Monday, April 27, 2009

Seeds in the Ground at Stoddart Avenue Community Garden

We had a productive weekend on Stoddart Avenue. Bill valiently re-tilled the garden, and unearthed even more construction debris in the process. On Saturday morning, a few volunteers (including Dwain, Jeannie, Alysha, Mike & Beth) reinforced the fence, spread compost around the fence perimeter, dug out flower beds in front of the fence and constructed platforms for the rain barrels (to be installed on Friday) from the construction debris we unearthed from the lot and a few extra cinder blocks.

We also marked off the garden plots and have started planting in our individual plots.

I've included pictures of our rain barrel platforms and a rear view of the Garden (from the west side).

None of this would have been possible without
  • Dwain and the neighborhood kids digging out the embedded debris;

  • Rayna and Jeannie installing the fences and Mitch and Mike pounding them in;

  • Mike, Frank and Mitch filling wheelbarrows with mulch and compost;

  • Jeannie, the neighborhood kids, Betty, Cassandra, & Barbara spreading the compost and mulch;

  • Rayna helping me to measure and mark out the paths and to keep the kids sugared up;

  • Frank and Mitch chopping down the weed tree, and

  • Frank and Barbara loaning us tools, including a wheel barrow and a light-weight "chick" pick so that Dwight could dig out debris.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Buckeye Yard & Garden Online newsletter

The Columbus Community Garden site (linked on the right side of this site) had a good tip for area gardeners. A resource you should all know about is the Buckeye Yard and Garden on-Line newsletter, which is published weekly from April to October, and provides information about Ohio growing conditions, pest, disease, and cultural problems. BYGL is developed from a Tuesday morning conference call of Extension Educators, Specialists, and other contributors in Ohio. From my perspective, it gives information about soil temperature, etc.
BYGL offers:

• Weatherwatch

• Hort Shorts

• BugBytes

• Disease Digest

• Turf Tips

• Industry Insights

• Coming Attractions

• Byglosophy

Check it out online at: BYGL is available via email. To subscribe, contact Cheryl Fischnich at Additional Factsheet information on any of these articles may be found through the OSU fact sheet database

BYGL is a service of OSU Extension and is aided by major support from the ONLA (Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association) ; to the OSU Extension Nursery, Landscape and Turf Team (ENLTT).

BYGL is available online at:, a web site sponsored by the Ohio State University Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences (HCS) as part of the "Horticulture in Virtual Perspective." The online version of BYGL has images associated with the articles and links to additional information.

In This Issue:
HORT SHORTS: GDD (Growing Degree Days); Crabapples: Boom or Bust?; Vegetable Gardening 101; and Plants of the Week - Perennial of the Week (Spring Bulbs), Woody Plant of the Week (Pawpaw), The Weekly Weed (Lesser Celandine)
GREEN SHORTS: Lady Beetle Chronicles; The Cincinnati Area Professional Green Infrastructure Network (CAPGIN); and Hamilton County Extension and Collaborators Win Conservation Award at The Cincinnti Flower Show.
BUGBYTES: Sawfly Leafminers Fly; The Two Faces of Pine Bark Adelgids; Safari Saves Sensitive Situations; Bees in Walls; and Flea Weevils Return
DISEASE DIGEST: Silver-oddo on Tree Bark and Meltdown in Pachytown (Volutella Leaf blight)
TURF TIPS: Fairy Rings Not Celestial Beings!; Keeping it on the Level; The Invasion of Dandelions Has Begun; and Winter Pests Still Active.
INDUSTRY INSIGHTS: Making New Plants: International Plant Propagator Society Meeting in Cleveland in October and Biz Buzz - "Stranger in a Strange Land."
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Wood Packing Materials Workshops; Plant Diagnostic Academy (PDA); and OSU Arbor Day Event to Honor Veterans.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Christ The King Church Has Community Garden on Livingston Avenue near Bexley

Now in its third season, Christ the King Church has a community garden near Bexley at 2777 East Livingston Avenue largely dedicated to supplying its St. Vincent de Paul food pantry. Although three beds have been reserved for individual neighbors (who also share in garden maintenance), and a nearby school gardens two beds, the remainder of the 22 garden beds are maintained by a church gardening team. This Garden Was Selected as the Outstanding Community Garden in Central Ohio for 2008 by the Growing To Green Program in September 2008.

Individuals interested in reserving a garden bed need to contact Marjorie at 237-0720 in the Fall.

