Category Archives: Construction

New Watering System Is On Tap

October 1, 2017

It’s fascinating how one mulberry or one thornless blackberry can sustain me while I work in the sm-persimmon-wp_20171001_002orchard. Just that brief sweet juicy explosion can satisfy, nourish and make me smile. These two fruits are new to the orchard and they have proved their worth.

It will be several weeks before we know whether the new persimmons will mature or not but otherwise, we are nearly finished with the harvest.

We have donated an estimated 244 pounds to the food bank. Now, however, the sun weakens and plant production is slowing.

sm-reseeded-lettuce-wp_20170928_001The transition to fall plants such as radish, lettuce, cilantro, mustards, arugula and various cover crops has begun. Check out that germination rate of lettuce that Sue let go to seed! It looks like carpet. Thinning could be a challenge.

We ended up with tasty samples of all apple and pear varieties, even though the winter moth larvae took out many of the blossoms last spring. The good ole Liberty was the best performer and we have enough Liberty to reward the Cider Fest volunteers this coming Saturday.

The dry summer taxed every plant. Our aim is to water just enough to keep the fruit and nut trees in good health. I believe that they got enough water but next year’s crop will tell the tale. We do think the berries and grapes were under watered.

Sat, Oct 7, 2-5, Cider Fest!
Apple contributions are welcome! We have science exhibits for the kids. Cider and pie slices.
Sun, Oct 15, 2-4, Work Party

Sun, Nov 19, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Dec 17, 2-4, Work Party

In the interest of saving water, saving time watering, and allowing watering to be physically easy, we have applied for another Seattle Dept of Neighborhood matching grant. It’s a small grant, about $10,000, but should be enough to buy a manual pump, ollas, some vertical perforated pipe and low-pressure, gravity fed drip irrigation materials. We also are beneficiaries of a used 1,000-gallon cistern, which could be enough assistance to free us from using city water.

We are in need of a mechanical or civil engineer to help us with choice of pump to carry water from shows-hose-in-and-hose-out-treadle-pump-1the cisterns out to the beds. Choosing the right pump will be critical to the efficacy of the whole irrigation system to the food bank beds. Contact us if that engineer is you or your friend!

Please join us for our annual celebration next Saturday between 2-5pm, rain or shine.

Ruth

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