Community Seeds: Building Community Through Gardening - University of Michigan
Building Community through
Kristin McGee, MSW
University of Michigan — School of Social Work
Good Neighborhoods Technical Assistance Center
2. Table of Contents
Getting Started on Community Gardens Newsletter
Garden Design Newsletter
Veggies 101 Newsletter
Using Your Garden to Build Community Newsletter
The Community-Supported Agriculture Model Newsletter
Taking Food from Garden to School Newsletter
References and Additional Resources Newsletter
3. Community Seeds is a beginning. A place for community members, church mem-
bers, young people, schools, and others to get some basic information on gardening and
starting a community gardening project.
The first part provides the lay of the land: definitions and how to get started with commu-
nity gardening. In the second part, the handbook looks at basic gardening skills: garden
design, composting, and vegetable gardening. The third section teaches how gardening
can be used to build a community, from farm-to-school programs and community-
supported agriculture to marketing produce and reconnecting with nature. Each newslet-
ter has Internet and readings listed as resources. There is a wealth of information on gar-
dening in community settings. Also, take a look at the information the Good Neighbor-
hoods Technical Assistance Center provided on how to access vacant lots that are in your
Community Seeds advocates for organic farming methods. “Organic” means that
plants and food are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. These methods seek
reconnecting with the environment, harmony with nature, and healthy food for all indi-
viduals. Remember, the organic movement is ultimately about social justice — the basic
right to clean, nutritious, and adequate food sources.
A few ideas for using the newsletters in this manual:
• Have group members find out about national and international community gardening
projects and share that information. You could explore projects mentioned in this man-
ual or add other projects to these pages.
• Create a list of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and trees as well as information the
group would like to have about these crops. It could be plant varieties, uses, planting
requirements, growing guidelines, pest and disease considerations, and harvesting
methods. Divide the list among group members and collect the information to learn
about each crop. These reports will be an excellent addition to the Community Seeds
• Don’t forget about the Community Connections Small Grants offered through Good
Neighborhoods. Plenty of money to get a project started.
• Organize a visit to local community gardening projects as well as some hands-on activi-
ties. The only way to learn how to garden is to get dirty!
Most of all, enjoy yourself and enjoy connecting with others through something so basic
and necessary to all of us: food.
— Kristin McGee
Annual: A plant that germinates, grows, flowers, sets seed, and dies in one growing
season. Versus a perennial plant that grows over multiple seasons.
Biodynamic Gardening: Developed during the 1920s by Rudolph Steiner to help
people work with nature to grow more healthful food. Bio-dynamics shares many goals
with organic gardening. Both methods avoid the use of synthetic chemicals. The recycling
of nutrients through composting is also common to both methods, along with raised beds,
crop rotation, and companion planting. What sets bio-dynamics apart is the philosophy
behind it. Biodynamic gardeners attempt to understand the true nature of their crops and
livestock – what each plant and animal needs to grow to its potential. In biodynamic
terms, an ideal farm is a self-supporting system. Rather than emphasizing measurable
yields, biodynamic farmers seek a healthful product produced with minimal
environmental impact. The biodynamic concept also incorporates planetary influences on
plant growth; for example, calendars of cosmic rhythms guide farmers.
Blight: A bacterial or fungal disease in which leaves or branches suddenly wither, stop
growing, and die. Examples include fire, early (alternaria), late (phytophthora), and
Canker: A fungal disease that forms on woody stems and may be cracks, sunken areas, or
raised area of dead or abnormal plant tissue.
Cold Frame: Rectangular, boxlike structure with a glass sash on top. Most have slanting
sash “roofs,” with the high end toward the north, so that the sun’s rays strike the glass at
about a 90 degree angle, and water and snow slide off the lids easily. A lid with a slope of
35-40 degrees catches the most sunlight year-round, while a 55-degree slope maximizes
autumn’s low sun. Cold frames create an area of close-to-ideal conditions, enabling
gardeners to stretch the seasons and to grow plants accustomed to warmer climates.
Community Garden: A gathering of individuals willing to share time, space, and labor
to garden; a garden owned by a city, university, or civic organization; individual plots
rented to gardeners for a small fee.
Community-Supported Agriculture: A relationship of mutual support and
commitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer an
annual fee to cover the production costs of the farm. In turn, members receive a weekly
share of the harvest during the local growing season.
Companion Planting: Locating plants close to each other in order to take advantage of
a plant’s natural ability to attract beneficial insects, repel harmful ones, aid or discourage
growth, and take advantage of certain chemical reactions among plants.
Composting: The art and science of combining organic materials under controlled
conditions so that the original raw ingredients are transformed into humus.
Cooperative Extension Service: A unique partnership between college and
government, the extension service was established in 1914 to provide an educational link
between the public, the US Department of Agriculture, and land-grant colleges. Extension
offices provide gardening advice tailored to your particular climate, soil, and growing
conditions through publications, classes, and workshops. It also offers Master Gardeners
Cotyledon: The leaf (or leaves), present in a dormant seed, that is the first to unfold as
the seed germinates. Cotyledons often look different than the “first true set of leaves” that
Cover crop: A crop grown to protect and enrich the soil or to control weeds.
Crop rotation: The practice of shifting crop locations in the garden from year to year to
avoid crop-specific diseases and pests and to balance soil nutrients.
Division: Separating a plant into several smaller new plants, used with groundcovers,
clump-forming perennials, bulbs, tubers, ornamental grasses, and suckering shrubs.
Double-digging: A soil preparation method in which you remove a spadeful of topsoil
from a garden bed, loosen the soil layer below the topsoil, and then restore the topsoil
layer. During the process, you can incorporate organic matter into the soil. Double-
digging improves the structure and fertility of the top 2 feet of soil.
Edible Landscaping: A form of gardening that produces food and makes yards or green
areas attractive at the same time.
Fertilizer: Materials that feed growing plants. Common organic fertilizers include alfalfa
meal, blood meal, bonemeal, coffee grounds, compost, eggshells, fish emulsion, fish meal,
grass clippings, kelp meal, peat moss, rock phosphate, wood ash, and worm castings.
Foliar-feed: To supply nutrients by spraying liquid fertilizer directly on plant leaves.
Green manure: A crop that is grown and then incorporated into the soil to increase soil
fertility or organic matter content.
Heirloom plants: Cultivars of plants grown in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early
twentieth centuries, essential for maintaining a vast and diverse pool of plant genetic
characteristics. Heirloom tomatoes are popular, such as Brandywine and Striped German
Horticultural therapy: The cultivation and appreciation of plants and nature to
relieve an illness or disability. Horticultural therapy is practiced in such diverse settings
as rehabilitation and mental health centers, assisted living and nursing homes, schools,
Humus: A dark-colored, stable form of organic matter that remains after most of the
plant and animal residues in it have decomposed. When soil animals and microbes digest
organic matter, such as chopped leaves or weeds, humus is the end product.
