Earthkeeping – Orchard Gardens

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

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A Ton of Food!

A  Ton of Food…After months of planning, removing sod, plowing and planting in the spring of 2010, Orchard Gardens community garden in South Bellevue was born.  Every year since that first season, we have produced well over 1,000 pounds of fresh organic produce for Bellevue’s Hopelink food bank, in addition to plenty of produce for the 15 or so gardener’s own tables.  We have dreamed of giving one TON.  2015 was the year we did.  During this growing season, we brought 2,310 pounds of fruit and produce to Hopelink where it has been received with “Ooh’s” and “Ahh’s” and ‘Thank You’s.”

Many workers and partners helped make this happen.  Holy Cross Lutheran Church donates part of its land for planting.  A few staunch gardeners and people with passion for growing things work together to move this project forward.  But without our community gardeners, we could not produce all the food.  The fresh produce was donated by gardeners who planted an ‘extra row’ and shared a few extra pounds each week, the produce was packed in the trunk of a Honda sedan every Tuesday morning and delivered to Hopelink for the afternoon shoppers.

Many wonderful people make this happen.   One amazing “Garden Godfather” is committed to growing for the purpose of sharing with local hungry families and he also shares his expertise with fellow gardeners.   A  Master Gardener oversees our composting as well as plants his own garden.  We have gardeners who, together with family members, built a structure for climbing plants.   A local Windermere office staff helped create a rose arbor.  A volunteer group from Stanford wheelbarrowed compost around each of two dozen fruit trees and built a brick edge for the community herb garden. One gardener single handedly took on the project of creating a beautiful clean edge for the garden and was assisted on several Saturdays by local volunteer groups including one sponsored by the City of Bellevue.

We partnered with Lettuce Link of Solid Ground who gave us plant starts and seeds for Giving Gardens.  Cedar Grove contributed 30 yards of compost for free and we have purchased many other yards of great Cedar Grove compost over the years to create healthy and productive soil.  Local landscapers give us chips to make walking paths.  We have a local “Bee Whisperer” who takes care of our Mason bees that pollinate the blossoms on the more than 25 heirloom apple, pear, plum and quince trees.  One gardener cares for worms that create nutritious compost. Another experiments with new ideas such as hugelkultur planting.   The Church of Steadfast Love from the Compass Center in Seattle helps us keep the fruit trees pruned and harvested.  The Pomegranate Center of Issaquah partnered with us to build a shelter from the sun and rain for the gardeners.  The list goes on and on.  Thank you Orchard Gardens Community.

Each year new gardeners become part of this community and invest a nominal amount to rent a plot and support the work of this community garden. If you have an interest in joining a thriving community garden, contact Jan Starr, Orchard Gardens P-Patch Coordinator at 425-221-8544 or



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Aphid Control

By Robin Bentley

November 4, 2015

In a garden where the focus is on production I sometimes see the plant’s natural “end stage” as unnecessary.  When the parsley, carrots, mint and cilantro, for example, start flowering and setting seed I yank them up to make way for something else.  And yet those flowers are important, even in a highly productive p-patch like ours.  First of all, there are the bees.  Anything we can do to encourage them and reverse colony collapse is crucial.  Flowers are also important to a host of other beneficial insects.  We hear that term a lot, but what does it mean?  Who are they?  These “insects with benefits”?

Ladybugs, for one.  But you’ve known that since you were three years old.  What you may not know is that the predatory larvae of hover flies and parasitic wasps (I know, yuk!) prey on—you guessed it—aphids.  So do the aptly-named bright orange aphid midges.  With flowers come pollen and nectar—which entices the flying adults of these beneficial insects to stop and raise a family, producing the hungry hordes of predatory larvae which feast on juicy aphids.  Yum!

Last summer a lot of our patches were stressed from drought—weakening our veggies and making them that much more susceptible to infestation.  Some are tempted in an acute attack such as ours to apply insecticidal soap or neem oil.  Proceed with caution, though, as many of the beneficial insects are hidden under the aphids, and they succomb to the soaps and oils as well.   My old trick of blasting the aphids with a strong stream from the hose will make the beneficials disappear as well.  Even pinching the suckers between your fingers risks killing the good larvae.

