Restoring New York City
Proposals for Improving Ecological and Human Health
Edited by Dr. James A. Danoff-Burg
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University

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Operation Renovo: Community Gardens Creation - NYC

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Operation Renovo: Establishing Community Gardens in and around the New York Metro Area.

Cymone Speed



Ecology is the study of the relationships between organisms and the environment they inhabit. Traditionally, when we talk about restoration ecology, we usually refer to the interactions between non-human species and their surroundings. However with humans having altered one-third to one-half of the planet’s land surfaces (Williamson 2002) it is necessary to think about the affect they have on the natural world, and currently, more than ever, to begin to examine the role the natural world plays in lives of humans. Specifically in urban areas such as New York City, with a population of about 8 million people confined to a mere 310 square miles ( 2006), we are forced to consider a new ecological paradigm where, as Mary Parlange says in her paper The City As Ecosystem, a human is just another organism within the ecosystem. (1998)


Scattered throughout the five boroughs of New York there are over 1200 active community gardens. Urban Community gardens contribute not only to the diversity in urban areas but offer many physical and social rewards as well. We hope that by transforming dangerous, derelict vacant lots into useable, inviting, and beautiful spaces, we will be providing a tool for community development, both communally and aesthetically. 


Mission statement


It is our objective to teach and understand the ecological theory needed to support neighborhood revitalization in urban settings in order to transform multiple vacant lots into functional urban ecosystems. We also hope to promote community participation by way of volunteer recruitment, educational programming, and recreational opportunities.  The development of a revitalization Consortium with local, grassroots and eco-organizations will enable Renovo to effectively carry out its mission by providing reciprocated services.


Members of the Renovo consortium


New York restoration project

NYRP was established in 1995 by actress/singer Bette Midler. NYRP acts as a private “parks department” for small neighborhood gardens and parks in underprivileged communities. Further, they invest in the communities they serve by providing funding through its New York Garden Trust, on-going maintenance, and educational programming. They seek to create strong and vital communities. ( 2006)


New York Composting Project

Was created in 1993 by the New York Department of Sanitation. They provide compost outreach and education to City residents and businesses. They provide free or minimally priced bins, worms, and landscaper training and educational materials. Additionally, the New York compost project helps to maintain compost loads at garden sites.



Green Thumb NYC

Was established in 1978 and provides materials and technical support for neighborhood volunteers who manage community gardens as active and attractive community resources. Green Thumb also serves communities primarily through its warehouse distribution, technical support, and educational workshops. ( 2006)


Green Guerillas

Was started in 1973 by artist Liz Christy. The Green Guerillas offer a number of services which include helping many community gardens get the plants and materials they needs to improve their sites by hosting annual plant and materials giveaways. Also they Help gardeners preserve their garden spaces and help garden leaders sustain strong neighborhood coalitions. They also aim to engage young people as true partners in community gardens. They encourage community garden groups to grow food and distribute it in their neighborhoods. And finally they try to sustain a strong network of community garden supporters. ( 2006)


Farmer’s Market Federation of New York

Established in 1999, the Farmers' Market Federation of New York is a grassroots, membership organization of farmers' market managers, market sponsors, farmers and market supporters. They offer a variety of services that help to increase the number and capability of farmers' markets in New York State. They also offer professional development programs in farmers' market management and improve the ability of markets to serve their farmers, their consumers and their communities. ( 2006)


The Name


Renovo stands for ‘renewal’ in Latin. Not only meant to refer to environmental renewal but also for the renewal of a more cohesive community structure.


A history of community gardens


Though the reasoning for creating urban gardens has evolved over time, the concept itself is not new. In war and other stressful times, New York City community gardens have offered a range of purposes to local communities.  They were not only a means for local food production but they provided a communal environment for area residents. In recent times they have served other purposes such as community development, the enhancement of human wellbeing, and of course the need for environmental restoration. It is thought that more contemporary community gardens originated in England and were known as allotments. (Williamson 2002) in the United States in the 1800’s communal gardens began appearing as a reaction to the poverty resulting from the economic hardship felt at the time. (Goldstein 1997) These gardens were seen only as interim land until the economy was strong enough to begin development for the cities rapidly increasing population. (Williamson 2002) As part of the “city beautiful” movement that was instituted in the late 1890’s and the 1900’s which started because of a growing awareness of the miserable living conditions of the inner-city’s poor, and often immigrant population, garden city plots gained popularity. (Williamson 2002) It didn’t take long however, before the leaders of the movement came under attack from people who thought that the program was superficial and impractical. (Wikipedia 2006)

