Community Garden

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Creator:
Alii
Status:
Being Planted
Born On:
16:04, 03 March 2010 (CDT)
Last Updated:
18:40, 15 June 2011 (CDT)

Overview

We are planning to put a community garden up on the premises around the shop for members to grow plants.

Future Actions/To Dos

  • Build cucumber/grapevine trellis - Have rebar, chicken wire and pinewood beam. Can start when the seedlings for the cucumbers and grapes are planted.
  • Need to figure out how to keep off unwanted pickers.

Status

  • 7/31/10 - Spacefelix: The Three Sisters are good and growing. The only issue has been that when the thinning was done, the roots of the corn were broken. The plants then leaned ridiculously and had to be supported to let the roots regrow and reset. Extended the fence around the Three Sisters Garden to protect it from the bunny who munches on fresh leaves. Another bane seems to be the mites that eat the young shoots. Planted wildflowers (North American, SouthEastern and Butterfly and Caterpillar varieties) around my garden and along Alii's rows to attract beneficial bugs to counter the pest bugs. Attempted to plant some old grape seeds, but they are too old and dead to sprout. Will replant them at the next opportunity.
  • 6/12/10 - Spacefelix planted the corn portion of the Three Sisters garden. Right now, he has yellow maize and Japanese hulless popcorn planted, When the shoots reach 15 inches, they will be thinned and the beans and squash planted around them. For now, ditching the experimental Three Sisters to focus on experience with the traditional three sisters.
  • 5/15/10 - Turned the compost pile, it's really starting to look like dirt. Planning to plant on 6/12/10. AliiCat said that since the Alabama growing season is long, we ought to still be able to plant and harvest as long as the ground is ready.
  • 5/11/10 - This weekend I planted the tomato plants and dug trenches for watering them later. Some of the peppers are probably ready for planting, they didn't look very strong Saturday afternoon so I left them in their seedling pod for now. We have more dirt and compost (horse poop) to the side of the garden to use for filling the herb planters. Our herb seedlings are coming along nicely and are really ready for planting, so if anyone has a moment speak up and we can discuss getting them planted. I may be free to do it this coming Saturday (5/15/10). We also need more planters if anyone has extra buckets to spare.

SOME MISERABLE ANIMAL HAS EATED ALL THE SQUASH SEEDLINGS. I was watching our last squash seedling very closely and found that it had been bitten off rather than withered as I had assumed was the cause of death for the others. I will probably try to sprout another squash or two, but we will see if these survive. (I being Alii)

