Garden Maintenance

Garden Maintenance

In any garden maintenance is an ongoing issue. In a community garden maintenance requires people working together. Bridges Landscaping Services delivered a second load of chipped wood to the garden and on Sunday morning five ladies showed up to work. In a little over an hour they had moved all the mulch to the paths between the garden beds. One more load from Bridges should be enough to cover all the open spaces and that maintenance job will be finished for this year.

mulching garden 6-1-13 Bev and Pennie

While we were dumping barrows full of chips, we had to pick up trash from around some beds. Broken rain guages, lots of plant markers, pulled weeds, an occasional stake and a couple of tomato cages. All of us need to be mindful of keeping the garden clean and tidy. For example, if we each pulled weeds from the paths around our beds, we could eliminate most Round-up spraying. That would be a fantastic goal.

mulching comm garden#1 on 6-2-13

Working on projects like this is a terrific way to meet the gardeners. Above are Val Kenn Gray, Pennie Haase, Bev Pratt and Mala Burt.  Meg Ingold helped and took the photos. Bobby Malzone, who mows the grass in the garden common areas, stopped by on his bicycle. He was interested in the composting process and wondered if we could get a bag for the mower. That would supply us with green layers for the bins. Bobby had already spread some mulch a day earlier. We were grateful. Maintenance is the job of the entire community garden and every little bit that anyone does helps our garden shine.

Kudos to Jack Gray who, on a recent hot day, dug through clay, brick and oyster shells to install our new sign.

community-Garden-sign

 

 

 

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Composting 101

Judy Shuler, a Master Composter trained by Penn State, presented the do’s and don’ts of composting to a group at the St. Michaels Community Garden. Some of us who thought we were composting, now know what we need to do differently in our home piles. After her overview, Judy went to the garden and we began to build a compost pile.

Our bins are full of garden refuse that has been just thrown in the bins. This is not composting. Judy started by pulling the weeds out of one of the empty bins.

cleaning-bin-#2

The green layer of weeds and some green refuse in one of the other bins was chopped or bruised with a flat bottomed spade and thrown back in to make the first layer – a green layer. A little water was added.

chopping-green-layer

A bag of leaves was then added (a brown layer). This was easier than chopping up the dried stuff in the bin next door. That will be for another day. Some of what is in the bins has lots of soil on the roots. Judy says no soil should be added to the layers. Some of the stalks are so large they will have to be cut into small pieces or they will not decompose. Root balls may need to be removed.

brown-layer-added

The leaves – the brown layer –  was wetted, stirred with a fork until all the leaves were damp. The boards at the front of the bin were then replaced.

wetting-the-layers

This is the start of a real compost pile at our garden. Clearly we need to have more of our gardeners learn how to put things in the bins and how to build layers. Just throwing stuff in the bins is NOT composting. We also found that someone had thrown crab shells in one of the bins and hope that was not one of our gardeners. There is a list posted on the bins about what can be put in and what cannot.

To compost we need to build layers, there needs to be a certain level of dampness, and the pile needs to be stirred. It won’t be hard if more of us learn how to do it properly.

Judy Shuler is passionate about composting and will come back to help us again. We need to get as many people as possible on board with this process so we can reap the brown gold that is the end result. Our garden beds will all benefit.