Saturday, September 30, 2017

Look What You Made Me Do

Whew!  We finally finished our fence project this morning.  (Ok, we still have some painting to do next week, but the fence is up and the posts are on).  And I’m finally eating dinner at close to 9 p.m.   Last week, we still had about five feet of pickets to attach and the post toppers to install.  The Capital University student volunteers left us with 40 some painted pickets and we now have 22 painted pickets leftover.  (We also have 10 unpainted pickets to return). I figured that I could finish it this morning, but Ken insisted on doing ALL of the work himself.   All he would let me do is carry extra pickets back to the shed.   He even insisted on using his own liquid nails, instead of the stuff I bought this week.

Last year, a Bexley philanthropist decided to donate her garden trellis to an area community garden.   Cathy helped me to pick it up from the church formerly known as the East Broad Baptist Church (where it had been temporarily stored).   Then, a volunteer group installed the trellis on an extremely hot day in early July.  It looked out of place with our wire fence.  So, when the City announced that area Land Bank community gardens would get $200 vouchers at Lowe’s this Spring, I suggested that we install a fence to go with our new trellis.  Problem is, it costs a lot more than $200 to install a fence (even if we did it ourselves).  Doug, who manages the Silver Drive Lowe’s Home Improvement Store, even gave a substantial discount on the additional materials that we had to buy (including the paint needed to ensure that the paint matched the trellis).   Still, the SACG had to dig into its extremely limited savings (and the tight pockets of several Board members) to purchase all of the materials.   Our only real revenue are the $10/plot fees (and we only had 8 gardeners this year).

The City wanted us to install the fence sooner than later, but we didn’t get a large volunteer group until the end of August (when the OSU Pay-It-Forward volunteers supervised by Ken) helped get most of the stringers up and about 1/3 of the pickets painted and attached.  Then, last week the Capital student volunteers got most of the rest of the fence completed.  Ken completed it this morning.

So, if you want to help subsidize our future efforts to improve the SACG and our neighborhood,
remember us during The Big Give (through the Columbus Foundation), designate us as your charity of choice at Krogers (so that a portion of every purchase you make with your Kroger card will go to the SACG) or designate us as your charity of choice through Smile.Amazon.Com.  We would particularly like to expand our fruit orchard.

I was surprisingly the first to arrive at the SACG this morning.  Sabrina had told me that she would get there at 8 a.m. and Ken said he would get their at 9.  I beat them both.   A gentleman stopped by and tried to convince me to hire him to build a greenhouse for the SACG.  No thanks.  The federal government (through Mid-Ohio Food Bank) bought almost all of the area community gardens a hoop house, but I declined because I want my winters off.    I appreciated his initiative, though.  He liked our free little library, took a copy of The Kite Runner and said he would bring more books back.  Then, he wanted tomatoes from our neighbor plot, but said he couldn’t find any.  That blew my mind because I had been a little frustrated this year that no one seemed to be taking food from our neighbor beds (since the lettuce and onions in the Spring).  However, he was correct.  They had been harvested, so I grabbed a bunch from our food pantry plots and walked them out to him.

Later, some young men walked by and I tried to recruit them to help me finish the fence.  They had “somewhere” to go.  Ok.  Maybe later.

When I got home last week, I heard from one of our OSU student volunteers.  Casey wanted to come back and bring some friends.  Well, his friends wanted to sleep in this morning, but he spent an hour on a COTA bus to return to the SACG this morning.  He helped Sabrina break down the corn stalks.  Then, I had him clean up the food pantry plots (by composting the leaves we had pulled off in past weeks because of insect damage), prune out the bush green beans (which were well watered by our volunteers the prior week and had lots of large beans) and harvest the beans for our weekly food pantry harvest.  Then, sent him hunting for green beans in the corn plot (where we had them growing up the corn stalks).   Then, he mowed our lawn (since Taylor didn’t show up to do his chore or harvest his hundreds of ripe cherry tomatoes).