Dills Nursery is also supporting the St. Vincent De Paul food pantry this season with its own large vegetable garden at its HQ (between Groveport and Canal Winchester).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Compost Has Been Spread at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden

With the help of our core volunteers (Dwain, Rayna, Mike, Mitch & Jeannie), we finished spreading the giant pile of black gold compost donated by Kurtz Brothers (in Grove City) at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. Three inches were spread on all of the garden beds. We also finished hanging the fence. Although we're all dog tired, it was more pleasant today without the sun and heat. Of course, we're still suffering from the sun burns we received yesterday. I also managed to staple my own hand. OUCH!

We plan to meet again at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday to build the rain barrel platforms, dig out the front flower beds and spread mulch around the fence border (to keep the weeds and grass from growing into the fence and garden beds. It will not be a long day.

Weather permitting, Bill will be able to re-till the garden beds and then I can mark off the plot borders. Then, each gardener can begin planting.

Sunday's Schedule at SACG

We will work today until it pours. Although we can't spread the compost if it's muddy, we can stil hang fence:) (In fact, it might be easier in the rain;)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Look How Much We Got Done In One Day at SACG

Today was the big day to set out the Garden (i.e., to dig out the construction debris (of which there was a lot, but less than I feared)), to set out the paths, to spread the pine mulch and the earthy leaf compost and to put up the fence. Bill G. made sure to till the lot when I was unavailable to watch or take pictures last night. Dwain (the Rock Star) really came through on Friday (when we had to move most of the mulch pile) and today (in digging out the big and deep construction debris). We had new friends show up today to help dig out and sign up for the Garden. Frank and Barbara really helped out a lot with spreading, lending tools and chopping down the weed tree. Kids showed up from all directions to dig, shovel and spread. When it was all over, Mitch, Mike, Rayna and I went back to my house for well-deserved cocktails.

If it's not raining, we will meet tomorrow (i.e., Sunday) at 1:30 to finish the rest of the spreading and to hang the rest of the fence. What we don't finish before the rain comes, we will finish on Saturday, April 24 at 11:00 a.m.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rebuilding Together Tool Library Loans Free Garden Tools for Community Gardens, etc.

Beth at First Link solved our impending wheelbarrow shortage by directing me to Rebuilding Together’s new Tool Library just north of Bexley at 2771 East 4th Avenue (on the corner of Fourth and Morris) off North Cassady Avenue. They can be reached at 258-6392. They have hundreds of tools to loan, including garden rakes, shovels, ladders, and rototillers (for those aspiring gardeners who are stumped about how to till their land without breaking the bank). Most tools may be borrowed for a week, but tillers are only loaned for one day.

Rebuilding Together has only had this tool library for about one month (having inherited it from the City of Columbus). There will be a kick off grand opening in May.

Borrowers must provide a drivers license and address. If the work will be done at a leased address, the landlord must also sign off on your borrowing the tool.

The best part: borrowing the tools is free! They are also very friendly and very helpful. Some of them are community gardeners, too.

I was going to borrow two wheelbarrows, but a lot of other community gardeners beat me to the punch today and there was only one left by the time I got there. Note to self: Call ahead:)

The hours of the tool library are 9-11 and 1-3 Monday through Thursday.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


This weekend is the BIG volunteer weekend for the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden and WE NEED YOU (and all of your friends and neighbors) on April 17, 18 & 19, 2009. Luckily, the weather forecast is good. There will be much fun and goofiness. Besides, many hands make light work. Even if you do not plan on gardening with us, please stop by for an hour or so and pretend to do some work with us. Trust me, you'll feel good about it.

Weather permitting Bill G. had planned to till the lot on Thursday. However, weather did not permit and now he plans to till it late Friday. Nonetheless, I might stop by with a lawn mower to trim the edges of the Garden. Wrights Tree Service will also be delivering some wood chips Thursday afternoon. I'm also in the process of painting the Garden's sign.

On Friday, April 17, 2009, 20 cubic yards of leaf compost donated by Kurtz Brothers in Groveport is being delivered in the afternoon. Bill will also try to till the lot and mark significant construction debris with flags. I’m not going to stop anyone who wants to get a head start on digging out the construction debris after Bill has been through. Wrights Tree Service will drop off another truck loads of wood chips in the afternoon. (This will not be a long day because I plan on getting to DeMonye's to see if they are selling any perennial herbs -- like thyme -- because they did last year and I have to get to Bible study before 7:00 p.m.).

On Saturday, April 18, 2009 -- beginning at 11:00 a.m. -- we will be cleaning out construction debris, staking out the Garden paths and spreading as much compost and mulch as we can before we collapse, it rains or we can no longer fight the urge to run over to DeMonye's annual perennial plant sale before all the good stuff is gone. (Tip to the wise: go to DeMonye's on Friday before the Saturday morning crowds snake traffic all the way to the airport).

