Community Seeds: Building Community Through Gardening - University of Michigan
Community Seeds Building Community through Gardening Developed by Kristin McGee, MSW University of Michigan — School of Social Work Good Neighborhoods Technical Assistance Center 2006 Revised, 2008
Table of ContentsDefinitions Newsletter #1Getting Started on Community Gardens Newsletter #2Garden Design Newsletter #3Composting Newsletter #4Veggies 101 Newsletter #5Using Your Garden to Build Community Newsletter #6The Community-Supported Agriculture Model Newsletter #7Taking Food from Garden to School Newsletter #8References and Additional Resources Newsletter #9
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 andstarting 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: gardendesign, composting, and vegetable gardening. The third section teaches how gardeningcan 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 yourneighborhood.Community Seeds advocates for organic farming methods. “Organic” means thatplants and food are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. These methods seekreconnecting with the environment, harmony with nature, and healthy food for all indi-viduals. Remember, the organic movement is ultimately about social justice — the basicright 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 newsletters.• 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 basicand necessary to all of us: food. — Kristin McGee
DefinitionsAnnual: A plant that germinates, grows, flowers, sets seed, and dies in one growingseason. Versus a perennial plant that grows over multiple seasons.Biodynamic Gardening: Developed during the 1920s by Rudolph Steiner to helppeople work with nature to grow more healthful food. Bio-dynamics shares many goalswith organic gardening. Both methods avoid the use of synthetic chemicals. The recyclingof 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 philosophybehind it. Biodynamic gardeners attempt to understand the true nature of their crops andlivestock – what each plant and animal needs to grow to its potential. In biodynamicterms, an ideal farm is a self-supporting system. Rather than emphasizing measurableyields, biodynamic farmers seek a healthful product produced with minimalenvironmental impact. The biodynamic concept also incorporates planetary influences onplant growth; for example, calendars of cosmic rhythms guide farmers.Blight: A bacterial or fungal disease in which leaves or branches suddenly wither, stopgrowing, and die. Examples include fire, early (alternaria), late (phytophthora), andbacterial blights.Canker: A fungal disease that forms on woody stems and may be cracks, sunken areas, orraised area of dead or abnormal plant tissue.Cold Frame: Rectangular, boxlike structure with a glass sash on top. Most have slantingsash “roofs,” with the high end toward the north, so that the sun’s rays strike the glass atabout a 90 degree angle, and water and snow slide off the lids easily. A lid with a slope of35-40 degrees catches the most sunlight year-round, while a 55-degree slope maximizesautumn’s low sun. Cold frames create an area of close-to-ideal conditions, enablinggardeners to stretch the seasons and to grow plants accustomed to warmer climates.Community Garden: A gathering of individuals willing to share time, space, and laborto garden; a garden owned by a city, university, or civic organization; individual plotsrented to gardeners for a small fee.Community-Supported Agriculture: A relationship of mutual support andcommitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer anannual fee to cover the production costs of the farm. In turn, members receive a weeklyshare of the harvest during the local growing season.Companion Planting: Locating plants close to each other in order to take advantage ofa plant’s natural ability to attract beneficial insects, repel harmful ones, aid or discouragegrowth, and take advantage of certain chemical reactions among plants.Composting: The art and science of combining organic materials under controlledconditions so that the original raw ingredients are transformed into humus.Cooperative Extension Service: A unique partnership between college andgovernment, the extension service was established in 1914 to provide an educational linkbetween the public, the US Department of Agriculture, and land-grant colleges. Extensionoffices provide gardening advice tailored to your particular climate, soil, and growingconditions through publications, classes, and workshops. It also offers Master Gardenersprograms.
