The North Coast grows more and more food sovereign and secure! Now coastal residents have even more choice for their Community Supported Agriculture food boxes. CSA’s support small farms in good times and bad, and offer a fun, regular, “grab bag” of veggies and other items as specified. Lower prices than market plus the investment in your local farm make a CSA make sense.
R-evolution Gardens: Sign up for multiple seasons, 7-week blocks, whole or half shares. Seasons runs May through November and include veggies and an option for eggs. Rockaway to Nehalem delivery on Wednesdays, Manzanita to Cannon Beach on Saturdays. Limited to 30 shares per delivery date. Work for trade options available. Excellent website has all the details: www.revolutiongardens.com; 503-368-3044.
Green Angel Gardens: Shares available in 8-week blocks year round, weekly or every other week. Boxes may include organic veggies, fruit, Blue Scorcher bread, local eggs. Delivery to Long Beach, Gearhart, Astoria & Ocean Park on Fridays. Work for trade options available. Website: www.greenangelgardening.com; 360-244-0064.
Walluski Organics: Shares for this new, primarily indoor-grown organic CSA can be purchased for the whole season or three month blocks (5/5-7/28, 8/4-10/28) and will include plenty of customizable options: eggs, and preferences for specific veggies from week to week, depending on availability. Delivery for weekly boxes in Astoria and Warrenton; half shares are available as a bi-weekly box or weekly ½ box. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-470-5530.
Mention hydroponics, grow lights, and reflective surfaces in the context of indoor gardening and many minds will travel in one direction. While plenty of folks garden inside for recreation, even more are looking at the food security and self-sufficiency factor. In challenging climates or urban settings, or for those without other access to community gardens or land, setting aside that spare bedroom for a bit o’ lettuce, peas, and beans makes economic sense.
Of course, indoor gardening, with its dependence on electrically powered lights, hydroponic/aeroponic systems, and ventilation, isn’t the logical method for the post-tsunami getting-back-to-nature scenarios. But in the interim, in the interests of perking up our long gray winters (and summers!), tomatoes beckoning from the walk-in closet don’t sound half bad.
Astoria Indoor Gardening is the bright idea of Oscar Nelson and Gary Reynolds. The two North coasters, strangers until being introduced by a mutual acquaintance last summer, each had the idea to start an indoor garden shop. Nelson found the backing, and together he and Reynolds performed a kamikaze remodel of their location. “Seventeen very adventurous working days” turned the storefront from raw concrete and junk into the bright colorful space that now greets the customer’s eye.
Nelson and Reynolds are excited about indoor gardening, whether it’s houseplants, veggies, or flowers. And they’ve got big plans.
“We want a greenhouse on the roof, a community indoor garden, get a whole room for starts planted for the Sunday market. Oscar and I are going a different route than almost any indoor shop around. We are actually showing people that you can do this,” states Reynolds.
Some starts are at the shop now, and gardeners can find all the equipment they need to begin growing indoors, from simple ebb and flow systems to more complex set-ups. Seeds, fertilizer, bulbs—Astoria Indoor has all you need to get up and growing.
Look for their booth at the Master Gardener’s seminar on April 16. Astoria Indoor Garden Supply is open 7 days a week, from 10-6. Oscar and Gary are sincere, friendly, and willing to help with all your indoor gardening needs and questions. Tel: 503.468.0606 web: www.AstoriaIndoor.com email: AstoriaIndoor@gmail.com. Hipfish finds Astoria Indoor Gardening owners Oscar Nelson and Gary Reynolds at home, as it were, at their several-month old venture in Astoria.
Hipfish: So why indoor gardening? Why you? Why now?
Oscar Nelson: I came from the auto industry, but ultimately wasn’t happy working for someone else and the constant consumerism. I wanted to do something on my own, more in line with my values and beliefs. I found a private investor, got business plans together, and was brought together with Gary. With some money behind us, we were able to turn this garage—in about 17 very adventurous working days—from raw concrete and just a lot of stuff to what is here now. Our customers and community have been awesome. We’ve had some ups and downs with folks thinking we’re something we’re not. But overall people are just ecstatic that we’re here. More and more people want to grow their own food, take control of their lives.
