Category Archives: Orchard Events

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

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

FECO’s 10th Annual Cider Fest – en vivo! A COVID-unfriendly event

October 8, 2020

Friends! This year’s Fest will be the best ever. Bring your raincoat, join us Saturday  from 2-4pm, and enjoy the lineup:

Saturday, Oct. 10, 2-4pm
6th Ave NE, just south of NE 63rd St
rain or shine
freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com
check calendar for details

Three fabulous young musicians

The best assortment of homemade pie slices, scrumptous homemade granola, raspberry jam, and
invigorating homemade salsa verde

Plants for sale include natives, strawberries, and a few fig and elderberry plants

Miscellaneous art items

The kids will be busy filling out their passports.

OH! and free warm cider from the press!

Quite different from prior years, the Fest is designed as a tour. The anti-Covid team marked a one-way loop route through the orchard and native areas. Distancing and masks are required.

For those who don’t like rain (maybe you just moved to Seattle) we have runners who will greet guests with a handout of all sale items and prices. If lighting strikes your car, you don’t even have to get out!

There are quizzes and interpretive signs along the loop. Everyone will learn something new about gardening.

This is our annual fundraiser. Please bring cash or your checkbook. Volunteers have spent so many hours tidying up. We are very proud of what we have accomplished this year. See you soon!

Ruth