Catholic Social Services

Catholic Social Services Garden is located in the open lot next to the Catholic Social Services building, on the corner of Packard and Golfside Roads. Parking is readily available in the parking lot; the entrance is off of Packard.

MAP OF GARDEN: Catholic Social Services Map

SITE COORDINATOR: Deborah Nystrom (

SOIL: Soil testing done in 2010 showed CSS's soil to be alkaline, with a pH of 7.7. Most vegetable crops prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil. Sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, cottonseed meal, leaf mold and especially peat moss, will lower the soil pH. 15# sulfur is the recommended application for a full plot to lower pH to 6.5 The soil is considered clay loam, has average nutrient holding capacity, 3# nitrogen and 2.5# phosphorus is prescribed for a full plot at the beginning of the season with regular applications of nitrogen throughout.

INDIVIDUAL PLOT MAINTENANCE: Mulching your plot pathways and borders, inside and outside your plot with newsprint (soy ink) and leaf mulch will greatly deter weeds and hold in moisture, simplifying your gardening tasks. All gardeners are responsible for keeping weeds down in their plots and along the adjacent pathways. Bring bags to collect weeds going to seed. Do NOT dump weeds outside of your plot. Instead, use them as a mulch within your garden! Mulches inhibit weed growth, conserve water, and promote a hospitable microclimate for plants and worms. CSS is fortunate in that we receive generous loads of leaf mulch in the fall that decay nicely during the winter and make a good garden mulch in spring when the gardens open.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE: We are guests on this property. As such, we ask that you do not place sticks, rocks or other debris into the mowed areas or in the woods. Please keep all organic waste material inside of your plot, or take them home to compost. Alternatively, ask your site coordinator for other compost options. Later, as the fall clean-up occurs, organics can be chopped up and left on site, where they will be plowed under, to return nutrients back to the soil. Please take all non-organic waste (plastic, fencing, etc.) home with you when you leave the site. Gardeners will be asked to help maintain unused plots and common areas through use of an online and posted task list in the shed. Help make the gardens beautiful this summer by maintaining your own plot, helping mulch and mow the paths and keeping the gardens free from weeds and debris.

WATER: Water is provided by Catholic Social Services. Hoses attach to a spigot near the garden. If you spot a leak in the hose lines, either make the repairs yourself or notify the site coordinator. Note that watering of gardens should never be unattended; hose timers are prohibited.

COMPOSTING:  Any organic waste generated during the growing season may be tilled into the soil or taken home for composting by the city.  However, diseased plants should always be removed from the site, to minimize the presence of pathogens in the gardens. 

TOOLS:  A supply of tools is kept in the shed; the site coordinator will contact you via email with the combination to the lock when you are assigned a plot. Always return tools to the shed after use. If you have any tools that you wish to donate to the garden, feel free to put them in the shed and then notify your site coordinator.

COMMUNICATION:  If you haven't received email from the site coordinator in spring as the gardens are about to open, check your SPAM filter for emails from Deb Nystrom. She sends such info as when the water is turned on, garden tasks and access to seeds, plants and special announcements. There is also an online CSS Project Grow  notebook with details specific to our garden site. This can be helpful if you want to read ahead to be prepared for gardening season. It includes many garden tips.

ABANDONED PLOTS: Make sure to sign up for a plot size that you can fully manage. Start with a 1/2 size annual plot if you have not gardened before at Project Grow. Plots that have not been seriously worked by May 31st or are overgrown with weeds taller than 1 1/2' at any point in the season will be considered abandoned and may be reassigned. Contact your site coordinator or the office if you are having problems getting started or if you are not able to keep up with the weeds on your plot.

FALL CLEAN-UP: Your annual plot must be cleared no later than the end of the day on the third Saturday in October. Organic material may be chopped up and spread evenly across your plot.  We recommend starting this work in September for plants that have finished producing. Take home all non-organic material, i.e., fences, stakes, plastic, paper, etc. Failure to clean up your plot according to the guidelines set forth in the Member Handbook may result in expulsion from the garden.

Perennial plots must also be put to rest for the winter. Diseased plants should be removed before winter; dead organic material should be removed or chopped up to compost in your plot. Perennial plants or annual plants that have not been killed by frost may remain. If you are moving away or can no longer take at least weekly frequent care of your plot, then take your personal belongings, clear out your plot and notify the Project Grow director as perennial plots are always in great demand. Failure to clean your plot according to the guidelines set forth in the Member Handbook (link above) may result in expulsion from the gardens.

Gardener Comments & Suggestions

  • Fencing is not required, but is helpful. Gardeners need to put up their own fences and are encouraged to avoid double fencing by coordinating with their garden neighbors. Examples of fencing are shared in early mailings by the site coordinator before the gardens open.

  • Mulch early, mulch thoroughly!

  • Save gallon jugs to use for watering until the water is turned on in the spring

  • Bring a well stocked tote to the gardens with bags for weedy seed heads, produce, and for picking up trash or oak leaves that blow into the gardens over the winter. (Oak leaves do not mulch well) 

  • Sign up for tasks throughout the season to maintain a healthy, attractive garden environment