Saturday, March 31, 2012

Seeds Have Been Started!

Thanks in part to the south facing windows and our organic seed starting mix, some of the seeds have already sprouted three days after the ceremony!  Because we are using window light, rather than controlled artificial lighting, we will have to watch the seedlings as they grow to make sure they don't stretch too much in one direction.  By turning the seedlings every few days they will not only stand straighter, but it will strengthen their stems ultimately making for stronger plants - strength they will definitely need on the windy days on the rooftop.

50 Basil plants - Lemon, Genovese, and Sweet Basil

Little Cauliflowers - this pot clearly exceeds the "2-3 seeds per pot" rule!

Zinnias, Broccoli, and Tomato seeds basking in the south-facing window

Once these seedlings have started to grow their first "real" set of leaves, we will have to make the difficult decision to pull some of the seedlings.  This thinning process, though heart breaking, is important to ensure the health of the surviving plants.  It is possible - though not always successful - to replant the little seedlings into another pot, instead of just composting them.  But this is especially difficult if the two seedlings are really close to each other, sometimes it is just safer to pinch out one, in order to save the other. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 24th Ceremony Recap

Saturday's event was a great success!

Over 50 clients and community members gathered at 6th & National Ave to make the ceremonial walk to 130 W. Bruce St. and warm our new space with music, stories and a potluck feast.

Jillian Holy, volunteer coordinator for CORE/El Centro, wrote a beautiful garden-inspired retelling of the history of the Healing Collective agencies - CORE/El Centro, Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic, and The Healing Center.  Clients of each of the agencies shared testimonials and some even put together a music, poetry and movement performance.  It was a true celebration of community, growth and healing.

As part of the celebration, participants were invited to plant a seed (or two) for the rooftop garden.  We had packets of broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, basil (three different varieties), sage, parsley, and even onions!  Onions can easily be planted straight into the ground, but in the spirit of experimentation I thought we could try some from transplant and some from direct seed.

The Clock Shadow Building has a wall of south facing windows to maximize the natural light into the office.  This will also come in handy as a seed-starting area.  While some easy mini-greenhouses can be built with shelving and a few large lamps, the more natural energy we can use, the better!   I'll post pictures once we start to see the seedlings (usually 5-10 days, depending on the plant). 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Open House March 24th - and Update Pictures

It's officially move-in week for CORE/El Centro at the Clock Shadow building and the excitement is definitely palpable!  We open our doors next week, Monday the 19th and you are all welcome to stop by for a tour!  Our first community open house will take place next Saturday, March 24th beginning with a ceremonial parade from 611 W. National Ave at 2pm.  Join us in the Clock Shadow building around 3pm for a ribbon cutting ceremony, dance performance, and music.

But here are some updated shots of the new building.  Rooftop construction is still underway, but the inside of the building is ready for business!

Recycled bathroom doors! 

Great artwork in the 1st floor lobby

The lobby view of the staircase banner - this floor focuses on "bio" (in honor of the geothermal)

This art ribbon runs throughout the building showcasing the various elements and how they are used for energy.

The top of the banner, on the rooftop floor - showcasing "solar"

View facing east - you can see the garden tool shed on the left, standing on the yoga patio.

These beds are ready for soil! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Garden Planning 101

I know, it's already March 1st and I'm JUST starting to plan the garden?!?!  This is the time that seeds should be coming in the mail - and I haven't even ordered them yet!

I'm on a delayed timeline this year for garden planning mostly because life is busy with other things, but I'm cutting myself a break since our growing medium won't be ready until mid-May, so our first round of "cold crops" (those edibles that don't mind a little drop in overnight temperatures) won't be able to go in this year anyway.

Since this is my first time growing on more than 150 square feet of earth, I decided to use an online garden planning tool to help:  This website is full of resources, articles, and online tools.  My favorite is their Garden Planner - an updated version of the graph paper schematic of the garden. The tools essentially allows you to paint your garden full.  You can choose from their selection of plants (including some non-specific "herbs" or "flower" options) and draw in your rows.  The program automatically spaces the plants according to their average spacing needs and counts how many of that plant you just "drew" into your garden.

Crop rotation is an important consideration for the organic farmer and Grow Veg helps with that, too!  By rotating crop families every three years, you lower the chances of passing soil-borne disease on to next year's crop.  It is also a way to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients over time - certain crops use up more of some nutrients than others and by rotating the plantings you give nature time to replenish itself before that crop is planted there again.  The Garden Planner tool color-codes the plants according to their crop family and if you sign up for the $25 subscription you can save your garden plans from year to year and know where you planted which crop families last year - and rotate accordingly.

Another great feature of the Planner, once you have drawn out your garden, you can see a Plant List which gives average planting and harvesting dates (based on your zip code) for each of the crops you've "planted" and the total count of those plants across your whole garden.  Here is a link to the numbers from my first attempt at a 2012 Garden Plan:

Plant List 2012

Keep in mind that we will be practicing Succession Planting in certain areas of the garden, so where there are tomatoes in June there will be spinach in October.  This will help us maximize production and yield (and, ultimately, profits).