2017 Garden Plan

We have lots of changes this year, with the trail project moving forward and lots of new people in the neighborhood, we are looking forward to another great year. First a short review of what we did last year.

2016 Priorities and Review

  • Deal with Canadian Thistle – We removed an aisle of raised beds on the south border of the garden due to an invasion of Canadian Thistle, and tilled up as much of the rhizome as possible. Spread a cover crop to replenish the soil and outcompete the thistle and placed several paw paw trees along the border. This will be tilled under mid may. This seemed to work fairly well at reducing the thistle.
  • Keyhole all plots – To increase the gardenable area and decrease the aisle size we need to weed, we decided to make all the plots keyholes. People can now rent just one plot instead of two.
  • Compost Coordination – We effectively composted all our waste, and it broke down well in the bins.
  • Excessive Mosquitos – We built a bat house, but were unable to mount it. The base built and just needs to have the bat house attached now.

Lessons from Last Year

Last year was a learning year for us. We tried a lot of things, and some of them worked, some of them didn’t. We hope to use this going forward to continue to improve the garden.

  • New Weed Introduced! – Watch out for Devil’s Weed. It was introduced to the garden from some compost we had delivered. It can be poisonous, and produces a ton of seeds. Pull it early and often. We hope to eventually outcompete these with native plants.
  • Intensive Plant Spacing – For the communal plot, we decided to try something new. Instead of having rows in one big plot, we decided to break it up into long beds. This worked really well for reducing weeding. The soil was not rich enough to produce given the plant spacing we used, so we will increase the plant spacing next year and amend with compost this year.
  • Japanese Beetles – Our Russian Kale produced a ton, but it was devastated by Japanese beetles which seem to be feeding on brassicas. If the bat house gets occupied, this will help reduce their populations.
  • Raised Potato Beds – We tried to do potatoes on the other end of the communal plot and bury them tall instead of deep using lots of straw between layers. This ended up producing very small potatoes. Not sure if it was the weather, method or location but the wild ones we dug up from last year on the south side of the plot were huge. We will try potatoes again there this year using the dig method. I think they prefer more dense soil.

Here is a map from Last Year.

2016 Plant Production Summary

For the plants in the communal plot, the summer was hot and dry. The peppers did well, and produced all summer. The tomatoes produced, but got blight which spread rapidly due to close spacing. The cabbage produced small and insignificant heads, perhaps due to heat. I heard this from other gardeners this year as well. The bush beans produced well, but were not well harvested. The Kale was probably the best producing, but had problems from the Japanese beetles as well as small mites collecting under the leaves. The peas were trellised, and grew well, but spacing was likely too close together. Corn survived the winds, but we think it was planted too close together. The only corn we got had corn smut, which we should have harvested, but we didn’t know what it was. Potatoes were an experiment, and we will try digging a ditch for them this instead of the raised garden like we mentioned above. The strawberries and Rhubarb did not do well and the soil is probably depleted in that area and could use some amending. The hops we planted never took off so we need to come up with a new idea for the bordering beds as well.

2017 Garden Plan

After meeting with everyone we came to an agreement on crops for the community plot. We will be planting Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Peas and Beets, Tomato and Basil, Peppers and Carrots, and Onions and Kale. The side of the community plot that did not produce as well, we will be planting ground cover to replenish the soil. Only one Paw Paw tree survived from last season, and we decided to purchase more trees to make that area a small orchard. Apple trees will be added to the paw paw and pruned to be shorter. We also decided to move the Raspberries to the area around the fruit trees. The strawberries and raspberries seem to actually be doing pretty well where they are, so we are hoping to amend the soil with compost and give them another season. Row E, will likely be removed and tilled if there is not adequate gardeners to fill it.

The woodchips have been consolidated and covered with dirt. We will spread groundcover on them to convert them into a hugelkulture bed. The side facing the garden will have peas and strawberries, and the side facing the wetlands will be blackberries. Priorities for this year will be getting rid of the canadian thistle. If it is still a problem for gardeners this year, we should discuss removing all raised beds and compost bins and tilling the entire garden in the fall and spring and doing a year of groundcover over the entire plot. This might be necessary anyways because many of the raised beds are crumbling and need to be replaced. If it helps us get rid of the thistle, this may be a better approach, splitting up the garden into 2 halves, one that is cover crop and the other that is production.

Garden work days will be held every month, on the second Saturday from 10am to 1pm, with a cookout afterward, weather permitting. If anybody has any corrections, or feedback, or wants a plot for the season, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Peter Fowler
517-512-2068