Discouraged by the dwindling amount of sunshine in my backyard, I applied for a plot in the Nyack Community Garden. A few weeks ago I found out that I’ve been assigned a half plot, which amounts to over 100 square feet of sunny space – just about doubling my growing space! The trick is figuring out what to plant there, and what to plant here. How do you find the sunniest spots?
On my first day there, I learned that the side of the garden closest to the trees experiences less sun due to morning shade. The closer we plant to the fence, the less sun will be available for those plants.
I had planned to plant squash at that end, so decided to “flip” my design, and plant the squash at the other end where it would get more sun. I’m putting lettuce, arugula and herbs at the other end.
Somewhere in the middle will be tomatoes, okra, carrots, peppers and onions. I’ve installed a cucumber trellis at home, so cukes will be grown there, along with more onions, chard, more lettuce, and garlic.
Since the plots here are separated only by stakes and twine, there’s also the dilemma of how to get around the plot without trampling the soil.
I had some marigold seedlings that were started in the school greenhouse. I scattered these around the plot. I tried putting in some seedlings that had been thinned from rows of lettuce that were very closely sown by the second graders at the school. I don’t think they’ll do too well, but we’ll see.
Mulching is a topic much discussed by these community gardeners. This plot has lots of weeds and there are several ways to deal with them. Some choose to use plastic cloth, some use straw and some hoe and weed by hand. I’m going to try using my “chicken mulch” which is composted chicken bedding (meaning wood shavings mixed with chicken manure).
BTW, if you’re a vegetable gardener, have you checked out the Vegetable Garden Planner offered by Mother Earth News? http://www.motherearthnews.com/garden-planner/vegetable-garden-planner.aspx You can mark out your plot on a grid and then add the vegetables you want to grow with a click. The amount of space each vegetable needs is immediately visible. I’m taking advantage of their free trial right now. (If I can figure out how to get a jpeg of my plot, I’ll post it!)
I think the best part of community gardening is the opportunity to meet and compare techniques with other local gardeners who are experiencing the same soil and weather conditions that I am.
Does your town have a community garden?