Senior Center Garden by Zack Cinek
· Helping to feed hundreds
· Senior dining room lunches
· Meals on Wheels
· Our Daily Bread
· Food Bank
· Senior Center thrift store
We have had wonderful help from friends in the community. Willits Garden Club and others have been donating vegetable plant starts for transplanting. Michael Stewart set up a spectacular hawk kite to temporarily protect seedlings from visiting quail. Floor sweepings of straw and hay from the J.D. Redhouse store have provided mulch and compost material. Tomato stakes and cages, truckloads of manure, rototillers, water hoses, garden tools and garden helpers seem to appear miraculously as needed. We are blessed to live in such a generous and cooperative community. One of the most interesting donations was a large hungry gopher snake-last seen slithering down an n open gopher hole.
We got expert advice from Gerry Jordan and other folks at Dripworks. Volunteer Karl Mahurin laid out our drip system. Drip has been great. It waters the vegetables, not the weeds. An occasional side-dressing shot of compost tea from a watering can gives the collards, celery and lettuce a boost. The regular, reliable drip watering is great for the plants. The drip timer is the one volunteer garden helper that always shows up on time. Drip irrigation is a wonderful labor saver.
There are flowers in the garden, bee balm and other flowers that attract pollinating insects. Jeannie Smith and Devi Chase have done companion planting. The bees have done a good job finding the squash leaves-perhaps too good a job. We are already getting the “no more zucchini” message from the Senior Center dining room. Oh well, the yellow crook-neck squash will be coming on soon. That will be a novelty for a while at least.
Straw Bale Gardening:
Willits Senior Garden straw bale flower garden was inspired by straw bale gardening at Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley.
In the Senior Center Garden, bales are turned on their side with straws pointing up (reverse side is grassy). Alternately two bales may be placed side by side, two high. in both cases, gardening is easy on the back and knees. The line can be as long as you wish. For climbing flowers, you will need a wire fence of some sort as seen in the Fall 2010 slide show.
Since straw is high in carbon our gardener suggests treatment with a high nitrogen fertilizer first—e.g. urea or fish emulsion.
Then you punch a hole in the straw, place some compost or potting soil in the hole, and insert seed or a starter plant in the hole and add water.
FENCE: Rotary International of Willits, Soroptimist International of Willits Olenik Fence Co. (Brian Bouley & John Sundstrom), Dave Bouthillier, Daniel Anderson, Tammy Orvis.
POST HOLES: Ray Branson, Kirk Graux.
PLANTS & TREES: Willits Garden Club, Kirk Orvis, Jennifer Bixler, Sanhedrin Nursery (Dave & Jenny Watts).
PLANTING: Mac Smith, Devi Chase, Kirk Orvis, Jon Mather.
MANURE DONATION: Mike & Sonja Williams, Maureen & Husband Scarberry, Ed Schmidbauer.
MANURE DELIVERY: Bud Garman, Kirk Orvis, Gene and Dorothy Roediger.
TILLING & DISBURSEMENT OF ABOVE: Dave Bouthillier, Tammy Orvis.
GREEN HOUSE & TOMATO CAGES: Harvey Brown.
AUTO MART/JIM MONTALVO: Loan of dump truck (for manure).
SPARETIME SUPPLY: Pry Bar (for digging holes).
SOIL TESTING & WISDOM: Lou Rank, Louann Rank
IRRIGATION SYSTEM: Willits Garden Club (financed $500 and plantings in front of Thrift Store.)
COMMUNITY & SENIOR CENTER MEMBERS: Many generous financial donations.
FUNDRAISING: Dorothy Roediger (organizer & cook), Sue Sawyers (organizer and cook), Lou Celaya (cook), Nadine Koll (volunteer coordinator).
Discounts on fencing and drip irrigation materials: MENDO MILL & DRIPWORKS.
A BIG THANK YOU to all our wonderful volunteers who worked the dinners and to all those who helped finance the fencing, seed, irrigation system, etc. We couldn’t have accomplished this project without you! The dinners would not have been a success without the generous support or our Willits Community who came to eat the wonderfully prepared food! Thank you one and all!