WHAT IS A COMMUNITY GARDEN?
Every community garden is as unique as the people that garden in them. Community gardens are gardens that are voluntarily maintained by community members. Community gardens bring together people of diverse backgrounds with a shared interest in gardening and the production of good food in an environmentally responsible way. Since 1999, York University affiliates and the surrounding community have been working together to create something positive and beautiful in one of the Keele campus’ best kept secrets. This year will be no exception!
WHAT IS ORGANIC GARDENING?
At the Maloca Community Garden site we believe in and practice organic gardening, but what exactly does that mean? The simple answer is that organic gardeners don’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their plants. However, gardening organically is much more than what you don’t do. Organic agriculture involves a set of growing practices that increase soil and ecosystem health and biodiversity. When you garden organically, you think of your plants as a part of a whole system within nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife and even insects. An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with natural systems.
HOW DO I CONTROL WEEDS WITHOUT HERBICIDES?
In a word, mulch! Blanket the ground around your plants with degradable material such as shredded leaves, straw, dry grass clippings, wood or bark chips. The layer of mulch will block light from reaching the weeds and stop or slow their growth. Mulch also conserves moisture and builds your soil as it decomposes. Weeding may seem like an endless battle when you first start your garden, but if you diligently remove the weeds from the roots your garden will be easier to maintain.
HOW DO I CONTROL INSECTS WITHOUT PESTICIDES?
We certainly understand that many gardeners become anxious when they see pests on their plants and are determined to react when they see their plants damaged. However, we must remind you of the central principle of organic gardening: growing plants in harmony with nature. Insects, even those that eat your plants, are a crucial part of the system. When you see insects in your garden, take some time to watch what they are doing. Are they actually destroying the plant, or just nibbling it a bit? Many plants can outgrow major damage. The best defense against insect attacks are preventative measures. Consider some of these tips:
- grow plants that are well-suited to the site and the climate, so they will be less stressed out and vulnerable
- encourage beneficial natural predators, such as ladybugs, birds and frogs, to hunt in your garden and control the pest insects by eating them
- barriers such as row covers or netting can be placed in your garden to protect crops from pests
- sticky traps are another way to minimize your pest problems without harming other living things
- essential oils, onions, garlic and/or hot pepper sprays also work well against many pests
If you have any additional questions, tips, comments, etc. – leave ’em here!
P.S. On Saturday, April 30TH, 2011 approximately 25 volunteers came to Maloca’s Spring Clean-Up! Come on down to the garden to see how the space has been transformed! Visit out FACEBOOK page to check out the pictures.