Gary Reynolds: I couldn’t do construction anymore and had the idea for the store for a while. A friend brought me together with Oscar and here we are. We’re living our dream—we both show up, slap each other and say, ‘are we really doing this?’ It’s great to be a part of the community here, with the Co-op and Astoria Hempworks, the Fort George . . . We want a greenhouse on the roof, a community indoor garden, get a whole room for starts planted for the Sunday market. Oscar and I are going a different route than almost any indoor shop around. We are actually showing people that you can do this.
HF: What can people expect to find here?
ON: We have all the supplies for people to do indoor gardening. We have simple systems for people starting out—ebb and flow containers that will fit in the corner of a room—to more elaborate set-ups. A variety of lights, heirloom, non-GMO seeds, nutrients, and soil. “Smart pots,” made of a special polypropylene fabric, that supply more oxygen to the plant roots—lots of things people have never seen before. As Gary said, we are getting geared up to do starts for the Sunday market, and we’ve got houseplants, vegetable and flower starts in the shop right now. We have a big vision. There is a so much to know and do with gardening indoors. You know, you are basically playing Nature. The roots have different requirements being grown inside . . . the lights, temperature, everything needs timing. It’s a delicate balance, almost like an artwork getting these things in line.
HF: Seems like indoor gardening is a trend; there’s a few shops in place or getting started here on the coast. So why would I garden indoors? What is the basic space requirement I would need?
GR: 4’ by 4’ for someone that is just beginning is really the way to go. So you don’t get overwhelmed. We advise people to start small, see if you like it, and if it fits your lifestyle. I hate to see people buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment and then they never use it. You can get a lot of food out of a 4’ x 4’ space–like a walk-in closet.
ON: The reason to garden indoors is to have control over it. Outdoors you are constrained to seasons and times; having the lights indoors enables you to garden on your time. The lights affect your mood and the whole indoor space where you use them. Plus there’s less watering with the automatic systems, and virtually no weeding. It’s great for folks who can’t do all the physical labor of outdoor gardening.
GR: Different systems are available, from reflective tents to basic ebb and flow systems. You can get started for about $350. You can grow a lot of food for that.
ON: Like outdoor gardening it’s really about seeing life from the plant’s perspective. Once you get the details down of timing, nutrients and so on, you can have incredibly productive plants. And many people think plants grown indoors taste better.
HF: Do you find people using indoor systems to augment outdoor gardens?
GR: Well, for example, last year we had a really bad summer. If you want to grow tomatoes say, it’s almost impossible to grow them outside. With this system, you can grow them year round if you want. It’s a great winter project. It’s a trend for people up north, like Alaska.
ON: Being able to provide for yourself at least something, especially in the coming years, is going to be imperative. You can’t rely on big corporations to give you everything you need.
HF: Is there anything that you just can’t grow inside?
GR: Not really—space is the issue. Pumpkins and squash might be a challenge . . . you just have to have the space. You can grow peas, beans . . . as long as you’ve got a way for them to grow up the wall.
ON: The grow boxes we have, you can grow 10 stalks of corn in one of them. Eggplant, potatoes. It’s amazing what you can do, and all with less work than traditional gardening.
GR: We’re not the average joe indoor garden shop you come into. Give us some time, be patient, and you’ll see us grow. We welcome everyone’s interests: orchids, veggies, whatever. We’re happy to help in any way. We really want to be a part of the community. We’ll be at the Master Gardener’s seminar at the fairgrounds on April 16, with information, starts and equipment—come say hello.
Astoria Indoor Garden Supply is open 7 days a week, from 10-6. Oscar and Gary are sincere, friendly, and willing to help with all your indoor gardening needs and questions. Tel: 503.468.0606 web: www.astoriaIndoor.com email: AstoriaIndoor@gmail.com
Growing orchids indoors cleanses the air of volatile compounds—plus it’s hip!
Seed catalogs not doing it for you anymore? Need even more of a promise of Spring shot in the arm? Mark your calendars for the Clatsop County Master Gardeners “Spring into Gardening” seminar at the Clatsop Co. fairgrounds, Saturday, April 16 from 9am to 4pm.