During World War II the government decided that all available land would be transformed into “victory gardens”. Yet after the war, because food rationing wasn’t necessary due to the budding advancements in the food industry-such as the development and distribution of frozen and foods- these gardens were no longer needed. In the 1970’s many environmental groups, such as the green guerillas, a member of the Renovo consortium took action and began taking over and beautifying abandoned lots.  According to the historian Sarah Ferguson, the community gardens that have arisen from this point were not the result of government support but because of is neglect. (Williamson 2002) During a mid century economic crisis, New York was left with deteriorating buildings, and a slew of vacant lots. In fact in 1977 there were more than 25,000 vacant lots citywide. (Greenguerillas .com 1999) Over time urban community gardens have evolved offering many social and practical benefits. In times of struggle, the urban garden provided jobs and food for the poor inhabitants of the city. At other times it has been a beatification agent. But in recent times they have arisen as a consequence of increasing social concern. As one author writes “the social, economic therapeutic, educational, and aesthetic benefits …reportedly accrued to community gardeners in earlier periods and are reiterated by proponents of the recent movement.” (Bassett 1981) Overall the gardens offer its visitors and workers a taste the natural world in the heart of a concrete metropolis.


Ecological theory - a foundation for action


The success of the Renovo project depends on the establishment of a solid restoration plan that is based not only on social needs but on theory as well. When embarking on an urban restoration project, we must first consider the human impacts. With An increasing understanding of how humans and other factors impact nature, we can develop an effective urban restoration strategy. By examining the ecological theory pertinent to urban community gardening we can also create a useful maintenance plan. The primary ecological issues that require the most attention are the abiotic factors and species establishment. Also dealing with the physiological changes that occur in the environment is important.


Abiotic Factors

The abiotic factors are the first issues to consider even before choosing a site for a community garden. Since we are creating vegetable gardens the fist consideration is Sunlight. Most garden vegetables require at least six to eight hours of sun exposure. ( 2006) Due to the many adjacent multilevel buildings that exist in urban centers, sites for vegetable gardens will have to be chosen with this in mind.


Because we are establishing a more natural ecosystem on a patch of land that formally did not exist, we have to consider the biogeochemical effects of the surrounding environment. With so many vacant lots that were formally wastelands for urban environmental toxins such as oil and other industrial remnants, there is a high plausibility of these contaminates being absorbed into the substrate below. (Ding 2005) (Menninger 2006) Even after revitalization, there is a change that the chemicals can affect the newly planted vegetation. Some plants, though they may be considered native, will have a difficult time growing in this environment because they may be tolerant to different stressors that are not present. (Ehleriner 2006) This could create limits on survival and adaptation and could affect the small communities that may inhabit the gardens such as invertebrates, birds and other small mammals. So it is important to ensure that the soil is of good quality. However this is challenging in urban settings. Doing a soil analysis will help the Renovo team understand the characteristics of the soil at a potential site. Generally they will look at soil texture, compaction, drainage, the depth of the topsoil, nutrient levels, pH levels, and the presence of heavy metals or other toxins. Generally poor soil can be improved by adding compost, and tilling Soil texture aids in determination of the water and nutrient carrying capacity. The addition of compost will generally improve the soils texture. (Emerson 1990)


A key factor to consider when planning urban gardens is access to water. Relying on natural weather patterns to produce enough precipitation is an unrealistic goal for community gardens. The NYRP has a program that in addition to an irrigation system, they “harvest” rain water. Rainwater harvesting— which is an old technique of stocking up on rainwater for use later on— is a great solution if water access is not readily available. The process is that rainwater is captured from the rooftops of neighboring buildings, carried to gardens through plastic pipes, and collected in tightly sealed barrels or large cisterns. this nonpotable, chlorine-free water is available to gardeners to nourish healthy vegetable and flower beds throughout the growing season.


Species Establishment

All of these Abiotic factors can contribute to how successful species become established in a garden ecosystem. The landscape in the city is inherently heterogeneous. This patchiness means that there could be a concrete parking lot in contact with a beautiful tree field park. Thus, we can consider all the green spaces in New York city as individual patches. Colonization seems to be a problem. So it is worth considering whether we, as garden workers, should reintroduce species especially beneficial insects or allow them to naturally colonize. It is known that the smaller the population, the greater the risk of extinction. (Maschinski 2006). Another consideration that could cause potential danger of extinction (local) is the patch size. However, studies have shown that an introduction of only 60 individuals give the population a 95% of a population establishing for a long period of time. (Maschinski 2006).


