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YMCA staff will oversee the garden maintenance, which will mainly be done by youth enrolled in the YMCA's afterschool and summer programming.
To reduce maintenance, drip irrigation will help reduce the amount of labor involved in watering the plans, and the gravel surrounding the raised garden beds will reduce the weeds germinating in the soil of the raised beds.
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Northshore School District students who need food security will benefit from the food grown in the garden. In partnership with the school district, the Northshore YMCA is a Totes to Go program hub where school nurses and social workers can come to pick up discreet bags or backpacks containing meals for students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. In addition to non-perishable food, students will now also have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
The food grown here will also help support students in the YMCA's afterschool programs. By involving youth in the growing and harvesting of the garden, they will become more connected to where their food comes from and get a better understanding of urban agriculture.
A healthy garden requires a combination of these components:
*Blight is a disease or injury of plants marked by the formation of lesions, withering, and death of parts (such as leaves and tubers).
To focus on natural resources conservation, the eight wooden raised beds were made from materials that used to be shipping containers. The practice of using reclaimed materials in a garden space is part of reducing waste, an element involved in permaculture. Using harvested rainwater to feed the plants is also another way to conserve resources.
The garden also has two metal raised beds (similar to animal troughs) that were already part of the garden space before the wooden beds and rain barrels were added. When using metal planters with bottoms that are flush with the ground, be sure to drill some holes in the bottom to allow water to drain and soak into the ground. This helps prevent soil from becoming fungal from too much moisture.
The garden has two 55-gallon rain barrels that harvest rainwater collected from the roof of the building during rainstorms.
The rain barrels provide multiple benefits:
Based on the size of an average roof, a 1" rainfall could fill approximately 10 55-gallon rain barrels!
Learn more about rain barrels.
The garden is equipped with drip irrigation using soaker hoses, which work best for low-pressure irrigation systems like rain barrels. Elevating the rain barrels on something like cement blocks increases the pressure generated from gravity.
Bothell is located in Planting Zone 8b. Planting zones help determine what vegetable varieties will be the most successful for each month. This takes into account the first and last frost dates for that region. In this zone, we have a long growing season. Most vegetable varieties are able to mature before the first frost date of December 1. The last frost date is April 1.
Use this chart to determine what grows best in our region and when, and visit the vegetable planting calendar guide for more details.
Growing times depend on the vegetable variety. Beans, lettuce, spinach, summer squash, broccoli, cucumber, radish, and beets can take about 70 days. Peppers, carrots, cauliflower, peas, cabbage, garlic, tomato, winter squash, onion, and pumpkin usually take about 120 days.
Starting your vegetables by seed indoors will quicken the growing process once you transplant them outside. Typically, most seeds will germinate (sprout) within two weeks if you start them indoors.
Overwintering involves adding a cover crop like certain kinds of clover varieties or crops from the legume family (beans, peas, etc.) to your garden beds during the non-growing season. Doing so helps provide nitrogen to the soil to keep it healthy for the upcoming growing season.
Adding compost or mulch to the soil surface during winter can also help improve soil health because it makes it harder for nutrients to leach out of the soil during extreme weather conditions.
Check out this educational video we made with Joe Crumbley, Snohomish Conservation District's Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator.
Snohomish Conservation District’s Lawns to Lettuce program provides education and support for landowners who want to convert their lawn and grow edibles in a way that builds healthy soil, protects pollinators, minimizes pesticide use, reduces runoff, and conserves water.
If your garden space grows more vegetables than you need, consider donating them through the Plant A Row campaign.
Visit Snohomish Conservation District's Lawns to Lettuce website to learn more about the program.
Community food gardens are volunteer-led initiatives that require internal processes and communication systems to function well. The following questions, created by Pierce Conservation District, will help you develop a framework for working together to manage the garden long-term. It is important that as many stakeholders as possible contribute to the formation of this framework to ensure that it represents the collective wisdom of the group. Your guiding document will be something that is updated over time as the group learns and evolves.
Once you've considered the questions below, contact your local conservation district if you have a location in mind that you think could successfully host a community garden.
Goal: Allow every participant to voice their ideas and hopes for the space (i.e. what is calling each person to participate?). This will inform the way you develop the project.
Goal: Agree upon a system for how participants will work together to manage the project and make decisions in the future.
Goal: Clarify systems for maintaining the site and how that work will be accomplished – make sure to be specific about standards of care at both the individual and communal level.
Goal: Successful projects maintain maximum participation in decision-making. Agree upon tools and practices that the group will use to make sure that all participants and stakeholders are able to communicate so this can happen easily over time.
Goal: Develop a system for managing conflict so that disagreements can be processed in a way that strengthens the group.
Goal: Develop any necessary procedures for managing the administrative or other supportive processes.