While I was harvesting for our weekly food pantry harvest, some folks stopped by to harvest everything they could grab from the neighbor beds.  It was funny to listen to them.   We then chatted a bit.  They thought that we were part of Pastor Brown’s ministry.  Nope.  We talked about the hoop house that Kimball Farms just put up (via MOFB).   Apparently, that is just one of four that he has put up.  They did a really good job of installing it.  Even Ken was impressed.  I told them about how to grow cherry tomatoes in hoop houses (which I learned from my cousin’s son, an AG major at Wilmington College).
Amy came and helped with the food pantry harvest.  She also drove Casey back to OSU so that he
wouldn’t have to spend the rest of his day waiting for COTA and then getting back to campus.  Casey says that he’s coming back next week, but I almost feel obliged to tell him about community gardens that are closer to campus so that he doesn’t have to spend 2+ hours every Saturday on COTA just to volunteer at the SACG.

Without any rain this month, it takes a long time to water the Garden.  Our big tank is running dry and I’m afraid to use our tall tank because it is under a black walnut tree that is dropping a lot of bombs this time of the year.   I’ve started looking into buying a hard hat.  No joke.   The bigger issue is that the lack of rain has let the bugs go wild on our greens.  If it’s not aphids, it’s the harlequin beetles that are eating our cabbage, kale and collards.  Sigh.    I’m going to have to invest in some insecticidal soap to deal with this next week.  Luckily, a farm had donated a ton of greens to the food pantry before I got there, so they didn’t need our holey greens this.  (I suggested that they pitch two of the bags). 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Capital Crusaders Slay Fence During Annual Day of Service

Where would the community garden movement be without college students?  Yesterday was Capital University’s Crusader Day of Service and they came to the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden to slay dragons.   We made huuugggee progress on our new fence.  They also watered, and mowed and weeded and harvested 60 pounds of fresh produce, and picked up a little litter in the two block area around the SACG.

On Friday, Ken – our fence guru and jack of all trades -- emailed me that he could not come.  Wah.   How were we going to complete the fence without Ken?  I thought about going over Friday to get a jump on the project, but then remembered that we needed to paint the pickets before attaching them.  I packed up my car and made some cookies to feed the volunteers. I also emailed Capital on Friday encouraging them to send us more students if they had them.  
They responded that the SACG would be getting only six for the morning.  When I arrived on Saturday, Sabrina and Amy were already there and I set up the refreshment station and went to borrow Cathy’s drill in case mine died.  The kids arrived on time (which is always refreshing) and I gave them a brief history and tour.    There were more than double the amount of students promised.  That was very, very exciting.   I teased them about their t-shirts quoting JFK instead of Martin Luther (particularly since this is the 500th year of his kick-starting the Reformation).

One volunteer was assigned to Sabrina to water the entire Garden.  In three hours, they watered the food pantry plots, the neighbor plots, the strawberry patch, the fruit orchard, the blue berry bushes, some flowers and the flower beds across the street.  Our only fellow mowed our lot and the Block Watch lot next door (both of which were pretty shaggy).   I asked another student to trade off so that she could mow the block watch lot across the street.    Two students wanted to pick up litter.  In three hours they had filled one bag.  (There were lots of other Capital students picking up litter along Main Street . . . . ).  Amy led a group of students in weeding.

I assigned the rest to painting our pickets and post toppers.   Unlike last month, I put them in the shade on the sidewalk (and out of the way of our mower).  We spread out a tarp and went to Urban Connections to pick up our supplies.  Ken wanted me to buy them roller brushes, but I would never spend our few dollars on something that we would only use one day.  I grabbed two students to help me attach the final two stringers to the fence.  Luckily, they had already been painted by the OSU students.  However, Ken had not yet cut them down and I had not thought to bring a saw.  Curses!  I had to rush home and cut them down with my circular saw (and pick up my level) and rush back.  We had measured the new length based on the existing stringers.   However, it turned out that, despite mine and Taylor’s best efforts, the posts were not truly vertical.  The top of the posts were closer together than the bottoms.  So, even though I had been conservative with my cutting (and had brought along a hand saw in case I did not cut enough off), the long stringer was now three inches too short.  Aiiyaiiiyaiyaiyai.    Everyone is looking at me, so I had to think fast and decided to screw a piece back on and then screw that piece to the post.  It worked.  Whew!  Crises averted.

