Spring is just around the corner now that March roared in this week, something which has avid gardeners juggling seed packets and the city of Reynoldsburg offering community garden plots.
Mary Beth Hudson, from the Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department, said 17 full-size plots of 10 feet by 20 feet each and one half-plot are available at Civic Park, 6801 Daugherty Drive. Another 28 full-size and two half-plots are available behind the Truro Township Fire Department, 6305 E. Livingston Ave.
"People can go look at the gardens any time, but they cannot pick out a particular plot," Hudson said. "We assign the plots first-come, first-served. I just start at the first row and put in the registrations until they are full. If someone wants side-by-side plots, I will assign the first two that are side by side on my chart."
The fees for the plots are $30 each for Reynoldsburg residents and $40 for nonresidents. Gardens will be open for planting April 1.
Hudson said people may register for a plot by calling 614-322-6806.
"We typically request that they provide us an email address so that I can send a map to let them know where their plot is located, or an address so that I can send it in the mail," she said. "There is no cutoff date for registration -- we will keep assigning plots until the gardens are full."
Last year, the Livingston Road gardens filled completely but Civic Park had 16 or 17 plots that went unused, she said.
Hudson said the Livingston Gardens won a major Ohio Parks and Recreation Association award in 2010, earning first place in the educational garden facility category and going on to win the grand prize Governor's Award that year.
She said the city first began its community garden program in 2009.
"We added Civic Park as a location last year and improved both garden sites by adding running water instead of water tanks," she said.
Hudson said the restrictions on the gardens are "nothing too major" and are designed to prevent some invasive species, such as mint, from taking over the other gardens.
"We do ask our gardeners not to plant anything so tall it will completely shadow the adjacent plots, but there are no restrictions as far as pesticides or fertilizer -- just to be mindful of the other gardeners," she said.
"Everyone has always gotten along really well," she said. "They have formed a family at the Livingston site, where several of the gardeners will water other plots. We also ask that any excess produce that would go unused be given to the Helping Hands Food Pantry."
Hudson said four of the garden plots will be used by Reynoldsburg school children who enroll in the summer day camp program this year through Kiddie Academy.
"The kids will take over the four plots and learn to grow their own gardens," she said.
More about the summer program will be released closer to summer, but parents may learn how they can register now by calling the park office.
Hudson said the program also now has a core group of volunteers.
"Our volunteers do everything from maintaining compost bins to sending information emails to each gardener," she said. "It's a really neat program."