Sunday, May 10, 2009

For those of you who don't know yet, We have a new Farmers Market in Bellevue. Every Tuesday afternoon in Bryan Park. I went to opening day and was impressed . Even in the pouring rain tons of vendors and customers came out. I got some organic meat, carrots, and salad greens, and all were great. There were at least twenty vendors and they were all eager for business. Here is a link to the organization that runs the event. You can find a list of the farms and businesses that will be at each of the area markets run by them.

Don't forget about the Lakeside farmers market on Wednesday and Saturday.

Remember to bring cash, you do not want to have to write a bunch of small checks to 10 or so different vendors.

See you there!!!!

Holten Gardens

It looks like the garden that many parents have been talking about may finnaly get started. We are having our first meeting Tuesday night. We will be discussing what everyone wants to get out of the project.

Here are a few of the ideas
Classroom gardens for the school kids
An outdoor classroom
A neighborhood community style garden shared with the kids
A portion of the garden going to a local youth grow to grow food for a food pantry
making the garden " park-like" for everyone to enjoy and wander through
making sure that the garden is tied into the schools curriculum

Any other thoughts??

I keep posting on the progress, but we are all prepared for a long project. The one thing that every one wants is to do it right. And we will be dealing with the city and school administration.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Everything is coming up in the garden!! It has been a cold slow start to fresh food. I will get some pictures up later. Now if I can only speed up time, to at least get to pick a fresh spinach salad.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Olla Madness ( pronounced oy ya )

Ollas are a ancient Spanish method of irrigation. Here at the Bellevue backyard we try to only use rain water for the garden plots. Around August this always becomes a game of stretch the remaining water supply. So I have been looking for a more efficient use of the water supply.

Last year I used a pipe system to spread water all over the plot evenly. This year I am going to try something a little different. There was no way I could afford 32 commercial made ollas ( ). So I set out to make my own. I took an 8 inch standard unglazed pot. To this you will seal an 8 inch bottom. I used a silicone construction adhesive for this.
A small pot is the glued to the opening, to allow for easy fill up.
The finished cost was about 6-7 dollars each including the glue.

Below you see the finished ollas all line up ready to bury. The last picture is all of the planted and ready to fill. The pourus clay will slowly leach its water right to the roots of the plants.

Here are a few tips :

Use only unglazed pourus clay pots.

Make sure the seal is complete, you want the water to soak out through the clay.

Planted in circles around the pots, so the roots are in the soak zone.

Do not plant woody plants around the ollas, the roots can break the clay.

Be sure to do a test fill before you plant anything. The last thing you want to do is have to dig them up and reseal, killing the plants around them.

Hopefully this will give you a few ideas. Check back in a few months to see how this system is working.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Greening the Studio

Often I worry about the environmental aspects of my artwork. Is what I make worth the impact of running a studio. I do try and keep everything to a minimum.

Here are a few of my efforts:

My studio is at home, no car rides or energy used to get to work. Services such as telephone and internet do double duty for home and office.

Order supplies in bulk. This keeps down energy and money used to ship supplies. It helps me and the environment.

I try to conserve materials and minimize waste.

I have been cutting back on traveling, trying to sell more work through the internet, and teach more local classes. I know that plane trips really hurt my yearly carbon footprint.

I do not air condition the studio.I just adjust working times in the summer to match the cooler parts of the day. A fan is my best friend in august.

My newest tinkering has come up with this solar air heater. It pulls warm air from the studio and uses the sun to heat it up about fifteen degrees and returns it to the studio. It is still a work in progress, and I hope to add a solar powered fan to move air through the system. Right now the fan is on a timer that is set according to the sunny times of the day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Power of the playground

I was thinking yesterday about how lucky I am to live in this neighborhood. I realize now, how important a strong community is, and how it is missing in most of America. In the car-centric culture of suburbia, we have no need of neighbors. A person can pull up to his garage and never meet anyone on their block.

In northside, with side walks , a central school, and strong churches and preschools, a person can really get involved with people living only a few blocks away.

Now back to my point. Almost everyday, a large group of parents can be found letting the children play together after school. And what do we parents do while the kids are occupied? ,, we network. This simple activity is part of the glue that makes our neighborhood so great. It is not a bunch of separate family units all playing on there pre-fab backyard swing sets, it is real people forming real relationships.

I have met several business contacts here, I find out about the new farmers market in town, I hear all the dirt on local happenings, and we have some very spirited political arguments. It always stays civil, because we are neighbors, and face to face, all of our differences do not seem as important.

The simple act of letting the kids run around for a few minutes after school, has rooted me to the area, educated me, and brought new local business contacts.

So tomorrow when little Johnny asks to go to the playground, just say yes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It has been crazy around here, the new garden beds are in, and are waiting a liner and some dirt.

My current project for the week, has been to try and grow some sprouts for a stir fry. Did you know that a pound of broccoli sprouts, has thirty times the anti oxidants and nutrients of an equal amount of broccoli heads. My first attempt was not so hot. I put too many seeds in the jar and they outgrew the container. It is important to have room for airflow. Tomorrow begins attempt number two.

I got this idea from " Fresh Food From Small Spaces" by R.J. Ruppenthal. It is a good book for creative ways to grow food in small areas. It is not a very good how-to book, but more of an idea book. It does however provide plenty of sources for the more reading on the ideas that strike your fancy.