Individual plots available in Montevallo Community Garden

By NANCY WILSTACH / Community Columnist

For some folks, all it takes is a few sunny days to banish the winter blahs and turn thoughts toward spring.

Then come visions of turned earth, wiggling worms and tiny little green sprigs reaching for the sun. Yes, it is almost time to scratch that gardening itch.

Nathan McMinn displays a sage plant that is still green and aromatic, despite recent cold spells. (Contributed)

Nathan McMinn displays a sage plant that is still green and aromatic, despite recent cold spells. (Contributed)

For Montevallo residents the status of gardener is easy to attain. Seed to Table is the Montevallo Community Garden, with individual plots available for $25 a season.

Nathan McMinn, Seed to Table treasurer and a long-time board member, said several $25 plots are available to rent this season. Those who are interested can sign up on Arbor Day, Feb. 25, in Orr Park, or by calling McMinn at (205) 665-6537. Plots also can be reserved by calling Hettie Wagner at (205) 739-3332. After the Arbor Day signup, Wagner said she will conduct a meeting at 11 a.m. for gardeners.

The idea behind Seed to Table is that people thrive on fresh produce, and it doesn’t come any fresher than straight from your own garden. That’s the “garden” part of community gardening.

The “community” comes when you work your plot and make new friends among the other gardeners. McMinn said many of the community gardeners have participated for several years and know how to grow a surprisingly ample bounty of tomatoes, peppers, squash, greens and herbs from a 4-by-8 plot. Gardening rules are pretty simple—hook the gate when you leave, don’t leave the water running and try to practice organic methods.

One of the benefits of gardening in a community garden, McMinn said, is that a novice can get up to speed rapidly: “If you don’t know anything about gardening, I’d suggest you Google ‘square-foot gardening’ and ask people you see working over here.”

Another source for novice gardeners is the ACES.edu web site (Alabama Cooperative Extension Service) where one of the topics is “home gardening.” Of course, if a gardener aspires to a greater knowledge, the Extension office in Columbiana offers annual Master Gardener courses.

In the past, Seed to Table has purchased mushroom compost to prepare the beds for spring planting with student volunteers from the University of Montevallo. However, more gardeners must sign up and pay for plots before the Seed to Table treasury has enough money to order the $250 load of mushroom compost.

“We have to keep a balance sufficient to cover our water bills,” McMinn said.

“I am calling this our ‘rebuilding’ year,” said Wagner. “We want to attract people who may be new to gardening. We had some young folks last year who were gardening for the first time, and they really worked out well.”

The garden plot fee includes access to a garden hose and watering cans, as well as a few small garden tools.