In an urban garden it is not the goal to establish a tremendous amount of wildlife, in fact we want to keep them as pest free as possible. However there are certain insects, and other species that are beneficial to community gardens in that they help with pollination and reducing toxic pesticide levels in gardens. So, unlike other restoration projects that want to promote species diversity, the urban gardener wants to prevent an increase in wildlife species to protect crops and other plant life. See appendix B for an interesting introduction to organic pest management.


Vision - Goals and Initiatives

When creating community gardens, we have to consider the needs of, and benefits to the local community. Directly, people are able to enjoy an ascetically pleasing setting; a place of tranquility amidst the chaos of the city. There is also an improvement to the physical environment. Additionally, by introducing a variety of trees, plants, flowers, and shrubs, the surrounding air quality will also be enhanced. (Williamson 2002)


Operation Renovo is a community based project that, in addition to the employment of a few trained specialists, will enlist the help of members of the local community thorough volunteering and stewardship. Because we aim to create gardens in multiple locations, a recruitment team will be set up and sent around to various areas with vacant lots in need of restoration. These recruitment fairs will offer not only information about Renovo but also information about sustainable living will be provided as well. There will also be fun activities and food booths that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Since The New York Farmers Market Federation is part of the Renovo Consortium, we will also have representatives selling local, organically gown produce.


Once we have established a good volunteer base, planning meetings will be held to begin discussing the plan for a particular garden. There are many types of gardens and gear needed to maintain the gardens. It is our goal to minimize start up costs by seeking whole or partial donations for various resources. Thus several initiatives will be instituted that will help to collect these valuable supplies. There are also prospective initiatives that will be instituted once the gardens are successfully running and will hopefully further enhance community energy and vitality:


Tool Drive initiative
The tool drives will not only implore community members to donated old and used items, but also large retail cooperation’s such as Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, Bed-bath-&-Beyond, and Kmart to name a few, will donate new items, such as various garden tools, gardening gloves, knee boards, etc.


Art/creative initiative 

The planning committee members will go around to local schools, community centers, old-aged homes, and churches to request the creation of ground construction and craft projects that will be incorporated into their local community garden. Such as a shed furniture, statuary, handmade mosaic tiles to be in-laid into pathways,and murals for possible surrounding walls. It will be encouraged to use reclaimed, recycled, or natural sustainable materials for these projects.


Composting initiative 

In addition to the on site composting bins, it is our hope to institute a community composting program that will not only add to the compost material available but will also  minimize the amount of food waste and certain paper waste that would normally go to landfills. All of the bins, worms, and educational material will be provided by composting NYC.


Local organic food market initiative 

Once the individual gardens are in operation, it is the Renovo goal to set up seasonal food markets that will sell fresh organic produce to the local community. %100 percent of the profits will go toward annual upkeep costs of the area garden and Market/Job training stipends.


Market/Job training initiative 

Eventually, Renovo wants to offer community gardens as learning environments, for job training and other educational purposes such as leadership training, sustainable urban agriculture/small farm business internship programs, and science internships. Stipends may be offered from the proceeds of the organic farmers markets.


Timeline for Garden Planning



  1. Publicize the community garden project, through Renovo funfairs!! Begin to compile a list of interested individuals, and then call, email or give each of them an introduction/welcome letter.
  2. Schedule a planning meeting for those who showed interest in the project.


  1. Review and assess land options/contact owners,
  2. Continue outreach, generating more interest
  3. Draft a preliminary budget, listing individual garden needs (see example Renovo budget below)


  1. Finalize budget/start fundraising, looking for donations ($ and in-kind)
  2. Choose a site
  3. establish any leases and other governmental paper work needed to be obtained and signed
  4. Plan the garden--determine rules and regulations
  5. Start building project initiatives – go to schools, community centers, churches, etc


  1. Continue fundraising
  2. Further outreach -- look for volunteers through more fairs and program initiatives. (to help develop site) and gardeners
  3. Plan the garden—layout with the community and a volunteer landscaper/urban planner


  1. Organize the Gardeners: orientation, applications, etc.
  2. Finalize garden plan, plot layout and assignments
  3. Assemble all remaining materials needed – plants, seeds, tools, compost, etc.


