In the last month so much has happened. To begin, Songaia got its first two WWOOF workers, and working away is something they certainly have been doing a lot of. Thanks to Adam, Max and Doug, the garden now has a complete irrigation system in the new food forest. With a little more time adding further drip lines, the area will be prime space for more food and whatever else tickles our fancy.
If you haven’t noticed yet, harvesting has been in abundance. Many people have put in time gathering, freezing, drying, and even just cooking all the tomatoes, beans, plums, cucumbers, zucchinis, kohlrabi, potatoes, and even eye-popping dahlias. While we’ve realized that we may be in over our heads with plums and green beans, the rest of the food has certainly been a delight.
The next task is to prepare for winter. We’ve already started knocking over buckwheat, which was a great space saver, and have started planting Swiss Chard. While we are just at the beginning stages for winter plans, it is never too early to get ready to eat and eat…. at another time of year.
A special thank you goes out to Katie for all the extra help in the garden while Patricia was been out of town. Also, we’re delighted to welcome Patricia back from her long trip. With a full garden team back in the swing of things, we’ll take a bite out of, well, the garden of course.
I’ve done it all, and I’d like to say that I know it all too! LOL
Let me preface this statement by first saying that when I started in the garden I knew diddly-squat. I’d like to think that I knew at least the name of some plants, and sure I’d moved a plant from one pot into the next before, but now my knowledge has grown exponentially. Thank you garden team for all the skills, for you are all beautiful people!
So, as to having done it all, I now have.
Another thing that contributes to my “I’ve done it all” attitude is the fact that I got nipped by parsnip.
It turns out that if you get the juice of this plant on your skin while being exposed to UV rays, it creates a reaction that becomes light-sensitive and turns into a form of eczema. Awesome! Let this part of my smarty-pants attitude be a warning that it’s not a fun experience. (That would explain why I sometimes walk around with one purple glove on, even though you could also think that I’m starting a new fashion trend.)
After learning more than my fair share of the garden life recently, it’s time to step indoors, take off my glove, and have a nice glass of tea.
Yesterday I mixed soil to prick out plants (which is taking a bushel of plants and separating them into their own pots), transplanted into the ground, dug up weeds in a bed, mulched a new bed of plants, and harvested. Today I brought water to a bed of plants all on my own, and tomorrow is composting day (which, frankly, is feeling like old habit now).
So you see, I’ve seen the process through from start to end, and I’ve loved every minute of it. When do I get my own bed now to take care of?! :-)
Cob 101 by Kim Ellsworth
After the first day of the cob workshop, I pause to reflect; what all did I do today? Before today the garden and cob folks collected many materials that have come to serve us well, such as straw hay, clay, sand, pavers, cement rubble, and especially people. So, thinking back on my day…..
To begin today all of us “cobians” mixed 6 parts sand with 4 parts clay into a fine mixture, and then water was added.
Even though the cob workshop seems to be a priority on the list, it is by no means the only thing going on in the garden. Many of you may have noticed the huge load of compost that was delivered and eventually went toward fertilizing (and then mulching) the tree food forest.
It’s all so glorious, and since the summer has burst forth with sunshine what else is there to do but soak up the rays and get our gardening and cobbing on!
After that the fun began as we all took off our shoes and pranced about trying to create the perfect texture and substance of the natural mixture. Finally we added the straw hay, also with our feet, which works to reinforce the wet mass we just smoothed out.
With all the building materials we were able to create a great foundation for the bench as well as get quite far on the cob oven. It was a day of truly playing in the sand!
The garden life never stops, but at least the weather is turning in our favor. As the sun comes out so does the squash, and we’ve planted enough recently to have quite the harvest eventually. However, while we wait for the squash to emerge we’ve already been in over our heads with mountains of chard. We harvested over 14 pounds in the last two weeks, so eat up!
Also, please mark your calendars for the cob workshop (see the workshop tab for info). We’ve managed to clear out a space in the permaculture garden for a beautiful cob bench which will overlook both the garden and the new pond that is planned for the meadow. The cob oven is planned for the space between the garden and the common house, and if you can only make it to one workshop then the final one would be best as we will be making a cob oven pizza. Yum!
