The gardens are ready to go. This morning, John, Deb and I (mostly John) got the hoses set up and measured and marked all the plots. So what does each marker mean??
The plots have grown over the years. We didn’t check widths but the plots vary from maybe 9 1/2 to 11 feet wide. And the plots are now 20 1/2 to 21 foot long. The pink flags we put out on the north and south ends of the plots not only identify the plot, it sets the maximum boundaries. In some rows, the tiller went a little past but that happens with big machinery. So please, don’t plant past the pink flags. Plus, if you dig more than 2 or 3 inches deep in that runout area, you hit hard dirt!!
Most of the gardens this year seem to be double plots but we still have a few single plots. The dividing line between plots are also marked with a pink flag.
When you put up fences, set them inside the plot 3 or 4 inches so you can keep a clean hoe line on the outside of the fence and we can get the mower right up to the fence.
The Middle Aisle
We placed stakes and twine to mark the six foot center aisle that must be kept clear for hoses and walking. Those also serve as boundaries. We’ll take them down once you get your gardens in and/or fences up.
One Plot Left
We still have on 10 by 20 plot left for ‘late’ gardeners. It can be reserved on the Reserve a Plot Page.
Not Quite Open
The tilling was done Monday and Tuesday but the ground is wet and cool and with rain forecast, we’re really not open. A miscommunication means an extra row was tilled on the east and several on the west. We’ll be putting those into grass once it stops raining. I did stick out the pink flags in case anyone drives by and wants an early peek but we won’t be measuring the plots until Friday.
The tiller also ran through the middle aisle so that need to be re-marked. The aisle is to provide easy access to the hoses by all gardeners and to help prevent damage to middle row gardens. We’d like to mulch this middle ground between plots B and C with wood chips but we need lots of help to get that done. Email us if you can help or know someone who can.
Fences and Mowing
The mower reminds gardeners that he needs you to set fences inside the plot line 3 or four inches so he can run the mower there. Remember, you are responsible for weeds to the edge of your plot. Leaving a narrow border outside the fence is easy hoeing for you and a margin for the mower. Also, don’t plant in that narrow margin outside your fence.
For those without fencing, keep your plants inside by that same margins.
Also bird netting as not to be used for fencing. It does not stay taut and can ruin the mower. If used as a cover, the netting must be set back inside the garden edge or be at least a foot above ground level.
The gardens should be open next weekend. We have one plot still available.
Still Taking Reservations
We have 8 plots left if you want to garden this summer. So reserve your plot now!
Plot Numbers Changing
We were unable to do the total tilling we had hoped to do so we’ll be using the old layout and plots. We are renumbering them this year starting at the east end and going west.. We are eliminating one row on the east end of the gardens and several additional rows on the west. We need to consolidate to keep maintenance costs down.
We’ve tried to keep folks in the same plots as last year but we had to move a few people. The plot assignment page will show the new numbering system and will be active in the next couple of days.
The City hopes to till the plots this Friday – in between this weeks rain and next weeks rain. We’ll announce when that happens! But it will likely be too cool and wet to plant for a few more days. While you wait, take the time to review the garden rules and get your new plants acclimated.
The reserve plots link is up and running. The cost this year will be the same as last year–$25 for individuals and $12.50 for non-profits. We hope that the opening date for planting will be Saturday, May 11th. However, since the city tills the gardens for us any start date depends on the weather. We will keep you informed as things progress
Once we have reservations coming in, we will update the plot assignment page for 2019.
We have an early registration for a garden plot for 2019 so it’s time to do an update!
We usually don’t take registrations until April or so but we understand your eagerness to get started.
We are doing some renovations this year. The City of Cedar Falls will plow up the entire area this spring and we are still working on a new layout. We will likely put 4 plots together with a six foot pathway between each set and may modify plot sizes. This reduces mowing edges for the mower and fencing for those with multiple plots. Pricing may change so we’d appreciate if you wait until we get the new configuration drawn up to reserve and pay or there maybe be an additional charge. Also we will give priority to Cedar Falls gardeners first and then others if space remains.
So welcome aboard for another year May we stay high and dry!
At the back east end of garden looking west towards downtown.
The final flood crest was about 95.6. Higher than forecast and a lot higher than the one we had in early September though the original forecasts were about the same. The Cedar River is a capricious spirit!!
Anyway, the flood water filled in Lincoln Street in front of the gardens and lapped into the front gardens and also filled in from the back side and lapped into the back gardens. Any low spots filled with flood and/or ground water.
If you planned to carve, not eat, your pumpkins, you should be able to give them a quick scrub and still use them for decorations But Extension tells us you should not eat anything even potentially contaminated by flood waters.
