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

Monday, February 24, 2020

Spectrum of Sustainability, Groundbreaking Plastics Legislation and Garden Update

OSU students in the gardens!
Greetings folks - We had our first 2020 group of Oregon State University students last Saturday. A wonderful bunch of enthusiastic, bright and helpful young people. We are so grateful for our partnership with OSU. They send us students who receive college credit for "service learning" (volunteerism in the Corvallis area) and we receive a burst of strong, curious, willing helpers on a regular basis to assist with the big strokes of what needs doing in the gardens.

This post contains pictures from the student's visit and other recent garden activities. We have also included links to a video by the Back to Reality channel on the topic of "The Spectrum of Sustainability" and info about groundbreaking legislation being introduced into the House and Senate to address plastic pollution in an effective and comprehensive way. LINK, LINK

Blessings on your day!

Students in the gardens:
Nikolay and Reilly fill buckets with compost to transport into the garden in preparation for later-spring plantings.
Nikolay and Reilly sift coffee grounds which we use for garden fertility. Worms love 'em!
Abby sifts soil for use in our potting mix. Our mix this year is a combination of commercial, organic raised-bed soil and our own worm castings collected from greenhouse paths (LINK).
Nate spreading coffee grounds in the garden.
Reilly and Alex distribute compost.

Exuberance in the gardens!
Garden's progress:
With a mild winter and early spring, it feels like 2020 could be a very good year. Here, Nikolay spreads coffee-grounds on a bed that will grow a new variety of sorghum we hope to dry, grind and use for flour in baked goods.
Our early spring greens are up and thriving. Here, Llyn waters them with rain-water collected from our roofs.

Chris started carrots and beets in greenhouse beds back in mid-January. The seedlings are up and happy. We use the greenhouses to grow early crops such as these which will be done and harvested in time for heat-loving crops such as tomatoes and peppers to be planted in their place in late spring.
 In the house:
This winter we have done over 95% of our stove-top cooking on our woodstove with wood we gathered and split ourselves (through generous donations of wood-from Victor Stone, and a splitter loaned by our friend and neighbor - David Crosby). Cooking with wood, and limiting most of our hot-water usage to times when electric rates are low (midday and week-ends) we've cut our average electric bill from $65/month to under $45/month!
Ground-breaking Legislation to address the enormous challenges of plastic pollution: 

The world is in the midst of a plastic pollution crisis, and the current U.S. waste management system is not dealing with it effectively. Only eight percent of plastic waste in the U.S. is actually recycled. The rest is incinerated, landfilled or shipped overseas to countries even less equipped to process it, where it risks joining the eight million metric tons of plastic that end up in the world's oceans every year.

That's why Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) introduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020, a comprehensive piece of legislation that is being hailed as a first-of-its-kind attempt to address the root causes of the crisis on the national level.

Here are two links that explain the Bill: HERE, HERE.
Here's a link to a video on making producers responsible for plastic waste by Story of Stuff.

Spectrum of Sustainability: Here is a link to a video by the Back to Reality channel on the topic of "The Spectrum of Sustainability" Great message and graphics. We especially appreciated their distinction of including all of life on the planet in their definition of sustainability. That's been something we too have felt strongly about for a long time. Spectrum of Sustainability-LINK

Rook and Chris reclaim some ground where we'll install a new bean-tipi for growing scarlet runner beans LINK (Feb 2020).

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A New Video!

Here is a short 4-minute video about the Sharing Gardens made by a student from Oregon State University who volunteered with us as part of a Service-Learning class in  2016. Enjoy! As Chris says, as he summarizes the philosophy of the Sharing Gardens, "A main element of the garden is, it has to be fun!" We hope that your explorations with growing food continue to expand this year, bring you joy and that you grow enough to share with friends, or neighbors or people in need in your community. Llyn and Chris

OSU students with a big lettuce harvest to donate to the Food Pantry. Here is a LINK to a sweet info-video made by an OSU service-learning volunteer in 2016

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Onions and Lettuce and Peas, "Oh My!"

How to start lettuce, peas, onions and carrots from seed.

Adri and Cindy enjoying summer green beans.
It's early Spring in the Sharing Gardens. Oh sure, we could still get plenty more freezing nights and even some significant snowfall before Spring is fully here but the first crocuses and daffodils are budding, the days are noticeably longer and the air carries hints of the earth's slow warming.  Since we have several greenhouses, February is the time for starting the cool-loving crops like lettuce, cabbage, kale, broccoli, collards, celery, parsley, onions and peas. We have also seeded beets and carrots directly in the ground in greenhouse beds. Here are some previously written posts about how to start some of these crops in your own garden.

Lettuce and other seedlings, Spring 2012
Our first CSA box-2018.
Please note that, while we do our best to update our posts to reflect our current methods, gardening is a dynamic art-form which we're always developing. Happy gardening!

Valentines Day: Time for Pea Planting: Since our soil outside the greenhouses doesn't really warm up enough to germinate peas till later in the Spring, we've developed a method for starting the peas in pots, in the greenhouse. LINK

John and Llyn transplanting peas grown in pots, in our greenhouse.
Lettuce: Growing from Seed: Lettuce is fairly easy to grow in our climate. You won't believe how sweet and delicious home-grown lettuce is compared to lettuce bought from the store! LINK

Lettuce: Saving Your Own Seed: If you leave a lettuce plant in the ground, very often it will "bolt" and go to seed. Lettuce-seed is easy to save and one plant can produce enough seed to grow lettuce for a whole neighborhood for years to come! That's "nature's economy" at its best! LINK

Delicious, home-grown lettuce.
Onions: Growing from Seed: Here's a method of growing onions from seed that will also produce copious amounts of onion greens as well. LINK and LINK

Onions, grown from seed.
Carrots: growing from seed:  This post includes instructions for preparing the ground for carrots to grow and a short video-clip about planting carrots. LINK

Wish List: Spring is a time for cleaning out one's sheds and closets to make room for the new. Here's an updated wish-list of items that we can use in the Sharing Gardens or pass along to other gardeners in the area. Let us know if you can use anything and we'll see if we can help you out. Wish List

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