  • 5/1/10 - Turned the pile again to aerate. The core is really looking like soil and the sides and upper layers are showing moldering and earthworms are moving into the pile. Added a layer of two bags of grass, two bags of leaves. Added another layer of horse manure, three bags of grass and two bags of leaves. The pile has finally reached 2' high. Wetted the pile and capped off with four bags of leaves. It has been left open for now since it is predicted to rain soon. It will be later covered with black plastic and cooked for the next two to three weeks (turned every week).
  • 4/26/10 - Added a layer of horse manure, two bags of grass and two bags of leaves. Pile is getting close to 2' mark. One more layer ought to do it.
  • 4/25/10 - Rained all weekend, so turned the lasagna garden to aerate the pile. The core is hot and decomposition is coming along nicely. The plant matter is turning black and smelling earthy.
  • 4/23/10 - Jake brought several bags of leaves to the shop. Added two layers of leaves and grass (four bags of each) to the lasagna garden.
  • 4/22/10 - AliiCat brought 9 bags of dirt to the shop. They are now cooking off at the shop's South wall to kill the weeds. It will be ready by the weekend.
  • 4/20/10 - Added another layer to the lasagna garden; horse manure, two bags of grass, two bags of leaves. Put black plastic bags and a dark camo tarp down to cook the pile.
  • 4/17/10 - Completed garden plans. Have tilled the main garden and set up a seed coop to sprout seeds. Planted squash and cucumbers in the main garden. All the herb seeds are in the seed coop sprouting. Trellis for cucumbers and grapes can built using rebar and chicken wire. Have also found some pine beam to build garden stakes. To support the other plants, we can make tubular stands from rolled chicken wire and stakes. Have decided to put the herb plants in pots that will be lined up on the border of the garden. Mixed in a 1" layer of fresh lawn clippings into the lasagna garden since it was carbon rich (~45:1 Carbon-to-Nitrogen ratio). Also, added another 1" layer of fresh lawn clippings and covered with two bags of leaves. Current Carbon-to-Nitrogen ratio is back to the 35:1 ratio previously used. Digging in to the pile again, looks like the first layer is completely decomposed. None of the original leaves and grass can be recognized and have turned into rich dark humus with an earthy smell. This establishes a 2-week breakdown for each layer after it is laid. cherryblossom gave some advice with the lasagna garden; if you cover it with black tarp to heat the pile, it can halve the time of decomposition. Also, it should cook out any weeds' seeds. Just beware, some may survive.
  • 4/14/10 - Tiller has arrived at the shop. Plan is to use it to help us break up the gravel layer (estimated to be 6" deep) and prepare the garden bed. Spread two bags of grass on the last layer with kitchen scraps, grass clippings and horse manure. Covered with two bags of leaves and then made another layer by stacking on the last bag of grass, fresh grass clippings. Mulched with two bags of leaves. Current lasagna garden is ~1' high. One more foot to go. Will need to build it up quickly since planting is going to be either this weekend or next.
  • 4/13/10 - JimShoe said he has some popcorn corn seeds he'd like to plant. Spacefelix said they can go right in the Three Sisters planting.
  • 4/12/10 - Dickie brought in three bags of grass. Three more are on the way. Spacefelix formed a layer from two bags of grass, a thin layer of grass clippings, kitchen scraps and horse manure. It was mulched with two more bags of leaves. The pile needs watering every two days to keep the upper layers moist, but the lower layers are composting well and have an earthy smell. The near 30:1 Carbon-to-Nitrogen ratio is paying off. Hanyan brought in a biodegradable plastic bag. Stuck it in the pile to see how well it degrades.
  • 4/10/10 - Alii spread some horse manure and leaves over the garden.
  • 4/6/10 - Picked up some horse manure and spread it and some grass clippings on the lasagna garden. Mulched with 2 bags of leaves (1 bag per layer is too thin to keep it moist). There are two layers and it is ~6" deep. Need about 2' deep. Checked the Carbon-to-Nitrogen ratio of the pile. Typically, need 30:1 by mass to ensure the pile decomposes quickly and does not smell. Right now, the pile is at 35:1. Not perfect, but close enough.
  • 4/5/10 - Lasagna garden dried out since there is only one layer. Watered it down and added the second layer of leaves to mulch the pile and keep it moist. Spacefelix will pick up more horse manure and gather the grass cuttings from Saturday's mowing to complete the second and third layers. AliiCat brought up an idea that the compost pile could be an above-ground 55-gallon trash can. That way it can be moved and will not require the same permissions process the garden needed. The only issue would be venting it, keeping it warm and dealing with the smell.
  • 4/3/10 - Started lasagna garden with first layer (wet cardboard, 1/2" of browns, 1/2" of greens, 1" of a mix of composted manure and topsoil, will need to repeat this eleven more times to get the desired 2' thick bed; 1 layer took one trash bag of leaves, grass clippings from about 200 ft^2 of lawn, 2 ft^3 of composted manure and 2 ft^3 of topsoil). Alii spread composted horse manure on the rest of the garden (she picked it up from a local farmer), needs to be tilled into the ground. AliiCat also tested the soil, high alkalinity. Will need compost and horse manure to adjust soil chemistry to be more ideal. Spacefelix & Hanyan discussed putting up a compost pile. Will need board permission since it is not covered by the board permissions to establish a garden. For now, the lasagna garden will act as the compost pile.
  • 4/2/10 - Vote was made by board to go ahead and garden! Wahoo! Also, picked up a whole bunch of browns from Dickie (about 15 trash bags). They are now outside by the roll-up door awaiting disposal to the lasagna garden or compost pile.
  • 3/31/10
    • Preaux has volunteered to pick up seeds from a coop near his home, we need a complete list of the seeds we would like him to grab by Friday (4/2/10)
      • Benalene intends to plant: Tomatoes, Onions, Marigold (Calendula), Carrot, Parsley, Rosemary, Mint. Maybe Nasturtium. It is a trap plant, it attracts the bad pests to itself, so the bad pests leave the other plants alone. You can also eat them. Might plant some around the outside of my plot.
      • Spacefelix will plant Maize, Tepary Beans and Common Beans.
      • Alii would like, Bell Pepper, Cayenne pepper, Butterneck and Yellow squash, and Mint seeds in the smallest available quantities.
    • Alii will test the PH of the soil and if appropriate pick up some horse poop to fertilize the garden plot with.
    • Alii intends to plant: Cucumbers (on a trellis on the western edge), Peppers, Butterneck and/or Yellow Squash, Mint, Rosemarry and maybe Lavender.
  • 3/30/10
    • Requested maize and Tepary Bean or Common Bean seed from Preauxphoto.
  • 3/27/10
    • We have checked with Alabama 1 call to determine where the utility lines are and plotted a proposed location for the garden by the trees on the south west side.
    • 8'x20' plot marked on East side of Western tree line (towards the shop). Gives 10, 8'x2' rows.
  • 3/23/10
    • AliiCat had the property utility lines marked. Will be getting board approval to start the garden.
    • Cherryblossom mentioned the lasagna gardening method (a.k.a. sheet composting, permaculture-related method).
    • AliiCat and Spacefelix discussed what to plant. Garden will be divided into 10, 2'x8' East-West rows (two each for the five gardeners on board). Spacefelix, for his two rows, decided on a variation of the Three Sisters (permaculture-related method) using maize (popcorn!), bell peppers, climbing beans, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. Will also add plants and habitats that attract beneficial bugs (pollinators and pest predators) and a compost pile. AliiCat and the other gardeners will be doing a traditional garden on the remaining rows. If we produce enough from the garden, we can function as a CSA unit and help with fundraising.
  • Gregabyte mentioned wanting to do Maker Salsa
  • 3/3/10
    • Have determined property lines that we must be within - Within the sidewalks of Brown Street (East Border) and Hall Avenue (South Border), from the North-South tree line to the Southwest of the shop to the western wall of the shop (West Border) and the northern wall of the shop (North Border).
    • Have decided to grow cucumbers.
      • How about some popcorn?