The compost facility will probably be closed off a few more days as the water recedes so you won’t be able to haul your garden debris over there until the end of the week or so. As we indicated in the last email, no debris piles on site allowed. We’ll be shutting down by November 1st so clean up needs to be done by then
It’s fall. Time to enjoy those squash and melons, any fall crops you planted and it’s also time to start clean up on your garden space.
As always we encourage gardeners to take their garden debris to the compost facility just over on East Main. No debris piles are allowed near the gardens. If you can’t haul it to the compost facility, please dump it in the tall grass at the far back of the property. There is a small strip of grass nearer on the east end. This is NOT a dumping area. Carry it to the far back grass strip.
Failure to clear your garden plot of all fencing and plants or improper dumping means you will not be able to rent a plot again next year.
We plan to have the water turned off on November 1st. If you are still babying along some Kale (it loves a little frost) or other fall plantings, you will have to bring in your own water.
Finally, the flood forecast is 95.2 on Sunday morning. This may close down the compost facility for a day or two but should leave the garden above water (knock on wood). Last flood ended up being a foot below it’s forecast of 95.4.
But this morning, it looks as high as the last flood and rising fairly quickly. I was out at the compost facility several times and they are closing the bike trails back there since they were already under water. I could see the increase in water every time I drove in. I also saw some barriers and road signs on standby in a few areas of town.
Just a heads up It’s easier to take down fences BEFORE it floods.
Getting Maximum Mileage From Your Garden
Every year we comment about the changes in weather patterns and the impact on our gardens. Just yesterday, we were discussing the late frost dates we have had the last few years. So will that help us get a few more miles from our gardens this year??
Did you know?
Several vegetables can be planted in late summer for a fall crop. For a fall crop, plant beets, carrots, Swiss chard, kohlrabi and kale in early to mid-August, plant leaf lettuce and spinach in late August to early September and plant radishes from mid- to late September.
Due to hot, dry soil conditions, seed germination in late summer is often rather poor. To promote seed germination, plant fall vegetables when the soil is moist after a rain, sow the seeds slightly deeper than spring plantings and lightly water the row after the seeds have been sown.
Lettuce seeds are sensitive to extreme heat. To achieve good lettuce seed germination, check the weather forecast and sow the seeds when a prolonged period of mild weather is predicted.
How to tell if your melons and squash are ready to pick.
For melons, there are two almost-sure ways to tell if the melon is at peak. Melons
will ripen after picking, but not get sweeter and when they have been left too
long, the texture becomes unpleasant, so it’s good to pick them at the perfect
- Smell the melon. Gently pick it up from the vine and smell the blossom end- that
is, the end opposite the vine. It should smell like ripe melons. You will
recognize it when it’s there.
- Look at the vine where it connects to the fruit. It should have slippage- that
is, when the melon is ripe, it comes off the vine easily (for most varieties).
Watermelons will have a vine that has started to dry out and the tendril leaves
nearest the end of the fine will be brown like an autumn leaf. Watermelons also
will have a yellow spot on the side that rests on the ground. If the spot is
creamy or white, it’s not ready. If your melon is squishy or cracked, it should be harvested immediately.
Summer squash like zucchini is best picked at about 6 inches or after the blossom has died off. The bigger it gets, the more at risk you are for a seedy, woody textured squash.
Winter squash like butternut or acorns, are best when you are able to push against it with a fingernail and not have the fingernail leave a mark. The skin will be hard for most winter squash (Delicata is an exception, it’s skin remains thin). The skin will have lost it’s gloss and the vine will be dry.
Photos from Peg Keller
As some of you know, we’ve had a problem in the past with people who do not garden at the community garden harvesting other people’s produce. Yesterday, two men approached a garden committee member who was out working her garden and asked “When the sweet corn would be ready?”
After spending some time talking to them, it became clear that they thought, like others have in the past, “Community Gardens” means “a garden for the community to share”.
A Community Garden is a publicly owned area made available to individuals who have no where else to garden. Local Community members are able to rent a plot each year. Each buys their own plants and seeds and cares for their individual plot. The plot and it’s produce are the property of the individual gardener.
The rent money is spent on general upkeep for common areas within the gardens and to provide water for the plots..
We know how frustrating it can be to have something you’ve been growing vanish overnight. There will be a new sign in the garden soon urging people to not pick anything they did not plant. We will encourage anyone interested in gardening to get a plot next spring and list the website on the sign.
In the next couple weeks, our gardens will be at their peak. If you are too busy to pick your produce, or just cannot use it, let us know. Please do not let your veggies rot on the vine. We will be happy to harvest your unwanted produce and bring it to the NE Iowa Food Bank.