Saturday, February 16, 2013

Picture Perfect Gardening

I am so excited about the plans for this years community garden.  We plan to plant a lot of unusual vegetables.  Purple and yellow peas, purple green beans, ruby chard, cheddar cauliflower, purple broccoli, white carrots, yellow carrots, purple carrots, lettuce with speckles, you get the picture.  Our garden is in a public space so it's appearance is important.  It must be kept nice and clean, weeds must be kept to a minimum and it is important that we do not fall behind in our harvesting.  Community gardening comes with a lot of responsibilities that you might not have in a private space.  Here are some strategies for dealing with them.

First- stress the importance of weeding to all your gardeners.  Not just weeding, but also disposing of the weeds in either the compost pile or the garbage.  The area should be patrolled for stray trash and trip hazards.  Plants need to be kept neat, pruned, staked and generally look well cared for. Diseased plants must be removed as soon as a problem is identified and disposed of in the dumpster.  Tools must be put away, so that they are not a danger and to ensure that they are not stolen.  Remember the parking area and shed area must also be kept neat.

Second- Plantings are utilitarian but an effort to make them attractive is appreciated.  Greens planted in patterns to show off foliage color. Flowers inter-planted to offer incentives to pollinators and to add color an interest to the garden.  Paint and display signs telling what you are growing.  We will be growing several varieties of cabbage and we will plant them in a pattern.  Melons and cucumbers will be planted densely to give a lush look to the beds.  We will make an effort to plant so that the different textures of foliage are also highlighted.  Both carrots and fennel are beautifully feathery.  Squash created a dark jungle look and corn even comes in a variegated variety.

Some of the plants I love to feature include rainbow chard and eggplant.  The peppers also put on a great show late in the summer as they turn red.  Pumpkins and winter squash put on a hide and seek show late in the fall.  Crops that you can grow on a trellis offers height and a way to section off a large garden.  They can be used to stop the eye.  This year we will grow both peas and beans up the trellises and use some to stake tomatoes.

Third- Make an effort to take quality photographs of what you are growing. Both as it grows in the garden and as you harvest it.  This is also a great time to take a moment and keep a record of how much you harvest.  Your journal can also include any problems that occur during the gardening season.  Make sure to map out each years garden so that you can be sure that  you are rotating your plots to cut down on pests.