Category Archives: Construction

Determined about Indeterminate

June 28, 2017tomato-whole-trellis-sm-wp_20170628_003

I put down my scythe and walked over to Sue’s tomato area, hoping for a quick lesson. She moves as quickly as she speaks so I had to dart around to keep close enough to hear her.

tomato-close-pruning-sm-arrows-doc-and-markups-wp_20170628_004She slowed a minute in order to carefully wind the new tomato growth around the vertical twine. “I keep three leaders but commercial growers often just keep one,” she announced and then she pointed out the nodes where she had previously pruned suckers.

Indeterminate tomato varieties are those whose fruit number and size is determined by you! Without pruning, they become huge, bushy and tangled.

Sue handed me the 2000 June/July issue of Kitchen Gardener that had a reprint of Pruning Tomatoes by Frank Ferrandino .

Ferrandino’s three rules for growing tomatoes:

Sat, Jul 1, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Jul 16, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Aug 5, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Aug 20, 2-4, Work Party

1) Get the plants off the ground

2) Give plants room

3) Never prune or tie plants when the leaves are wet.

I quickly made my way over to my Cherry tomato and cut off the lowest leafs.tomato-part-of-trellis-sm-wp_20170628_005

Sue recently retired from Tilth Alliance and has more than doubled the amount of FECO garden area for the food banks. And she’s looking for more beds!

If you have an idea for some recycled material that is about 18 inches in height, is study and not too heavy, comes in short sections or can curve, let us know. We would like to create a garden bed that could double as a boarder for part of the path.

Ruth

Ready for a Rest

May 3, 2016

April 30, 2016 was the last day to spend our Seattle Neighborhood Matching Grant funds. We sheet mulch 20160428_190314accomplished so much this past 14 months (see prior blog post) but we were still missing a bench. Last year, there was no time to rest but, this year, there is!

We made an effort, searching Craigslist, UW surplus and Second Use websites, but there was hardly a bench to be found.

Then, an amazing gift came our way. On Sunday, April 17, we were short on volunteers so I kept my eyes open, hoping to spot more of our regulars. I didn’t want to get my hopes up but it looked like three men were walking toward the orchard.

Sat, May 7, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, May 15, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Jun 19, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Jul 17, 10-12, Work Party

It was sunny that day so I raised my hand to my eyebrow to see well. Yes! They were coming our way. Three fine young men from the neighborhood showed up to volunteer. Sturdy and alert, Brooks, Drew and Nathan built a rubble frame for a garden bed, added a couple of shelves to the shed, and dug out a big root ball of Cotoneaster.

When the work was finished, Brooks turned to Sue and me and said, “You need a bench.” I smiled ear to ear.D&B WP_20160430_14_30_13_Pro

Just in the nick of time, before our grant money ran out, these men did it all: designed the bench, picked a good sitting area, shopped for materials, sheet mulched the sitting area, picked up a load of cedar chips, sanded and sealed the wood and finished the bench on April 30.

Cement block and fir 4x4s serve as the base. Our old rotting wood pallets could be salvaged into slats so Drew took them home to cut them up. However, as luck would have it, just a block from his house, he spotted a free pile of old cedar fence boards and he used those instead. Six inches of cedar chips lie beneath the bench, which won’t decompose as fast as arborist chips.

finished bench WP_20160502_003 Doesn’t it look great!

Please consider showing up at one of the May work parties.
We have a lot to accomplish before summer.
Also, save the date – Sunday, October 2, is our sixth annual cider fest.

Ruth

City Matching Grant Transforms Community Orchard

February 15, 2016

It’s time to review 13 months of orchard infrastructure work, an extensive effort funded with a Seattle Department of Neighborhood (DON) Matching Grant. We are especially thankful to Allynn Ruth (DON) for securing a four-month extension of time to complete our work. Construction took longer because we did most of the work ourselves and also maximized use of recycled materials. Vale la pena! We all learned some cool new skills.

With Max’s help, we created a slide show to illustrate the steps for all five of our major projects: shed move, shed rebuild, cistern pad and cisterns, city water, path, garden beds and trellises.

Shed Move – We had to move the shed several feet in order to make room for cisterns. Ropes were threaded under the shed and tied to a long bar on each side. Five strong people per side pulled up on the bars, shuffled several feet and then set her down on new pavers. The cost was zero but 85 volunteer hours were needed for planning, leveling, cleaning out shed, tearing the old roof off and dismantling it to reuse the wood. We made eight new friends.

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Shed Rebuild –  Volunteers rebuilt a previously-donated shed in order to catch roof water and to increase storage capacity. Once we chose the cistern size, the shed design followed; the lower edge of the roof needed to be ten feet from the ground. We made calculations, checked our calculations, made calculations and checked our calculations. Most of the hammering was done in a weekend. We spent $4,100, which included materials for build-out of the inside of the shed. Volunteer hours were roughly 816 and we made nine new friends.

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Cistern Pad and Cistern –  We were told we had the best pad the cistern installer had ever seen! We used cedar for the frame and we used a skill saw to make half-lap joints. The pad frame contains a layer of sand, then crushed rock. Total cost of the pad was $640 (think cedar). Two 1,500-gallon cisterns, plus install and other misc costs was $3,826. The effort took about 85 hours.

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City Water – We added city water as a backup to the cisterns. Pacific Landscaping dug a trench, laid 250 linear feet of plastic pipe, and installed valves, vertical pipes and spigots. We used recycled wood and dug posts into the ground to secure the pipes. The hard work came next: backfilling and replacing sod. Total cost was $9,700, including $8,700 to SPU for installing a meter and repairing a patch in the street.  120 Volunteer hours were logged in.

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Crushed rock path – Hurrah! You don’t need swamp boots to traverse the area in the winter, that is, unless you stray off the path. We spray painted the 577 linear foot path and designated areas for the dug up sod to be dumped. Pacific Landscaping came back and, with a front loader, they dug up the sod and dumped it into future garden bed sites. During our planning meeting, when the number of wheelbarrow runs of rock was estimated to be 230 trips, several handy volunteers jumped at the chance to try a mule and a walk-behind front loader. We laid down Geotec cloth in the muckiest part of the path and then spread 40 cubic yards of crushed rock and compacted it, all within a weekend.  The cost was $3,660. This includes $1,670 for crushed rock, $520 for tool rental, and $880 for excavating. It took 280 volunteer hours and we made six new friends.

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Garden Beds and Trellises – After a much needed break, we started piecing together garden beds. About 50 tons of dirt needed to be pushed around and molded. Nine garden beds were made: five mounds, three Faswall framed beds and one rubble framed herb spiral. Surely we have the only Octagon in town; no one else would so be naive not to realize how laborious it would be to build one. Our herb spiral doubled as a drainage improvement project; we buried a couple of large logs under the spiral. We also made three grape trellises from old metal pipes and hose clamps. Concrete blocks were partially dug in the ground to house the trellis uprights. Rebar was then pounded into one concrete block cell and concrete was poured and mixed in both cells.  Costs were $2,524 hours, the largest cost being $1,300 for the Faswall bed frames. 265 hours have been logged in and we have six more new friends. .

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Costs to date are $32,000. In addition to the costs above, we spent another $8,000 for: art , tools, supplies, tree move and removal, food, plants and gifts. The required volunteer match to earn a $32,000 grant is 1,600 hours. We have far surpassed that goal with 3,153 hours and counting! Total new friends since the grant start date is 56.

Within the next couple of months, we will finish the garden beds, plant new fruit trees and vines, and complete the native plant section in the south end.

Ruth