June 1, 2020
VISTA MATTERS: Prepare For Summer Closing
VISTA Gardens Closed June 14 - Aug 14

VISTA gardens will formally close for eight weeks this summer.

The garden closes each summer for the following reasons:
  1. It's HOT!
  2. Low membership participation
  3. Soil needs time to rest and rejuvenate

This is the second year the Board has elected to close the garden during peak summer. The decision is based on prior summer experiences, when there were options to plant flowers, ground cover or summer vegetables, which resulted in unkempt beds with rampant weeds. This created an immense amount of work to clear and prep beds that fell to a small number of garden members to complete.

Plan to prep and close your bed on or before June 15 by reading the article to the right. It is a straightforward process and it pays to prepare your bed now so you have fertile soil ready for fall planting.

NOTE: If you have a strong interest and commitment to growing a summer crop, please contact Roberta  to discuss personalized options.
Six Simple Steps to Close Your Bed for Summer

When closing your bed:
  1. Chop plants down to roots at soil level
  2. Don't water for at least two weeks
  3. Then pull roots and shake them around the entire bed
  4. Take unbroken down compost and put in your bed
  5. Turn the bed and you can optionally work in worm castings, but do not add amendments
  6. Secure black landscaping cloth or nursery cloth over bed (in shed)

Tidbits:
  1. Make sure cloth is secure by placing heavy items on top, or using landscape staples (in shed). This important as it will help prevent weeds and protect the soil from nutrient loss
  2. It is not necessary to put mulch on top of cloth
  3. It is not necessary to sift the bed soil to remove roots, rocks, wood, but you can if you would like
  4. Ground cover is not recommended as it leaches nutrients from the soil
Remove and Disinfect Your Trellises, Cages, Stakes and Decor
As you close your bed for the summer, it is important to clean and disinfect your garden equipment and take it home to store. Trellises, garden stakes, hanging baskets, wind chimes and garden art can become projectiles in heavy winds.

If you elect to leave any items on top of your garden bed and there is a hurricane warning, you will be asked to come and remove them as part of your preparations (tip: add it to your preparedness list!).

To help prevent growth of unwanted microbes, disinfect your tools, garden stakes, trellises, etc. with at least 70% alcohol. Remove remove dirt, debris, or sap with a wet cloth before applying the disinfectant.
March of the Millipede
The garden committee regularly receives questions about the ever present millipede - is it a friend, or foe?

IFAS blogger, Ralph Mitchell, shares that millipedes are, "essential organisms which help breakdown large amounts of organic matter into smaller particles to the benefit of the soil ."

If your bed has too many millipedes for your comfort, do what Jay Heilman recently did and relocate them from your plot to the compost intake bin where there is plenty of organic matter to break down. It's a win win - for you and the millipede.

Check Out Our "Little Free Library"
By now, you have likely noticed VISTA Garden’s Little Free Library (LFL) annex perched atop the berm on South Village Drive, Carrollwood Village residents are welcome to stop by and exchange books, meet a friend or take a break on the benches while enjoying the shade offered by the pergola and tree cover.

The pergola, seating area and landscape was realized through an Eagle Scout project, led by Wilfred Rodriguez and Boy Scout Troop 16 (check out the project development by clicking here ).

The purchase of the bright blue LFL box was made possible through a VISTA Gardens grant received Forever Friends*. The grant also provided initial funding to purchase books focused on intergenerational relationships, respect for children and elders, gardening and nature.

In preparation for our LFL, VISTA collected books and magazines from garden members, NextDoor followers and even a garage sale seller, who donated a box of books after learning about the program. We are happy to receive donations of any used or new books or magazines on gardening topics, including: plants (veggies, herbs, fruits, trees), flowers, bees, butterflies, insects, birds, squirrels, etc. 

*Forever Friends is an intergenerational educational program that brings children and elders together. Learn more about Forever Friends by clicking here.

To learn more about the Little Free Libary movement, click here.
Welcome Our Newest Social Members!
Please join us in welcoming Ernestine "Ernie" Moore and Nicholas "Nick" Grainger, who recently joined VISTA as Social Members and are queued up on the waiting list for a plot of their own.

They are already volunteering on the experimental garden committee and recently joined volunteers on a Saturday morning to help refresh mulch around the pond and HRS entrance (how many of of us can say we've done that this year?!).

Ernie also is a photographer and shared these lovely photos (below) captured this past Saturday. Welcome Ernie and Nick!
Meeting Prospective and New Members
During the COVID-19, Rolfe Evenson, Membership Committee Chairperson, limited prospective and new member tours to one person or family at a time, with social distancing best practices in place. Roberta Owens, Garden Committee Chairperson and Marty Kleiner, Infrastructure Committee Chairperson. also meet with new members to determine their interests and start getting them involved in caring for VISTA Gardens. When you are at the garden, please join us (6 ft away, with masks) in welcoming our new members.

Photo: Marty welcomes new members, Ellen and Hernando Bernal (masks removed to see their faces)