Frequently Asked Questions about the garden.
Answers to some common garden questions


If you think a question should be here but isn't, drop us a line to webmaster 'at' berkeleygardens.org



Q: Why are garden spots given out in a lottery system

A: We have found a random-drawing lottery system to be the most fair way to add new gardeners to our community. It allows everyone an equal chance of getting in the garden, and removes any perception of favoritism or discrimination.


Q: What do I do with my new plot?

A: Seeing your new plot can be daunting. Some plots are in good condition, some will need some work.
  • During lottery day, we have many people on hand who can help you out, and have a dumpster available for larger trash.
  • The dumpster will be there all weekend, so you'll have time on Sunday if additional cleanup needs to be made.
  • If there are problems with the fence around your garden plot, contact maintenance 'at' berkeleygardens.org
How to organize your plot is up to you. If you are overwhelmed, take some time to see the other plots in the garden to get some ideas. Will you grow flowers or veggies? Raised beds? free form gardening? maybe build a small patio. Its up to you. As long as you follow the rules and don't build any large structures or block your neighbors garden, you can be as creative as you like. If you would like to building something but are unsure if it will fit in with the garden rules, please contact us.


Q: What can I plant in my garden

A: You can grow almost anything in the garden. the only thing we prohibit are trees and invasive plants such as morning glories. if you plant 'spreading' plants such as raspberries, we ask that you bury them in their containers or restrict them in some other way so they don't invite your neighboring gardens.


Q: Where can I get plants?

A: You can plant both plants and seeds in your garden. Seeds can be ordered on line or bought from any local store. Plants can be bought from any store, although we encourage shopping local. Some ideas for both are listed under
the Resources tab.


Q: When can I plant

A: You can plant nearly year round if you'd like. (Many gardeners are using cold frame, which help extend their growing season)
  • For veggies, Spring and Fall are best for the colder crops. April is the perfect time for your greens - plant peas, broccoli, lettuce, chard, spinach and root vegetables are fine for the cooler months. For your tomatoes, squash and other summer crops, late May is a better time to plant. We are in growing Zone 6a, so some internet research will tell you when you should plant what. You can also grow winter crops, but use caution - things like winter rye sounds nice, but come spring you now have a plot full of grass you need to dig out :)
  • Here is a handy chart of what veggies to grow/sow when.
  • For flowering plants, follow the growers instructions. Advice from a growing center can help you choose plants that will flower in spring, summer and fall, so you can choose a variety of plants to ensure blooms all season long.


Q: Is it safe to eat things grown in the garden?

A: The garden is located on a lot where houses used to stand. However, when the garden was formalized, trucks and trucks of soil added a good foot of prime sol onto the garden spaces. In the 30 years since, gardeners have added soil and compost, so the soil you have is safe and rich. If you are unsure, you can send a sample to the UMASS soil testing facility, where for $15 they will analyze your soil for lead and other contaminates, and will also tell you what supplements your soil needs for what you would like to grow. Find the test
application on-line here. Select Routine Analysis for Home grounds & Gardening.


Q: My garden needs a gate. When can I get one?

A: Gates were envisioned to be built by the gardeners themselves, giving them the ability to provide 'artistic expression' to their garden. But we do realize not everyone is a carpenter. If you need a gate or your gate needs repair, and you want the leadership to help you out, send us an e-mail. But, there are a lot of repairs that need to be done all over the garden, and the volunteer construction team will get to all work as quickly as they can.


Q: Do you have any tools I can use?

A: You are responsible for acquiring all the tools you need to work your garden. On Monday night cleanups, and during maintenance sessions, the Garden tool shed will be unlocked, and you can borrow any of our tools at that time.


Q: How does water work in the garden

A: The cost of water is covered by your annual plot fee.
  • Water is turned on and off seasonally by the city, usually turned on in April and off in October - the date varies year to year and is determined by the city. If you plant in the spring before the water is turned on, you should be fine. There is enough rain in the spring that will keep your plants healthy. You can bring some water from home in a bottle or jug - but again, most of the time in spring your plants won't need water.
  • Our water is on a timer and is on roughly 6am-8pm. This is to prevent the water from being on left all night by vandals.
  • You are free to water your garden from any garden tap. You are responsible for getting and storing your own hose. Hoses can be stored in your garden.


Q: What about water conservation?

A: We ask that everyone water responsibly. Water only when your garden has dried out. And when you do water, water deeply (Water lightly for 15-20 min rather than drench them for 2 minutes). This allows the water to seep into the ground, and encourages your plant roots to grow down, where the soil dries out less. Watering just a little and frequently will cause your plant roots to stay near the surface and be more susceptible to drying out. in flowerbeds, mulching can help reduce your watering needs. In your veggie beds, using compost as mulch can help reduce watering, keep the weeds down,
and help your soil!
If you install drip hoses, make sure you remember to turn the water off when done and don't accidentally over water.
We don't have any rain barrels in the garden, but you are welcome to have a rain water retention system in your own plot, but please make sure it is covered in some way and does not become a breeding ground for mosquitos.


Q: How do I dispose trash from my garden?

A: You are responsible for disposing of trash form your garden. Please put your trash into a bag and bring it home with you, where you can put it out with your household trash. During our weekly cleanup nights, we have permission from several Dwight St. residents to put general garden trash with their household trash (someone will direct you to the appropriate houses). Don't forget this applies to actual trash - please compost green waste whenever you can.


Q: Does BCG compost their greenery?

A: We no longer have a garden compost area. Our compost areas gathered too much trash, so we were forced to discontinue garden compost. You are welcome to have a small compost facility in your garden, as long as it is in a closed container. Open compost containers can become home to rodents. We do however get compost that the City makes, and is delivered to the garden each year. Leadership will make an announcement to gardeners when this happens.