We also had to cut back a rose bush and some flowers to attach the springers.  Then, it was time to start attaching pickets, one at a time.  Once the mowing was finished, I asked her to start bagging the corn stalks which Sabrina had trimmed out that morning.  Two students were assigned to pick our beans (because they take a long time).  Then, I assigned another pair to pick our tomatoes and another student to pick peppers.  Then, I assigned three of this crew to picking kale and collards (and showed them which misshapened leaves had aphid issues).  Once that was finished, Sabrina lead three of them in cleaning out the pole bean row because the crop seemed to be finished for the year. 

There was also a group of Capital students volunteering next door at Kimball Farms. Truth is, it turns out that our extra kids were supposed to be next door.  Oops.  However, Pastor Brown did not arrange for any water or goodies for his volunteers (who were clearing out all of the raised garden beds) and so they came to the SACG to drink our ice water (to the point that we ran out).   He also did not arrange for any yard waste bags and so the kids had been instructed to dump the vines and stalks, etc. into area dumpsters.  Eee gads.  This would NOT endear us to our neighbors, so I intervened and provided yard waste bags (that had previously been donated by Keep Columbus Beautiful) and told them to stack them near our compost bins (so that I could carry them out to the curb in 10 days).

Although our morning started off quite nicely, it began to get hot around 11:30 and I could hear the kids discussing their lunch plans.  (No one seemingly wanted my cookies.  Their loss).   They were slowing down from our fast pace earlier in the morning.  Although we were about five feet short of completing the fence, we started to put away our supplies and pose for some group photos (including of the volunteers from Phi Sigma Sigma).

We did not have any adventures with bees or snakes.  But, when I grabbed a tarp to surround the rose bush while we attached pickets behind it, the many spiders living in the tarp got a lot of attention and camera time. 

Sabrina and I tidied up after they left and I delivered our food pantry donation.  Then, it was back to the Garden to water my own plot.  I’ve been on vacation and hadn’t had a chance to water my plot since our heat wave started 10 days ago.  I also went to purchase some industrial strength exterior glue to attach our post toppers.

Neighbors Barb and Frank stopped by to admire the progress on our fence, ask about the status of our Free Little Pantry and express appreciation for our mowing and watering the  Block Watch lots.  As part of the City's support of land bank lots, the Block Watch used its allocation to purchase fertilizer for our fruit orchard.   I explained that we had only six volunteers so far to support the Free Little Pantry, but showed them where it would be placed if we move forward.

Before I left for vacation, I found a tomato horn worm on my tomato plants.  I hadn’t noticed any damage (which is odd considering how large it was).  It had already been infested with parasitic wasps (which lay eggs on these worms, which will then be eaten by the nymphs when they hatch).  It wasn’t moving much, so I have a feeling it was about to die.  I dumped it in the trash.

Our flowers are looking swell.  Again, I have let our cosmos take over our paths.  They do not get this big at my house, but they become the size of shrubs at the SACG.   We cut them back (and save seeds for next year) when they die back.

One of the OSU students who volunteered last month emailed me later in the afternoon about whether he could bring a group to volunteer on Saturday mornings.   I could certain use help cleaning up the Garden as we wind down for the year.  We do not close until the second Saturday in November, so there will be a lot of work to do between now and then.

I also took photos of the progress with our fence and emailed them to Ken.

Our fence looks swell.  Ken has volunteered to finish it off.  We might have some volunteers to help.  Or, I'll attach the toppers tonight a few pickets every week until it has been completed.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Good Golly Miss Molly

Mayweather was not the only one to achieve a technical knock out yesterday.  The Stoddart Avenue Community Garden was freakishly busy knocking out projects ourselves. We were again the lucky beneficiaries of The Ohio State University’s Pay-It-Forward Program which sent us 30 hardworking and dedicated college students who helped us move the needle forward on our 2017 capital improvement project, clean up our weedy alley, water our food pantry plots and a few flower beds, tidy the Block Watch lot across the street and find a new bee hive, weed the tomato bed next door at Kimball Farms and pick up almost 20 bags of litter in a four block area around the Garden.  This all went relatively smoothly because I had  LOTS of help from Sabrina, Ken and Amy to each supervise a team of students.

