Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meeting Notes: Ready, Set, Garden - February 11, 2010

February's meeting brought a roomful (twelve Mamas and one baby Ruby! Thanks, Colleen, for bringing her in) all ready to start gardening.


  • COPPEA is in the middle of contract negotiations. All options must be on the table by March 1. Questions? Contact Lora Lillard.
  • Daycare for city of Portland employees children remains to be a challenging prospect. Contact Colleen Jenkins if you want to discuss daycare issues with the City.
  • Mayor Adams wants to expand benefits to include gender reassignment surgery - why not fertility treatments? Discussion?
CSA Information
Lora shared some information about CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). For more information about CSAs and Portland area options, click here. Some things to consider when you contact the CSA or browse their website:

  • Location and pick up times - if weekday is not convenient, can you pick up at a nearby farmer's market?
  • What do they grow? Will you eat it? For example, does it have only vegetables? Are eggs important to you?
  • Cost/week - comparison
  • How long is the season
  • How much food? Should you share a box?
  • Is there an open farm day/work days/educational opportunity for your family?
  • What's the history of the farm? Family owned?
  • Newsletter and recipes?
City Mama recommended from the CSA Coalition List:
  • Deep Roots Farm - Kristen Erbes: "I used Deep Roots because they offer a Farmer's Market Credit - buy a share in advance and then use that credit at their stand @ the Farmer's Market. Works for me because we often travel - might not use something in a box, etc. I get to choose what/how much of what I need & will use. And they allow credit to be carried over from season to season if you don't use it all."
  • Vicki's Harvest Box at Sungold Farm - Lora Lillard: "Recommended! Joined last year - loved that they include fruit (berries!) and veggies and had open farm day for families. Wish they had eggs too. Newsletter & recipes a plus!
There are also two charity CSAs that you may consider using:
  • Living Goddess - donates all proceeds to SafeChoice for domestic violence resources
  • Project Grow - provides employment for adult's with developmental disabilities, inner NE

Have you used a CSA? Care to comment/share your experience?

Ready, Set Garden!

Mindy got started on a lively discussion for What to do in February, assuming that you have a garden spot now. She passed out a worksheet and proceeded to dive right in. The worksheet had a lot of great tips and notes, but here are some additional highlights:

What to do in February?

  • Now is the time to get your garden spot ready - turn over the soil and add compost.
  • You should compost in between plantings as well.
  • Great resource for buying seeds: Territorial Seeds - they also have great how-to videos! Check it out.
  • Plant fruit trees/ berry bushes now.
  • Prune existing fruit trees now.
  • Rotate your garden every year. Never plant the same plants in the same spot every year. For many reasons, but some plants are hard on soil, or extract too many of one type of nutrient from soil - needs to be replenished with a different plant.
Design your garden:

  • Write a list of what you want to eat from your garden
  • Make sure it will fit.
  • Figure out what things need to grow and how long they need to grow.
  • Think about companion plants (Worksheet has some good tips.) Pay attention to things that are BAD companions.
  • Also, decide how you want to eat your food, what freezes, what can be preserved, etc. E.g. Lettuce must be eaten when it's ready - can't preserve or freeze it.
  • Think about perennials that come back and don't need replanting, e.g. asparagus, rhubarb, etc.
Specific crops:

  • Corn. Don't plant corn unless you have LOTS of space. They need 4 rows at least, and they have a large growing season (85-100 days). If you want corn, try "Precocious" variety. It has a relatively short growing season, 65-75 days.
  • Winter Squash. Trails a lot. Needs lots of space. 100 day growing season. It does well here, because it needs late summer heat.
  • Tomatoes. Prune the heck out of tomatoes when they start flowering. They hate getting bushy. Cut the leaves above the flowers. Later in the season, you can cut the flowers so that the plant can concentrate on fruits that are already there. Heirlooms are easy to grow, and expensive at the farmer's market. Recommend growing from starts (not seeds).
  • Peas. Grow on a trellis. Don't trim them. They can grow very early. Should go in now. Use stakes - wood or metal - and twine. Can use this system for cucumbers as well, once peas are done. Cut twine when ready to harvest and retwine.
  • Pole beans. Plant in a round - 3 stake tee pee, 6 feet tall. They grow all the way up. "Kentucky Wonder" a good, standard green bean.
  • Lettuce - Grow in thirds, so that you don't have all your lettuce at once. Mezcalin, "Cut and come again" variety. Grow now until June, and plant again in September. Tuck into places near other plants.
  • Green onions/leeks. Ready when they look like you want to eat them.
  • Cilantro and mint (and other "weeds"). Yummy but take over. Grow in containers.
  • Parsnips, carrots, and beets. Overwinter. Better to eat if you leave them.
  • Marigolds and basil. Tuck these in the garden. Marigolds bring good bugs.
Other notes:

  • Liquid fence helps against deer, rabbits, etc. A combination of egg white, garlic, etc. fermented. Reallly smells bad.
  • Slugs - Ground up egg shells around the stalk of plants or copper or hand-removal works best!
  • Avoid weeds by agitating the soil with a stirrup hoe (or regular hoe). Walk around the plot, and "agitate" - hit everything that is not a plant, once a week (all soil and weeds). Seeds of weeds do not have a chance to sprout.
  • Tip from Spin Gardening class for planting and weeding rows: Stand with legs wide apart, squat, plant 2 rows at a time, back up, repeat. The paths you create with each foot becomes a walking path. Can weed this way too.
  • How much is soil by the yard? Around $90? With a minimum delivery. Share with your neighbors to cut costs!
  • Planting strategy: Plant now - peas and lettuce, broccoli, radishes, spinach, cabbage.
  • Mother's Day: Plant tomatoes and peppers.
Urban Growth Bounty Classes - sign up here. Classes now until fall.

Happy planting! Thanks to Mindy Brooks for all her wisdom, and for sharing these great tips! Share your planting stories this year as you garden!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Marriage & Stress Notes - January 2010

Amy Wesson, a mother of four and parenting teacher for Providence's Bringing Home Baby class shared her thoughts on how to "babyproof" a marriage. Amy also really encourages parents taking the class upon the arrival of their second child, since it is not how-to parent class, but how to build a solid foundation. Here are the top notes:
  • "Ring the bell" when you agree on something - acknowledge when something goes well
  • Build the core strength for times of stress
  • Create a "Love Map" - pretend like you are dating and reask all the simple questions like "What's your favorite color?" or "What kind of animal would you want to be?" Get to know each other anew as parents. You both probably aren't the same as when you first met.
  • "Men are afraid that women will change and women are afraid that men will never change!"
  • During stress you can only deal with top level issues - like survival
  • Try to get out of survival mode in your relationship
  • Create a positive perspective - compliment each other
  • Less worry and fear - let it be
  • Active listening - all ears, no arguing
  • Take time before your baby arrives or when you have support
  • Physically get away sometimes - a quick walk for fresh air can change your view
  • Try to have small stress reducing conversations
  • Treat yourself well - eat well/get exercise
  • Tips for navigating mundane tasks
  • Be conscious about what you are soliciting or bidding - is you nagging going to have a good outcome?
  • Bids - nonverbal, humor, attention, compliments, play, dreaming, shared meaning/purpose
  • Be clear and direct - husbands are not mind readers
  • Notice each other
  • Creating a healthy relationship is the best gift you can give a child
  • John Gottman - 7 habits of a healthy marriage

Keep the conversation going here by commenting, what works for you? what doesn't?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Upcoming CityMamas Meeting: February 11th

Our very own food and garden guru/Mama, Mindy Brooks will lead the discussion, and we'll have information about the new Urban Growth Bounty classes offered by BPS.

Also, if you belong to COPPEA and want to collaborate on recommendations for the upcoming contract negotiations, we will have some information at the meeting!

Hope to see you there!

Note: Our new meeting day is the second Thursday of each month at noon.