Timeline for Garden construction


Spring-Summer year-round

1.   Prepare and develop--once we have established a good degree of community involvement we will begin demolishing the respective sites. There are plans for debris removal, the old concrete and asphalt will be recycled by a process known as Full Depth Reclamation (FDR), which pulverizes and mixes old material with cement and water and creates a new strong base for future asphalt and concrete surfaces ( 2006). 

2.   Soil samples will be collected a total of 3 times (ACGA  (starting in the fall),  at the beginning, middle, and end of construction to ensure soil is suitable for planting food, and other desirable plants and trees. Testing for nutrients and heavy metals (Testing for nutrients and heavy metals -pH, salt, nitrates, ammonium, calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese) (Helmrecht 2006)

3.   Due to a close relationship with Composting New York City (CNYC) Renovo will ship in soil and composting material provided by CNYC. Also there are a certain number of composting bins around the city that are reserved exclusively for Renovo parks. This material will help in the maintenance of the parks by adding this nutrient rich substrate; in return Renovo will actively attempt to increase the clientele of CNYC.

4.   If planning on a vegetable garden, plant early to

Ensure harvest time will be in the early summer late fall.

5.   Landscapers will then come in and create aesthetically interesting and functional parks. With native tree, shrub, grass, and flower species.

6.   We hope to get local schools and community centers to join in the fun by contributing student made projects such as park benches and art sculptures - see initiatives. (all made out of recycled, natural, and sustainable materials. a shed will also be necessary to house all the workers tools and equipment.

7.   Continual maintained of garden. will be carried out by community members and with help from  the New York Restoration Project.




The average community garden start-up cost is approximately $1000-$4000. However due to so many donations and drive initiatives, many of the supplies for Renovo gardens are expected to be donated (Emerson 2005) This project does not focus on any one particular garden site. Thus, the budget is an estimated value, and is based on a plot approximately about 3000 square feet in size. This value was derived from taking an average of the square footage of a random sampling of community gardens around New York City. Overall, the budget depends on the layout and type of community garden to be constructed (see figure 1 for sample layouts) The template was created using the ‘Garden Budget’ template downloaded from Microsoft Office, community templates. (2006)


Initial Community Garden Budget (example)


Cost each


Soil Test




Compost (10 lb boxes) %100 donation compost nyc + on site compost bins




Drip Irrigation System




Water Timer




Fencing (made from salvaged wood)




Full Depth reclamation (FDR) services (per site) %90 donation




blocks for raised beds (if growing vegetables)-for 15 bed garden %50 donation.




Sign (designed and donated by local school group)




Tools collected during tool drive. possible new cost $100. (see appendix A for tools needed )




Tool shed (built and donated by local community center)




Liability Insurance (with Organizational sponsorship from NYRP)




Benches (donated by local church group)




drip Irrigation System




Renting Tiller




Outreach/PR -for flyer printing on %100 recycled paper









Figure 1: examples of community garden layouts

Text Box: shedText Box: Compost bins  

©Jersey city community garden on Brunswick                ©The garden group (1997)


Creating a community garden – staff positions


Aside from the vast and very integral volunteer garden staff that will help in clearing, creating and continually managing the urban garden sites, there are also a few key job positions that will be established to ensure the sites will run effectively and efficiently.


Garden Director

Job Description – one per garden site. The steward is responsible for Understand roles, responsibilities, expectations of Renovo, community gardeners, and Stewards. Have a basic knowledge of gardening practices, and operations. Determines planting, sowing, harvesting schedules. Helps to maintain and clean up of site, and makes basic repairs around the garden. The director acts as a liaison between the gardeners and the garden coordinator and helps resolve any minor conflicts that may arise on site. Responsible for monitoring site for possible invasive species, and helping to maintain non beneficial insects in a natural, healthy way. Keep up moral among gardeners so that they have a positive experience. Coordinated farmers markets seasonally with the New youk federation of Farmers Markets


Garden Coordinator

Job description – In charge of a multiple garden sites. They will be responsible for Coordinating and Training Garden Steward, organizing Community Garden Committee meetings, recruiting volunteer seasonal gardeners, when plots are available and assigns garden plots.  The Coordinator Plans and conducts garden orientations for community gardeners, work projects, and general meetings, determines roles, responsibilities, expectations of garden organization and community gardeners, establishes community goals and attempts to resolve any conflict that may arise. It is important that the coordinator understand how the water and compost systems work, as well as other policies and enforcement procedures. They also attempt to maintain good community relations, active public outreach, community contact list (community councils, churches, schools, businesses, neighbors, non-profits, government, staff, etc.) (Emerson 1990)


Other Key Players

·        Full Depth Reclamation (FDR) staff – can clear a site in 1-7 days

·        Consortium educators – providing basic garden management classes, and professional development courses, along with informative literature.

