Community Garden Drawback Number One: Neighbors

That title doesn’t sound very good, does it? I’ve been wanting to write a full post on all the positive and negative things about community gardening I’ve been noticing over the years but just haven’t got it together. Since I did a previous post on one of the positives quite a while back, I thought I’d just start throwing out random ones over time as they occur to me. I even contemplated designating them as “Crops and Flops” or “Bests and Pests” but nothing inspired  (obviously) has come forward as a name I haven’t already heard so I’m just going to muddle on. If you have any brilliant suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them.

The first of my garden gripes I’m going to share with you, neighbors, has been near the forefront of my gardening mind lately. The plots are laid out in our gardens in paired rows with a grass path between each pair so most of us are surrounded on three sides by other people’s plots and a strip of grass. The rules require gardeners to keep an open path on all shared sides for easy access. We’ve got a range of weed tolerance around us ranging from a long-time gardener who is more casual than we are but keeps the more aggressive weeds in check to the two half-plot gardeners that back up to us and appear to think it’s rude to weed too close to the edge. Consequently, on that side there are grass and raspberry runners I got so tired of repeatedly beating back I finally just buried boards on edge as a wall against them.

The third side is the big concern this season.


The gardener in this plot has, since at least when we began gardening next door, typically waited until late May to get it tilled except for the nice, round herb bed in the center. They then plant and heavily mulch the entire thing in one fell swoop. It really was an interesting and inspiring garden bordered by tomatoes and sunflowers with squash rambling beneath. Weeds weren’t removed religiously, but it was tolerable. I’m not really the grouchy perfectionist garden neighbor, though I may sound like it today. I just have a different style.

Now it’s late June, the Summer Solstice is tomorrow, in fact. For whatever reason the plot hasn’t been touched and is a jungle of waist-high grass and weeds. You can even see a tree sapling off to a good start. The gardener was issued a warning over two weeks ago and given, I believe, two or three weeks to clean it up or surrender it. Unfortunately, the period when warnings are given and the time gardeners are given to comply allow weeds plenty of time to flower and set seed. All we neighbors can do is try to defend our borders.

Much of what may seem like this kind of bad garden neighborliness is, I truly believe, just inexperience and some ignorance about weeds. In the case of our particular gardens, cultural attitudes may come into play as well. The garden committee and individual gardeners do what they can to educate and help. Still, when I’m pulling up rhizomes that zipper off our plot and into the neighbor’s I start to fantasize about the day I have a garden of my own at home I can truly control on all sides. But then I’m sure I’d miss the perks of community gardening. I promise next time to write about one of the positive aspects of gardening on land shared with others so I don’t sound like such a grouchy old man.

12 responses to this post.

  1. How about ‘Community Garden Room 101’ ? Not sure we could put our fellow allotmenteers in there though ! My offering would be ‘neighbours who come onto our plot and move things around when we’re not there’ !! :)


  2. Your post makes me double, triple, quadruple appreciate my nice big, private place. I’m probably not honing many social skills and I’m certainly allowing way to many weeds to go to seed, but at least its my own fault on my own ground. Though, at my mom’s her neighbor mowed down a beautiful patch of Zinnias. My mantra….. “don’t freak out. don’t freak out. don’t….”
    Thanks for all your hearty comments to my posts. Cheers, Jim


    • I hope your mom was able to get another planting of Zinnias in. Yes, freaking out is counter-productive and I must say one of the benefits of age is learning (repeatedly) that a lot of what I used to think was a big deal isn’t a big deal.


  3. Neighbours are the pleasure, and bane, of everyone but especially gardeners who, by definition, care for their plots. You don’t sound grouchy at all; just someone who expects neighbours to take their rights and responsibilities seriously. Keep up the good work!


  4. Really like Crops and Flops or Best and Pests – great titles. I look forward to the next installment


  5. A gardener’s battle with weeds is never ending. I have ones that I particularly hate and others I tolerate because the bees like them. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve mostly open country around me so I’ve no way of controlling what the wind blows in but encroaching roots are a difficult problem. Amelia


  6. I understand your frustration. We had some neighbors this year who didn’t weed their plot until just recently. It’s been a constant battle against their encroaching quack grass, buttercup and other invasive weeds. That said, they recently swooped in and cleaned it up, so I’m a happy neighbor now. :)


    • The gardener of the problem plot surrendered it the other day and a new gardener that has been assigned to it has already made great progress in cleaning it up!


  7. […] this is half of the neglected neighboring plot with waist-high weeds going to seed all over the place. While we were out of town it was surrendered, divided in two and reassigned. The gardeners with the […]


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