Don’t Get Left Behind; It’s Almost GARDENING Time!

Are you thinking about your 2021 garden? You should be! There’s plenty (drought, pests, disease) that can go wrong despite good planning. Why make things more difficult by waiting until the last minute?

Here’s what I do every January when it’s bitterly cold or icy and I don’t want to venture outside. First I get out my gardening journal — surely you have one! I admit that I didn’t start keeping a yearly garden journal for almost 20 years. Then I forgot and bought seeds for a tomato variety that I had grown before and didn’t like. What a waste of valuable garden space! Lesson learned! Anyway, I go through my notes from the previous year and see what varieties I planted and how they did in regards to yield, diseases, pests, etc. Then I ask my co-gardener, Matt, what he liked best about the garden (sugar snap peas!) and what he didn’t like (kale—but it’s good for him!). Then I trace a new garden outline into my journal from my layout map and start planning what will make the cut this year.

Kathy's husband standing between rows of trellised peas in their garden
Matt in the sugar snap peas

Knowing how many square feet you have to plant is critical to proper spacing of your plants. If there’s one complaint I hear more than any other it’s “my plants didn’t do well and I barely got anything from them.” I’d estimate that 80% of the time it’s because the gardener tried to cram too many plants into too small a space. While intensive gardening can be very successful, it is usually the result of mixing different plants with different requirements throughout the season — not planting 4 pepper plants in 4 square feet.

I’d suggest referring to this MU Extension guide for suggested spacing if you are planting a lot of one type of vegetable. If you want to do intensive gardening in a small space, consult this section of the MU Extension Missouri Master gardener manual.

While CGC gardeners will be offered seeds and plants of tried and true varieties during the season, it can be fun to look to other sources for new and exciting varieties. Your choices are mind-boggling. If this interests you, I suggest looking now while the best varieties are still available because that seed goes fast!

After deciding what plants I want to grow, I go through all my leftover seeds. Questions I ask myself are: what types have I got, how old are they, and is there enough for the upcoming season. Did you know that many seeds are good for several years if stored under cool, dark, and dry conditions? Opinions vary on seed viability lengths but here’s a quick rundown from Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog:

1 Year: onions, parsnips, parsley, salsify, spinach

2 Years: corn, peas, beans, chives, okra

3 Years: carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips

4 Years: peppers, chard, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, basil

5 Years: cauliflower, broccoli, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers,
muskmelons, celery, lettuce, endive

one red and two green tomatoes on the vine

Next up, are you growing any plants from seed at home? Each year, I grow a variety of our favorite heirloom tomatoes from seeds that I have saved from last year’s fruits. It’s really very easy, just get on the Internet and type in “saving tomato seeds.”

However, if you’re inspired to try this yourself keep in mind that only “open-pollinated” seeds will breed true and be nearly identical to the parent plant. In other words, do not attempt this with hybrid varieties unless you are okay with mystery vegetables! For tips on the necessary supplies and methods of starting various vegetable seeds at home check out this MU extension guide.

Finally, for a good overall guide to get you started, try Vegetable Gardening by James Quinn and David Trinklein, Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri.

Here’s wishing you a happy and productive 2021 gardening season!

Wow! Thank You, CoMoGives Supporters!

four Ash St. gardeners standing distanced from each other wave too the photographer from the pathway between to fenced plots full of midsummer vegetable plants. A box with CGC and CoMoGives logos says "Thank You"

We received over $5,000 $5,500 in donations this year from more than 70 80 donors through CoMoGives in December!!!

That means A LOT to our small, all-volunteer organization! We are so appreciative of your support and your enthusiasm for community gardening!

These donations will go directly into our budget for assisting community gardens with water, tools, supplies, plants, mulch, fences, mowers and other garden improvements. And HALF of our total is pledged to projects at the Friendship Community Garden! Stay tuned in 2021 to watch them grow!

A Few More Days to Give

As December winds down, please remember that you can support local nonprofits like the Community Garden Coalition through December 31 via CoMoGives.

The money we raise through CoMoGives 2020 will fund improvements to the Friendship Community Garden and allow us to continue supporting our other member gardens with tools, water, supplies and more for the next growing season. We’re more than 70% of the way to our $5,000 goal, and you can be sure that even a small donation can make a big difference!

We appreciate all the supportive feedback we’ve gotten from gardeners and community members this year. Maybe working in your garden meant a little more to you or provided a larger portion of your family’s food. Offering people those opportunities is what we’re all about.

Thanks for being a part of our gardening community Let’s look forward to a new growing season and a new year!

