crows woods gardeners

Haddonfield Community Gardens

Knee Deep in Tomatoes

We have enjoyed Crows Woods for years while watching our two boys play soccer. Because our Village Court house is situated amongst trees and has very little sunlight, last year we sent in our nominal fee for a chance to reap the rewards of gardening at sunny Crows Woods. As soon as we were designated a modest half size plot last spring, we felt that one of the great challenges in the open air and direct sun was how to administer and conserve water.

Reducing Weeds and Evaporation

Starting with a half plot, we decided a raised bed seemed like the best idea. We built a structure (2x10 lumber) in which to contain our enriched soil and then spaced a checkerboard pattern of weed-stop fabric. This application let water in, reduced weeds and evaporation. It also provided the spacing pattern for the plants

Watering With Drip Irrigation

Next, we buried a drip irrigation hose beneath the soil providing water directly to the roots, keeping the leaves dry to reduce fungal infections. An added benefit was that our trips to water the garden were less tedious. We were able to weed and pick produce while we watered.

Alas! We’d Created a Swamp!

But before success…All appeared well until the first turn of the spigot when we realized more water was emitted at the beginning of the hose. Part of the bed had become a swamp. A little reconfiguration and we soon were knee deep in tomatoes!

The beans that we designated to climb up the hand strung lattice did not fare so well, when one of us had mistaken the beans for weeds. Like we said, first time gardeners!

Could We Survive The Heat?

We worried that some of those hot summer days had gotten away from us and that we would pay for that. But between a well-amended bed and deep watering, we never had irreparable damage. And of course picking our produce became quite a pleasure. Not to mention preparing and cooking with our bountiful harvest of over 70 lbs of tomatoes!

Thanks for all the sage advice from seasoned gardeners, particularly Kathi Stokes, Mary Previte, and the gardener who suggested installing a rabbit fence. As we write this we are watching the snow fall and dreaming of returning to our garden.

Robin RaabAnn and Craig Goings, Plot # 40A