We’ve had several happenings in the last week, and several more coming up in the next month or so.  Last Saturday, a group of Americorps volunteers spent the whole day working the garden and on the church landscape, and they were able to do a lot.  We are so grateful to them for their awesome attitudes and hard work!

On Monday one of Oak Hills Church’s members came over and graded a new section of land for us to put in more plots!  Stay tuned to hear more details of when the work day to install water lines will be, and when those who have been waiting on the waitlist will be able to start gardening.

Tomorrow, we are having a brunch and decoration competition in the garden from 10am to noonish.  Come on by for good food, beautiful gardens, and great company!

Next Friday, November 6th, we will be having a workshop on Composting at 6:30.  Due to the earlier sunset these days, we will be meeting in B-2, down by the church.  The B building is located behind the offices, right next to the baptismal Jacuzzi.  B-2 is the door by the concrete steps to the office buildings.  Bring your dinner with you, or eat before, and come here Bill Maynard talk about different ways of Composting and what it can do for the garden.

December 4th is our Annual Meeting and end-of-the-year celebration.  Please do everything in your power to attend.  More details to follow closer to the date.

Also, we will hopefully have our last workshop of the year in December on Companion Planting.  I will let you know as soon as our speaker and I nail down a date.

Finally, I was researching cover crops on Monday as a way to naturally improve the soil and cut down on erosion in heavy rains.  As we may be experiencing some severe storms this winter, you may want to consider planting a cover crop of vetch, clover, or certain grasses between your plants to help keep your plot together (as well as get it ready for next year).  As I was researching, I learned that a weed I’ve been pulling up in my plot and in the pathways is actually often used as a cover crop!  Check out Hairy Vetch, a cover crop that is already at work around the garden:

Hairy Vetch

If you see it in the pumpkin patch or in your plot, consider cultivating it through the winter to get the benefits of it as a cover crop!  Or, take a look at some of the other options out there and pick one that is right for you.  You can use a cover crop at the same time you are growing winter crops, and they can often work well together.

Advertisements

August Happenings

Hi All!

The garden is growing beautifully and so many of the plots are producing a lot.  This week Dianne dropped off 48 pounds of food to the Twin Lakes Food Bank!  Thank you so much for those who are leaving their extras in the basket.  Right now the shade structure is down, but we are working on getting something up quickly to protect the donations (Dianne is planning to bring an umbrella in shortly).

This month we are back to having workshops and work days!  Come by on August 15th from 8:30-11:30 to pull weeds and put down bark.  I am hoping to have plans for a more permanent shade structure at that time (more info to follow).

On August 22nd we will have a workshop at 6:30 in the evening.  Come at 6 for a pot luck (and potentially bbq) beforehand.  Master Gardener Bill Maynard will be speaking on Water-wise gardening as well as starting winter gardens starting at 6:30.

Please also save these future dates:

September 4, evening – General Garden Meeting
September 26th, morning – Garden Workshop
October 10th, morning – Orchard Planting

Due to the large wait list, we are hoping to expand the garden within the year, but we are currently looking both for funding options and donations.  If anyone has any leads on grading/clearing options for a second plot area, please talk to me as soon as you are able.

See you at the garden!

August Happenings

Seedles!

On Friday of last week I came into the office to find a box of Seedles herb and flower bombs.  Chris and Ei Ei, a husband and wife team and founders of Seedles, have generously sent the community garden around 1000 seed bombs (packaged by the fabulous Kristine Morales)!  They’ve given us 750 native California wildflower seed bombs (called Seedles), 3 Thyme Bomb sets with Thyme, Oregano, Dill, Parsley, Mint, Basil, and Chives, and a bag full of oddly shaped and mini Seedles.  Not only are these going to be wonderful for the garden, awesome for our local bee population, and beautiful for the community once they bloom, they are also just plain adorable:

IMG_8403 IMG_8406 IMG_8408 IMG_8404

We are so grateful for this generous donation!

