July 2017 in the Garden

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Additional Weekday Work Party!

In 2017 we have Work Parties EVERY Sunday late afternoon, moving the time on hot days. Trying to keep it simple so it’s easy to remember, but also trying to work in the cooler part of the summer months. HOPE YOU CAN JOIN US!!

April to August Sundays (April 2 to Aug 27) 3 – 5 PM unless it is HOT (if it’s over 75 degrees then we’ll meet between 6:30 and 8:30 PM)

**NEWS UPDATE:  To accommodate summer weekend fun escapes, we’ll also have a Weekday Work Party every Monday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Gardeners are welcome to come either Sunday or Monday, or both, during the summer months.

September to November Sundays (Sept 3 – Nov 19) 3 – 5 PM

Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day always fall on Sundays, but we’ll garden with whoever wants to join us on those Sundays as well.

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April 2017

Hey, just a reminder that even though you may not see a blog post every week, there are gardeners working every Sunday, currently 3-5 PM, until it gets really hot (hard to imagine right now). We’ve planted lots of things, and are preparing to plant in our new straw bale arrangement (trying to outsmart the poplar roots with this technique), so come by and see what’s new and JOIN US on Sundays if you can!

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March 19 and 26 – Poplars 2, Gardeners 2

On March 19 we did a bunch of stuff, but I’m probably not remembering all of it. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we actually had to take off a few layers of clothing when we turned in the red clover cover crop in a couple of the beds (2 and 3) to prep them for future planting. We also planted spinach in Bed 7 – where the wintered-over brassicas are – and put goat manure in several more beds. We weeded a lot in the herb border to make room for the chives and other delicate herbs, and transplanted some teeny parsley starts in some of the wide open spaces. Not remembering much else, but it was a lovely and productive day.

Today, March 26, was raining most of the time, but we still got some things accomplished. We finished moving the last of the FertilMulch into the bed above the wall, pruned some rosemary to make room for the rhubarb by the strawberry bed, planted some Kale in one of the new horse troughs, and planted a few more peas in spaces that they hadn’t come up yet. The peas are looking pretty good, though, so one of these days we’ll need to beef up the supports before they get too tall. We also talked a bit more about the challenges of raising the beds out of the pathway of the thirsty poplar roots, and Laurie showed us the plastic material that seemed like a possibility for solid bottoms. We talked about the idea of trying to find some students at the UW who might want to take on this agro-engineering challenge, but weren’t sure where to start with that. Any ideas would be welcomed. After everyone else had left, Laurie and I were poking around looking at the drainage holes in the two remaining horse troughs, and decided to rake some of the dirt away from them, and lo and behold, we found, not 1, not 2, but 3 drain holes that were being invaded by poplar roots. We cut them away with the handy pruning saw, and it will take a while for them to rot out and free up the drain holes again, but at least we caught them and could “cut them off at the pass” so to speak. Seems like we may even need to raise the horse troughs to keep the roots away. A couple of illustrative photos below show how the root was coming from underneath, and curved up into the drain hole on the side.  A continuing challenge…

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Feb 26, 2017 – Poplars 1, Gardeners 1

Well, gardeners, yesterday we proved that the poplar roots will find ANY OPENING into our garden beds. Remember back when we put in the new horse trough beds we mistakenly drilled a little hole in the bottom of the first one, then realized that we should drill the drain holes in the sides, so the roots couldn’t get in. Well, guess what?

It all started when we decided to pull up the stunted arugula, and started seeing pretty big roots ALL THROUGH THE BED, that we didn’t think were probably arugula roots. So, we decided to investigate, and started digging. Down, down and down we dug, as the roots started getting larger and larger, and VOILA, it went all the way to the very bottom. There, coming right through that teeny little hole we drilled (see the tip of Nalini’s finger showing the hole in the 6th photo) was a poplar root coming right from the ground. The root coming through was tiny, but at soon as it got into the trough it created a huge web of rootlets and got way bigger, sucking up the precious water in our arugula bed.