Inoculant: A seed treatment medium that contains the symbiotic rhizobial bacteria to
capture nitrogen when in contact with legume roots.
Legume: A plant whose roots form a relationship with soil bacteria and can capture
nitrogen available in the atmosphere.
Loam: Soil that has moderate amounts of sand, silt, and clay. Loam soils are generally
considered the best garden soils.
Meadow gardens: A full-sun garden that mimics the beauty of a natural meadow,
composed of native warm-season grasses and flowering annuals, biennials, and perennials
that will spread and self-sow to create a self-maintaining field of flowers and foliage.
Native plants: Plants that grow in the specific habitat in which they evolved.
Natural landscaping: Designing all or part of your yard/green space with the aim of
re-creating the feel of a natural scene. After choosing a natural landscape that has the
strongest appeal for you, analyze that scene in nature to determine the topography,
exposure, and soil. Identify dominant species and the way plants are arranged or layered.
Nitrogen fixation: The capture and conversion of atmospheric nitrogen gas into
nitrogen compounds, stored in the soil, that can be used by plants.
NPK ratio: A ratio of three numbers that identifies the percentage of three major
nutrients in fertilizers — nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
Organic certification: A process that assures consumers that foods labeled “organic”
have been grown, processed, and/or handled in compliance with standards designed to
keep the food as well as the agricultural workers and environment free of harmful
contaminants. Food and livestock sales earning more than $5,000 annually must be
certified if they are to call or label their products “organic”.
Organic Farming and Gardening: Organic farming uses nature’s cycle of growth,
death, and decay. As plants and animals die, rodents, insects, earthworms, and
microscopic soil creatures consume their bodies, and nutrients are released. These
nutrients feed new generations of plants. There is no need for synthetic pesticides in a
natural ecosystem. In organic gardening, similar cycles and natural balances exist.
However, gardeners harvest and remove crops from the garden, breaking the cycle. To
keep the natural processes that feed plants working, they add organic materials (compost,
organic fertilizers). By encouraging biological diversity, they can minimize the need for
artificial pest control. When organic gardeners do intervene, they choose control tactics
that have little impact on natural systems.
If you are new to the organic method, here are some basic suggestions to get you started:
• Use a plan and keep records
• Learn more about your soil
• Start a compost pile
• Prevent pest problems before they happen
• Learn to identify weeds and eliminate them when they are small
Organic matter: Various forms of living or dead plant and animal material. Adding
organic matter to soil supplies nutrients to plants; facilitates better drainage; stores water
in the soil; helps increase air drainage; increases soil micro-organisms; decreases plant
disease; and encourages earthworms.
Organic pest management: An approach to pest control that combines cultural,
biological, physical, and certain chemical control measures to prevent problems or to keep
them in check. Organically acceptable chemical controls are a last resort used only when
all other methods are not adequate.
Perennial: A plant that flowers and sets seed for two or more seasons. Short-lived
perennials may live 3-5 years while long-lived perennials may live 100 years or more.
Versus an annual plant that grows for only one season.
Permaculture: Coined in the mid-1970s by Australians Bill Mollison and David
Holmgren, permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments.
The aim is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, which
provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the
long term. Permaculture uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with
the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting
system for city and country, using the smallest practical area.
pH: The measure of acidity (acid) or alkalinity (base); pH affects plant growth by
influencing the how easily soil nutrients can be used by plants.
Propagation: Making new plants from existing ones. Propagation methods include
using seeds, spores, plant division, cuttings, layering, grafting, and budding.
Raised bed gardening: Garden beds are higher than ground level and separated by
paths. Plants cover the bed area and gardeners work from the paths. The beds are 3-5
feet across to permit easy access and may be made any length.
Rot: Diseases that decay roots, stems, wood, flowers, and fruit
Rust: A specific type of fungal disease, usually requiring two different plant species as
hosts to complete their life cycle, that manifests with a powdery tan to rust-colored
coating. Examples include asparagus, wheat, cedar apple, and white pine blister rust.
Sand, silt, and clay: Tiny fragments of rock or minerals that make up nearly half the
material in the soil. They are distinguished from one another by size. Sand particles are
the biggest, measuring from 0.05-2.0 millimeters in diameter; followed by silt particles
from 0.002-0.05 millimeters; followed by the smallest, clay particles, which measure less
than 0.002 millimeters in diameter.
Seed: A plant embryo and its supply of nutrients, often surrounded by a protective seed
Seedling: A young plant grown from a seed.
Side-dress: To apply fertilizer alongside plants growing in a row.
Soil structure: The arrangement of soil particles in the soil.
Soil texture: The relative proportions of sand, silt, and clay in the soil.
Top-dress: To apply fertilizer evenly over a field or bed of growing plants.
Transplanting: Moving a rooted plant from one place to another. You can transplant
plants to containers or to the garden.
Wilt: A fungus or bacteria that attacks or clogs a plant’s water-conducting system,
causing permanent wilting and often followed by death of all or part of the plant.
Examples include Stewart’s, Fusarium, and Verticillium wilt.
8. Getting Started on
This newsletter will share the history of community gardens, ways to begin your
own community garden, and considerations for urban gardeners.
The History of Community Gardens from Rodale’s
Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening & Garden Mosaics
From the late 1800s through the 1940s, the main
purpose of community gardens in the United States
was growing food.
of interest: • Potato Patch Movement (late 1800s): Cities
were growing rapidly and many people were
out of work. Across the county, cities began
• At peak production in
offering garden plots to so residents could
1944, 20 million
grow their own food
victory gardens grew
44% of America’s
fresh produce. • Liberty Gardens (early 1900s): The U.S. gov-
ernment recruited people to grow gardens
• A community garden
during World War I as a way to contribute to
the war effort.
starts as a gathering
of individuals willing
to share time, space, • Relief Gardens (1930s): With the Great De-
and labor. pression affecting the nation, these gardens
were promoted to improve people’s spirits as • Improve neighborhoods: People in cities turn
vacant lots into beautiful gardens.
• Urban gardeners must well as to provide work and food.
keep in mind space,
light, soil, theft and • Victory Gardens (1940s): Growing food in • Express cultural traditions: Many immigrant
vandalism, and soil World War II’s “victory gardens” was a patri- and heritage groups bring plants and cultural
contaminants. otic duty. At peak production in 1944, 20 traditions to the gardens, creating multicul-
million victory gardens grew 44% of America’s tural mosaics.
