The starts have started…

posted in: garden update | 0

Happy snow day Seattle!  Even though its frosty outside, our garden member Art, has been growing tomato starts and they look great.


The beginnings….


More recent…


Art proudly pointing out his starts…

garden update by Shannon Welles

We’ve been very busy these past two weeks at the HC garden! We’ve installed pavers in front of our tool shed, built raspberry trellises, built a worm bin, planted starts for fall crops, and put river rock along the sidewalk near the shed. We have a few more tasks to complete before the rain begins and will be working diligently on them in the next couple of weeks. Thanks to all of our encouraging passersby. Your comments are appreciated.

area in front of the shed before pavers
piecing it together
pavers are nearly finished!
raspberry trellises
river rock and ferns for our shady spot
have you seen the sunflowers?

National Pollinator week, post by Shannon Welles

In honor of National Pollinator week (the last week in June) and to share with you the work and intentions put into the Howell Collective garden, we have created a video and the article below on native pollinators. Watch the DIY lo-fi video for information on specific native plants in the garden.

Part I: [youtube=]

Part II: [youtube=]

Pollinators are a keystone species group; they play a critical role in the healthy functioning of our ecosystem. The vast majority of pollinators are insects and include bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, and beetles.

Humans depend on pollinators for one out of three mouthfuls of food and drink. Most of the flowering plants in the world depend on pollinators to reproduce. Insects, birds, and many other animals depend on these plants for food and shelter.

One focus of the Howell Collective garden is to provide habitat for native pollinators. Most of our native bees (except bumble bees) are solitary bees and don’t live in colonies. They nest in the ground, holes in trees, dead wood, stems, and twigs. They are not aggressive and most would not sting unless seriously provoked by their nest or trapped. Native bees are more effective pollinators than honey bees of apples, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and tomatoes because they are active in colder weather, in rain, and for longer periods in the growing season. Bumble bees are often the first bees active in spring and the last in fall. They buzz pollinate, using the vibration of their bodies to increase the release of pollen from flowers.

Our native pollinators are struggling, threatened by pollution, pesticide use, and loss of habitat and native host plants due to agriculture, urbanization, and invasive plant species. The once common western bumble bee has nearly disappeared from our area.

How can you help?

Provide habitat for a variety of species by planting a diversity of plants, preferably native. Native plants are adapted to our climate and soils; our wildlife and local pollinators are adapted to our native plants. Select plants with overlapping bloom times throughout spring, summer and fall to provide maximum food sources. Provide nesting, shelter and overwintering sites and materials by leaving woody debris, leaves and grass on the ground. Do not use pesticides. Insects play a crucial role in our ecosystem.

Like butterflies? Create a butterfly garden by choosing a sunny site that is protected from the wind. Provide both nectar sources and leaves for caterpillars to eat. Many of our local butterflies have very specific native larval host plants. Without these host plants, butterflies have nowhere to lay their eggs and will not stay in your garden. Butterflies also need a water source but do not drink from open water. They get water and minerals from mud. Leave a little dish of muddy soil out for them, perhaps lined with stones so they can easily perch to drink. Butterflies also like to bask in the sun and will appreciate flat stones on which to rest and sun themselves. Some butterflies overwinter as adults so leaving leaves and twigs on the ground during winter can provide shelter.

The Washington Butterfly Association has created a list of the common butterflies in the Puget Sound region and their preferred host and nectar plants. You can access the pdf here:

The Howell Collective garden currently has approximately 45 species of flowering perennials, about 30 of which are native shrub and herbaceous species. Our primary goal in choosing the plants for our borders is to provide habitat for a variety of local wildlife species, specifically pollinators and birds. We are working to establish a butterfly and hummingbird area as well. As the shrubs and flowers grow and attract wildlife, we will be monitoring and recording our visitors. We hope to have a lush, thriving habitat, providing homes for our local urban songbirds and pollinators.

Stop by and visit the garden at 16th and Howell. Watch us grow or get involved!

Please check out the Pollinator Pathway, a mile long pollinator corridor on Columbia Street.

Sources for this article are from the Xerces Society

Special thanks to Go Natives! for plants and advice.

