Over 2500 pounds! A Record!

It has been a good year for gardening! The spring weather welcomed early planting, and the many hot days contributed to early maturing of many vegetables. Still, we didn't expect such a difference! 

The Demonstration Garden grew almost 2700 pounds of vegetables, and donated 2557 pounds to our local food destinations, the SUN program at Kelly Elementary, and Meals on Wheels. In addition, we have been attracting other donations that we have delivered. Over 1000 pounds came from PSU, 225 pounds from the BUFA program, and 350 pounds from other sources, mostly Master Gardeners donating from their own gardens. Our total deliveries amounted to 4144 pounds. The two programs told us we definitely make a difference. Its a good feeling.

Perhaps even more remarkable, over 100 different people came to work in the garden this year. We've had many days when we've finished our tasks early, and historically that hasn't happened often. Also, many of this year's trainees have chosen not just to visit the garden, but to return week after week. This interest is a big part of what makes the demo garden crew optimistic about our ability to open an expansion garden at the Learning Gardens site.

The new area we are requesting is on Portland Parks & Recreation land, where we can offer classes and workshops. It is approximately twice the size of our existing garden, which will allow room for ornamental gardening, native plants, pollinator patches, shade gardens and more in addition to vegetable gardening. Our chapter has many folks who are interested in more than just vegies! Watch for more information on this as our efforts proceed.

1680 Pounds!

Wow! I hadn't realized what a big month August was at the garden. Just shy of 700 pounds in one short (ok, long) month. Of course, the heavyweights - Tomatoes, Squash, Cucumbers - are ripening like crazy, and that helps run up the numbers. Our total for the year at the end of August is 1680 pounds. This is quite likely to be our best year yet!

We've had a great mix of old hands and new blood at the garden this year. On the day of our annual tomato tasting (25 different varieties!), we took time to take the picture below. We hope you'll be in the picture next year!

2015 Demonstation Garden Crew

2015 Demonstation Garden Crew

The Magic Number for June is 632 !

632 pounds of organic vegies have been donated to Loaves and Fishes, and the Kelly School SUN program so far this year! Our output has been ramping up nicely, from 115 pounds in April, to 193 pounds in May, and 324 pounds in June. Keep in mind that we haven't started harvesting Tomatoes, Squash, Cucumbers or Potatoes - the "heavy weights" of the harvest.

In case you're thinking maybe it wasn't really an early spring, we are almost 200 pounds ahead of where we were at the end of June last year. It could be a new record! We really enjoy seeing the smiles from the folks at our donation places. It makes even weeding seem worthwhile (well...)

Come join us! 6801 SE 60th in Portland, every Monday and Thursday from 9am until Noon.

Berries are in Season

Pic Pint Berries.jpg

         Homemade jam anyone? We started harvesting strawberries and blueberries this May. Spring harvest included sugar snap peas, orange cauliflower (variety "cheddar hybrid"), white and red scallions, lettuce, and berries. These spring delectables are donated to area organizations- a school and a meal service. The current donation total is 308 lbs!

     Come join the harvest! It's a great way to share garden knowledge, earn hours, and learn about new varieties of plants. Did you know? Orange cauliflower is in. Volunteer hours are Monday and Thursday from 9am to noon. The next Saturday work day is June 20th.  Multnomah County Demo Garden is at 6801 SE 60th Ave. in Portland.



115 Pounds! Not bad for the month of April

The Demonstration Garden has already delivered 115 (ok, I exaggerate. It was only 114.75 pounds) of food to Kelly SUN program and to Loaves and Fishes. We're off to a good start for the year. The beds are looking great, and we're about ready to transition several of them to summer crops (tomatoes, peppers, squash). Come visit us and get your hands dirty!

Your thinking, "It's awfully early for carrots!". You're right, these are radishes. Its a new offering from Territorial called "Dragon". They are tasty, too!

Our 1st Delivery - 3.5 pounds

The Demonstration Garden is officially in business! We made our first delivery of the year to one of the food distribution places we serve. Three and a half pounds isn't much - mostly salad greens, but we're once again helping to feed hungry folks in SE Portland.

Some of the Demo Garden beds are looking incredibly attractive! Here's a picture of "Bed A".

Come help us make beautiful gardens and healthy food! We work every Monday and Thursday from 9 am to noon, and will also be working Saturday, April 18th and Saturday, May 9th. The garden is at 6801 SE 60th Avenue in Portland.

Plants Grow on Saturdays, Too!

After a not-so-subtle nudge from the Saturday Master Gardener Training Class, the crew at the Demonstration Garden has decided to open the garden for work on some Saturdays. The first two Saturday workdays will be April 18th, and May 9th. More Saturdays will be announced soon, but we need to line up "garden gurus" - folks willing to lead the garden work for the day - and to make sure there are enough veterans available to help new volunteers learn their way around.

