Spring chores underway at Panorama

Sunny weather sends retirement community residents outside to tend well-known pea patch

rboone@theolympian.comMarch 24, 2014 

Panorama City resident Dottie Simonsen takes advantage of a sunny Sunday to till her garden plot in the community’s pea patch.

STEVE BLOOM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Spring’s arrival means gardening activity is underway at the pea patch that serves Panorama, the sprawling retirement community in Lacey that stretches from 14th Avenue to the north shore of Chambers Lake.

Panorama’s pea patch is home to more than 100 garden plots, and Sunday’s good weather provided the impetus for several residents to get out and begin the process of growing fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Once the growing season is in full swing, the harvest is shared with residents and the Thurston County Food Bank, Panorama Garden Club President Judy Murphy said Sunday.

Every Friday, beginning about mid-June, the pea patch is the setting for Friday Share, an event in which residents line up for fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The produce and flowers are free, although donations are requested. The money is used to pay for pea patch expenses such as the fuel that operates a variety of garden equipment, Murphy said.

Leftover produce and flowers are donated to the Thurston County Food Bank.

Murphy has been a Panorama resident for three years, and she told new Panorama residents to get to Friday Share on time or else they’ll miss out, she said.

Friday Share begins at 10 a.m., but residents begin lining up at 9:30 a.m.

By 10:10 a.m., it’s all gone, she said.

Dottie Simonsen, a past president of the garden club, also was out Sunday, removing a layer of red clover she had planted to help inject nitrogen into her garden bed soil. She grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, including Asian pears, and donates about one-third of her yield every year, she said.

The pea patch also is home to an area where flowers are grown for Panorama’s Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center, and it grows corn, which yields ears by the wheelbarrow, Murphy said.

Bees, of course, are used to help pollinate the garden, but Panorama’s bees have experienced colony collapse disorder — like many bees around the world — so more hives with three types of bees, including Italian and Carniolan, are once again being brought to the garden.

Junior beekeeper and Panorama resident Fred Shuck said the Carniolan bees do well in a colder environment. “They get out early and are hard workers,” Shuck said.

The Italian bees don’t get to work until it’s nice and warm, he added.

The honey the bees produce, which he said is dark and tastes like molasses, also is distributed during Friday Share.

Murphy said the entire pea patch is an impressive operation, especially when you consider that many in their 80s and 90s work in the garden.

“Boy, they really can grow things,” she said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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