Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Community Gardening the Green Way

Posted on AltDaily.com February 3, 2010
by Amelia Baker

{community garden} an urban, suburban, or rural piece of land gardened by a group of people

By definition, community gardens are socially and environmentally sound because they create a thriving community eager to grow their own, spend time with neighbors, beautify and preserve a green space. I’m convinced that food you actually grow does taste better. It has to. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into a seed that blossomed into a legitimate fruit or vegetable that actually nourishes your body. Dammit if it doesn’t taste like the best potato or leaf of lettuce you’ve ever had.

Even with community gardens being a green activity, some considerations should be made to further green the garden. To make your garden grow you’ll need seeds, soil and/or compost, water, sun, containers (if you’re container gardening, which I highly recommend), and a few other supplies.

{Site Selection & Prep}

Choosing the site for your garden is one of the first things you’ll do. Obviously, community gardens are great no matter where you end up placing them. If you’re keen to environmental site selection, opt for terrain that can most benefit from beautification and preservation like a downtown lot, the top of a building, or the like.


When you’re prepping the site, use electric or old school hand tools instead of gas-guzzling power tools. It’ll save you a few bucks and will save big on carbon output because most gas-powered tools and mowers don’t have emission controls.

{Tools}

All gardeners need a tool kit, and surely you’ll be able to find second-hand tools. If not, look for tools crafted from recycled or eco-friendly materials.

{Containers}

If you’re planning on starting your seeds in smaller containers then transporting them into the garden, don’t go out and buy little buckets for them; use yogurt cups or other food containers before recycling them. Free and green.

You’ll definitely need some larger containers to do your square foot/urban gardening and you can make containers out of reused materials; reclaimed wood, repurposed metal or plastic containers. Look around at thrift stores, on freecycle, on craigslist, or ask friends and neighbors to see what kind of scraps you can get your hands on. A little out of the box thinking is all it takes.

Container gardening provides an ideal setup to create a square foot garden, which offers up high yields in small spaces, and the container establishes a gardening method that conserves water.

{Compost}

If you or a neighbor have been actively composting waste, you should have a pretty good base to get your garden party started. If not, you can always buy compost from local farmers or garden supply stores. Compost is rich with nutrients because it’s broken down food and yard waste.

If you’re privy to homemade compost, make some compost tea by steeping the compost for several days making a very potent, effective fertilizer for your future fruits, veggies, and herbs.

{Seeds}

Chances are, you’ll be able to score some seed overages. A packet of seeds will have at least 24, and most gardeners don’t have the space to plant 24+ of each crop, especially in an urban environment. The National Gardening Association has a FREE seed swap, which ideally is a 2-way swap. If you have nothing to swap, you may still find farmers or gardeners willing to donate (http://www.garden.org/seedswap/). Unless you find a kind soul willing to give you seedlings or starter planets, seeds are also the most economical method of starting your garden.

{Worms}

If you scoop into your backyard dirt and find a colony of worms, you know your soil is quality. Worms help your garden grow by aerating the soil, eating micro-organisms, and providing a soil coating that allows the dirt particles ideal spacing. Worm pooh does some amazing things for your garden.

{Coir}

Coir is a sustainable alternative to peat moss and is derived from coconuts. It’s like insulation for your plants. If you place some on top of the compost or soil it will create a barrier that will conserve water. You buy it in bricks, which expand 10 times over when soaked in water. It’s a fairly economical purchase and will definitely save on water usage as well as deter snails and other blighters the natural way.

{Water}

Definitely invest in a rain barrel or cistern setup for the garden. It will allow you to create a slow-drip irrigation system to water plants closer to the root, which is much more efficient. Rain barrels harvest rain water, allowing you to utilize it for gardening projects, and many locally-made barrels are crafted from reclaimed materials.

Building your community garden the green way will surely save your neighborly group a ton of money on construction and on upkeep. It makes sense for the planet and for the wallet.

You interested in community gardening? Join our discussion here.

4 comments:

Great said...

Our community garden installed a rain barrel from Aquabarrel and we LOVE it! We also got a soaker hose from Aquabarrel that doesn't require a pump. Happy gardening!

hydroponics said...

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admin said...

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Scorpiotech Prabu said...

Community gardening is a nice policy and your blog post is very informative, Gardening through Drip Irrigation will be more useful it will conserve plants by watering the amount needed at right time.