Birchyville – Spring 2019

Work party of 6 planted the garden, with the owner Birch, handling the Kubota

giving the rows one more tilling in of cover crop.

Several varieties of kales and chards, lettuces, and collards were planted.

Thanks to Birch, Lys, Mado, Kathy, Jo, Emily (and Tara who will water!)

The position of manager to oversee is still open—wonderful opportunity to volunteer!

Grants Available – May Deadline

Local 2020 Announcement: JCMGF Grant Applications due soon

Grant Applications are being accepted by the  Jefferson County Master Gardener Foundation for gardening related projects.  All non-profit groups located in Jefferson County are eligible to apply.  Grant Application forms are available at under resources: forms.  The Foundation is committed to funding research-based horticultural practices that will benefit our community in an environmentally safe way.  Applications must be received by May 15, 2019.

Presentation – School Based Gardens – 3.11.19


Cultivating Kids and School Based Edible Gardens: Cary Peterson

 When: Monday, March 11, 2019 @ 5:30 to 7:00 pm

Where : Salish Coast Elementary School

1637 Grant Street

Port Townsend, Wa 98368

Who: All community members; students, parents, staff, who are interested in learning about School Gardens and the next steps for moving forward with a Salish Coast Elementary School Garden.

More Information Here

Article – WSU Seed Library – A New Resource

New Resource for Jefferson County Gardeners WSU Seed Library

by Karen Seabrook, WSU Master Gardener Seed Library Manager

The winter months are a good time to start planning your garden. Whether you’re growing ornamentals, natives, or edibles, saving seeds is a skill that you will want to know. You will be hearing more about seed stewardship and seed sovereignty when the Jefferson County Master Gardener Seed Library at the Washington State University Extension Office opens in February 2019! As the Seed Ambassadors Project notes on their website, “Seed sovereignty firmly plants seed saving and seed stewardship in the realm of fundamental human rights. The simple act of seed saving becomes a major act of resistance and social empowerment” (seed ambassadors).

The WSU JCMG Seed Library will be a self-serve seed cabinet (actually, an old library card catalog) stocked with pre- packaged envelopes of vegetable, flower, and herb seeds. Educational material will also be available for reference. Select your seeds, plant what you will eat plus an extra amount that you will let go to seed. Collect the dry seed heads, put them in the envelope provided, fill out the information, and return them to the office. Volunteers will clean, store, and repackage them for next year’s borrowers. Easy peasy!

Website: Seed Library

Important Dates: Feb. 1st, 2019, WSU Seed Library opens

Other educational opportunities – TBA

Location: WSU Extension Office 121 Oak Bay Road Port Hadlock, WA 98339

Hours: M-Th 9-4:30

Seabrook, Karen. “New Resource for Jefferson County Gardeners: WSU Seed Library.” Commons: The Food Co-op Quarterly Newsletter. Port Townsend, WA. Winter 2019: 9. Print.

Article – Gardening in the “Off” season

Vegetable Gardening in the “Off” Season  
– lys Burden  

Plucky vegetable gardeners have learned that they can harvest fresh organic vegetables from their home gardens all year round here with some special preparations. The first step is to study your setting for the best micro-climates you can find that will help your plants survive through winter and start growing in early spring. The best spots receive plenty of winter and early spring light and are sheltered from blustery southern winds.

In my own yard, I have plots close to the south-facing side of the house. They are somewhat sheltered by adjacent houses, trees, and shrubs that do not shade the area, but do buffer the wind. The best buffers still let the wind through but slow it down significantly. Solid fences and walls can cause increased wind turbulence at garden level.

Frost-hardy crops to be harvested in the winter can be tricky to start in July and August, but by planting them in spots sheltered from the hot summer afternoon sun, you can help them germinate and grow. Using wet burlap as mulch around tender new plant-starts and sheltering them with shade cloth can help.

The strategy is to grow your winter crops through the cooler fall months, so they are mature by the time the cold, dark weeks arrive and they go into stasis. Frost- hardy arugula, beets, sprouting broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collards, kales, winter onions, leeks, lettuces, parsley, swiss chard, spinach, and turnips all do well in the ground through our typical winters. If it will be especially cold or wet, it is best to insulate them under frost cloth, topped by hoop row covers.

The WSU Extension planting calendar shows that fall-planted winter varieties of cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, and onions will survive January in your garden beds, then pop up as the days lengthen in mid to late February. At this time, you can also plant collards, corn salad, bulb onions, shallots, and peas outside. Under cloches and hoop covers, many more varieties, will grow, such as beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, kale, radishes, lettuces, and more.