So feel good instead about letting some of your plants go to seed—plant a row of alyssum, some clumps of calendula among your veggies, or a border of verbena around the edges…in the case of calendula and many other flowers the petals are edible for humans as well.  You can be secure in the knowledge that they’re your best allies in the aphid battle.

As well as eating some of these flowers, the seeds that follow are available for planting next year.  So it’s a win-win-win.

In her book, Backyard Bounty Linda Gilkeson lists the following beneficial herbs, flowers and vegetables useful for planting to keep aphids away.  She also reminds us to have something in bloom from early spring to late summer by growing a variety of plants.  Here are some herbs you probably already have growing somewhere in your patch:






Summer Savory


Try letting some of these go to seed, too:

Happy Planting!!




Perennials Vegetable Flowers
Calendula Alyssum Chinese Greens and Mustards
Coreopsis Basket of Gold (Aurinia) Kale
Cosmos Coneflower Radishes
Feverfew Daisies Leeks and Onions
Heliotrope Golden marguerite (Anthemis)
Lobelia Goldenrod
Mignonette Rudbeckia
Schizanthus Verbena
Sweet Alyssum Yarrow


From Gilkeson, Backyard Bounty



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Apple Picking and Cider Making Event – Saturday Sept. 27 12-3

Early warning and save the date. Our annual apple picking and cider making event will be Saturday Sept. 27th from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. at Holy Cross Orchard.

Help pick apples and learn how cider is made. Bring a clean jug or jar and take some cider home.

The event is free and open to the public. We need volunteers too! For more information, please call 425-746-4848 or leave a comment on this post.

Food Drive: Please bring a can of food for Hopelink. 2013-P-Patch-Orchard 170

Newport High Apple Pickers

Newport High Apple Pickers

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Cookie Exchange – December 15th 6:00 P.M. Benefit for Hopelink.

We gardeners love to cook too, and what better way to get together for some holiday fun but a cookie exchange!

Please join the Holy Cross Gardening Community for a Fund raising event to support Hopelink food Pantry and celebrate the holiday season
Helping people, Changing lives

Food Drive / Cookie & Ornament Exchange / Appetizer pot luck
WHEN: Sunday, December 15, 6:00pm
WHERE: Holy Cross Lutheran Church – Fellowship Hall
4315 129th Place, Bellevue, WA 98006

> 1 dozen of your favorite homemade cookies or individual treats
> Gift wrapped ornament (1 per person)
> Canned goods OR appetizer to share

Raffle: There will be a raffle of a variety of donated items from local merchants and vendors. All proceeds of raffle ticket sales will go directly to Hopelink.


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Meaningful Movies – tomorrow at Holy Cross (July 25)

Movie at 6:30 p.m. – The movie will be “Shift Change”, the true story of dignified jobs in democratic workplaces – discussion to follow. Please bring a snack to share.

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

4315 129th Pl. S.E., Bellevue, Wa, 98006

Social Justice Documentaries & Community discussion …Free and Open to the Public!

(donations kindly accepted)

A Quarterly Convergence of Film/Discussion Groups Presents:




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Pickle Making Workshop – August 6th 2013

Learn to make Bread and Butter pickles – no experience necessary!

Have you always wanted to learn how to can your own pickles just like grandma used to make? You are invited to a “hands-on” Bread and Butter pickle canning workshop. Just $10 (mail payment to HCLC) covers the cost of all supplies and you get to leave with a jar of Bread and Butters. Space is limited to 10 canners so call to save your space today.

Please contact Sharon Stockton at (425) 458-8757.

The workshop runs from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. on August 6th.

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Canning Class Feb 5, 2013

Announcing – a class called “Canning Connections” on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 PM, at Holy Cross Church in the kitchen. Come and find out all about canning and take home the results. We will be making marmalade and $15 covers all the expenses. Bring your questions on canning. A check to Christina Olson holds the spot and space is limited.

You can mail the check to:

Janet Farness, 4248 163rd Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98006


You can also drop off the check at the Holy Cross Church Office.