Is Anything Happening in the Winter? Don’t yawn yet!

February 16, 2021

“Do ya need any help in the winter?” Visitors stop us from our work and ask this question, with some frequency. My response is, “Yes! But the winter tasks are not very sexy.”

How lucky are we. During these winter months, an energetic group of volunteers kept their shoulder to the plow. Here is what they have been working on, to stay warm:

moving plants, making new beds, working on drainage, root pruning, sheet mulching, building rabbit fencing, propagating plants, accounting catch-up, building and installing art, weeding and pruning out invasive plants, pruning perennial plants and trees, searching for winter moth eggs, rebuilding plant supports, ordering seeds and planning for spring gardens.

Volunteers needed! by appointment please email
freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com
Feb. 20, 11am Ingela tree pruning
Feb. 27, 10:30 Nancy grape pruning

Meanwhile, if you peel up that layer of snow, activity abounds and another group of volunteers are busy generating heat.

Tree roots grow in the winter, as long as there is moisture and the soil temperature is about 40°F or higher. On February 15, mid-afternoon, I took a soil thermometer and measured 40-42°F soil temperature in several locations at FECO. The air temp was 43°F and the snow temp was 35°F. The warm spot was within the chip pile at 50°F, a clear signal of active microbial life.

In fact, at 32° F, many microbes can thrive. Stoop down and imagine them snarfing up organic matter and ‘pooping’ out nitrogen and other nutrients that plants salivate for. Look closely and watch the plant root tips dribble out sugars, to bargain with the microbes for those nutrients.

All those biological and chemical processes require energy and produce heat; just the same as the volunteer work above ground. So, eat up first then come out to enjoy the outdoors. The volunteer schedule is on the Calendar page.

Many many thanks to our winter volunteers: Sue, Joe, Nancy, Miles, Nematode, Paige C, Rotifer, West, Reid, Worm, Lee, Amoeba, Jake, Bacteria, Becky, Jodi, Actinobacteria, Meg, AL, Gabbie, Pat, Karin, Kate, Fungi, and Melody

Ruth

Tree Dormancy
Kuhns, Mike (3/9/2020)
Utah State University Forestry Extension
https://forestry.usu.edu/ask-an-expert-new/watering_dormant_trees

Low temperature limits of root growth in deciduous and evergreen temperate tree species
Alvarez-Uria, P., Körner, C. (01/10/2007)
Functional Ecology, British Ecological Society
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2007.01231.x

Lab 5: Soil and The Carbon Cycle, Part A: Soil, Carbon, and Microbes
Carlton College EarthLabs
https://serc.carleton.edu/eslabs/carbon/5a.html
Image: Cicle_del_nitrogen_ca.svg:
Dréo , Johann (User:Nojhan), (03/30/2006)

Microbe Diet Key To Carbon Dioxide Release
Manzoni , Stefano, Porporato, Amilcare (08/05/2008)
Duke University
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731173125.htm

Find a Stone that Speaks to You: The Magic of Nature in Times of Crisis

January 12, 2021

I thought to blog about Horticulture Therapy, but the topic is sizeable. Instead, I chose to highlight two well-known authors who wrote about the therapeutic benefit of stones.

Psychiatrist Harold Searles was troubled by the extent to which technology was interfering with people’s ability to relate to nature. “Over recent decades we have come from dwelling in an outer world in which the living works of nature either predominated or were near at hand, to dwelling in an environment dominated by a technology which is wondrously powerful and yet nonetheless dead, inanimate.” (1960) Searles’ relations theory identified a hierarchy of complexity, with relationships to people being the most complex, followed by animals, then plants, then stones. According to Searles, people at a low level of mental strength can get help from the most simple relations, such as those to inert objects in nature, e.g., stones.

Volunteers are needed!
by appointment
please email
freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com
Please check calendar page for events!

Johan Ottosson, author of many articles on nature-based rehabilitation and health promotion, at the age of 39, was hit by a car when he was cycling to work, and suffered head injuries. For his doctoral thesis in Landscape Planning, he wrote about his rehabilitation experience. Searles’ idea of nature as a link between the conscious and the subconscious appealed to Johan. Ottosson writes, “Searles maintained, contrary to contemporary mainstream thought, that Nature plays an important role in our mental health. People in crisis need ‘stable’ environments in order to feel well.”

Ottosson wrote his photographic essay in the third person (excerpt):
“When he thinks back to the early days, right after the accident, he is surprised by how many of his impressions from the natural surroundings are connected with stones. The untouched stone with its blanket of lichen and moss in various shades of green and grey gave him a sense of security through its timelessness, calm and harmony. It was as though the stone spoke to him: ‘I have been here forever and will always be here; my entire value lies in my existence and whatever you are or do is of no concern to me’. The stones did not speak to him in words, but in feelings, which made the relationship both deep and strong. The feelings calmed him and filled him with harmony. His own situation became less important. The stone had been there long before the first human being had walked past. Countless generations, each with lives and fates of their own, had passed by.”

Ottosson’s recovery was very challenging. For nine years after the accident he could not read or write, but he developed a personal system of symbols and was assisted by computers, tape recorders and secretaries. His career continued at least through 2017.