The American Community Gardening Association
From the late 1960s to the present, community (ACGA), a national not-for-profit organization of
gardens have served many different purposes. gardening and open space volunteers and profes-
Renewed interest in energy and environmental sionals, was started in 1979 to encourage commu-
Inside this conservation, rising food prices, and growing con- nity gardening and greening. The ACGA offers
cern about chemical additives and residues in proc- guidelines to help gardeners understand how com-
issue: munity gardening works. Check them out at
essed foods have made homegrown produce more
appealing. Gardens are also used to: http://www.communitygarden.org.
Finding & Acquiring
Forming a Garden
What is a community garden?
Since there in no real agreement go to grow food either collectively valuable, ends.
Urban Innovations on what makes a community gar- or on their own plot of land. An
3 Inuvik Community Green-
den, let’s hear what the gardens essential element is that they are house, Northwest Territories,
themselves have to say: developed and run by the commu- Canada: “We began by convert-
Urban Land Trusts
4 Green Thumb, New York City, nity in a process where people and ing a decommissioned building
USA: “Community gardens pro- nature learn from each other to into a community greenhouse as
Inside Story vide green space and easily acces- grow food and steward the land. a focal point for community de-
sible recreational opportunities in Denver Urban Gardens, Colo- velopment. The objective was to
the areas that need them most. rado: “Community gardens are utilize this space to allow for the
6 Vancouver Urban Agricul- not just for growing vegetables. production of a variety of crops
ture, British Columbia, Canada: While tending a garden may be in an area where fresh, economi-
“Community gardens are part of the initial goal, empowerment, cal produce is often unavailable.
the “commons” where people can self-sufficiency, and pride in the
neighborhood are the true, and
9. Page 2 Getting Started on Community Gardens
Finding & Acquiring Land from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Finding land is often a matter of persistently • Visibility for safety and publicity; Few sites will have all of the amenities, so
pursuing a variety of sources. If you see a decide which are most important to your
potential site for a garden, find out who • Safe soil (not polluted by former gardening group.
owns it and convince them that gardens uses);
Once your group finds a site, get permis-
make great tenants. • Long-term availability; sion and a written lease to use it. If your
• Access for gardeners, volunteers, and garden plan includes physical improve-
City and county agencies that may grant possibly delivery trucks; and ments such as fencing, creating raised
access to garden space include park commis- beds, or adding soil, try to obtain at least
• Nearby restrooms, telephone, and a 3-year lease. Your group should be able
sions and public housing and community
parking. to use the site long enough to justify the
development offices. State departments of
transportation, agriculture, or housing may investment.
also have land to offer.
Your group may need to have public li-
Schools, churches, railroads, nature centers, ability insurance before a lease is granted.
community colleges and universities, utility Garden insurance is new to many insur-
companies, senior centers, and other com- ance carriers, and their underwriters
munity centers are other potential garden hesitate to cover community gardens,
site providers. despite their risk-free history. Decide
what you want before talking to agents,
Look for a site that will contribute to garden- and use an agent who handles several
ing success. Desirable features include: carriers. Best results have also been
• Full sun with nearby shade (for weary found when several gardens get liability
gardeners); insurance together (much like group
health insurance) and with local insur-
• A water source;
First Quincy Street Garden ance carriers
• Neighborhood support;
New York City, NY
Forming a Garden from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Our purpose is to improve
A community garden starts as a gath- bilities are clear. Topics covered by garden rules the neighborhood and
ering of individuals willing to share may include conditions of membership, assign- provide a place to garden for
time, space, and labor to garden. ment of plots, maintenance of common areas, and food and recreation.
Make the most of human resources even ways of enforcing the roles. Leave room for
Membership is open to
such as knowledgeable mature gar- rules to grow along with membership.
deners and energetic kids. A plan- everyone in the
ning committee allocates group re- neighborhood. People
sources and should accomplish these Analyze what the group wants before touching the
site. Develop a clear plan, including plot sizes, within a 2 block radius will
common area maintenance, and group activities. be given priority, if there is a
• Identify the need and desire for Evaluate what your group’s resources are — what waiting list. Our 3 leaders
a garden do you have? What do you need? Assign members
to gather missing elements before gardening be- are elected annually, 2
• Involve the people who are to
gins. months before the garden
benefit from the garden in all
phases of the program season begins. Meetings are
• Organize a meeting of interested A few final tasks will improve garden relations held 3 times a year and
people during the growing season. Plan a work day for decisions are made by
site cleaning and plot
• Select a well-organized garden assignments. Keep
majority. Attendance at
coordinator records of plot loca- spring and fall work days is
• Approach sponsors, if needed tions and users; mark mandatory for all members.
plots clearly with gar- If you cannot attend, you
deners names. Identify
Once a committee has addressed the and prepare common must send a friend or
initial issues, involve all participants
paths and common complete a task assigned by
in setting rules, electing officers, and
areas, then open for the officers. Membership
determining dues and their uses.
planting. Use a
Community gardens run best when dues are $10 per year for a
bulletin board to hold
managed by the gardeners. New 10’ x 20’ plot
announcements and a
gardening groups need structure, garden map. — make
especially the first year, to make sure Green Chicago, Chicago
sure it is sheltered or
work is divided equally and responsi- Botanic Garden
10. Getting Started on Community Gardens Page 3
Tips for City Gardeners from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Urban gardeners face different challenges of daily sunlight to produce flowers and maintained, repair damage immediately,
than their rural and suburban counter- fruit. harvest ripened vegetables daily, and
parts. Urban gardeners need ingenuity to Soil: Most urban soils are compacted and plant more vegetables than you need.
garden in spaces with blocked sunlight, clayey, and have a high heavy-metal con- Plant a
poor soil, and unreliable water sources. tent. Improve soils by adding compost, portion of
Soil and air pollutants, theft, vandalism, peat moss, aged sawdust, or other types of the garden
and politics further complicate city gar- organic matter. Many cities make compost for others
dening. On the other hand, the near ab- or mulch from tree trimmings and leaf and make it
sence of wildlife damage and a frost-free pickups. Contact local parks or street de- with a sign:
season as much as a month longer than partments about these often free soil “If you
surrounding areas are some of the advan- amendments. Another alternative is to must take
tages of urban gardening. City gardeners bring in soil for raised beds or containers. food, please
can also turn yards, rooftops, fire escapes, take it from
Theft & vandalism: Most urban garden-
and a variety of containers into fields of here”.
ing takes place in densely populated or
plants. Soil contaminants: Excessive lead,
publicly accessible places. While fences
Space: Design your garden to maximize keep honest people honest, involving area cadmium, and mercury levels are com-
growing area while preserving living space. youth and adults in gardening is a more mon in urban soils. Sources of such pol-
Make the most of your garden space by effective tactic. Make a sign for the garden lution include leaded paint, motor vehicle
growing compact cultivars. Build trellises and let folks know that it is a community exhaust, and industrial waste. Poisoning
and fences to utilize vertical space. Inter- project. Create a shady meeting area and from eating contaminated produce can
plant fast- and slow-growing vegetables. spend time there. Plant “less popular” affect all gardeners, especially young chil-
Light: Select plants and a design to suit vegetables along sidewalks and fence lines. dren. See the article below for more
each location, based on the total light it Share garden space and knowledge with information on this important topic
receives. Most plants need at least 6 hours your neighbors. Keep your garden well-
What’s in your dirt?
