I need some help planning a community garden

JeffOwensJanuary 16, 2014

I am not a gardener. I am a landlord who recently acquired a 20 unit apartment complex on 3.5 acres of land and have been approached by three of my tenants about allowing them to use some of the land for a garden. I like keeping my tenants happy as I don't like turnover so try to accommodate little requests that don't break the bank.

I was thinking about putting up a picket fence in a rectangle and having two rows of 10 4x4 "sq foot gardens" (total of 20 raised beds) each separated by 3 feet and also having 3 feet between the raised beds and the fence to allow for plenty of room to move around them. I was going to kill the grass in the area and put down landscaping fabric around all the raised beds and bring in pea gravel to put down on top to keep my mowing crew from having to mow inside the fenced off area.

I was going to assign each raised bed to an apartment number. I realize that a single 4x4 raised bed is not a lot of space, but I also realize that not all of my tenants are going to want to garden and those who want more space can knock on a door get to know thier neighbor and ask if they can use thier plot if they need more space.

I also happen to be putting new roofs on all the buildings and will have the gutters of one of the larger roofs routed so that the water all flows to a bank of rain barrels. from there PVC will be run underground to a faucet in the garden area. Water will flow via gravity to the faucet.

I do have two springs on the property and can alternatively pump water from there if that would be cheaper and easier than the rain barrels. I just wanted to avoid the recurring electric expense if possible.

Since I am not a gardener and know next to nothing about gardening other than I like to grow some tomatoes from time to time, I thought I would post here to find out whats wrong with my idea and how I can improve upon it before I build it.

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There is nothing wrong with your idea. There will though as with any project be things that come up that will need attention such as I see a possible headache for you if a tenant decides to take back a plot that another is using our community garden does 10 x 10 foot plots and you may consider doing the same. Also you will need a couple compost bins and our garden and my home one is made of simple pallets. Will you provide a shed for tools? Will you have a hose for dry spells? Look for rules for a community garden and consider having a contract for use of your plots as neglected plots can become an eye sore that you will end up having to care for yourself. I am not trying to discourage you as it would be wonderful for you to allow gardening and it would only improve your land. You will also want to consider if you want to allow perennials as some are quite aggressive and will take over, run out of control and even can kill other plants. Mint is one that I would not plant again myself. If your not sure you may require special permission or avoid them all together.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 6:09PM
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