Unite4Health Garden Inspires Happiness and Nurtures Health

Situated next to the Columbia/Boone County Health Department on City-owned property, the Unite4Health Garden offers individual plots to people from all over the community. The CGC is so happy to partner with the City of Columbia to support this large garden.

This year, we asked gardeners to share their thoughts about why they valued community gardening. A few Unite4Health gardeners shared what their community garden plots have meant to them.

“I can grow the best quality vegetables, and save an enormous amount of money, while enjoying self-sufficiency and the nurturing of a garden.”
~ Anne Jacobson, Garden Co-Leader

“The community garden has provided benefits beyond my expectations. There’s the exercise in biking or walking to and from the site along with the outside work required. I have shared the whole experience with my granddaughter as we have produced outstanding home grown tomatoes and other vegetables to savor and share with friends and neighbors. A bonus has been meeting like-minded gardeners and everyone has been extremely helpful.”
~ J.R. Holliday

“I am so grateful for my community garden plot at the Unite4Health garden. I don’t have enough sun in my yard to have one at home, and I missed gardening. I also love that I can control what goes into and on my food–no pesticides or chemical residues. There’s nothing like your own produce straight from the garden you grew yourself, and it’s so much more delicious and nutritious than store-bought. And it’s wonderful to dig in the dirt for your mental and physical health.”
~ Amanda Sprochi

There are still a few days left to show your love to community gardens in Columbia with a gift to CGC via the CoMoGives local giving campaign! We are directing half of what we raise this year to the Friendship Gardens group and the rest will help us continue supporting great gardens like Unite4Health.

And, P.S., we are so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of CoMoGives and the Community Foundation of Central Missouri. They make it so easy to give to all your favorite nonprofits that make our community what it is!

  • Anne Jacobson's plot at Unite4Health garden
  • Garden leader Cheryl in the sweet potato patch at the Unite4Health garden
  • A socially distanced garen party at Unite4Health garden
  • garden leader Cheryl poses with a small apple tree with a couple red apples at Unite4Health garden
  • a gardener at Unite4Health garden
  • gardeners from Unite4Health pose while digging up sweet potatoes in a community plot
  • two gardeners wearing masks pose while tending to their plot in late fall 2020 at the Unite4Health garden

Interfaith Garden Planters

3 Interfaith gardeners standing at the garden with some of their harvestThis fall, my husband Matt and I took a tour of the Interfaith Garden with Lily Chan, the garden leader. This garden is located behind the Beth Shalom synagogue at 500 W. Green Meadows Road and is a collaboration between Beth Shalom and the Newman Center. Volunteers grow a wide variety of organic produce such as greens, beans, tomatoes, okra, sweet potatoes, herbs and even persimmons for the Central Missouri Food Pantry.

When Lily showed us some planters that the Boy Scouts had built for them, I couldn’t help noticing that they looked almost identical to the ones that my husband, Matt had been building this year for us and our neighbors. When Lily mentioned that they wished they had more of these planters, I filed it away for later to ask Matt if he was willing to build some more for them. (My happy relationship tip is never volunteer your spouse/significant other without asking first!) Matt was willing! He put together an estimate for two more planters, and the Community Garden Coalition approved it and paid for the supplies. A couple of weeks later, we delivered them to the garden.

Interfaith Garden board members and Matt Knowlton pose at the garden with raised planters

Interfaith Garden board members and Matt Knowlton (center) pose at the garden with the raised planters

Here’s what Lily had to say:

Thank you so much for the beautifully made planters you donated to the Interfaith Garden. It was a work of art. Brent, Mike, Susan, I, and all our volunteers are very grateful to you both for your generosity and kindness towards us and for contributing to the Interfaith Garden’s mission of feeding the poor in our community. And the timing is so perfect, too. We can start putting plant remains in there and top them with leaves and compost so they will be ready to be planted by spring.

This is just one of the many ways that the Community Garden Coalition is helping to support our community. Please consider making a donation to support gardens like the Interfaith Garden this December.

You can donate via CoMoGives through December 31!

 

Halfway to Our CoMoGives Goal!

It’s just over halfway through December, and we’ve raised more than half of our $5,000 goal through the CoMoGives local giving program!! Thank you for all you’ve given and for sharing our message with your friends!

Speaking of halves, we’re pledging half of what we raise to the Friendship Community Garden. Find out more about this diverse, resilient garden that is trying to improve the health of their neighbors and friends with this short video from the City of Columbia.

