Cover Crops

You may notice on the garden map that several plots have been assigned as ‘cover crops’, something new we are piloting this year after a couple years of discussion about it.  The cover crops we are planting include buckwheat (large leaves and white flowers) and mustard (yellow flowers).  Both are widely used by gardeners and small farms around the US as ‘smother crops’, plant varieties ideally selected to outcompete weeds.  In addition to weed suppression, we selected plots that have been continuously in use for several years.  The cover crops have qualities that replenish depleted soil to include adding nutrients and controlling soil borne pathogens that harm vegetable plants (mustard controls nematodes). You’ll also especially like the fact that these plants attract pollinators.  Buckwheat is one of the most desirable plants for honey producers and is commonly interplanted with crops like fruit trees that are particularly dependent on pollination. While scattered around the garden, the best place to see the two cover crops is the far eastern edge, covering the whole row of four plots.  This not only serves as sort of a “demonstration garden” but also recognizes that these plots have always been at risk of people cutting the corner too closely and accidentally driving over them–better to have that happen to cover crops than one of our gardener’s vegetable gardens.

Garden Management and Operations

The Community Gardens of Cedar Falls is a partnership between garden volunteers and the City of Cedar Falls.  Alex Oberle is the garden manager for 2021 and the gardens have a management committee consisting of current gardeners Caleb Wallace and Glen Keith as well as Peg Keller (2020 garden manager).  Alex is the lead person for communications (to fellow gardeners and the city) and troubleshooting, as well as managing the finances, website, and email.  The three person committee assists the manager to include approving any major purchases, providing feedback and advice on any challenges and opportunities, and conducting long term planning to carry into next year. The city mows the larger garden space, maintains and pays for the water, and tills the garden plots.  The lawn mower, hoses, and hose reels are common community garden property.  The community garden is responsible for mowing the pathways, and thank you to Caleb who has done the mowing the past two years and has volunteered to do so again this year.

May 8th: Opening day/planting day

Saturday, May 8th is opening day/planting day for Cedar Falls Community Gardens!  I did a walkthrough of the garden yesterday with the city as a final step before the spring tilling of the plots.  I would like everybody to please re-check their plot assignments a couple days out from opening day as I may be changing some of the plot assignments.  Plots will be marked with yellow flags that have the number on one side and the letter on the other (e.g. A 10).  We have a lot of leftover and donated fencing, trellises, tomato cages, and other items from last year located on the NE corner of the gardens–these are for common use in the community gardens so please feel free to use any of these.  I’ll be posting 2-3 times a week for the next few weeks to talk about garden operations and some new news for this growing season.

New Plot Assignments and Updates

If you rented a plot in the past ten days I just assigned you a garden plot and you can see it on the garden schematic on this website.  Thanks again to the City of Cedar Falls for replacing our water main.  Rather than simply repairing it, they took the time and effort to replace it in full with a new durable type of material so we should completely avoid any of the water main breaks and leaks that caused such a hassle for most gardeners last year.  The final spring tilling of the plots should happen in the near future, weather dependent, so I don’t yet have a garden opening/planting date for everybody.  Please check back here in the next few days for an update, even if that update might be . . .no update for another week.

Expected garden opening/planting dates

Thank you so much to the City of Cedar Falls for replacing/repairing the water line to our garden!  I’ll follow up with the city this next week for any follow up details to share, but it looks like their work is complete as of yesterday.  This means we are one major step closer to opening/planting day.  All that remains is for the city to complete the spring tilling of the plots.  Ideally, planting could happen as soon as the weekend of May 1st, but tilling is very dependent on dry weather so opening weekend could instead be May 8th or May 15th.  I’ll post an update again in a week.

2021 Plot Assignments and Available Plots

If you’ve not had a chance to look yet, I posted plot assignments early this week.  We have several plots available, including two half plots, and I’ll be working on ‘infill’ to rent out the remaining plots towards the center of the garden.  I’ll update plot assignments about every week between now and the end of May, or until all available plots are rented.

More plots available and plot assignments

More Cedar Falls Community Garden plots are now available, but I’ll be pausing the release of any new 10 X 20 ‘half plots’ until mid-April when I can reassess the overall space in the garden and the city’s progress on repairing or replacing the water main/water supply (so 10 X 40 plots, which are two adjoining 10 X 20 plots, are available).  If you have purchased a plot this I’ll be adding the plot assignments by the weekend of April 10th and 11th.  

2021 garden plots available on March 15th

I’m pleased to announce that garden plots are available for all Cedar Falls residents starting on March 15th.  Thanks for everyone’s patience for the late start this winter/spring.  As those of you know who gardened here last year, we had not one but two water main breaks and I didn’t want to issue an open call for plots until I found out if the repair/replacement work would take several plots out of commission or not.  The good news is, and thank you to our city colleagues, the main will be repaired or replaced in the next few weeks, well in advance of the growing season.  As you reserve plots this year, please note that we will have a limited number of half plots (10 X 20 for $25) available compared to past years and I expect the demand for half plots will exceed supply.  So please reserve early if you want a half plot; we have plenty of full plots to rent out.

New CF Community Gardens Manager

Hi gardeners, my name is Alex Oberle and I am the new Community Gardens of Cedar Falls manager for 2021.  I want to thank former managers Peg Keller and John Smith for the assistance that they have provided to help me transition into this role over the past few months.  I’ve gardened at the community gardens since the very first year it was established, typically renting a full plot and growing both vegetables and flowers, especially tomatoes and winter squash.  My wife and I have a big backyard garden too, but every year that goes by there is more shade and we’ve had to transition some of those raised beds back to lawn due to lack of sunlight.  I look forward to meeting all of you.  Please always feel free to email me with any questions or concerns at cedarfallscommunitygardens at