Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Garden Website and Facebook Page!

Hello gardeners,

I am pleased to announce a very new website for the garden! You can find it by clicking

If you have suggestions on features you would like to see added, please email

There will be a few changes to the current look of the new website - perhaps a new background, some new tabs, a community calendar added, a place for photos, etc. but for now, all the information on this blog has been downloaded onto the new word press website.

Please refer to that site from here on out.

I also created a new Facebook page, so if you are already on that social media, please add!/pages/Puyallup-Community-Garden/105602622819657?ref=mf to your friend's and "Like" list (if the link doesn't work, just type in Puyallup Community Garden into the Facebook search).


Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting Down to the Dirt Workshops for the 2010 Season

Getting Down to the Dirt Workshop Series

These workshops are brought to you by Puyallup Community Garden and taught by experienced Pierce County Master Gardeners.


Planning & Planting for Your Fall & Winter Vegetable Garden
Dave Mitman, Pierce County Master Gardener will leading this informative class. With a little extra planning and care, you can enjoy fresh vegetables from your garden most of the year. Many cool-season crops produce well in the fall and, in mild winter areas in the Pacific Northwest, hold through the winter if protected. Come to this class and learn more. NOTE: You can grow all year round at the Puyallup Community Garden.

DATE: Wednesday, June 16
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm
Place: Puyallup Activity Center rm 1


Outdoor Composting
Gwen Norlander, PC Master Gardener will be teaching this class on composting.
Making your own compost is an easy way to save gardening dollars and to make certain you know what your compost contains. Learn the basic steps for success.

Date: Wednesday, July 14
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm
Location: Puyallup Activity Center rm 1


Worm Bins - Turning Your Leftovers Into Compost
Pierce County Public Waste Utility will be providing this popular class on making your own worm bins. Learn the advantages of turning your food waste into compost. This class is open to children 8 and up with parents supervision.

Date: Wednesday, August 18
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm
Location: Puyallup Activity Center rm 1

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Garden Meeting, Tuesday May 11, 6 p.m. at the Puyallup Activity Center!

Hello Gardeners!

Come meet your fellow gardeners and find out more about your community garden.
Tuesday May 11th
Time: 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM

Location: Puyallup Activity Center
210 West Pioneer Puyallup(located by Forza)

Plenty of parking in the public plot across from the post office.

There will be plenty of information there for the beginning gardeners as well as the advanced gardeners.

We will be setting the dates for the beginning of the season garden potluck and the end of the season Garden Harvest potluck.

Also we will be looking for volunteers to help with the senior donation beds.

Bring your ideas and suggestions.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Waste Your Money On Miracle Grow When You Can Get Sunshine!

Sunshine Potting Mix was mentioned at last night's workshop series on container gardening. You can buy this at McConkey's in Sumner, a wholesale business that also sells retail gardening supplies.

Click on the image to make it larger.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Local Roots: People from all walks of life join together to garden

Local roots: People from all walks of life join together to garden

In both Puyallup and Sumner, the efforts of two groups of dedicated residents have resulted in two very impressive community gardens.

While each group has a different long-term dream of what their garden will become, it is notable that what has sprouted from the original seeds of thought around each garden is a common belief — with each year the gardens continue to grow a stronger sense of community. Everyone involved agrees this is a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors, make new friends, reclaim and beautify unused land. People from all walks of life come out to participate in the projects, because they enjoy being outside during the summer months, raising flowers, growing their own organic food and sharing their bounty with others. Both gardens are entering into their third season of operation.

Though the acreage had not been tended in years, Puyallup native Kathy Johansson Powell, a Master Gardener, saw the Lawrence Brown property on 19th Avenue Southwest as the perfect spot to sew the seeds of an idea. Powell, who grew up near Clark’s Creek, the WSU Extension Center and Picha’s Berries, felt strongly that Puyallup’s farming heritage had to be preserved.

With a $775 stipend from the Pierce County Master Gardener Foundation, strong support from Dick Weber and Kent Boyle of Puyallup Parks and Recreation, some donated tools and a group of dedicated volunteers, the Brown Property was prepared to welcome community gardeners.

