the gardeners. Of course this 
can cause other problems, as plowing has a way of clearing up Karmic 
debt buildup, (which happens when the same gardener has the same plot 
for several years running, so that perennials can get sizeable, and 
shrubs can take hold.)

Do what Adam says, especially with the hand-written letters. But 
first get your wife to try to find out if there are political reasons 
other than soil structure that keep the gardens closed.

Sally McCabe

PS   Judy Tiger, if you're out there, this used to be an issue in DC 
in gardens on federal land. Was it ever resolved, and if so, whatever 

Who is administering At 2:56 PM -0500 6/3/02, Dr. H. Michael Simmons wrote:
>      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?
>The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one 
>of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the 
>ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to 
>To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com
>To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription: 

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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