Welcome ...

Welcome to the Clifton Place Block Association Community Garden. Since 1991, the garden has been a green oasis for many in this corner of the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. As is the case with so many New York City community gardens, the Clifton Place Block Association Community Garden developed from the community's need to reclaim and transform a garbage-strewn city-owned lot into a place of beauty and an asset to all in Clinton Hill and surrounding areas.

In its years of existence, Clifton Place Garden (short) has served as a place where neighborly bonds are strengthened, the passion for gardening and nature is shared, friendships develop, and neighborhood children learn. Through its open door policy, Clifton Place Garden has endeared itself to the community. It is not uncommon to hear someone passing by compliment its beauty and express pride and appreciation for what the garden does to the surrounding area.

Going forward, Clifton Place Garden will seek to continue strengthen its ties to the surrounding neighborhoods through composting programs, children's workshops, and unique arts events. And we hope to connect, via this Web Log, to other gardening enthusiasts, and to share the excitement of our urban gardening experience here. Hopefully, this site will be a favorite place you will keep returning to, and if in the neighborhood, you will stop by to enjoy the pleasure of our small, flourishing retreat.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Planting Smart To Control Pest ....

This year, it seemed that conditions were ripe for an attack of White Flies at the Clifton Place Garden. Over our years of existence, we have had mild aphid infestations. But nothing to the extent experienced this year with white flies.

Liz, one of our gardeners, realized a wonderful yield of Kale in her plot. But her success was greatly overshadowed by a persistent fight to rid the plant of the infestation of white flies. Because The Clifton Place Garden strive to maintain a pesticide free garden, Liz's option to fight the problem was limited to washing the plants regularly with water and installing sticky pads. Ultimately, Liz would lose the battle. Like most of our members, she is not at the garden often enough to wage a determined battle against the little creators.

What we should have done was companion planting. Companion planting is the long practiced organic growing technique where beneficial insect-repelling plants are grown with other plants to fend off insects they attract. In Liz's case, for example, we could have planted, together with the kale, nasturtiums and marigolds to repel the white flies. Were we to have had an infestation of aphids we could have grown garlic, mint, or catnip. (more info: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp7j7xj_0dx6v2fhc)

There are other benefits that are gained from companion planting. Beyond the benefits of pest control companion planting can help with nutrition and moisture management of the soil. Some crops concentrate nutrients in their tissues. Others move nutrients from the subsoil to the above ground parts, that in turn is made available to subsequent crops upon decomposition. Some plant increase potassium levels, while others (particularly legumes) gather unusable nitrogen in the air and convert it to usable nitrogen. This is probably what the farmers at the the Stone Barn Center for Food & Agriculture in Westchester, NY, have in mind when they choose to plant corn is plant together with beans and squash, and melons are allowed to grow in grassy fields. (More Info: http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/ecogardening/complant.html)

We have used organic principles in the way we grow at The Clifton Place Garden, but our white flies problem prove that there are some techniques we need to make standard practice. Going forward, companion gardening will become an integral part of our growing methods to both manage pest and ensure quality yields. Given that the average size of a gardener's plot is 4' x 6', with proper planning and companion gardening, a greater amount of crops can be grown in a season. Realizing greater results through natural processes is clearly smart planting.

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