Monday, June 15, 2015

June Planting Update

Hi friends, students, and neighbors. Its ON at the farm this summer. Join us anytime, or for a Sunday work party from 5-8.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mid April Update 2015

Goodness, so much progress already at the Downtown Teaching Farm.  The mild dry weather has been perfect for working in the soil, and we are on schedule with our planting.

Here's a sample of what we've been up to, please feel free to email us if you'd like to join in a work party or as a community gardener...

In Mid March some of us attended the first fruit-tree pruning class at the First Fruits Orchard.  It was a rainy afternoon, and a day well spent!

We also got our planting started as community gardeners in March!

On March 20th the Downtown Teaching Farm helped host the Boise High School Wellness Summit:

After Spring Break a variety of classes have been hard at work getting the garden rows set for planting and the compost situated for the year.  We have a long way to go, but the work has never been so easy, thanks to the advanced planning of our community team - here's what that has looked like - it is so rewarding to bring big groups of students to the farm - thank you to all who have supported us!

With the rows getting set, strawberries moved, and boxes repaired, we have drafted our planting plans for 2015.  We are shooting for productive crops, weed suppression (using mulch), and companion planting.  There is also talk of adding a bee hive near the orchard, and a weather station on the interior of the farm, as well as some collaborative projects with the Boise Co-Op and the Boise Farmers Market.  We hope to see you at the Downtown Teaching Farm.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 Seeding and Planting Tips from the Downtown Teaching Farm

Seeding and Spring Planting Suggestions
By: The Downtown Teaching Farm

Updated 2/26/2015
Combating cabin fever and looking forward to spring and summer bounty go hand in hand.  We've had so many beuatiful days this February, but it is still too early for most plants to be set outside.  Many hours can be spent selecting varieties, ordering seeds, and deciding what to start at home.  These are some suggestions we have based on a typical Boise-area spring season.

Secrets to success: 
        Use a seed tray with drainage.  If it doesn’t have pre-punched holes, punch about 10 holes in the bottom of the tray.  The seedlings will drown without drainage.
        Fill the tray loosely with soil, and then wet the soil thoroughly and test the drainage before planting.  This helps the soil settle, provides a proper reservoir for watering, and moist soil is much easier to work with; it prevents the seeds from floating around and getting all mixed together.
        The larger the seed, the deeper it needs to go into the soil – a good rule of thumb is that the seed should be about four times deeper than its largest side.
o        One important exception – basil seeds need to have light to germinate, so do not bury them at all.  They will turn whitish as the seed coat absorbs water from the soil, that is normal, and then they will germinate!
        Use a shop-light or other overhead light, dangling it about 6” above the soil/seedling level.  Leave the light on at least 12-14 hours a day.  Expensive UV lights are not usually necessary.  Window light is often not direct enough for healthy growth and results in “leggy” seedlings with weak stems.
        While waiting for the seeds to germinate, cover the tray with saran wrap, this holds water on the surface of the tray and prevents a wet-dry-wet-dry cycle, which is often detrimental to germination.
        Once the seeds have germinated, remove the saran wrap and don’t over water.  Water when your plants look wilted, or test the soil by putting your finger in to the depth of your fingernail, and if the soil feels dry down there, it is time to water.  Once water starts to drain out the holes, you know its saturated enough.
        Plan to transplant your seedlings into larger pots after they have two sets of true leaves.  Also, watch them closely that the growing plants don’t get burned by the light bulbs. 
        If your plants start to look sickly in color, they may need some fertilizer, and they are probably ready for real sunlight.  We use a very dilute (about 1 capful per gallon) solution of Alaskan Fish Fertilizer, being careful to turn the lights out until any extra fertilizer has evaporated from the leaves (it can easily burn).
        A cold frame can be easily made out of clear plastic, old window panes or plexiglass, and many other household “leftovers.”    This is an excellent choice for an intermediate home for your seedlings. By about 8 weeks most plants become too large for their indoor trays, need real sunlight, but it is still too cold to plant them outside.  A cold frame’s purpose is to provide ample light (with a clear roof and sides) and protection from nighttime frost.