So, that was our day at the garden. We emptied the whole bed of soil, and covered it up, waiting for a drier day to sift it so we can use it again. We put the trough back behind the water barrels and covered that up, too. We were greatly relieved to see that the roots hadn’t managed to get through any other part of the trough, and the other two troughs don’t have any poplar roots in them, so that was the good news!

So now the question is, how can we plug that teeny hole so we can use the trough? Or should we put it up on blocks and see if the roots reach up through the air to get in?

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February 12, 2017

Just a reminder that we have RCG work parties EVERY Sunday now, from 3-5 PM in February and March,  and that I foolishly put the WRONG time on the chalkboard at the garden (it had said 2 – 4 PM, but now it’s correct). I went down today a little after 3 PM and no one else was there. It was a lovely afternoon though, so I did some weeding in the garlic and strawberry beds, cut back some of the suckers on the cherry tree, weeded the calendula out of our asparagus row (no sign of any shoots yet), and put a whole bin of compost into Vickie’s yard waste (hope that was OK). The wind or something had knocked over that tall pyramid structure that we had beans on last year, so I picked it up and put it right in the middle of the circle of beds 1 – 7 and put the bamboo behind the shed.

It looks like last week a lot of weeding got done in the herb border – it looks great! And the little fences were all taken out and laid by bed 6; I hope that was us doing that? Looking forward to doing some planting planning with the group tomorrow evening!

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Happy New Year 2017

Greetings, and here’s hoping that 2017 will be a great year for our Ravenna Community Garden. Our core gardeners met today to begin planning for the 2017 growing season and here’s a few things we have to report:

  • Our plan is to meet for Work Parties EVERY Sunday starting on February 5.
  • The times of the work party will change depending on the season, and you can see the schedule on the Work Parties in 2017 page on this blog. It will be 3-5 PM in the early spring and fall, and 5-7 PM in the peak growing season. We do this to try to avoid gardening in the heat of the day.
  • We’re hoping to install even more drip irrigation in the beds this year, so we can avoid having to water so much by hand.
  • We’re also trying to come up with some creative ideas for raising our vegetable beds off the ground, since our crops have been suffering from an invasion of the roots of the beautiful poplar trees at the north end of the garden. If anyone has good ideas about how we can peacefully co-exist with these water-thirsty but stately giants, please send us your thoughts.
  • We’ll mostly be having meetings at the beginning of each work party, but we’re also going to have 3 planning meetings in these first 3 months of the season. The meetings will be at 7 PM on Feb 13 for Planting Planning, Mar 13 for Raising the Garden Beds Planning, and April 10 for Community Outreach Planning. Let us know if you’re interested in attending, and we’ll send you the details about location
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2016 gardening

The season of 2016 was/is not easy to garden: the lack of spring and early in the year hot temps, the fluctuating weather (temps wavered about 10–20 degrees on some days) created conditions hard for gardeners to balance between the nature and the culture.  Below are the lists: the good, the bad and the ugly of 2016 gardening, compiled at the Sunday, 9/25 work-party. + A short list of our winter garden plants and a  list of our future wishes.

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RCG – 9/25/16 – bush beans still going

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RCG – 9/25/16 – some of our tomatoes

 

1.) THE GOOD:

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RCG • 9/25/16 – healthy cucumbers

– We gained some new gardeners and retained the core old ones, yay and welcome!

– Tomatillos: splendid crops – waiting for Vickie’s recipe on salsa

– Garlic and shallots: excellent in spring, after planting them in fall 2015

– Tomatoes: very good harvests, after a rocky start. Note: the best performers in yield and taste were NOT the heirloom tomatoes we nursed from seeds, but volunteer cabernet cherry tomatoes which self-sown themselves from last year

– Lettuce and carrots did fabulously in summer in the new horse troughs:

– Bush beans: planted about 3 times (started from Roma, ended up with whatever we found in the shed) but finally producing very good, even now, the end of September

– Blueberries: super-fat and juicy. Note: they were about 3-4 weeks early, beginning of June

– Cucumbers:  very good, no powdery mildew and still going

– Peaches: super sweet harvest this year

– Herb boarder, esp. Rhubarb (harvested at least twice) – very good!