The day focuses on the topic of coastal gardening, and features keynote speaker Sean Hogan. “Amazing Plants for the Northwest” is Hogan’s topic; this Portland born, world-traveling, and mega-knowledgeable horticulturalist owns Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island. Hogan has lectured extensively in North America and Europe about his explorations of South America, South Africa and the western regions of the United States and northern Mexico. His writing and photos can be found in a wide range of horticultural and botanical literature and magazines. In addition he has edited approximately 20,000 entries of Flora (2003) and Trees for All Seasons (2008) both published by the Timber Press.
Seminar hi-jinks include a plant sale, vendor area, classes, advice (the Dr. is in!) and a raffle. Local land-girl extraordinaire Teresa Retzlaff, co-owner of 46 North Farm and Development Director for the North Coast Land Conservancy will advise on coast-loving edible plants. Beating back the bugs organically will be addressed by OSU Extension agent Chip Bubl, and Joy Jones, also of OSU Extension service, will be on hand to sow encouraging words, tips, and practical information about soil amendment.
Clatsop Co. Master Gardeners are greening up more than your thumb and your garden. The group also offers a scholarship for graduating seniors interested in horticulture. Awards go to one or two county graduates, and range from $500 to $1000. Candidates can pick up an application from their high school counselor or OSU Extension. Applications due April 15, 2011.
SLOGGING THROUGH knee deep, fine-as-sand soil, sweating under the noonday sun, panting with the sweet thrill of making it to the top and boy weren’t those sandwiches going to taste good . . . the hike to the summit of Mt. St. Helen’s was arduous but worth it. We had just settled on the edge of the crater, mountains stretching up and down two states like the vertebrae of a huge slumbering earth monster, when your friendly neighborhood law enforcer tripped over to our picnic site.
“Hi folks. Beautiful day, isn’t it? Can I see your permit?”
Uh. Yeah. Permit . . . yes, my hiking date had mentioned that we were supposed to have one to be up here, but . . .
“Well . . .”
And out of nowhere came a pint-sized stripy superhero, flying smacko! into my arm.
The bee buzzled off and I was left shouting ow! while ranger lady worried about band-aids and anaphylactic shock, hiking permit totally forgotten. I’m grateful to bees for more than a sting, of course (though in all probability my little hero wasn’t a honey bee). Honey, often called the “food of the gods,” is truly one of the most miraculous and delectable foodstuffs we get to eat. Thinking about the process of how honey is made—basically by bees sucking up nectar and then having other bees suck the nectar from their stomachs and “chew” it before spreading it into the combs—one might not be inclined to want to ingest it. What other products chewed by bugs do we eat? But the delicious syrupy goldenness of it, flavored uniquely by season and flower, is too good not to enjoy.
My favorite way to savor honey is on English muffins, corn bread, or a bowl of cereal, or occasionally right off the spoon. Raw, unprocessed honey is a superfood that provides antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients. Many commercial “big brand” honeys are pasteurized and even contain high fructose corn syrup. Heating honey can destroy its beneficial qualities, so while it’s often used in baking
and cooking, the most healthful way to enjoy honey is right out of the jar, or simply paired with other foods. Try a good blue cheese, with crisp rye toasts drizzled with buckwheat honey. Or pears and smooth, deep miticrema, a soft, sheep’s milk cheese from Spain, accompanied by lavender honey. True vanilla bean ice cream with raspberries and wildflower honey—what could be sweeter? And an idea I’d like to try: robust buckwheat honey drizzled over chili (never mind the cornbread!)
Ancient civilizations had varied ideas for this golden elixir, and used honey as embalming fluid (only for the elite), to make the honeycakes necessary to cross to the underworld after death (Cerberus was hungry), as an antibacterial agent to heal wounds and burns, a gold equivalent to pay taxes, and a secret weapon to defeat armies. “Mad honey,” made by bees from the nectar of laurels, rhododendrons, and azaleas, contained compounds that could put one alternately in an ecstatic trance or complete nervous system collapse. Hmmmm . . . seems there’s more to this substance that sweetening tea!
[Fun Facts]: + Honey was used to preserve the head of Vlad III Tepes, better known as Dracula, in route to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. + Almost all bees we see gathering nectar are females. + The average person is not dangerously allergic to bee stings; in fact said average person can tolerate about 10 bee stings per pound of body weight. But maybe don’t try this at home . . .