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Organic veggies on the cheap--sharing a great find!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Has anyone looked to see if their community rents garden plots for the summer?  When I lived in NJ, some communities did it but the plots were small.  I relocated to IL and would die to live on a farm, but landed in a cookie-cutter community with lots less than 1/4 acre and HEAVILY restricted.  My realtor suggested looking for community plots and offered up some neighboring towns that have them, but turns out that my own town has HUGE (20'x30') lots and still has them available with no max on how many you can sign up for... $15/each for the summer!  :O

 

HOLY MOLY!!!  I was ready to literally dance in my kitchen!!!!

 

IT. IS. NOT. AS. HARD. AS. YOU. THINK!!!!!  Seriously!!!!  I've given talks to my local HMN chapters about getting started gardening and everyone is always surprised how it's not as complicated as you think!

 

If you consider doing this (or doing it in your yard), just some tips:

 

1. Start with three veggies and make sure they are things you eat often.  Even I get sucked into the whole "Man, I'd love to eat more X--let me grow that!" but I PROMISE you that is not the way to start!

 

2. Some simple stuff to start with are beans, lettuce, zucchini, and tomatoes.

 

3. Get some good guides. There are 4 I would recommend having on hand.  Square Foot Gardening (will show you how to use your space to get the most yield from it plus how much to plant for how many peopel, etc.), The Vegetable Gardeners Bible by Smith (not great for wide row method, but other good method ideas and excellent info on companion planting and what NOT to plant stuff near for veggies),  and the last two are (believe it or not) from Ortho:  Home Gardener's Problem Solver (AWESOME--with pictures of what the issues look like) and All About Vegetables (also great!)

 

Hopefully this will inspire some of you to reduce your food bill a bit!  If you plant too much of your stuff, remember you can preserve it for the cold season!  :D

post #2 of 8

So let me ask you some questions, since I happen to have deduced that we live in the same city....what you do about the issue that there is no water available on-site? I realize that the currently-available plots are new and therefore have hopefully not been horribly chemically-treated, but what do you do about chemical fertilizer, herbicides/pesticides being used on nearby plots or from year-to-year as you get a new plot(s)?

 

I have TONS of seedlings that I started or from Angelic (I know that you did them last year, not sure if you're doing them this year, but they've already offered 400 free seedlings per shareholder so far this season with more to come as part of their increasing "share the bounty" initiative). Anyway, I'd love to grow more of what I have, but I don't have the space however the above questions prevent me from taking the leap to community plots. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

post #3 of 8

When I was at a community garden I did have problems with other peoples pesticides.  I mean they are dusting in the next plot.  I did not consider my veggies organic.  I also had a huge issue with pests because other people were dusting and the bugs would just move in to my plot.  However it was way better than not having a garden.  

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well, you and the next plot owner are supposed to leave a walking path at the perimeter of your respective plots.  I'm figuring that even if it's just 12" on either side, that's 2' total from my stuff.  I'm sure all the plots will eventually be taken, but I managed to snag two with no neighbors except at two corners.  I have no delusions that the soil will be completely organic, but the majority of my fruit will be untouched by additional pesticides best I can.

 

It's not perfect.  But it IS cheaper than buying your own produce (organic or not) from the store.  As for the water, I honestly have no problem wheeling my cooler out there and hooking a hose up to it to water as needed although I'd love to have something better.  I wondered if there was water out there (assumed there wasn't).  I do square foot gardening and I'm going to try to grow all my viney things upward to reduce the space I need to water, too.

 

Where are you?!?!

 

And no, we didn't do Angelic this year.  We're doing Green Earth Institute and Prairie Heritage (they're doing a pickup at 75th St. WF).

post #5 of 8

We're not far from the big outlet mall. I'd love to hear about your experience with the Green Earth and Prairie Heritage CSAs. We've done Erehwon and Lamb of G-d Farm in the past prior to going with Angelic and I like AO the best of the three by far but I don't know a whole lot about the 2 that you mentioned.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamatoto2 View Post

We're not far from the big outlet mall. I'd love to hear about your experience with the Green Earth and Prairie Heritage CSAs. We've done Erehwon and Lamb of G-d Farm in the past prior to going with Angelic and I like AO the best of the three by far but I don't know a whole lot about the 2 that you mentioned.



Well, to be honest, I don't know anything about the two I'm doing this year, either!  It's our first year doing this one.  We probably would've done AO again except that the only opening left was DG and I seriously cannot haul out there every week again.  Wheaton was already full.  *sigh*  But I'll keep you posted for sure.  My son is attending a camp at Green Earth this summer to learn about life on an organic farm (he's 7yo) and I'm hoping it's awesome.  They're in Naperville on Knocks Knoll.  Heritage Prairie is hosting an "Outstanding in the Field" dinner that I would kill to go to (we would only be able to afford for one of us to go, but I would) but it's sold out.  :(  They're up in LaFox.

post #7 of 8

We're in a community garden.  We pay $60 for the year for a 4x8 plot.  Ours is no pesticides allowed.  It is only in its 2nd year, and it's on the site of a house that was flooded and condemned, so not exactly pristine land, but not terrible.  I'm okay with it, but we also have raised beds, so our stuff mostly grows in that new dirt.

post #8 of 8

OMG! Thanks for posting this. I was told last year by a neighbor that one of her neighbors runs a community garden, but I never followed up. I just did a search, and not only are there several gardens in my town, there is one IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. How awesome is that???

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