– Strawberries: they were good, but short to last. Note: failed to bloom/fruit again in the excessive heat

– Peppers (California peppers from seeds): None of them achieved the red state, but many green, good to eat. Note: how come they didn’t become red in all that excessive heat? & we have super sun exposure in our garden, too (for comparison: I planted same peppers at home, 5 blocks away from the garden: about ¼ of them did turn red)

– Red sweet cherries from the tree over the strawberry bed: most of us missed them, but they were good!

– Despite difficult season we were able to donate some produce to Facing Homelessness agency

2.) THE BAD:

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RCG – 9/25/16 – bean tower slow climb up

– Basil – it ended up growth-stunted, slightly off color and never bushy, despite efforts of fertilizing, but we ate it anyway

– Pole beans, bed 5: oops, sown from seeds several times and just OUT and gone: eaten off the stalk, dead or dying. In the end of July we planted a row of healthy starts, but now have one lone vine going on there, the rest went same way as previous seeds.            –

– Pole beans on bean tower in bed 2: planted

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RCG – 9/25/16 – stunted basil

from starts beginning of August, but may never mature the slow speed they are going…

– Squash:   dried up and disappeared on us (in poplar bed, but bed # 9 still promising with flowers)

3.) AND THE UGLY:

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RCG • 9/25/16 – potato coffin (no harvest)

‘The roots, the snails and the blight” (Tracy, referring to poplar roots, slugs in every bed, slimy slug trails and tomato early and late blight, yuck)

– Early lettuce, spinach, and brassicas all went bye-bye (too hot spring temps?)

– Peas in spring: dead on arrival (too hot?)

– Beets: we tended to them, but the leaf miner was still ahead (removed late summer ad replaced with some other crop – kale?}

– Potatoes dried up from heat and poplar roots chocking them (we need to dig up the soil and put heavy plastic on the bottom) – no harvest

 

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RCG •9/25/16 – our winter garden

4.) FALL/WINTER GARDEN (started the end of summer):

– Kale, Swiss chard, spinach:  coming up in the new horse troughs

– Peas: second crop – look promising: blooming and some pods there already!

– I might have forgot some of the winter garden we started

 

4.) If WISHES WERE HORSES:

– Gardening in sunken garbage cans under poplars (to avoid poplar roots)

– Green house under poplars

– Pilot project on aqua- or aeroponics gardening (less water, no soil, no insects)

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September 18th, 2016

We are still having a good harvest for almost fall in Seattle: tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, tomatillos, peppers, basil and rhubarb.

A note on rhubarb:  we cleaned it up from the bottom up, instead of going for the new, tender shoots at the top…  As a result some of the stalks were too tough and woody to eat,  but I managed to skin and cut up about  3-4 of them soft enough for my favorite childhood treat: sprinkled with sugar and left in the fridge overnight – symphony of sour and sweet in the morning!:)

Next work party: Monday September 26, 5-7 PM

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RCG – 9/18/16 – today’s harvest.  photo by Ann Marie.

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September 4, 2016

We harvested a TON of tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few beans and carrots.

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We also planted new winter greens – kale, collards, and Chinese cabbages, after adding some fresh compost to the beds.

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We also discovered more of the beds that have MASSES of poplar roots in them, and are having some big challenges with plants in those beds not thriving. It’s quite amazing how dense the roots get in the beds, and unfortunately how much water they rob from the plants we’ve been nurturing so carefully.

Sorry for the short post, it was a lovely day with a small group of gardeners, but we got some good stuff prepared for our FALL gardening adventures. Let’s hope for rainy nights and sunny days in the next few months so we can all eat our GREENS and be healthy all winter.

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