Environment pollutants and contaminants are a real back on your soil.
If your yard is too
possibility for many community gardens. Gardens If after having your soil tested you find you have con-
small or too shady close to major roads are effected by motor vehicle taminated soil, avoid planting root crops and leafy
or your free time exhaust, while lead paint chips from older homes greens, which tend to concentrate the worst bits of
too little, there and buildings are harmful to our health. the pollution. Instead, it is
are alternatives. The first step for any city safer to grow fruiting vege-
Consider gardener is to get to know tables, like tomatoes, pep-
container the history of your garden pers, squash, and peas. If
site and to get your soil contaminant levels are
tested. City and county excessively high — mean-
shopping at local land offices can help you ing highly concentrated,
farm stands and figure out what your land garden in containers and
farmers’ markets, has been used for in the raised beds filled with
u-pick farms, past. Likewise, Michigan clean soil and wash crops
State University’s Wayne thoroughly before eating
County Extension office will them.
supported be able to tell you where you can get soil testing You can reduce the amount of contaminants that the
agriculture, or done. Contact the laboratory and ask for any spe- plants absorb from the soil by adding organic matter
food cific instructions that may be required. Be sure to and mulching heavily. In addition, planting food
cooperatives. note that you want an “organic garden” analysis and crops away from streets and keeping soil pH levels at
testing for heavy metals to get more detailed feed- 6.7 or higher will help prevent plants from taking up
11. American Community Gardening Association:
City Farmer: http://www.cityfarmer.org/
Community Gardening in South Australia Resource Kit:
Detroit Agriculture Network:
Garden Mosaics: http://www.gardenmosaics.cornell.edu/
Green Guerillas: http://www.greenguerillas.org/
GreenNet Chicago: http://www.greennetchicago.org
Green Treks Network:
Land Trust Alliance: http://www.lta.org
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service:
Neighborhood Gardens Association:
Land Trusts: Not Just for the Countryside from the Land Trust Alliance and NeighborSpace
A land trust is a non-profit organization ment. A conservation easement is a legal that the environment they worked so hard to
that, as all or part of its mission, actively agreement between a landowner and a create will no longer be vulnerable to rede-
works to conserve land by undertaking or land trust or government agency that velopment. The community group remains
assisting in land or conservation easement permanently limits uses of the land in the “site manager” with a local non-profit
acquisition, or by stewardship of such land order to protect its conservation values. organization serving as fiduciary. Neighbor-
or easements. Land trusts are independ- Space provides basic liability insurance.
ent, entrepreneurial organizations that Land trusts are not just for rural commu-
work with landowners who are interested nities. Many cities and urban neighbor- While it may seem complicated, there are
in protecting open space. However, land hoods recognize land trusts as a vital many organizations available to walk you
trusts often work cooperatively with gov- method for protecting their land from through the process — including Detroit’s
ernment agencies. poor planning and sprawl. For example, Community Legal Resources.
NeighborSpace, in Chicago, IL, works to
Local and regional land trusts, organized acquire and own land on behalf of local The important thing to remember is that
as charitable organizations under federal partners (community groups) who have land trusts support community control of
tax law, are directly involved in conserving created urban “Edens” in their neighbor- open spaces, including our precious commu-
land. Land trusts can purchase land, ac- hoods. Once NeighborSpace comes into nity gardens.
cept donations of land, accept a bequest, or ownership of these sites, residents and
accept the donation of a conservation ease- local community leaders feel confident
12. Garden Design
This newsletter explains basic design principles & those specific to vegetable
Design Styles and Principles from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of
Inside this issue: Formal vs. Informal: For- tion when their scale is in a bring an object or scene closer.
mal gardens exhibit classical good relationship to their Cool colors tend to recede and
symmetry. Flower beds, ter- surroundings. For example, push objects father away
races, pools, and other fea- a large clump of 9 ft. reed (which will make a small gar-
Considerations tures are generally rectangu- planted in a bed with low- den seem bigger).
lar, or sometimes round. growing 3 ft. perennials
Height: If planting in front of
Selecting Plants 2 Walks are straight. Formal would be out of proportion.
a fence or backdrop, plant the
garden need not be large; As would a huge shed in a
tallest plants in the back, the
Drawing your 3 even small garden spaces can small yard.
shortest in front. If the shape
Design be formally designed. Infor-
Repetition: Repeating an is free-form, use tall plants at
mal gardens have curved,
element — color, texture, the widest parts of the beds.
Vegetable Garden 3 free-form beds that follow the
shape, building materials — In island beds, tall plants go in
Design land’s features. Shapes are
throughout a garden adds the center, with shorter plants
irregular. If the lay of your
unity to a design. The parts around the edges.
USDA Hardiness 4 land is irregular, it will lend
Zones of the garden will fit more
itself to an informal design. Form: Form refers to shape
closely together. For exam-
All well-designed gardens — round, vertical, creeping,
Vegetable Garden 5 make use of three essential
ple, repeating the color red at
weeping, for example. Form
Mapping intervals in a flower bed leads
principles: can describe the entire plant
the eye through the design.
or just the flowers. Inter-
Balance: When elements on You can repeat the same
Resources 5 sperse different plant forms
two sides of a central point plant or use different species
throughout the garden for
are similar in size or visual with similarly colored blooms
harmony and interest. Form
weight, they are balanced. to achieve the same effect.
can be used like color, al-
This doesn’t mean your gar-
Plant characteristics are also though its effect is more sub-
den has to be symmetrical.
important to consider, espe- tle.
