Friday, May 30, 2014

Week 4: Transplants and Testimonies.

46th garden

squash transplants and drip line

bean seedling
One of the best parts about being a manager is getting to know those that you work with. I sat down with all of the interns and my assistant manager to share how happy I am to have them on this team this year and how we can continue to improve. I did not do this last year and if I could do that year over again I would definitely have implemented this. I got to hear how they are feeling about the internship, what works and what doesn't, and how I can pray for them.This is a great way for me to better my leadership because I have blind spots. What might not be an issue for me could really be an issue for someone else. Also since this is year two for me and I have experience I might neglect to make things clear for those that are just learning. My favorite part however, was hearing the testimonies of these guys. I knew I had some strong Christian men and women but hearing each of their stories, the triumphs and struggles, and where they are going with their faith really invigorated me. I felt the Spirit rooting as I heard them sharing.

Strawberries ripening
Gathering herb transplants
This week we focused on making 38th a fuller garden. We have added drip line and a herb section. The herbs came from seed and transplants from 46th. Since herbs last more then a year, they need to be cut back so they do not overcrowd and we can start them in other areas. We are also experimenting with placing worm compost next to the plants instead of on top of them. The idea is that the roots will grow towards this nutrient rich soil and the plant will not have to force its way through more soil. We transplanted the cucumbers and squash we had started at Tucker into our garden. We have also had tomato, pepper, pumpkin, raspberry, and flower starts donated from neighbors and faculty at IWU. It is pretty awesome to get gifts like this and we are so thankful for the help. Our beans and melons have started to germinate this week and our swiss chard and lettuce continue to grow healthily. Our strawberries are bearing tons of fruit but as of now only a few are ready to eat and they are still a bit bitter for my taste. Weeds are beginning to cause us issues at 46th as a rain in the middle of the week made them come out like crazy. 38th is still looking really good so hopefully we can have the same luck as last year of very few weeds.

May has been a great month. Hopefully June will build on this strong foundation!

Zach Arington
Garden Manager

Looks great! A bitter right now


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week 3: 38th St. is Back in Action!

Harvested herbs
The rains held off this week so it was back to planting. We were able to get 46th St. completely finished. The list of what is planted there is: lettuce, spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard, onions, brussel sprouts, beets, okra, sweet corn, and strawberry popcorn. Our irrigation system is on and that saves us a ton of time by not having to water individually. Our swiss chard and lettuce are visible now but still very small. We were also able to gather and dry some of our herbs from our raised bed. Herbs are great since many of them come back year after year. Some however need to be kept in check as they like to take over other areas. (Looking at you mint!) Our strawberries are starting to grow fruit now, green little strawberries that will be ripening soon.

Tilling 38th St.
38th St
Lettuce poking out
We were unable to get our second chicken coop and chickens this week as it was still muddy. Hopefully sometime tis week we will be able to begin work on this. On a happy note our garden at 38th got tilled! This was great for it needed to be broken up and extended from last year before we could plant anything. This also gave us an opportunity to use our smaller tiler to break it up even further. Facilities got a bit too eager and tilled our rhubarb, blackberry bush, and perennial herb patch which is saddening but we are thankful for the help they are always giving us. The wood chips that we made the pathways with are from them and they help me a ton.

Taking the starts back from Tucker Vocational School
This is the growth of one week since harvest
46th St.
We have started planting at this garden much differently then the other one. This garden has many watermelons and cantaloupes as this is what most people want and sells the best. We also have green beans and arugula planted as people really enjoy this as well. We have some tomato and pepper starts that we will continue to plant, some from the community gardens, others we started in a greenhouse. We brought back all of the starts from Tucker's greenhouse and will be planting these when they are a ready. I really enjoy this garden and hope it gets more visitors this year.
Cucumber starts

We filled up the bed of the truck!
That is a strawberry coming in
Hannah is still in Ireland
In other new we have started running the CSA for Victory Acres on IWU's campus. This is for those that have shares already but we will sometimes have stuff from our garden for you to get if you stop by.
Grace Miller is back from her trip to Guatemala and we are so happy for her back. If you see her ask her about the trip! Thank you all for reading and following us it means a lot to us here.