DefinitionsCotyledon: The leaf (or leaves), present in a dormant seed, that is the first to unfold asthe seed germinates. Cotyledons often look different than the “first true set of leaves” thatfollow them.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 toavoid 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 topsoilfrom a garden bed, loosen the soil layer below the topsoil, and then restore the topsoillayer. 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 greenareas attractive at the same time.Fertilizer: Materials that feed growing plants. Common organic fertilizers include alfalfameal, 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 soilfertility or organic matter content.Heirloom plants: Cultivars of plants grown in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and earlytwentieth centuries, essential for maintaining a vast and diverse pool of plant geneticcharacteristics. Heirloom tomatoes are popular, such as Brandywine and Striped GermanHorticultural therapy: The cultivation and appreciation of plants and nature torelieve an illness or disability. Horticultural therapy is practiced in such diverse settingsas rehabilitation and mental health centers, assisted living and nursing homes, schools,and hospitals.Humus: A dark-colored, stable form of organic matter that remains after most of theplant and animal residues in it have decomposed. When soil animals and microbes digestorganic matter, such as chopped leaves or weeds, humus is the end product.Inoculant: A seed treatment medium that contains the symbiotic rhizobial bacteria tocapture nitrogen when in contact with legume roots.Legume: A plant whose roots form a relationship with soil bacteria and can capturenitrogen available in the atmosphere.Loam: Soil that has moderate amounts of sand, silt, and clay. Loam soils are generallyconsidered 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 perennialsthat will spread and self-sow to create a self-maintaining field of flowers and foliage.
DefinitionsNative 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 ofre-creating the feel of a natural scene. After choosing a natural landscape that has thestrongest 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 intonitrogen compounds, stored in the soil, that can be used by plants.NPK ratio: A ratio of three numbers that identifies the percentage of three majornutrients 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 tokeep the food as well as the agricultural workers and environment free of harmfulcontaminants. Food and livestock sales earning more than $5,000 annually must becertified 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, andmicroscopic soil creatures consume their bodies, and nutrients are released. Thesenutrients feed new generations of plants. There is no need for synthetic pesticides in anatural ecosystem. In organic gardening, similar cycles and natural balances exist.However, gardeners harvest and remove crops from the garden, breaking the cycle. Tokeep the natural processes that feed plants working, they add organic materials (compost,organic fertilizers). By encouraging biological diversity, they can minimize the need forartificial pest control. When organic gardeners do intervene, they choose control tacticsthat have little impact on natural systems.If you are new to the organic method, here are some basic suggestions to get you started:• Read• 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 smallOrganic matter: Various forms of living or dead plant and animal material. Addingorganic matter to soil supplies nutrients to plants; facilitates better drainage; stores waterin the soil; helps increase air drainage; increases soil micro-organisms; decreases plantdisease; 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 keepthem in check. Organically acceptable chemical controls are a last resort used only whenall other methods are not adequate.
DefinitionsPerennial: A plant that flowers and sets seed for two or more seasons. Short-livedperennials 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 DavidHolmgren, permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments.The aim is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, whichprovide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in thelong term. Permaculture uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined withthe natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supportingsystem for city and country, using the smallest practical area.pH: The measure of acidity (acid) or alkalinity (base); pH affects plant growth byinfluencing the how easily soil nutrients can be used by plants.Propagation: Making new plants from existing ones. Propagation methods includeusing seeds, spores, plant division, cuttings, layering, grafting, and budding.Raised bed gardening: Garden beds are higher than ground level and separated bypaths. Plants cover the bed area and gardeners work from the paths. The beds are 3-5feet across to permit easy access and may be made any length.Rot: Diseases that decay roots, stems, wood, flowers, and fruitRust: A specific type of fungal disease, usually requiring two different plant species ashosts to complete their life cycle, that manifests with a powdery tan to rust-coloredcoating. 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 thematerial in the soil. They are distinguished from one another by size. Sand particles arethe biggest, measuring from 0.05-2.0 millimeters in diameter; followed by silt particlesfrom 0.002-0.05 millimeters; followed by the smallest, clay particles, which measure lessthan 0.002 millimeters in diameter.Seed: A plant embryo and its supply of nutrients, often surrounded by a protective seedcoat.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 transplantplants 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.