Several good-sized clumps of
cially since all plants change
a plant can balance one large Texture: Plant leaves can
season to season and year to
one look coarse, crinkled, glossy,
Proportion: Garden fea- fuzzy, or smooth. Flowers can
Color: Strive for a balanced
tures (plants, flowers, beds, be feathery or waxy. Using a
distribution of color. Hot
terraces, etc) variety of textures will add
and warm colors appear to
are in propor- interest to your garden
This informal garden shows many design principles:
• Plants are in proportion to their surroundings
• Color and form is repeated throughout the design
• Tallest plants grow along the fence and in back, shorter plants in front
• The garden has a variety of forms — round, creeping — and texture —
13. Page 2 Garden Design
Planning Considerations from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Before you start buying and planting, take tween the garden and a overall plan is that nothing is planted
time to decide what role you want the gar- road or sidewalk, deter- haphazardly.
den to play in your overall landscape. mine the size by walking
Time & money: Consider how much
around your space and time you want to devote to weeding,
Site Characteristics: Learn everything
studying where the larg- staking, watering, and
you can about the site you’ve
est plants should go in pruning. If you want to
chosen. Is the soil sandy or
order to accomplish your purpose. Smaller keep these tasks to a
clayey? Well-drained? Rich
shrubs and plants can connect the larger minimum. Choose low-
in organic matter or does it
plants into a continuous border. For a maintenance plants.
need improving? Is the site in Plants and supplies also
flower garden that blooms in all seasons,
full sun, part sun, or shade? Once you know cost money. Decide
you’ll need enough space to accommodate
about your site’s conditions, you can match how much you want to
a variety of flowering plants. About 125
the plants that will thrive. spend before you start
square feet will give you enough room to
to dig. Plan your gar-
Size: Keep in mind what landscape purpose mass flowers for a succession of color. den so that you will
the garden is to serve. For example, if you Beds should be kept to at least 4’-5’ wide have time to enjoy it!
need a shrub border to create privacy be- for a lush effect. The beauty of having an
Selecting Plants from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Once you’ve decided on the type of garden Shrubs and small trees may need from 9- If you want easy-care plants, cross off
that you want and studied your site, it is 25 or more square feet. those that need staking or dead-heading.
time to make a plant list and develop the If you want to save on water, cross of
Selecting the plants for any garden is a plants that need supplemental watering.
design. For this you will need:
challenge. There are thousands to choose Next, make a chart to help identify
• Regular and colored pencils from! Start with a list of favorite plants, plants that will add the most to your
• A tablet of paper then add ones you’ve admired in other design. The chart will capture plant
• Graph paper gardens, nurseries, markets, books, etc. name, bloom season, height, color, or
Leave plenty of space between plants for other interesting characteristics. See the
• Tracing paper
• Eraser notes. Jot down the plant description,
To get an idea of how many plants you’ll growing tips, bloom time, height, color, When you finish, look over the chart to
need, consider the approximate size at ma- hardiness, and culture. Don’t worry about make sure you have a fairly equal repre-
making the list too long. You will periodi- sentation of Xs in each column. Will
turity of the types of plants you want to
cally review your list and cross off plants some flowers of each color be blooming
consider. Perennial plants generally need in each season? Are there a variety of
2-4 square feet at maturity, meaning you that won’t grow well in the site and don’t fit
your needs. If you have only shade to heights? Lastly, number the plants on
can fit 30-60 of them in a 125-square-foot your list. Use these numbers to fill in the
garden. offer, cross off anything that needs full sun.
spaces as you draw your garden design.
Plant Name & Bloom Season Under 1’ 1’-3’ Over 3’ Yellow Red/Pink Blue/ White Attractive
Dentaria laciniata (Cut- X X X X
Ascelpias tuberosa (Butterfly X X
Rudbeckia tribloba (Three- X X
14. Garden Design Page 3
Drawing your Design from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Draw an outline of your garden to scale list, study its “profile” and decide where To visualize how your garden will look at
on graph paper. Use tracing paper over you want to plant it. Transfer its number each season, put a sheet of tracing paper
the graph paper so you can easily start to the corresponding shape(s) on your over your completed design. Trace the
over if you need to. Begin drawing drawing. Do this with all the plants on plants blooming during one particular
shapes on the paper to indicate where your list. As you work, you’ll have to season (e.g. spring). Then color them
each plant will grow. Instead of draw- decide how many of each plant you want appropriately.
ing neat circles or blocks, use ovals and to grow. Consider your budget. You may
Strive for a balanced composition in
oblong shapes that flow into one an- also want to follow the “rule of three” for
every season, with color evenly distrib-
other. Arrange plants, especially peren- small perennials. Three plants will make
nials and small shrubs, in clumps of an attractive clump when matured. uted throughout. And expect to have to
several plants. Remember balance and re-do your design several times before
Mix up heights to create interest. Let
repetition — you’ll want to repeat you have it right. Each time will bring
some tall plants extend forward into the
clumps of some species. you closer to a beautiful garden!
middle group, and medium-sized ones up
Beginning with the first plant on your front. Mix shapes, colors, and textures.
Vegetable Garden Design from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Think about these elements when de- Row planting: A row garden, in which
Vegetable gardens adhere to
signing your veggie garden: vegetables are planted in parallel lines, is
easy to organize and plant. However, it is many of the principles
Full or almost full sun: In warm
climates, vegetables need at least 6
not space described in these pages. And
efficient. they can be designed to be
hours of direct sun each day. In cooler
climates, they will need a full day of visually appealing, especially if
sun. The best sites for vegetable gar-
more time they’ll be in a public space.
dens are usually on the south or west
weeding. But, vegetable gardens also
side of a structure.
have their own special
Good drainage: A slight slope is will result
ideal. Avoid low places where water in less yield per acre. Row planting is considerations
accumulates — these spots are favorites generally good for large plantings of
for garden diseases. crops such as beans and corn.
small bed of salad
Limited competition from nearby Beds: These raised planting areas are greens and herbs near
trees: Tree roots take up huge amounts enriched with organic matter so they can a kitchen. Tuck vege-
of water. Leave as much space as possi- be intensively planted. While they re- tables into flower
ble between large trees and your gar- quire more preparation time, they save beds. Dress up toma-
den. time when it toes with under-
Easy access to water: If you can’t get comes to plantings of nastur-
water to your garden site, don’t plant weeding and tiums and marigolds.
