2018-2019 Garden Plan

We want to express our gratitude to all the neighbors in the Old Oakland Neighborhood who worked to establish this garden 5 years ago and to the Garden Project who has been so helpful with resources over that time.

After much consideration and discussion with current garden members we have decided to remove all of the raised beds and structures to attempt to deal with the Canadian Thistle which has been so invasive these last few years.

We will be taking a year off from gardening this summer and focusing our energies on learning what other community gardens are working with and re-designing the garden to suit the smaller number of participants.

This could mean turning part into an orchard, or a fenced area for dogs. We want to reduce the size of the garden to better suit our needs, but how that might look in the future depends on what our neighbors want. Sign up below to stay up to date on planning meetings and garden tours to try to get ideas and inspiration for the re-design of the garden starting in 2019. 


Lessons from Last Year

Last year saw another reduction in food production and participation. Our main barrier was the discouraging amount of weeds and the amount of unused space that needed tending.

  • Weeds  – We are still attempting to find alternative management strategies for weed management without the use of chemicals. We attempted to use vinegar to help with the thistle, but the rhizome was too established and ended up taking over all unused spaces rapidly.
  • Size – The size of the garden has shown to be too large for the amount of people tending it. We attempted to sow ground cover in order to reduce the amount of weeds, but there were too many weeds to properly manage. We hope to shrink the area next year.
  • Japanese Beetles – The beetles were back along with slugs this year and took a toll on the brassicas. The kale production was almost non-existent.
  • Raised Beds – The raised beds have started rotting and many of them are falling apart.

Here is a map from Last Year.

2017 Plant Production Summary

Our asparagus produced well this year. The wet weather and heat meant that the tomatoes produced very well, but we had blight come in toward the end of the year. Brassicas failed to produce, and squash was plagued with mildew that reduced all production in the garden. The potatoes we buried at another spot in the garden and produced about the same amount as last year (about 30 pounds). Wild mustard has shown up all around the garden and produced a lot of edible greens, but a lot of seeds as well. We decided that the garden needs a year off to break the weed cycle and to try to deplete the seed bank.

2018 Garden Plan

To attempt to get a handle on the thistle and re-design the garden to a more manageable size, we are not gardening during the 2018 growing season. We have pulled all of the old infrastructure and beds and have tilled and covered the entire garden with silage cover. This will remain in place all summer and hopefully the seeds will germinate and die and the thistle will be suffocated. We have saved 2 spaces that were tended to last year and people hoped to retain this year. One is the children’s garden. We will be making a path out to this with woodchips next year and hopefully it can be a place where people can continue to contribute. We also saved the asparagus, rhubarb and raspberry bushes.

We will be holding several garden tours next summer in order to get ideas for how we want to lay out the garden when it returns in the spring of 2019. If you want to be involved in those planning meetings, and help get the garden started back up again, please fill out the google form above and we will keep you updated on meeting times and garden tour dates. We are looking forward to a renewed garden in 2019! As always, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns at fowlerpe@msu.edu.