Getting Started on Community Gardens 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.Special pointsof 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. fresh produce. 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 & AcquiringLand 2Forming a Garden 2 What is a community garden?Urban Gardening 3 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 asInside Story vide green space and easily acces- grow food and steward the land. a focal point for community de- 5 sible recreational opportunities in Denver Urban Gardens, Colo- velopment. The objective was toInside Story 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
Page 2 Getting Started on Community GardensFinding & Acquiring Land from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningFinding land is often a matter of persistently • Visibility for safety and publicity; Few sites will have all of the amenities, sopursuing a variety of sources. If you see a decide which are most important to yourpotential 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 raisedaccess 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 ablesions and public housing and community parking. to use the site long enough to justify thedevelopment offices. State departments oftransportation, 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 underwritersmunity 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 severaling success. Desirable features include: carriers. Best results have also been• Full sun with nearby shade (for weary found when several gardens get liabilitygardeners); 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, NYForming a Garden from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening Our purpose is to improveA community garden starts as a gath- bilities are clear. Topics covered by garden rules the neighborhood andering of individuals willing to share may include conditions of membership, assign- provide a place to garden fortime, 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 tosuch as knowledgeable mature gar- rules to grow along with membership.deners and energetic kids. A plan- everyone in thening committee allocates group re- neighborhood. Peoplesources 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 willtasks: 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. IdentifyOnce a committee has addressed the and prepare common must send a friend orinitial issues, involve all participants paths and common complete a task assigned byin setting rules, electing officers, and areas, then open for the officers. Membershipdetermining dues and their uses. planting. Use aCommunity gardens run best when dues are $10 per year for a bulletin board to holdmanaged by the gardeners. New 10’ x 20’ plot announcements and agardening groups need structure, garden map. — makeespecially the first year, to make sure Green Chicago, Chicago sure it is sheltered orwork is divided equally and responsi- Botanic Garden rainproof
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 leafyor 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 isare 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 gardening, 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 andfarmers’ 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 community- 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
American Community Gardening Association: http://www.communitygarden.org City Farmer: http://www.cityfarmer.org/ Community Gardening in South Australia Resource Kit: http://www.canh.asn.au/community_gardening/ Detroit Agriculture Network: http://www.detroitagriculture.orgRESOURCES Garden Mosaics: http://www.gardenmosaics.cornell.edu/ Green Guerillas: http://www.greenguerillas.org/ GreenNet Chicago: http://www.greennetchicago.org Green Treks Network: http://www.greentreks.org/allprograms/roughterrain/urbang ardening/index.asp Land Trust Alliance: http://www.lta.org National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: http://attar.ncat.org Neighborhood Gardens Association: http://www.ngalandtrust.org/ NeighborSpace: http://neighbor-space.org/about.htm Philadelphia Green: http://www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.com/phlgreen/Land Trusts: Not Just for the Countryside from the Land Trust Alliance and NeighborSpaceA land trust is a non-profit organization ment. A conservation easement is a legal that the environment they worked so hard tothat, 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 remainsassisting in land or conservation easement permanently limits uses of the land in the “site manager” with a local non-profitacquisition, 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 arein protecting open space. However, land hoods recognize land trusts as a vital many organizations available to walk youtrusts often work cooperatively with gov- method for protecting their land from through the process — including Detroit’sernment agencies. poor planning and sprawl. For example, Community Legal Resources. NeighborSpace, in Chicago, IL, works toLocal and regional land trusts, organized acquire and own land on behalf of local The important thing to remember is thatas charitable organizations under federal partners (community groups) who have land trusts support community control oftax 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 andaccept the donation of a conservation ease- local community leaders feel confident
Garden Design This newsletter explains basic design principles & those specific to vegetable gardening Design Styles and Principles from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningInside 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-Planning 2Considerations 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 ofSelecting 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, theDrawing your 3 even small garden spaces can small yard. shortest in front. If the shapeDesign 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 inDesign 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 lendZones 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. FormMapping 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 sameResources 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, year. 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 — glossy, fuzzy