·        Compost maintenance/pick up crew – pick up compost bins that have been distributed throughout the neighborhood by compost NYC. Makes sure new clean bins are provided and decomposers are available.

·        Water irrigation system installer - can take anywhere from 3-8 days for instillation.

·        Students-doing soil, and biodiversity studies.

·        Volunteers – the hands that keep Renovo running!! The people that bring warmth, joy, and community to the gardens.




Ultimately we hope to establish multiple connections between local communities and promote good will, and a vital community to care for new yorks green spaces. We want to foster community connectedness along with an appreciation and respect for nature an sustainable living and business practices.  As Ann Frank says in The Diary of Ann Frank “the best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” (1947)





Bassett, T. J. "Reaping on the Margins: A Century of Community Gardening in America." Landscape 25(2): 1-8.


Ding, E. L. (2005). "Brownfield Remediation for Urban Health: A Systematic Review and Case Assessment of Baltimore, Maryland." The Journal of young investigators 14.


Dobson, A. P., A. D. Bradshaw, et al. (1997). "Hopes for the Future: Restoration Ecology and Conservation Biology." Science 277(5325): 515-522.


Ehleringer, J. R., Sandquist,D.R. (2006). Ecophysicological constraints on plant responses in a restoration setting. Foundations of Restoration Ecology. D. e. a. Falk. Washington, Island Press: 42-58.


Emerson, B. et. al.(2005) Neglected Parcels to Community Gardens: A Handbook. Wasatch community gardens. accessed online 4 Dec 2006.


Farmer’s Market Federation of New York. accessed online Dec. 2006.


Ferguson, S. (1999). A brief history of grassroots greening in NYC.


Frank, A. (1997 (orginally 1947). The Diary of Ann frank (the definitive edition). New York, Bantam Books.


“Full Depth Reclamation” (2006) accessed online 17 october 2006 http://www.cement



Gallagher, R. and B. Carpenter (1997). "Human-Dominated Ecosystems." Science 277(5325): 485-.


Goldstein, L. J. (1997). ""philadelpha's Community Garden History." City Farmer(


Green Guerillas. Accessed online November 2006


Green thumb New York. Accessed online November 2006     


Head, L. and P. Muir (2006). "Edges of connection: reconceptualising the human role in urban biogeography." Australian Geographer 37(1): 87-101.


Maschinski, J. , (2006). Implications of population dynamic and metapopulation theory for restoration. Foundations of Restoration Ecology. D. e. a. Falk. Washington, Island Press: 59-87.



Menninger, H.L. Palmer, M.A. (2006). Restoring ecological communities: from theory to practice. Foundations of Restoration Ecology. D. e. a. Falk. Washington, Island Press: 88-112.


Niering, W. A. (1997). "Human-dominated ecosystems and the role of restoration ecology." Restoration Ecology 5(4): 273-274.


New York Restiration Project. accessed online Nov 2006.

    (2006). Patrol services Bureau.


Parlange, M. (1998). "The city as ecosystem." Bioscience 48(8): 581-585.


Plant answers. “Growing a fall gadern

fallgarden/fallgrowing.html. Accessed online Dec 2006.


The Garden group. (1997) “a Conceptual drawing of a garden site.” online dec. 2006.


Webb, J. K. and R. Shine (2000). "Paving the way for habitat restoration: can artificial rocks restore degraded habitats of endangered reptiles?" Biological Conservation 92(1): 93-99.


Wikipedia (2006). The City Beautiful Movement.

















Appendix A:


List of tools, supplies, and other resources for preparing and developing the garden



*Long handled, Round-nosed Shovels, for general turning soil and compost

Short/D-handled, Square-nosed Digging Spade, for double -digging and sod removal

Rectangular Digging Spade, for digging straight-edged holes (for trees or larger


*Steel, Level-head or Bow Rakes, for smoothing and grading soil, incorporating

compost into the soil surface, and covering seeds

Garden Hoes, for weeding, cultivating soil, and making furrows to plant seeds into

