The garden is a Memorial Garden, a garden of benevolence, garden of love. It is a gift to our community from the God of Love, Jesus the Christ. The first “seeds” for our garden have come from members of the congregation and a designation from the congregation’s memorial funds. These seeds have brought us to the beginning of a journey that will last for many years. Guided by the Holy Spirit we will plow forth until row upon row of our work is accomplished and our community is better nourished. The Lord invites you all to be part of His work on earth strengthening and feeding His children. The garden is made possible by generous donations from the community, a Domestic Hunger Grant from the ELCA World Hunger, generous support by the congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, and support from the Alaska Synod of the ELCA.

Monday, June 11, 2018

2017 Harvest

Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage
I have been asked more times than I can count, "What was the harvest last summer"? "What was the biggest producer"? "Did the weather effect the harvest"? How much do you think you will harvest this year? The quick answers are approximately 2750 pounds, cabbage 763 pounds, and yes, the weather always effects the harvest. And lastly, I have no idea. I have hopes for 4000 pounds. But that's probably pie-in-the-sky!

I was actually pretty surprised by the numbers. I didn't keep track of the weight by veggie types in 2016 (2450 pounds) but I did in 2017. The weather for the summer of 2017 was probably typical. Generally I'd say it we had "normal" summer weather. It was cool and wet. If the weather would have been as good as 2016 there would probably have been a thousand pounds more produce than harvested. But then “farmers” always complain about the weather. It’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry and maybe it’s all of those at the same time if that is possible.

Literally thousands of people benefit from the produce. The garden is good for me, good for the congregation, and especially good for the community. It provides exercise and plenty of fresh air. It is easy to see the purpose of the investment. It brings smiles to the face of the congregation and the recipients of the harvest. I look forward to the 2018 season. Hopefully the harvest will increase again.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Garden Update June 6,1018

East Half
The brassicas we planted on May 19th are still doing great. They look very healthy and I look forward to beginning the harvest in July. The squash we planted did not fair so well. We planted the seeds way too early and the plants were already blossoming when we set them out. Squash do not like to be transplanted as it is but when they are as mature as these were it's a disaster waiting to happen. Only a couple of the plants survived. I had enough foresight to have Bob Morgan plant more zucchini while we were planting those that died. Those plants well be ready to go this weekend (June 9).

On May 26th we planted peas on the north side of the garden up against the fence. The next day or so I purchased some 2 foot fencing material for them to climb on but I'm still about 25 feet short so will have to get some more and install it pretty soon. The north side peas were up on the 6th of June. So the fence is becoming urgent. Bonnie and I also planted some pole beans ( four plants) we were given on the north fence of the garden. They don't look too good but they are still alive. Will see what kind of production they have. If it's good will try some next year.
West Half

May 30th found us planting parsnips and turnips. The parsnips take 21-28 days to germinate so don't plan on looking for them 'til the end of the month. The turnips are supposed to take 6-10 days and indeed they made their appearance on June 5th.

On June 2nd we planted carrots, beets, collards, kale, and green beans. They were all watered in and I would expect to see the collards and kale come up Monday the 11th.

On the 6th I planted red and white radishes, two short rows of each. Will plant more next week so there is a staggered harvest. The potatoes showed up today as well as the green onions and the lettuce. Rod and I covered two of the raised beds today and I planted the Hungarian yellow wax peppers in one of them. There will be cucumbers in the other once they are hardened off.

Basically everything is planted. Now it's time to start up the compost bins and try to keep ahead of the weeds. If we come up with something that looks interesting there is still a little room. But right now that is reserved for more radishes in successive plantings. I almost forgot, the apple trees are beginning to bloom. They should be spectacular by Sunday, June 10th.

God bless you all and thanks for the help from all of my wonderful volunteers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Garden Update 5/20/18

It's been a very busy May. The week of the May 6 was a time of getting things ready. Getting the soil "up and running" so to speak. Doing all of those prep things for planting. On the 12th of May with the help of 8 spectacular volunteers, many from the Unitarian Fellowship, we were able to get a portion of the space leveled and planted with potatoes. We also planted peas along the south fence. None of those things has made an appearance yet but that will come soon.

During the week of the 13th I put out a general call to rake the garden flat. Friday morning (May 18) when I went to church it was indeed already to go. Don't know who did it but thank you for your hard work it made things go much faster on the 19th. On the 19th we planted approximately 400 starts. These were initially put in flats on the 31st of March. Alaska Mill Feed & Garden donated a flat of cabbage and one of broccoli that were also put in on the 19th. We now have potatoes, peas, summer squash, spaghetti squash, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bunching onions, and lettuce planted in the garden.

Most of the rest except for the peppers and leeks are direct seeded to the soil. I will probably put peas along the north fence in the garden as well this year. Seeds yet to be planted include carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes, beans, and others yet to be determined. In the meantime please pray for warm weather with just the right amount of rain.

More will come as the garden develops.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thank You

I wish to send a very special thank you to the Alaska Women's Giving Circle. They have been very generous to the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden this year with a grant of $1000. A special thank you to Molly Orheim for being the champion for this project with the group. Thank you Molly for your encouragement and support.