Not only are they incredibly generous, they are also doing great things with their seed bombs.  They have drop down menus on their website so you can choose seeds that exactly fit your region, which helps make sure that the seeds you plant will thrive and that local flowers can continue to be found in their natural ecosystems.  They also make sure that all their seeds are free of toxins, so that the bee populations that eat the nectar and pollen of these flowers can remain healthy.  I wanted Chris and Ei Ei to be able to talk a little about Seedles and what they do in their own words, so I asked them a few questions.  Here’s what Chris said:

What is Seedles, in a nutshell?

Seedles aims to inspire kids and adults to grow one billion wildflowers to bring back the bees and ensure a sustainable food system for their future. Seedles makes “wildflower seed bombs” (found at http://growtherainbow.com) which are compost, clay and native wildflower seeds mixed and rolled into a ball. We then add colorful rainbow colors to make them fun and exciting. You just toss them on the ground and let the sun and rain do the rest. They then sprout and grow into beautiful wildflowers.

Why is this mission so important to you both?

Our goal is to help people do something positive for the world in a fun and easy way. There is so much bad news nowadays, we wanted to enable people to make good news, that has a lasting impact on the environment around them. Seedles allow someone to beautify their neighborhoods and communities while also ensuring the pollinators, which help pollinate one in every three bites of their food, have a clean supply of food as well. Without food there wouldn’t be much reason to live right? 🙂

What is your favorite part of the Seedles process?

I love figuring out the best way to make them. That spans across research and development to the manufacturing process we are refining daily. One of the most joyous parts is adding the colors, there is nothing quite as satisfying as looking out over 5,000 Seedles all colored with colors from the rainbow, it just puts a big fat smile on your face.

Your blog and website talk a lot about the importance of bringing the bees back.  Can you talk a little about this and about what first drew you to this issue?

The bees are currently facing a cocktail of threats, each with their own degree of severeness which are threatening their lives. Some estimates put our annual honey bee colony loss at between 30% and 40%. This provides a lot of food for thought such as “Why are the honey bees dying?”, and “What are the causese for these extreme losses?” Imagine if you will, loosing 30% of your family each year, things just wouldn’t be the same would they? Beyond that, these little industrious bees pollinate ONE in every THREE bites of food we eat. And what they pollinate is all the juicy, colorful, yummy stuff like berries, coffee, watermelon, apples, mangos, kiwi fruit, plums, peaches, green beans, walnuts, lemons, carrots, and on and on.

Can you give a brief description of neonicotinoids and why it’s so important to buy and use seeds that don’t have neonicotinoids in them?

Neonicotinoids are are a new class of insecticides chemically related to nicotine. The name means “new nicotine-like insecticides”.  Like nicotine, the neonicotinoids act on certain kinds of receptors in the nerve synapse.  They are much more toxic to invertebrates, like insects, than they are to mammals, birds and other higher organisms. You can read this research to learn more about current impact – http://growtherainbow.com/blogs/news/30543107-pesticides-create-same-effect-on-bees-as-binge-drinking-does-on-humans

Neonicotinoid residues are found in pollen and nectar consumed by pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The residues can reach lethal concentrations in some situations. These disrupt brain function, bee learning and the ability to forage for food and so limit colony growth.

Always purchase non-neonicotinoid seeds and plants, as you could be poisoning the very pollinators your life depends on. Without pollinators our food sources would be much more bland, and limited to wind pollinated foods such as wheat, corn, rye, and pecans.

In our garden we have a wide spectrum of gardeners, but several (including myself!) are pretty new to gardening.  Do you have any advice or wisdom for those just starting out in exploring gardening and sustainability?

I recommend a lot of “hammock time” or what I can time just sitting in the garden and observing how things work. The power of observation is often understated. Many things can be learned just from observing that natural patterns that already exist and are working in nature. What happens to a plant during the heat of the day? Why? If you leave aphids on the plant, do they get worse, or does nature take care of them? Experiment with watering daily for a short period, versus weekly for a longer period. See what happens when you put compost in a ring around new plants vs when you don’t. Introduce worms into your soil and see if that garden plot does better or worse than one nearby with the same plants.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our gardeners and readers?

