Winter Watering in Times of Drought

(Our beautiful new Middletown Community Garden)

In Lake and Mendocino Counties we are blessed with a climate that allows winter gardening. Greens, onions, garlic, and root vegetables enjoy and even excel in cooler fall and winter weather here. While usually we enjoy a wet winter that allows us not to water our crops, this year we have so far seen very little rain but cold nights, an issue for drip irrigation users. Why? Drip irrigation, and the pipes that the water is delivered through, can get damaged and broken if there is water in pipes during freezing temperatures. For that reason The Gardens Project turns off the water during the winter, however in years like this one where there isn't much rain, how do you ensure your plants get adequate water?


Strides Made at the Middletown Community Garden

For the past year we have been working to put in a community garden in Middletown with the generous help of Calpine Corporation. We are finally on the final stretch with hopes to be completely done by early June. We were featured last week in the Lake County Record Bee!

To read the rest of the article click here!


Willits Earth Day Garden Workday

Read all about our Willits Earth Day Workday in the Willits News and the Willits Weekly

Middletown Community Garden Updates!

After over a year of planning we have finally broken ground at the Middletown Community Garden!

In the past month we have dug post holes, set our fence posts in the ground, and dug trenches to lay irrigation. Along the way we have had to fight against the rainiest year in California since 1895, and super rocky soil (as you can see from the picture) to get everything done. We've had great help from our volunteers particularly Jeff Regan and Mel Bullock in getting the fence posts set. During a workday on April 14th we were able to set the bottom boards and tack up the hogwire and on Friday April 21st we held an Earth Day Workday to finish nailing down the hog wire panels and get the top boards up. It finally looks like a garden now!


From 2007 to 2017: A decade of community gardens and the future promises more!

Since the Gardens Project was founded in 2007, we’ve worked with the people of Mendocino and Lake Counties to develop 45 community and school gardens. That’s an average of 4.5 gardens a year! A lot has changed since the first community gardens in Ukiah, but the need to increase food security in both counties is still there and the work continues…

Setting up the drip irrigation at the Willits Head Start Preschool Garden


A Community Treasure

This December brings great promise to Mendocino County! There's the welcome rain, of course. But there's also a new social movement afoot... a movement towards creating a culture of health and wellness. It's called Leaders for a Healthy Community.

Over 40 service professionals (including professionals from health clinics, school gardens, family resource centers, afterschool programs, Health and Human Services, high schools, preschools, hospital foundations, teen leaders, and parent leaders) came together in both Ukiah and Willits for the first of 10 monthly Leaders for a Healthy Community meetings. The participants officially signed on as Health Leaders, committing to work within their organizations to implement health, nutrition and physical activity programming and policies, and committing to collaborate and form new health connections across the community.

What a community treasure! The Health Leaders bring so much enthusiasm and experience to this work. All are dedicated to creating a community where health and wellness are front and center, where opportunities to eat well and be physically active abound. They are excited about sharing resources, learning more about nutrition education, promoting activity, building relationships across the community, and truly moving the dial towards greater health and wellness in Mendocino County.

In the new year, expect to see "health happening here" as the Health Leaders roll out their programs and make presentations to decision-makers and governing bodies around Mendocino County.

Wheelchair Accessible Pathways at Vinewood

Next time you're going for a walk in the park, check out Vinewood Park Community Garden's new hard-scape pathways! These gravel paths make the garden more accessible to gardeners in wheelchairs and gardeners who have other mobility issues. Thanks to the Chamberlain Creek Conservation Camp Crew for all of their hard work!

Check out more photos on our Flickr!


Saved From the Gophers! Thanks CCC

Thanks to the California Conservation Corps crew members for all their hard work gopher-proofing and cleaning up the Mendocino College Preschool Garden! It was a beautiful fall day. Keeping the gophers and other burrowing critters out of the garden beds will definitely allow the preschoolers to see the fruits of their garden labor!!

How to gopher-proof you ask?
We dug out the raised beds, laid in gopher-wire metal mesh, and nailed it to the bender boards 3 - 4 " apart. We then filled the beds back in with a mixture of the original soil and compost. In addition to keeping the gophers out, this work helped aerate and add important nutrients to the soil.

Want to see more photos?
Click here!

Interested in volunteering at workdays like this?
Let us know!

Cover Crops, cause you gotta plant something!

Are you looking for a simple way to renew your soil this winter? Plant a cover crop!

A cover crop will add nitrogen and organic matter to your soil while preventing erosion and weeds. Over the winter, instead of the rains washing away all of the hard work you've put into the soil, the cover crop roots will keep those nutrients and soil in your garden, and also help retain water. When Spring comes around, your garden will be ready for another bountiful growing season. Some common cover crops include fava beans, vetch, oats, buckwheat, and ryegrass.

