Farseeker
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Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestions?

Evening all!

I've recently become involved in my local community garden - unfortunately a lot of the people who have plots there aren't willing to help maintain the communal spaces, and one area in particular needs a lot of love since it hasn't really been touched in a few years.

The first area I'm working on is the disability garden. The idea behind the space was that people with reduced mobility would be able to access it, however there currently is no one using it. There's been a history of groups taking it on then losing interest rather rapidly.

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These are the raised beds - I've already started working on clearing them out, and at the moment have some dwarf snapdragons, pansies and geraniums in the ones I have cleared. My issue is I can only get out to water them once a week - twice if I'm lucky. They will do fine for now, but as soon as it starts to heat up given we are in a subtropical area they will suffer. Does anyone have any suggestions for sun and drought tolerant plants, preferably that flower?

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These are the front beds of the disability garden. It needs a pretty heavy prune back and weed, but the larger plants in it are doing fine. My concern is finding a suitable groundcover to help prevent the weeds coming back. Would this be the right step to take here? I was thinking of something like yellow buttons plant and native violets. Suggestions would be most appreciated!

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applestar
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

What a lovely project to take on for others!

For the raised boxes I immediately thought it would be fun and pleasant to grow drought tolerant tough growing but touchy-feely plants and aromatic herbs, as well as visual interest.

If there is less interest in working the beds, maybe perennials with some colorful, self seeding annuals.

How about furry Lambs Ears (stachys) For starters? Frosty Southernwood, Sweet Annie, variously colored and variegated thyme, oregano, and sage.... Portulaca would provide wonderful splashes of intense color.

Maybe dwarf squirrel tail and bunny tail grass would work in the raised bed? Or would it be better to stick with annuals since these will be harder to clear out. What about celosia? One living groundcover that is crazy effective for me is wild strawberries.

Key here is to MULCH HEAVILY -- both the boxes and the raised beds.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Farseeker
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

Oh, I love the lambs ear idea! Some of the others I will have to look more into - not sure if they'd be available in Australia. I like the idea of tougher herbs as well!

For the garden bed, I'd prefer to avoid grasses if I can - there's not a lot of greenery on the shrubs so I'd like to bring in some against the ground if I can. I would absolutely love to do strawberries but in our summers I don't think they would survive in that area. I have plans to use them as a ground cover elsewhere though. I'll post a picture and what I'm hoping to do with that area sometime tomorrow.

I like the look of the celosia! I'll look into that one as well.

Thanks so much for the suggestions, they've given me some awesome options!

As far as mulching goes, technically there are dry grass clippings at the garden I can use, but there's a major problem with cobbler's pegs in the area and I don't want to reintroduce it through using that. I have a couple of bales of hay I might bring down for that instead.

imafan26
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

You are lucky. Most community gardens here have wait lists and people can wait months or years so there aren't many unassigned plots. There are plots that are not well cared for and people think are abandoned, but there are few plots available. I can't understand why people get plots when they don't have the time to spend on it.

It is great that your garden has a disability plot, but it is an unusual design for a disability plot. Most of those kinds of plots are raised boxes on tiles or piers so that the person is able to tend to the garden from a wheelchair, chair, or standing up. The "floor" around the box is usually made of some material or planking so that a wheelchair would not get bogged down in the mud and the box may only be two to three feet wide so they can reach across it easier. Handles or bars along the sides of the box allows hand holds or grips for people who need a little help with their balance.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Farseeker
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

This particular community garden seems to be in a state of flux at the moment - there's a lot of people who haven't paid fees that were due at the start of the year, and there are about three people who try to maintain the common areas. The areas that I've been given are two smaller spaces that are tucked away equalling about the size of a normal plot. They'd been offered as a combined package to people on the wait list but no one wanted them because of the locations and the amount of work that needed to be done to clear them so they were looking at clearing them and not using them as designated plots. Because I was willing to work on some of the communal areas they offered them to me though, and I jumped at the chance haha. Basically, I lucked out enough I should have bought a lotto ticket! :()

The disability plot is an unusual design - from my understanding it was mostly constructed out of materials that were donated. The ground in terms of manoeuvrability looks worse than it is - it's some sort of fine gravel that doesn't go muddy unless you get a decent downpour. Ideally I'd like to see the area paved eventually, but at the moment everything that is going into the area is being paid for by me, so baby steps first. :wink:

imafan26
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

For relatively drought tolerant plants. I use geraniums, they have large leaves and cover a lot of space so they will keep down the weeds. Their roots are fibrous so it is easier to pull them out than a woody plant.