There are now 35 plots and countless volunteers working to create what Powell envisions as “a working farm park and an education garden.” In collaboration with Master Gardeners, Parks and Recreation and the Eagle Scout program, the Brown Property is becoming both a community garden and a park.

“People who don’t garden enjoy walking through the developing trails. They like to see what is growing, and they are enjoying the park and the gardens as each phase bring change.” Powell said.

Tanya Hulbert has tended a plot in the Puyallup garden since the beginning of the program. When she moved back to Puyallup three years ago, she realized she had no room to garden in her own yard so jumped at the chance to have a plot in the community garden.

“I take my 5-year-old daughter with me. I grow flowers, berries and vegetables so we enjoy fresh produce and cut flowers all summer long. If it weren’t for this garden, I wouldn’t have anything at all,” she said. “I love to include my daughter in the garden events, including spring clean up and harvest. All of us work together to plant and maintain the garden.”

A new addition to the Puyallup garden is a shed, hand-built by Thomas Lenell, as his Eagle Scout service project. Because there are many volunteer opportunities available at the garden, Lenell was given a list of options to consider. Volunteers from his Boy Scout troop put in 200 man hours building the shed. He said enjoyed the experience and while he’s not a gardener, he is actively encouraging other Scouts to become involved with any of the future projects for the gardens and park.

Three years ago, Sandra Olsen saw the activity in her neighborhood and walked down to the community garden to learn more about it. She was asked to be on the garden’s steering committee and accepted the invitation.

“This is my neighborhood and I want to be involved in this positive way. There is a great sense of community involvement around sharing this space. First-time visitors to the park interested in what we are doing and we always encourage them to become involved too. The impact on the neighborhood has been tremendous. It brings a sense of caring for the area and what is going on here. The gardeners share seeds and techniques with each other. People enjoy walking their dogs on the trails, and the Scouting involvement has been terrific,” Olsen said.

She grows vegetables all season long and last summer shared her organic produce with a friend battling cancer. She shares Powell’s vision for the property, that it will become more of a community area, including footpaths throughout the garden plots, educational gardens and a composting area. She is excited about plans to create a children’s garden, hoping it will spark their interest and provide education about organic gardening.


In Sumner, Randy Hynek and Bonney Lake resident and Master Gardener Ed Smith are just two of several people who worked to acquire two pieces of land for community gardens — one, an unused city-owned piece of property, and the other, a piece of land owned by a local church. The donation of a tractor, a small stipend and some labor hours from the city of Sumner, as well as collaboration with volunteers at the Sumner Food Bank galvanized their plans.

Last year, after only two years in operation, more than 150 families enjoyed the garden plots, volunteered their time to plant and harvest, enjoyed fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables all season, and still donated 37,000 pounds of fresh produce to local area food banks. With 100,000 square feet of gardening space between the two properties, they hope to increase that donation (in number of pounds) this season.

“It’s such a great way to get to know your neighbors. Gardening is for everybody, and everything involved in running and maintaining these gardens is done by volunteers,” Hynek said. “People of every age, income level, social status come together to garden. We always have a very high turn-out for our spring clean up and other maintenance events. Everyone is willing to pitch in and help, to ensure we can all continue to enjoy these gardens. In addition, we all love the health aspect of being involved, including the exercise, fresh air, and the food security we all enjoy by growing organic produce.”

Hynek’s long-term goal is to provide people as much garden space as they would like to have.

Smith, a Sumner native who lives in Buckley, has been involved with the garden since its inception. It began as a class project while he was in the WSU Master Gardener program. Now Smith is the coordinator for the farm.

“I have plots at both gardens so that I can enjoy gardening, and help other folks with theirs. These gardens have had a huge impact on the community.”

Smith, who grows vegetables, and colossal pumpkins, enjoys that people from all walks of life participate.

“It sews everything about the community together, and it doesn’t have boundaries — you don’t have to live in Sumner. If you are a citizen of the region, you are welcome to participate.”

