Wednesday, June 29, 2011

September 24. Mark your calendar.

Moving Planet.
Moving Produce, Lowell to Everett

On September 24, teams of volunteers will gather in the morning at the Red Barn Community Farm. They will gather potatoes and whatever else is ripe in the Food Bank Farm. They will move the produce from Lowell to the Snohomish County Campus in downtown Everett -- WITHOUT USING FOSSIL FUEL!!! Wheelbarrows, garden carts, bicycles, any way produce can be moved. 4 miles! There will be contests for the most produce moved, the fastest, the funniest, most creative, etc. Get your team together now.

In Everett, the movers will be greeted by a festival of music, food, art and community. All is sponsored by Transition Port Gardner as part of the Move Earth Day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


We don't have a water source at the Red Barn Community Farm. We expect to have a 1 inch potable water line in next year, but that won't be enough water for serious irrigation.

There is water down about 5 feet, but the soil doesn't seem to wick the water up to the root zone. Some plants (corn, tomatoes) will send their roots down to that water. Here are two solutions for water:

Rain Barrel: You could install a rain barrel on a stand about 2 ft high -- to get a bit of pressure -- and run drip irrigation to your plants. You'd have to haul water in to fill the rain barrel. I did that for the last two years on Ebey island and it worked OK. I invested in a small 12v pump connected to my truck battery to transfer the water.

Shallow Well: For about $100 you could put in a shallow driven well. You can get the parts (a 1 1/4 inch stainless steel wellpoint, driver cap, one or more pipe couplings and a pitcher pump) at Several of these simple wells have been installed at the Lowell Community garden and they work very well. They are easy to install and can be removed at the end of the season or left in place for use next year.

This summer, I hope to install examples of each of these at the farm.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Green Beans, green beans, green beans

My nickname used to be Green Bean Dean. I do love green beans. They're easy to grow, prolific and freeze well for winter servings, soups or mixing with other vegetables. Most bush beans mature in 60 days or less so they are ideal for the kind of late springs that we've been having in the Puget Sound Basin the past few years.
I like to freeze green beans. We have a large freezer but if you don't have anything more than a typical rental apartment refrigerator/freezer you can do it. I wash them and stem them (break or cut off the tips) and then blanch them in rapidly boiling water for about 3 minutes. Then cool them quickly (ice water is best). Drain and put them in 1 1/2 pint zip-lock bags. One bag will hold 2 servings. Squeeze out all the air and seal the bag. In 1 cu ft of freezer space you can store 200 servings.

First Work Party June 25, 2011

We had a great turnout for the first planting of the Food Bank Farm portion of the Red Barn Community Farm project. About 25 people planted potatoes, green beans, carrots, kale, cabbage and tomatoes. We will go another planting of green beans in two weeks (July 9, 10 am). Maybe by then we'll find something else to plant also.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's almost July 1. What can I plant now?

We're getting a late start this summer. Everyone in the Northwest is. But that doesn't mean the season is totally lost. There are lots of vegetables that you can still plant.

Bush beans (NOT pole beans). Most bush bean varieties mature in around 60 days. If you plant them now, you'll enjoy beans by Labor Day. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep, 3-4 inches apart in rows 2 ft apart for easy weeding. Be sure the soil is well-worked. Soil chunks should be 1 inch or less. Pack the soil firmly around the seeds when you plant.

Corn -- sorry, probably too late unless we have a long, warm fall. But you could gamble.

Lettuce -- matures in 50 days. I like to plant small quantities every two weeks up until early September.

Tomatoes -- will probably make it, but hurry and plant nursery-started plants. Too late to sow seed.

Summer squash -- 60 days. Go for it!

Good fall and winter crops:

Now is a good time to sow broccoli seeds in a finely prepared seed bed for later transplanting into your garden for late fall (November-December) harvest or even for next spring.

One of the best crops in this area is kale. There are many varieties. Most are quite winter hearty and will produce right up to and past frost. Most will survive nicely through the winter and burst into profuse production in the spring. Kale is very nutritious.

Carrots -- There is a new variety (Merida) that you can plant now for harvest in the spring.

