Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 25th - Our 6th Annual Hazel Heights Fall Work Party and Potluck

Come one come all to the Hazel Heights Work Party and Potluck 

Date:  Sunday, October 25, 2015
Time:  11am to no later than 1:30pm 
Place: 4212 Baker NW (Toby & Beckey's, two houses north of p-patch) 

Please sign in, 
catch up a bit with each other over goodies from our potluck feast and figure out who's doing what for the work party, then on to the garden. 

All Hazel Heights supporters and neighbors are most welcome, not just plot gardeners, so please help spread the word! This is one of only two "everyone" events each year, requiring  attendance from at least one representative of each individual plot (other is spring brunch organizing meeting & work party on first Saturday of every March).

Here's more important event details, please skim through:

* There's always the chance we'll get more rain than shine--finally--but that just emphasizes the importance of getting our P-Patch community garden ready for winter. So please start digging out those rain coats & rubber boots just in case. We'll set up the large umbrella or canopy on cistern plaza if needed.

For the potluck please bring whatever you'd like, great if has some HH-grown ingredients but not necessary. Coffee and assorted teas provided. (If you find yourself short on time just bring yourself, there's always plenty.)
* Planned work party activities: 
> Tending front entrance & other common areas by weeding, bark mulching, planting winter colorspots
> Digging up summer weed growth from main access paths & upper cistern tap area
> Grooming raspberry patch & railing repairs 
> Digging & replanting horseradish> Getting Giving Garden plot ready for winter harvests & collecting donations for food bank
> Light pruning of any larger common area plants that have gotten out-of-control (heavier pruning needs to wait until they're dormant)
>  Toolshed tidying
> Finish beating back any overgrowth by native plant slope fence along North 42nd Street (soil likely too wet to work on slope behind fence)
> Pre-prepping beehive area for our new colony arriving next spring (volunteer beekeeper Paul's order wasn't fulfilled this season due to nation-wide shortage, already has on order for next year & backup "Plan B[ee]" so we can welcome our honey bees back!)

Be sure to double check & update your info on spreadsheet records provided by our volunteer hours coordinator Debbie Murray! All hours volunteered by everyone are important! She sends to P-patch Program following 10/31 reporting deadline.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fall Clean-up and Overwintering Options

The October 25th pot luck and work party signals the official end of the summer growing season for the Hazel Heights p-patch. 

But the growing season doesn’t have to end if you don’t want it to.  With our temperate Pacific Northwest climate, we can plant February through November and harvest year round.

Here are some things to consider if you are interested in overwintering.

What to Plant
  • Root crops, brassicas (broccoli, kale, cabbage), salad crops and peas. Can be enjoyed up to the first frost of November or longer if the winter is mild. 
  • Hardier crops like fava beans, garlic, purple sprouting broccoli, and hardy greens like kale, collards and Brussels sprouts will keep growing through a wet winter. 
  • And don’t forget, the Giving Garden harvests all year round as fresh vegetables are needed no matter the season. With fewer gardeners growing duing the colder months, overwintering has an even bigger impact for the Giving Garden.

How to Prep
  • Loosen the soil where other plants have been harvested, use compost to mulch around the new plants when you set them out
  • Too much nitrogen in the soil increases the water in the soil and plans for faster growth but makes plants more susceptible to frost damage.
  • Use no fertilizer at all September through February. Come spring, you can top-dress the soil around your overwintered plants with a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer or composted manure to spur faster spring growth.

Plan ahead for the Spring
  •          What you do with your garden in the fall can make a difference to your spring planting.
  •          Plants pull different types of nutrients from the ground so consider where your vegetables were planted in the fall and plan to change locations.
  •          Different plants breed or are susceptible to different types of pests, take inventory of your soil and plantings to ensure you aren’t hosting a breeding ground for pests.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Water -- It's Everything!

What a great summer we had!  We all love the warm sunny days.  But many of us don’t ever think about the fact that a sunny summer means the potential of a drought. 

Here in Seattle, and specifically Hazel Heights, we were heading toward a drought.  Seattle Public Utilities asked residents to conserve 10% of their water usage.  And as of August 7th, we had just 19 inches in our cistern.  That means at c. 100 gallons per inch, that's 1900 gallons, or about 950 of our watering cans.  At 50 watering cans a day, we forecasted that we had enough water in our cistern to last just three weeks.

After our mid-August rain storm, the water level increased about 6 inches, or 700+ gallons.  Giving us enough water to get us through September. 

As of 9/10, the water level is about 1,800 gallons above the lower tap. Our storm on September 5th, gave us another 1/5th  of an inch.  We are well positioned for the fall.  

Here's a graphic showing the water level of our cistern over the summer.

Friday, July 31, 2015

8 Water Saving Tips for the Rest of the Summer

It’s been a tough summer for gardeners and plants in the NW.  July 2015 was the hottest month ever recorded in Seattle, with an average temperature of 71.2 degrees – which doesn’t seem very remarkable until you consider that in July alone, we experienced 10 days with high temperatures in the 90s.  In over 120 years of weather records, Seattle had never seen more than 9 days with temperatures at or above 90 degrees in a single year, let alone a single month.