Poison Ivy Part I.  Earlier this month, while I was cursing and pulling bind weed off of the raspberry brambles in the raised bed area of the SACG, I forgot to pay attention to whether the poison ivy had returned.  Mistake.  It had.  I wasn’t just pulling bind weed; I was also pulling bind weed and poison ivy willy nilly.  Considering how careless I was, I got off lucky.   On Sunday night, my right arm started to itch and form a rash.  By Monday, I had many blisters the size of dimes.  On Tuesday, more blisters kept appearing, so a doctor who casually noticed my unsightly arm prescribed me some steroids (which was a first for me and was almost an out-of-body experience).   I now have some slight scarring, but my arm looks better and I think the scar will fade away eventually.

Before the volunteers (in July)
I was so annoyed with this that I declared war on the poison ivy in that corner even if it meant killing every living thing within 10 square feet around that area.  Napalm in the morning sounded like the right approach.  I went over with a large sprayer of Round Up that I purchased last year, but the nozzle was clogged.  Curses!  Foiled again.  Sabrina took pity on me, declared that she was not allergic to poison ivy and chopped away at the brambles and weeds on the Garden side and identified for me various poison ivy vines.  I returned with the special Round up for Poison Ivy and napalmed the entire area.  If all of the brambles died, too, so be it.  We can plant more next year.    Grrr.    I’ve been sharing this tale with anyone silly enough to ask me about the Garden or to stop by this month.

 This did not stop me from attacking the far more pernicious poison ivy in the Block Watch lot yesterday, though.  More on that later.
Capital Improvement Project.  OSU contacted me a few weeks ago to confirm Saturday’s work day
After the OSU volunteers
and the times.
  They would arrive between 10:30 and 11 and leave between 1 and 1:30.  I was able to dig all 8 post poles, but Ken and Taylor had to finish some of them off for me.  Then, Taylor helped me two Wednesdays in a row (even though he had brought his visiting-from-Florida mother with him last week) to place the fence posts so that we would have them up in time for the OSU students.    Ken and I had not resolved our dispute over how to build the fence.  I wanted to build it in sections (which he thought was a terrible idea because of how difficult it would be to keep the stringers and picket tops in a straight line), and he wanted to put up the stringers and then attach the pickets (which I know is a terrible idea because it would destroy the front flower bed with more than two months left in our growing season and be almost impossible for the areas behind the rose bushes).  Besides, I pointed out, the fence needs to be painted before it goes up because you will not be able to paint the back side of the stringers or pickets once they are attached (since we are keeping the wire fence in place to use as a growing trellis and to keep out bunnies and other four legged critters that like to crawl under gaps in our prettier fence).    He saw the wisdom of this and worked on adjusting his plan.

When the OSU students arrived around 11 a.m., I told them about the SACG, offered them overly-dry chocolate no-bake cookies that I had made the prior evening and bananas that Sabrina picked up, etc. and split them up into teams.  (Usually, the OSU kids have had a huge kick-off breakfast and don’t eat until the end of the day, but this group wanted to start eating immediately – making me suspect that they had not had enough to eat for breakfast).  One team of 8 helped Ken.  He cut down the stringers to size (and leveled the posts).   They hauled up pickets and stringers from our storage location at UrbanConnections, and painted them on all sides.  (The lumber and paint were donated by the City of Columbus and subsidized by Lowe’s Home Improvement Store).   I had only brought one painting tarp from home and so they could only paint so much lumber in the time available.   We had abundant sunshine to dry the paint quickly, but the wood absorbed much more paint than we had budgeted for and I think that I will have to buy more paint since we are only 1/3 finished and only have a half can remaining.