You can support Friendship Gardens, and all the member community gardens through Dec. 31 when you donate to the Community Garden Coalition through CoMoGives.

Tiller Donation! Wow!

We want to thank Vance and Becky Clearwater who kindly donated their Troy-Bilt Horse rototiller to the Community Garden Coalition last week! We got it on the 27th and put it to use on the 28th! Here it is tilling some beds at the Ann Street Garden. 

Matt using the donated tiller at the Ann St. Garden

If you’re thinking of donating garden tools or equipment, see our “Give Stuff” page.

And don’t forget: During the month of December, we’re working with #CoMoGives to raise money for the 2021 gardening season and the Friendship Community Garden. You can help us reach our $5,000 goal — every little bit helps! Donate today at CoMoGives.

Do Your Part to Help Community Gardening Thrive


One of the best parts of being on the board of the Community Garden Coalition is the opportunity to visit all of our gardens. Although it’s been less frequent this year due to the virus, I’ve still been invited to socially-distanced garden parties, harvesting events, and just to talk with gardeners and see how things are going.

When I’m struggling to fill out all the forms for our city grant (which only provides about half of our funding), I find it’s wise to take a break and look at some of the garden pictures we’ve taken during the year. It reminds me how important this organization is to so many people, and why I want to continue doing my part to help!

You can do your part to help others December 1-31, with a donation to the Community Garden Coalition through CoMoGives.

New this year, we are pledging half of what we raise through CoMoGives to Friendship Community Garden!

This newer garden located on Smiley Lane at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, has been growing in membership despite a lack of good soil, a storage shed and a water spigot. We are hoping that you will help us to help them!

Friendship Garden leaders and members have done a lot of creative problem solving in their few years of existence. From coming up with a water hauling and storage system last year to pivoting during the pandemic to offer a garden education program to kids displaced from their regular summer camp. Their efforts are inspiring and the CGC wants to help them continue to improve their garden.

CoMoGives logo

Even a small donation can go a long way in our budget! Your dollars stay local, and they’ll go directly back into supporting community gardens used by your neighbors and friends with hoses, wheelbarrows, lawnmowers, seeds, compost and more.

You and your friends can also stay in touch with CGC and check on our progress by following us on Facebook. Thank you for your support and consideration, and happy holiday season from myself and the rest of the CGC Board of Directors!

Kathy Doisy, President

CGC Board Members
Jenny McDonald, Vice President
Bill McKelvey, Treasurer
Ann Marie Gortmaker
Kristin Hatton
Cheryl Jensen
Sarah Kendrick



Thankful for Community Gardening in 2020

In this turbulent year, we know many folks found extra worth in cultivating a garden.

We’re so glad that we could find ways to help our member gardens thrive this year. And, we’d like to the thank all our hardworking garden leaders and volunteers as well as the land owners who allow these gardens to grow. THANK YOU! We are so appreciative of what you do and how you help your community!

Collage of community gardening photos from 2020, "Thank you gardeners, volunteers & donors! Donate to #CoMoGives in December!"

To wrap up our year, the Community Garden Coalition is participating in the community-wide CoMoGives fundraising campaign, December 1-31.

New this year, whatever amount we raise, we are pledging half to the Friendship Community Garden! We want to bolster this newer garden by helping them fund some bigger-ticket needs like a shed and topsoil. We’re so pleased to partner with this group and greatly appreciate their involvement with the CGC! 

You can donate to the CGC and help support Friendship Garden and all the member gardens starting on Giving Tuesday, December 1 via CoMoGives.com.

And CoMoGives makes it so easy to give to all your favorite nonprofits! So many groups are doing important work in our community and need extra support this year. Please help spread the word about CoMoGives to your friends and family!

Season’s End 2020

As November winds down, most garden plots are finished producing for the season. Before you shift away from thinking about gardening for the winter, though, please do the following.

  • If you’re at a community or group garden, let your garden leader know whether you’re planning to return next year. This will help leaders know what plots will be available for newcomers next year.
  • Clean up your plot. If you need tips on how to put your garden to bed for the winter, consult your garden leader.
  • Consider making a year-end donation to the CGC to help with maintaining your community garden next year. We’re a very small, all-volunteer non-profit, and even modest contributions help us fund water, mulch, tools and more to support community gardening in Columbia.
    Donate here today, or wait for December 1 when the CGC will be participating in the CoMo Gives local giving campaign.
  • Consider donating some of your time. Individual gardens need good leaders and team members and the board of the CGC could use new members, too. Contact your garden leader or our board members to get involved.