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More path thoughts

  • Subject: [cg] More path thoughts
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 06:24:38 -0700 (PDT)

Thanks for the question, Jude, and thanks listers for
a great discussion.  Beyond the
'what-do-you-cover-them-with' questions, paths are
important in community gardens.

In a way, paths make the garden - they are just as
essential to creating an appealing viewscape (to
influence mayors, cities, funders, media, etc) and to
ensuring a peaceful garden as the planted areas are. 

They are also important for safety - decades ago,
Austin community gardens insisted on a main 10' wide
path to ensure emergency vehicle access, and in many
sites with older gardeners that still makes very good

If you have space, I personally think it makes sense
to divide garden allotment plots with 3' paths, for
access and to define space. Not all gardens can or
should do this (Clinton Street has good paths, but for
good reason they also squeeze gardeners in a bit,
right there in the middle of the city), but if you
have the space...

On pea gravel/crushed stone (I much prefer crushed
stone, wouldn't use pea gravel on paths myself), just
make sure you make the path carefully (or get someone
to do it or help who knows what they are doing). We
had a terrible weed problem with pea gravel that was
spread too thinly (1 in) in a wet area in a compost
demonstration garden here.

Regarding city workers/extension programs that want to
plow up the whole garden every year - That's a
'country' mindset that is deeply entrenched, based on
the mental model of the community garden as a kind of
'corn field' or 'vegetable farm' where you seasonally
come in, plant it, harvest, and plow under the wastes.
But community gardens are in many cases more like
'virtual back yards', where communities or individuals
create miniature versions of home garden landscapes,
with flowers and chochskies, birdhouses and benches.
The folks with the plows don't plow their own yards,
do they?

A discussion of tillage is way beyond what we can
tackle here, but two things:

 First, wood chips break down. Generally, it won't
hurt to plow or rotovate them into the soil before a
fallow period where nothing will be growing for
several months. Not that this is such a great idea,
since then you have to redo paths, but one could. 

Second, we have organized our garden in 'blocks'
(large areas of several allotments) with main paths
between. It is easy for a tractor to just do the
blocks and leave the paths. That's working well.

And we're working on a flexible, reasonable policy on
people who have 'virtual yards' (who don't want
tilling)  and those who have 'virtual farms' (who like
to be tilled). We're getting there...

And I'm looking to create a labyrnth - talk about a

Good luck on your paths, straight or curving,

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte NC

>Albert Einstein was never good at math 
But he found time down a curving path

The faster you go, the slower you grow 
The less that you have to fall 
The faster you go, the slower you grow
Until you weigh nothing at all 
Nothing at all 
Nothing at all 

Eddie from Ohio<

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