With funds from a $2,000 community grant, the Ward Park Community Garden will be getting new raised beds and cold frames

Crook County likely know, the growing season is not a very long one compared to other places.

Start too early and risk losing vegetable starts to a springtime frost. On the other side of the season, early fall crops could meet the same demise.

Now, those green thumbs who yearn for a longer season have another option in the Ward Park Community Garden. Thanks to a $2,000 community garden grant from Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, the local garden will gain some new raised beds and cold frames.

The Crook County Parks and Recreation District, which oversees the facility, will designate four 4x8-foot plots that will feature the raised beds and cold frames.

“It’s a framework of PVC pipe and other lumber,” said Arlyce Perkins of the Parks and Recreation Maintenance Staff. “Then, we are going to cover that with a 6 mil UV protected film.”

The film will trap the heat and warm the soil while the raised beds will keep the vegetables off of the colder ground underneath. Perkins and Parks Supervisor Duane Garner estimated that the upgrades will enable people who utilize those plots to gain at least another month on each side of the growing season.

“The rule of thumb is after Memorial Day,” Garner said of the typical start to Crook County’s growing season.

“But with the cold frames, you should be able to plant a month or two earlier,” Perkins added. “They should be able to start their vegetables from seed by March.”

In addition, the upgraded plots would allow local gardeners to grow vegetables that might not otherwise survive the climate.

“I would say your more sensitive vegetables such as peas, any melons, carrots,” Perkins said. “They should be able to even keep your vegetables after we get our first frost.”

Garner and Perkins are hoping that the improvements to the community garden will increase its use.

“Right now, quite frankly, we don’t have a lot of interest in the garden,” Garner stated. “We are struggling for participation.”

The garden features 24 plots ranging from 10x10 to 14x20 feet. Garden members, as Parks and Recreation call them, rent a plot and maintain it as they would a home garden.

“They get the use of all our tools and hoses,” Perkins remarked. “We have timers, wheel barrows, and a very good supply of water.”

If use of the garden does increase, and that improvement includes strong interest in the cold frames, the Parks and Recreation District may consider adding more of them in the future.

“We would like to expand on that,” Perkins said.

To learn more about the Ward Park Community Garden, or rent a plot, call 541-447-1209.

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