What other crops do you know that can be planted late June?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Foodbank Farm

Part of this project is a Foodbank Farm to benefit the Everett Food Bank and the 28 other foodbanks in Snohomish County that are affiliated. "Food to help our hungry neighbors." When the whole 10 acres are developed, 4 of those will be used to grow fresh 'nutrition-intensive' food for the more economically challenged among us.

I spent 4 hours today rototilling areas for carrots, bush beans and potatoes. We also have a few starts (peppers, tomatoes, etc) that have been given to the Foodbank. We will also make as large a planting as we can of kale so that we will have good food throughout the winter and into next spring.

Any seeds you might wish to donate would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rototilling Complete -- for this year

John and Chris helped survey the plots this evening just as Jerry was finishing the tilling. Jerry worked for 12 hours for us today. He did a great job. All the plots have been tilled twice. They might need a little raking or hoeing but for the most part they are ready for planting. Tomorrow I will send everyone their plot assignments. We have the equivalent of 4 40x40 ft plots available.

Jerry Foster did our tilling for us.

Chris and John marked out all the plots.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Long first post!

Allow me to introduce myself - I'm Chris, and I'm new here. Brand new. I read the article in the paper on June 12th, and immediately knew I was gong to be a part of this. The Red Barn Community Farm (permission to use RBCF from here on out?) fits perfectly into what I envision is our next logical step as consumers of food - eat local. I still had a multitude of questions, however, and Dean was kind enough to meet with me to address them. A excerpt below, the accuracy of which is possibly tainted by the effects of some great Scuttlebutt IPA (my apologies to Dean for any substantial misrepresentations):

Me - So, if I sign up ten people, and THEY each sign up ten people, I'll get rich, right?

Dean - You're in the wrong meeting.

Me - What is the Transition Movement, and how does that play into the RBCF?

Dean - The Transition Movement is a plan for dealing with the post "Peak Oil" world. In uses an incremental approach to helping people understand that there is no master plan for what will happen when oil is not as inexpensive and available as it is now, and we alone are responsible for putting the effort in to prepare. The RBCF is a community-based project that will be one aspect of Transition Port Gardner's overall Transition plan.

Me - Well, sign me up.

He did. And, deciding I was less of a lunatic than he probably expected, Dean also invited me to post on the blog about my successes and failures in my gardening experiments over this first year. So, I'll be dropping in here every once in a while to use up some of your bandwidth.

In our conversation I discovered that there are other people that think along the same lines about the oil issue as myself. I don't consider myself an extremist. I suspect there are some who wouldn't even call me an activist... I'm just a consumer who grew up in a consumerist society and is looking for ways to integrate a little less conspicuous oil consumption into my daily life. I have a full-size diesel truck (to be honest, bought with running on BioDiesel in mind, but the reality of that experiment on my particular engine was not looking like a model of success). I work for a manufacturer that outsources a lot of the manufacturing overseas. I don't own a pair of Birkenstocks.

But I do have a concern for our collective future, and see this project as an avenue for me to contribute in some small and meaningful way as part of a unique community, and help others do the same. I really look forward to meeting the other gardeners out there this year. Feel free to stop by my plot at any time and introduce yourselves, and I'll do the same. I should probably come up with some clever tag line that I end every post with, but for now it'll just have to be...


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The Farm is along Lowell-Larimer Road, one mile south of Lowell River Road in Everett, WA.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Welcome to the new Red Barn Community Farm blog. This is the place where we can share news about our gardens, learn more from each other about gardening and find out what is working and not working here in the Snohomish River Valley. If you would like to be a co-author on the blog, please contact me at 425-28-9979 or

This first week has been very busy. In the last two days since the article appeared in The Everett Herald, it has been picked up by the AP and appeared in dozens of newspapers across North America, including all the major papers in Washington state. At least 25 people have inquired about having a garden. The best way to get a plot is to go to our website: Transition Port and fill in an application. Your name goes into our database and you will get your plot assignment as soon as the spring tillage is complete. The land has been plowed and we expect to get a tractor back in this week (June 12-17, 2011) to disk or rototill or both.

Speaking of tractors, we really need our own equipment. If anyone knows of an idle tractor with a rototiller (at least 60 inch width, that can go over rough plowed ground), please contact us.