Northampton Community Garden

Spring Greetings from the Garden

Welcome to both Returning and New Gardeners!

This is the first in a series of Garden posts you’ll see over the next weeks as we work out the 2021 Schedule of Garden Events and respond to the evolving local/state COVID regulations as they pertain to the Garden.
The most important things you need to know right now:

  • Earlier this week the City of Northampton issued new COVID regulations regarding masks: effective immediately, masks must be worn in all outdoor public places at all times. This means that all gardeners must wear masks while we’re in the Garden – both in our own plots and while we move through the Garden.
  • The Garden is fully rented out for the season. We fulfilled as many requests for additional plots from Returning Gardeners as we received. And we registered 30+ new gardeners last weekend. There are currently no additional plots to assign/rent. So there will be lots of new faces in the Garden this season!
  • If you are a New Gardener – we’re working with the City to figure out at way to be able to hold a couple of in-person New Gardener Orientation events at the Garden in early April. Watch for updates! In the mean time please email us with questions and/or ask other gardeners.

New Gardener Sign-Up Event Last Weekend

  • We worked closely with the Rec. Dept. and were able to hold an in-person New Gardener Sign-Up Event last Saturday morning, March 21st.
  • We were mostly outside (with masks, tables, traffic cones, hand sanitizer, and lots of bleach wipes) at the Rec. Dept.
  • Happily, the weather cooperated and those waiting in line were very patient.
  • Thank you to long-time gardeners, Patty Ryan & Tom Gagnon, and to the Rec. Dept.’s Sandra Gross for working with us to process new registrations.

Garden Opening Dates and Events

  • Water – As always, the water turn-on date is TBD by the DPW. We’ll let you know when it’s scheduled to be turned on as soon as we hear from them. It depends on April’s temperatures.
  • And thank you to Rec. Dept. Director Ann-Marie Moggio for working with us to organize and run the event.
  • Tool Shed – We will be able to use the shared tools in the Tool Shed this year. We have a few details to work out and safety rules to put in place before we open it and share the new lock combination. Stay tuned!
  • To minimize the number of gardeners in the Garden at any one time, we will be doing Garden Opening events on different days – the same way we did it for Garden Closing in the Fall. We’ll let you know those dates ASAP, including hose deployment, and dates for delivery of bulk compost and straw bales.
  • Garden Neighbors – if you served as a Garden Neighbor last year, please contact coordinator Ellie Cook ( about your availability this year. With so many new gardeners, we’d like to get the Garden Neighbors team set up and signs in your plots as quickly as we can.

Garden Committee

  • We will be looking to fill a couple of positions on the Garden Committee this year. All positions on the GC are working roles – meaning that you will be responsible for managing some aspect of the daily Garden operations and reporting back to the GC at our monthly meetings.
  • Serving on the Garden Committee fulfills your annual Community Service responsibilities.
  • Right now we need a Mowing Manager to oversee the mowing schedule. Please let us know if you’re interested!

As always, let us know if you have questions or if there are other things we need to address.

Larri Cochran & Betsey Wolfson

for the Garden Committee

October End-of-Season Events at the Garden

Greetings from the Garden!

Just a few more days before we officially close the Garden for the year. You can still work in your plots but hoses will be gone, water turned off and the dumpster will be removed – all by the end of October.
In light of COVID-19 precautions, we have spread Garden closing events across two weekends this season rather than doing everything on one day. Last Saturday we did hay/straw and compost deliveries. And we’ll be on site to do a final work day to gather hoses and clean up the Garden this coming Saturday, October 24th.

Garden Newsletter
Here’s the October edition of the Garden Newsletter. Yes, we meant to get it out before last weekend so disregard the compost/straw delivery information! Sorry! But please read through it – you’ll find a bunch of Garden information which will be particularly useful for new gardeners. And there are also two wonderful articles by Jori Ross.

