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Plot Style Community Gardening in Minnesota. A preparation guide for new community gardeners By Charlene Gruber and Kelsey Sparks. What is a Community Garden. “Any piece of land gardened by a group of people.” - American Community Garden Association (ACGA)

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Plot Style Community Gardening in Minnesota


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    1. Plot Style Community Gardening in Minnesota A preparation guide for new community gardeners By Charlene Gruber and Kelsey Sparks

    2. What is a Community Garden “Any piece of land gardened by a group of people.” - American Community Garden Association (ACGA) “A community garden is any space where plants are grown and maintained by a community to meet the needs of the community.” -Gardening Matters

    3. Types of Community Gardens • Neighborhood community gardens • Educational • School gardens • Job training • Gardens that support food banks or shelters • Demonstration gardens • Therapeutic gardens

    4. Finding a Community Garden • Minnesota organizations • Gardening Matters • http://www.gardeningmatters.org/ • Minnesota State Horticultural Society’s Minnesota Green program • http://www.northerngardener.org/mngreen.asp • National organization • American Community Garden Association • http://www.communitygarden.org/

    5. Plot Style Community Gardening • Challenges • Limited space • Close proximity to neighbor plots • Rules and guidelines • Pest management • Theft and vandalism • Limited resources • Site permanency

    6. Plot Style Community Gardening • Benefits • Neighborhood and community development • Land access • Crime prevention • Cross-cultural connection • Youth education • Food production • Health

    7. Garden Rules and Courtesy • Do: • Learn and follow rules and regulations at your community garden • Be courteous to neighbors • Report neglected plots to the garden coordinator • Maintain you plot • Avoid: • Watering, harvesting, or cleaning neighbor plots • Allowing your plants grow into neighbor plots • Growing tall plants where they will shade neighbors

    8. Tools • Some community gardens have tools to borrow or storage space • Some common garden tools: • Trowel • Hand fork • Hoe • Hand pruner • Garden fork • Shovel • Gloves • Wheelbarrow (great to have as a group on site for onsite compost bins) • Water can or hoses depending on your water source

    9. Creating Community • Annual picnic • Share recipes • Read newsletters and garden postings • Host events for community members • Send out press releases to the local newspapers • Post articles in local town newsletters • Get schools involved • Art classes can design a sign • Have a scarecrow contest and display at the garden • Ask artists to display work • Invite organizations to purchase plots • Look for businesses and organizations willing to donate supplies

    10. Security in the Garden • Know your neighbors • Ask questions • Attend meetings • Accompany visitors • Perimeter fences • Deters animals • May prevent intruders • Vines can soften the look • Personal safety • Garden during daylight hours • Keep a cell phone nearby • Garden in pairs

    11. Soil Test • Ask to see a soil test or test your own plot • Helps determine fertilizing needs • Determine soil pH • Ensure fertile soil for plants and avoid over fertilizing • Soil tests available at University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory • Contact your local extension educator • Call the University Soil Testing Laboratory • (612) 625-3101 • Visit the Soil Testing Laboratory website • http://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu • Lead testing can be requested

    12. Soil Composition • Sand, silt, and clay • Soil texture will affect watering • Sand will require more watering that other soil types • Clay can be prone to over watering • Organic matter percentage • Increases pore space in clay soils • Holds moisture and nutrients in sandy soils

    13. Fertilizing • Plant nutrition is essential for optimum yields • Synthetic fertilizers • These may not be allowed in your garden plot so check the rules carefully • Organic fertilizers • Examples: blood meal, fish emulsion, manures, composts, cover crops, and green manure crops • Fresh manure vs. composted manure

    14. Water Management • Understand the watering system for your garden • Consider any rules for water use with the system available • Some offer steady sources while some will have supply tanks Water tank at Cambridge Community Garden

    15. Water Management • Mulch helps soil stay evenly moist • Check garden rules before installing drip irrigation or other systems • Avoid overhead watering • Water early in the day • Leaves dry quick preventing disease

    16. Selecting Varieties • Most vegetables varieties perform well; • Avoid: • Varieties restricted by organization • Aggressive / invasive varieties • grow into pathways, neighbor plots • Tall plants that shade • Try: • Unusual varieties less common in stores • Plants with special interest for children

    17. Challenging Plants • Sweet corn • Some require isolation to prevent cross pollination • Affects flavor and kernels • Example: shrunken supersweet (sh2) types should be 250 ft. from other sweet corn types or field corn or planted at different times • Isolation can be difficult without communication between neighbor plots • Tall plants can shade neighbor plots • Sunflowers • Amarathus • Corn • Plants on support structures

    18. Challenging Plants • Vine crops (watermelon, muskmelon, cucumbers, squash) • Do not allow vines to grown into neighbor plots or rows • Consider using support structures when allowed • Beware of shading • Look for compact “bush” types

    19. Contain Yourself! • Consider compact plant varieties • Bush varieties of cucumbers, muskmelon, watermelon, and squash • Determinate tomato plants • Compact varieties of vegetables Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Window Box Roma’ Determinate tomato Solanum Melongena 'Fairy Tale' Compact eggplant

    20. Contain Yourself! • Materials designed to contain climbing or tall varieties • Fences and trellises • Pole beans, cucumbers, or squash • Use varieties with fruit under three pounds are best • Netting • Use between stakes, on walls, or with structures noted above • Cages or Stakes • Tomatoes • Teepees • Pole beans • Cucumbers

    21. Contain Yourself! Large fruit may need support! Cucumis sativaus ‘Olympian’ Cucumber on a teepee A French Charentais melon 'Savor‘ on a fence structure

    22. Contain Yourself! Some indeterminate tomato plants can become very tall!

    23. Annuals vs. Perennials • Annuals complete their lifecycle in one year • Most vegetables traditionally grown in Minnesota gardens are annuals • Perennials live for more than two years • Check rules for your community garden • May be allowed when returning to same plot • Utilize containers above or below ground for aggressive mints, horseradish, etc.