Look, we have a lot of stones in the orchard, including a pile of them in the north end. I frequently pick up a rock, admire it, and put it back down. If you are walking slowly, you may spot a stone that speaks to you. What does it say?

Ruth

Harold Searles M.D., PhD, psychoanalyst
The Nonhuman Environment: In Normal Development and in Schizophrenia
(1960) New York City: International Universities Press.

Selections: Harold Searles, Unconscious Processes in Relation to the Environment Crisis
(1972) Psychoanalytic review  59(3): 368
http://collectivetask.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5_04_rosenfield.pdf

Johan Ottosson, Agr lic, landscape architecture, MScHort, Department of Landscape Planning, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
The importance of nature in coping with a crisis
(2001) Landscape Research 26: 165-172
http://freewayestates.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/pdfslide.net_the-importance-of-nature-in-coping-with-a-crisis-a-photographic-essay.pdf

For a good book on Horticulture Therapy, I can recommend:
Sue Stuart-Smith, The Well-Gardened Mind
(2020), Scribner: New York City

The Legacies of Five Pioneer Volunteers

December 1, 2020

One speaker, from a recent soil-related Conference of Hawaii Farmers Union (HFUU), declared that he wanted to leave a legacy. He aspired, during his tenure as a farmer, to create as much great soil as he could.

Volunteers are needed! Please see our Calendar Page or email
freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com

Our early volunteers shaped what FECO is today, and their legacies vary. This past week I looked through my notes and summarized what we appreciate about five of those volunteers.

Bryon W – Legacy – Hard-working

Bryon came to the orchard in June of 2011 and usually brought his alert five-year-old daughter (who ate worms with no hesitation, just let them slide down the hatch).

Bryon was a professional landscaper and held a permaculture certificate. He sat in on the initial meeting with representatives from WSDOT, SDOT, and Richard Conlin’s office. ‘Sat in’ isn’t quite right … we all sat on a pile of chips, which was all that was in the orchard, but for a few trees.

He helped dig out the blackberry along the sound wall, made our first compost bin, taught a compost class and, at the 2011 Cider Fest, presented a beautiful design showing how the orchard could be developed. He was willing and able to be involved in every aspect of FECO.

Today his family lives in Colorado and he recently added a ‘food forest’ to the Eagle (CO) Community Gardens.

Maximo M – Legacy – Good-natured

Max joined FECO in November of 2012 and put in nearly seven years until he moved to Portland with his fiancé Maya. Math was Maximo’s strong suit and he would always check or make calculations. Lucky for us, he was able to quickly add markings, to represent each 5 gallon increment, on the round elevated water barrels. He bailed me out several times when I needed something to add or change on our WordPress website. During the 2013 Cider Fest, he took responsibility to make notes of all steps to setup and operate the Cider Press.

Max was interested in everything. He hosted a class on Invasive Plants, helped plan a class on Herbs, taught by Maya and Sue, and volunteered at most every event from the 2013 Night Out through the 2019 Herb class. He would often surprise us with baked cookies at work parties.

Nancy M – Legacy – Welcoming

Nancy volunteered for five years, beginning in July of 2013. She would be the first to ask for event flyers so she could post them in the complex she lived in. She faithfully would act as greeter at events and was very attentive to visitors. She helped me shop for a nice sandwich sign board.

Another volunteer remarked that Nancy was always upbeat at work parties, regardless of how she might be feeling. She worked the garden plot that is four feet tall, planting squash and cucumbers.

One thing I really appreciate about Nancy is that she rounded up very talented musicians for every cider fest from 2014 through 2019, and Mary G was amazing at the Dulcimer.

Ellen H – Legacy – Enthusiastic

Ellen also began volunteering in 2013. She would take the bus down from Woodinville, She knew Nora L and they would often work together. Their claim to fame was tearing out all the invasive English Ivy along the sound wall. It didn’t matter what was on the list for the work party; they got out the ladder, loppers and a garden fork and seized the Ivy – Nora on the ladder and Ellen digging at the root. Her tasks also included all of the accounting for the 2015 construction grant!

Ellen might be anywhere these days. On the radar she might be in Vader, but she also loves the Parks. One summer she bid us adieu and left to volunteer at the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Before she left, she donated her favorite iris (Plachta family) for the William’s Pride guild.

Kimberly C – Legacy – Passionate

Kimberly hurled herself into the orchard in 2013. Within a few months time, she applied for a grant, carefully chose pollinator plants, then created an attractive planting design.

Kimberly was very interested in the idea of a pollinator pathway from Gasworks park, through Wallingford, and on into the orchard. She already knew of a pathway, developed by Sarah Bergmann, on Capital Hill.

From the Wallyhood news: “Congratulations to the Wallingford community for completing an astounding 54 outreach activities for Waste Management’s (WM) 2013-14 Think Green Recycling Challenge!” Kimberly’s outreach activity was a pollinator patch at FECO and she was awarded $330. She got in touch with Emily Sarah Gendler, a plant propagator, and they came up with a long list of native plants.

They ended up planting six red flowering currants (Ribes sanguineum), 10 strawberry plants (Fragaria choloensis) and 10 kinnickinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). She also seeded the Bee Plant (Phalacea tanacetifolia).

The pollinator patch is thriving and we have something useful and beautiful to remind us of Kimberly’s passion for bees.

Ruth