Gardening styles and philosophies can collide in any neighborhood where manicured lawns clash with wildflower plots, so you'd think that community gardeners tending plots shoulder to shoulder would run into trouble. But community gardeners seem to put as much emphasis on community as they do gardening.
Ingrid Phillips, a gardener at Sabathani Community Center, said that all the gardeners at the extensive site in Minneapolis show respect for one another, often lending a hand or offering advice to newbies.
From the suburbs to the city, most community gardens typically post a few basic rules governing behavior at these popular hubs of horticulture. But here are 10 rules to follow to keep the peas -- I mean, the peace -- in any shared garden.
MIND YOUR PLOT
Plots need to be planted by a certain date and regularly maintained. One of the biggest gripes among community gardeners is plots that are untended and weedy. If you, or a fellow gardener, get behind, consider asking the community for help.
KEEP PATHS CLEAR
Gardeners need to be able to negotiate between plots with watering cans and wheelbarrows. Keep the area around your plot clean and consider using wood chips or mesh cloth on pathways.
HONOR THE BOUNDARIES
Good fences definitely make good neighbors. Temporary fences made from mesh, wire or wood help to define the boundaries and keep clumsy feet from crushing tender new seedlings. They also help to deter deer and rabbits.
If you're planting tall plants, consider the shadow they'll cast. Some plants, such as corn, can shade out the plants in the next plot. And remember that large, permanent plantings such as raspberries, blackberries and asparagus may be prohibited by the rules of the garden.
Not all community gardens have supplied water. If yours does, take pains to conserve it. Water early to prevent evaporation. Fix leaky hoses. And don't haul hoses across another plot.
Most community gardens prohibit or strongly dissuade the use of synthetic chemicals for pest and weed control, even fertilizing. Instead of turning to chemicals, ask another gardener for strategies in dealing with insects and diseases.
KEEP IT CLEAN
If there isn't a composter on-site, take home clippings and dead plants and compost them at home. Diseased and pest-ridden plants should be taken away.
KEEP A LID ON NOISE
Community gardens usually are bustling with activity, but unwanted noise from radios and cellphones is frowned upon. Turn off the gadgets and commune with nature.
Kids are welcomed at most community gardens, in part because early exposure to the joys of gardening can spur a lifelong passion for planting. Unruly kids, however, spoil it for everyone. Keep kids under control and leave pets at home.
DO NOT STEAL
Theft can be a problem at community gardens that are away from the watchful eyes of nearby homeowners. Promptly harvesting your produce helps cut down on theft.
Rhonda Fleming Hayes is a Minneapolis-based garden writer. She blogs at www.thegardenbuzz.com.