Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday, June 24th...

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My first Sunflower

Valentines Day Follow-Up, Four Months Later.

On February 14th, 2011 I had the idea to dedicate all the plants I planted that day to my Olympia friends and classmates. I even went so far as to send them messages wishing them a happy Valentine's Day and telling them a few live plants had been planted in their name, which may or may not have led some of them to believe I was brain dead, but anyway, to follow up, all the plants did get planted in the bee yard I was making. This is what they looked like on February 14th and then what it looks like today. I threw in a picture of the site the way I found it last fall before the project.

Here are the seed trays I started on February 14th. I planted hyssop, calendula, lavender, anise hyssop, dill, echinacea purpurea, and chamomile. 

This is how some of the plants appear today along with sunflowers in the background. The lavender is not pictured here, it is slowly establishing itself as a border around the outside edge of this site.

The echinacea has not bloomed yet.

Here is a picture of how the site appeared when I found it in October of 2010, before the project began...

And now some nitty-gritty...

 This is Area Two. Originally the hives were going to move over to this area, along the fence, so I held off planting anything. When the bee hive plan changed I ended up a little behind for this area.
The green patch is white clover, the same kind I used for the green path (below). I want to put a small bench here. Along the log border on the right side I planted purple basil and some mountain mint in front of that. These plants seemed especially reluctant to grow during our unseasonable cold and wet spring so they look stunted right now. I am hoping now that the weather has warmed somewhat they will have a growth spurt. 

Here is a close-up of the clover patch. Even with that planting density the dreaded Morning Glory is staging a come back. I weeded it out but part of this maintenance project will be to keep up with this extremely competitive plant.

In contrast to the basil, the anise hyssop is thriving. I used a hose nozzle to give a sense of scale. Between the anise hyssop and the green path is a row of hyssop. They are doing well also. Behind the anise hyssop are a few dill plants I had left over. I trimmed the tops of these anise hyssop plants to delay their flowering for a little while and to make a bushier plant. 
PS. There appears to be a corn growing along the path. This, along with dozens of squash plants growing in Area One are the result of the sloppy mixing, on the part of the farm, of finished vermicompost with some that had barely started. Unbeknownst to me at the time I was spreading viable seeds everywhere. I decided to leave the corn for now to see what happens. I also left several of the squash in Area One, especially at the base of the sunflowers. Their root mass and broad leaves might help compete with the Morning Glory. I pulled out or trimmed the squash that was encroaching on the echinacea.

Gorgeous Poppy
Recap: Week One was mostly about weeding out the morning glory and watering the plants. I did not plant anything new other than five tiny mountain mint starts that were slowly dying in their seed trays in that horrible third greenhouse. They were being alternately cooked and frozen so I planted them even though they never grew more than half an inch.

Also, Area Three (aka: Area Bee) is the plot where the bee hive is. In the original collaboration with the bee group the hives were going to move and this was going to be an outdoor lounge with table and chairs for farm students, staff and faculty.
When the plan for the hives changed I decided to leave this area alone and see if the current P.S.A. class had any interest in doing something with it. After studying past project areas on the farm, I determined that creating a planned space and then leaving it for future classes with instructions to "please maintain this" had resulted in overgrown weed patches. Based on that I developed the philosophy that if you give people a chance to participate in the design, and do some hands-on work, they will be more willing to do upkeep because they have a stake in the project. 

I have talked one-on-one with several members of the current P.S.A. class and so far no one has expressed any interest in this area. I will give them until the end of week two of the summer quarter. If they are still preoccupied with other matters I will begin to work the area myself and by the end of week three if there is still no interest I will plant a cover crop in this area. I recently encountered a beautiful clover called "crimson red" which is one of the most beautiful clovers I have ever seen. 
Area One from behind