later in the
Accessibility: Your garden will need season. dwarf cultivars will
to be accessible by truck, cart, or wheel- You’ll also get grow well in pots or
barrow for bringing in mulch, manure, a higher yield planters. Garden
or other bulk materials. than with the traditional row garden. catalogs include dwarf
Hidden Problems: Don’t locate your Beds should be no more than 4’ wide so tomatoes, cucumbers,
garden over septic-tank field lines, bur- you can easily reach the center for plant- peppers, and even
ied utility cables, or water lines. ing, weeding, and harvesting. A fun way
to make sure: when working with others,
Once you’ve decided on a site, think make sure you can shake hands across that are naturally
about the type of vegetable garden you the bed. small, such as loose head lettuce, scal-
want. Possible layouts range from tra- lions, and many herbs also grow nicely in
ditional row planting to intensive raised Spot gardens: If your space is small,
beds and container gardening. look for sunny spots where you can fit
small plantings of favorite crops. Plant a
15. Page 4 Garden Design
UDSA Hardiness Zones
This map is indispensable in letting early spring when soil can be worked Zone 7 0F to 10F Spring: February 15-
farmers and gardeners know which April 15; Fall: September 15-November
Zone 3 –40F to –30F Spring: April
plants will thrive in their areas. Use 15
15-June 15; Fall: August 15-October 1
average annual minimum tempera-
Zone 8 10F to 20F Spring: January 15-
tures as well as spring and fall dates to Zone 4 –30F to –20F Spring: April
March 1; Fall October 1-December 1
figure out what zone you are in. Most 15-June 15; Fall: September 1-October
seed and plant catalogs will make ref- 15 Zone 9 20F to 30F Spring: January 1-
erence to the zone numbers or tem- March 1; Fall October 1-December 1
Zone 5 –20F to –10F Spring: April
perature. 15-June 15; Fall: September 1-October Zone 10 30F to 40F Spring: January
Zone 1 Below –50F Sow seed in early 15 1-March 1; Fall: October 1-December 1
spring when soil can be worked Zone 6 –10F to 0F Spring March 15- Zone 11 Above 40F Spring: January 1-
Zone 2 –50F to –40F Sow seed in May 15; Fall September 15-November 1 March 1; Fall: October 1-December 1
Here is how hardiness zones are used in a seed catalog (in this case, Johnny’s Selected Seeds)
Bee Balm Monarda spp.
Days to Sowing Time Seeding Light Plant Height Plant Spacing Hardiness
Germination Method Preferences Zones
7-14 days Spring Direct or Sun to part 36-48” 8-12” Zones 4-10
16. All-America Selections: http://www.all-
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: http://
Johnny’s Selected Seeds: http//
Native Plant Societies of the United States
and Canada: http://www.newfs.org/
Native Seeds/S*E*A*R*C*H: http://
Seed of Change: http://
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map: http://
Vegetable Garden Mapping from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Generally, vegetables can be divided Try some historical heirlooms. Culti-
into cold weather, warm weather, and vars endorsed by the All-America Se-
hot weather crops. lections (AAS) also are good bets.
Consider the length of your growing As you fill in seed order forms, it’s wise
season — the period between the last to map planned locations for your
frost in spring and the first one in the crops. Consider these points as you fill
fall. Consider seasonal rainfall pat- in your map:
terns and other environmental fac-
• Are you growing just enough of a
tors. There are many fast-maturing
crop for fresh eating, or will you be
and heat– or cold-tolerant cultivars
preserving some of your harvest?
that allow gardeners to try their fa-
vorite crops. • Are you planning to rotate crops?
Have fun when choosing vegetables • Are you going to plant in spring
for your garden too. Make some of and again later in the season for a
your selections for beauty as well as fall harvest?
for flavor… Yellow wax beans, red- Draw your vegetable garden design in
ribbed Swiss Chard, Chioggia and the same manner described for orna-
Golden Beets, Japanese eggplant… mental gardens on page 3.
This newsletter will explain the uses for and construction of a compost pile
The Basics of Compost from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic
The process of decomposi- the correct proportion of to all parts of a compost pile is
tion occurs constantly in carbon for energy and nitro- another key element to en-
nature. With a compost gen for forming protein; couraging thorough decompo-
pile, the gardener simply this proportion is known as sition. Frequent turning is the
intervenes to speed up the the C/N ratio. The ideal most straight-forward way to
process and create a valu- C/N ratio of 25-30:1 is eas- do this. You may also con-
Inside this able soil amendment. ily reached by building your sider building a base of coarse
issue: Here’s how composting pile with alternating layers materials or poking holes in
works. of high-carbon (woody) the compost with a garden
Materials 2 materials and high-nitrogen fork or crowbar.
Your goal in building a
(green) materials. In addi-
compost pile is to provide Warmth: A minimum size of
tion, the greater the variety
Building the 2 the best possible conditions 3 ft. in each dimension is
of items you include, the
compost pile for hardworking micro- needed in order for heating to
greater your certainty of
organisms. These organ-
creating a balanced prod- occur. Given the proper C/N
Using your 3 isms are introduced with a
uct. ratio, moisture, and aeration,
compost starter culture or finished
compost. They need what Water: All living organ- your compost will heat up
Compost inno- 4 we all need: a balanced diet, isms need water, but too even in cold winter weather. A
vations water, air, and warmth. much moisture drives out hot compost pile will produce
Resources 4 air, drowns the pile, and satisfactory results if it cooks
A balanced diet: In or-
washes away nutrients. at about 120˚ F.
der to function efficiently,
micro-organisms require Air: Supplying enough air
Dos and Don’ts:
• DO chop up long stems
and big leaves.
Composting Advantages & Disadvantages
• DO limit the height and
width of the pile to avoid
Composting has many ad- wastes are put to use, in- sider the innovations dis-
vantages. It improves the stead of ending up in local cussed on page 4 in order to
structure and drainage of landfills. choose a composting
• DON’T use human or pet all soils, contributing to method that compliments
wastes — they may
improved fertility, aera- can be labor-intensive and your garden and your gar-
carry disease. tion, and moisture reten- deners.
time-consuming. The nu-
• DON’T use meat scraps tion. Since decomposition trient content of compost
or fatty materials — they has already occurred, may also vary a great deal,
break down slowly and compost becomes immedi- given the materials and
attract animals. ately available as plant preparation methods
food. used. Maybe there is not
• DON’T include stubborn
weeds, especially those Composting reduces gar- enough vegetation avail-
that easily sprout from dening costs. Good crops able in the garden’s area.
small pieces of root. can be obtained without Use principles of site de-
store-bought inputs. sign (described previously
• DON’T included diseased
Home, yard, and garden in this section) and con-
18. Page 2 Composting
Materials from Sustainable Agriculture Extension Manual for E. & S. Africa
• Various types of vegetative materials
• Animal manure
• Prepared (old) compost
• Wood ash
• 1 long, sharp, pointed stick
• Watering can
• Large clippers
Procedure from Sustainable Agriculture Extension Manual for E. & S. Africa
1. Select a location close to where 6. Put on a 3rd layer of biogas slurry, with a layer of topsoil, about 4
you want to use the compost. It animal manure, or prepared com- inches thick. This layer prevents
should be sheltered from the post. All of these materials contain plant nutrients from escaping
wind, rain, sun, and runoff. micro-organisms necessary for the the compost pile. Lastly, cover
decomposition process. Water. the pile with dry vegetation, such
2. Measure a rectangle 4 ft. x 5 ft.
as straw or hay, in order to re-
It can be longer than 5 ft. de- 7. Sprinkle a layer of wood ash. It
duce moisture loss.
pending on the amount of mate- contains valuable minerals, includ-
rials you have, but keep the ing potassium, phosphorus, cal- 12. Take a long, sharp stick and dry
width at 4 ft. You must be able cium, and magnesium. it through the pile at an angle. It
to work on the compost without should pass through all layers.