Due to our unusually warm and dry summer, the City of Seattle has asked residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their usage of water by 10%.  Here are some ways to save water at our P-patch: 

  1. Water in the morning.  Watering in the middle of the day will speed evaporation and can burn foliage on particularly hot days
  2. Be proactive about watering plants in containers, once the soil has dried out in pots, it’s difficult to get it rehydrated
  3. Prepare the dirt around the base of your plantings to allow greater absorption
  4. Water close to the ground rather than spraying water from up high
  5. Use mulch around the base of the plant to insulate the any moisture.  Up to 70% of water can evaporate from the soil on a hot day if you don’t have mulch as a protective layer on top. 
  6. Increase organic matter – it builds humus in the soil which allows it to absorb many times its own weight in water that is then available for plant growth. 
  7. Weed control:  Weeds steal water that would otherwise be available for desirable plants.
  8. Be picky about which plant you water.  Don’t waste water on unhealthy or undesirable plants remove or replace them instead.

I’m sure there are more water-saving tips. Please feel free to share them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gardening Tricks for the Rest of Us

One of the reasons we all like gardening is the affordable produce we get from our plots.  Fresh, organic produce gets really expensive when you shop at local grocery stores and farmers' markets.  Growing your own organic fruits and vegetables is a way to save on your grocery bill.  But, if you aren't careful, gardening can get expensive too.  

Here are a couple garden hacks that HH P-Patch gardeners may find helpful:  

1.  Use cattle fencing for vining produce.

You can buy a 2-foot by 6-foot piece of cattle fencing – a raw steel wire grid – for about $20. You can turn it into an arch, or clip the piece in half and zip-tie the top to create a narrow V. Either option is great for trying tomatoes, beans, melons and other vining produce. The fence is sturdier than traditional tomato cages, and it lets you use your garden space more efficiently.
2.  Make your own compost bin.
Many of us struggle with the dirt we were dealt in our gardens.  Compost is one of the best ways to boost your garden’s fertility. But it typically requires a lot of it to change the composition of your dirt -- which can get expensive if you buy it.  Compost is easy to make and you don’t even need a fancy compost bin. For smaller space, you can make a simple trash can compost bin.
3.  Try companion planting.
Companion planting is an excellent way to increase the overall health of your garden – for free. Just take your plants and position them so they benefits from their neighbors. For instance, marigolds repel pests, so plant them next to your tomatoes. 

These ideas were taken from 10 Garden Hacks for Under $20.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

You Won't Want to Miss the Edible Plant Sale - May 2nd - 3rd

This weekend is the Edible Plant Sale!  It's the largest selection of organically, sustainably and locally grown vegetable plants.  

When:  Sat. and Sun., May 2 and 3, 9 a.m.-3 p.m 
Where:  Meridian Park (4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle 98103) 
Cost:  FREE 

The Early Bird Sale begins Friday, May 1, 5-7 p.m.

For more information and tickets, visit Seattle Tilth 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's Spring! Who needs more inspiration than that?

You know it's spring when the city water gets turned on at the P-Patch.  

Last weekend was a gorgeous day to be in the garden.  David and I did our spring cleaning, planted a few things and even started tomatoes.  Wish us luck!  We picked up on Karen's cup-n-copper strategy to keep the slugs away.  It seems to be working so far for Karen!

Karen's Beautiful Spring Garden
Cup-n-Copper to protect the pea vines

Toby and Peter worked hard to get the city water spigots turned on last weekend as well.  Thank you boys!  Keep in mind, the snow pack levels are still far below normal & city water is a huge P-patch program expense, so please conserve where you can. 

How is your garden shaping up so far this spring?  Please send me your pictures.  I'll get them posted to the blog for all to see.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring Work Party - What a Success

Thanks to everyone who participated at the Spring 2015 work party.  The P-Patch is looking really good!  Plus, we got to enjoy a lovely pot-luck brunch.

Prepping for Spring
The Brunch Buffet
Beautifying The Front Entrance

Our Youngest Gardener
Men and their tools
Two minds are better than one!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March 7: Spring Brunch Organizing Meeting, Potluck & Work Party

Kick-off the 2015 growing season with your fellow Hazel Heights p-patch gardeners and neighbors

Date:  Saturday of every March--3/7 (Rain or Shine)

Time:  promptly at 10 a.m.

Where:  4212 Baker Avenue NW (two doors up from the P-patch site)

Our organizing meeting which usually takes an hour or so, will be followed by our work party/new gardener orientation (usually about another hour or so, wrapping up no later than 12:30).

Bring a dish to share and wear your gardening clothes. 

Proposed agenda items & activities include:
  • Welcoming new gardeners
  • Reviewing P-Patch guidelines & other great info from P-Patch program
  • Planning,site leadership & committees
  • Sharing our gardening ideas & seed swap (bring your extra seeds!)
  • Free gardening goodies & supplies from the P-Patch program & others
  • Update on how our honey bees are doing
  • Preparing our community garden for Spring!