Tag Archives: water

State Of The Onion Address

July 18, 2015Egyptian walking onion WP_20150713_006

On June 15, after four years of lugging water, we turned on a spigot. Wow! The sound of water rushing into a bucket; it actually took some getting used to! What a wonderful resource, especially with this record hot and dry summer. Our cisterns were installed just after the big February storms so we must rely mostly on City water this summer. The spigot WP_20150713_004cost of both the cistern and City water installations were paid for by a City of Seattle Neighborhood Matching Grant.

We had to start watering early this year, May 25th, and it takes about three hours per week to water all of the plants. Thanks to those who help with watering: Jennifer, Justin, Nancy, Joan and 37 youngsters from the Kids Co summer care program at McDonald elementary.

Access to water allows us to test out a few vegetables this summer.nan pepper WP_20150704_001 I picked our first Anaheim pepper July 6 and it was just a little start when it was planted May 25th!

In the next several months, we will construct garden beds and a path. Volunteers are picking up pieces of concrete from construction sites and piling them up to frame garden beds and make an herb spiral. In August, a professional will take up grass to make way for the path. We will recycle that good soil onto the garden beds.

flower close up WP_20150622_002Can you identify this flower? (See photo of flower & leaf.) There is a vote 150704 hibiscus leaf WP_20150704_002for hibiscus and for white swan. Nature brings in some challenging plants to the orchard but this newcomer is lovely.

We need a sign maker. You just need to design a template, have it reviewed, and then order the signs. We will need to post signs relating to safety during path construction so we need a design by August 8. Can you help?

We need help recruiting volunteers for the August 22 & 23 gravel work party. Please Please email us if you can find a volunteer or two.

Tues, Aug 4, 6-9, Night Out
Bring a dish and utensils.
Sat, Aug 22, 10-2, Path Building
Sun, Aug 23, 10-2, Path Building
Sun, Aug 23, 11-12, Qi Gong
No experience necessary

Also, help report illegal dumping at the orchard. The City of Seattle has a new mobile app for reporting illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, potholes, and streetlights that need repair.

You can also use their online service request form. (http://www.seattle.gov/customerservice/request.htm)

Or, call this number: Illegal dumping -206-684-7587

Thank you for all that you do for gardening and community.


Cisterns Are Doin’ It For Themselves

April 18, 2015

Our two new Premier 1,535 gallon cisterns are installed and ready for a rain dance. The 200 150418 cistern connection to gutter  0957square foot shed roof will channel enough water into those tanks to sustain three times the vegetation that we currently water.

Once we chose the cistern size, the design of the shed rebuild followed. The entire shed rebuild was based on the bottom of the gutter on the low side of the roof being 9′ 6″ from the ground. That requirement, and the choice of a 1.5′ rise per 12′ roof run, drove all other dimensions.

Seattle averages 36 inches of rain, 75% of which falls between the six-month period October 150418 good of both & shed 0960through March. Our roof is about 200 square feet. Since an inch of rain will produce .6234 gallons of water over a one square foot area, our cisterns can catch 4,000 gallons during a normal year.

Last summer, we brought in 1,200 gallons of water from outside to water the plants, mostly fruit and nut trees, berries, and kiwi vines. However, the community-adopted orchard plan includes water intensive vegetable gardens. We needed more water.

How much water will a vegetable garden plot need? One website – http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-gardening/backyard-gardening/watering-timers.aspx – suggests that a 10 ‘ x 10’ vegetable plot needs 100 gallons per week for the 12 dry weeks of summer – a total of 1,200 gallons. A new fruit tree, on the other hand, would need five gallons per week during our dry summer, or just 60 gallons.

Sat, May 2, 2-4 Work Party
Sun, May 17, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jun 6, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jun 13, 10-11:30am Invasive Plant Class

The first phase of cistern installation involved building a solid level pad. Our pad is flush with the 150121 pad with grave sm l WP_20150121_003ground and has a 4″x4″ cedar frame filled with an inch of sand and three inches of 5/8 minus gravel. Jennifer K put together a nice leveling mechanism and many volunteers dug out the earth in just a few hours.

