Everything You Need to Start a Community Garden (And Why You Should)

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Gardening can be a form of exercise and a way to relax, and is a wonderful choice for getting some fresh air while socially distanced. The tradition of victory gardens has long been an American fallback during difficult periods of history, a way to provide for our neighbors in times of need, or to hedge our bets against insecurities, and never has the moment called for it more than it does right now.

Schools, churches, and other large organizations are sitting empty and under-utilized while food banks are struggling, when some well planned community involvement could go a long way to providing healthy, fresh fruits, vegetables, and even mood uplifting flowers and green spaces. Basic starting guides have been written by state cooperative extensions, as well as colleges like Texas A&M, and by seed vendors like Bonnie Plants. 

Depending on the age, experience level, and health of your gardeners, you may pursue large planting projects like corn, which require tillers or other tools to be purchased or rented. For first year growers however, or those looking to appeal to schoolchildren or seniors, raised beds can eliminate a host of problems. Young children can’t accidentally trample any in-ground plants, seniors won’t experience as much discomfort from stooping or bending to pull weeds, and raising plants out of direct contact with the ground can reduce certain pest activity. This is an especially good idea in city lots, where there is no existing earth to plant in anyways.

Container grown fruit can be one of the easiest, most low maintenance types of gardening, and choosing bush grown rather than tree grown fruit further simplifies it. It doesn’t require daily watering, only needs minimal weeding, and pest control can be performed during the non-fruiting times of year, minimizing exposure to any pesticides or other chemical treatments. Blueberry bushes accept a wide range of growing environments; they grow happily from Maine to Florida, as long as the right varieties are selected for your growing zone they’ll be an easy to grow treat.

Draw bees and butterflies to your garden site by dedicating a section of your garden to flowers. This pollinator mix will seed a 200sq feet soil bed; consider two 10 by 10 beds, spaced apart, to maximize effectiveness.

Gym lovers know to stow a bag in their car for a quick after work session, and gardeners should do the same. A kneeling board or set of pads, a warm outer layer, and some mud-proof rain boots should be an encouraged purchase for anyone who wants to be able to drop by the garden to work whenever the mood strikes.

Keep gardeners happy and hydrated with this five gallon beverage cooler. Perfect for filling with ice water, sports drink, or lemonade on warm days, it will keep your hard working crew from getting dehydrated.

Every group involved in a community garden needs their own designated spaces, and having path lights creates a border that’s attractive and easy to follow. Anything you can do to make your garden space look more clean and polished is a bonus, both for attracting new members and for ensuring the neighbors find it aesthetically appealing.

Encourage your community to turn out in support of the garden at harvest time, whether to volunteer with picking, washing, packing, or delivering to your intended recipients. If you’ll have each gardener carting their own shares home, a cute and custom tote like this one holds a bundle while still being stylish.

Even the most avid gardener can struggle to recall which variety of tomato they planted, and whether that small patch of sprouts is an emerging radish or a weed patch taking root. Fight the brain drain all season with wooden plant labels. By writing on both sides you can include both seed names and key season dates.

Weather protection is a key element of successful gardens, especially in areas with long, cold springs and early fall frosts. A greenhouse can extend the growing season, allow careful monitoring of new seedlings, and even support growing uncommon plant varietals for your region.

For in-ground planting, using weed barriers can be a huge time saver, and often mitigate many hours spent fighting weeds and pests. They’re also useful for preventing vining plants like melons, pumpkins, or strawberries from overrunning a designated area.

To prevent having to schedule daily checkups, make some low tech additions like these time release waterers. Perfect for school gardens which lack weekend attention.

This sturdy garden cart features an oversized hose reel that allows carting a hose up to 400 feet long. The wire basket allows you to haul additional adapters, gloves, and other tools around the garden as well.

Enrich in-ground soil with peat moss and you’ll save on watering and fertilizers by boosting the soil’s nutrients, preventing leaching, and increases the soil’s capability to retain moisture, perfect for sandy soils.

This light weight and easy to install fence helps repel birds, deer, and other garden invaders. Protect your hard work from four legged freeloaders eating all your harvest.

Offering custom shirts or totes is an easy way for members to start conversations and build friendships around shared interests– it also makes it extremely easy to return lost or forgotten items when they are labelled. This tote can be filled with your gardener’s existing tools or with a packaged set of new tools.

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