Monday, June 29: the side is graded, more or less level, and ready to go. Grading took eight hours to do using heavy-duty equipment.
Monday morning: the Verdura team and first volunteers arrive. Weather was in the mid-90s all week.
Step one: marking the four corners of the gardens and laying out a nearly perfect 45' square (remember geometry class?).
All the wood - over 350 boards in this garden - were treated with a natural, nontoxic wood preservative prior to being assembled.
Treated wood drying. In the background, trenching begins for the drip irrigation system.
Calculating the exact placement of the drip irrigation system - in this 2,000+ square foot garden with 20 beds - was a challenge. Risers had to be precisely placed prior to laying down weed-blocking landscape fabric and then the beds.
Larry, the mastermind behind the irrigation system, getting the main lines oriented.
Cutting PVC pipe to fit in trenches dug by Verdura staff and volunteers.
Once the risers were in position for each bed, irrigation lines were buried and weed-blocking landscape fabric was laid down over the entire area.
The bottom half of the first of 20 beds being assembled.
Flipping the first bed over to staple heavy-duty mole cloth to the bottom.
The soils arrives - 33 yards of premium landscaper's blend!
Once the first few beds were put in position, staff and volunteers started the long process of moving and adding soil to each.
Mole cloth being applied to a bed.
Setting the top layer down on what will be one of the 12" high frames.
Each top layer was precisely aligned to the bottom before being nailed in place.
Verdura partners consulting on bed alignment at the end of day two, Tuesday.
Max overseeing the work crew.
At the end of day two, the first two quadrants of the garden are underway. Each quadrant features four 4' x 10' x 12" frames, plus a 4' square frame, laid out in a herringbone pattern.
Verdura employee Mike assembled frames and then attached upper frames to their bases.
Worm's eye view of the slow but steady progress on the garden. The canopy and tree provided much-needed shade for the work crew.
Morning of day three: filling the frames begins in earnest. The soil is watered down and raked as it is added, allowing it to settle and become evenly moist.
The first quadrant is nearly ready to plant.
Mother Sylvia and daughter Ellie team up to help make light work of filling beds with soil on Wednesday afternoon.
Surveying the frames Wednesday afternoon, now nearly complete and in position.
Nails are added at 12" intervals around each frame to attach string "guides" to each bed, marking each square foot and making planting easier to organize.
Kirby and Max after a long day's work.
Making final adjustments to frames late in the day, as others are being filled.
BCSC volunteer Sonya making a dent in the mountain of soil.
The final two quadrants being readied for adding soil.
Planting Bintje potatoes. Two of the frames are potato beds, with soil to be built up gradually as the potatoes grow. Eventually these beds are 18" high, allowing for a greater yield of this popular crop.
Morning of day four: irrigation lines are added, and plants are starting to be distributed to their respective frames.
Watering down the soil in a frame just prior to planting.
Ready to plant!
Melons are among the numerous crops being grown vertically on frames in this garden, allowing a sprawling plant to thrive in just two square feet of soil.
Caroline, Nick and Max sorting plant starts and writing tags.
Hundreds of tags had to be created to identify plants in each bed.
Organic plant starts included dozens of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, melons and squash.
Mike stringing each bed prior to planting.
Marigolds and other companion plants were used both to beautify the garden as well as for pest control.
Positioning tomatoes and other plants.
Afternoon on day four: most beds are now fully planted with plant starts and seeds.
The four Mayan pyramids - one in each corner - waiting to be completed.
At the end of four very long, hot days, an overview of the new garden.
End-of-day view from under the shade tree.
Wednesday, July 8, the four Mayan pyramids are built and planted with herbs and butterfly-friendly flowers.
Two weeks after the garden was started, potatoes are already sprouting and growing fast.
The Mayan pyramid in the Blue quadrant, with its new Craftsman post and cap.
Colorful rainbow spirals are used for growing cucumbers vertically.
Green beans have sprouted and copper trellises are in position for the melon crop in the black quadrant, while week-old zucchini plants are already showing vigor.
An overview from the corner of the Amber quadrant of the new garden.
Tomato cages were donated to the garden by our friends at Oregon Wire Products.
Five foot wide pathways in the two main aisles are lined with hemlock mulch.
July 25: the garden is now three weeks old. Today we sent volunteers Hannah and Marcy home with the first tiny harvest of a zucchini and four small tomatoes!
Zucchini plants have quadrupled in size and are already bearing fruit. We'll be sure to harvest often!
Heirloom tomatoes are starting to fill out their cages. Basil and marigolds are grown as companion plants in all of the tomato beds.
The top layer of a potato bed frame is now in position, and another eight inches of soil has been added to each of the two beds to try to keep up with the fast-growing plants.
Cucumbers are starting their climb up their rainbow spiral supports.
Bush beans in the foreground, with heirloom melons growing up copper trellises at the north end of each bed in the Black quadrant.
Copper trellises framing a view of a Mayan pyramid planted with sage, parsley, chives and flowers.
Tomatoes and squash in the summer garden.
Patty, one of the BCSI volunteers, pruning plants in the August garden.
Larry surveying the garden on a maintenance visit.
Kirby checking out the bees on the echinacea.
The tomatoes are starting to color up!
A very young Golden Gopher heirloom melon forming on the vine. We're growing melons in this garden vertically, along with cucumbers.
The cucumbers are several feet high now; today we harvested the first one. In the background, Bintje potatoes are just starting to flower.
An overview of the Black quadrant on August 12. Our broccoli recovered from an attack of cabbage worms and is now growing quickly.
We built a simple entrance arch to match the copper trellises in the garden. Scarlet runner beans are starting to grow up the sides.
Marcy, one of our volunteers, brings patience and a keen eye for cutworms in the petunias.
Matthew, Marcy's son, helps out occasionally in the garden. Matthew is already an experienced gardener and has won numerous ribbons at county fairs for his beautiful vegetables.
The broccoli plants recovered from an early attack of cabbage moths and are now thriving.
Another view of the broccoli, chard, and green beans in the black quadrant of the garden.
An heirloom Golden Gopher melon growing on a trellis and ripening in the warm days of early September.
In the background, one of the Bintje potato beds, with cucumbers and beets in the front bed.
Larry starts harvesting the Swiss chard.
Marcy and Matthew after a long afternoon's work.
Caroline and Larry take a quick break to survey progress in the garden.
By early September, the now two month-old garden has really started producing, as this partially full bin shows. The September harvest includes cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans and basil. We are just starting to harvest Swiss chard and kale, and are eagerly waiting for the melons to ripen.
October 1: we harvested our first head of broccoli - it was absolutely perfect!
Twin cucumbers hang on the vine.
Fall kale is finally ready for harvest. We remove outer leaves, leaving the plant intact so we can continue to harvest over a long period of time.
We grew a small amount of okra in the garden as a fun experiment this year, as part of our effort to test what does well in this garden.
Caroline is really proud of the broccoli and looking forward to harvesting more in a few weeks time.
Rainbow chard is another standout in this garden.
October afternoon sun filtered through a chard leaf.
Golden chard leaves.
Our October 1 harvest included beets and three gorgeous melons, along with nearly a dozen gallon bags of basil, parsley and chives. Coming soon: potato harvest!
The Riverbend gardens on October 1, as seen from the road.
Marcy and daughter Hannah put in a long morning harvesting potatoes. They're really fun to harvest - a farmer's treasure hunt!