Gardening Guidelines and Procedures

PCG Gardening Guidelines and Procedures

These guidelines and procedures cover gardening practices in the Putney Community Garden. They have been developed by the Governing Committee over a period of years.

Since these are very public gardens, every effort is made to have the plots all look attractive and neat. The owners of the land request that no sheds, furniture, tool boxes, baskets, pots, buckets, bags, or trash be left on the property. Any permanent structures, i.e. poles, trellises, or arches, need to be attractive.

Garden Coordinators oversee compliance with Guidelines and Procedures. The Coordinators advise gardeners and respond to questions and concerns.


Organic Principles

  • Organic Gardening is our practice because it builds the soil and keeps both the environment and our bodies healthy. Therefore, we ask that gardeners;
  • Use only non-GMO seeds and sets;
  • Use only organic fertilizers, soil amendments and compost, and apply only natural or plant-based pest controls;
  • Control pests by hand-picking or by removing affected plants altogether. All pest-ridden or diseased plants are to be bagged and removed from the Garden so as to minimize the spread of pests and disease;
  • Notify a garden coordinator about pests, disease, invasive weeds, or other issues that may affect the larger community.

Good Neighbor Ethic

Please show respect for your fellow gardeners and the entire garden by observing the following guidelines:

  • Enter, harvest, or work in another’s plot only by invitation or with task-specific permission;
  • Sow seeds and plant sets, keeping in mind their mature size and growth habit so that the paths will remain clear as the season progresses;
  • Plant considerately so that tall plants and trellises will not shade a neighboring garden plot;
  • Keep paths around plots clear of weeds, gardening tools, and trash.

The Garden’s Tools and Materials

Tools, carts, and buckets are supplied for your shared use. The small carts are useful as weeding receptacles, and for transporting manure, compost, etc. Please return the empty carts, tools, and buckets to their proper places near the hoop house or compost bins when you have finished.

Wood chips are the prime path-building material. Manure and chopped leaves are available to all gardeners as a soil amendment.

Watering Your Plot

The PCG water system is precious. It is usually available from approximately June 1st to November 1st. The Coop allows us to access its water, and the PCG pays annually for water for all the plots in the Garden.

Please help us save water by:

  • Promptly reporting any leaks, broken hoses or wands, or other problems in the water system to a Coordinator;
  • Handling the hoses and wands with care. They are fragile and should be stored out of the path;
  • Mulching your garden and watering during the cooler times of the day. This will help your plants stay cool and save water;
  • Spraying hot water from sun-heated hoses into a bucket to cool, and save for later use;
  • Watering plants at their roots near ground level, allows for deeper watering than spraying from above the plants;
  • Ensuring that running hoses are not left unattended in your plot or while filling buckets.

Weeding and Mulching Your Plot*

Weeding and weed deterrence are essential, both in the plots and the garden paths. Please consider the following throughout the gardening season:

  • Weeds can be discouraged by applying mulch, and cultivating around the base of plants. Acceptable mulches are seed-free straw and mulch hay, black plastic, seaweed, newspaper, leaf mulch, and non-printed cardboard with plastic tape removed;
  • Weeds are to be removed before they go to seed to keep them from spreading to neighboring plots;
  • Most weeds can go into the compost bins, however knotweed and grass need to be discarded in a designated area. Please look for a designating sign or ask a Coordinator where to put them.

* See also The Water System on the last page

The Garden Season

The traditional season begins on Memorial Day and ends on Columbus Day, and even though the growing season may be extended, we encourage gardeners to make their plots ready for winter before cold weather arrives. Please be mindful that:

  • In the spring, gardeners can begin preparing their plots and planting as soon as the soil is workable;
  • Gardeners should begin tending, weeding and/or maintaining their plot(s) by June 15th;
  • In order to keep weeds under control and conserve water, mulching is suggested whenever a section of a plot is unplanted;
  • To prevent disease, please pull up all annual plants as they die back;
  • At the end of the gardening season (and before snow cover or a hard freeze), please compost all dead plants and remove from the Garden all non-plant materials (trellises, fencing, and other plant supports; string, wire, wood, metal, plastic, row covers, etc.). Please compost dead plants;
  • All gardeners are either to plant a winter cover crop or rake the plot(s) flat at the end of the season. Mulches such as chopped leaves or straw/hay are suggested for winter protection;
  • Plants such as kale may be left if they continue to be harvestable, but must be cut to ground level when they are no longer productive.


The Compost System

The availability of plant materials in the Garden allows for on-site composting, thereby turning garden biomass into an excellent soil amendment. Bins on the east and west sides of the Garden will be marked with the following signs to guide you: “New Compost Here,“ “Compost Cooking,” and “Compost Available.” Other instructions may be posted.

When using compost in your plot, please take it only from the bins labeled “Compost Available.”

When adding garden matter to the bins, it is important to follow the basic layering formula to ensure proper decomposition.

How to add:

Alternate layers of green and brown, each about 3 inches thick.

green: fresh plant matter, not yet dried

brown: soil, dead leaves, dried plants, or dried weeds, manure, soil

What to add:

Plant matter, including leaves, flowers (except those of weeds), stems smaller than your thumb; and rejected fruits and vegetables.

What not to add:

Wood chips, weeds in flower or weeds that have gone to seed; knotweed, grass clumps or mint with roots. Also, look for the designated area to put the highly invasive knotweed so it will dry out.

Stems larger than your thumb can be placed in a pile at one end of the compost bins. Weeds and weed seeds, along with knotweed roots should be placed in a designated spot to be burned. Please look for signs indicating their proper disposal site.

The Water System

As a general rule, only two people are able to water simultaneously, otherwise there will be inadequate water pressure. Please either limit watering time or communicate with fellow gardeners when more than two nozzles are to be used at the same time.

Please help us care for the watering system by:

Placing delicate wands out of the path where they won’t be trampled;

Remembering to drain your hose after each use so it won’t burst in the hot sun. This is done by first turning off the supply leading to your wand at the nearest “Y” and then releasing the pressure from the hose end by turning the wand back on and, once drained, turning both wand valves (one at the hose, and one on the wand) to the “off” position;

Checking if you are the last one watering in the garden at day’s end and shutting both the gate valve (the ground-level, green lever on the fixture located at the Garden’s northeast corner) and the wall valve at the Coop’s main faucet on the west wall. Ensuring the entire water system has been turned off at the end of each day will prevent costly water leaks.