Cover cropping is super easy! Many garden supply stores sell a mix of cover crop seeds. All you do is broadcast (scatter/spread) the seed evenly over your garden bed, cover it with straw or a thin layer of soil (to keep birds out and moisture in), and let the rain work its magic. When the cover crop produces flowers just chop it up and turn it in to your soil.
If you can’t chop up the cover crop before it goes to seed, make sure the seed gets incorporated into your soil as the seeds will now store most of the nitrogen.

How does this work? Some cover crops are plants which add nitrogen to the soil by a process called nitrogen fixation. These plants have a symbiotic relationship with special bacteria that live in their root nodules and fix nitrogen from the air. These nitrogen fixing plants include fava beans, vetch, and clove among others.

If you do plant a fall garden, don’t fret! You can still cover crop after your fall harvest. Buckwheat is an excellent cover crop which is not frost tolerant, so it works great as a mid-season option.

Looking to learn more about fall and winter gardening? Come to one of our garden workshops!

A Year in Review

We are often asked, "How many Gardens do you have?"

Our Reply? "NONE!"

However to this date, the Gardens Project has facilitated the development of 34 community gardens in Mendocino and Lake counties.

Just in the past year, we've developed two new community gardens in Ukiah, hosted leadership development training for gardeners, updated and expanded the capacity of several existing gardens, and strengthened partnerships with many.

Here's a summary of all the fun we've had in the last year!
Coastal Garden Leaders at their first meeting in Janurary 2014, they graduate next month!

Garden Leadership Trainings
Over the last three years, we've trained 60 gardeners in Mendocino County to become leaders for their community gardens, increasing the sustainability of gardens and building community. Since January, we've worked with 20 of those leaders of on coast, and a group of leaders in Willits from our 2013 training have continued to meet. The Willits leaders hosted a garden tour on August 25th.

The capstone project of a year long leadership training is the Photovoice Project. Participants take photos from their gardens and add captions to capture aspects of their garden experiences to share with community members and policy makers. Click here to view Photovoice Projects.
Pinoleville Youth Build Students working at Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves Senior Apartments
20 new raised beds were created in Early Fall 2013 for Autumn Leaves. The Gardens Project partnered with and the Pinoleville Pomo Nation YouthBuild Program to create the raised beds. North Cal Wood Products donated redwood and Cold Creek Compost donated compost to fill all the new beds. All three have donated their time and resources to many other gardens working with the Gardens Project. See all the photos of the beds being constructed by these resourceful youth at our Autumn Leaves Photo Album!

Vinewood Park at the Peak of the Season!

Vinewood Park Community Garden
Vinewood Park Community Garden is a collaboration between the City of Ukiah and The Gardens Project. The Garden is located along the North end of the park, along the fence line in an area previously underused and covered in ivy. The garden provides 12 wheel-chair accessible raised beds serving the Walnut Village Senior Apartments as well as 16 additional beds for neighboring families and individuals. Pinoleville YouthBuild, our most valuable partner in garden construction, built the fence, raised beds and communication board for the garden. See more pictures of the garden!

Village Circle Gardeners, October 2014

Village Circle Community Garden
Village Circle Community Garden was developed in partnership with private land owners. This garden is one of the largest community gardens in Ukiah with 49 plots, second only to the State Street Garden which currently has 54 garden plots. Gardeners from the Cleveland Lane Community Garden have transitioned to this new garden in preparation for their garden closing due to expansion of the Grace Hudson Museum. Directly south of the garden are the Summer Creek apartments, who's residents are also participating in the garden. Thank you to Jason Dolan and Dark Horse Farming Company for providing labor and materials for the fencing, and also Ukiah Natural Foods for awarding the Gardens Project with a $2,000 grant to purchase fencing.
Tons of information for gardeners to see on the new boards.

New Communication Boards
Five boards were created for gardens to post communications, gardening information by the students of the PinolevilleYouth Build Program.
Seed Starting and Transplanting Workshop, March 2014

Gardening Workshops
Starting in Janurary 2014, the Gardens Project started a series of workshops that take a new gardener step by step through the gardening cycle. We are so thankful for all of our workshop presenters, and are looking forward to the ones still to come!

Past Workshops in 2014
Janurary: Planning your Garden with Brooke Wilder
March: Seed Starting and Transplanting with Carolyn Brown
April: Water Conservation with Linda Macelwee
May: Bed Preparation with Luke Howerter
June: Drip Irrigation with Peter Reynolds
July: Natural Pest Management with Dan Storm

Upcoming Workshops
Oct 11th:Composting with Luke Howerter
Oct 18th: Row Cover Season Extension with Gloria Jarrell


The Real Dirt

Sign up to keep up with what's growin' on
around Mendocino County and Lake Counties!