(Before the OSU volunteers . . . in July)
Sadly, the OSU bus came early (well before 1 p.m.) because the other OSU volunteer group sharing the bus finished early and wanted to return to campus.  So, we did not get many pickets attached.   Ken worked for a few minutes after they left and may return on Wednesday to attach a few more.  We do not have another student group scheduled (that could finish the project) until Capital University students come on September 23 for the annual Crusader Day of Service.  (It's becoming a pattern that my OSU and Capital University student groups tag team to complete our major capital improvement projects).     However, I think that the new fence looks fantastic and compliments our trellis entrance (that was donated and installed last year). 
After the OSU volunteers

The Alley Campaign.  It’s always a challenge to keep our alley side looking tidy when we do not have volunteers.  I tend to focus my time on growing vegetables and then the flowers.    It’s been looking extremely weedy for more than a month and the strawberry patch has been very neglected (even though it is an assigned chore) and this is surprising because there are actually strawberries growing in it.    Amy took charge of a crew of 4-6 students who weeded the strawberry patch, cleaned the weeds out between the alley and the Garden (including around and in the compost bins) and straightened up our stone curb. Amy was understandably proud of their achievement and then she spent some time weeding the front flower bed.

When they finished this, I had one of them restock and tidy our Free Little Library with a box of books that had been donated by Half Price Books.  She emptied the entire box and filled the library.  (Hint, Hint:  I'm out of books for our Free Little Library and would welcome donated books if you have any). 

I assigned two of volunteers to weed the paths and around our raised beds.  Two of them (now low on blood sugar and moving slowly) weeded and straightened up a bench.

The rest were sent next door to weed the tomato raised bed at Kimball Farms (which has spent the week building a high tunnel for winter produce production.  (The Mid-Ohio  Food Bank received a federal grant to subsidize the construction of high tunnels at area community gardens.  It’s a great project, but I need my winters off.). 

The Watering Crew.  Sabrina took three young men and helped them to water most of the Garden, including the food pantry plots and some of the flower beds and fruit trees.  They then weeded the neglected raised bed outside the Garden and harvested three giant carrots for our food pantry donation.  She then went around and grabbed lots of produce to reward Ken for all of his hard work, planted several rows of lettuce in our food pantry plots,  and helped me with finishing the food pantry weekly harvest.

The Litter Crusaders.  Some years lots of volunteers want to pick up litter; some years none do.  Robert Seed is back to work at Keep Columbus Beautiful.  He had to suffer through my retelling of my poison ivy woes and volunteered to help me with my clogged Round Up sprayer.  He also stopped by the Garden in case there was something that he could do.   It then belatedly occurred to me that I had not made arrangements with him to get litter grabbers, etc. for our OSU volunteers.  Fortunately, he was able to accommodate us.  Good thing, because this was the most gung-ho litter pickers the SACG has ever had.  Many times, our litter picker volunteers come back with just three half-bags of litter and I just look at them incredulously.  No way.  What were you doing for the last hour if that is all you came back with?    I purposely did not pick up the plastic bags that blew onto our lot this last week because I wanted to leave something for our OSU volunteers to do. 
After one hour, this crew came back with about 10 bags of litter.  I asked them to then hit our alleys, but they already had.  They had already covered Morrison and Fairwood and Stoddart and the alleys in between.  They grabbed a cookie and headed south of Main on Lilley.   They came back with more full bags and a pair of crutches.

The volunteer potatoes grew into a dough boy

Free Little Pantry.  I diverted two of them to distribute a newsletter in the neighborhood about our proposed Free Little Pantry. Ken was excited about it, but a bit discouraged about the Board’s general lack of passion for the project.  I explained that it was more about how the pantry would be stocked because building it was just a first step.  The Dispatch has run a number of stories about the Free Little Pantry a few blocks away on Livingston.  Life Vineyard Church also put up a not-so-little one near the intersection of Main and Alum Creek and it is perpetually understocked.  The lady who constructed the one on Livingston reported that she refills it every day and spends approximately $50/week in doing so.  Our annual budget is a just little more than $100, so $2500 (i.e., $50 x 50 weeks) would overwhelm the SACG.  I like the idea, but I’m not willing to take responsibility for this by myself.   After a little research at, I told him that I would survey the neighborhood to see if there were any strong objections or support for it.  I don’t want to foist a project on the neighborhood to which they will object, and we will obviously need a lot of help to keep it stocked.  I told the neighborhood that we would need between 15-20 groups, families or individuals to agree to stock it one day each month to proceed with the project.  Mari (from our Board) volunteered to take a day.  Otherwise, it’s been 24 hours and I have received neither objections nor volunteers.
I also invited the neighbors to help with our fence project by helping to attach pickets or paint.  (The kids often like to help paint, even though they usually get as much paint on themselves and as on the project).

