Never An Idle Moment

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This week consisted of mostly harvesting because so many of our plants are growing tremendous amounts of produce. We harvested blackberries, onions, cucumber, lemon cucumber, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, basil, figs, green beans, and peas. Even though all the people who helped that day each took large amounts of produce home there was still plenty for Julie, our food access and community connection intern, to take to food banks. 

While harvesting, I asked Cherice which squash plants were ready to be harvested and which needed more time. Cherice pointed out the winter squash, that would still have several months before being ripe, and the summer squash plants that are currently producing copious amounts. If I were to try to harvest the winter squash now, it wouldn’t be edible, and it would take away from the delicious squash we would have been able to have a couple months from now.

This made me think of a few different aspects of human life, one being childhood. There are many children who come with their families to the garden. Most of the time they play and explore the outdoors, and sometimes they help with the simpler tasks of the garden. However, they are allowed to live their lives as children—playing and having fun. If children are given adult responsibilities too young, they usually aren’t able to handle that, and it also takes away from their childhood. In anything, if a person does it before they are trained or ready, it won’t work.

The months before a winter squash is ripe aren’t idle. They are spent growing and nurturing the plant. The years during childhood, or the training for a skill, aren’t idle. Letting children play and slowly learn about the world is not idle time. It is time for them to grow. Training for a skill ensures you will actually be able to carry it out properly. Don’t forget that time working towards a goal is time well spent!

– Elliot

 

 

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Julie Litchfield

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This summer we have three interns: Elliot Coulter (that’s me!), Emma Bloomquist, and Julie Litchfield. I thought it would be nice to hear from another intern and how her summer projects are coming along. This week Julie has written a paragraph introducing herself and what she does in our garden. Julie is the food access and community connection intern with our garden, and she has contributed greatly to our garden and the community this summer. Below is the paragraph she kindly shared:


“Being an intern at the community garden this year includes attending weekly gatherings, eating a delicious meal every week, and dropping off extra produce to Newberg FISH emergency service. This acronym stands for “friends in service to humanity” and is a great way to not only build community between those who attend the gatherings, but also reach out beyond our own group. There is something special about working for the food we eat, and this is even better knowing that people in Newberg are receiving these healthy food items to feed their families. Upon graduation from George Fox University, I plan to further my education and become a nurse practitioner. Diet is one aspect of wholistic health sometimes overlooked in the medical field with all the new technology coming out. A plant based diet is one of the most important aspects of preventative health and I love getting the opportunity help these families and bring the whole community closer together.”

We are so glad to have Julie on our team this summer, and it wouldn’t be the same without her! Emma Bloomquist, our third intern, helped give me information for the No-Till Farming blog post. Check that out to learn a bit about how she’s helped out this summer!

– Elliot

An Abundance of Zucchinis

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Although the tomato plants have been given support several times now, they just continue to grow. So in good spirits, we were able to give more support to the tomatoes so they can stand tall. Many of the tomato plants are looking very close to ripe, so next week we should be able to harvest some tomatoes. This week we were able to harvest many other plants, though. We harvested several types of basil, blackberries, a couple small tomatoes, onions, cucumber, and lots of large zucchinis.

The zucchini was the largest harvest we had this week. There were so many zucchinis this week, many of us were unsure what to do with the amount we had.

Since many other people are likely getting a large amount of zucchinis from their garden, or taking them home from our garden, I thought it’d be nice to bring up some good ideas for what to do with zucchini. I know that my favorite thing to do with zucchinis (and how I’ll be using most of them) is to make zucchini fritters. There is a good recipe at this site. My favorite thing to do is make zucchini fritters with mashed potatoes and gravy. I could eat it all day.

Other options are, of course, zucchini bread, muffins, or cookies. Cherice also mentioned that you can just cut them up and fry them, or you can freeze some zucchini to use during the winter. We encounter this problem (a good problem to have, really!) pretty much every year, so here’s a post from a few years ago with some other ideas for using zucchini. Hopefully, you’re able to find good ways to use your zucchinis this year. I know I’m excited to use mine!