Eighty-one-year-old Don Proctor of Sumner agrees.

“It has been positive beyond belief. It has helped to keep me healthy and strong. There is such a cross section of people all coming together to help and to share. We’ve raised a lot of produce in those gardens, but what we’ve raised most is community spirit. That, to me, is as important as raising the food.”

CNN: Urban Gardening

London, England (CNN) -- As the world's urban population continues to grow at a rapid rate, communities around the world are increasingly turning to "city agriculture" to produce cheap, locally grown fruit and vegetables.

Among skyscrapers and housing estates, previously vacant lots are being used to produce millions of tons of organically grown food that experts say are "greener" and cheaper than commercially grown produce.

But while many countries are in the early stages of their urban agriculture development, China, Japan and Cuba have had successful city farms for decades.

Cuba's model of environmentally friendly and sustainable urban agriculture has been an inspiration for numerous city projects around the world.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba's supplies of cheap oil suddenly dried up, plunging the country into a severe recession referred to as "the Special Period."

Farming in Cuba until then had relied heavily on oil to drive tractors and other heavy machinery, so there was a fundamental reorganization of food production, leading to a boom in urban organic agriculture.

Today, Cuba's capital Havana, which has a population of just over 2 million, has about 200 city farms that grow lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, spinach, herbs and other crops that are sold cheaply in local markets.

Wendy Emmett of the UK-based Cuba Organic Support Group, told CNN: "Cuba has been an inspiration, especially in the U.S. and the UK. They showed us what could be done when there is community will and a political will."

A similar community-based initiative has just been launched in Germany's financial capital Frankfurt. Groups can lease land from start-up company Meine Ernte, which provides tools and even sows the seeds, although the lease holders have to take care of the crops.

Frankfurt-based lawyer Mortem Simm said: "Most people just go to the supermarket and they can buy everything at any time of the year, but this brings us back to nature."

Meine Ernte already has six plots in German cities growing cucumbers, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes.

Natalie Kirchbaumer, co-founder of Meine Ernte, said: "They have to put in one or two hours per week, yes they have to work on the plants a little, but everything is there."

A slightly different model of urban farming is being deployed in parts of Africa, although it is still employing the same philosophy of community cooperation.

In the densely populated slum of Mathare in Nairobi, Kenya, an Italian charity Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) is helping communities to grow food in large compost bags, which are designed to provide the maximum output of produce in minimum space.

Its "farm-in-a-sack" project provides poor families with more than 40 seedlings, which can be grown into food in just a few weeks. Each "base" or mini-farm can provide vegetables such as spinach for 150 families, says COOPI.

Claudio Torres, from COOPI, said: "There are two effects. There is the main effect that they really have more food and that's like nutrition and micronutrients. But also, as you can see, this brings together the community."

There are two effects... they really have more food.. but also, as you can see, this brings together the community" said Claudio Torres, COOPI

A third of Africa's population already lives in urban areas, a figure that the World Health Organization expects to grow, so urban agriculture is increasingly seen as a back-up to commercial farming to meet the food requirements of millions of people.

And while North America may not have the food and water shortage problems of some African nations, urban farms are still expanding in major cities such as Vancouver on the west coast of Canada.

Michael Levenston, the executive director of City Farmer, part of Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture, told CNN that there were a number of models being deployed.

"There are people growing stuff in their back gardens and then there are bigger models like the University of British Columbia, which has a market-sized farm in the center of the city selling produce every Saturday at a farmer's market ... that is a very strong and vibrant entity," he said.

The United States has sizeable urban agriculture projects in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Pittsburgh. One U.S. collective of urban farmers says it is has 800 city-based plots that last year produced 150 tonnes of food.

The group Urban Farmers says on its MySpace page: "We locate and secure unused land, space, rooftops and walls for the purpose of bringing people together to plant organic food gardens in low-income urban areas throughout America and abroad."

In the UK, urban agriculture has not been adopted with the same gusto as other wealthy, densely populated countries such as Japan, although it is growing according to some experts.

