Blueberries, Mushrooms, Compost and more Permaculture: July Workday 2015

These sunny days and plentiful rain make for a happy garden and lots to do, so we got right to work at our July workday!

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OKCG Members Marye and Julie ready to rock!

On the list was
getting familiar with our herb garden,
building another compost pile
mapping out a few more permaculture guilds in the food forest,
and framing a bed for our blueberry patch.

Wait a second, you might say, blueberries don't grow in Colorado!

Well right you are!

Blueberries_in_Massachussetts_-_photo_by_Yvonne_Carrasco.JPGWild Blueberries
picked by my mother
this same weekend
in the Eastern US

Blueberries love acidic soil and need it to thrive, and our native Colorado soil just doesn't fit the bill. Depending on the soil pH different nutrients are available to plants. Blueberries need iron which is made available to the plants at lower (e.g. acidic) soil pH.

So what's a blueberry-hungry, Colorado gardener to do?
(Personally, as a transplant from North Carolina, where the blueberries grow wild and bountiful, I definitely fit into that category.)

Under the guidance of fruiting-plant extraordinaire and TGP Board Member, Eric Ryba, we are making a raised bed and filling it with acidic compost and peat moss. We built a specific compost pile that will decompose to a more acidic composition using pine needles and other coniferous tree materials.

Creating such a different soil certainly goes against working with what we have on-site, but really who can resists such a delicious experiment? We will be planting the blueberries this fall, weather permitting, to let them get established before next spring.

Project #2: Compost PileWD_OKCG_7.11.15_(11)_Compost.jpg

Our compost system is steadily evolving towards the goal of being able to produce enough compost to amend all the garden plots each year. At the July Workday Compost Team Leader Don lead members in building a second compost pile using all the green material we have been pulling out of our plots and chopping from the cover crop on the berm. Brown materials were stockpiled last fall when dead leaves were in abundance.

Project #3: Mapping plans for more guilds in the Food Forest

Members got to try their hand at Permaculture Design this workday as we sat down to plan and map plantings for 3 more guilds. I have been told that permaculture is a philosophy more than an actual technique though clearly a lot of knowledge, experience, and technique goes into permaculture projects. There are several Permaculture Design Course's you offered locally giving you 100 hours of training!

With just the briefest introduction to permaculture and design OKCG members bravely dove in to the task at hand. Luckily we had an overall design and list of preferred permaculture plants for our site from OKCG Designer Frank Lebeau to help us get started. Additionally, we were joined by permaculturalist Nick Bartow who shared his knowledge and experience with us.

Nick and Heather Bartow gave a fantastic talk at the Colorado Permaculture Convergence, sharing their story of turning from an average life with debt and ill-health to a life of generosity and health that permeates their selves, the earth, and the community. They are currently starting a permaculture site in Ignacio. Hear more of their story in this interview on KSJD Dryland Community Radio.

We left with plans for our Stella Cherry Guild, Ranier Cherry Guild, and Mt. Royal Plum Guild. Plans included more exciting plants like hazelnut, honeyberry, leeks, lupines, goji berries, rhubarb, and walking onions!

Touring the Herb GardenWD_OKCG_7.11.15_(2)_Herb_Tour.jpg

Member Marye Jackson planted a lovely communal herb garden last season and now it is lush and ready for harvesting. Included in the herb garden is parsley, tarragon, sorrel, mint, and more. The herb garden is available for any members to use. We take what we need always making sure to leave enough for the plant to be able to continue thriving and producing more!

New Garden Addition: Our Mushroom Patch

OKCG couple, Brett and Michelle Wilson, have stepped up to lead the Mushroom Team after attending the Mushroom Workshop last month and exploring wild mushroom foraging on their own. They created a mushroom patch in the OKCG Food Forest using King Stropharia spawn and layers of cardboard and woodchips. King Stropharia is a large, portabello-like mushroom. 

 Brett_starting_Mushroom_Patch_OKCG_July_2015.jpg

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On Monday the 13th we will be working with a group of Americorps Volunteers in the garden from 9am-11am, come out and join us!

Also on Monday the 13th is the Science of Cooking Workshop. There are still a few spots left, sign up today!

And in just 2 weeks is Pies in the Garden on Saturday, July 25th from 5-7pm. What pie are you bringing?

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