On Sunday, April 19, 2009 – beginning at 1:30 – IF IT IS NOT RAINING -- we will be finishing up as much as we can. Then I'll run over to DeMonye's and see if they won't donate their leftovers to a worthy cause.

When it stops raining (and probably on the weekend), Bill will come back and re-till the Garden to loosen up the soil we compacted during the digging and spreading process and to work in the compost we spread on the plots. Once he had finished, I will mark off each Gardener's plot and you can begin planting!!!

Volunteers should bring:
Þ Gloves
Þ Shovel
Þ Garden Rake
Þ Wheelbarrow
Þ Small hammer

We are in particular need of wheelbarrows to move mulch and compost from a large pile to their ultimate home. I have 1-1/2 wheelbarrows. I tried to borrow my sister's, but it would not fit in the back of my Jetta. Sigh. Please beg your mother, your brother, your neighbor and your landscaper to loan us their wheelbarrows for Saturday. If we finish early, we'll have wheelbarrow races and I'll post pictures on the website:)

These are the various tasks for which we need volunteers:

Þ To dig out construction debris from the site with shovels;
Þ To stake out the Garden’s paths (straight lines would be nice);
Þ To spread mulch on the Garden paths with wheelbarrows and garden rakes;
Þ To spread compost on the Garden plots with wheelbarrows and garden rakes;
Þ To put fence stakes in ground around the Garden;
Þ To hang fence from the fence stakes;
Þ To tap fence tacks into fence stakes to hold up the fence;
Þ To staff the refreshments table (with iced tea, water, brownies, sandwiches, etc.)

Please call or email me if you can help (or can drop off cookies, brownies, pizza and/or sandwiches).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Livingston Seeds Donated By the Gazillion for Stoddart Avenue Community Garden

I had been hearing rumors that Livingston Seeds would probably donate some seeds to our cause, but I try not to count my chickens before they are hatched. Alysha called me yesterday to report that Livingston Seeds had donated a gazillion seeds. Her husband had just picked them up and she couldn't possibly list all of them for me (but she promises to try so that we can list them on this site and let Gardeners pick what they want before they buy their own). As you can see from the picture, we have enough seeds for both this year and next.

There are peas, spinach, cantalope, chard, carrots, mustard greens, beans, sweet corn, carrots, watermelon, basil, cilantro, tomatoes (cherry, yellow cherry, roma, etc.), bell peppers, habeneros peppers, celery, lettuce, pumpkins, beets, cabbage, radishes, turnips, and MORE. There are also flowers: zinnias, cosmos, straw flowers, daisies, sun flowers, morning glories, marigolds, poor man's weather glass and lots of flowers I've never heard of.

Alysha and I were laughing this morning while flipping through the seeds because it turns out that celery must be started indoors and 3-4 MONTHS BEFORE PLANTING SEASON. I apologize, but we weren't thinking about planting celery back in January or February or we would have started our seeds earlier. We'll put the celery on our calendars for 2010;)

For us, flipping through the seeds is like being two kids in a candy store. It's just so much fun. Some Stoddart Gardeners have already gotten back to me about the seeds they wanted from my already freakishly large stash, so if you see something listed here that you want (and was not already on the list I gave you), please let me know. We'll be happy to put them aside for you.

Alysha and I have both already started lots of seeds. However, we don't want to be greedy. If any of you would like to start your own seeds early, just email me or call me and I'll drop off some for you to start in your own kitchen.

A little bit about Livingston Seeds-- although this description is from a different website:

Alexander W. Livingston (1821-1898) of Reynoldsburg, Ohio was a pioneering seedsman who was best known as a developer of tomato varieties in the United States in the nineteenth century.

Although tomatoes had been cultivated to various degrees throughout the world, it was Mr. Livingston and his seed company who contributed more to the development of the tomato as a commercial crop than any other. When Mr. Livingston began his attempts to develop the tomato as a commercial crop, his goal was to produce tomatoes that were smooth skinned, uniform in size and having better flavor. After many attempts at hybridization, he began instead, a process of selecting seed from tomato plants exhibiting specific characteristics. It was using this selection process that he discovered a plant that bore perfect tomatoes like its parent vine. After five years of selection, the fruit became fleshier and larger. In 1870, Alexander introduced the Paragon.

Prior to his work, tomatoes were commonly ribbed, hard cored, and generally hollow fruit. In all, A. W. Livingston and his company introduced thirty-one varieties of tomatoes.
Many tomato varieties are available on the Company's website.