Ken Elkes of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, told CNN: "There has been an increase of 190 members in the last two years. But it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to run and maintain a city farm."

And that's where community spirit and a cooperative effort, as embodied by the urban farmers in Cuba, come in.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Getting Down to the Dirt Workshop: Container Planters

No yard? No Problem!

DATE: Wednesday, April 14th 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
TIME: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM.
PLACE: Puyallup Activity Center
210 West Pioneer
Puyallup, WA 98371

(Forza Coffee is located in the building. Plenty of parking across the street from the Post Office)

Anything can be grown in containers:
Evergreens, annuals, perennials, and of course vegetables.

This class will demonstrate how to make interesting and colorful container planters
Jo Anne Slaybaugh, Pierce County Master Gardener, will be covering the basics needed for success, then move on to designing ornamental containers as well as edibles in containers. There will be slides to analyze and inspire! You are sure to come away with many ideas as well as information.

This is part of the GETTING DOWN TO THE DIRT WORKSHOP SERIES, sponsored by Puyallup Community Garden and taught by Pierce County Master Gardeners. The complete series can be found in the Puyallup Parks and Recreation Department Program Catalogs Winter/Spring and the upcoming Summer.

* Pre-register today by calling Parks and Recreation 253-841-5457

If you are interested in reserving a Plot at the Puyallup Community Garden you can talk with Parks and Recreation as well. 253-841-5457

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Raised Beds and Tomato Planters

Check out these pictures of the amazing containers that Kerri has constructed. Kerri is on our steering committee and has been a valuable asset to the garden. She has put together some amazing raised beds both this year and last.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

History of Our Garden

Puyallup’s community gardens offer opportunities for growth

Joan Cronk / for The Herald

In 1980, the family of a man referred to as Farmer Brown donated a approximately 17.5 acres of land to the city of Puyallup, said Puyallup Parks and Recreation Manager Dick Weber.

Brown was known to be a quiet man, married to an American Indian, and they had no children.

“He didn’t have much to say,” Weber said, adding that when Brown talked, his intelligence shone through. During harvest time, the Canadian Indians came to the Brown farm to work. Brown and his wife housed them in a shelter on the property and they all lived together during harvest season. When Brown deeded the ground to the city, he stipulated the ground had to be used for either parks or a cemetery.

Thanks to that generous gift, passionate gardeners in Puyallup who were looking for a spot to dig in the dirt and grow fabulous vegetables now have that opportunity.
Seattle has been doing it for years, but the Puyallup valley folks are just now getting on board with community gardens. The Brown tract of ground sat vacant for years, but this year Kathy Powell took up the reins of the project and ran with it. The response has been huge and unexpected, Powell said.

Powell and her husband live in an area of Puyallup that is peppered with trees and moss, so she was looking for somewhere she could fill her need to dig in the dirt.

Their research found no local community gardens, so they signed up for one in Seattle. When they started attending the Puyallup Parks and Recreation meetings, they heard of this plot of ground in Puyallup that was donated more than 20 years ago.

Powell kept nudging the department and finally snagged someone who could till the area. She set 2009 as her target date to get folks involved.

Powell is a Master Gardener herself, and so roped others from her group into the project. With the help of Puyallup Parks and Rec Department, Powell rustled up a bunch of bookmarks advertising the fact that garden spaces were available. Suddenly they had a ball game. All of the 12 plots at Farmer Brown’s garden spot are now rented. Six of the plots are 10-by-10 feet and six are 10-by-20 feet. The rate for residents of Puyallup is $15 a plot and $17.25 for non-residents for the smaller plots and $20 and $23 for the larger ones. The planting season runs from May 1 through mid-October.

“The vision,” said Powell, “is to offer education there, not just for the gardeners, but for other members of the community. There is a bigger picture for the Brown farm.”

A small area is used for the gardens, but other space is available for these larger projects.

Randy Hynek, Sumner City Council member, spearheaded their community garden project in Sumner.