Page 2 Garden DesignPlanning Considerations from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningBefore you start buying and planting, take tween the garden and a overall plan is that nothing is plantedtime 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, andyou can about the site you’ve est plants should go in pruning. If you want tochosen. Is the soil sandy or order to accomplish your purpose. Smaller keep these tasks to aclayey? 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 accommodateabout your site’s conditions, you can match how much you want to a variety of flowering plants. About 125the 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 willthe 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 anSelecting Plants from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningOnce you’ve decided on the type of garden Shrubs and small trees may need from 9- If you want easy-care plants, cross offthat 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 example below.• 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 toneed, 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. Willturity of the types of plants you want to cally review your list and cross off plants some flowers of each color be bloomingconsider. Perennial plants generally need in each season? Are there a variety of2-4 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 oncan fit 30-60 of them in a 125-square-foot your list. Use these numbers to fill in thegarden. 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 Lavender FoliageSPRINGDentaria laciniata (Cut- X X X Xteethed Toothwort)SUMMERAscelpias tuberosa (Butterfly X Xmilkweed)FALLRudbeckia tribloba (Three- X X
Garden Design Page 3Drawing your Design from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningDraw an outline of your garden to scale list, study its “profile” and decide where To visualize how your garden will look aton graph paper. Use tracing paper over you want to plant it. Transfer its number each season, put a sheet of tracing paperthe graph paper so you can easily start to the corresponding shape(s) on your over your completed design. Trace theover if you need to. Begin drawing drawing. Do this with all the plants on plants blooming during one particularshapes on the paper to indicate where your list. As you work, you’ll have to season (e.g. spring). Then color themeach 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 inoblong 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 makenials and small shrubs, in clumps of an attractive clump when matured. uted throughout. And expect to have toseveral plants. Remember balance and re-do your design several times before Mix up heights to create interest. Letrepetition — you’ll want to repeat you have it right. Each time will bring some tall plants extend forward into theclumps of some species. you closer to a beautiful garden! middle group, and medium-sized ones upBeginning with the first plant on your front. Mix shapes, colors, and textures.Vegetable Garden Design from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningThink about these elements when de- Row planting: A row garden, in which Vegetable gardens adhere tosigning your veggie garden: vegetables are planted in parallel lines, is easy to organize and plant. However, it is many of the principlesFull or almost full sun: In warmclimates, vegetables need at least 6 not space described in these pages. And efficient. they can be designed to behours of direct sun each day. In cooler You mayclimates, they will need a full day of visually appealing, especially if also spendsun. 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 alsoside of a structure. The design have their own specialGood drainage: A slight slope is will resultideal. Avoid low places where water in less yield per acre. Row planting is considerationsaccumulates — these spots are favorites generally good for large plantings offor garden diseases. crops such as beans and corn. small bed of saladLimited competition from nearby Beds: These raised planting areas are greens and herbs neartrees: 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 flowerble 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.there. mulching Containers: Many later in theAccessibility: Your garden will need season. dwarf cultivars willto be accessible by truck, cart, or wheel- You’ll also get grow well in pots orbarrow for bringing in mulch, manure, a higher yield planters. Gardenor other bulk materials. than with the traditional row garden. catalogs include dwarfHidden 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 evenied utility cables, or water lines. ing, weeding, and harvesting. A fun way squash. Vegetables to make sure: when working with others,Once you’ve decided on a site, think make sure you can shake hands across that are naturallyabout 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 inditional row planting to intensive raised Spot gardens: If your space is small, containers.beds and container gardening. look for sunny spots where you can fit small plantings of favorite crops. Plant a
Page 4 Garden Design UDSA Hardiness ZonesThis 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: Aprilplants will thrive in their areas. Use 15 15-June 15; Fall: August 15-October 1average 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 1figure out what zone you are in. Most 15-June 15; Fall: September 1-Octoberseed 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: Aprilperature. 15-June 15; Fall: September 1-October Zone 10 30F to 40F Spring: JanuaryZone 1 Below –50F Sow seed in early 15 1-March 1; Fall: October 1-December 1spring 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 1Here 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 HardinessGermination Method Preferences Zones7-14 days Spring Direct or Sun to part 36-48” 8-12” Zones 4-10 transplant shade
All-America Selections: http://www.all- Resources americaselections.org/Default.asp Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: http:// www.rareseeds.com Johnny’s Selected Seeds: http// www.johnnyseeds.com Native Plant Societies of the United States and Canada: http://www.newfs.org/ nps.htm Native Seeds/S*E*A*R*C*H: http:// www.nativeseeds.org/v2/default.php Seed of Change: http:// www.seedsofchange.com USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map: http:// www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ ushzmap.htmlVegetable Garden Mapping from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningGenerally, 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 wiseseason — the period between the last to map planned locations for yourfrost in spring and the first one in the crops. Consider these points as you fillfall. Consider seasonal rainfall pat- in your map:terns and other environmental fac- • Are you growing just enough of ators. There are many fast-maturing crop for fresh eating, or will you beand 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 springfor your garden too. Make some of and again later in the season for ayour selections for beauty as well as fall harvest?for flavor… Yellow wax beans, red- Draw your vegetable garden design inribbed Swiss Chard, Chioggia and the same manner described for orna-Golden Beets, Japanese eggplant… mental gardens on page 3.
