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Summit Community Gardens faces weather and wildlife challenges

With frost cloth hard to come by, gardeners did what they could to save their plantings in advance of freezing weather.
Leslie Thatcher
With frost cloth hard to come by, gardeners did what they could to save their plantings in advance of freezing weather.

Gardeners with a plot at Summit Community Gardens have faced weather and wildlife frustrations this season. Even so, nearly a ton of fresh food will be harvested for this year’s Food Farmacy.

A shortage of frost cloth and an extended cold snap wreaked havoc on some of the crops being grown at Summit Community Gardens this summer. Executive Director Helen Nadel says when temperatures plunged below freezing in mid-June, many plot owners were able to salvage their plantings. But there are some crops that just don’t like cold weather.

“That frost we had a couple of weeks ago, really took some things out for people,” Nadel said. “We covered all those crops, all the summer fruiting crops, we had literally just put in and lost a bunch. So, it's that time of the garden where it's gorgeous, there's also a little heartbreak, right? There's definitely a little heartbreak in gardening, I think whether you're a home gardener or garden with us at Summit Community Gardens. There’s a lot of joy that comes but there's also those moments, Mother Nature has a way of taking some things out.”

If it wasn’t the weather taking out crops, it’s been the wildlife. Nadel says they can only do so much, but has recommendations for anyone who may be challenged by the onsite rodent population.

“Because we are an organic garden putting poison in in any way would damage the entire ecosystem and so people are throwing tons of cayenne pepper in bulk in their garden. Coffee grinds can be helpful. We can set some traps. We're also exploring extermination services. That's not something that we, you know, we're a tiny nonprofit – not something we have the budget for, but we are exploring that.”

There is still time to get a garden planted and Nadel says they have a few plots available as plans changed for plot owners this summer.

“Folks who joined the garden thinking may be able to garden and something happened, some you know, plans changed. And so we have a few plots that are available and people can still plant a lot of things right now – summer squash, beans, roots, like carrots, radishes, greens, all those things you can put in the garden right now.

While Nadel expected to grow nearly a ton of fresh food to donate to the Food Farmacy, they’ve backed that down to 1500 pounds for this season because of the gardening challenges. The good news she says is the rodents will begin to hibernate later this month.

Anyone interested in a garden plot, contact the gardens director or through this link.