You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2010.

We’ve been busy harvesting- the basil is abundant in the hoophouse, and we’ve got a second bed coming on in the garden. The first tomatoes are ripening, too.

The last Wednesday work party in July we harvested a whole terrace full of buttercrunch lettuce (the kale above it had been harvest the week before), in addition to lots more kale, collards, carrots, beets, chard, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and cukes- over 200 lbs brought into the Food Bank! Our best day ever!

So many beds have been harvested that we are very busy re-planting for the fall crop — more lettuce, beets, carrots, spinach, chard, kale and collards have gone in the ground. With seeds, starts and intensive crop rotation, the garden has produced bountifully this year!

It’s finally hot, the crops are ripening and it’s time to enjoy a bountiful harvest. You can still sneak in some fast growing fall crops, or get the last plantings in for your overwintering veggies.

If your garden has more produce than you can keep up with, donate the surplus to the Good Cheer Food Bank, or put up the harvest so you can eat from your garden in the winter months!

On Saturday, August 14th, from 9 am – 12 noon, at the Good Cheer Garden, learn about

Putting up the harvest: canning, freezing, and dehydrating. To eat from your garden year round, learn these food preservation basics.
Seed saving
Cover crops
Best veggies to plant in August
Top tips for the month
Q & A (bring your questions!)

Presenters: Sue Ellen White, local food preserving expert
Cary Peterson, Growing Groceries coordinator

Class fee is $15, scholarships  available.

For information and registration, call the Whidbey Institute at (360)  341-1884, or email

Photo credit: Susan Burgers

A big thank you to our Americorp volunteer, Molly Zeiger for her year of service, and to Matt Statz, summer intern, both invaluable in the garden, and also with the youth programs.

As part of their summer program on Island Culture and Ecology, the LEAF Program from Edmonds Community College did a service learning project in the garden, after touring the Food Bank and Distribution Center. The students made great improvements to our compost demonstration site by building a new three bin compost system with pallets for the weed compost, and making hot compost with alpaca manure (up to 160 degrees in 2 days!).

They also harvested lots of lettuce for the Food Bank, and made a delicious salad for lunch. Thank you LEAF for your service to the garden!

Other youth groups in the garden include a Nutrition and Healthy Eating class from Whidbey Island Nourishes, and volunteers from the youth program at the Trinity Lutheran Church.

For confidentiality reasons, we can’t take photos of the Alternatives to Detention youth, but their work on the hillside terraces has resulted in many pounds of produce! We’ve planted two of the beds which reaped abundant kale and lettuce!

We are growing the next generation as we grow vegetables!

Matt Statz is the new summer intern at the Good Cheer Garden! Matt grew up on Whidbey Island, and recently graduated from Linfield College with a double major in Political Science and Art.

In preparation for applying to the Peace Corp, Matt is volunteering at the garden, and we are thrilled to have his help! He’s been helping with the worm bin, harvesting (the first tomatoes and cucumbers!), and lending a willing and able hand in the garden work.

Thank you, Matt!

Molly Zeiger, our Americorp volunteer, arrived in September 2009, and has just completed her term of service this July. She will be missed!

Molly not only became an invaluable assistant in the garden, she organized a great series of cooking classes featuring local chefs sharing how to cook healthy, low-cost, easy to make dishes.

Molly also grew many of the starts we’ve been using in the garden, and came up with the best way to distribute the seed block starts.

It was great fun on Molly’s last day that Mosa Collins (our intern from last summer) came to volunteer. They harvested the garlic that Molly had planted last fall, and hung it to dry in the shed!

Our interns are an invaluable part of the success of the Good Cheer Garden. Thank you!

Now, we welcome Matt Statz for the summer!

Good Cheer needed more composting capacity to handle the food waste being generated by out-of-date produce donations. With the help of Todd and Teresa Spratt from Bugabay Vermicomposting, we now have a new in-ground worm bin!

Wayne Morrison generously donated his backhoe skills, clearing the area next to the hoophouse and digging the trench for the worm bin.

Barton Cole donated his time to build the 3 ft x 6 ft x 24 inch worm box out of 1 x 6 cedar boards. It was set in the ground so that just 6 inches was showing. Note the slatted wood between the two 3 x 3 partitions. This is so worms can travel between the sections as one side finishes off while the other side is filled up with fresh scraps.

On June 10th, as part of the Growing Groceries program, Todd Spratt demonstrated how to get the worm bin started.

Food scraps were added, and then covered with partially aged horse manure. It was watered until the consistency of a wet sponge. DUMP, COVER and DONE is the mantra for successful vermicomposting. To launch the bin, Todd added lots of food scraps, but normally a lesser amount would be added every few days, the volume depending on the size of your bin. A 2 ft x 4 ft x 18 inch bin is ideal for home use.

Then Todd added the worms. The rule of thumb is:

  • One pound of worms for each square foot of your worm bin. We had a 3′ x 3′ bin = 9 sq. ft = 9 lbs of worms!
  • One pound of worms consumes one pound of food waste each day. So, once our worm bin is thriving, we can process up to 9 lbs of scraps per day!

It’s up and running (so to speak!), and our summer intern, Matt Statz, is keeping those worms well fed. Nothing much to see what you’ve dumped and covered!

But those worms and scraps are making nutritious worm castings for the garden!

How can it only just be summer, and it’s already time to start planning for the winter crops? Find out more about eating year round from your garden at the July Growing Groceries class on Saturday, July 10th at the Good Cheer Garden.

To continue to grow through the year, what is one of the best ways to replenish the soil? Worm castings!

Learn a simple and effective method of making in-ground worm bins that will transform your kitchen and garden waste into nutritious compost.

How many worms do you need? How big should the bin be? How long does it take? What can go in it? What kind of bedding do you use? Your questions will be answered!

On Saturday, July 10 we will be meeting in the Good Cheer Garden:

9:00 am: TOP TIPS and planning for your fall/winter garden, presented by Cary Peterson

10:00 am – 12 noon: Learn how to make a successful and thriving worm bin. We will be demonstrating a new Good Cheer in-ground worm bin, and showing how to make smaller home bins. Presented by Todd, Teresa and JaNoah Spratt, of Bugabay Vermicomposting, and Janet Hall WSU/Island County Waste Wise Program Coordinator.
Worm bin kits will be available for purchase.

Class fee is $15, scholarships available.

For information and registration, call the Whidbey Institute at (360) 341-1884, or email

It’s time for all those firsts! First tomatoes in the greenhouse, first zucchini, also first cucumbers. It took a lot longer this year than last, but we’re finally in summer!

Beets, leeks, carrots, and huge lettuces! The Alternatives-to-Detention work crew, from Island County Juvenile Court, has been enormously helpful in the garden, but for confidentiality reasons, we can’t post photos of all they’ve done to thank them. So we decided to acknowledge their work with a confidential lettuce head!

For the longest time we couldn’t figure out how to distribute the starts we’ve been growing, except to put them in 4 inch pots, which took a lot of resources. Then Molly Zeiger had the brilliant idea of cutting milk cartons in half to be the trays we needed to keep the seed blocks protected, but easy to remove.  In her honor, we’ve named them Molly boats, and we can now really expand the food we are able to produce, by providing the starts for food bank clients to grow themselves. A great partnership with the South Whidbey Commons who happily provides the milk cartons from their coffee house!

It’s finally summer, but, no rest! It’s also time to think about the cool weather crops again, so as soon as we’ve harvested a bed, we’re planting starts or seeds that will mature in the fall, or overwinter.


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