Thanks to MsK nursery as well!

See the Washington Native Plant Society for info on native plants

Community garden piece, Nichole Poinski

I recently attended a lecture given by Eric Liu, former deputy domestic policy advisor for President Bill Clinton. Liu spoke to civics in Seattle, and inflated my Seattlite ego by explaining the type of thinking that threads through the people of my city. He called it “ecosystem thinking,” a notion that we are all connected, an awareness of the environment around us. He embodied this type of thinking with the “garden brain,” which I imagine resembles a cauliflower.

Liu started speaking to the abundance of gardens and green spaces in Seattle. I have the privilege to be able to collect dirt under my fingernails at one of these green spaces as a member of the Howell Collective, a community garden at 16th Ave E and E Howell Street on Capitol Hill, made possible by the Neighborhood Matching Fund, Pro Parks Levy and Department of Neighborhoods P-Patch Department. Our model encourages cooperation, community and the “bringing together of neighbors and nature.” Which is all well and good, but how does it work?

As a collective, we have clung to that basic tenet that creates community: the sharing of knowledge. In partnership with Seattle Tilth, the Howell Collective hosts classes free and open to the public. We then host work parties for those who could not make the class to simultaneously share what we’ve learned and build our garden. One Saturday morning was spent digging trenches, breaking up obstacles with bare hands and sweating salt back into the earth. Like All Quiet on the Western Front, but less sad.

We use collective learning and sharing as a driving part of our model and the main feature of what makes us “communal.” We use our “garden brains” to grow our garden, together.

Liu closed his lecture with, “Every one of us is a garden, to weed, to feed, to seed.” While at first this sentiment tastes saccharine, I take it to heart. By weeding, feeding and seeding the garden, I am doing the same for my community, my soul, my sense of self. Interconnected with those around me, cultivating connections, and perhaps cauliflower.

February 11th: 1st Pathway

Great morning in the garden!  Linda, Shannon, Jessica, Gabriel, Art, Eric, Rebecca, Josh, and myself arrived at 9 or shortly thereafter to dig out our 1st pathway.  We dug about four inches in depth and about 3 ½ feet in width.  We lined the path with cardboard salvaged from Central Co-op’s garbage compacter and then an additional couple of inches of wood chip mulch.

Next steps:

  • Additional mulch on our new pathway
  • Stake off native plants for protection during work parties, parks crew, etc.
  • Cover the cover crops and space encircled by our new pathway with plastic to dry, so we may then do a double dig of the space.
  • Work on the garden design in the garden space: measuring and staking out the design.  Shannon’s design will be posted as a Google doc.  We are asking that everyone make suggestions or raise concerns/preferences and record these on the design document.  The submitted suggestions will be brought along when we work on the design in the space.
  • A meeting to settle on a design.
  • Plan where our first planted mounds should be!
  • Double dig areas we designated for our first planting!

In the meantime, Chris is leading the soil sampling process and will put out an email if help is needed.

Calendar Dates: dates are on the blog or Howell Collective P-Patch google group

1.       Next work party: Friday the 18th, time to be determined

2.      Tool shed forum the following week, still working on exact date.

3.       Plan Your Veggie Garden Class Saturday, 2/26 from 10-12noon For more information and how to register, visit our classes page on the

Note: My availability is limited so I have put some work parties up for Friday’s or weekday evenings when I am available.  However, I can get you tools and other assistance if you want to organize a work party for a weekend day when you are available.

Class Two: and where are you?

The Howell Collective has been busy with classes and work parties and meetings and and and…  Really, there is so much to be done in this new space.  Two classes taught by Tilth, Grow Great Garden Soil and Over-wintering Vegetables, have come, gone, and completely transformed our space physically and in the minds of all those who have participated.  As a collective supported by the DON’s P-Patch Department, each month we have the opportunity of offering a free class to the public- whomever you are and wherever you come from.  We have the opportunity to take an idea, present it, discuss it, and then act upon it. AND we have the opportunity to accept new collective members. If you have been thinking about getting involved, come join us!  If you are excited about worms, nitrogen, carbon, decomposition- want to be the p-patch leader on compost?  or do you like to fix things- not just when they are broken but when they need maintenance?  Perhaps you want to be the collective’s maintenance leader?!  Even if you lack experience, come!  We are teaching each other and are learning from all those involved, too.

