Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Community Gardens Build a Better Community

I am often asked how to create a community garden. Someone sees an empty lot in the area and thinks a garden is the solution, or another person wants one in their city park. I have even heard from city officials who want a community garden on vacant lots to help keep the dust down and trash at bay. And my response to them is always the same, “The first word in community garden is community. Build your community around the garden first, then design the garden!”

Community gardens need someone behind them to organize others to get involved. Not everyone will think a garden is a good idea. Some will want to garden at home and not go somewhere else to garden, others will not know how to garden and be intimidated by a community garden. And yet others will see the benefit of working together on something to beautify their neighborhood and get people out of their homes to get to know each other better.

This is what happened in my own neighborhood, the Coronado Historic District in Phoenix, AZ. What started out as a casual conversation at the local coffee shop, Toast, turned into a garden that has been going now for 2 years. It has had its own challenges and ups and downs, but we got our first plot renter from the Nabe and I expand my growing space to the garden as well.

There is a story about it and pictures on the Coronado Neighborhood website. Take a moment to read it, check out my neighborhood that I am proud to live in and let me know what you think.

Are you a community gardener? Do you know someone who is? I would love to hear others experiences. Please share!

I am headed off to Atlanta in a few weeks to attend the nation conference of the American Community Garden Association.  it is open to the public, so please join me!!

Happy Digging,
Doreen, the Garden Goddess
Community Garden Consultant

Monday, July 12, 2010

Look What I Found in the Garden

Here's a photo blog of all the yummy food (and people) I found in the Garden for Tomorrow created by the Tiger Mountain Foundation and Darren Chapman this past Saturday in Phoenix, AZ.

Happy Gardening
The Garden Goddess

Monday, July 5, 2010

Protecting your Garden from the Birds

I wrote an article last month about using netting as a way to protect your prized fruit trees and vegetable garden from the birds. And I got an education about WHY THAT MAY NOT BE THE BEST SOLUTION!

Deborah, one of my readers, volunteers at Liberty Wildlife in Scottsdale, AZ and took the time to share a few facts about the trouble netting causes the birds:

“In our public outings with the Education birds, we attempt to increase the public's awareness about the impact of various materials on wildlife. Topics range from fishing line left on the ground, balloons, plastic, and netting.

Right now, at Liberty Wildlife a Cooper's hawk will probably have to be euthanized because his legs were entangled in netting. Blood flow was cut off for too long of a time before he was found, and he can not properly use his talons. He is a beautiful, fully-flighted bird who cannot use his feet, and therefore, unable to survive in the wild. He was not going for the fruit; Cooper's hawks are meat eaters. “

Thanks Deborah – I never stopped to think about this – I always cut up the plastic rings from a six-pack of beverages as I remember learning they end up in the ocean and sea life gets trapped in them, but I had not considered the impact of bird netting and the birds!

I did a little more research and found this:  "..but in many cases products like nylon bird netting degrade rapidly and quickly become ineffective due to poor installation. Degraded nylon bird netting also has the potential to entrap wild birds,..." (PiCAS)

Here are a few other things you could use:
  • Hang old CDs or DVDs in the tree with a sturdy twine. Do not use fishing wire for the same reason that it could get wrapped around a birds led or body.
  • Use very sheer curtains you get from a thrift shop, yard sale, or your own linen closet!
  • Same for using any sheer material with really small holes so the bird can’t get tangled in them
  • Pick the fruit and let it ripen off the tree somewhere safe from the birds.

Always plant more than you need, in case the birds get to it before you!! Share the surplus is a Permaculture ethic and one that goes to animals and as well as humans. You won’t be so discouraged if you have plenty of food in the garden for everyone.

By keeping a garden that supports and doesn’t harm the eco-systems you will find that in the long run, you will need less additives to your garden like fertilizers and other chemicals. Birds also eat bugs that may be damaging to your garden, so don’t scare all of them away!!

Happy Digging,

The Garden Goddess


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Are Summer Gardens a Sustainable Option in Phoenix?

Are Summer Gardens a Sustainable Option in Phoenix?

I am beginning to re-think growing my own food – in the middle of the summer in Phoenix! Today was the 5th day in a row over 110 degrees, it has been 75 days since the last rain fall and the low temps are still in the 90’s. Every morning I get up to check on the plants, water them, and hope for the best.

I practice safe gardening – I mulch the soil, shade the plants and deep water. Yet when it is this hot and dry (did I mention no humidity?) the plants get stressed. Seems like the only thing I can do is add more water. I need to water more frequently as the soil seems to dry out more quickly, especially when the wind picks up even ever so slightly. My water usage is double what it was last month and no one is visiting me use the household water – it is all going into the vegetable garden.

I get so much more from my garden than just food, but it is usually when I am puttering in the garden beds. This time of year who even wants to be outside? My morning routine is consumed with jumping out of bed and dashing outside to check the garden before it gets too hot for me or them. Walking the dog takes a back seat to the garden. Seeing those sad puppy-dog eyes is hard, but the plants need me too!

Yet I can’t just stop watering either now that they are growing. It would be akin to killing them! I couldn’t even kill the one-legged grasshopper I found in my bedroom today (thanks to the cat). He seemed half dead, so I pout him in the kitchen compost pail. I will et him die naturally while nibbling on the vegetable scraps! But I digress.

It’s all in the planning – time make a note in the calendar of the garden journal for next year to remind myself to get the summer plants in early enough so they provide a harvest earlier in the summer and I can put the garden bed to sleep for the summer. Then I can take some time to get out of the heat!!

How is your garden handling this AZ summer heat?

Stay Cool,
The garden Goddess


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