    24. Perennial Edibles • Rhubarb • Horseradish • Raspberries • Strawberries • Blueberries • Many small fruits • Fruit trees • Some mints • Asparagus • Chives

    25. Containing Perennials • Perennials • Utilize containers • Set containers in garden • “Plant” container with drain holes • Keeps roots contained

    26. Planning • Know the best date to start each plant • Consider the last average frost date in your city as a guideline

    27. Planning • Decide what you would like to grown • Use an existing garden layout • Create your own layout • Consider plant spacing recommendations • Use the sample layouts to get started • Modify as needed

    28. Cool Season Vegetables • These can be seeded directly outside as soon as the soil is workable • *Dates are approximate for Minneapolis/St. Paul • Adjust for your location

    29. April 15* Beets Carrots Lettuce (leaf) Spinach Turnip Onion sets Onion transplants Onion seeds Head lettuce Potatoes (Irish) Kohlrabi Kale Collards Endive Cool Season Vegetables • April 10* • Radish • Peas

    30. Cool Season Vegetables • Transplant outdoors April 15th* • or when soil is workable • Start seed indoors March 1st • Broccoli • Brussels sprouts • Cauliflower • Lettuce (head) • Early cabbage

    31. May 1st Seed outdoors Swiss chard Cucumbers Parsnips May 1st Transplant outdoors Late cabbage Start indoors April 15 May 10th Seed outdoors Pumpkins Squash, summer Squash, winter Sweet corn Date may vary with type Early May

    32. Warm Season Vegetables • May 15th • Seed outdoors • Beans (snap bush, Pole, Lima, dry shell) • Muskmelon • Rutabaga • Watermelon • May 15th • Transplant outdoors • Tomato (Seed indoors April 1) • Celery (seed indoors Feb. 15) • June 1st • Transplant outdoors • Eggplant (start indoors March 15) • Okra (start indoors March 15) • Peppers (start indoors March 15)

    33. Starting Seed Indoors • Commercial seed-starting mixes are suggested • Vermiculite and peat based • Sterile • Soil less • Lightweight • Free of weed seed

    34. Starting Seed Indoors • Fill containers with soiless mix • Moisten prior to filling or water after filling • Plant seed four times as deep as the seeds width • Label trays • Cover with thin layer of vermiculite • Allows light • Maintains moisture • Determine which varieties need light or dark conditions to germinate • Consider heat mats

    35. Seedlings • Use fluorescent lights (cool white) • Four inches above the seedlings • Twelve to sixteen hours of light daily • “Harden off” plants from the garden center or those you have seeded is recommended prior to planting • Bring plants outdoors for part of the day to gradually adjust to wind and temperature fluctuations for one-two weeks

    36. Chemical Use in theCommunity Garden “A substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate a pest, and a substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.” Minnesota state law (18B.01 subd. 18) Definition of Pesticide

    37. Chemical Use in the Community Garden • Pesticides include: • Herbicides for weeds • Insecticides for insects • Fungicides for fungi • The label is the final authority on how you may legally use any pesticide • Read the label carefully and follow all directions • Many community gardens do not allow pesticides • Check your garden rules and ask questions before using any products

    38. Weed Management • Weeds in the community garden • Creates an undesirable appearance • May develop seeds that blow into neighboring plots • Compete with vegetables for space, water, and nutrients • Allowing weeds to overgrow may cause you to lose your plot • Manage weeds in your garden plot so you can be welcome back to the community garden the following season

    39. Weed Management • There are various options to manage weeds in your garden plot • Mulch • Hand pulling or hoeing • These methods may be prohibited in your garden • Synthetic herbicides • Read label carefully if allowed in the garden • Roto-tilling

    40. Weed Management • Mulch • Manages weeds • Conserves moisture • Moderates soil temperatures • Blocks soil splash • Adds organic matter

    41. Weed Management • Synthetic Mulch • Plastic sheets • Effective for blocking weeds, but also block water when drip irrigation is not used below • Increases soil temperature for warm season crops • Landscape fabric • High cost for a vegetable garden setting • Ground up tires • Difficult to remove These artificial materials do not break down readily and may not be allowed in your plot garden

    42. Weed Management: Organic Mulch • Organic mulches • May be a good choice for a community garden • Some may need to be removed at the end of the season

    43. Weed Management: Organic Mulch • Wood chips and pine bark • May require additional nitrogen since the woodchips use nitrogen as they break down • Avoid mixing into the soil at the end of the season • Clean straw • Weed free straw avoids introducing weed seeds • Grass clippings • 1-2 inches of dry clippings • Avoid those from lawns treated with herbicides

    44. Insect Pest • Insect pests can create a gardening challenge, managing them can require some planning under a community garden setting • Hand picking • Synthetic insecticides • Organic insecticides • Traps & barriers • Repellents • Beneficial insects

    45. Insect Pests • Pesticides may be prohibited in your garden • Alternative management methods • Remove weeds, debris, and spoiled fruit where insects may harbor • Monitor for insect holes in leaves and hand pick insects as you see them • Utilize barrier methods like floating row covers or Reemay • Reemay polyester cloth allows 80% light and water in but insects out • Secure Reemay or row covers over plants early in the season before insects are active • Secure with rock or soil to secure the edges so insects can’t slide in • Varieties that require insect pollination will need to be uncovered at a specific time

    46. Insect Management • Beneficial insects and organisms can be effective if planned wisely • Discuss with coordinator and gardeners • Beneficial insects may move to other plots • If other gardeners use insecticides, the beneficial insects may be affected • Consider beneficial insects species more likely to stay in a small area