When did this project start? It’s hard to say. Maybe it was when Noah and I bought seeds. Perhaps it was when he found someone with land willing to let us use it for this purpose. It could have been back in March when he planted 2,000 fruit trees on Bells Mountain in Battle Ground, WA. It could go back much further. However it happened, I thank Noah.
Wednesday. July 22nd, 2020
Hurry Up and Wait:
I suppose this was our first real day of work. We broke out of planning mode and ordered 22.2 cubic yards of compo-stuff.
“It’ll be there late morning to early afternoon,” the delivers said. I translated this to mean between 11 am to 1 pm.
It took a bit to get everything together that morning, but we were all excited to break ground. We all brought a variety of tools, snacks, and beverages. Zack, the Dad in our group even brought items that would cover nearly any accident that could happen.
Three of us and a toddler showed up at 10:30 ready to go, coffee and sippy-cups in tow. But the hours passed, and there was no dump truck in sight! So we used sticks and string to fashion the kiddo a fort.
In the afternoon more volunteers came, but the still dirt had not. Noah gave everyone a tour and an impromptu plant identification course. I finally see the difference between Wild Carrot, AKA Queen Anne’s Lace, and Poison Hemlock.
Both are white flowering plants, but the Hemlock can kill you. If you look at the stem and see white hairs, it’s Wild Carrot. Queen Anne has hairy legs, or as I decided to tell my son, “If the stem is hairy, it’s not scary.”
More time passed, sunburns appeared, and we were bored. Finally, at 4:45 pm the dump truck brought what we needed. The driver wasn’t all too willing to dump it quite where we wanted, but at least it arrived.
We only stayed another half-hour throwing the dirt where we needed it, then called it a day.
Thursday. July 22nd, 2020
Shovels, Barrels, and Rakes
We got a semi-early start, but Dom got to the lot first. I brought coffee but I don’t think that made up for the time he’d been waiting.
To imagine what 22.2 yards of dirt looks like, picture the length and height of two cars parked bumper-to-bumper. It’s quite a lot for four people to spread over a 40×45 square foot lot.
We all shoveled and moved wheel barrels around for a while. Eventually, Dom carved out a side of the mound so I could stand on-top and push the dirt down into the barrels. That saved some time and energy.
Fortunately, more people came to help. Sunny and Jason arrived around noon and brought a cute, little, black-and-white Pit Bull-mix named Ally to boost morale.
By 5:30 p.m. we were done. Nothing exciting to report. Just a whole lot of moving dirt.
Saturday. July 24th, 2020
Don’t Be Discouraged
Zack and Dom got a very early start. They got to Home Depot right at opening to rent a tiller for the day. I took the Kiddo to his Grandparents’ house so I didn’t get there right away. When I showed up they’d already gotten a quarter of the field tilled. That may not sound like much, but each section needed to be hit multiple times because of rock and established root systems.
The three of us took turns tilling. It didn’t take long white-knuckling the machine before your arms turned into limp, vibrating, jelly-sticks.
When Noah arrived with Sunny and Jason, he expressed feeling a bit discouraged; It was going to hit 100 degrees Sunday, he didn’t want us working in the heat, but did want the seeds in the ground. Don’t be discouraged. It’ll get done today!
Noah addressing his concerns kicked us into high gear. One person tilled while the others dug walkways around the beds. Once a section was completed, Noah and Jason created the furrows.
Later that evening we had nine garden beds; each about three feet wide and 45 feet long. Beets, carrots, beans, peas, kale, and cilantro will be ready soon!
We wrapped up our time by watching the sunset ignite downtown Portland. It was a great day!
Monday. August 10, 2020
The sun, soil, and seeds are doing what they do.
The Washington sky hasn’t lent much water, so we’ve been helping there.
Just two days after planting, little, purple beet tops emerged from the earth.
Within a week, we could see all the little sprouts popping out.
We will plan a weed-pulling party soon.
Friday. August 21, 2020
Everything is going and growing well. We’ve had a few weed-pulling work parties. Everyone is taking turns coming out to water the plants. We’ve held three weed-pulling work parties.
We’ve even attracted a new volunteer! He’s a young man from the neighborhood who just came in and asked to pull weeds with us. I thought that was very nice.
The last two days Dom has been installing an irrigation system. This will give us more time to pull weeds.
As I am typing this, Zack and Dom are picking up hay to cover the walkways.
I love watching how our little urban farm is coming together!