Earthkeeping – Orchard Gardens

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

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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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Spring News in the Garden

–By Ingrid Turner

We had the opening of our garden on March 14th, 2015.  Gardeners met and went over the rules of the garden and we talked about what we hoped for the year.  But even before and after that, there was a lot going on!

Here’s a run down –
February 14th – we battled the blackberries.  An unusually warm February meant it was a nice day to work outside.

March 7th – Jay brought his dump truck and delivered 8 cubic yards of compost to the garden.  We also took a load of odds and ends to the dump.  Gardeners were busy spreading their compost.

March 14th – Gardener’s meeting

March 21 – Gardener’s retreat to Jan’s condo downtown Seattle.  We spent several hours going over what we wanted for the future of the garden and what we needed to work on next.  We had a good group with 8 gardeners and supporters in attendance.  We finished up with a walk to the Sculpture Park.

March 28 – Again, we battled the blackberries.  There is a corner of the orchard and garden that is quite overgrown with blackberries.  They are invasive, so each year they have advanced a little bit.  We are trying to cut them back and realized that we will have extra land to work with when we are done!  Who-hoo!  We are already thinking of what we can plant there – more fruit trees?  Edible landscaping?  Many thanks to Grace Stiller with Newcastle Weed Warriors for helping us with this huge task.  At our second work party we were definitely starting to see progress.   More work parties will be scheduled.  Grace’s group has a website: and don’t miss the Earthday celebration that they sponsor on April 18th!


Janet and Dave discuss the day's work at the retreat on March 21st.

Janet and Dave discuss the day’s work at the retreat on March 21st.

Gardeners enjoy a view of downtown Seattle after our retreat.

Gardeners enjoy a view of downtown Seattle after our retreat.

Jan battles blackberries with her loppers

Jan battles blackberries with her loppers

Ethan enjoyed the nice spring day while helping us battle the blackberries.

Ethan enjoyed the nice spring day while helping us battle the blackberries.

Grace Stiller of Newcastle Weed Warriors.  She's the best!

Grace Stiller of Newcastle Weed Warriors. She’s the best!

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Interesting Speaker – Topic Fossil Fuel – August 19th at 7 p.m.

Strategies for Fossil Fuel Divestment – August 19, 7PM, Holy Cross Lutheran, 4315 129th Pl. SE, Bellevue, WA 98006

Join us to learn how churches, colleges, pension funds and small investors can fight climate change by removing financial support from the fossil fuel industry. This is a national movement.

Lynn Fitz-Hugh will be our presenter and speaker. Her slide show presentation will talk about the campaign in general and specifically about local efforts with the City of Seattle, UW and Seattle University to divest its pension funds of fossil fuel investments.

Lynn is part of a group of special speakers coordinated by Seattle’s to dialog with community members about positive actions we can take to make a difference on climate change.

All are welcome. Invite your neighbors. Refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP Janet Farness at

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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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Cider Making Event

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On October 5, 2013 the skies opened up blue and warm and the community gathered for an apple event. Girl Scouts picked apples, washed apples, cut apples, pressed apples and enjoyed the cider in a variety of jugs they had brought. Other community members brought kids, friends and family and about 100 folks got into the mix of picking, washing, cutting, pressing and heating the apple cider. All in all, about 1000 pounds of apples were washed, cut, pressed and pasteurized.

We figure there may have been 50-60 gallons of cider made for the 100 folks who came out. Many, many happy faces throughout the day to enjoy the delicious taste of fresh apple cider! A few P-Patchers from Orchard Gardens had brought home made goods to sell as a fundraiser for the work of an Eagle Scout-to-be to expand our growing capacity on the Holy Cross campus.

Thanks to the City of Bellevue for the beautiful banner and flyers and to Charlie’s product for augmenting what our orchard could produce to make sure there were plenty of apples for all. Thanks to the community for bringing about 80 lbs. of nonperishable food for Hopelink food bank and contributing about $60 to the Food Backpack Program for hungry kids.

Be sure to block out the first Saturday of October 2014 when we do it all again!

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Apple Picking

Apple Picking

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Meaningful Movies Eastside “How to Survive a Plague” Jan 16, 2013

Meaningful Movies/Eastside screens “How to Survive a Plague”
Wed., Jan. 16, 6:30PM
Holy Cross Lutheran
4315 129th Pl. SE, Bellevue, WA
Near the intersection of Factoria Blvd and Newport Way

Join us for the screening of “How to Survive a Plague”

How To Survive A Plague” is the untold story of the efforts that turned AIDS into a mostly manageable condition and the improbable group of young men and women who, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, and helped identify promising new compounds, moving them through trials and into drugstores in record time. These drugs saved their lives and ended the darkest days of the epidemic, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals.

These activists efforts created a paradigm for patient empowerment and health care activism that has since been replicated in the fight against many other diseases from breast cancer to heart disease. And as AIDS spread to Africa, India, and Asia, these activists helped open local groups, exporting AIDS activism to press for better, and more accessible, treatment.

Their story stands as a powerful inspiration to future generations, a road map, and a call to arms. Science has yet to find a cure, and without rejuvenated vigilance, transmission is on the rise most remarkably, among young gay men who are ignorant of how AIDS activists beat back a plague, and along the way changed the world.

More info and a trailer at these links:

Since the movie is a a bit longer than our norm (about 90 minutes), we’ll try to start as close to 6:30PM as possible.

If you represent an organization that is working on solutions or advocacy regarding AIDS, you are welcome to bring and share your literature on this night.

And if you are ready to learn more on your own now:

YOU can help with the global effort to create an AIDS-free generation by contacting your US representative ( as well as our Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and asking them to continue to support the US contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria ( and to PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) :

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Meaningful Movies – Dirty Coal: The Toxic Addiction Nov 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Dear friends and neighbors:

Please join us for a screening of Dirty Coal, the Toxic Addiction on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6:30PM at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4315 129th Pl. SE, Bellevue, WA 98006.

Dirty Coal: The Toxic Addiction exposes the historic greed for dirty coal profits and the worldwide addiction to burning coal for electricity. Dirty coal powered the industrial revolution and now even powers the social networking phenomenon of Facebook. The film features coal ash disasters; Daryl Hannah’s famous arrest of protesting mountaintop removal of coal; and how the U.S. is becoming a colonial exporter of millions of tons of coal to fuel China’s growing economy. The film highlights the dynamic student movement trying to close coal plants on 60 U.S. college campuses.


You are probably aware that hearings are underway to determine what will be “in scope” for the largest coal exporting plant in the U.S. proposed about 10 miles north of Bellingham.

This movie will provide us information about coal as a power source in the 21st century.

There are hearings in Seattle the following week to discuss whether we, as a community, will get to have a say about the coal being transported in our own backyards.
Hope to see you!

Please RSVP to Janet Farness