Last year we ran several Saturday workdays, but got very few workers to join us. Some of the crew are a little dubious, but several of this year's trainees made the point that they had already attended a long series of full day Saturday classes, and for many of them, the weekend is the only time they have available to volunteer. OK! Let's make it work!

We'll be open from 9am until noon, April 18th and May 9th, with more Saturdays coming. Come out and join us! The garden is at 6801 se 60th Ave, across from the Brentwood Park. See you there!

Our First Day in the Demo Garden

What a fantastic way to start the gardening season!  Eighteen MGs turned out this morning to get things rolling.  Two groups worked outside, one building the new cedar bed borders for Beds L and P, while the other group installed a wattle border around Bed N to match the one built last season around Bed M.  The weather was overcast but comfortably warm and not in the least rainy.  In the greenhouse yet another crew started seeds for lettuces, kale and green onions, made newspaper pots for starting parsley and cilantro and seed tape for radishes and spinach to be sown in the coming weeks.  

Covering the beds with either plastic or burlap bags in November was a great help in keeping the soil in the beds from being too wet to work this early in the season.  Workdays for the rest of February will be on Thursdays, Feb. 12, 19 and 26 from 9am to noon.  Please join us when you can and become a part of this great effort to support sustainable gardening practices in the Portland metropolitan area.  Next week we will be continuing the installation of bed borders, making seed tapes and sowing seeds, so we'd love to have you share in the fun.  For those who have not been there, the garden is located at 6801 SE 60th Ave. across from Brentwood Park.

Two new beds.jpg

Getting Ready to Wattle!

The first workday of 2015 had 9 Master Gardeners, 1 Spouse, and 1 soon-to-be Master Gardener spending the morning in the country, cutting down Alder saplings to weave into a wattle border around Bed N at the Demonstration Garden. As fate would have it, the saplings were at the bottom of a steep path. Going down was easy. Coming up called for stopping once or twice to "enjoy the view".

The heroic effort of cutting and carrying was topped off in typical MG style with delicious food and beverages in the "warming hut", a 24' yurt on the property. Our timing was great, leaving just as the sky opened with rain.

Last year, Bed M was bordered with wattle using 4' Apple cuttings. The Alder was sought because of its longer length with minimal change in diameter. Look for another post after Bed N has its new border!

But is it Organic?

The Demonstration Garden on Southeast 60th is an organic garden. No, we're not certified, but we garden with organic methods. Usually decisions are easy - compost, yes; petroleum based pesticides, no. Actually, we usually check our decisions with the Organic Materials Review Institute - OMRI. We let them worry about the details and follow their guidance if there is any question.

Sometimes, however, things are fuzzy. Last fall, we were advised to give several of our beds a significant boost of nitrogen. The form recommended was Urea. Urea is a natural, organic product. It is produced by most animals, including humans. It is a relatively simple compound formed by two NH2 groups bonded to a carbonyl (CO) group. The trouble is, urea is also a petroleum based product! It has been produced by a wide range of non-organic processes.

There is important history behind urea. In Thomas Jefferson's day, there was a widely held belief called Vitalism, which held that the chemicals of living matter were fundamentally different from those of inanimate matter. In 1828, a German chemist produced urea without any biological starting materials, thereby contradicting the theory of Vitalism.

After looking into the facts about urea, the volunteers at the garden were still unsure. In the end, we decided to ... - well, what would you do?

Why and How those Beds Get Designed

If you visited the demonstration garden right now, you would think all the gardeners were home napping, but this is the time of year when plans are being made for what will be grown in the various beds in the spring. Of course there will be a wide array of veggies - we don't want 1500 square feet of rutabagas - but individual beds are often designed not just for vegies, but to answer gardening questions.

Beds G and H are identical in shape (although mirror images) and side by side. Besides raising a typical spread of vegetables, they will hopefully provide some answers on watering. This year those beds will be planted identically and fertilized identically, but one will be watered by our normal drip irrigation system, and the other will receive much less water - approximately 1" of water per week, the typical recommendation for vegetables.

Our drip system saves an incredible amount of labor in a garden this size, but some of us suspect we are overusing it. Because the tubing provides a pressure-compensated emitter every 12", and because the drip lines are essentially 12" apart, we know that what comes out of every single emitter is watering one square foot. Last season, the automatic timer on our system turned the water on three times a week, for three hours each time. That's nine hours of watering per week. Each emitter puts out 0.6 gallons of water per hour.  That's 9 x 0.6 = 5.4 gallons per week on every square foot. A cubic foot of water - a square foot, 12" deep - holds 7.3 gallons, so we are applying almost 9" of water per week.

This experiment may tell us whether we are overusing our "free water". Some of us suspect the tomatoes might actually taste better with a bit less water. Time to get back to planning the beds!