*Hand Shovels and Trowels, for weeding, cultivating and planting seedlings in

prepared beds

Small Front-tine or larger, more powerful, Rear-tine Rotary Tillers, (depending on the

size of the area to be tilled and the hardness of the soil) for initial

preparation and aeration of beds, and working compost into soil

*Wheel-barrows, for moving soil/compost or if removing sod from the site

*Spading (Digging) Fork, for turning and aerating soil and compost, and digging for

root crops

Broadfork, (if needed) for loosening and aerating soil with minimal structural

disturbance to soil and soil organisms (sometimes used instead of the

double-digging method)

Mattock, (if needed) used if the soil is very hard

Sod Cutter, (if needed) for removing sod (manual or motorized), but you can use shovels

Loopers, for pruning small-diameter tree and shrub branches

Swivel Saw, for pruning back shrubs and trees


Gardening gloves

100+ ft. measuring tape

Building tools and supplies if building a fence, tool box/shed, raised beds, signs or

a bulletin board

Irrigation system supplies: timer, hoses, drip line, filter, sprinklers, etc. depending on

which type of irrigation system has been chosen.

Garbage bag for litter

String and stakes for delineating plots

Untreated wood for raised beds, lining the paths, etc.

Benches and tables

Other Resources:


Extra topsoil

Wood chips for the path

Mulching materials

 (* indicates most essential)


-From Neglected Parcels to Community Gardens: A Handbook by Brian Emerson, et. al.

Appendix B


Organic Pest Management


Keeping a garden pest-free can be a challenge. Every gardener has lost a plant to pests or disease at some point in his orher gardening experience. It is easy to react with anger – many of us have sworn vengeance on each and every plantdestroyer that has ever crawled on the earth! But before we place land mines around our beloved heirloom tomatoes, weshould first ask ourselves to look at the big picture. Quite often the reason why the plant was lost was within our controlfrom the beginning.For organic gardeners, the key to healthy plants is prevention. If your soil is healthy, your plantings are well planned, andyour plants have access to adequate nutrients, you will have fewer problems with pests and disease. As the old sayinggoes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ So, rather than investing in chemical solutions to pest problems,try investing in the general health of your garden – your plants (and beneficial insects) will thank you.Eight Steps to a Healthy Garden:

1. Build Healthy Soil

Soil that is rich in organic matter and microorganisms will provide a balance of nutrients for your plants. Mostgardeners prefer a loamy soil, with a balance of sand, silt, and clay. Consider performing a soil test to determine ifyour soil is deficient in a certain area. Quite often a nutrient deficiency, such as a lack of calcium or nitrogen, maybe attracting pests to your plants. Even if you have all the elements present in your soil, it is the small life forms(invertebrates, microbes, fungus) that work to create healthy soil. The three best things you can do to condition yoursoil and encourage microbial life are to grow cover crops, mulch around bare soil, and add compost that you’vemade from your leftover plant materials.

2. Choose the Right Plants

Just as you would not plant a palm tree in the Arctic, you would not plant a mango orchard in Utah. We arefortunate here in Utah to be able to plant many kinds of fruits and vegetables, however certain plants do better incertain climates. Plants that are under stress are more susceptible to pests and disease. Many vegetable varietieshave quickly adapted over time to do well here in our hot, dry growing season. Your local nursery and some seedcatalogs will be able to recommend these varieties.

3. Plan Diverse Plantings

When you create greater plant and animal diversity in your garden, you are supporting a better balance betweengarden pests and beneficial insects. Planting a large area of one plant (monocropping), is similar to leaving an opencandy counter in a neighborhood full of children. Like the kid in the candy store, pests that are attracted to that cropwill come from everywhere and eat everything in site. When you plant diverse crops, you are inviting manydifferent insects, who will keep each other in balance. Remember that flowers attract beneficial insects. You willfind numerous sources of information on companion planting, crop rotation, and interplanting in the resources listedbelow.

4. Buy Healthy Plants

Healthy plants will resist pests and diseases. Once you have selected appropriate plant varieties, be sure to inspect theplants in the nursery to ensure that they are healthy and pest, disease and mold-free. This will give your garden a greathead start.

5. Provide Proper Plant Care

Again, if you plants are under stress, they will be more susceptible to attacks from pests. By providing adequatewater (not too much, not too little), and monitoring nutrient needs, you are not only meeting immediate needs, butalso preventing problems in the future.

6. Keep Garden Records

Your records may be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. Some gardeners like to keep journals of theirgardening experience, while others prefer precise records of planting dates, compost application, and so forth.


-From Neglected Parcels to Community Gardens: A Handbook by Brian Emerson, et. al.

Last Updated by James Danoff-Burg, 20 Dec 06