Composting 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 airDos 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- compression. 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 Nevertheless, composting 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- plant material
Page 2 Composting Materials from Sustainable Agriculture Extension Manual for E. & S. Africa • Various types of vegetative materials • Topsoil • Animal manure • Prepared (old) compost • Wood ash • Water • 1 long, sharp, pointed stick • Wheelbarrow • Watering can • Hoe • Large clippersProcedure from Sustainable Agriculture Extension Manual for E. & S. Africa1. 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, such2. 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 from4. 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 each5. 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
Composting Page 3 Procedure continued 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 aUsing CompostIn 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 compostnual beds. Apply compost during couple of days. Dilute the into the soil. They continuethe growing season as a mulch or resulting solution to a weak to apply it in strips, formingside-dressing. tea color. Reuse your “tea raised beds. They then plantConsider 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 finished compost.• 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
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 composting. National Sustainable Agriculture Infor- This list will help you get started. mation Service (ATTRA): http:// www.attra.ncat.org/ US Composting Council: http:// www.compostingcouncil.org Worm Digest: http:// www.wormdigest.orgComposting InnovationsCompost 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, darksystems 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 inyou plan to use, how much money you tening the pen and setting it up next a modified garbage can, washtub, orare willing to spend, how much space to the free-standing pile. Turn into wooden box. Make a drainage area inyou have available, and how much the now-empty pen. the bottom of the bin, separate fromtime and effort you want to devote to Pit composting: This method is the worms’ living quarters. Fill theit. useful in areas with low rainfall and a bin with 2 parts cow manure, 2 partsWood 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. Mixsides made of wood and wire hardware to be. Build a pile in the pit, using the well and dampen thoroughly. If thecloth. Hinge one of the sides and place method described above. Turn every mixture heats up, wait a few dayshooks and eyes on the edge opposite 2 weeks. You can produce a regular before adding worms. Introduce thethe hinges, creating a door for your supply of compost by digging 3 pits worms to their new homes. Feedbin. Set the bin up close to your gar- side by side. them chopped vegetations mixedden. When it is full, move it to another with water. After 60 Community-supported com-convenient location and begin a new days, your bin post: Create a community compostpile. 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
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, andInside 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 clayCompanion 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 cropsOff-season 3 test will reveal soil pH and troduces large amounts of include alfalfa; cloversmaintenance 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 includefamilies 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 organicPoints 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
Veggies 101 Page 2PlantingPlanting is the busiest time for a vegeta- the pathways into the raised beds or (carrots, onions). Vegetables and flowersble 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 inin 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, harvestwould like to keep more detailed re- planted in a single row. Other methods it, and then plant a warm– or hot-seasoncords, use a journal to detail when the (raised beds, permaculture) interplant crop afterward. To avoid depleting thesoil 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 aOnce 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 intensewill 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 weektransplanted 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 temperatureenough. 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, providenation 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, spinachspaces. 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, squashimportant 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. shell beansCompanion PlantingWe can use other plants to support our • Creating a habit for beneficial in- aphids, mosquitoes, and mites. It alsovegetable 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 pests 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.