There’s Something Happening Here…in the Columbia Falls Community Garden

I’ve been a bit remiss about posting pictures of the garden this season.  Fact is, the garden looks fantastic!  Best ever!  We have wonderful plot holders who are committed to the upkeep of the garden.

We all walk around the garden looking at the various ways people grow their healthy food–and this, of course, is the beauty of the community garden concept.  We get ideas from each other, we problem solve together and we celebrate our successful harvests.  We get a little overly excited about when our beans sprout, and we become gravely concerned when a hole appears in the leaf of a new pepper seedling.  We worry about chilly NW Montana mornings, and we stare endlessly at our gardens–contemplating the next chore, wondering why our potato plants aren’t as big as Robbie’s, and discussing the merits of rows vs. mounds.  Should we use straw?  Is the compost ready yet?  Why won’t the mower start?  Should I have done square foot gardening like Staci and Craig?  Drip hoses or hand watering?

I love it!  So here are some pictures of the garden in early June.  Enjoy.

IMG_3568

IMG_3567

Only gardeners get excited about compost bins, I think.

IMG_3565

Bug motel. The good kind.

IMG_3563

Hops. Under new management. Welcome, Coralan and Nate!

IMG_3554

Food Bank plot looks fabulous, Robbie!

IMG_3549

Neon!

IMG_3551

Corn sprouts

IMG_3548

Some haphazardly planted potatoes. Still, I think my ten-year-old minion did a great job!

IMG_3547

Peas and flowers. And I got fancy with the trellis.

IMG_3546

Erin’s pretty much perfect plot.

IMG_3540

Erma planted some lavender in our corner bed

IMG_3538

I think we are set on oregano.

IMG_3537

Also set on chives.

IMG_3536

Great idea–a hanging basket!

IMG_3535

Raspberries are thriving

IMG_3533

Colorful cages

IMG_3531

A riot of strawberries

IMG_3530

Beautiful brassica bed

IMG_3529

Zinnias!

IMG_3526

Ready and waiting!

IMG_3525

Sweet potatoes in a tire!

IMG_3523

Square foot perfection

IMG_3516

A ridiculously large rhubarb. Pie, anyone?

IMG_3515

My onions. I will never have as many as Erin, but I will keep trying!

IMG_3514

Volunteers sunflowers, maybe?

IMG_3513

Pallet veggies

IMG_3510

Potatoes, all in a (crooked) row.

IMG_3509

Peas getting ready to climb

IMG_3569 IMG_3562 IMG_3561 IMG_3559 IMG_3555 IMG_3543 IMG_3539 IMG_3534 IMG_3520 IMG_3519 IMG_3511

Check back in a few weeks–the changes will be amazing!

Advertisements

Columbia Falls Community Garden Photo Essay – End of May, 2013

It has been forever and a year since I last posted.  Turns out, May is a ridiculously busy month at work, at home and at the garden.  Who knew?

I don’t have too much time to write…I have to finish knitting an end of the year teacher gift, but I wanted to show you what has been going on in the garden.  If you are not a fan of pictures of garden plots, emerging vegetables, and the like, this post may not be for you.

Remember when I mentioned that River’s Edge Park, where the garden is located, was closed for two weeks?  This is what they were working on:

The new entrance to River’s Edge Park

There are cool trails that the little kids just love…and there are big rocks to climb on…

So, ultimately, it was worth having to adjust our gardening hours.

Here is a nice shot of the Garden sign with some of the new landscaping:

Image

And another shot:

ImageThe rocks are so much better than the ugly barbed-wire fence that used to be there!

Now for a garden tour.  Everyone has been doing such a fabulous job prepping their plots.  For those of you in other parts of the country who are worried that we are getting a late start, rest assured that gardening in NW Montana is a late May, early June kinda thing.  We had about 2 inches of heavy wet snow late last week…lots of branches down, but luckily no garden damage.

First, the community beds:

Our herb garden against the backdrop of the new landscaping

Chives in the herb garden

Gorgeous oregano

Majoram. I’ve never used this herb before…what do you use it with?

