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The Seedling - June 2020

Like everyone, the Community Gardens of Tucson’s Board Members have been shocked, saddened and outraged by the deaths of Black people at the hands of police officers. The demonstrations that have taken place over the past few weeks and the events themselves have opened the door to a new and long overdue look at how racism pervades our society, all the way to our gardens. The Board has developed a statement entitled, "We are Listening," that you can find here. CGT is committed to listening and changing. I encourage all CGT supporters to read our statement and give us feedback on how we can change to be more inclusive in our practices and assist in directly and indirectly fighting racism in our community.- Bruce Plenk, CGT Board of Directors

We Are Listening.

In this issue:

  • Growing Food Resiliency- An opportunity to share your story
  • Washing Hands Getting Easier at Gardens!
  • To Start a New Garden, Start with Observation! by Jo Schmidt, CGT Gardener
  • What to Plant in June
  • Online Learning with Pima County Master Gardeners
  • Triple Digit Gardening Tips
Growing Food Resiliency- An Opportunity to Share Your Story

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for community gardens which can provide a vital source of fresh, healthy, and nutritious food to local communities. Thanks to a generous grant from the Spicer Foundation, Community Gardens of Tucson is teaming up with the University of Arizona to understand the possibilities and limitations of gardening to support people who have been affected economically (unemployment or under employment) by the pandemic. The UA School of Geography and Development will be conducting interviews over the next few months to produce an analysis and policy brief that proposing actions that will make community gardening more affordable and accessible by decreasing water costs. Please contact us at if you have experienced economic set back due to COVID-19 and are interested in participating in a short interview that will help improve CGT programming.

Washing Hands Getting Easier at Gardens!

It is clear that frequent hand washing can help disrupt the spread of germs, particularly that unwelcome visitor, COVID-19. We are proud of the collaboration and hard work that has helped install Tippy Taps, an affordable, low tech hand washing station, at seven community gardens. We will continue to install them at all of our gardens that have requested them. Watershed Management Group  has contributed supplies and expertise. Pima County Master Naturalists have contributed supplies and time for construction and installation. Tippy Taps can be used by gardeners before and after touching surfaces like locks and gates. Other people in the area are also welcome to use the station to help prevent the spread of viruses. A reminder that community gardens are a great place to enjoy, but bring your masks and give each other space. Stay safe everyone!

To Start a New Garden, Start with Observation!
by Jo Schmidt

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
Row Cover
Trash bag to carry weeds  
Stakes and string
Supports, masonry wire or PVC Blood and Bone Meal     Tulle
Rock Anchors

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

What to Plant in June?!

You can sow some veggies directly in the garden in June (see our full planting guide) but it can be challenging to give the tender sprouts sufficient moisture in the intense heat. Try starting them in pots in a sunny window or protected, partly shady spot in your garden. Then you’ll have some great starts to transplant into your garden when (hopefully!) we start to get monsoon moisture in mid-July. Happy gardening!

Online Learning with Pima County Master Gardeners
Pima County Master Gardeners are Offering Live Lectures via Zoom! Sneak peak below and find full schedule and register at the Master Gardeners website.

Here We Go! Triple Digit Gardening... Stay cool everyone!

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