Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for October 2021

Fall came out of nowhere and now seems to be here to stay, with lots of rain and cooler days.

Get outside during one of the breaks in the rain to cut down, rake up and generally dispose of anything that is past its prime, including tomatoes, squash plants and bolting greens. Now is the time to plant tulips, daffodils, crocus and other spring blooming bulbs. They are readily available now at garden centers. After your bulbs are planted, keep your soil happy over winter by mulching with wood chips, straw or leaves. Burlap sacks or cardboard can also help protect your soil from the heavy winter rains.

Almost anything planted in the vegetable garden this month will be harvested in spring. This includes garlic, onions and peas, even fava beans, which can count as both cover crop and spring-harvested vegetable! Greens are the only exception to the “spring harvest” rule, and fall varieties of lettuce and kale can grow quite well until the first frost.

Big changes are happening at the BOG. A crew of volunteers replaced the old raised beds with six new 3-foot-by-8-foot raised beds. The new beds are taller, which will be prevent the rascally rabbits from demolishing our crops. Rain used to fall from the roof over the deck directly into the old raised beds, and we lost valuable soil each winter. The new beds were installed a full 3 feet out from the deck, which means no more soil loss and easy access to all sides of the beds. A huge thank you for Dale and Helen Jeremiah, Rachel Stewart, John McGillie and Ian McFaron for their time and hard work.

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 includes maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain.  Want to volunteer, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.

To stay up to date on what is happening at the BOG, including what’s growing, work parties, and events, follow us on Facebook  or Instagram.

— By Robyn Rice

Robyn Rice grew up in Eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by her Master Gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm, and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her science background leads to endless research about the “correct” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and sense of adventure leads her to garden fearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?


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