A special thank you to the Alaska Food Policy Council for the Local Food Mini-Grant Program. This program is administered by the office of Mayor Berkowitz. Thank you for you effort in the administration and getting the word out for this grant. The grant amount is $550. Thank you to all of the people that put me on to this grant and there were many.

We also thank GK "raising it up" Farms for the donation of 25 pounds of seed potatoes for the garden this year. I'm sure the Red Pontiacs will be greatly appreciated by all of the clients served by the garden.

And last but not least to Alaska Mill Feed and Garden for their donation of cabbage and broccoli paks for planting in the garden.

This is truly a community effort and all of the businesses and organizations that have been recognized are a very special part of our community. Good bless you all and may your success bring special joy to the people we serve.

Praise God from whom all blessing flow!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Planting the Garden

Seed Sprinkler
Carrot seeds are small, up to 500,000 per pound. Lima beans are large, up to 1450 per pound. Planting 100 ft. rows of Lima beans would be relatively easy by hand but 100 ft. rows of carrots are a pain. Turnips are in between in size coming in at 170,000 per pound. 

There is no magic method for planting garden seeds. It takes time and patience if you are going to be frugal with you supplies. If you have a small garden, say 200 square feet or so you will probably will be on you hands and knees sprinkling seeds in a shallow trough you have cut in the soil. You may want to mix the smaller seeds with sand so it's easier to spread them out. Of course you can just shake them out of the packet as well. Do read the instructions on the packet. There is a lot of useful information there. It could save you some time and money. You might find a device like the one at the right useful. They cost about $2 plus shipping on Amazon.

Earthway Planter
The garden I work in most often is more than 9000 square feet. I don't really want to crawl around on my hands and knees to plant the rows. The rows in the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden are anywhere from 15 to 80 feet long. Much of it is planted in brassicas, you know cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. There are usually 4 or 5 rows of potatoes, too. So it's not all planted with little seeds.

In 2017 I invested in a planter for the garden. I can sow a row (60 feet or more) of turnips in about 1 minute with this gadget. I would probably take at least 30 minutes on my hands and knees. I planted other things with the planter as well but the turnips came out the best. Of course they were the last thing it used the planter to plant. Just like any other tool there is a learning curve. It did make planting go a lot faster than in 2016 when the garden was half the size. A planter like the Earthway goes for around $110 plus shipping at many locations. Everything is a learning experience.

There are much more expensive planters. If you are planting more than a half acre you might want to invest in a much larger planter than I have. Companies also make machines that put in seedlings as well.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Diary or Log Book

Log Books
The longer I garden the more important I find a diary or log book to be. You can keep track of all kinds of things. I record rain amounts, planting dates, first appearance dates for the seeds planted. Species and varieties planted. I have a max/min thermometer and I try to record the daily maximum and minimum temperatures. I also have a rain gauge that helps me with watering the garden. If I don't keep track of the rainfall I will waste a lot of water during the summer or not water enough. If you are keeping track of volunteer hours this is a good place to record them as well.

People often want to know what variety of a say turnips you planted. Where you bought them. Whether they are organic seed stock. Who certified them organic. If you keep track of that stuff you can tell them. If you are thinking about entering some of your veggies in the State Fair you will need this information as well. There are literally hundreds of varieties (cultivars) of lettuce. There are hundreds of cultivars of carrots. If you don't write down the ones you plant and where you plant them you will have no idea what variety works well under specific conditions and which ones don't. Each year I record more information because I find I need more information each time I plant. What did I do when, where, and how. If you don't have a diary you will not be able to answer these questions.
Calendar Log

Problems with pests in the garden should be recorded in the diary as well. More important than the pests is the remedy you used and how successful the remedy was. The information would be especially valuable the next time you encounter the difficulty.

I use a calendar to keep track of temperatures and rainfall. I can jot down a quick note on a the calendar about something that struck me that day. If I wait to write it down later I will forget it. I now know that something like writing this blog helps me to remember what needs to be done and when. Obviously during 2017 I didn't do a very good job of writing and I'm sure I am kicking myself in 2018 because I was so lazy. You can do something as simple as tacking up a piece of paper in the garden shed and record you information there.

The diary should start your planning. Writing down your plan will help you execute it. It will help you see the steps required to get from preparation, to planting, to harvest. If you don't write it down lots of information goes away.  I am sometimes asked, "what's the worst thing about Don"? My reply is usually, "if I don't write it down I forget it".

A diary is an indispensable document for the gardener. Writing a blog about gardening or a specific garden is also a great way to keep a diary but it's not detailed enough usually.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pepper Update 4/14

The largest yellow wax pepper is now 4 + inches. The next largest is 3 + inches. Just waiting for those first peppers to ripen so I can have them with my morning breakfast. There are currently 35 peppers on the plants. That's 13 yellow wax, 19 pablanos, and 3 jalapenos. The largest pablano is about 4.5 inches. The jalapenos are just 1.5 inches. There are still scads of blossoms as well. There are going to be a lot of peppers once they really get going. The height of the plants hasn't changed much since the last report. Hopefully the next report will be a taste report maybe on all three species. Eventually, I probably include a recipe for pickling peppers that I like. I certainly won't be able to eat all of the peppers as they ripen. Will probably have to give some away as well. Maybe one of you will be a lucky recipient.
Hungarian Yellow Wax
All 8