Raspberries

Community potatoes–looks like they need a little weeding!

Onion and garlic beds. The onions look great–but I think we put too much straw on the garlic over the winter. Always a lesson to be learned.

Kyle planted corn–another plot holder asked if the corn knows to come up through the little holes in the plastic. I think it does!

Strawberries

On to our plot holders’ gardens:

Tasha’s plot

Ken and Leslie’s plot is looking good!

Ken and Leslie Plot #2

Janina and Brian have some onions and potatoes going

A long shot of Marlene and David’s 2 plots. They have been working hard!

I think Kyle and Erin have a thing for onions. Look at those beautiful rows!

…and their sweet hoop house

Another shot of Erin and Kyle’s plots–I have a tinge of gardener’s jealousy going on!

Master gardener Robbie’s plot. She is growing it entirely for the food bank.

The dedicated CFCG Food Bank plot is coming along

Adam and Kristen’s plot

Natalie is getting her plants started in Wall O’Waters. Great idea!

Naomi and Arnold are experimenting with potato “structures” and they have some things flourishing in their hoop house

Lucy and Andrew’s hard work is paying off

Staci and Craig have been attacking that pasture grass every weekend. It will pay off, I promise!

Ric and Jenna’s plot is cleared and ready to go

…as is Karissa’s

Long shot of Erma and Gary’s plots. I am jealous all summer long about how meticulous their plots always are!

Rhubarb in Daniel’s plot

I always watch what Kyle does in his plot very closely…his peppers were amazing last year. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to make salsa–my peppers just never produced.

And finally, if you have made it this far, this is what is growing in my personal plots.

Pallet radishes

The beginnings of lettuce and spinach…not entirely sure the pallet was the best way to go with these, but it is always an experiment!

Kale

Tomatoes and peppers. I went with the “red mulch” this year, and wow…the soil really is so much warmer underneath. Even more so, I think, than under black plastic. I may put it under my peppers too, since they are so sensitive to cold. A little research, first, though.

Squash of all flavors

Long shot of my plots…note the wheat growing in my straw.  Weed free doesn’t mean seed free.

Baby sugar snap and snow peas

French marigolds

Broccoli Lane, with a few cauliflower at the end. My youngest insisted on cauliflower. Seriously.

Pretty potatoes in a pretty crooked row.

Newly emerged bush bean

Cabbage and garlic

I just realized I forgot to take pictures of the hops being grown by Desert Mountain Brewing…I will edit the post to include them tomorrow.  This is our wonderful community garden.  We still have some work to do, but I am so very happy with what we have accomplished.

Happy gardening!

A Busy Spring Break

Tonight is the last night of spring break.  I feel so very lucky to have this week off–and after volunteering to direct the community garden, I needed the time.  I had raised beds to set and fill and landscaping fabric to lay.  We were absolutely blessed with gorgeous weather.  My freckles emerged from hibernation.  It was in the sixties, with blue skies and a warm sun.  That is, until yesterday.

My awesome helpers

My awesome helpers

The very first plot holders meeting of the season was yesterday morning at 11 am.  When I went down to the garden at 9:30, it was breezy with some spitting rain.  Not too bad.  By the end of the meeting, it was full-on raining horizontally.  We were all shivering, and I just kept talking faster and faster so everyone could go home and get warm.

Still, it was a great turn out.  Nearly every plot holder made it to the meeting which I (silly me) scheduled on the same weekend that the ski mountain closed.  I have never seen so many people in our garden at one time.  It really rather warmed my heart (if not my freezing cold and wet hands).  I could already feel the beginnings of a “community”.   I provided some history to the garden, handed out keys, gave an orientation to the garden and the shed, answered questions, and had plot holders sign up for maintenance duties.    It was raining hard enough that the ink was running as they filled in their names.  They were troopers!

