|Monroe Greenhouse under construction - note bamboo ribs with PVC joints.
It soon became clear that we weren't going to be able to make it down our 1/4-mile long driveway in our truck, so Chris and I bundled up and began the 2+-mile walk down to Monroe. We were on an adventure! Shortly after we began walking on the road,we spotted a neighbor stopped in his pick-up truck at the bottom of his driveway. He waited for us to catch up to him and we chatted for a bit. We'd never met him before. He had tried to go to work that day but soon realized (after seeing the third car in a ditch off highway 99) that he'd be better off staying home. When he heard what we were up to he told us to hop into the truck and he gave us a ride! Fortunately Keith's truck had four-wheel drive or we never would have made it!
|The greenhouse during the snowstorm
|Keith and Chris push snow off the roof. Note fallen support poles angled across the back.
The rains turned out to be somewhat of a blessing though. At the very end of the garden season last year, electricity to the garden's well-pump had been cut and so we had no water for all our starts. When the roof of the greenhouse began collecting gallons each day, Chris poked holes in the plastic and put buckets underneath them to catch the rain. We used this water to keep our starts thriving, using an old-fashioned watering can (boy, does that build up your muscles when you lift that full watering can up over the tables in the nursery!)
|Llyn watering starts.
The next day was April Fool's and guess who turned out to be the fools! We made three trips back to the trailer with three different jacks till we found one that was strong enough to lift the trailer filled with soil (thank you Mark Frystak and Larry Winiarski for the loan of your jacks!) only to discover that the spare we found had a different bolt-hole pattern so wouldn't fit. Meanwhile the rains had begun again in earnest and a chilly wind was blowing down from the north. The tire-repair store was closed on Sundays so we just headed home and waited till the morning to try again. Amazing how smoothly things can go when you have the right tools and the right tire for the job! We had the soil dropped off to the greenhouse well before lunch that Monday.
Meanwhile, our camera stopped being recognized by our computer so we weren't sure if all the pictures we were taking were ones we'd ever be able to use. As I mentioned before, we were also facing the uncertainty of whether our water would be turned back on and, soon it would be time to install a portable toilet for the summer at a cost of over $60/month and we didn't know where that money was coming from. Chris and I were really finding our faith challenged as we faced all these uncertainties but we felt strongly that the gardens were calling to be planted again so we just kept going down to the greenhouse, patiently implementing the repairs and starting seeds and gradually the Fates began smiling on the project again.
|After the storms, a rainbow!
The long streak of rainy, cool weather has lifted for a few days so we've been down at the Monroe site a bunch. On Easter we were joined by John Kinsey (also know as "Garlic John" for single-handedly growing enough garlic to just about supply the town of Monroe!). He helped us plant out the peas we'd grown in pots (started Feb. 17th). We've got a beautiful row of plants, a foot tall and they seem to have adapted easily to their new home in the garden. We also have two long rows of fava beans and about 50 feet of shallots planted. The plants we started in March have come along far enough that we've moved them to saw horses outside the greenhouse to "harden off". We've grown over 3,000 seedlings so far this year! The wave of community support really lifts our spirits as well. It feels like the Sharing Gardens have truly been adopted by many of the people, businesses and organizations where we live. What began with a record-braking snow-fall just a few weeks ago has "snow-balled" into a project that is uniting members of all walks of our rural community.
|'Starts' in the foreground, Chris tilling in the back.
We have a huge list of people to thank for their support. You are helping to make this project a success!Continued gratitude to Chester Crowson who continues to let us garden on his Monroe property for free, and pays the electricity to run the well-pump. The Sharing Gardens wouldn't be happening whithout you! Cathy Rose - generous cash donation. Bud Hardin - wheel-barrow, garden tools and two garden carts. Gini Bramlett and the Tribune News - for publishing our Wish List and articles about us. Mark Frystak - large donation of straw, camera and coffee grounds from Allann Bros. Coffee of Albany. Keith Hazelton - snow-day greenhouse rescue. Earnie Wilson and Eva and Jesse - for joining our seed-saving network. Craig Erken and Ray Kreth - for technical assistance in getting our camera working again. Rantu Press, and Rann and Doreen Millar - for offering us cameras. The Millars have also offered to share a subscription to the Tribune News. This will help us keep our scrapbook up to date. United Methodist Church of Monroe - paying for seven months of portable toilet rental. Best Pots - discount rate for toilet rental. David Mills and son, Tyler - truckloads of leaves (from Monroe Telephone - thanks John Dillard for suggesting they bring them to us) and two truckloads of sheep manure - great stuff! John Kinsey - starting peas and onions in his greenhouse, help with transplanting and mowing the lawn at the Monroe site (a Herculean task!) Linda and David Prowse - multiple truckloads of leaves. South Benton Nutrition Program - all your love and support - we feel appreciated by you!
|David Mills and son Tyler bring us a load of leaves.
We have a handful of upcoming events that you might wish to add to your calendar:Friday, April 20 - Big volunteer day in the Monroe Garden. Twice a year, OSU organizes a massive service-project effort. Dozens of teams of 6-volunteers each spread out through Corvallis and South Benton County to assist groups in gardening, wildlife restoration, clean-ups and more. Professor Steve Cook says that, "OSU is beginning to emphasize "Service Learning'". His class of 315 students "contributes 40% of the Service Learning for the entire university". Our event takes place from 9:00 to 1:00 followed by a sack-lunch picnic. If you would like to join us, please RSVP (541) 847-8797 so we know how many projects to have ready for people to do.
Saturday, April 21 - 9:00 to noon. Seeds and 'Starts' Fund-raiser for the Sharing Gardens. We've grown over 3,000 starts in our new greenhouse! Many of these will be planted in our own plots but we have purposely grown extra to share. We also have packaged up many of the seeds we've saved and these will be available too. All seeds and starts are free for anyone not going to sell their produce. Donations also gladly accepted. We will have lettuces, broccoli, cabbage and kale. Later in the Spring we will have flowers, tomatoes and other starts to share as well. If you have any empty nursery pots or flats you can bring them for us to re-use.
|John Kinsey and Llyn planting peas on Easter.
Seed Savers Needed: We are looking for gardeners who are interested in learning the art of seed-saving and who would be willing to grow-out certain varieties of vegetables to save, and share the seed. If you have a garden patch, separated from other vegetable gardens by at least 500 feet, and would like to grow and save seed, please let us know and we will inform you of next steps. We'll coach you along the way in how to grow the plants and save the seeds (if you need help). Send us an email at: ShareInJoy@gmail.com or phone us at (541) 847-8797. Let us know if you have a greenhouse and if you have any previous experience in growing seeds.
We've set a date for the second annual Farm to Farm Century Ride - Sept. 15, 2012. The bicycle tour travels through beautiful farmland and the coastal mountains stopping at several small-scale farms along the way. Beginning and ending in Monroe, the ride highlights local and organic foods and culminates in an afternoon meal, catered by the Sharing Gardens while riders enjoy bluegrass music from "When Picks Fly" Last year this benefit raised $2,000 for our project. For more info, here is the website - Link.
|Spring sky over Monroe garden.