Garden Activities

Vamos trees SW

List of activities that garden members and non-member volunteers can do:

Please follow signage, labeling, and instructions—where not provided or shown, please ask other garden members.

Please practice social distancing (at least 6 feet away from others) and wear a mask when visiting the garden. Thank you.

Resources/references linked in this page:
Garden Layout page (designs, renderings, and sun study diagram).

  • Litter picking (cleaning up trash from inside and in front of the garden, and in street tree pits).
    • Do not leave trash in the garden, even in a closed bag or container.
    • Take trash out to the corner (12th St & Ave B):
      • If small amount of trash, place in the trash receptacle (if the nearby corner trash bin is full, try any of the other 3 corner trash bins).
      • If large amount of trash, place in black trash bag and put the trash bag next to the corner trash receptacle. (Black trash bags should be available in the garden – ask a garden member if you can’t find any. We receive a free box of black trash bags from GreenThumb, which they offer every year.)
    • Use the litter picking tool (which we also get from GreenThumb).
    • You can collect trash in a bucket and either empty it into the black trash bags (if doing multiple collections), or empty it directly into the corner trash bin.
    • Do not throw away organic matter (leaves, branches, dead plants, etc.) unless …
      • unless it’s mixed in with a lot of other trash,
      • or if it has dog waste on it (leaves from the sidewalk can be put into the street tree pits, especially if you suspect/smell dog urine on them; otherwise, most sidewalk leaves should be brought into the garden and be spread out as ground cover).
    • Only pick plastics (candy wrappers, cups, lids, straws, etc.), metals (bottle caps, cans, old nails, etc.), glass, and mixed materials (glass + wood + plastic + metal) to throw out.
  • Rat harassment
    • Destroy rat burrows/rat holes. If gravel (purchased in bags) is available, fill the holes with the gravel (rats do not like digging in gravel).
    • Keep areas clear and clean where rats can hide behind.
    • Keep bins and containers away from the walls, at least 2 feet away, so rats don’t have easy cover to hide and dig holes.
  • Mosquito prevention
    • Mosquitos can breed in just a bottle cap of water.
    • Empty out any pooling of water.
    • Overturn any lid, cover, or material (tarp, canvas, etc.) if rain water pools on them.
  • Tools organizing and maintenance
    • Rust prevention. Keep tools dry in bins, containers, or part of the garden protected from direct rain.
    • Scrub off any dirt on the tools.
    • Organize all tools into their appropriate storage location.
    • Notify the garden steering committee of any broken tools, tools that break while in use, of any tools that’s missing, or of tools we need to get for the garden.
  • Hand-mulching
    • Mulch (cut into small pieces) pruned plants, plant clippings, dead plants, and small branches. Large branches can be trimmed and used for other purposes, including bed border buffers, for growing mushrooms, or for soil prep uses.
    • Depending on plant-matter size (plants, thick plants, branches), use a hand pruner, loper, or hand saw (if available)—ask other garden members if you can’t find the tool(s) you need.
    • Put/drop the small pieces onto walking paths (that’s not paved; over dirt paths only); larger pieces that may be harder to walk on (such as thick pieces of branches even if they’re only an inch long) put them in non-walking common areas, such as around trees.
  • Ground cover managing:
    • Raking and spreading fall leaves:
      • over dirt paths, this prevents muddy paths after rain, and prevents dusty conditions if no rain for awhile.
      • over dirt around and between plants, keeps moisture in the soil, which keeps beneficial organisms working in the soil to feed the plants (microorganisms, worms, soil insects), and minimizes the need to constantly water or prevent plants from dying too quickly from a fast-drying soil.
      • Ground cover keeps moisture in the soil which is necessary for all kinds of small organisms to flourish (microorganisms) which feed larger organisms (worms, soil insects), and they feed the birds.
    • Allowing certain beneficial ground cover plants to grow, including ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Appalachian Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides), Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica), etc.
  • Weeding
    • Only paths, both dirt and paved paths, should be kept clear of weeds.
    • These cut weeds should be hand-mulched and left on the path as ground cover.
    • Weeds in other areas: if in garden plots, it is the responsibility of the member assigned that plot; if in common areas, consult with other garden members since certain plants which may be considered as weeds are actually beneficial, for example, as ground cover (see Ground cover managing, above), as nutrient source and balance for other plants we do want, and for other properties (some weeds are edible and/or attracts beneficial insects, etc.).
  • Planting
    • Vamos A Sembrar created a vision for the garden (see the garden design), and part of actualizing the vision involves various planting projects, which may include donated potted plants (see below) and planting work days (see below that).
    • Refer to the Sun Study diagram for where sun and shade are throughout the garden: Sun Study diagram | Close-up view.
    • If there are potted plants, that seem to be recent arrivals, they may need to be planted as soon as possible—consult with other garden members before planting them (for location and timing).
    • There are several opportunities to plant in the garden (fall, spring, and summer). Planting work days (“Garden Work Day”) will be posted on the website and on the garden gate when plantings are scheduled.
  • Watering (April – October) – Consult with other garden members for instructions on hydrant use and/or rain barrel filling. Always use the backflow prevention device (a small 1-inch brass device that fits between the cap-hose connector that goes onto the hydrant and the garden hose)—this device prevents water from going back into the hydrant which is water that goes to people’s apartment (the typical garden hose is not consider acceptable for drinking water due to how they are manufactured; also, they are not cleaned out after every use, so in the water that stays in the hose grows mold, bacteria, and other organisms [insects, spiders, slugs, etc.] may end up inside the hose).
    • Do not water other people’s allotted/assigned areas (mainly, raised beds) without their instructions.
    • Consult other garden members where you can water and to avoid over-watering areas where others may have already watered. There are some plants that require lots of water, while there are other plants that do not do well with regular watering and thrive with only occasional watering.
  • Harvesting — consult other garden members regarding harvesting from any part of the garden (see fruit harvesting below), especially if the fruit or vegetable is in a member’s assigned plot.
    • Members with assigned plots may need assistance with harvesting, or targeted harvesting, since harvesting is important for several reasons, and the garden member may not always be on top of the harvesting. Coordinate a schedule of when you may be allowed to harvest and how much, including readiness, ripeness, etc.
    • Reasons to stay on top of harvesting: for the plant to continue to produce; plants may also bolt (go to seed and stop growing) or wither if ready-to-harvest/ripe fruit/leafy greens are also let to wither/rot on the vine; ripe fruits (e.g., peppers, tomatoes) are sugary and may attract pests, including rats, squirrels, and birds, so it is best to harvest before they get to them.
  • Fruit harvesting or composting
    • The fruit trees in the garden have grown tall and out of reach of easy fruit picking. If a long-pole fruit picker is not available, and other means of picking the are not yet available, then waiting for them to drop is the only option. In most cases, people do not want to eat the fallen fruit. However, this attracts and feeds the rats, therefore, the fallen fruits must be picked up as quickly as possible. The fruits will drop over a period of a few weeks, in which time, volunteers are needed on a daily basis to pick up the fruits.
    • If the fruits are not edible, they should be composted. If a designated container has not been set to collect and compost the fruit, then consult other garden members to set one up.
    • Note. A netting to capture falling fruit is NOT advisable since squirrels and birds can be trapped in them. However, any suggestion regarding this issue is welcomed.
  • Fall-winter raised bed preparations and general soil preparations
    • Individuals assigned to a growing area (raised bed) will lead these activities and will either ask others for help, or other can ask if they can help. These activities may include:
      • Mulching dead plants (see above).
      • Turning dead plant matter into the soil.
      • Adding compost into the soil.
      • Adding other soil amendment into the soil, such as, manure, worm casting/worm compost, bokashi fermented food waste, bokashi compost, compost tea, etc.
      • As a community garden with a shared environment with people, birds, and beneficial insects (bees, butterflies, beetles, etc.), we avoid the use of toxic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicide, and any other agricultural chemicals. While they may enhance the growth of plants, they will poison the soil and water, and we breath in the dust and pollen from the garden. The best solution is to use a wide variety of compost, manure, and to practice hand-mulching.