Weeds, Bees and Poison Ivy Part II (Oh My).  The rest of the group got to help me pull bind weed off brambles and to cut down the scrub bushes across the street.  We found that the poison ivy had really taken off over there (which I hear about and have observed from time to time).  The poison ivy was so mature that it had formed berries.  I explained in excrutiating detail   how dangerous the ivy was and how important it was to not touch it.  We hacked away at the weed trees and bushes and ivy.  One of the ladies then found an underground bee hive.  This was the most excitement we’ve had for a while. (I heard no squeals indicating the discovery of a snake this year).    I had explained during orientation that they should not fear the bees because they were too busy collecting pollen to care about any of us.    This proved a great opportunity to prove my point because lots of bees were coming and going from the tunnel and they could not have cared less about the crowd that gathered to observe this.

One of the ladies got the joy of mowing a bit of the Block Watch lawns.  When I arrived shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, I found neighbor Greg finishing up the mowing.  What are you doing, I asked.  Don’t you know that I have 30 volunteers coming this morning and we always mow the lawn on such days!  No one had told him.  I told him to stop and we would finish.  And so we did.

When we finished around noon, I assigned two of them the joy of helping with our weekly food pantry harvest.  Emma started with the beans (which take the longest to pick) and Jimmy was assigned the tomatoes and kale.   I had hoped that they would harvest more, but the bus arrived early.  (I guess for them it is better than a couple of years ago when it was extremely hot and the bus was an hour late).
When the bus arrived, I corralled the students over to our sign and badgered them to bring the litter bags with them to put up front as trophies.  We took a few group pictures, put the litter bags in dumpsters, and then they were on their way back to campus.   Everyone came to waive goodbye and we spent another 30 minutes putting everything away.  Then, Sabrina and I finished the food pantry harvest.    Because I didn’t get out until after 2 p.m., it was too late to make it to the food pantry (which closes at 3).  Instead, the 56 pounds of produce went to Faith Mission's Homeless Shelter and then I returned to the SACG to harvest from my own plot and to plant some cilantro.  I finally arrived home around 4:30.  I still ache all over, but I am excited to finally have the fence project underway and to push the Free Little Pantry project a little forward as well.

This week, I get to return all of the tools (to the Rebuilding Together Tool Library which loaned us
hedge clippers to attack the weeds and to Keep Columbus Beautiful -- which also has some yard waste bags for us - which loaned us the litter grabbers).    
Labor Day weekend will be more relaxed than this because our Fall planting has been completed and we’ll be winding down from this point forward (except for completing the fence project).

Want to help?  Anyone who wants to help us complete the fence project only needs to email me at or show up on this or next Wednesday evening or this Saturday morning.    There’s still lots of painting to do (which I am qualified to coordinate).  We will have to schedule in advance with Ken, though, to actually attach the remaining stringers and pickets. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden was like a well-watered garden. Since then, in the past two weeks we’ve received almost 8 inches of rain.  That’s a summer’s worth of rain in two weeks.   Our corn is almost 9 feet tall.  Everything is green and I have lots of free time to cook and garden at home because I do not have to water everything at the SACG.   The rains have not been gentle.  So, the aphids and most bugs have been washed off our kale.   Likewise, the flowers on our tomatoes and pepper have been washed away as well, surprisingly decreasing our yield.    My pansies finally died this week, two months after their normal life span.    Craziness. 

