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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Giving is Growing! News from the Sharing Gardens

Mmm, lilacs, can you smell 'em?
You may be wondering why you haven't heard from us in awhile. Things have been wonderfully busy with the onset of the garden-season. In addition, we've been working steadily to finish the house re-model so we can move in and make the Sharing Gardens our permanent home. What follows are garden highlights, gratitude to this season's "share-givers" (volunteers), some timely planting info and ways to be involved. Follow the links for step-by-step garden tips. (News of the land-purchase and farmhouse remodel to follow in future posts.) Enjoy!

February: Start peas...
Early to Bed: Garden season begins in mid-February here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Celery, peas, (LINK- "Tips for Pea-Planting") and onions (LINK - "Growing Onions from Seed") are given a head start in the greenhouse, to be planted out once weather and soil conditions cooperate.
...and onions in the greenhouse.

Many seed crops need two years to develop. Beets, carrots and onions are three examples. In February we re-plant these root-crops (that have lasted since the previous season in our root cellar) into pots, in our greenhouse. Later we will transplant them back into the garden to finish their flowering and seeding process.
Carrots and beets, replanted for seed.
February is also about pruning and planting trees and bushes. OSU students and our neighbor David Crosby joined us in the fun of putting donated plants in the ground, pruning and staking them.

Not the nicest weather but we had a good time anyway. Brad, Chris and Chris planting four-dozen blueberries.
Brad and Llyn, spreading leaves around blueberries for mulch

Brad, planting blueberries. He told us that being in the garden reminded him of hanging out at his immigrant Italian grandparents house when he was a boy.

Getting the fence up was a very important step to protect our new orchard!
David and Llyn tie fruit trees to stakes. We had three dozen trees donated, apples, pears and plums. Next year we'll add hazelnuts and figs!
In early March we start broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage. Once they're big enough to be transplanted into the garden, we put collars on them (made from empty soy-milk containers (LINK - "Re-Purposing Things"). We slow down the population of slugs using iron phosphate pellets (Sluggo) which disrupts the digestion of the little critters breaking their cycle of breeding and laying eggs (LINK- "Iron Phosphate; Organic Solution for Slugs"). March is also time to put out nesting boxes for Mason Bees who are emerging from their eggs to re-new the cycle of life (LINK - "Mason Bees - The Friendly Pollinators").
Lettuce and broccoli starts, ready for planting.
Doreen has been a huge help this spring with greenhouse transplanting.
Llyn drills holes in untreated wood-blocks (5/16") for Mason bees.
Gini planting lettuce and showing off a worm. Thanks to all the organic matter we add, our garden is full of them!

Collars made from soy-milk containers protect seedlings from March weather and the few bunnies that manage to squeeze under our fence (left). Lettuce plants in foreground.
Onell piles fresh grass clippings between the plants.
Mulch Mania: All through the spring, we mulch the paths. We use oat or wheat straw (when we can get it) as it has a minimum of seed-heads and spreads easily making a comfortable path for gardeners to crawl along to weed and harvest (LINK - "Benefits of Deep Mulching"). We also put fresh grass clippings between the plants for a slow-release feeding. The clippings act as mulch, keeping moisture near the surface of the ground, feed our resident worm population (our micro-livestock). Their "castings" (worm-poo) then feed the plants.(LINK - "Grass and Leaves - Natural Garden Fertilizers").

Mulching is fun for the whole family, Abel, the youngest of the four Ramos boys lends a hand.

Brianna and Emily - we never heard such giggling in the garden!
Melody and her great-aunt, Doreen.
Onell Ramos and his Mom, Monica.

Onell, Abel and Mom pull last year's old, woody turnips.

Kevin mulches the east gardens.
OSU students plant artichokes and lettuce.
OSU - Service Learning Projects: Several classes at Oregon State Univ. (in Corvallis) have "service-learning" as an integral part of their programs. Each student must complete a four-hour volunteer project and create a simple web-site or poster describing their experience. We have been fortunate to host many of these groups over the years. With two to six students, we can get a lot done in four hours!

Chris and Reilly fill buckets with compost for tomatoes.

Kristen snips the flowers off garlic.

Jason and Chris fill buckets with mint-straw to mulch potatoes.

Potato planting bucket-brigade!

Digging holes and planting potatoes.
Elisa piling compost for tomatoes and squash.
Maple Grove: A year ago we received several dozen maple trees as a donation from Cathy Rose. Here are some pics of OSU students planting them to make two groves for future shade.
Planting our maple groves.
Adri watering peas.
April showers...Through April we continue to start seeds in the greenhouse, transplant the seedlings into bigger pots and transplant starts into the ground. Peas begin to vine up the trellises and it's time to make sure the hoses are fixed and laid out in time for the first hot days. May brings the first harvest of lettuce (yippee!) and anticipation of more fresh, delicious veggies to come.

Chris planting peas - a second crop so we'll have them later in the season!

Courtney and Jenn plant grape cuttings to "root" them.

Doreen and Melody in the greenhouse.

The first planting of peas (in the background) are finally flowering. Won't be long till we can add fresh peas to our salads!
Mid-May lettuce patch.
Let us eat lettuce: Lettuce is finally starting to grow fast! We're harvesting a leaf or two off of each plant. Soon we can harvest whole heads at a time. This year we've planted a new crop of lettuce every 2-3 weeks so, as one crop finishes, the next will be just about ready.
Our first salad of the season!

Gallery of Givers:  The Sharing Gardens operates entirely through volunteers and donations. In addition to all the people you see pictured we also wish to thank: Matt Nelson (our electrician extraordinaire!) and his dad Bob who dropped everything and made fixing up our pump in time to water the gardens his first priority. Ismael Ramos cleans out his rabbit and chicken cages and brings us the goodies. Kate Gillow-Wiles donated a sweet bench for us to take our (far too infrequent) breaks. The Cavenaughs brought us a bunch of Heirloom seeds, Sam and Shirley Stone - windows, firewood, gardening books and more. David Crosby has repeatedly loaned us his tractor and brings us fun-finds from yard sales that we can use in home and garden. The Dillards have donated fencing material and "share" their hired-helper -Thomas- to assist with mowing and weed-wacking when we get overwhelmed. Cindy and Jim Kitchen - though we don't have any pictures of you, we always love to share garden-time. Rick brings us massive amounts of grass-clippings. Mark Frystak delivered two truck-loads of straw on a moment's notice. Lynn and Pat - thank you for your general support and specifically the five buckets of seed potatoes. We think we're finally going to have a decent crop this year!

This tool has your name on i
Ways to get involved: As you can see, folks have been participating in the gardening already though we still don't have regularly scheduled sessions. If you're local and want to come play, just drop us an email and we'll figure out a good time.

Come on down and pick up a tool. We don't want the weeds to grow too high from tools laying idle!

If you're a supporter from far away... Please continue to "forward" and re-post our garden "How-To's" and our posts that you find inspiring. With your help, our readership has risen to over 7,000 hits per month! We have had people coming to our site from just about every country that has a gardening season. It feels good to know that the Sharing Gardens continue to touch people, even when we're staying busy with a hammer or a hoe.

Much love, and we hope to see you soon!