8. The next layer should be green ma-
stepping on it. This stick is the compost’s ther-
terials, 6-8 inches thick. Use green
mometer. After 3 days, decom-
3. Dig a shallow pit about 1 ft. deep. leaves from high-nitrogen crops,
position will have started and
Put the soil to one side. You will such as pea and bean plants, clover,
the stick will be warm.
need it later. alfalfa hay, grass clippings, and
table scraps. Water. 13. Check the pile’s progress from
4. Begin to building the compost
time to time.
pile by putting a bottom layer of 9. Sprinkle a little topsoil or prepared
rough materials, such as corn compost. Both contain bacteria 14. Water the pile every 3 days, de-
stalks, hedge cuttings, or wood that are useful in the decomposi- pending on the weather.
chips. This layer should be about tion process. With this layer, you
1 ft. thick. Chop up any materi- have completed one round of the
als that are too long in order to compost pile.
improve air circulation. Sprinkle
10. Now start over adding with adding
this layer with water.
the layers. Begin with the dry ma- Remember to water each
5. Add a second layer of grass, dry terials, then add animal manure, layer.
vegetation, or hedge cuttings. wood ash, green vegetation, and
Pine needles, paper, sawdust, or topsoil. Build the pile up to 5 ft. Good compost is about as
straw would also work. This high. A well-made pile has almost damp as a moist sponge
layer should be about 6 inches vertical sides and a flat top.
thick. Water layer.
11. To complete the pile, cover it all
19. Composting Page 3
15. After 2-3 weeks, turn the pile fresh, earthy smell and should
over. Take to keep the compost contain no grass, leaves, or ani-
pile’s shape. Do not add fresh mal manure.
materials. You must turn the 17. You can store the compost by
pile if the thermometer is cold or
covering it with a layer of straw
if it has a white substance
(powder) on it. Turning the pile or plastic sheeting.
is important because it aerates Finished compost
the compost, making decomposi-
tion faster and more complete. should have a fresh and
16. The compost should be ready in earthy smell
4 to 6 weeks. If the stick still
feels warm, the pile is still de-
composing and not ready. Fin-
ished compost should have a
In general, incorporate compost cloth bag full of compost in a simply let rot. Other garden-
into the top 1-2 inches of all an- watering can or barrel for a ers don’t even till the compost
nual beds. Apply compost during couple of days. Dilute the into the soil. They continue
the growing season as a mulch or resulting solution to a weak to apply it in strips, forming
side-dressing. tea color. Reuse your “tea raised beds. They then plant
Consider these techniques too. bag” a few times, then apply seeds or transplants into the
the remaining solids to your beds, and cover them with
• For trees and shrubs: garden. finished compost or a heavy
Top-dress with compost mulch.
around the root zone and • In-garden:
bore plugs of compost into Many well-known
the soil around the drip line. organic gardeners
To determine the “drip line”, are firm advo-
imagine a circle drawn on the cates of no-
ground where the tree or digging garden-
shrub branches end. ing. Start with
• For potting mixes: Screen Spread the com-
your compost to remove large post evenly on
pieces and mix the fine com- your garden plot,
post with sand, peat moss, or sprinkle with
other amendments to create a high-nitrogen
custom mix. substances
• With double-digging: Ap- (manure tea,
ply 3 wheelbarrows of com- feathermeal), and
post per 10 m² of bed. water. Mix with a
garden fork, or
• As compost tea: Soak a till shallowly, and
20. Page 4
Biodynamic and Organic Farming Re-
Resources source Site: http://www.biodynamic.net
City Farmer: http://www.cityfarmer.org/
How to Compost.org: http://
There is so much to learn about www.howtocompost.org
National Sustainable Agriculture Infor-
This list will help you get started.
mation Service (ATTRA): http://
US Composting Council: http://
Worm Digest: http://
Compost systems range in size from Compost pens: A 10’ length of 4’ compost for their homes and gardens.
small, home-built buns to industrial welded wire fencing forms a circular
Worm bins: Kept in a cool, dark
systems capable of handling municipal pen slightly larger than 3’ in diame-
place, a worm bin provides a com-
waste. Your choice of composting ter. Fasten the ends with wire or re-
posting system for kitchen scraps.
method depends on what materials usable clips. Turn the pile by unfas-
You can raise earthworms indoors in
you plan to use, how much money you tening the pen and setting it up next
a modified garbage can, washtub, or
are willing to spend, how much space to the free-standing pile. Turn into
wooden box. Make a drainage area in
you have available, and how much the now-empty pen.
the bottom of the bin, separate from
time and effort you want to devote to
Pit composting: This method is the worms’ living quarters. Fill the
useful in areas with low rainfall and a bin with 2 parts cow manure, 2 parts
Wood and wire compost bins: long dry season. Dig a pit 4’ wide, 2’ sawdust, and 1 part shredded leaves.
Construct a 3’ x 3’ portable bin using deep, and as long as you need the pile Garden soil may also be added. Mix
sides made of wood and wire hardware to be. Build a pile in the pit, using the well and dampen thoroughly. If the
cloth. Hinge one of the sides and place method described above. Turn every mixture heats up, wait a few days
hooks and eyes on the edge opposite 2 weeks. You can produce a regular before adding worms. Introduce the
the hinges, creating a door for your supply of compost by digging 3 pits worms to their new homes. Feed
bin. Set the bin up close to your gar- side by side. them chopped vegetations mixed
den. When it is full, move it to another with water. After 60
convenient location and begin a new days, your bin
post: Create a community compost
pile. Wooden pallets can also be used should be full of rich
collection initiative. Families con-
to make this type of compost bin compost.
tribute the materials and get finished
21. Veggies 101
From Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
All the basics to get your vegetable gardening started
Preparing the Soil
Most vegetables are fast- Use care when cultivating planted in the fall, grown
growing annuals. They the throughout the winter, and
Inside this issue: need garden soil that pro-
soil. If the soil is too wet or
tilled under in the spring
vides a wide range of nutri- (3-4 weeks before planting).
