Q: The goal of 500 gardens was to create a network of 500 active garden in Madisonville. Have you met the goal?
A: The first step was to count all the existing gardens in Madisonville and register them. The second step was to build new gardens for homes and businesses all over the neighborhood. At the end of the 2016 season the organization has built or rehabbed 475.
Q: What are you calling a garden?
A: A garden can be many shapes or sizes, just like people. For this project we are building gardens that are 4 feet by 8 feet or an equal area.
Q: My garden is not that big, can I still register?
A: Yes! In our registry any garden that grows food counts. It can be large or small, and it can include container gardening, raised beds, rows, and window boxes. It can have some flowers, but should mostly be for food.
Q: I’ve never gardened for real before, or it has been a long time. Can I get some help?
A: Yes. We hold events and classes in starting in February, and going right through the summer. We also will connect new gardeners with more experienced “Garden Mentors” who will help get you started and coach you throughout the growing season.
Q: How will your gardens be built?
A: Our gardens are raised bed boxes made using pressure treated wood. The beds are generally 4 by 8 feet, or they can be two 4 by 4 foot boxes. We put a layer of cardboard or newspaper under the box, then fill it with clean, nutrient rich soil.
Q: Are you worried about using pressure treated wood? Doesn’t that wood, newspaper, and cardboard have toxic chemicals in it?
A: No, modern pressure treated wood does not have the same chemicals and concerns that pressure treated wood had several year ago. Most cardboards and newspapers are made with biodegradable non-toxic inks.
Q: What do I need to do to be ready for a garden?
A: A few easy steps- 1) sign-up online or in person; 2) Pay the $50 fee or arrange your volunteer activity; 3) take a garden basics class; 4) Schedule a time for the crew to come build your garden with you. Here are more details about these steps.
Q: Where is a good place for a garden at my house?
A: You will need to answer the following questions- Where do I want my garden? Will it get enough sunlight? How will I water it? How will I keep animals from eating my garden?
A: We will help you answer all these questions, but the answers are too long for the FAQ page. Each new gardener will be have guidance in answering those questions. We can help you pick a good place for your garden, and plan what you will plant and when. Before we build a garden we will ask that the new gardener come to at least one class. You will learn all you need to start gardening successfully.
Q: When will the classes be offered and who will teach them?
A: Basic gardening classes will be taught from mid-March to May at Lighthouse Community School (6100 Desmond St.). Classes will be taught by volunteers and staff members all trained in basic gardening methods. We prefer to teach the “Square Foot Gardening” method, in case you’d like to get a jump start on your learning.
Q: I’m have back issues and bending down to garden is difficult. Have any solutions?
A: Yes. In a special case we can bring the soil up to you by building your garden at tabletop height. Ask about a “really, really” raised bed.
Q: How much will a garden cost?
A: Yes. A standard 4 feet by 8 feet garden with soil, seeds, and plant starts cost $150. Because of donations, volunteers, and other fundraising subsidies, the cost to a Madisonville gardener will be $50. You can decrease the cost by helping other people build their gardens or by volunteering your time for other parts of the project. We also build in communities surrounding Madisonville for a higher fee.
Q: I can’t grow everything I want in one little garden box. What should I do?
A: Consider adding a second or third box. Also, from May to September we host gardener gatherings so gardeners can come together and share ideas and swap extra produce.
Q: I rent my place. Can I still get a garden?
A: Yes. You should talk to your landlord, but we don’t mind if you own or rent.
Q: There is no good place for a garden where I live. How can I garden?
A: You can get a plot at a community garden. You can share a plot with a neighbor or friend. If you’re interested in this, we can help connect you.
Q: You mentioned gardens at businesses. What do you mean?
A: Some businesses, like restaurants, might have a small garden to grow their own herbs and vegetables. Some businesses will build gardens for their employees to work during breaks- a good reason to get outside for a minute and get some sunshine, air, and stretch. Research shows that 20 minutes outside each workday makes workers more productive.