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Time to review:how did your garden grow?

Published: Thu, November 2, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Thresea Harris

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

We’re here to help you grow, and to help you help your garden grow. So, how did it go this summer? Were you successful? Were you frustrated? Did you complete your goals of growing your own food or helping others grow food?

Either way, being part of our summer program can help you improve your garden and meet your goals. For next year’s growing season, we’ll be offering some winter programs to help gardens get started, in addition to our summer tour series.

Local Flavor is our community garden program here in Youngstown. This urban farms and community garden summer tour series meets every Monday in the summer to help gardeners and gardens be more successful. Over the last six years, we’ve worked to help people be better at growing – one garden at a time. No matter the size, every garden in the city and beyond is important to us.

A community garden can be anywhere from a square foot gardening above the ground and on the ground, to a garden and orchard combination. We’ve also helped with raised beds on concrete built with cement blocks. Now that’s an innovative way to grow your own food.

We have about 16 gardens in our program that have hosted or participate each week. Last year, more than 300 gardeners joined us to learn and share their successes. These gardens are all located within the city of Youngstown. Information is shared on everything from disease control to efficient watering. We stay until every question is answered. We use all our resources to solve your problems.

Outside of the program, gardeners can use the plant clinic at the OSU Extension Office, Canfield, on Mondays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m to noon.

We want to help community gardens be successful for the health of our city and the health of our neighborhoods. Anyone can start a community garden, but by following a few tips and sharing together, we can all have successful community gardens in the city.

A community garden is a collaborative project on shared open spaces. Participants share in the maintenance and products of the garden. This includes healthful and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. Gardens may also offer physical and mental health benefits by providing opportunities for volunteers. Raised beds and other features can help the gardens be accessible to anyone who wants to garden.

A community garden must be planned. It must have willing volunteers, and a dedicated leader. The site requires permission, lots of sunlight and a soil test before the season begins. Planning begins now, not in May. From garden bed sizes to finding resources and the best seeds, planning is a must.

I believe that a successful garden depends on several things:

1. Soil that you plan to grow in,

2. Selection of the best plants you wish to grow.

3. Spacing of plants after you get them to provide proper air flow.

4. The most important thing - weed control.

You can control the weeds by using mulch, newspaper, shredded paper, or even black plastic. Controlling weeds early keeps the garden from being a chore, and keeps spirits high as the fruits of your labor are harvested by you and your neighbors.

We’ll share more in the early winter about opportunities for 2018 with your garden and school gardens in the city. We hope you’ll join us to learn more.

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