At my last family reunion, my Uncle Marshall (who has been laid up from back surgery) has been rationalizing not having a vegetable garden this year.  They put up so much food each summer that they really only need to garden every three years.  I can relate (except when it comes to tomatoes).

This year, I am determined to eat more of my produce while it is fresh instead of putting it up.   In
This was taken to the food pantry already, so don't try to steal it.
2009, I made our food pantry donations on Monday from what I was unable to cook or put up on the weekends.
  Now, I make donations on early Saturday afternoons and tell myself that I will cook during the week (which I rarely do).  This weekend is so hot and rainy that I plan to do nothing but cook.  This afternoon, I have made Mark Bittman’s kosher dill pickles (with no vinegar),  Moosewood’s Tabouleh, and Martha’s kale salad.  Tomorrow, I will make Bittman’s kale and sausage stew and two Rick Bayless zucchini recipes.  (On Thursday, I made a Bayless swiss chard taco recipe.  Earlier this week, I made two Martha green bean salad recipes – who knew that green beans go extremely well with olives?).   I also pulled my dehyrdrator from the basement to dry some oregano while it is flowering (and supposedly more flavorful).   I still have Napa cabbage to turn into eggrolls (which can be frozen).  I’ll probably shred and freeze some zucchini to turn into zucchini bread this fall.   And I bought some in-season blueberries to freeze for my winter blueberry pancakes.   And then there are the batch of tomatillos to turn into salsa verde while I decide whether my waist can really accommodate nachos.  Whew.  For those of you who are interested, I get my Saturday evening energy from listening to Louis Armstrong and Doris Day (and then, or course, Sinatra).  Really Loud.  Really, really loud.

Ken loaned me his post digger last Saturday and I immediately set to work and dug 6.5 post holes for our new picket fence while the soil was still soft  from the three inches of rain that we received the prior day.  He told me to dig each hole 24 inches deep.  I am an old lady and could not get more than 16-18 inches in the hour that I had to devote to this project on a hot summer day.    I also seemed to have strained some muscles in my hand. I grabbed one of the neighborhood teens, Chris,  to help me when he walked by.  I shamelessly asked if he wanted to learn to dig fence post holes.  He lost interest after about 10 inches.  Ken later took pity on me and dug out a few of the holes to the desired depth (on the hottest day of the week) so that I can start putting in the posts.  Sabrina is loaning me her husband Tom on Wednesday, so we’ll finish the holes then and maybe even set some of the posts (if the weather holds).

I hazed a bunch of our new gardeners about all of the weeds that they were growing in their plots.  They all hate me now.  The rest of the gardeners were wondering what took me so long to throw a fit about it.  Sigh. 

My buddy Praying Mantis is helping me with squash bugs
Sabrina celebrated her birthday this week.  She still came to the Garden to weed the food pantry plot (her chore this month).   Last week, she pulled all of the weeds off of the chain link fence (from both sides).  She even trimmed the weeds growing along the fence on the other side of the fence.  Pretty cheeky.  But they finally mowed their lawn.  She and Amy helped me this morning by harvesting virtually all of our beans this week.  Considering that it did not stop raining until 9 a.m. and I didn’t show up until 10, it is remarkable that I was able to get out from the Garden by 1:30 with 30 pounds of produce.  (Sabrina also filled quite a few bags with kale for me, too).  We were rained on at least twice and had to high-tail it to our cars.  Tom showed up at 12:30 with a towel for her to dry off (and hinted that it was time for her to leave).  He was really too clean at that point to help us out.  Needless to say, the lawn did not get mowed today.

Alyssa has our best sunflower this year
I included photos last time of our growing peach crop.  A mistake.  They were ALL gone within two days of my last article.  One of our Board members – who shall remain nameless – emailed me how good the peaches were.  I rushed over and there was only one tiny peach left.  I took it even though it wasn’t quite ripe yet.  It was still  tasty.  Oh well, Lynds has great yellow peaches.   After my most recent business transaction closes this week, I’ll finally have time to drive to Pataskala to get and can some fresh peaches.   Another Board member told me that he chatted with a visitor from Georgia who stopped at the Garden to pick some of our peaches and told him that they were yummy.  Maybe one year, they will actually be allowed to properly ripen and I will get one.

