A unique and viable approach to establishing local food self-reliance and building stronger communities.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chitting Potatoes

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In this part of the world, St. Patty's Day is typically considered a good time to plant your potato crops. We'd like to have a really big potato crop at the community garden this year. Most people love potatoes, they store easily in the winter and, for the amount of space they take up in the garden you get a good return on your investment (each potato planted can produce as much as five pounds of harvest!) If you have your own garden this year, you can plant potatoes any time now. We'll put them in at the community garden just as soon as the ground isn't so soggy, and we get the tractor running. (Thanks for all your ideas for local tractor mechanics. We've got some good leads.)

If you haven't already, now is the time to start "chitting" any potatoes you've got sprouting under your sink. Chitting is a way to help the potatoes store up solar energy which makes them more likely to produce a big crop. The way to do this is to take the potatoes and put them near a window where they can get sunlight (don't put them in direct sun). They will start to turn a little green. If there are any long sprouts, they will harden off slightly making them less likely to snap off when we plant them. If you have potatoes larger than a hen's egg, with multiple "eyes", cut them so that each "eye has at least an egg-size piece of potato attached to it. After they have "greened up' a bit, and any cut parts have sealed over, they are ready to plant. Green potatoes are poisonous so don't eat them after chitting.

If all this is more than you want to take on right now, and you have sprouting potatoes you want to contribute, just drop them in front of the Alpine library door and send us an email that they're there so we can pick them up. We'll chit them and plant them in the garden.

Thanks to: Jack and Joanne: they found three of those carport frames that someone was going to take to the dump. These make excellent greenhouses (with a little bit of work). Thanks to the people at "Ten Rivers Food Web" for the warm welcome they have given us to link up with their site and help spread the word about our garden. They are a local group that advocates for healthy, local, organic solutions to food production and distribution. Click Here to see their website.

The Sharing Gardens is a non-profit and tax-exempt organization. We exist entirely through donations. If you have found benefit from our project or our site, please consider making a donation through PayPal. (Click button below.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We Have Tools!

Dorothy got us copies of the well-house, and bathroom keys and Chris and I went down to see the tools we'd stashed in there during the community center clean-up after the honey people moved in last fall. We have several flat rakes, a leaf rake, multiple shovels and a wheelbarrow. There's also several hoses including a flat hose (the kind with holes poked every few inches) that will be perfect for watering our potato patch. What a great start!

Thanks go to: Lee Miller, at Earth Risings Farm for donating a wheelbarrow. Also to Evelyn and Dorothy (and others?) for the amazing job they did cleaning up and rearranging the library. It looks incredible!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thornless raspberries, oh my!

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day here in Alpine. Chris and I went to Evelyn Lee's house and dug up a bed of thornless raspberries. Then we went to Steve Rose's and he donated several hundred gallon pots. At the Alpine garden site there is already a pile of dirt that someone had deposited there. Perhaps it's left over from when the picnic pavilion was built(?). Chris determined that it is good enough soil to host the raspberries until we can get them in the ground. He and I had a little potting party there in the park.

We ended up with over a hundred raspberry whips. We only need 50 for the garden. Does anyone need some for their own patch?
At the end of the day, just as we were finishing, there was a beautiful rainbow that appeared in the east. What a great day!

Follow-up: All the surplus raspberries have been spoken for. We're saving the ones still at the park to plant in the community garden.

P.S. Thanks also to Barry for his donation of a 10' farm gate. This is great! Also we are thankful to Rachel Unrein for all her help in thinking of people to contact about reaching out to young people, for bailing twine from her Grandpa's place and to her mother for a bag of sprouting potatoes. Lee Miller has donated a wheel barrow that just needs a little work. Gary (of Alpine Pump fame) spent some time down at the park this last week and got the electricity flowing again. We also want to thank Dorothy for all of her help in coordinating between the Alpine Community Center and the Garden Club so we could get permission to host the garden in the park. Patty Parsons has been writing grants for us. We'll start hearing in April if the first of them came through.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We need your surplus fencing material

We've had a wonderful response to our first request for donations. We have five different kinds of manure offered (llama, sheep, chicken, horse and rabbit). We have tractor work to prep the soil, and various garden supplies: pots and bailing twine. We have raspberries, strawberries, sprouting potatoes (we still need more) and various herbs to transplant when the time is right. Our next big need is:

Fence posts, fencing material and gates. These don’t need to be new. We’re looking for surplus materials that you may have lying around, that you can spare for the garden project.

We need:

36 – 8’ fence posts – These can be t-posts, 4” treated round posts or 4”x 4” treated posts. They don’t have to be new. If we get a few here, and a few there, we’ll have enough for the whole garden. Have you got a small pile of them laying around on your property that you're not using?

10 – 10’ fence posts (to hang the gates on)

Gates: either 2 – 6’ gates, or 4 – 4’ gates (so we can drive the tractor through on either end.)

6’ high fencing material: We need a total of 350’ to fence in the whole garden. Even short amounts would be useful to make tomato cages and to protect the fruit-trees that have been donated. If you have any partial rolls of chicken wire or other material, we could piece the longer pieces together to surround the garden.

We think of this as a Stone Soup Garden, where if each of us shares a little of what we have, whether that’s time or materials, that we’ll be able to grow food for all of us to enjoy eating together.

If you have any amount of this that you can donate, contact Chris and Llyn at 424-2262 or alpinecogarden@gmail.com