Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacationing in a Community Garden

You can take the garden away from the girl, but you can't truly take the girl away from a garden. :)

While we were visiting my grandmother in Laguna Woods Village in Laguna Woods, California, we passed by what at first looked like the remnants of an abandoned and overgrown storage facility. There was chicken wire covered structures, piles of debris, ladders and general insanity. I almost didn't give it a second thought until I spotted a PVC hoop house and a squash flower reaching through the main fence, hailing me as we drove past.

It was the community garden! The chicken wire served as plot dividers and trellises, the debris piles were composting and the ladders were to reach the citrus trees. It all made sense!! The man, the boy and the girl suffered through a walk through one of two community gardens the residents of the village can let. In total for the two gardening centers, there are 868 available plots, 253 fruit tree plots, and 89 shade house plots. To rent a 0-200 sqft plot, will cost you 26$ a year, up to a 400 sqft plot is $40 and a larger is $53. The residents can rent as many plots as they like although not exceeding 800 sqft. The only negative was that the centers are only open 3 days a week and only during limited hours, but they are locked to discourage vegetable theft, which is apparently rather prevalent.

We only walked through half of one of the gardens, but it was amazing. Each plot was cordoned off with chicken wire and judging by the monstrous bunnies we saw, it still wasn't enough. Here is a map of one of the garden centers. We toured the area to the left of the parking lot.

This garden boasted several awards that were attached to the chicken wire enclosure.

The beans were over flowing this trellis!

More beautiful beans. I've never seen so many flowers on one vine.This flower garden also had many awards. This was also the first time the man had ever seen a giant sunflower(not pictured here). The heads had died back already, but they were still majestic.

This gardener built her own little shelter with the squash vines. She was tending her garden and showed us her trumpet squash she was growing. She pulled that seed packet right out of her garden bucket, to show me while she pointed out the other things in the garden for the children.

Many gardens had signs which personalized them.

One gardener was very insistent that we take a cucumber that she just picked. What is it with gardeners, me included, always trying to pawn off cucumbers on others? We took it graciously, but she couldn't identify it for us.

It was interesting to see the difference in the plots. Some plots were very sculptural and some more casual. Some were totally flower based while others focused solely on vegetables. It was rare to see a plot showcasing both. As well, some were meticulously manicured while others, judging by the bolting broccoli and lettuce, had obviously not been tended in months. I mostly enjoyed the boy getting very excited when he recognized some of the leaves and flowers of plants that we grow in our own garden. It makes me feel like he's paying attention after all.

I've got to get out there to tend my own garden today. I found two tomato hornworms yesterday and ripped out some melons and all of the cucumbers. Powdery mildew is running rampant now and reaching over to the other corner yard to my butternut squash, but we did get some good rain last night. I'll post more of an update later today.


  1. What gorgeous gardens! You were lucky to have spotted it and stopped in! I wish we had more citizens/local gov't interested in community gardens here.

  2. Oh, I love community gardens! There's one at Rutgers University that students are allowed to rent. A bunch of my friends got one this summer and are planning a series of garden parties once the plants grow a bit. Also, there was a really nice one at the retirement community next to my apartment complex in Maryland. It was on my running route, and it was very nice to see the residents, many of whom had lived in houses with yards until moving to the home, were still able to maintain a garden. You could really tell how much love they put into their plots!

    - Emily

  3. Wonderful! I wish more communities and retirement centers would have gardens. We have a population of around 250,000, and not a single community garden! I guess most of us have large enough yards to have our own, but I drive by retirement complexes and see people just sitting, with nothing to do....they need a garden!

  4. Great pics of the garden, and of the family with Grandma! ;-)

    We have a community garden here, and I want to get on the wait list--which is a over 2yrs long... Whoa!

    sorry to hear about the powdery mildew... Hope it doesn't cause very much damage.

  5. That looked like a very nice community garden you visited. Thanks for sharing the pictures! It is interesting to see.

  6. How great that you got to squeeze in a few community garden visits. They're always so fun to check out!

  7. Erin, it was great fun. I loved seeing all of the different styles of gardening.

    Em, Isn't it great to see both the young and old enjoying the same thing. It's one of the few past times that people can really connect over. I would have loved to talk at length with those gardeners. I bet they had so much they could have shared.

  8. Granny, the town down the road just started a community garden. It's off the road so you can't see it when you drive by, but I've been itching to check it out. I'd rent a space there for my items needing more sun, but their prices are a bit ridiculous.

    Momma_S, powdery mildew is a destroyer. My melon just won't taste right and the whole plant gets diseased. Stinks, but it makes more room for fall plants!

  9. Shawn Ann and Just Jen, it was a great walk. I wish the kids were up to touring the other half of the one garden, but they did well to suffer through the walk we took. That, and after the girl busted her balloon on a piece of chicken wire, the walk couldn't end soon enough. We were getting stink eye from a few gardeners.