GATESVILLE – A cold morning drizzle did not deter about a dozen gardeners from opening the spring 2014 growing season at the community garden here this week.

Several came to sign up for garden plots in the space next to the U.S. Post Office on Leon Street. Seven people reserved 14 plots and will partake in the third season of the project sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Other gardeners came for free advice from Coryell County AgriLife Extension agents Julie Gardner and Pasquale Swaner and master gardeners such as Nancy Russell.

“The community garden is designed for new or experienced gardeners who wish to grow their own vegetables, learn more about gardening and become healthier,” Gardner said.

Staton Tompkins, who recently moved to Gatesville from Houston, said he won’t need one of the community plots but came to get growing tips to apply to his home garden this year. He left with a packet of information.

Katy and David Mitchell of Gatesville were considering one or two plots in the community garden. Katy Mitchell said she has enrolled in a master gardener class in Belton and wants to take full advantage of the gardening community.

“This is a nice way to meet neighbors and share information,” said Shannon Graham, a first-time community gardener.

As Gardner and Swaner assigned plots, Russell went to work on one of her rose bushes, carefully training the canes onto a cyclone fence that served as a trellis.

The community garden relies solely on rainwater from the post office roof that is captured in a 3,000-gallon tank.

“We have been very fortunate to not have to provide supplemental water,” Gardener said. “By our estimates, a 1-inch rainfall provides about 1500 gallons.”

Composted manure to supplement the soil for the plots is brought in from a dairy farm in Dublin, Gardner said.

Use of the garden plots is free and gardeners are given an access code to unlock the garden gate. Participants sign a gardening agreement that outlines the rules and guidelines for the garden.

Sixteen plots are still available. Anyone who wants to reserve a plot can call the County Extension Office at 254-865-2414.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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