In our classrooms at Boise High we plant broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, lettuce, spinach, and perennial flowers in early February, for planting out in the garden in March and April.  Peas, potatoes and mesclun mix can also be started early, but do best straight into the ground in March and April.  We plant peppers and eggplant next, as they take longer to germinate and like to have several sets of leaves before planting in late-May or early June.  Annual flowers, herbs, and tomatoes are usually best started in late February or March – two months of growth is plenty for them to be planted out in late May.  In addition, many of the summer crops do best planted straight into the ground – corn, squash, cucumbers, and beans among them.  Frankly, they do not need or appreciate your loving seed trays – they want real sun and warm soil and will produce when summer tells them its time.

Start your seedlings indoors:
Plant your seedlings in the garden:
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Cabbage, Onions, Lettuce, Spinach, Perennial Flowers and Herbs
Mid-Late February
March and April
Peas, Potatoes, Spinach, and Mesclun mix (mixed greens), Onion sets and starts
Direct sow in March and April
Peppers and Eggplants
Mid-Late February, use a heated seed mat to improve germination.  Many DIY seed mat options available online.
Late May and Early June
Annual Flower, Annual Herbs, and Tomatoes
Late February through March.  About 8-10 weeks of growth indoors is ideal.  Plan to transplant into larger pots by mid April when plants have two sets of true leaves.
*Tip: Basil needs light to germinate, let seeds rest right on the top of the soil tray, exposed to the light, and keep moist until germinated.
Late May and Early June
Plant in early May for June harvest, Plant again in late August for late September harvest (salsa time!)
Corn, Squash, Cucumbers, Beans, Carrots, Beets, Chard
Direct sow in Late May or Early June when the soil is warm and nights are averaging in the low 50’s.
Plant cloves in October for next spring.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall Update & Food Summit Photos

As we put the garden to bed from another successful season, a few highlights...

  • This season we had about 15 families gardening on the DTFarm site all summer.  Thank you all for your help and dedication.
  • We successfully installed one more zone of drip tape, and installed two automatic timers for the drip system.  We will continue to improve our drip irrigation system for next year.
  • We have been bringing hundreds of students over to the DTFarm to participate in class activities and enjoy the extended fall harvest.
  • We have continued saving seed from our heirloom vegetables and flowers.
  • We have set up two leaf composting bins near the alley for neighborhood use.  
  • The Boise High staff hosted the first-of-it's-kind student-to-student Food Summit.  About 1000 students participated in the afternoon's events, that began with a luncheon of food trucks and cafeteria service, all including our harvest from the DTFarm. 
  • Here are some photos from the day, and here is a link to some press coverage from a writer who happened to be visiting from Rhode Island!  Boise High Food Summit:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Spring Planting! Work Days this weekend and next, and on into June we go!

Hi everyone, I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful weather we are having!

Michael and I are going to be at the farm Saturday morning at 10 (tomorrow) as well as next weekend (and probably Sundays also) to continue our planting and weeding and set up of our drip system.  

Good news - just this week I received word that we are getting more grant funding for irrigation equipment and perhaps a couple of fruit trees for our side of the garden.  I am also in the process of writing a grant to the Boise Schools Foundation regarding some "outdoor classroom" (common sitting area, weather proof whiteboard space, and maybe some shade!) for our gathering area, as well as some funds for composting areas (and we are adding cafeteria composting next year - hope hope hope).

I also have received loads of donated seed from several major suppliers - it is lovely -and Michael is working on a donation letter for local businesses.  We can divvy up other types of chores when we see you this weekend.  

If you cannot make it this weekend or next, we understand, just keep Michael and I in the loop as to how you'd like to be involved and we'll make it happen.

Thank you all for your interest and support of our project.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Community Gardener Meeting Scheduled for Tuesday Feb. 11th, 2014 at 6pm

It is time already to begin our planning for the 2014 season at the Downtown Teaching Farm.  Please come and join us, in Ali Ward's classroom at Boise High School, room 204.  

Families that are interested are welcome to come and ask questions, return gardeners' attendance would be much appreciated so we can update contact information and so everyone can meet Michael Bartlet, who is going to be the community garden coordinator for the 2014 season.  

As always, thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and sponsors of our big fantastic project!  

The meeting will be in room 204, starting at 6:00 pm, expected to last until about 7:30.  You may park behind Boise High and enter the Tech Building from the door nearest the New Gym.