Planting 2 too dry, cultivation can ruin
ents as well as loose soil Alternatively, if your area
soil structure. For example,
To direct seed or to 2 that roots can easily pene-
working with wet soil, espe-
typically has a wet spring,
transplant? trate. till the crop under in the
cially those with a high clay
Companion planting 2 late fall and let it decom-
Start by testing your soil. content, will compact it in-
pose over the winter.
Care during the 3 Most vegetables prefer soil stead of aerating it. Simi-
with a pH of 6.5-7.0. A soil larly, excess cultivation in- Green manure legume crops
Off-season 3 test will reveal soil pH and troduces large amounts of include alfalfa; clovers
any nutrient imbalances. oxygen, which can speed (crimson, red, white/
Organic pest 4 Most Cooperative Extension the breakdown of soil or- Dutch); hairy vetch; soy-
Service offices offer soil ganic matter. beans; white sweet clover;
Crop rotation 4
testing free or for a small and yellow sweet clover.
See the composting news-
Rotating veggie 5 fee. Non-legume crops include
families letter to learn about this
annual ryegrass; buck-
If you are starting a new fundamental gardening
wheat; oats; rape; Sudan
garden, you’ll probably be skill.
grass; and winter rye.
tilling under sod or bare
Choose a green manure that
ground. If you are working
is best suited to your gar-
with an established site, you
den. Consider using inocu-
can take steps to replenish
lants with legume crops.
soil nutrients and organic
Points of interest: matter. In late fall, sow Remove all crop residue
• Not all insects are bad seed of a green manure crop and rake the soil free of
for the garden. or cover the garden with a crops, If possible, sow seed
Green manure is a crop
thick layer of organic when rain is forecast. Seed
• Over a number of grown and then incorpo-
mulch. In the spring, sim- can easily be broadcasted by
years, you can actually rated into the soil to in-
reduce the number of ply incorporate the green hand. Rake the seedbed to
crease soil fertility or or-
weed seeds present in manure or mulch and start cover fine seed or cover lar-
ganic matter content.
your vegetable garden planting. Alternatively, you ger seeds with 1/4-1/2” of
Green manure crops are an
can spread as much as 6” of soil. After seeding, tamp
• To learn more about excellent supplement to
the growing prefer- compost or well-rotted ma- the soil with the back of a
your garden if you can’t get
ences of specific crops, nure over the garden in the hoe or spade to ensure good
animal manures or if your
use the resources on spring. Work it into the soil contact between seed and
compost is in short supply.
page 5 and then wait a few weeks soil
before planting. A green manure crops is
22. Veggies 101 Page 2
Planting is the busiest time for a vegeta- the pathways into the raised beds or (carrots, onions). Vegetables and flowers
ble gardener. To help you remember rows. Mulch the paths with leaves or can be interplanted in a zigzag pattern.
what you have planted and how culti- straw to keep down weeds.
You can also practice succession crop-
vars perform, keep written records. Fill
The ways to arrange your planting is ping — growing two vegetable crops in
in planting dates on your garden map.
practically limitless. In traditional row the same space in the same growing sea-
Make notes of harvest dates. If you
gardens, a single species of crops is son. You’ll plant one early crop, harvest
would like to keep more detailed re-
planted in a single row. Other methods it, and then plant a warm– or hot-season
cords, use a journal to detail when the
(raised beds, permaculture) interplant crop afterward. To avoid depleting the
soil warms up, when problem insects
crop varieties and use a variety of spac- soil, make sure one crop is a nitrogen-
emerge, and when space becomes avail-
ing patterns. Trellis beans and peas in a fixing legume (e.g. peas, snap beans,
able for replanting.
double row. Matrix planting — rows of shell beans, lima beans) and the other a
Once the soil is prepared, lay out your 2 and 3 — is good for leafy crops light feeder (spinach, beets, radishes,
garden paths. Rake the loose soil from (lettuce, spinach) as well as root crops squash).
To direct seed or to transplant?
Some vegetable crops grow best when seeds will sprout in cold soil. If soil is Since seedlings are not exposed to wind,
seeded directly in place. Other crops too wet, seeds can rot before germinat- fluctuating temperatures, and intense
will benefit from being grown in a shel- ing. Be sure to plant seeds at the rec- sunlight, they need to be “hardened off”
tered state during the seedling and then ommended planting depth and firm the before transplanting outside. One week
transplanted into the garden. soil with your fingers or hand tool after before planting, move them outside to a
planting to ensure good contact between protected place outdoors.
Direct seeding: Direct-seeded crops
the soil and seed.
often germinate too well or not well Follow these soil temperature
enough. When germination is excel- Starting seeds indoor: If you want to
guidelines for seed-sowing times:
lent, thin plants. Plan for poor germi- get a head start on the season, provide
nation by setting some seeds aside so optimal conditions for certain vegetable 45-60F Sow beets, carrots, peas, pars-
you can go back and replant empty crops, or try rare and unusual cultivars, ley, radishes, spinach
spaces. start your seeds indoors. Tomatoes,
peppers, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, 65-80F Beans, corn, cucumbers, mel-
Soil temperature and moisture play
cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, onions, ons, squash
important roles in the germination of
celery, and head lettuce are almost al-
vegetable seeds. Very few vegetable 80-90F Field peas, okra, peanuts,
ways handled this way.
We can use other plants to support our • Creating a habit for beneficial in- aphids, mosquitoes, and mites. It also
vegetable production. Here’s how: sects acts as a fungicide and slows the growth
Common sources of repellent (masking) of milkweed bugs. Nasturtiums deter
• Masking or hiding a crop from fragrances include the following plants: whiteflies and squash bugs and can be
Use French marigold (Tagetes used to trap aphids.
• Producing odors that confuse or
patula) and plant them as thickly as
deter pests Host plants that provide shelter and food
you can in a vegetable garden. Cabbage
• Serving as trap crops that draw for beneficial insects too. Yarrow
pest insects away from other plants pests and aphids dislike catnip, mint,
(Achillea spp.) attracts bees, parasitic
and other members of this fragrant
• Acting as “nurse plants” that pro- wasps, and hover flies. Morning glory
vide breeding grounds for benefi- family. Use potted mint plants set in
(Ipomoea purpurea) attracts lady bee-
cial insects your garden since they can grow out of
tles. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) will
• Providing food to sustain benefi- control. Interplant sweet basil
attract lady beetles predaceous beetles,
cial insects as they search for pests (Ocimum basilicum) in gardens to repel
and parasitic wasps.