Monday, November 15, 2010

Clearing Out the Garden

Another beautiful sunset at the BPMS Community Garden!

First off, a big congrats to most of you for making your garden space look really nice and tidy for the winter.  It's very neighborly of you.

There are a few plots that still need attention. A few have corn plants that have blown over into the paths. There are some sad black tomato plants, weeds are getting a head start.

If you haven't been out to your plot in a couple of weeks, you need to head over and pile your plant debris on the path side of your plot (not in the path). John's offer of having the school kids haul away our garden piles is only good until the end of November. So if you are putting it off.... don't or you will have to do all the hauling.

Something to think about this fall is what you learned this year, what your goals are for next season and what you might do now that will help you with those goals.

Covering your garden plot with leaves from your yard (or your neighbors yard) will make it more fertile and have it virtually weed free by spring.  Make the leaves several inches deep (probably 5 or 6 garbage bags).

If drainage was a real issue in your plot (it's a new garden and it takes 3 or 4 years of adding compost to get the soil built up) you might want to think about adding a raised bed or two. The BPMS Garden will build you a box for $75 and you will need to fill it with compost and potting soil.

Or you could try my version of raised beds (I'm in F-1 right by the road. Stop by and take a look). It's free and I love it. I only garden this way now, no matter what the soil condition is, but I learned how to garden like this because my first garden was on a mountain of rock.

Technically called "mound gardening" it has been used for centuries in many cultures where drainage is not very good or there isn't much soil to work with. It's based on the idea that you never walk on the soil that you plant in, so the soil stays fluffy and drains well. Plants love it because they don't have to work hard to grow roots through the fluffy dirt and they never get their roots stepped on. You also have fewer weeds because you never water where you don't have plants. It's easy to build too, just heap the good soil and compost into beds that you can reach the center of from both sides. Don't make them too narrow or they will dry out too fast.
You get the same amount of produce or more from a plot managed like this. You can plant more per foot because of the excellent soil. The paths between beds don't take up any more room than the spaces between rows, added together, in a traditional garden. You can also plant much earlier in the spring because there is no need to wait, the soil warms earlier and drains better. No roto-tilling needed.

I have a winter garden planted right now with cabbage, three kinds of lettuce, chard, carrots, beets and spinach. I will harvest the biggest of these throughout the winter and what stays small in the cold will shoot up in very early spring. Yum!
Did you wish there had been someone to share watering with this summer? I have heard several gardeners wish out loud that they had had someone to trade watering for vacations with.  Next season, make a point of introducing yourself to fellow gardeners. Every single gardener in our garden has been a joy to work with. Don't be shy!

We are supposed to have a couple of nice weather days this week. Hooray!

Lauren Robertson
Garden Member