Community Gardening, 101

Community gardening.

Although I’ve gardened at home for many years, this is my first year to garden with others in the community.  I’ve decided to have two plots, 25×25 each, in the Mariemont community garden.  The garden is located on what is certainly bottom-land, an active flood zone adjacent to the Little Miami River, and accessed via the entrance to the Mariemont community pool.

We’ve discussed some of the very basic strategies of gardening, the most important of which are available light, water requirements and plants that are conducive to our particular geo-area.  I’ll be deciding on a schematic for the plants in the next couple of weeks; however, the next step is tilling.

There is something enormously therapeutic about turning the soil, most intensely experienced when dug by hand.  I’ve never failed to feel an intense, innate connection to the earth when hand-digging.  (It’s also an excellent stress reliever.)  Having said that, a garden of this size can be machine-tilled with a few considerations.  Soil should never be wet when you till.   When the ground temps rise after the winter freeze, the soil softens and partially dries out.  The soil should crumble gently in your hand, but should not be wet.

Soil has structure, a web of billions and billions of small organisms, that can be destroyed by over-tilling as the organic matter flattens and decreases, and its capacity to carry water and distribute nutrients disappears.  The soil can actually become dead.

The great news is that there are limitless items of compost that can feed garden soil… mulch, weeds, shredded paper, straw, and food compost.  (Save those grass clippings, carrot peels and shredder paper.)

Here we go.

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