Garden Rules & Guidelines

Community Commitment

As a Chelsea Community Gardener, you are a member of a community of neighbors and your input is needed to keep the garden running smoothly. Therefore, your household is expected to contribute at least 6 hours per plot of community work during the gardening season. There are many opportunities to fulfill work hours. Examples include:

  • mowing paths
  • participating in compost parties
  • weeding common crops and flowerbeds
  • administrative functions (taking minutes at meetings, website upkeep, orientation for new members, etc.)
  • special projects (e.g. fence maintenance, water pump maintenance, equipment purchases and repair) and many other tasks.

There is a complete list of jobs and a box with cards to record your hours located in the small tool shed.


Each plot measures 20’x20′. Plots are separated by 2′ wide grass paths. There are 43 plots in the garden. Each plot is marked by stakes at the corners, which must not be moved.

Plots are assigned by the Plot Plotter. Returning gardeners should let the Plotter know by March 15th whether they plan to return to the garden. New gardeners will be assigned plots on a first come, first served basis. If all plots are full, a waiting list will be maintained and plots will be assigned as they become available.

Items such as tomato cages, pots, stakes, etc. should always be kept in your assigned plots, even when not in use.


The fee for each plot is a $20 one-time deposit plus a $20 annual use fee, payable with registration. Your deposit may be refunded at the end of the season if your plot is in good order (no weeds or dead plants) by Nov. 1st. Returning gardeners may carry over their deposit from year to year.


Plot registration fees, minus $5 for processing, will be refunded for cancellations prior to May 1st. No refunds will be given after May 1st. Due to concerns about weed spread to neighboring plots, gardeners must commence work on their plots by June 1st, or the plot will be returned to Chelsea Community Garden and the fee will be forfeited.

Abandoned Plots

If a plot appears to be abandoned (i.e. not tended by June 1st, or overridden with weeds during the year), the gardener will be contacted by the ombudswoman. The gardener will have 10 days to resolve the issue. If you are unable to work the garden for an extended period, let us know!  Health challenges and travel absences are often overcome by garden members pitching in to help fellow gardeners for the duration.

If the gardener does not intend to keep up the garden, or if the gardener refuses to address rampant weed issues, the plot will be considered abandoned and open for another gardener to take over for the remainder of the season. Immediate mowing and/or tilling will ensue to prevent the spread of weeds and pests. Gardeners who have abandoned their sites may re-apply the following year but will be placed at the end of the waiting list.

Garden Access

Members may not drive from the TimberTown parking lot to the garden.  Emergency access is possible. There are two large carts secured to the water tower that may be used to transport heavy materials, such as hay bales.


Water is pumped via solar power from Lett’s Creek into our water tower. From there, water is gravity-fed through pipes and hoses for use in watering crops. Make sure all faucets are closed when you are finished and recoil all hoses neatly. If the tower runs dry, it can take several days to refill. While the quality of the creek water is good, as surface water goes, it is not safe for drinking due to the potential of fecal contamination from agricultural runoff.  You should wash your produce in tap water before eating. There is a fountain near the parking lot with clean water to drink while you garden.


The garden maintains a suite of large compost bins. Gardeners are encouraged to compost dead (but not diseased) plants. Several times a year, groups of gardeners turn and sift the compost, which is then available for use in the garden plots. We also generally organize a delivery of composted manure to the garden once a year, which may be used by any gardener for fertilizer.


The entire garden is fenced with 6′ tall welded wire mesh, with two strands of wire above that for a total fence height of around 9′. There is a gate on each side of the fence. Please lock the gates if you are the last to leave.


The garden has two tool sheds with a variety of hand and power tools available for the use of gardeners. Gardeners should use caution when using any gas-powered equipment. Gardeners are responsible to get training as necessary, follow instructions, and use equipment with care. Contact information for power tool problems is posted in the large shed.

Please take care of our tools. Return them dirt-free, to the shed when you are finished. Use water and scrub brushes provided to remove all dirt. Cleaning tools prevents rust and the spread of weed seeds and diseases. All donated tools and personal tools brought to the garden should be pre-washed with bleach.  Do not store personal items in or around the tool sheds as these areas need to be mowed in a regular basis.

Please be sure to lock the sheds if you are the last person to leave.

Community Plants

Membership in the Chelsea Community Garden entitles gardeners to a share of community crops: blueberries and asparagus. Garden volunteers monitor and direct distribution of the community crops.

Weed Control

Chemical herbicides of any kind are prohibited, as they are hazardous to human health, may kill or damage desirable crops, drift into neighboring gardens, or persist in the soil. Hoeing, mulching, and hand weeding are recommended.

Mulch should preferably be of an organic nature; newspaper or black plastic are acceptable mulch but they must be secured so that they do not blow away and must be removed at the end of the season. Covering paper with an organic layer is also very encouraged. Hay, straw, and leaves could all be used. 

Pest Control and Disease Control

Synthetic insecticides are prohibited. Preferred control methods are crop rotation, hand picking of insect pests, introduction of predator species, companion planting, soil solarization, and biological controls, e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that controls cabbage worms. As a last resort, natural botanicals, i.e. rotenone and pyrethrum (that break down quickly and do not leave harmful residues in the soil) may be used. Some gardeners use neem oil or spinosad as natural insecticides, or Serenade as a naturally derived fungicide. We use pheromone traps to control Japanese beetles.

Voles have been a problem in the garden. These small rodents love to nibble on crops. You can help control them by using mouse traps, which are available in the shed.

Most problems can be controlled if you maintain healthy soil, choose disease-resistant varieties, and remove diseased plants from the garden. 

Fertilizers and Soil Amendments

Commercial inorganic fertilizers (e.g. Miracle Grow) are not permitted. Products of plant or animal origin i.e. compost, leaf mold, livestock manure, blood and bone meal, cover crops, fish emulsion, kelp meal, liquid seaweed, and commercial organic fertilizers are acceptable. Natural mineral fertilizers, i.e. greensand, granite dust, and ground limestone are also acceptable. Gardeners are strongly urged to add as much organic material (i.e. compost, leaf mold, and manure) as possible to their plots to maintain soil fertility. 

Non-Acceptable Plants

  • Invasive species such as mint, comfrey (unless contained in pots or raised beds).
  • Trees, bushes, or other woody perennials (unless grown in pots)
  • Illegal or dangerous plants

Details on organics

All plots in all gardens are organic. We only use fertilizers and pest control measures such as those accepted by major organic certification agencies such as the Organic Crop Improvement Association. In general, soil fertility is maintained through crop rotations and organic matter, such as leaves, compost and manure. 

Do not use:

  • Miracle Gro or other synthetic fertilizers
  • RoundUp or other synthetic herbicides
  • D-Con, Raid, or other synthetic insecticides

Yes! You may use…

  • Straw, hay, marsh grass, coco hulls, trash-free leaves and wood chips
  • Black plastic, landscape cloth, cardboard (remove from the garden by Nov. 1)
  • Commercial and homegrown seeds (Do not have to be organic)
  • Commercial and homegrown transplants (Do not have to be organic)
  • Lime, greensand, bone meal, etc.
  • If necessary, organic-certified pesticides such at Bt, insecticidal soap, rotenone, pyrethrum, diatomaceous earth, etc.
  • Mouse traps
  • Row cover fabric, plastic film “low tunnels”
  • Cover crops like buckwheat, ryegrass, vetch and clover