How many beds are in your garden?
The Multnomah County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden has 26 at the moment, providing almost 2000 square feet of healthy soil to grow fruits and vegetables.

Each year a volunteer takes responsibility for one (or more) of those beds, planning what to plant and when. Besides growing food to donate to food banks, we ask questions and seek the answers from our plants. Do grafted tomatos outproduce non-grafted? (Yes!) Does a reservoir-based container outproduce hand watering? (Yes!)  Come work with us, ask your questions of the plants, and learn what you can.

Grafted vs non-grafted tomatoes                                                                           photo: John Jordan

Grafted vs non-grafted tomatoes                                                                           photo: John Jordan

About the “Demo Garden”

In 2008, several Multnomah County Master Gardeners planned and laid out our county’s demonstration garden on the Learning Gardens Laboratory site in Southeast Portland. As more Master Gardeners have volunteered their time and talents, the garden has grown to about 2,000 square feet of well-tended raised beds for growing organic vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers. We demonstrate “best practices” in gardening as determined by Extension Service researchers, including methods for improving soil, composting, mulching, and identifying and dealing with garden pests and plant diseases. Gardeners research and incorporate new techniques and compare different varieties of crops and gardening methods, with the goal of improving the garden with every gardening cycle. Each year we donate our harvest – around 2,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce – to local food programs, such as Lents Meals on Wheels, and the Kelly School SUN Program.

Beds, Borders and Beyond
Recent improvements to the garden include revamped caneberry beds, new strawberry pyramids, expanded herb and rhubarb beds, and a highly-productive square foot garden. We planted a Vern’s Brown Turkey fig tree, improved our compost system, installed various bed borders (wattle, anyone?) and innovative potato boxes. We built a roomy garden shed, designed and installed a new “Demonstration Garden” sign, and provided habitat for ground-nesting bees. We improved the look along the garden fence with many attractive plantings and even have a new fridge to keep produce fresh until the next delivery day.

All Master Gardeners are welcome to visit, to help, to learn and to share their expertise. The Demo Garden is located at 6801 SE 60th Ave, Portland (between Duke and Flavel, across from Brentwood Park). We work from 9am to about noon on Mondays and Thursdays most of the year (February through mid-November). We hope you will join us! No sign-up is necessary, just stop by!  For more information, please contact mgdemogarden@gmail.com

 

A Graphical View of 2016 Activities

For a more detailed breakdown check out the 2016 Demo Garden Stats page.

Demo Garden Planning Group
The organization, or lack thereof, is one of the charms of the demo garden. A self-selected group of volunteers meets twice a month to evaluate our progress and plan for the future. There is no hierarchy! An agenda is started online, and anyone can add to it. A volunteer may agree to write the first draft of our Bed Design Template, and the group will suggest changes. Eventually the document is posted online. It can be quite enjoyable to have no designated leader!

So what is a Guru?
No, the garden guru does not sit with crossed-legs humming "om". At the Demo Garden, the garden guru of the day is a volunteer who agrees to arrive a little early that day, set out the task list, offer suggestions when questions come up, and document the work we accomplish. There are plenty of gardeners with copious experience to provide technical answers. The guru need not provide them, but just connect the questioner with a good source of answers. Offering to be one of the rotating gurus is simply an offer to take on more work, and thankfully folks do it!

2014 Soil Management Issues
During the 2014 year, demonstration garden volunteers invested time and money in understanding apparent problems with the production in several beds. You can download the report here.

How is the Demo Garden Doing?
To see the latest from the Demo Garden, check out the Demo garden News page.