Difficult economic times and the increased disconnect between people has led many individuals and families to take a greater interest in community gardens. Â Community gardens, as defined by the American Community Garden Association, are any garden that is cultivated and maintained by a group of people.
Community gardens have become very popular in urban areas, bringing neighborhoods together and creating a natural oasis in the city landscape. Â More and more suburban and rural communities are beginning to embrace the shared-garden concept, with many apartment complexes encouraging residents to cultivate flowers, vegetables and herbs. Â Whether the community garden is a large, centrally located plot in the complex, or merely a shared garden area between two or more households, following a few simple tips and guidelines can help make the entire process of maintaining a shared garden simple and enjoyable.
Tips for maintaining a shared garden
Before beginning to build a shared garden, it is important to come together with the other interested gardeners and make a plan for the garden. Â It is helpful to organize and discuss some of the following: how the garden will be divided, what types of flowers, herbs and edibles will be cultivated, what tools will need to be rented or purchased and how the labor will be divided.
Finding a way to make the most of the limited space in the garden is very important and will depend in large part on what is to be planted there. Obviously fruit trees and bushes will take up larger amounts of space than seasonal vegetables and herbs, but this does not mean they should be avoided. Selecting two or three fruit-bearing trees will form a long-term anchor for the garden area, helping to keep moisture in the soil and yielding fruit over the long-term. Berry bushes and shrubs can be positioned near the trees, leaving space for seasonal vegetables and fruits in areas that will remain unshaded even as the trees grow. Herbs may be planted in pots, preventing uncontrolled spreading and allowing them to be easily moved around, even indoors during the winter months.
Most apartment-dwellers will likely not have a variety of gardening tools on hand. Â After consulting online references such as Pat’s Small Engine Plus, gardeners may form a list of what types of tillers, hand tools and other accoutrements will be needed to cultivate and maintain the garden. Larger tools for digging and turning the soil may be rented, while smaller ones such as shovels, hoes, rakes and watering cans may be purchased and shared.
Once the garden has been planted and things begin to grow, the task of keeping up with watering, weeding and pruning begins. The work of maintaining the garden may be divided in a variety of ways. For example, the gardeners may choose to split the work up by tasks such as weeding, watering, fertilizing and such, or the shared gardeners may choose to maintain individual plantings and share only the general area maintenance. Â Maintaining a shared garden can be a challenge, but if all the gardeners are committed to succeeding and willing to make the effort, they can be sure to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors from year to year.