Current Garden Plans

8'x20' plot with 10, 8'x2' Rows. Currently, per Alii, with five people planting, everyone gets two rows. The plot is on east side of the west treeline on the property, towards the shop. Being used as follows: Each cell of the following table is a 2'x2' square on the plot starting from the Northwestern corner:

Garden Habitat (beneficial bugs and birds, plants that attract them, etc.) - Foxglove, Garden Cosmos, Oxeye Daisy and Statice (aka Sea Lavender), Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix, Cucumber & Grapevine Trellis - AliiCat & Spacefelix Traditional Three Sisters - Yellow Maize, Red Pole Beans and Butternut Winter Squash; Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix Traditional Three Sisters - Yellow Maize, Red Pole Beans and Butternut Winter Squash; Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix Traditional Three Sisters - Yellow Maize, Red Pole Beans and Butternut Winter Squash; Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix
Garden Habitat (beneficial bugs and birds, plants that attract them, etc.) - Foxglove, Garden Cosmos, Oxeye Daisy and Statice (aka Sea Lavender), Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix, Cucumber & Grapevine Trellis - AliiCat & Spacefelix Traditional Three Sisters - Japanese Hulless Popcorn, Red Pole Beans and Butternut Winter Squash; Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix, Cucumber & Grapevine Trellis - AliiCat & Spacefelix Traditional Three Sisters - Japanese Hulless Popcorn, Red Pole Beans and Butternut Winter Squash; Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix Traditional Three Sisters - Yellow Maize, Red Pole Beans and Butternut Winter Squash; Lasagna Preparation - Spacefelix
Cucumber & Grapevine Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat & Spacefelix Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
Cucumber & Grapevine Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat & Spacefelix Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
Cucumber Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
Cucumber Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
Cucumber Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
Cucumber Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
Cucumber Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
Cucumber Trellis; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat Tomatoes; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Peppers, Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte Squash; Traditional Preparation - AliiCat, Gregabyte
  • Herbs, Onions & Carrots will be placed in pots that will border the garden.

