The next part of the project will involve installing a pool at the top of the catchment area to slow incoming water and direct it south along the swale along the road and west downhill into the flower bed. Both areas are lined with drainrock and then larger tumbled round rock will be laid in on top. For the catchment pool we had to pull out one of the cotoneaster shrubs, remove the stump and then back fill with soil and drainrock.
In order in to keep our compost piles productive we add oxygen by turning and water by hosing it down to keep the piles as wet as a wrung-out sponge. While turning we can observe what decomposers are present: red worms, sow bugs, roly poly bugs (both are actually crustaceans) ants, centipedes, millipedes. We also look for signs of beneficial bacteria & fungus which are microscopic, but they do leave evidence of white skeletal patches. All these creatures eat or absorb the organic matter we have added to the piles (leaves, branches, garden waste) and turn it into fabulous compost. Why is compost good for the garden? We process a lot of garden waste with this system so it doesnt have to be hauled off to the landfill, compost is organic matter and holds water in the soil, and it adds humus, a kind of glue that holds soil particles together. It also adds beneficial fungus and beneficial bacteria that break down the soil releasing nutrients that are needed by plants and protect the roots of plants from non-benificials. We have sped up the video to illustrate the pattern of turning and watering the piles . The result is three piles: one we add "greens & browns" to on a daily basis, a second pile that is composting (we only need to turn and water it once in awhile) and a third pile that we are currently harvesting through a screening system.
Within the last few days we have gotten over 5 inches of rain. A tributary of Cerrito creek runs through the garden and is impacted by urban runoff. The video is of water blasting through the garden after a big down pour on Sunday morning. We recently repaired the base of the waterfall with volunteers from St. Mary's High School along with our staff, volunteers and EDSET interns from Albany High school. The repair seems to be holding up and was done just in the nick of time.
Here is a video short about the importance of composting made by our workstudy student Anastasia Sonkin, a media studies student at UC Berkeley. Part of the video was filmed in the garden.
Revealing the Landscape is the first project for the Department of Landscape Archictecture and Environmental Planning's summer program, (In)land. Working in teams of two, the students develop temporary interventions/installations throughout the garden. A majority of the projects will be up in the garden until Wednesday, July 13th. Some of the projects are about phenomena or experiences that are difficult to capture with still images, and are not included in this post. This is one of the projects that is difficult to capture in a still image. This short video shows the result of two mirrors underwater capturing the sunlight at 2:00 and projecting it on the side of a redwood tree. [media id=28 width=320 height=240] Download the PDF of the project description HERE: blake_inland_descrip_2011.pdf
Chi Wang brought his EPS 50 geology class to the garden as part of a tour of Bay area geology. He met with his students at the 30' blue schist outcropping in the lower part of the garden, where he gave a short talk about the nature of this special rock outcropping which contains the rare mineral lawsonite: [media id=27 width=480 height=360]
On Wednesday we discovered a swarm of bees had attached themselves to the new bamboo tunnel structure in the hollow. On further investigation we found that they were honey bees probably from our hives that is just above. Chris Bauer, our beekeeper, was contacted and he came with his equipment to see if he could capture the swarm and replace them in the box. Chris wasn't completely convinced that they were originally from our hive, since after inspection our hive seemed to be full. The bees dropped down into a box he set out as he brushed them off the structure. He covered them with a burlap sack and carried them back to the bee box. The smoker came in handy to mask his smell so the bees would not continually sting him. Today we checked the area and found a small "mango shaped" group of bees clinging on the structure. Chris returned and moved them to the hive. video: [media id=18 width=480 height=360]
tunnel is nearing completion. While two of our volunteers, Peter S. and Peter K., were working, some local kids gave it a try. [media id=17 width=320 height=240]
Master and Undergraduate students in Landscape Architecture 101 class taught by Daphne Edwards and Tim Mollitt-Parks work in garden this time of year within a 4 week project entitled "Revealing the Landscape". Each student is asked to look for a site within the garden that he or she can "reveal" with a temporary installation or intervention. The response could be to a space, a view, a quality, or specific objects.. Materials choices are also a student decision. Some images from this year's LA 101 "Revealing the Landscape" project at Blake Garden: An in-progress walkabout video-montage: [media id=16 width=320 height=240]