Thank You, 2015!

While the drought brought unique challenges to the Garden in 2015, it was also a year of valuable lessons and confirmed commitments to providing a consistent source of fresh organic produce to the Food Bank’s immensely important food network.

Looking back, 2015 was destined to be a challenging year for all gardeners in Northern California. Unseasonably warm days dominated our normally cool months and thwarted the growth of tender young seedlings. The young plants that survived were then greeted with bouts of rain, just as their flowers were beginning to set. The flowers that were able to set and develop fruit were met with harsh high temperatures, low water allocations, and hungry critters coming down from the hills in search of food and water. All in all, it was a challenge to grow each and every beautiful, nutritious crop.

These less-than-desirable conditions, however, nurtured a desire to develop new program elements at the Bounty Garden to help lessen the dramatic effects of future unpredictable weather patterns on our harvest totals. Should the drought conditions continue…we realized that the water retention capability of the soil in our beds is critically important. The addition of our on-site compost and chopped leaves from our new leaf bin (constructed in December 2014 by Danville Eagle Scout Dashiell Miner, Troop #223) will aid our soil tremendously in its ability to store and use moisture. When the Park’s leaves began to fall in October, two wonderfully enthusiastic Girl Scout troops filled our new leaf bin to overflowing and helped us to ensure that 2016 volunteers will have ample leaf mold with which to amend their beds.

Daisies under leaves

(Daisy Troop #31523 – celebrating their hard work on October 14, 2015)

GS Troop 30678 leaves

(Girl Scout Troop #30678 – horsing around on October 24, 2015)

The second large program addition in 2015 that was developed in response to our drought was the building of semi-permanent deer barriers around each raised bed in the Garden. Even in normal years, as hot seasonal temperatures deplete the food and water sources in the natural areas surrounding our communities, more wild animals (especially deer) venture into our neighborhoods in search of sustenance. In one night, a whole season’s crop can be destroyed. Starting in 2016, Bounty Garden volunteers will no longer need to rush to the Garden in response to surprise visits from hungry or thirsty deer and other wild critters. Each bed now has a removable hardy net surrounding it that is easy to remove when a gardener wants to work on his or her bed, but not so easy for a grazing deer or burrowing raccoon to work around! And for an added benefit, the permanent posts will very nicely act as supports for our sunshades when the temperatures escalate.

Deer Barriers and a Full Leaf Bin

(Our new deer barriers, November 2015)

With our new deer barriers in place, cover crops having been grown to improve the nutrients in our soil, leaves and compost ready for furthering enriching the soil, we feel prepared and excited to see what the new year ahead will bring! We hope it will be overflowing with nutritious and delicious crops for the Food Bank, as well as happy and fulfilled volunteers who have so graciously given of their time and energy to improve the lives of those in our community who may not have had enough in 2015. With gratitude in our hearts, we wish everyone a joyous and bountiful New Year.

The Hive