– Elliot

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No-Till Farming

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This week we had a great turnout at the garden and a wonderful potluck. Garden members participated in weeding, provided more layers of structure and support for the growing tomatoes and beans, harvested, and placed wood chips over the burgeoning potatoes. Some of our members put lime around the zucchini plants to help with the blossom rot last week, so we started getting some yummy zucchini!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about environmentally friendly ways to garden. Emma Bloomquist is one of the interns with the Community Garden this year. As a biology major, she gives a lot of thought for how to better care for the garden and the plants in it. My first day working with her, Emma brought up that she was looking into no-till farming (also known as direct drilling or zero tillage). Thinking this would be good for the environment, and a good way to save water, Emma has considered how it would work for our garden. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what no-till farming is and how it can benefit a garden. Likely obvious from the name, this type of gardening is one in which the soil is not tilled or overly disturbed. Tilling ground can kill pre-existing organic matter which would have helped water and air find paths in the soil. When roots are given the chance to grow, they pierce through the soil and as they decay there is space for water and air to come through. Because of this, irrigation is also not needed in a no-till system. This means the land is allowed to grow naturally the way it was meant to. Tilling can also be bad for soil because soil has both sand and clay. The sand is porous, allowing water to pass through, while the clay soaks the water up and stores it. These particles are held together, but when tilled they are broken apart and can no longer function correctly. Not only is it better on the land, it is better for the farmer or gardener. There is less labor during the planting season and during upkeep, and irrigation systems are not needed. There are considerations to take when pursuing no-till farming, and it is difficult the first year trying it. However, in the long run it seems to encourage a healthier relationship with the land.

In our garden, we do employ something similar. We do irrigate, but we do not till, other than one area that was tilled last year. Rather, we build up the soil using compost, wood chips, and cardboard. If you’re interested in no-till farming, Hanley Farm in Medford, Oregon is a large farm that uses no-till farming. For a basic overview of no-till farming, visit the Wikipedia page.

– Elliot

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Time to Grow

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This week was a mix of noticing the bad, the good, and the in-between. The zucchinis appear to be getting some blossom-end rot, a setback for those plants. The kale and lettuce are a bit slow growing. Some could say a slow growth is bad, but slow does not always mean bad. Often, it can just mean the plant is taking its time. It comes when its ready, and if it isn’t forced that may mean a healthier harvest. Much like people, plants all grow at different rates depending on the year, external circumstances, treatment and more. If they aren’t pushed or forced to grow at an unnatural rate, they may blossom. We also harvested the last of the raspberries. Although, they pulled back this year, leaving room for the blackberries, there was still a fair amount of raspberries harvested. Blackberry bramble from the wild blackberry bushes has grown to be a larger problem lately, so it was cut away on the western side. The wild blackberries were given a lot of room to grow, resulting in bramble and thorns that needed to be cut away. Everyone has setbacks and pain in their life, but if they are like a blackberry plant, it will just mean more room for healthy fruit. There was some good harvest and some setbacks in the garden, but it will persevere, and so will you.

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– Elliot

Give and Take

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This week we picked peas, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, lettuce, and kale. Many of these plants had just been picked last week, and they were already weighed down with more fruits and vegetables. Some, like the peas, seemed like they’d grown an impossible amount since last week. We almost had a whole bucket’s worth of peas. I took my peas home and sautéed them in butter and spices, which was a good way to use up the vast amount of peas we had. However, some plants did not produce as well. The raspberry plants are weaker. Their berries are small, few, and not as good in flavor as the blackberries, which were large, flavorful, and plentiful. Cherice pointed something out that I found helpful when thinking about this issue. She said that once the raspberries overtook the blackberries, and they were doing very well. However, this season, it appears the blackberries have overtaken the raspberries and are doing better. She said that everything has its own time to succeed, while others may fall back. The blackberries and raspberries each had their own time to grow and prosper. This may not always happen at the same time. One of them had to pull back so the other could succeed. This happens in our relationships also. Many times in an intimate relationship, someone may have to give a bit more to help the other succeed. But in a healthy relationship, that person can know the other will take time to give in another period of life. Hopefully, this can result in a healthy give and take. People, much like plants, need healthy, give and take relationships with each other.

– Elliot

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Supporting Those We Love

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The sunny days and rainy nights resulted in a good bounty this week. We picked several containers of fresh raspberries, strawberries, lettuce, kale, and broccoli. I commented on how much better the produce tasted than what is usually found in a large grocery store. All of the produce we picked went towards a delicious potluck that we could all enjoy together, plus portions for each family to take home.

The tomatoes had been affected by the sun and rain, too. Growing larger and larger, the plants were getting a little top-heavy, so we decided it was time to give them some support. We hammered in stakes between each plant, and tied twine around the stakes, leaving space for the plants to come up between the twine. In the end, each plant was carefully supported by the twine. There was just enough support to help the plants stand up without being weighed down by their fruit, but not too much to hinder their ability to grow.

As I watched these plants being slowly supported, I thought of many friends and family in my own life who are encountering so much success. Whether it be in finally having the baby they always wanted, getting promoted at a new job, or being accepted into graduate school, so many people are encountering fruitfulness in their life. However, with all this success comes stress and extra work, causing many people to feel weighed down. Like the stakes and twine, it is our job to support those around us without squelching their progress. It’s a sensitive balance, but an important one.

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– Elliot