If you want something edible. NZ hot weather spinach will cover quickly, tomatoes, squash, swiss chard and amaranth

Even drought tolerant plants need a head start. Add lots of organic matter to the soil and mulch heavily. You can add watering tubes so that you water at the root zone and not so much at the top. You will need to water more in the beginning until the plants become established.

In my community garden, my plants have learned to live on rain for the most part. I can only get there a couple of times a week. When I do, I water deeply for about an hour and I add organic matter every time I plant. I have a drip system installed in my plot. Timers are not allowed so I do have to go there to turn the water on and off.

I grow radish, corn, swiss chard, Asian greens in the cooler/wetter months, squash in summer (I grow kabocha, butternut and gourds) Chayote grows year round and produces fruits as well as shoot tips. I have also got citrus trees( I inherited them with the garden) , strawberries, hot peppers, and asparagus.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Farseeker
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

Ambitious is one word for it I guess. Crazy is another. :() I know the people who run the place were a little sceptical on how much I'd be able to do given I work full time and spend two and a half hours in transit a day, but I make it work.

I'm going to look into amaranth as well - the flowers look lovely and being edible is definitely a bonus!

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This is the area I was talking about using strawberries in. It gets filtered sunlight during most of the day, and I was poking around on Jackie French's website and ended up reading through her article on groves. I was wanting to do an edible landscape in that area but wasn't sure on what would grow and given the location I figured a lot of the grove concept would apply to this spot. So I'm using some of what she's listed as a guide and calling it an experiment!

The lower front area actually gets most of the light (it's on the western side and not as shaded), and that is where I'm planning on doing the strawberries, and raspberries up against the brickwork. I'll put a trellis on the higher level for them. After that will be a pawpaw tree, followed by a cape gooseberry. After that will be a mix of shade tolerant herbs and greens. 8) I've already done some wheeling and dealing and found some bargains to start it off with.

Because this area is away from a lot of the plots it doesn't get used a lot, which is probably part of the reason it's become so unloved. I'm hoping by having an area with edibles in it that aren't grown by a lot of the people who have plots but that would probably have some appeal it'll draw more people into the space and maybe create some interest in helping to fix up this section!

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Allyn
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

I have no suggestions and no advice. I just want to say thank you for doing what you're doing. :)

imafan26
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

It is hard to have a full schedule and work even a small plot in a community garden. I actually schedule my days so I put away the time to attend to it. Sometimes things come up though and plans have to change.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Farseeker
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

Well guess what? I saved a couple of raspberry canes from my order for a friend at work, and they brought in a packet of seeds for me because they loved the flowers and are pretty hardy. Celosia! So I have one part of the puzzle for the garden bed, just trying to figure out some things to go in with it once I have them sprouted.

Allyn - I'm getting a lot out of it, so it's not exactly a completely altruistic thing lol. I appreciate it though!

Also, here's an update on how one of the raised beds is doing.

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This is about two weeks after these little guys went in. They were in the reduced section of the local Bunnings - $2 down from $10. They were a sad, wilted mess and I wasn't sure if they'd actually survive at all haha. They'd started to perk up by this point though.

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This was them as of last friday. Apologies the shot isn't framed in a similar way - I was busy squealing to friends about the amount of buds on them. By the time I left on Sunday more were open, and some more buds were showing up on the other side too!

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applestar
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Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

What coincidence that your friend gave you celosia seeds :D

Looks like those pansies are settled in! I temporarily forgot your are in Southern Hemisphere and had a moment of confusion that you are planting them in the middle of the summer :roll:

If you grow them organically, pansy petals are wonderful colorful additions to salad.... 8)
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Farseeker
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Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:17 am
Location: Qld, Australia Sub-tropical/Zone 10

Re: Fixing up an area of local community garden - suggestion

I thought it was a nice coincidence, yes!

I have some cuttings that are hopefully developing roots at the moment from some of my nanna's geraniums to replace the pansies when it gets too hot for them.

I'm thinking gazanias along with the celosia, and a low-lying spreading type plant to go along the edges of the bed...

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