A Garden of Ideas

I love to visit our local community gardens a couple of times each year because the gardeners are so creative. I always come home with ideas and inspiration. There will be several things I want to grow, build and try. Today’s visit to Emerson Community Garden was no exception. Check out the simple watering solution for this oak barrel garden. Many of the gardeners don’t get to their plots every day. A simple inverted soda bottle can save your crop on an exceptionally hot day.

One plot in particular was a wealth of ‘must build’ items. A delightful gardener named Susan told me that this plot belonged to Ernie who is the star gardener of their group. Like many community gardens, ECG is completely open and people come and go as they please. This can be a problem if you want to have some gardening tools on hand for they have a habit of disappearing. Ernie’s solution is the beautiful storage locker. The top is covered with roofing asphalt paper and sloped to keep water from settling. The pretty red stain weatherproofs it and makes it pretty.¬† A simple combo lock means your tools are safely stored until you need them. I honestly wouldn’t mind a storage bin like this in my yard.


Ernie also had a great solution for birds nibbling crops. The top portion of these raised beds are covered by a frame of pvc pipe over which he has hung some bird netting. I’ve seen the pvc trick before. But look closely at the top section of board and you will see a little knob. The top section lifts up. How much easier is that than pulling off and re-securing the netting each time you need to work the bed? The entire portion could be removed when no longer needed I suppose. One could also use poultry netting if squirrels or rabbits were a problem.
Not only is this gardener a builder but he seems to really know his stuff. Susan told me she had been gone for a few weeks and all of this was new. We marveled at how far along his plants were compared to other gardens. She told me that before she left Ernie was growing some sort of groundcover over his bed that he was going to till in. “A cover crop,” I thought. I must make it a point to meet this Ernie. I think I could¬† learn few things.

And last my favorite concept at the community garden, the concept of sharing. I saw this little bag hanging from a fence with the attached note offering up sunflowers seeds to share and an offer to refill it once it was empty. I would have to say one of the best things about community gardens is the sharing that takes place. At Emerson you can see that has been going on for a long time which is evidenced by the irises you will find in almost every bed now. Some of which are already in bloom. Isn’t it lovely?

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4 comments for “A Garden of Ideas

  1. sue
    at 6:56 am

    Kat is there a problem this season (already?!) with cucumber beetles? Any ideas on organic control? People I’ve heard harrowing tales from are in SLO.

    • Kat
      at 9:54 am

      I haven’t heard of problems with cucumber beetles in Nipomo, but that they are seeing them in parts of SLO doesn’t surprise me. It was always a challenge at the nursery to hide the Dahlias from the beetles. I’ve researched organic controls in the past and they aren’t great. But a couple to try are this. One recommendation was to plant a big strip of yellow marigolds away from the garden to draw them away. Fine Gardening once recommended planting icicle radishes as a companion to cucumber & squash as they are supposed to be a deterrent. Row covers were also recommended but then you have to try and pollinate by hand. One thing that growers use is a vacuum with a tube attachment to suck the beetles up. I’m thinking that some sort of screening over the tube that was big enough to let the beetles in but small enough as to not suck in the leaves would be good.
      One of the things I always recommend is to get away from row planting. Monocultures bring along their own set up problems. When you plant a big patch of anything, it’s like putting out a nice big tray of a particular bug’s favorite food. Make them work for it. Don’t plant squash and cucumbers right next to each other. Mix some herbs in between.

      • at 4:53 am

        Yall might wanna leave a few weeds.
        Cucumber bugs are crazy for pigweed (amaranth sp.) and leave the rest of my garden alone.

        Beautiful community garden, How long is the waiting list for new members? I’ve had friends write me about the difficulty of joining those gardens.

        • Kat
          at 5:51 am

          Not sure of the exact time it take to get a plot, a good plot that is. They have some plots that are in less desirable locations that seems to have a good turnover. It seems like most of the others have had the same folks for years.

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