Three New Fenway Victory Gardens Members Prep Their Plots for Winter

Heading into the colder months, gardening is not typically at the forefront of people’s minds. But Elizabeth Bertolozzi, president of the Fenway Garden Society, said that it’s very important for gardeners to prep their gardens for winter and plan out what they will do come springtime.

The Fenway Victory Gardens has 500 plots, and has gained 85 new members in 2018, Bertolozzi said. The Sun checked in with three of the newest gardeners to ask them what their plans are for their newly acquired gardens as winter rapidly approaches.

Arlington native Tyler Longmire moved to Fenway three years ago, and has been a member of the gardens since June. He said that gardening is a new hobby, and was inspired by house plants he received as a gift.

“Ever since, my collection of plants in my garden has grown,” he said. “I thought I would give gardening a shot.”

Longmire said he heard about the Victory Gardens from a friend of his who is also a member of the gardens, and he decided to give it a go with his own garden. Longmire said that while he doesn’t have any specific plans for his garden over the winter, he will be thinking about what he is going to do in the spring. Aside from thinking about what he wants to plant, he said he would also like to install a small walkway around his garden bed.

Since he got his garden in June, he was able to grow some things this past summer. His tomatoes were a big hit—“they were so delicious all summer long,” he said.

“Since this was my first year I wanted to just get the hang of it,” Longmire added. “Next year I want to be a little more adventurous and try some different vegetables.” Longmire even won the “New Gardener ‘Best Vegetable Garden’” award from the Victory Gardens.

Longmire will not be gardening alone—his sister and his parents live in Arlington and love to come visit his garden. His father helped him this past summer with clearing out weeds and settling up the garden bed when he first received his plot. He said his friends also come by to sample his tomatoes.

“The garden is an awesome hobby and community,” Longmire said. “Everyone has been extremely welcoming and friendly in my first year. The garden plot immediately next to mine opened up a few weeks ago- and I am thrilled to share that one of my best friends and his husband joined the garden society and got that lot so we’re literally garden plot neighbors. I am extremely excited to garden with them next year.”

Lacretia Flash is the assistant vice President for diversity and inclusion at Berklee College of Music, and moved to Boston from Burlington, Vt., in January. She has been a member of the gardens since August, and like Longmire, did not grow up gardening.

Flash said that when she and her husband moved into a co-housing community, she was so impressed by the gardens her neighbors had set up so she bought a bunch of May blooming flowers to create her own.

“Gardens are so much more than the early spring flowers, but it was an enthusiastic beginning for me,” Flash said. “Ten years later, I continue to have much joy in creating, refining, and tending gardens.”

Flash is using these cooler, shorter days to clean up her garden. “I think it really takes a full growing season to understand the character of the garden,” she said. She added that since she just got her garden in August, she would like to put in some shrubs and perennials before the weather gets too frigid.

For the next growing season, Flash said she’d like to have a simple garden with foliage plants that can withstand the shade of an oak tree that is near her garden. She said she wants to have plants that bloom at different times throughout the gardening season, including Japanese painted fern and hydrangea.

Flash and her husband have adjacent plots in the garden, and he helps her dig the holes while she plans the design. She also said she’s gotten to know her plot neighbors who have helped her dig up day lilies, identify plants, and given her gardening tips.

“I think green spaces are so important for our health, wellness, and sense of connection to the natural world and to each other,” she said. “I think being an actively engaged member in the community is so important and combined with my love of gardens, being a part of this garden society is a great fit for me.”

Amina Shabani has been gardening for about seven years, and is a member of the Indiana Daffodil Society. She moved back to Boston from Indiana at the end of July, and became a member of the Victory Gardens in late September.

As the granddaughter of farmers, Shabani grew up eating homegrown food. Her mother maintained a garden as well, so she followed in her family’s footsteps and began gardening, too.

So far, she has planted garlic and Egyptian onion bulbs, which were sent to her by a friend from an old garden club in Indiana. In the spring, she said she would love to see daffodils, hyacinths, and lilies blooming in her garden.

To protect her planted bulbs from the cold, she will be planting a cover crop, which she learned about in an organic growing class. The cover crop consists of winter rye or a mixed radish to protect and nourish the soil, and then Shabani will place leaves over it.

Shabani will be tending to her new garden by herself, using the gardening skills she’s learned over the years. She’s “hoping with time that I get to know the other growers,” she said, and shared the first session she learned about gardening: sharing is extremely important.

Shabani has already made an impact in the gardens by donating extra bulbs to her fellow gardeners, and plans to share extra seeds and produce with them next growing season.

This is her first time gardening in Boston, so she said she’s looking forward to getting to know the soil. She keeps a gardening journal, and said that she finds gardening to be “meditative.”

“Spring is full of promise and excitement,” she said.

Bertolozzi is prepping her own garden for the coming cold. She, too, will be planting garlic, and the City of Boston has provided 200 daffodil bulbs as part of the Boston Blooms program that will be planted in the gardens next week, Bertolozzi said.

She said she also harvested swamp milk weed seed pods, which will be sowed in milk jugs over the winter and handed out as seedlings in the spring.

Bertolozzi said she would also like to remind gardeners that a lot of garden centers are selling perennials for half price this time of year so now would be a good time to stock up.

She added that unlike some other community gardens, the Victory Gardens will allow people to become members even in the winter if there are plots available. There are currently a couple plots available, as people in the city are always in transition, Bertolozzi said. “Don’t assume there are no gardens.”

Anyone interested in joining the Fenway Victory Gardens community should reach out to [email protected] for more information.

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