“When I first got on the council, there was a piece of property the City had that I thought would be a nice community garden,” said Hynek.

He spent some time driving around with one of the city shop guys who showed him every single piece of property the city owned. They found a tract the city owned and had been leasing for 20 years as a horse pasture. Hynek went to the council and got the go-ahead.

That piece of ground is on Valley Avenue East, adjacent to Hesselgrave Bus Service. Stacy Ota of Ota Farms rototilled it for them. Sumner Tractor also donated time and equipment to help on the project. When folks rent a plot at the community garden located on Valley Avenue behind Christ the King Lutheran Church, they will have access to this other space as well. That area will include corn and pumpkins and gardeners from the community garden can share in the bounty by donating just a little bit of time in the garden, such as weeding or planting.

The area behind Christ the King Church used to be a sheep farm. This garden area is 1.2 acres. Each plot is 6-by-12 and rents for $10 for the season. Fifty-one plots have been leased so far.

The sudden interest in growing vegetables seems to stem from the price of food and the fact that people are paying a great deal of attention to products grown organically.

Hynek said they could have waited until the conditions at the sheep pasture garden were perfect, but they wanted to get started. For that garden area, Windmill Gardens donated a tractor with a rototiller and the community has been generous with donations.

Joan Turnbull of Sumner is a master gardener and is over the moon with excitement about the gardens. “A lot of people have been gardeners for years and don’t have a space for vegetables,” she said.

On a recent Saturday at the Puyallup Farmer’s Market, as Powell passed out her bookmarks to advertise the Farmer Brown garden plots that were available, she met a woman who said she had been looking for just that opportunity.

“My husband and I have been praying for this,” said the future gardener. “You are an answer to our prayers.”

Powell said that comment and the woman’s excitement made all her efforts worthwhile.

Reach freelance reporter Joan Cronk by e-mail at

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winterizing Your Garden

As we have entered our official cold season and skipped what other areas of the United States calls "Indian Summer" in favor of our splash into the wet season, there are a few things gardeners can do to save time and, more importantly, frustrations.

Prepping a garden during the winter ensures that time and frustrations are minimal and that growth is maximal. Want to prevent your garden from harboring weeds, pests, and volunteer starts? Will you be ready and able to plant at the first hint of spring or will you be like me and the past two years, wondering where my head is as I realize I am a month late in my plantings? This year, I am gearing up to create a successful, and early garden.

Fall Clean Up

By now, we should all have cleaned out our garden plots of weeds, garden debris, spent vines, and any fruits or veggies that were not harvested. Some believe that leaving these refuse adds nutrition to the soil, but it can also add diseases, weeds, insect eggs, and other not-so-wanted pestilences.

Add Soil Amendments

Now is a fantastic time to add compost, mushroom soil, and leaves to our plots; by incorporating these amendments now, they will ensure that tiny microbes in the soil can decompose and expose the nutrition before spring's planting begins.

Winter Plantings

The Northwest climate is ripe for winter plantings, such as garlic, shallots, beets, lettuce, etc. if properly covered during frosts. Sowing a cover crop is also a fantastic idea so the soil can recover lost nitrogen and other nutrients.

Mulching and Applying Organic Material

If sowing a cover crop is not a feasible option as it is for some, then covering your plot with a mulch of compost, mushroom soil, or three to four inches of shredded leaves will restrict weed growth and encourage earthworm multiplication for easier spring clean-up and planting. Mulching protects plants from drastic temperature changes, insulates plants, and prevents soil erosion. A secret tip is to not mulch too early as it may encourage pests and disease--wait until after the first frost has occurred. 4-6 inches of pine needles, leaves, straw, corn stalks, and other organic material is a great use of mulching and composting.

Evaluating Garden Design

Lastly, before starting preparations, take a moment to review what worked and what did not. I used grow beds, but built the tops too steeply and caused too much water run-off and therefore soil erosion this past growing season. I will definitely not make that mistake again! A thoughtful plan will save hassles and money.

Soon it will be time to order and plant seeds, so make sure your garden and soil is as ready as you are.