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Carol’s easy raised bed veggie garden

I Finally Have My Own Community Garden Plot!

veggie garden blog pic brooklyn garden

Carol volunteering at a design project for Brooklyn Garden

Last year I did some volunteer design work for the SE Portland Brooklyn Community Garden.   I saw people working on their gardens, hanging out and eating together under an old plum tree.  It looked like good clean fun to me and I was a little envious.  These days I live on a floating home and have a tiny roof garden (courtesy of my hubs great design and building skills)  and large bodacious tomato planters on the south side. I’d never considered a community garden before and now that I live on the edge of NW Portland I felt they would be too far into town to be practical.

Bob harvest tomatoes from our canoe

Bob harvesting tomatoes from our canoe

 

Magic Happens!!!!  
Jen and Stan Tonneson own and manage the Rocky Pointe Moorage, on the Willamette River (Multnomah Channel) where I live.  They decided to build a private community garden for their tenants and also to romance new tenants for The Landing at Rocky Pointe.  They built the beds, brought in soil, installed a hose bib and fenced it to keep critters out.   I was the first person to sign up and my neighbors joined in.  My dad and I were the gardeners when I was a kid and I have many happy memories of working with him in the garden.  I have not had a veggie garden since although I have designed so many ….

Now I love my garden so much, it’s where I go first thing in the morning and on my way home in the evening, I stop and harvest dinner bits and greens for my morning protein smoothie.  My time commitment has been quite reasonable.  My hub, Bob, wondered when I signed up for my 4 x 8 bed if I’d enjoy caring for the veggies or if it would turn into an unmanageable chore.  Summer is a very busy time for garden designers, ask the spouse of one and you will probably get an earful.

Carol standing at the entrance to community garden at Rocky Pointe Marina 7 23 2014

Private community garden at Rocky Pointe Moorage

I teamed up with neighbors in late spring and used a seed catalog to plan what we would grow and share.  We  made plans to cover watering for each other during vacations.  We also bought plants and got it going.  I have focused on greens, a few different kinds of basil, one (and only one!) zucchini and lots of kale, oh… and two kinds of parsley.

Another neighbor, Betty, is trying all kinds of things… a grafted tomato called Indigo Ruby which is the best tomato I’ve eaten this year.  She grew New Zealand spinach but didn’t like it so I’ve been gifted with lots and love it in a stir fry.  The leaf is thicker than regular spinach, 26% protein, high in Vitamins A and C and it doesn’t bolt.  I’ll grow just one plant in my box next year.  I use the Swiss Chard and Kale the most as they are perfect in my morning protein smoothies and they are a wonderful way to get your calcium.  I use them for kale chips – which are great with salt, olive oil, lime juice and cumin.

The Garden is a Joy in My Life
If you don’t feel you know how to start and care for an edibles garden, join a Portland community garden, here is the link to City of Portland. Commit now for next year so you can get a space from someone who is moving away. Get a pal to do it with and start small. Pick easy things to grow and buy your starts if you are looking for a very easy first year.  I did both plants and seeds and the end result is I’m eating better than I have in years.

Diane one of my clients has been my inspiration. Her driveway edibles garden – which is what people in Portland sometimes do with a driveway – is simply awe inspiring. There are so many great local nurseries for starter vegetable plants, you can go just about anywhere to buy them.  I got some unusual vegetable starts at New Seasons Market.  I still like ordering seeds by mail:  John Sheepers Kitchen Garden catalog and Territorial Seeds are two that I’ve used.

Exotic Edible Fruits

Boost your nutrition with these exciting small fruit trees

I recently attended a lecture by Jim Gilbert, owner and plant designer of One Green World.  They grow and sell edibles tested for NW gardens.  My favorite fruit out of the entire lecture was the Pawpaw tree, Asimina Triloba.

Pawpaw (Asimina Triloba) Think of an avocado that tastes like banana, is high in protein (great for vegetarians) and is easy to grow.

Pawpaw (Asimina Triloba) Think of an avocado that tastes like banana, is high in protein (great for vegetarians) and is easy to grow.

This is a yummy fruit with high proteins and nutrients that tastes like sweet banana, but is low sugar. Since I can’t eat sugar having it taste so good was very exciting to me! Plus, you can’t buy these in a store. Pawpaws can’t be shipped since they bruise easily. “It’s not like an apple that you can just dump out into a bin” according to Jim Gilbert.  The most important advise I can give to clients is to select the best tasting and easiest to grow fruit trees.  Don’t waste the time it takes to grow a plant to a mature fruit bearing size, when you can buy that same fruit at the supermarket.

The Pawpaw is a small tree native to undergrowth forests in Appalachia. Native Americans introduced Lewis and Clark to the Pawpaw. It’s easy to grow because this naturally dense compact globe shaped tree needs little pruning. It needs afternoon shade so you can plant it near or under an existing tree. This means there is room for this tree even if you have a small yard.

It was fun to hear Jim Gilbert brag about the heavy crop of Golden Sentinel apples from his columnar patio tree. This tree stands out for it’s compact size, disease resistance and it’s flavor which is like an improved Golden Delicious. It’s versatile too, eat them fresh, use them for baking or cider. There are many apple trees that would pollinate a Golden Sentinel, but my favorite is a Callaway Crabapple. I selected this tree because it matures at 6 feet tall so should fit into even a small landscape, and flower and fruit are quite beautiful. Plus it is still disease resistant and great for fresh eating and jelly.  If your space is very limited use another columnar variety.

Crabapples are a great pollinator and great for eating.

Crabapples are a great pollinator and great for eating.

Check out this article Exotic Edibles to read more about some of the new super foods that you can grow to increase your nutrition and good health.

Big news for One Green World! Their farm outlet store is now located at 6469 SE 134th Avenue just off of Foster Road opens January 21st, 2014.

Easy Edible Plants: Blueberries

Blueberries very easy edible plants. Blueberries are great for your brain. Did I mention easy? Once your plants are established, the trick to growing blueberries is proper pruning. We want to encourage new growth and to do that, we have to remove some of the old growth. This is a great thing to do together on a garden coach appointment. Do mulch around your plant periodically with coffee grounds to increase acidity in the soil (any time of year works for this – you could do it up to ten times per year! ) Don’t use peat moss even if other experts say to do it.