Something safe to plant...under Reemay

Something safe to plant…under Reemay

They need to be, to some extent.  Gardening in Montana, especially in the springtime, isn’t easy.  It is a constant battle with schizophrenic weather and cold nights.  Still, it is a rewarding “fight” and we have been gathering the necessary weapons to be victorious (hello, extended metaphor!)  We use Reemay fabric and Wall O’Waters to keep our young plants warm.  We watch the weather forecasts religiously.  Finally, around the fourth of July, after babying our plants, we can relax our guard and watch as delicious and healthy food grows in abundance.

908258_10151382226270886_1908679691_n

Our raised herb garden

It is possible to garden in the northern climes–it just takes some trial and error, and much vigilance.  And it is worth it.  Trust me.

 

 

It’s the Time of the Season…to Start Planning my Garden!

Does this happen to all gardeners?  After Christmas, a switch turned on somewhere in my crowded head and now I find myself obssessively planning my garden and my yard.

We are building a garage/shop (“we” meaning my husband) and I just realized that due to “new” shade, I will probably have to move my raspberries.  So if I move my raspberries, I won’t have as much room for my tomatoes and peppers.  Of course, I can’t do anything but think about it–the ground is frozen, and the future tomato/peppers/raspberry area is currently seeing heavy construction use.

This will be my third year growing the rest of my food in our town’s new Community Garden.  It is an amazing opportunity to raise veggies–the soil is nearly rock-free, which is hard to find in my neighborhood. In my yard, I can’t stick a dandelion fork in the ground without hitting a rock.

533400_10150864161870886_1632848442_n

Wall O’Waters

The first year, I harvested one 12×12 plot.  Last year, I worked  one and a half plots.  This year I’m going for three plots.     I am a relatively new gardener, but I have already learned a lot.  I learned that in NW Montana, Wall O’Waters are necessary around tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers LONG into June…I learned that there is a reason for the spacing information about tomatoes.  I learned that cabbage worms are gross and a menace (and hard to get out of broccoli).  I’ve learned that you can never grow enough basil.

I’ve learned that cornmeal seems to be a good deterrent for the ants in my strawberries.

I use a garden planning software called GrowVeg.com, mostly because I need something to do while I wait out the long Montana winter.   I have been having much too much fun organizing and designing my garden layout.  This year, we will be growing our potatoes in the Community Garden.  We’ve tried to grow them in the yard, but there just isn’t enough sun…and, of course, we have a crazy Murphy the Newfie who knows where the potatoes are planted.  We are going to try corn this year.  Cukes, zukes and other squash will get their “own” plot.  I spend a lot of time mentally designing bigger and better vegetable supports.

IMG_7850

Tinsley House

Last summer my family took a trip on the Montana Dinosaur Trail.  At Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies, we toured the Tinsley House, which is a living history farm.  All of the garden cultivars are heirloom, some even 100 years old.  But what I loved most were the handmade tomato cages.  I tried to talk my youngest into making some to sell at our local Farmer’s Market, but he doesn’t seem terribly interested.

IMG_7851

Tomato Cages

I’m also excited for the Community Garden at large.  We are going through some changes, but I think good things are in store.  In the fall we planted our first raised bed of garlic, and this spring we will make another of onions, to be divided among plot holders.  We will set up a green house early, so people can start their seeds.  We will add some raspberry canes, build a raised herb garden, and plant some strawberries and some blueberry bushes.   The new local brewery, Desert Mountain Brewing and Draughthouse plans to grow hops along the north fence.  Eventually we would like to add a gazebo.

I would love to get high school students to design and paint the side of the storage shed.  I am also going to enlist the high school Key Club in helping to plant, maintain and harvest the Food Bank plot.

388107_10150988945320886_1737237270_n

The Community Garden

Alas, all I can really do right now is dream.  I need to wait another 3 months before I can start seeds, and another 5 months before I can start really getting my hands dirty.  Until then, I will just imagine the amazing food that will be grown in the 2013 garden!

IMG_7848

Murphy when she was just an itty-bitty Newfie at the Museum of the Rockies