My plans in the next week will involve pulling out a couple rows of bush beans and planting some root crops (like beets or carrots) for a Thanksgiving-time harvest.  We’ve already lost two zucchini plants to squash borers and I may plant new zucchinis there or cucumbers.  I had transplanted lots and lots of leeks from my plot around the Garden before our three-inch deluge and they are well established.

I should not write anything about our corn.  I haven’t even tried to grow it in a few years because it is a greedy crop and so cheaply obtained.  However, we have lots of unused space and Sabrina really wanted to grow some.  I floated the idea of a co-op plot where those who shared in the work could share the crop.   How very socialistic of me; but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Sabrina bought some manure with her own money to put in the bottom of each row of corn.  I bought the seed in bulk from Dill’s Greenhouse near Canal Winchester.  Our first few rows did not go well.  But we harvested our first ears this morning and they were completely awesome.  Corn is sweet within a few hours of being harvested and then it turns into starch.   You can see the SACG from very far away this year because of the corn.  All kinds of people are stopping by  and asking about joining us next year.  I fully expect folks to climb our fence to help themselves at some point.  We’ve even had offers from neighbors to buy some of it.   This morning, I got two ears; Tom got two ears and the rest went to Lutheran Social Service’s food pantry.  It was really good.  Most of the rest of the corn is white  -- my mother’s favorite.  It’s not even close to being ripe yet.
Our weeds of the week have been pigweed, pokeweed and wood sorrel.

Pokeweed grows along our alley and in the southern fence row (often behind the compost bin).  It also grows between my backyard and my neighbor’s garage and in the alley behind a different neighbor’s fence.  While birds love the berries, the berries, stem and roots are extremely poisonous to children and mammals in general.  Notwithstanding that, it’s a hillbilly food IF you boil the leaves 3 different times in fresh water (to remove the toxins).  Failure to boil it in fresh water each time has resulted in  babies and children getting very sick from the toxins.  While Indians used it as a medicine, there I no medical evidence yet that it actually treats any illness or condition.  On the contrary, it may even be a carcinogen.  When it started poking over my privacy fence, I took matters into my own hands and chopped off the tops of the plants (because the seeds are spread by birds eating the fruit and then pooping the seeds).  My neighbors gratefully took the hint and then cleaned the rest of it out last week.  I’ve been thinking whether I can similarly attack the other outcropping in good conscience when it’s not even touching my yard. . . . . . .  You can read more about it on Wikipedia.

Pigweed is particularly prevalent along the alley (but is also readily found in our plots).  It can be easily controlled if you don’t let it go to seed.  However, not enough of our gardeners stay on top of it (or whack it in the alley like I did last Saturday and this morning).  Believe it or not, it is edible (at least in small portions) and is an ingredient in some Indian food. 

The last weed is Oxalis, also known as wood sorrel.  I know that you’ve always known it as clover, but it is not.  You already know that it is edible in small amounts because you’ve tasted it long before now.   According to Wikipedia:

Wood sorrel (a type of oxalis) is an edible In Dr. James Duke's Handbook of Edible Weeds, he notes that the Kiowa Indian tribe chewed wood sorrel to alleviate thirst on long trips, that the Potawatomi Indians cooked it with sugar to make a dessert, the Algonquin Indians considered it an aphrodisiac, the Cherokee ate wood sorrel to alleviate mouth sores and a sore throat, and the Iroquois ate wood sorrel to help wild plant that has been consumed by humans around the world for millennia. 

Well, my cd player is now on to Benny Goodman.  So, it’s time for me to move on to the Iranian foreign film that I checked out two weeks ago for when I was in a more serious mood.  I have to return it soon, so I guess that I’ll watch it tonight instead of going to see Dunkirk or Planet of the Apes.  . . . .  I saw Wonder Woman last week.  That's a movie that was a little more sincere than I usually am.

So, every growing season is different.  This year, we can look at the weather as Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered.  Or Que Sera Sera.  Or Luck Be a Lady.