Upcoming Events
Saturday, October 24th, 10:00AM – 2:00PM Cleanup Day
Come to the Garden on Saturday, October 24th, 10:00AM – 2:00PM, to help get the garden ready for winter. If you have not fulfilled your two-hours-per-plot service requirement, this is a great time to help out!
Garden Committee members will be on hand with a list of garden chores which need to be completed.
Please remember that you need to wear your masks at the Garden while you’re working. We’ll also have plans in place to allow everyone to maintain adequate distance for other gardeners.

Sunday, October 25th – Fall Garden Inspection
Every gardener must clean up and secure their plot(s) in preparation for winter. Inspections are a simple “pass or fail”. If your plot does not meet the guidelines as outlined in the bullets below, you will receive an e-mail (or notice by mail) telling you what needs to be done. Plots which do not meet ALL of these requirements will fail.

Here’s what the inspectors will be looking for:

  1. A legible sign with plot # in place.
  2. Dead vegetable plants, vines and other non-perennial plants removed.
  3. Weeds removed and tall grasses cut back (inside plots and around the edges).
  4. Sunflowers cut back.
  5. Tools, trash, watering cans, empty bags, etc. removed
  6. Chairs, stakes, pots, tomato cages, personal hoses, plastic ground covering, bird houses, bird baths, etc. neatly stored and/or secured.

There will be a “last-chance” inspection the following weekend. If your plot fails as of that last inspection, you will be unable to complete a full registration for next season.

Water and Dumpster
The dumpster will be removed on Monday morning, October 26th.
We’re not sure of the final date for water shut-off. But it’s generally done by the end of October. We’ll send out an email as soon as we hear from the DPW.

Community Service Hours Reporting & Opportunities
If you’ve finished your CS hours, please make sure to report them to us at so we can log them. For gardeners who still need to complete their Community Service Hours for the season, here’s a list of jobs that you can sign up for:

  • Fall Clean Up Team (10/24) – Contact Larri at to sign up.
  • Plot Clean Up and Branch Pruning – We have an updated list of plots that need weeds pulled, holes filled and debris removed, and a new list of areas of Asian Bittersweet vines & branches which need to be pruned & pulled. Contact Larri at for a plot/location.

Garden Committee meetings have been virtual this season. Normally our meetings are on the second Wednesday of each month. As always gardeners are welcome to submit questions. If you want to talk about something, you’ll just need to let us know in advance so we can add your topic to the agenda for that meeting.

As always, please let us know if you have questions or if there are other things we need to address.

Larri Cochran & Betsey Wolfsonfor the Garden Committee

August 2020 Weed Inspection

As gardeners, we all need to be aware of the following plants which are harmful to our plots and can cause severe allergies to ourselves or our garden neighbors. It is important that we look for them in our plots and remove them.

We’ve changed the July Ragweed Inspection to a broader-focused August Weed Inspection. We’ll be looking for these weeds to be removed from your plots by the second week of August.

Photographs of Garlic Mustard, Asian Bittersweet, Japanese Knotweed, and Ragweed for reference
  • Garlic Mustard – A biennial plant with a garlic odor when leaves are crushed.The leaf is kidney shaped and there are small white flowers in the Spring. The plant can produce thousands of seeds which are dispersed by winds. This plant can change soil conditions which can inhibit the growth of other plants. Pull out at the base and try to remove the entire long tap root.
  • Bittersweet – A climbing woody vine.New twig growth is smooth and green. Plant grows rapidly, girdling and choking plants and bushes. Seeds are dispersed by birds. Cut vines to ground and hand pull or dig out root portions.
  • Japanese Knotweed – An extremely strong and aggressive plant. It spreads rapidly by underground rhizomes. The plant has bamboo like stems and large bright green leaves. Eliminate as much of root system as possible when removing to slow the spread. It will reoccur so continue to monitor its presence.
  • Ragweed – A plant which produces pollen in August. The pollen may cause severe respiratory duress to many people. Leaves are fern-like, and feathery green. Flowers are yellow and long streamer-like. Plants can be hand-pulled, preferably before they flower.

Do not put these plants in the compost piles when you remove them. Bag them and place in dumpster.

If you need further help in identifying these plants, please seek out a Garden Neighbor in your zone or email the garden committee at