This page is designed to give you just about all the information
you need to know to get started as a Fenway Victory Gardener.
But please browse the rest of the site for other interesting
tidbits. Veteran gardeners may find this section of interest,
AND WHY WE HAVE THEM
Your signed membership application indicates that you received
a copy of the Guidelines and Regulations and that you will
adhere to them. They represent our current agreement with
the City of Boston to garden on parkland in a manner that
is harmonious with the natural beauty of this open space.
Certain fencing materials, garden structures
and accessories are intrusive in the natural landscape. Please
speak with your Area Director before investing in supplies
or furnishings that are appropriate for household, marine,
or backyard use but are inappropriate for the Olmsted parkland.
You may notice that fencing materials in some established
gardens are not consistent with the current Guidelines and
Regulations. Exceptions are sometimes granted to gardeners
who established their gardens prior to the publication of
the new regulations. This is becoming less the case as older
gardens are turned over to new gardeners, like you. All new
structures must conform to current guidelines.
Each gardener is responsible for providing the tools and supplies
necessary to develop, prepare, and plan the plot, water, prune,
move or maintain plantings. and install fencing.
At the outset, you may need:
Spading fork or straight-edged
shovel (spade) to turn over large areas of soil
Rake to grade and level
Hand trowel for planting
Hose for watering
Cultivator or hoe for
In addition, because you are responsible
for your gate and fencing you may also want to invest in:
Even if your fence and gate are in good condition now, you
want to be able to make timely repairs should damage occur
due to storms, fallen branches, and, sadly, vandalism.
Your first step is to design your garden based on the realities
of plot size, available sun and shade, soil condition, and
water table. Its often helpful to begin with a tape
measure, pencil, and paper.
Decide on the location of your entrance.
It must be off a public path, not through or alongside an
adjoining garden. Your entrance should be at least 4
wide to allow a wheelbarrow turn.
Decide on the location of planting areas
and the pathways to service them. Orient your planting beds
to take full advantage of available sun. the sun rises over
the Prudential Tower (east) and sets over Park Drive (west).
A years experience will give you a better idea of sunlight
variations over the seasons.
Planting areas should be walked on as little
as possible. If a border can be approached from only one side,
it can be easily weeded and harvested only to a depth of 2
_ . If a bed can be approached from two sides, it can
be easily worked to a depth of 5. Pathways should be
at least 18 wide for walking, wider for curves, easier
movement of supplies, and wheelbarrow access.
Plants must not extend into the 4 public
paths. Watch where your garden ends and where the path begins.
Be prepared to move plants that grow larger than you expected.
PREPARING THE SOIL
Setting realistic expectations: Preparing the soil
in your plot is more than a weekends work. To make it
easier, consider developing the plot in sections. Cover areas
for later with tarp or weighted-down newsprint
so that you restrain weed growth until you are ready.
If your plot has a high water table (i.e.,
it floods): building up the level of your soil is the
best single solution. Bales of Peat Moss can help tremendously
during wet springs or particularly rainy seasons. They are
fairly inexpensive and aerate the heavier clay soil. When
you get discouraged, remember that in the dry, hot summer
months wetness is a virtue.
If your soil is dry: To prepare the
soil for planting in a dry area:
Clear plot of debris
Rototill or turn over
the top 6-10 of soil
Break up large clods
Remove large stones and
weeds, including their underground root systems
Add organic matter (such
as sphagnum and peat moss) turning it in below the surface
of the soil to improve soils capacity to hold air, water,
Once prepared, avoid stepping on the soil.
Decide whether to Rototill or turn over the
plot by hand. Rototilling is faster than hand turning and
ideal for breaking up compacted or weed-entrenched soil. It
makes the next soil preparation steps quicker and more thorough.
You may want to borrow a friends Rototiller, or rent
Start tackling weeds now. Weeds seeds
sprout quickly in freshly turned soil. Immediately before
planting, rake the top of 1 of planting beds to disturb
germinating weed seeds.
pH (potential of Hydrogen) is a measure of your soils
acidity. Soil in areas with a moderate rainfall, like Boston,
becomes acidic over time. Soil in dry areas, like the Midwest,
becomes alkaline over time.
A pH of 7.0 is neutral. Lower numbers indicate
increasingly acidic soil; higher numbers indicate increasing
An excessively acidic soil limits the growth,
health, and productivity of your plantings. Since soil pH
steadily lowers over a year, it is important to test your
soil annually. This allows you to adjust the pH before it
gets out of hand, and to apply the necessary amounts of lime
yearly or biannually. Such a program allows you to keep the
soil pH fairly constant from year to year.
Plants vary widely in their sensitivity to
acidic soil conditions. Learn the pH requirements for your
specific plantings; perennials, fruits, and bulbs can be quite
finicky. Happily, even these plants thrive in
an easily maintained pH range, so it is not necessary to strive
for an ideal number.
ABOUT THE WATER
Water is provided for the Victory Gardens by the City of Boston.
Membership funds purchased the garden-wide polypropylene pipe
system that runs down each row, with a hose connector for
every four plots. Volunteer gardeners installed, repair, and
maintain the system.
The Parks Department turns on the main valves
connecting the FGS system and the City water lines around
May 1 of each year. They are shut off around mid-October.
In the spring, the parks Department will
not make the connections until all the leaks in our pipelines
are repaired by FGS volunteers.
Alternating thaws and freezing winter temperatures
cause damage to pipes held above ground level or already stressed
by lifting and twisting at the hose connector points.
To reduce pipe damage, unnecessary repairs
by volunteers, and delays in water turn on:
Make sure the pipe s held
taut and firmly attached at soil level to fencing or pipe
When watering, bring your
hose end down to the pipe; do not lift the pipe to attach
Mark the location of the
pipe alongside your plot to avoid pitchfork punctures when
turning over soil.
Report all breaks promptly
to your Area Director or call the FGS phone line at (617)
267-6650. DO NOT CALL THE CITY TO MAKE REPAIRS.
When the water is
If the entire garden is without water, most likely the line
to the neighborhood has been shut down for several hours for
If an entire section (i.e. Center North)
is without water, there is probably a break in the main valve
that connects it to the City line. The main valve has been
turned off until repaired by the Parks Department. The FGS
is not allowed to hire a plumber to repair the main valves;
they are City property.
If only your row is without water, it means
that the control switch at the top of the path has been turned
off. There is a break somewhere in the row that
will gush and flood nearby gardens whenever the
switch is turned on. An FGS volunteer will repair
the break within several days.
In the meantime, you can water your plot
with a bucket or watering can using the nearest live facet.
If there is a water emergency and the City of Boston declares
a water ban, an announcement will be posted on this site and
a message left on the FGS phone line: (617) 267-6650. If our
physical bulletin board is in operation in the wheelbarrow
area (it often falls prey to vandalism) it will be posted
there, as well.
During a ban, you can expect an 8-hour ban
on watering by hose or automatic sprinkler. This will be allowed
only before 10 am and after 6 pm. No restrictions are placed
on hand-watering (i.e. buckets or watering cans).