Jo Schmidt, a desert gardening expert (3x Master Gardener, Master Composter, Vermiculture, Master PermaPonics, Permaculture design, Author, Instructor Consultant, Speaker!) and long time gardener with CGT, offers this great wisdom for getting a new community garden plot started in our intense heat.
When I was informed of an available plot, I went to check it out. I literally went to the plot and sat down and observed. Then I asked myself, what does this land offer and are there any concerns?
*I sat down at the north end of the plot and looked to the south. I saw tall trees outside the garden fence. Hmm…that could bring me rain if a storm came from the south. I’ll build my garden to catch rain and runoff water! I will make sure the soil is loosened to attract and hold, even more water.
*To the north were tall trees and tool sheds. These trees provide cool shade in the summer and warm sun in the winter. Plus, underneath the tree canopy are picnic tables to sit on and relax and catch a cool summer breeze. I like that.
*To my east, is a tall tree near the fence. That tree could hide a predator hawk looking for rodents. From the looks of all the holes in the ground, there are a lot of rodents. I will cover my garden with tulle to protect the garden's tender plants and vegetables.
*And lastly, I look to the west, I see the garden has an almost complete view of the setting sun, excellent for a good harvest all year long.
Now I get up and walk around the garden plot, like a sleuth. What has been done to this garden?
I see weeds, that’s good because that means no pesticides here.
Is it possible to start a no dig garden here? I see that it IS possible because the areas around the garden plot, are mostly above grade. This is not only good for catching the water of rainstorms, but also means the garden has already been dug out. A garden that has loosened soil two feet down will capture even more rain and water runoff. So, I dug down to look and see for sure. Yes, the soil was dark, moist and soft all the way down. This plot will support plants and soil life; fungi and beneficial bacteria. And YES, no digging necessary!
Let’s do this!
Shovel & spade
Trash bag to carry weeds
Stakes and string
Supports, masonry wire or PVC Blood and Bone Meal Tulle
1-Remove all weeds
2-Place stakes, string to define the bed while digging
3-Level soil and lower grade 3 in. if necessary to allow for even watering
4-Replace drip tape and test irrigation
5-Add organic blood and bone meal to the soil-according to the directions.
6-Add 2 in. of compost and work in with a spade
7-Water and cover garden bed with moisture retaining, light penetrating row cover (see picture below). Now go home and soak your seeds overnight.
8. The next day, remove row cover, plant seed or transplants and apply a 2 in. deep mulch of either straw, hay, coconut coir, or leaves to protect new plants.
9-Replace row cover and water, best in the morning, for fourteen days.
10-Remove row cover
11-Place masonry wire (or PVC) arches, to support Tulle about every 3-4 feet-Now your plants have leaves and are very tender and need the protection of Tulle, (Tulle is the fabric of brides & a ballerinas tutus found at local fabric stores. I like the wide Tulle, 108” or wider.)
12-Place Tulle over supports and anchor in place with rocks to protect from rodents, birds and insects (pictured below).
Tah-Dah, and that is how I created my summer vegetable garden!
Thank You, Beautiful Gardeners, I hope you had some fun reading this article, xox Jo Schmidt