After the shed was built and the pad in place, we waited for Patrick from Earth Systems Northwest to deliver and install the sistered cisterns. Patrick added the plumbing, spigots and the overflow pipe in less than a day.

Filling those cisterns will be sufficient to water our existing plants, allow us to add a few new fruit trees and water a couple of garden plots.

A couple of garden plots? We need to offer more than that to help meet the increasing demand for gardening space. And we will! City water service is stubbed in. With the cisterns to meet much of our needs and City water as a back up, the orchard will be lush in a few years.


2014 – A Pivotal Year For The Orchard


We are off to a good start, already we have one well attended and extremely productive work party under our belt (see photo).011914 work party people 19

The City of Seattle funded community design process is behind us. We can now focus on implementing the resulting final design (see Library page) that the neighbors are excited about.

This week, ten diligent volunteers met to enjoy a light meal (including lotus root!) and outline top priorities for 2014. We began with a go-around, allowing each volunteer to voice his or her hopes and desires for 2014, and beyond. Interests ran the gamut but all resonated with our mission.

We agreed to three priorities for the orchard:

1) Take Good Care Of What We Have Already Planted

Joan, Justin, Ruth and Nancy M. will share the watering responsibilities, with Nancy H. as a substitute. We will continue with tree guild mulching and weeding. We are very lucky to benefit from top-notch pruning by Ingela Wanerstrand.

2) Water Research

We are entertaining all ideas about securing water for the site, especially since the cost to establish service from the City will cost $10,000.

We had consensus that we should consider a water catchment/storage system, if not as the primary water source, as a sound backup. We will likely end up with a 336 square foot roof on the shed. During an average year in Seattle, that roof could catch up to 7,257 gallons of water, well more than we could use no matter how we build out the site! (In Seattle, the average rainfall is 36″. Two thirds of the rain falls in the winter, from November through March. One inch of rain falling on a square foot of surface yields approximately 0.6 gallons of water.)

Becky, Sue H., Ruth and Justin are researching different ideas about catchment and storage.

3) Community Events

There is a very strong commitment to continuing the events that we host, especially Seattle Night Out (August 5) the Annual Cider Fest (October 18), and the annual Pruning Class (February 15). These events are social binders for the neighborhood, enjoyable, and they further our vision to allow Seattle residents to have nearby access to a beautiful public space where they can learn and participate in food growing, connect with neighbors, and nurture the environment.

Michelle P. has already volunteered to organize this summer’s Night Out. We welcome others to join her team or to start the planning for the Cider Fest. Michelle is also researching and coordinating possible funding sources.

Sat, Feb 15, 10:30-noon, Pruning Class
Suggested donation $10 per family.
Sun, Feb 16, 2-4pm, Work Party
Come for any amount of time that works for you.

Other Commitments

Nancy H., Kimberly and Jennifer have started planning for certain early plantings that can be installed with very little summer water requirements.

Ruth and Justin are committed to reducing their FECO administrative hours in 2014! Boy, that grant was time consuming. However, they both will continue to provide leadership, continue with various tasks, and provide support for the efforts that others have taken on.

Dana and Nora could not attend but both are willing to entertain proposals for administrative assignments this year.

We have an inspiring team and we will be reaching out to those who more recently volunteered to help with the orchard.

Large holes that we still need to fill, and that are closely related to our top priorities are:

1) Finding a Word Press expert who would be willing to donate up to two hours per month to make sure we get the correct updates we need, set up a back-up system for our content, and troubleshoot now and then.

2) Finding someone well versed in construction who would oversee the building of a shed that will have particularly interesting design features.

We are so appreciative of all of the other support we get from you who help with orchard labor, marketing, and general encouragement.

We welcome all ideas and suggestions.