top of page

 Garden Notes

These occasional posts on helpful, garden-related topics come from gardeners and others with expertise. If you'd like to share your knowledge, we welcome your contributions. 


Now that temperatures are falling and many of our summer crops are going dormant for the year, some gardeners have asked, "What is the best way to prepare my garden for the next growing season?" Accomplished Capitolo Community Garden member Joe DeLeo offers some advice that will not only prepare your bed for the coming planting season but also help control the growth of weeds and cut down on the need for watering in the hottest summer months.

"Don't worry about pulling weeds out of your bed and throwing them away," DeLeo said. "You are just taking nutrient out of the soil. Cover the surface of your soil, weeds and all, with a layer of cardboard.

DeLeo said the cardboard you use should have little or no printing on it. The less ink the better. Once the surface of your bed is covered with cardboard put a layer of shredded wood mulch on top of it. You can get up to 30 gallons of mulch for free from the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center. DeLeo recommends getting the finely shredded wood mulch, NOT the wood chips that we use on the garden pathways. Spread the mulch evenly over the surface of the cardboard, completely covering it.

Over winter, the mulch will hold moisture from winter rains and snows on the cardboard, breaking it down in the soil. Come spring, rake the mulch back from the surface of your bed, like a blanket, turn the soil, mixing the decayed cardboard and weeds back into the dirt, and plant. Then spread the mulch back over the surface of your bed, DeLeo said.

The mulch suppresses the growth of weeds, holds moisture in the soil so you don't need to water as much, and eventually breaks down to make your plot's soils more fertile. Win, win, win.

-- Jane A. Hill

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

Recent visitors to the garden may have noticed these grey bands of tape around the tree trunks of our garden’s trees. This is a non-chemical way to try to control the spread of an aggressive invasive species that entered our region last year: The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF).

This species of insect is particularly damaging to trees and grapevines. So the members of Capitolo Community Garden began a campaign last fall to destroy SLF egg masses wherever they could be found by scraping them off tree trunks, and of course to kill adults whenever they were seen.

Fortunately, the SLF is not much of a flyer despite its name. It prefers to crawl and hop!

Photo credit: Walthery, CC BY-SA 4.0

Currently, we are in the nymph season for SLF’s and the tape bands around the trees are designed to catch the adolescent bugs before they can climb the tree’s limbs. These bands will have to be replaced periodically throughout the summer when they lose their stickiness. There are currently two rolls of duct tape in the garden shed if anyone wants to band the trees when the current tape needs replacing. This is a recommended, effective and toxin free way of controlling the spread of this species, and as Capitolo Community Garden aims to keep all of its operations organic and free from harmful pesticides and herbicides, it’s one we can all get behind.

Contributed by Jane Hill

bottom of page