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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Volunteers

The grow tunnel has withstood several 40-mile-an-hour windstorms, in, of all things, April, after a mild winter -- but just barely. It will have to be redone. If Risa finds enough Craigslist windows she may relocate it to a permanent greenhouse attached to the barn and potting shed.

In the picture you can see the 2X2s she has used to brace the tunnel. Also visible are some spring and summer garden flats at left, and peas, favas, and elephant garlic at right. The peas are using string supports suspended from a couple of tripods of willow, which have sprouted as well and may be planted out as trees next fall.

The mature kale plants at left were grown last spring and then were transplanted into the tunnel last fall. They've provided continuous greens for a year and are now trying to go to seed. We're holding them off as long as we can while the new kale, about three inches tall, gets established. The elephant garlic, bunching onions, mustard, peppermint, and potatoes that are coming up in the tunnel are all volunteers, but the favas were planted two months ago and are supplying a lot of greens, along with dandelions and the kale, as our early spring greens.

This all does seem worth doing but you would have to be better at it than we are to take full advantage of it.

This morning Risa met with a really nice young park ranger to talk about volunteering to help with one of the local state river greenway properties. There is a parking lot and pit toilet but the place is gated much of the year and seems forlorn and lost. It's very sweet, really, with traces of an old homestead (was that a root cellar? And over here was the well) and its old fruit trees and walnuts. Along the river there is a dark stand of cedars and there are many mature cottonwoods and some wetlands, with a flood-prone little isthmus sheltering a small backwater.

The mighty river, currently brown and swollen, is moving at impressive speed. A deep hole along the opposite bank is popular with steelheaders and salmon fishermen in drift boats -- but not today. They value their lives.

There is only a skeleton crew of rangers for 3000 acres of parks along here, and they need all the help they can get. When Risa gets her paperwork done, she's hoping to weed-wrench some Scotch broom, and lop some tree-choking English ivy, to her heart's content. Trust me, if you need more exercise than your little farm can provide, don't head for the gym, just go talk to some harried, understaffed park ranger!

As they walked the property, they came across a lovely specimen of birdsrape mustard. Risa gathered some to use with the grow tunnel greens in tonight's dinner. A friend is coming over who likes foraged foods, and she aims to please.

Never overcook wild plants. -- Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

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