Zach Arington Garden Manager



Friday, May 16, 2014

Week 2: Cold and Rainy

Working on seed management as it rains

New Worm bin at 46th
Plenty of rain no need to turn it on yet.
 What a difference one week of rain can make! The temperature has dropped from highs close to 90 to now just above 50! While the rain has been wonderful for our soil and new seed starts it has halted us in many ways. 38th was unable to be tilled so it continues to grow weeds. 46th did not receive any new seeds as it was too muddy and we would compact the soil. This would have made it difficult for our new plants to spread their roots.

46th has drip line!
header line at 46th
Too much rain, no real progress
This did allow for us to work on some other fun projects however. We applied drip tape and header lines at 46th st. for when it eventually does stop raining to water the plants. We sharpened tools, made more tire gardens, did seed inventory and planning of planting what where and when in our gardens, and weed whacked. We made a compost sifter, similar to what a miner would use to sift for gold. We bought and created a mobile chicken coop that we will put in our chicken fence for... ducks ( more likely chickens)! After last years fiasco we are not deterred but wiser. We are getting everything set up before we buy our birds. We will also be getting an older, bigger coop from Robert Sharp along with some of his chickens. This will occur when the ground dries up. Robert Sharp used to work for the garden before I was here and continues to be a friend and wealth of knowledge to us here.
chicken fence
Patrick making more tire gardens
Kayla in our new mobile chicken coop!

Got our tools sharpened!
This was a learning week where books and movies were watched on how to do things and why to do things. Back to Eden is a great documentary on Vimeo that we watched and learned about creating a covering like a forest to stop weeds and use less water. Also has a killer soundtrack!  just not for me).

We have received some tomato and pepper starts that will be going in once things start to heat up again. The starts at Tucker are doing great and will be brought back to our gardens next week. We also learned how to make good soil and plant seeds for a greenhouse at Victory Acres.

Katie working on recipes
P.S. We will be making recipes to give away about how to prepare what we are growing. I am really excited about this. Also Hannah is still in Ireland. But she is letting us know she is doing fine.

Zach Arington Garden Manager
Hannah is still Ireland taking selfies
Strawberries are flowering

Should be seeing some fruit here in a few weeks

herb garden

Chives going to seed

Things are much more green with the rain!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Week 1: Welcome back to the Alliance Garden!

This week ended the beginning of what is shaping up to be a great summer for the Alliance Garden. We have two full time interns as well as 2 part time and even an Assistant Manager!

38th Street
They are wonderful people and I am excited to get to know them. We have cleaned up the gardens and trimmed back trees and bushes so that they can produce the most fruit that they can. We have made ourselves some worm bins to compost our organic matter faster and mulched the garden at 46th.

Katie posing in her nice hat
Hannah took all these pictures and we don't have any of her! And she is in Ireland for May!...Shoot

Patrick cutting tire gardens
46th st
38th is taking longer because it still needs to be tilled by facilities and they are a bit busy this week. We were still able to start making it look better with a new sign and some painted tire gardens. Hopefully the parsley, flowers, and amaranth will look nice as they pop out.
Patrick measuring rows
Kayla figured out how to do it super easy. Thanks Kayla!

Our Work Truck!
46th received plenty of care as there was less we could do at 38th st. and it is looking awesome. Kale, onions, spinach, lettuce, and swiss chard are all planted in different plots that the interns designed. We also have an awesome red work truck to haul things this year. An incredible blessing since last year my Honda Accord had that job title.

compost at 38th
 We are helping Tucker vocational school's culinary students learn to plant this spring that way they can use food they grew themselves in dishes. We are benefiting by getting to use there awesome greenhouse that is housing tomatoes, squash, zinnias, eggplant, and cucumbers that we will transplant later this summer. We will again be helping Victory Acres and Marion community gardens. Both of these groups have incredible missions and we are happy to help and learn in whatever way we can. This blog will be updated weekly and we hope that you will follow our journey these next 6 months. God will be doing amazing things and we are thrilled to be apart of what He has in store!
Josh placing stakes

Kayla planting
Zach Arington
Garden Manager

myself watering like a pro