Monday, November 23, 2009

End of the year garden deadline approaching

The end of the year is approaching and this is a reminder that all gardeners who aren't planning on actively gardening during the winter months are required to prepare their plots for the season.

To be clear, there are many things you can grow during the winter in the Bay Area and I don't want to discourage anyone from doing that.

But if you aren't planning on doing so, you are required to either sheet mulch your plot or grow a cover crop. Gardeners who don't take care of this by the end of the year will have to give up their plot to someone on the waiting list. Sheet mulching your plot or growing a cover crop will keep weeds under control and also help to improve the quality of your soil.

You'll find step-by-step instructions for sheet mulching tacked on the bulletin board at the back of the garden and here:

All the supplies for sheet mulching are in the garden: manure is under
the blue tarp in the front, cardboard is in the toolshed, and there are
a couple of bales of straw by the apple tree.

Cover Crop Instructions

Cover crops (also called green manure) suppress weeds, build productive soil, and help control pests and diseases. Plus, cover crops are easy to plant and require only basic care to thrive. Here are the basic steps to follow:

1. Remove all invasive weeds from your plot (oxalis, knot weed, crab grass – see picture of each posted on the top of the compost bin). Discard these invasive weeds in the green city compost trash can.

2. Aerate the soil in your plot by poking it with a fork spade.

3. Spread a ½” (or less) layer of horse manure over the soil in your plot (from the manure pile in the front of the garden).

4. Using the metal rake, gently mix the manure into the soil.

5. Spread the cover crop seed throughout your plot. You'll find seed in a jar in the tool shed. Try using 1 cup per square yard.

6. Using the metal rake, mix the seed into the soil.

7. Cover your plot with a very thin blanket of straw. If too much straw is used it will suppress the cover crop. The straw is used to hide the seed from birds and rodents.

8. Keep your plot watered until the winter rains start.

9. One month before planting towards the end of winter, chop the cover crop with pruners and mix into the soil. Cover with straw and wait for one month. Be sure to keep the plot watered. Remove the straw from plot on planting day. The straw goes into the garden compost bin not the green city compost trash can.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!