Info On What We Are Planting

Light Water Soil Quality Plant Height/Length (in) Plant Width (in) Seeds Available (Y/N) Planting Season Harvest Season Notes
Maize High Low-Medium High 120 12 N April-May October-November Needs to be fully pollinated for full grown corn.
Popcorn High Low-Medium High 120 12 Y, Jimshoe April-May October-November Needs to be fully pollinated for full grown corn.
Beans High Medium High 24 bush, 120 vine 12 N May-June August-September Covers Tepary and Common varieties.
Squash Low Medium High 12 24 Y, AliiCat May-June September-October Covers Butterneck and Yellow varieties.
Bell Peppers Low-Medium Medium Medium Y, AliiCat
Cayenne Pepper Low-Medium Medium Medium N
Tomatoes High High High Y, AliiCat
Cucumbers High Medium High Y, AliiCat
Onions Medium Medium Medium-High Y, Gregabyte Short-Day onions ideal for Southern States, usually labeled with an 'S' at the nursery. However, have long-day onions.
Grapes High Medium High Y, Spacefelix Prune yearly to avoid overgrowth and crowding, or grapes rot on the vine.
Carrots Low-High Medium High Y, AliiCat Shade when young, full sun when older. Do not plant in rocky or packed soils.
Marigold Medium-High Low-Medium Medium-High N Can tolerate partial sun and slightly poor soils. Need watering once a week during dry spells.
Parsley Medium Medium High Y, AliiCat Attracts the caterpillars of butterflies. Usually likes full sun, but needs shade for hotter climates.
Rosemary Medium Low Low Y, AliiCat Plant that has low needs.
Mint Medium-High Medium High Y, AliiCat Mint plants must be contained to prevent them from overgrowing runners and taking over the garden. Usually a pot or buried barrel suffices. Makes great ground cover because of its vigor.
Lavender High Low Low N
Foxglove Medium Medium Rich N
Oxeye Daisy Medium-High High High N
Sunflower High Medium Low-High N Can tolerate a wide range of soil types and drier conditions. Important to keep well-moistened during the first few weeks of growth until the roots are well-established.
Statice Medium-High Medium-Low Medium-Low N Hardy plant, can tolerate poor soils, dry spells and prolonged heat better than most plants.
Nasturtium Medium-High Medium Medium Y, benalene?
Basil Y, AliiCat
Sage Y, AliiCat
Oregano Y, AliiCat
Cilantro Y, AliiCat
  • Key
    • Light - High = 12 hrs/day or full sun, Medium = 8 hrs/day or partial shade, Low = 4 hrs/day or full shade
    • Water - High = Water Daily, Medium = Water Weekly, Low = Local rainfall conditions suffice, no additional watering needed.
    • Soil - High = Loose soil with high humus content, low sand and clay, Medium = Even mix of humus, sand and clay, Low = Rocky soil with low humus content and lots of sand and clay.

Preparation Steps

  1. Till the area.
  2. Prepare the ground
    1. We need to fertilize the ground somehow, it has been suggested we till some dog food into it.
  3. Plant
  4. Weed
  • Preparation steps based on lasagna gardening method (Spacefelix):
  1. Lay down & wet cardboard or five layers of overlapping newspaper
  2. Layer on browns and then greens in ~1" layers
    • Browns - Fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat and pine needles.
    • Greens - Vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, and grass clippings.
    • ASK MEMBERS AND NEIGHBORS TO PLEASE DONATE BROWNS AND GREENS. This method requires quite a bit of them.
  3. Repeat steps one and two until you get a 2' tall layered bed.
    • For spring or summertime planting, you will want to add more soil-like materials (compost, peat, or topsoil) to each layer and finish it off with 3-4" of topsoil or compost. Otherwise for the fall, carry on.
  4. Plant and mulch when the time comes.
  1. Form 2'x2' mounds about 1' high.
  2. Plant several maize and popcorn seeds close together in the center of each mound.
  3. When the maize grows to be 6" tall, plant the beans in a close ring around the corn and the squash in a ring on the outer edge of the beans.
    • For the experimental three sisters, the core will be composed of maize, popcorn and sunflowers, the beans will be interspersed with tomatoes and cucumbers and the squash will have peppers and onions among them in the outer areas.

Available Materials

  • Small Shovel
  • Leaf Rake
  • Soil Rake
  • Large Shovel on loan from Alii.
  • Manual Rotary Mower
  • Small motorized tiller from OffBitz.
  • Large motorized tiller from brimstone.
  • Chicken Wire, metal rebar and pine beam for building plant cages, stakes and trellises.
  • Horse Manure available for pickup from a local farmer.
    • Steel Prize Stables at 125 Christopher Drive, Madison, AL. Off the North side of Highway 72, between Jeffe Road and Nance Road. Drive up Chris drive, bear right at the traffic circle and follow the road to top of a hill. You will see the gate to the ranch. If the gate is closed, press button to activate. Hours for pickup are 8am to 4pm, weekdays and Saturdays. However, some staff are around the barn after hours to 7pm. You'd be able to come in after hours for pickup. Just be quick about it and don't keep them waiting. Call ahead before you come by for pickup. Owner is Bill ((256)837-5474).
  • Seeds

Potential Materials

  • Horse manure - Craigslist posting has been made for horse manure.
  • Seeds - Preauxphoto lives near a food coop that sells certified seeds. Can request seeds from him.
  • Tools - Need other common gardening tools.

Who wants to be involved?

Notes

  • Due to the western treeline on the garden, we will only get half-sun. It would benefit us, if possible, to plant next year's garden on a south-facing wall or treeline so that it's south face is always exposed to sun. The current garden then can be used as a shade garden.
  • Auxiliary Projects

Links