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Soil is the “bottom line” of the business of gardening. Good soil equals healthy plants—which mean resistance to disease and pests—and higher yields. The key to good soil tilth and fertility is adding organic matter over time. The organic material will benefit soil drainage, its capacity to hold water, and its aeration. Organic matter is also a rich source of nitrogen. Healthy soil is ‘living soil’ that contains microbes, insects and worms completing the cycle of life. Check out the many Critters you'll find in the garden. For composting at SSCG and for composting tips, please visit our Composting Page.  




Zero waste is our goal! Zero waste is an act of awareness towards the true precipitation of the day. Please adjust your watering plan as the weather changes. Potential drought conditions underscore the importance of water wise planting and irrigation techniques.


Please choose drought tolerant plants when possible and mind the following tips and tricks:

  • Lay out plots to use water efficiently. Grouping plants with similar water needs together will result in healthier plants eliminating the stress of under or over watering.

  • Water to wet the root zone - Deliver water to the plant and you will avoid watering the weeds as well.

  • Use spray nozzles wisely when hand watering to avoid “washing” plants. Let us share why:

    • Water may bring disease spores.

    • Water on leaves evaporates - it doesn't do the plant any good

    • This kind of watering in the heat of day stresses the plants.

    • Overspray may impact your neighbor’s plots.

      • a) May over water their plants

      • b) May wash off sprays, oil or powders


  • Mulch to keep moisture in soil. This will also prevent the top layer of soil from forming a crust causing water to simply run off.

  • Run-off is evidence of over watering.

  • Drip systems and soaker hoses are encouraged as they deliver water to the plant root zone. Timers are permitted but are not to be used as a substitute for daily or weekly garden visits (timers need to be adjusted around availability of natural moisture).

  • Please be considerate of your neighbors and the limited number of taps available.

  • Timers are allowed but must not be left running during periods we receive natural moisture. Timers on watering systems are to be used as a back-up to regular attendance and they may be disabled if found to be leaking or running in excess.

  • For vacation use, you are expected to have a proxy manage your timer system. The Garden will not be liable for faults or other problems with you timer application (pipes break, individuals turn taps off, lines get cut, etc.).

  • All taps must have one line hose available for hand watering.

  • Water from the spigots is Longmont tap water and IS SAFE to drink. If taking water from a hose to drink, water your garden with the warm water until it has turned cold. Do not drink warm water from a hose as bacteria tends to grow in the warm water.

  • Sprinklers waste precious water and are not permitted in the Second Start garden.

Sprinklers waste precious water and

are not permitted in the Second Start garden.

Want to add Nitrogen to Soil?

Ages Manure


Fish emulsion/seaweed

Blood meal

"Green manure"

(New-growth oats, barley, rye or clover which is tilled into the soil while succulent and immature)

Zero waste is our goal!

Cooked shale has micro pores that retain water and fertilizer. 


All fertilizers and amendments used in the gardens must be organic in origin. Miracle-Gro© and similar fertilizers are not permitted. Instead, we recommend the following:

Slow-release soil builders (add 1 inch of these organic materials, tilled in well, each year):


  • Aged manure

  • Fish emulsion/seaweed

  • Compost when available

Midseason “boosters” – add to base of plants or spray on as foliar feed:

  • Aged manure tea

  • Compost tea


These “teas” can be made by mixing approximately 2 cups compost or manure into a gallon of water. This mixture can “steep” for 3 to 30 days. Occasional mixing or shaking will help the nutrients dissolve into the water. This concentration may be too strong for direct application on leaves, or even for new little seedlings. We recommend diluting the solution and applying once a week instead of the full concentration all at once.

Synthetic fertilizers actually degrade soil quality and are prohibited in the Second Start garden.

These items are approved for use:


  • Aged manure

  • Compost

  • Fish emulsion / seaweed Blood meal

  • “Green manure” (New-growth oats, barley, Rye or clover which is tilled Into the soil while succulent And immature)


lime (raises PH) sulfur (lowers PH) potash
bone meal


Epsom salts copper sulfate zinc sulfate iron sulfate Borax

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