Snow and Ice Removal from the Sidewalk in front of the Garden

The following is from GreenThumb‘s website:

“Keeping pedestrian corridors in front of gardens clear and passable is not only important to keeping members of your community safe, but it’s also the law. A failure to clear the sidewalks in front of gardens located on City-owned property is a violation of the GreenThumb license agreement and of the NYC Administrative Code.”

“Please follow DSNY regulations for sidewalk maintenance following a snow storm. Snow must be cleared within four daylight hours after the snow stops. If the snow stops falling between:

  • 7:00 a.m. – 4:49 p.m. – you must clear the snow within four hours
  • 5:00 p.m. – 8:59 p.m. – you must clear the snow within fourteen hours
  • 9:00 p.m. – 6:59 a.m. – you must clear the snow by 11:00 a.m.

Best practices for clearing the sidewalk of snow and ice:

  • “A group of people is recommended, not just one person. Keep in mind the need to keep your distance and wear a face covering.
  • “Take breaks! Lift at the knees, not your back! Know what is too much for you. Pace yourself when shoveling snow and do not do it alone.
  • “Spread salt conservatively after the first round of shoveling, a little goes a long way.
  • “If temperatures are below 20°F or the ice gets too thick, salt will not be as effective. You can use an ice breaker instead.
  • “The sidewalk should have a path through the snow that is 3 feet wide as per Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) design guidelines.”

DSNY Snow Removal Guide

Please practice social distancing (at least 6 feet away from others) and wear a mask when visiting the garden. Thank you.