Friday, April 10, 2009

FACT Volunteer Opportunity This Saturday Near Bexley

If you like to be outside and object to chronic litter, then join the Friends of Alum Creek Tributaries (FACT) this Saturday beginning at 9:00 a.m. to pick up litter at Academy and Wolfe Parks and the bicycle trails near Bexley. Dress in boots and work clothes with gloves. Bring shovels if possible. The FACT Coordinator will be at the Academy Park parking lot, 250 South Nelson Road. When I’ve done this before, the FACT Coordinator will put a reflective vest on you, give you a litter grabber and a trash bag. You’ll see a whole new side of our neighborhood and can leave whenever you want.

There are other volunteer oppotunities with FACT, but don't expect me to publicize them when they conflict with the needs of the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden:)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April 12 Deadline to Sign Up for Stoddart Avenue Community Garden

Despite the weather we’re expecting this week, planting season is upon us (especially if you like cool season crops, like lettuce, snow peas, snap peas, spinach, potatoes, and garlic, etc.). Because Bill G. will be tilling the Garden (weather permitting) in the week after Easter, we need to have a relatively firm number of the number of gardeners so that we do not till too much or too little and leave enough grass to prevent erosion without creating a prime opportunity for weeds. So, anyone interested in gardening with us at Stoddart Avenue must get their signed agreement back to me by April 12, 2009. Signing it, scanning it and emailing it will work if you missed the mailman. (I prefer PDFs).

There is a version of the agreement available on the website or you can email me and I’ll send you another. The latest version has questions on the back of the page about the size of garden plot you want and the type of free seeds you want to start your garden.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Litter Pick Up Was Great Success at Stoddart Avenue Community Garden

Today was Litter Pick-Up Day at Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. We had six adult and five youth volunteers. We had anticipated that we would only spend about 45 minutes picking up the litter, but the kids were very energized by digging out bricks and stones, so we stayed a little longer. (You can see from the group shot that brownies were available for a sugar break).

The kids (with help from Dwain P) dug out enough rocks and bricks for form a line 77 feet long along Cherry Street. (I should have taken a picture). We plan to recycle the bricks and stones by incorporating them into the Garden’s design and to support the rain barrels (donated by Rain Brothers). There were also a fair amount of worms (which is a great sign for the future of the Garden). There was even a suggestion that we should incorporate into the Garden the tire which the kids dug out of the site. Betty W told me that she saw a garter snake. (We'll let it be).

Once we started cleaning up the lot this morning, neighbors stopped by to wish us well, pitch in and sign up for the Garden. Just what we hoped.

Weather permitting, we will need a lot more volunteers on April 18 & 19 to dig out the construction debris which Bill G unearths during tilling (assuming the Garden is dry enough during the week after Easter to till) and, if time, to spread the donated compost and mulch. Save the date!! (Team Home Depot might be able to help on April 17 and 20). Rain dates are April 25 and 26.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Short Story of Tomato and Fence Stakes

Stoddart Garden has been triply blessed this week. Trudeau’s Fence Company near Hilliard called and reported that they had lumber to donate which we could turn into fence and tomoto stakes, etc. When I picked it up, there was way too much to fit into the back of my little VW Jetta. However, what cedar lumber I brought back smelled very good.

Then Bowden Fence Company on the southside agreed to also donate some lumber which we could convert into tomato and fence stakes and I rushed over and filled my Jetta again.

Then, the next day, while walking off too much dinner, I ran into Jim Z and, after only minimal begging, he agreed to cut down the donated lumber with his table saw. I dropped off the lumber the next morning and when I returned later in the afternoon to pick up the stakes, he shooed me away because he insisted on putting points on the stakes as well as bundling them up. Of course, this way exceeded my expectations.

Here’s a picture of the 20 bundles of fence and tomato stakes we now have for the Stoddart Garden. (That’s also a picture of the famous Priscilla’s Pride rain barrel which I purchased last year from Rain Brothers at a substantial discount through the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stoddart Garden: Volunteers Needed for Litter Pick Up This Saturday April 4 at 11:00 a.m

Spring is in the air! To get the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden ready to be tilled in a few weeks -- and to accommodate Holy Week and the Easter Holidays -- we will be meeting briefly at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden site at 445-51 Stoddart Avenue to pick up litter and other debris at the site. We might even dig some bricks and other trash out to make it easier for Farmer Bill to till the Garden in a few weeks. The Garden is not that big, so it should not take that long. Many hands make easy work. There will be treats and a photograph for volunteers:)

I'll bring trashbags, but volunteers should bring their own gardening gloves.