Oh, and this is what the space looks like after class 2!  You will see the cover crops growing- clover, vetch, and rye.  Oh my!  You will also notice a section of sheet mulching.  And thanks to Leilani we have begun a straw bale garden, which is currently under the pile of burlap![slideshow]

October with the Howell Collective P-Patch

The Howell Collective P-Patch is beginning to move.  AND, we are still looking for some additional movers and shakers.

Please join us for these upcoming events:

I.  Saturday, October 9th 10am-12noon  WORK PARTY

We hope to share what some of us learned during the Howell Collective’s 1st class: Grow Great Garden Soil.  Come prepared to turn up soil in an effort to prepare planting beds.  We will share some great techniques for enriching the soil.

II.  Saturday, October 16, 2010; 10am-12noon  Over-wintering Vegetables

Learn all about over-wintering vegetables, which are crops you plant now and harvest next spring or summer.  We will talk about garlic, onions, fava beans and other plants you can plant now, including local sources for seeds. Extend your garden season by planting these late crops.  Note: For all classes please register by sending an email to including your name, neighborhood, and how you found out about the Howell Collective P-Patch.

III.  Additionally, we will be meeting in the next 2 weeks to solidify our plans for what our border plantings will be & acquire plants for planting before the end of October.  We would like to invite all those interested to this planning meeting.  If you are interested, please send us an email

Howell Collective P-Patch Opening Celebration Recap


Thank you to the Parks Department’s Virginia Hassinger and Karen O’Connor, the P-Patch/Department of Neighborhoods’ Rich MacDonald and Sandy Pernitz, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, and Parks & Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams for all the hard work being done to create new parks and p-patches like the Seven Hills Park & Howell Collective P-Patch.

I also want to thank Paul Fedorowicz (accordion) and the West Seattle Senior Center Ukulele Group for playing music throughout the event!

Seven Hills Park and Howell Collective P-Patch Opening Celebration

posted in: Grand Opening, Seven Hills | 0

What:  Join in the community celebration for this new neighborhood park and P-Patch.  This Pro Parks project turned a parking lot into a beautiful open space and great place for the community to gather, enjoy barbeque, garden and sit in the sun.

Date:  Thursday, September 9 2010

Time:  6 – 8 p.m.

Location:  16th and East Howell Street (1514 E Howell St Seattle, WA 98122)

Come enjoy a neighborhood potluck, music, and more!

Yay, it is a potluck.  If you are thinking of bringing something, please post below.  This way we can aim for a diversified selection of offerings.

Strawberries for sale at 7 Hills Park! A Viva Farms harvest special.

posted in: Seven Hills, Strawberries | 0

Details taken from the event Facebook page (must order your strawberries here):

Strawberries for sale in Seattle! Pre-order your fresh, local strawberries from Viva Farms. Grown in the rich, glacial soil of the Skagit Valley. They’re packed with so many antioxidants they suck the cancer right out of your body.* Half flats for $12 (that’s 6 pint baskets) Post how many you want here. Order by Wed morning. They will be available for pick up at the new Seven Hills Park at 16th and Howell on Capitol Hill from 6:30pm – 9:30pm. I’ll have a bbq going if you want to bring something to grill and hang out. Message me if you need to arrange pick up earlier in the day. Cash, check or PayPal accepted. Make checks to Santiago Lozano.

Feel free to invite others to this event.

I like to get a few flats, eat enough fresh to give me berry belly and then freeze the rest for smoothies all year. Others make strawberry jam and lavish desserts.

Viva Farms is a project of Grow Food. It is a 33 acre farm in the Skagit Valley that incubates new farmers. Viva Farms makes a special effort to help Latino farm workers who are ready to make the jump to farm ownership. These berries are grown by Santiago Lozano (pictured)

Visit for more info

*This statement isn’t true but strawberries are high in the antioxidant ellagic acid.

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