The permaculture garden has been filled up with new goodies which we will have to wait for (surprise, surprise), but strawberries are in full bloom. If you haven’t stopped by for a fresh, juicy morsel you should definitely check it out; although, I can’t imagine that they will all be eaten. It seems like every day they multiply! I swear I’ve eaten more strawberries in the last two weeks than I have in the last ten years. Ha ha.
What I love most about summer (Isn’t it summer already?) are all the flowers. They are so abundant, colorful, and smelly. I’d like to say they all smell good, but that certainly isn’t true. Even while I may not be attracted to them all chemically, I sure love to look at them.
However, what loves the flowers even more than I do are all the bees, and tons of bees there are, always zooming by. In fact you’d better watch where you’re walking because a bee is likely to fly right into you, and it is best to avoid both the pain of a possible sting (which I have yet to encounter) and the death of a beautiful, and much needed, bee.
As a bit of information I figure that everyone needs to be aware of is the issue of “colony collapse disorder” which means that whole beehives are randomly dying or going missing altogether. The problem is still unknown but there is some idea about it having to do with chemicals being used around plants that bees visit for nectar and pollen. So, for the sake of the bees, please don’t use chemicals!
Also another bit of information, did you know that honey is actually bee throw up? Ha ha. Yup! They drink nectar and then throw up the honey. It’s quite fascinating really. So, next time you think about your child throwing up, consider the fact that nature may actually be able to use that waste. I wouldn’t give it to the bees though, because their job is already packed full of slurping, carrying pollen to and fro, and of course taking care of their beautiful queen.
While the strawberries are tasty, so is the clay that we plan to use to build a cob bench and a cob oven. Yup, I ate clay today. It’s got a mineral flavor, but mostly it’s devoid of flavor. Patricia, the garden manager, decided that the strawberries would be her favorite meal of the day and I’m inclined to agree.
The basil in the green house has been hooked up to water , and in both the garden and in the raised beds we’ve planted beans, squash, radishes, peppers, carrots, lettuce, beets, and more than could fit on one dinner plate.
In fact, today we harvested enough lettuce to feed one hundred homeless people.
So I hit my head today, and I’m pretty sure it’s a result of all the amazing strawberries going to my head. It’s hard to keep my eyes looking up when I am intently focused on finding the most beautiful strawberries imaginable.
Aside from all the tastiness there has been some great creativity going on too. With the help of others, there is now an amazing bamboo teepee to give the beans a place to play and also a bamboo square arch trellis to decorate the new entrance into the permaculture garden.
Even more important, we’ve finished a great heap of compost and have mulched the daylights out of every part of the garden. No water will be able to escape our hard work, and soon our taste buds will reap the rewards.
What more can this amazing garden do?
The soil is happy.
The bugs are happy.
The plants are happy,
and the people are happy.
As a new garden intern for the summer, I’m working in garden luxury. In just the last three weeks I’ve learned lots, and I am well on my way to becoming a great organic gardener.
Myself, along with the other Biogaians who tend to the garden at Songaia, have cleared out tons of weeds including the obnoxious comfry in order to get ready to grow some great greens.
In addition to a great time preparing the land and doing some planting, I've encountered some cool creatures! This is the longest worm I've ever seen...
...and the biggest slug I’ve ever seen. Jeepers!!
After weeding we have planted various vegetables including spinach, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, peas, and tomatoes. Too bad the rabbits love the peas and the slugs love the lettuce, because competition is fierce. Ha ha.
While it’s great to have the seeds or transplants in the ground, they still need to be tended so we surround them with mulch and soaker hoses. The trees are spoiled too, and for their mulching pleasure we put down cardboard or newspaper to stop the grass and weeds, after which we apply more mulch.
Too bad the compost bin didn’t produce quality soil at one point, but luckily the mulch that resulted from it was plenty useful.
Plus, there are new baby goats that can help mow down the weeds that are still left in the garden.
With the summer just getting started soon, we’ve got so much work to do, but there is always time for a fresh snack!
Kim Ellsworth - Songaia Garden Intern