Political Commentary

Friday, April 6, 2018

From the Gardens Registrar: How to Start Your Eagle Heights/University Houses Garden

Hello Gardeners,

HOW TO START – If you’re an experienced gardener here, you can skip my message today. But if you’re new, this is for you.

Here’s the first thing to do with your plot:  figure out your boundaries. Each plot has a metal sign in front of it with the plot number. (If it’s a small plot, there is a metal piece under the number with A and B on it at Eagle Heights, or N and S on it at University Houses.) There should also be two yellow posts at the front of the plot – these mark the corners. Your plot extends from one yellow marker to the other. BUT every gardener must allow six inches on each side of the plot, including the back, for access. Since your neighbor also must allow six inches, this means there is one foot of empty space between each plot. This space is necessary for you and your neighbors to be able to work, push carts, and connect hoses to water. You are not allowed to plant anything in this space, and you should not have big plants next to it that will grow into it or hang over it.

Most of the disputes in our gardens come from gardeners not understanding where they should or shouldn’t plant. This is a very avoidable problem. If you have questions, ask the registrar. And please come to an orientation if you can.

Okay, once you know where you’re supposed to be, what do you do next?

We have a wonderful resource on our website, a Garden Manual written specifically for Eagle Heights, by Robin Mittenthal, who used to be the Garden Co-Chair some years ago. Here’s the link: http://www.eagleheightsgardens.org/tips/garden_manual_v_1.12.pdf  This manual is very thorough –in fact, it is 108 pages long! However, I suggest you start on Page 6, where it says, “The Absolute Minimum Amount You Need to Know.”

I’ll summarize it here. First of all, decide what you want to grow. Think about what you enjoy eating. Make room for some flowers, too. Robin then talks about what kind of space different vegetables take up. This is information you can find in his manual, on seed packets, or on the Internet.

Next, vegetables in our climate are either cool-season or warm season. You’ll want to think about your cool-season crops first, such as beets, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, peas, radishes, and greens such as spinach and kale. These vegetables can grow in cool weather, and tolerate some frost.
Most of these cool-season plants are started with seeds that are sown directly into the ground. But you can also buy plants for some of them. (We’ll have these seeds at the Seed Fair, of course, and we’ll also have a plant sale on April 22 where you can buy some of these cool-weather vegetable plants.)

When the ground is workable (not frozen or muddy), pull out weeds and old vegetation. (Shake off as much of the soils as you can, haul them to the weed pile, and dump them in the middle.) Then dig up the soil to get out weed roots and lumps of dirt, and smooth it over with a rake. Then you can plant your seeds, following the directions on the seed packages. Water thoroughly, and keep the planted bed moist until the seeds begin to sprout.

I really recommend that you read Robin’s manual, and refer to it often through the season.

Don’t forget – Seed Fair, Saturday, April 7, 9:30am – 11am. Garden Orientations on Saturday and Sunday (see schedule in last week’s message.)

Happy Gardening,

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