I started seeds this weekend. The lettuce and zucchini have already sprouted. If Stoddart Gardeners are particularly anxious to start growing something and show up on Saturday, I might be convinced to part with some of the onion and garlic sets in my possession.

CNN Reports: Recession Gardening Explosion. New Gardeners Advised to Join Community Garden for Coaching and Mentoring.

(CNN) -- As American families try to stretch their food budgets during the recession, some are turning to the backyard, rather than the grocery store, as the place to look for produce.
Recession gardens are catching on with many first-time planters who want a healthy meal at an affordable price. The gardeners are following seed-strewn paths laid by Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt, both of whom have used the White House lawn to show the value of a garden during tough times.

The scope of today's trend is shocking even to those in the gardening industry. W. Atlee Burpee & Co., the largest seed and gardening supply store in the country, says it has seen a 25 to 30 percent spike in vegetable seed and plant sales this spring compared with last. "I've been in the business for 30 years, and I've never seen anything like it -- even remotely like it," said George Ball, chairman and CEO of the company. In 2008, there was a 15 to 20 percent uptick in seed sales because of high food and gasoline prices. Not since the '70s, when the company saw sales increases in the 10 percent range, has gardening seen such buzz, he said.

The National Gardening Association expects 43 million American households to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries this year. That's up 19 percent over last year, according to a 2,559-household survey the group conducted in January. About a fifth of the gardeners this year will be new to the activity, the survey says. Most -- 54 percent -- said they will garden because it saves them money on food bills. A slightly larger group say they garden because homegrown food tastes better.

There's evidence that recession gardeners stand to see substantial savings at the grocery store checkout. Last year, Burpee released a report saying a family will get an average 25-to-1 return on its investment in a garden. So, by that count, a family that spends about $200 on a medium-to-large garden, as Michelle Obama reportedly did, will save $5,000 in grocery bills over the course of a year.

That statistic is inflated, said Mike Metallo, spokesman for the National Gardening Association. Metallo's group says a $70 investment in a garden will yield $600 in produce for the year. To get those savings, a gardener has to know what to plant, when to plant it, where to plant it, how to deal with different soil types and how to care for the garden.

That knowledge isn't innate these days, especially for urban dwellers. Bobby Wilson, president of the American Community Gardening Association, says all of that interest is great, but he worries that Americans aren't equipped to grow their own food without some help. "Many of the people that want to get into the gardening and greening movement right here have never gained the skills," he said. "Many of them came up in an era where there was no vocational education, so there was no need to learn anything about horticulture or agriculture." He said all of the country's elementary schools should have gardens so future generations will learn how to save money and fend for themselves.

Susan Hopper, a 41-year-old elementary school teacher in Tampa, Florida, said she started a garden last year, partly to teach her family and her students about the food chain. "I have three children of my own, and they think chicken comes in tenders and nuggets," she said. "I was concerned about their health, and I wanted them to understand that food is a process that we're a part of, and it just doesn't come in neat packages." Hopper grew up watching her older family members garden, but when she first decided to plow a patch of her own yard, she wasn't too successful. Florida's growing season is somewhat reversed, she said, so even though she had read Internet articles about how to garden, she didn't know the local tricks needed to make her plants survive.

In the process of digging back into the soil, though, some new gardeners are struggling with the fact that they're several generations removed from a farm. Pamela Price, a 38-year-old mom in San Antonio, Texas, said her garden isn't profitable just yet because of droughts in her state. She grew up in a family of ranchers and farmers, but she's forgotten much of what she learned when she was young. "We are fortunate that we don't have to rely on [the garden], but I certainly want to make sure that, in the event that something happens, we would know how to," she said. "It's a life skill." Price said she's started to look at her local environment anew as she leans which plants will or won't grow in the harsh climate. That gives her a connection with history, too, she said. She recently read a book about how some of Texas' residents a century ago had similar issues.

Wilson, of the community garden association, said new gardeners should seek advice from neighbors. On every block, there's a gardener who is willing to talk about the process, he said. Face-to-face conversations are more helpful than Internet searches when it comes to learning about the local environment, he said.

ONE WAY TO TAP LOCAL GARDEN KNOWLEDGE IS TO JOIN A COMMUNITY GARDEN, WHERE NEIGHBORS TURN UP COMMUNAL PLOTS TOGETHER. The activity is expected to see a fivefold increase this year, with 5 million households saying they're at least "very interested" in participating in a community garden, said Metallo, of the National Gardening Association. New gardeners should start out small, he said. That way you'll learn as you go and won't get as frustrated. "You don't have to go hogwild crazy," he said, adding that people who tear up their entire yards are usually disappointed. "Get comfortable with it."

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