The garden committee instructions below are written for our garden but can be adapted to suit any garden. We decided to make them public not only to help our own members, but also to help anyone who is interested in what it takes to get a community garden, or any garden for that matter, to thrive. The only help we cannot provide you with is love, dedication and hard work.
We gladly accept compost from neighbors in the community but ask that you only drop off on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
Adding Green Material
NOTE: We have partnered with businesses in our community to get their unwanted scraps. If you are building your own garden, you can use any fruit and veggie scraps, tea, coffee, paper towels (free of cleaners and oils), coffee filters and egg shells. It is best to chop up large chunks of fruit or veggie scraps and crush eggshells.
Adding Brown Material and Turning
Our main compost, a 4-bin system, is staggered. Only 1 bin is ‘working’ at a time. We only add new material to the working bin. The other bins need to be turned over with a pitchfork once or twice a week. Our compost is pretty aggressive and fast, which is good. It is the frequent turning and layering that makes it fast.
- When adding material to the compost, first fork out most of what is in the bin. Leave some material in the bin.
- Add the contents of 1 bucket of new material. Spread around a little.
- Add a small layer of leaves from black plastic bags.
- Add a layer of compost that’s been pulled out.
- Repeat steps until there is no more fresh material. Also can layer with horse manure.
- Fork the rest of compost back on.
- Rake the ground in front back onto pile.
- Rinse buckets and lids. Buckets and lids need to be returned to the Refinery. We use orange buckets and lids then mark them with our name so it is easy to tell they belong to the garden.
- Material from the garden also gets added to the bin. This should be cut or chopped into pieces no longer than 4 inches.
The secondary, circular compost bins are more of a default for extra material, mainly large spent plants, weeds, sticks, and raked up organic debris from the garden. This is much slower and gets turned less frequently, maybe once every 2 months.
- Remove the circular plastic bin, setting aside.
- Pull off large debris with a fork and screening the rest. When adding to the secondary bins, the material should be chopped or cut or broken into pieces no bigger than 8 inches.
- Use the loppers, hand cutters or the machete. There is no layering here. If the pieces are small enough the pile should compress nicely and not overflow too often.
- Lift the lid and look at the worms – Move old shred aside
- Add fresh matter till the bin is lightly packed full.
- Top off with shredded paper. De-clump old shred and add fresh if there is any. The shred regulates the moisture level.
- Empty coffee containers which are collecting the worm tea, into the big blue barrel marked Worm Tea.
- Replace yogurt cups in such a way that they collect the tea.
We have teams who water daily. Each team is assigned a portion of the garden to water, along with any new plantings. Watering is done by hand from the water barrels with watering cans, or from the hose linked to the neighbors well.
- Seeds and seedlings are identified by the straw laid over or around them, and are watered with the watering cans and a third of a bucket of worm tea from the worm tea barrel.
- Seeds are still using their own nutrients. As the plants mature, we water into the ruts between the planted rows. The plants establish their root system by searching for water, so we don’t want to water them from the tops of the foliage.
- Pick off dead and dying leaves, particularly those growing at the base of the plant, as they are bug highways.
- Give them to the worms in the worm bins. Lift the lid and toss them in. Or, put them in the compost bins. Use only the bin that is marked with an arrow.
Weeding: (There is never a shortage of weeds to be pulled.)
- Learn to identify a weed from a plant, then pluck to your heart’s content!
- This debris can be put in the compost bins or other containers.
- Rake berms
- Mulch out of pool gardens
- Smooth pathways
- Pick up fallen debris