The off season is also an excellent time to plan next season’s garden and make sure all beds are either covered with mulch, or better yet, planted with a cover crop mix. It’s a great time to plan your next seasons crops and rotations as well as clean and store all those flower and vegetable seeds you saved.

If you are interested in expanding your gardening season but you’d like a little more information and hands-on practice, the WSU Jefferson County Extension is offering a six-week “Growing Groceries” class, starting in late February. The class includes six 3-hour classroom sessions, three outdoor workshops for hands-on practice, and one movie matinee. Classes will start on February 25th and meet every subsequent Monday afternoon until April 1st. The curriculum includes garden design, crop planning, soil improvement, bug study, integrated pest management, and best cultivation practices. For more information, contact Bridget Gregg at or 360-379-5610 x 210.

Hoop row covers can be made in many ways to accommodate plants of all sizes. The most sturdy can be fashioned inexpensively from 2-foot pieces of rebar, metal, or plastic electrical conduit, or 5/8 inch poly pipe. The cover material Agribon (reemay) is permeable and available at local hardware stores, in garden catalogs, or online.


Burden, Lys. “Vegetable Gardening in the “Off” season.” Commons: The Food Co-op Quarterly Newsletter. Port Townsend, WA. Winter 2019: 17.

It’s 3 A.M. and I can’t sleep!?

Three am musings from the president, aka—one who presides, not one who decides.

In 2012, WSU identified the need for food bank gardens in a report on critical food needs. Local 20/20 was envisioning food security for all. Community gardens were formed. A foodbank model from Whidbey was adopted through support from the WSU Master Gardeners and the Port Townsend Foodbank located in the former Mountainview School on Blaine Street in Port Townsend.  The vision was for a garden that would be available to people who have food needs to learn to grow and harvest. A greenhouse was built through funding from the Jefferson County Master Gardeners Foundation and the Jefferson County Food Bank Association. A second garden began at The Quimper Grange on unused land behind the building on the corner of Corona and Sheridan Streets. The Port Townsend Schools committed to a farm to school program with a third garden—a high school garden behind the Gael Stuart Building also on Blaine Street.  The garden slowly began to roll up the parking lot into a school(s) production garden using a Freshman health class component with over 80 students growing vegetables and fruit. All gardens are listed under the “Garden Locations” section on our home page where updates and yearly summaries can be found.

That first year 800 pounds were produced. By 2018, over 20,000 pounds had been produced by 3 gardens.

Fast forward to 2018.

3 new gardens had been added.

The Foodbank Farm and Gardens had been incorporated as a 501C3 non-profit for several years. The group had formal Memorandum Of Understandings (MOUs) with landowners. It had procured insurance. It had developed a webpage and a facebook page. This past year, six gardens produced nearly 8,000 pounds of fresh, organically grown food for 2 foodbanks: Port Townsend and Tri-Area which had recently moved to a new, permanent location. Three team members joined the  Jefferson County Local Food Systems Council.

That amount of food in 2018 was nearly half the amount grown in the first six years!

New member farmers are working to produce additional food for Quilcene, which would be the third of the four foodbanks in the loop.

 Managers needed:

This explosion of growth and production has consequences. The organization is composed of a team of independent growers. Currently, Swan Farm managers have expanded their vision to managing the newly formed Seed Library, and to growing more home gardens. They are looking for a volunteer manager to handle the growing Swan Farm, a Food Bank Garden, with Pea Patch component. See the “Seed Library” section on our home page for contact information and links to other resources.

The volunteer manager of the Port Townsend Birchyville Garden, has become the co-manager of the Sunfield Foodbank Garden in Port Hadlock. This means an opportunity for new farmers and/or Master Gardeners to come onboard. She is looking for a co-manager for Sunfield, which has an area of about 1700 sf to be planted with winter storage vegetables.

Birchyville Garden, Port Townsend, manager description

Birchyville is the smallest of the food-bank gardens. It is tucked away in a residential neighborhood south of Sims near Shoulds Nursery. It is ideally suited for growing lettuces, kale, chard, collards and herbs. It has some shadier areas but also sunny spots where beans, cukes or squash can be grown. Tomatoes did quite well there last summer. Currently, it is hand irrigated, but there are plans to bring a water source closer to the garden and install a drip system. The garden is surrounded by a wire fence. It is small enough to farm alone with some assistance for larger projects such as building supports for plantings or cover cropping.  The garden was entirely planted last year with starts from Midori Farm and other food-bank gardens.

The manager of this garden would be working with the owner (Birch Shapiro, a horticulturalist) on the crop plan, as he very much would like to be involved.

For details, or to volunteer, contact…