Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Raven and Chelsea stop by for a look.

One of my favorite things about community gardens is the chance meetings. Chelsea and Raven were wandering through the P-Patch on their way home and stopped to chat. Chelsea and I covered how to get a plot in the garden and what to plant. Raven was a veritable waterfall of conversation about the taste of sorrel, whether there was rhubarb in the garden, how much she liked rhubarb, that she even ate it raw, and that she was at least intrigued by the notion of my rhubarb compote shortcake. She claimed to be a stranger to its more familiar cousin, strawberry shortcake, but her mom suggested that it was not so. I know what was going on, though. When you're caught up in the greenness, and the breeze, and the imaginings, it's understandable to forget the "tried it already" stuff.

p.s. Chelsea, if you want a copy of this photo, e-mail me. And here's a link to the P-Patch info:

Fellow gardeners! What is this--besides lovely?

Cascade Children. They seem skeptical of my documentation request.

Ladybugs need homes, too.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday evening. Early summer harvest.

I harvested some garlic scapes tonight, in order to allow my garlic bulbs to develop more robustly and juicily. Really? No. I harvested some garlic scapes tonight, in order to bring something back from the garden. To have a need for the little knife Zoe helped me find in the shed. To claim something besides a weed. To walk triumphantly back to my apartment, with dirty fingers and green bounty curling around them. To see something new and just picked in my sink. To make something that promises to be delicious and to put it in my refrigerator and know that when I get home after a stressful day at work tomorrow, there will be sunshine and greenness and dirt and community and sweat and pungent, garlicky hope in there to greet me and adorn a plate of pasta.

Monday, June 1, 2009

"The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower--suitable to any occasion." --Katharine Hepburn in Stage Door (1937)

Bobby is clever and uses the sidewalk instead of the chip-covered paths.

Dick mucks about in the, um, muck. Harvey is pleased. Jeff is still trying to recover from my address of him as "hey, grey shirt guy." Sorry, Jeff!

Check out that shed, scrubbed and ratless!

Olivia is smiling the smile of someone who is trying desperately not to scream (at all those stubborn little weeds).

Source of the blisters on my left hand. Ouch.

Harvey and Meir organize the troops.

Nate and JoJo confer on an important matter at the work party. Or maybe they were just jawing and sawing. *groan*

Remember those peony shoots from a couple of months ago?

Harvey's recap of the 5/31/09 work party.

Hi All,

I want to thank everyone that participated in another incredibly productive work party. Thanks to Meir for leading, and for all the hard work of the attendees.

Here's a recap of what was accomplished:

Shed: As noted by Alex's message, the shed has never looked better. First, the Orion kids painted the exterior in the past few weeks. Then in last month's work party, the beds were cleared and replanted. Yesterday's work continued the massive improvements. Ten year's of accumulated stuff has now been removed and rearranged, and some disposal remains. The spaciousness of the shed is shocking, so let's keep it that way. And let me give a further reminder to remove soil from all tools and drain all hoses before putting them back in shed. As for tomato cages, please keep the ones you use in your plot over the winter instead of putting them back in the shed. Just stack them and weight them down with a board. At the end of the work party, Linda filled an old wheelbarrow with compost and planted strawberries. Community gardeners waste nothing, right? Great thanks to Alex, Jen, Meir and Linda for all their work on this big project.

The Sandbox: You have seen the ideas sent around about the sandbox plantings, but the first job was to dig it out and replace the sand with good tilth. What an effort! There was far more sand in there than every imagined, and Dick and Jeff probably thought they were going to need a mine shaft. With help from JoJo and Julia, they got the sand to other places in the Patch where they spread it to create smoother pathways. Then they filled the hole with leaves, manure, fresh greens, old browns, and built some tilth. In the process, Jeff discovered the terminus of the cement pipeway that led away from the old pump. Archeology at Minor and Thomas!

The Path: JoJo and Julie did a masterful job of building more structure into the Patch by digging in a log as barrier along the branching path that leads from the sidewalk to the Park. They not only reinforced the position of the log at the top of this path but then firmly secured this bottom log so that good soil will stop sluffing off our Edible Garden bed into the path.

Minor Avenue: Sean and Julia worked very hard to clear a lot of invasive weeds from this bed, then Sean mulched it with leaf mold. This mainly shade bed contains some healthy native species that feed our native birds and insects (pollinators). These include Oregon grape, Serviceberry and Snowberry. Sean has taken responsibility for this bed, and we can all help him beautify it in future work parties.

Garden of Happiness: Jenifer and Olivia (undocumented worker), pulled a lot of weeds from the broken stone patio in front of the gazebo, then swept a couple loads of sand from the sandbox into the margins. It looks much better. Then Olivia and Nate (another undocumented press gang laborer), dug and pulled loads of invasives and bindweed from the Happiness beds. While they did this, Bobby cleared the bed behind the gazebo of all the accumulated weeds and detritus. It will now be planted in squash for the Food Bank. Again, a lot of hard work was accomplished there with long-term preventative rewards.

Garden of Love: Nate and Olivia dumped approximately ten loads of compost on the slope below the peach tree, then planted six mounds of squash interspersed with some of Dick's spare Dutch Iris. The soil was very poor, but we expect that the mulching will change that. This summer, vining squash should cover the slope, and we should have a show of flowers next Spring.

The Weeders: Margo weeded numerous paths around individual plots, the Alley and in the Giving Garden, helping everyone. Then Janne came to help for the later shift. They were on their hands and knees getting all these grasses and annual weeds pulled. Thank you so much! For those of you that should be weeding the pathways around your own plots, please don't leave this job to a work party.

Compost: We owe a major debt to Jeff and Cristi, who prepared so much compost for us to use. We needed all of it, and those needs will continue as we further improve all the Patch and Upper Garden beds. I know that this compost was not as finished as you had hoped, but it was a giant help in getting new areas of the Patch covered before the hot season begins.

Rats: As Alex mentioned, we found a rat's nest in the shed. We also found a rat's nest in the boards behind the upper compost bins. If there is no food, there are no rats. So please pick up any food containers and other trash you see around the Patch and get them into a garbage can ASAP. Keep lids on fertilizer bins. I'm going to ask Parks to haul away everything in the Alley, including some good lumber. So if you need some of these boards for your plots, please take them immediately! Kim, can you use some of this to build higher boxes in the GOL??? And thanks so much for bringing the manure. It all went into the sandbox.

Removal: Please take as much of the stuff back to your own garbage can as possible from the plastic barrel that sits out side the shed. We need to empty this. We will also remove all the prunings from the alley that have been tucked back into the roses. If you have any rose prunings of your own, please put them here immediately instead of in the compost. They do not decompose easily.

I'm hearing lots of comments from visitors about how beautiful the Patch looks. There was even a wedding in the Park close to the Patch during our work party! All the work that you're doing is paying off handsomely, as Cascade has never looked better. Again, thanks to all.


More shots by Jeff Moore, 5/16/09--thanks!

Some shots by Jeff Moore on 4/21/09--thanks, Jeff!