It is time for us to stop seeing ourselves as apart from nature and instead begin to see ourselves as a part that makes up the whole of nature. Until we begin to care for our surroundings as intently as we care for ourselves and our families we will continue to see environmental degradation which inevitably will lead to greater issues for humans. One of my favorite quotes is “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

Thank you Chris, Ei Ei, and Kristine!  For more information or to order some Seedles for yourself, check out growtherainbow.com.

Seedles!

Our First Workshop!

One Saturday, June 27th at 11am we are having our first workshop!  Dan Knott, a Master Gardener, Folsom Garden Club Member, and the Garden Manager at a community garden in Old Folsom, will be giving a workshop on soil.  Please come check it out, and invite your friends as well!

After the workshop, stay and share a meal with us.  We can swap ideas, talked about what we just learned, and ask Dan some questions.  It will be a pot luck, so if you are able to bring something to share, please do!

See you there!

Our First Workshop!

Composting

We’ve now got two composters:  One mainly for food scraps and one for garden cuttings and extras.  In order to avoid attracting rodents, please put all food scraps into the tumbling composter, and put cuttings, extra mulch, and other green waste into the pallet composter.  Check out some tips for both composters below:

Pallet Composter – When you add new material to this composter, please also wet it down and give it a turn or two with the shovel.  This will help the material compost more quickly.  Please keep weeds out, as they can spread once the compost is put back into the garden.

Tumbling Composter – Our composter has two chambers.  Add compost to the side with the “+” sign and keep the side with the clock symbol covered.  When you add new material to the + side, make sure to give the composter 5 to 10 spins around to mix it in well.  Because this composter is in full sun and away from the ground, it can dry out really quickly.  Check to make sure that it is moist, and if it looks dry, add a bit of water.  If the composter is full, switch the sliding door so the + side is on the empty chamber.  If the compost starts to smell like ammonia or rotten eggs, if could probably use some “browns”, which are things like straw, leaves, and wood chips.  If we make sure that the compost is staying moist and aerated, it will be finished anytime between 2 and 8 weeks.

More on composting to come.  For now, have a blast with our new tumbling composter!

Composting

Garden To Do List

Updated to do list:

Add mulch to the pathways – Weeds are starting to pop through in the thin mulch areas.  A thick layer of mulch will help keep them down.

Mulch and weed the area south of the pumpkin patch.  Weeds are popping up like crazy to the south of the pumpkin patch.  If you have a moment to pull a couple weeds, or bring a wheelbarrow-full of mulch, please do!

Continue adding herbs and flowers to the center triangles.  We’ve got some awesome plants there already, but we’ve got space for more!

Build a tool box/ shed.  I continue to check craigslist for cheap sheds that would not be stolen and could easily be transported here, but good ones are hard to find, and go quickly.  Another option is building something smallish out of the wood & pallets that we have and having that last us for now.  There are a ton of diy instructions on the web for pallet toolshed projects.

Planting grape vines and trees: Michael is planning to plant some communal grape vines to the west of the garden, and potentially planting some trees to the north.  If you come across any cheap or free fruit trees and want to get them for our future orchard, please do!

Garden To Do List

What to Plant in Communal Spaces

Hi Gardeners,

I want to get a list started of plants for the communal spaces.  If there are various differing desires, then we can vote together on our top picks for the spaces.  However, so far there has been some overlap on suggestions.  Here is what has been mentioned to me so far:

Lavender
Luffa
Hibiscus
Asparagus
Mint (in a container)
Thyme
Basil
Blueberries
Raspberries
Sunflowers (as a border along the road?)

What else would you like to see in the garden?  Are there any perennials that you would like to plant?  Let me know either in the comment section or by email and I will add them to the list!

Megan

What to Plant in Communal Spaces