Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bexley Area Community Gardens Share Resources

Faithful readers will recall that two weeks ago, I described how the SACG had been blessed with an abundance of Botanical Interests seeds donated by a wonderful lady in my church knitting group. I offered to share those seeds with any other community garden once the SACG gardeners had been given an opportunity to take their pick of what they would need for their own plots. Only one garden took me up on my offer: The Bexley Community Garden. Barb contacted me and offered a trade. She had been dividing perennial flowers at her own home and would give me black-eyed susan, blue beard and Shasta daisy flowers for our front flower bed. Considering that Barb graduated last year from OSU's Master Gardening Program, I knew these would be great flowers and they were. I just couldn't believe how much there was. It more than filled the SACG utility cart (as you can see from the picture). The BCG gardeners are lucky to have her looking out for them. She spent 45 minutes perusing our enormous seed collection while sipping wine with me on my patio. (Obviously, this was before the current freeze warning;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

SACG Benefits from Generosity of Oakland Nursery

As Faithful Readers may recall, we received a generous donation from Oakland Nursery just before our groundbreaking a few weeks ago. However, I have not told you the whole story.

As I usually do, at the beginning of each growing season I think about what our needs are. After Rayna brought us raspberry bushes last year, I became almost obsessed with adding blueberry bushes to compliment our raspberries and strawberries. (I bought our strawberries last year from both Oakland Nursery and DeMonye's). So, I added blueberry bushes to our website wish list and, when they did not magically appear, this year I began searching for donations of blueberry bushes. A day or so after sending a letter about our desire to Oakland Nursery, Mike called me before I had a chance to follow up on my letter. Not only was he willing to give us a couple of blueberry bushes, but he was also willing to throw in a couple of flats of vegetables. The only condition was that I had to promise to keep the bushes alive. He even volunteered to deliver them himself. How great is that?

So, on the Thursday before our groundbreaking, I drove up the road to Oakland Nursery (which took only a few minutes) and met our generous benefactor. He was so into the spirit of the moment that instead of giving us a couple of bushes, he gave us five bushes (one of every variety they sell, I think). He explained that the bushes do better when they can cross-pollinate with different varieties. (Works for me!). When I asked about any special care instructions or tips, he suggested that we add as much peat moss as possible because they prefer highly acidic soil. Then, to underscore his point, he gave us a small bag of peat moss to make sure that we followed through with his advice. Then, it was off to the vegetable area, where he loaded up a flat for us consisting of early Spring crops, like broccoli, brussel sprouts, white cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, etc. He made me promise to come back in May when he could provide us with another flat – of peppers and tomatoes. But he wasn't finished. When I mentioned in passing our plans for a new strawberry patch, he threw in a container of 20 strawberry patch roots.

We loaded up my little Jetta and I unloaded these lovely items in my backyard. The next day, as Mitch and I were unpacking our benches and stakes from Mitch's basement (where they were stored over the winter), I told Mitch about my visit to Oakland Nursery. He was amazed and asked why they would give us so much stuff for free. What's in it for them, he asked. What indeed. There's the small amount of publicity they receive from my little blog here. There's the warm fuzzy feeling they get from making the world a better place. But I loved the answer from one of my gardeners when I was explaining this story during our dig-out day: They're just good people. (They also sold me the bulbs for our pretty daffodils and tulips at sale price before the sale even started last year).

So, to keep my promise, I put volunteers right to work during our dig-out day on April 10 to keep our new blueberry bushes alive. Mike from The Cougar Group dug holes along our north fence (or at least until he ran into solid concrete). Then, Rayna and Dwain built raised circular beds around Mike's holes, filled them with the bushes and peat moss and watered them in very well. Dionte and his friends then began planting the early Spring vegetables into our neighbor/community raised bed plot along Cherry Street (where anyone passing by can help themselves if they are hungry). When Dionte was called away, Dwain finished planting the vegetables along the outside of the plot. Lawrence then watered them during our brief drought. No one wanted any of the vegetables for their own plot. Inspired by the generosity of Oakland Nursery, the group consensus was to donate all of the vegetables to our less fortunate neighbors.

Then, Rayna, Barb and Frank built the new strawberry patch along Cherry Street (with help from Joshua, Daemon and Justine) and Rayna planted the new strawberries.

All of the SACG gardeners have been assigned approximately three chores to perform over the summer. One of the chores is now to ensure that the blueberry bushes and strawberries are watered at least once each week (when it doesn't otherwise rain at least an inch that week). Another chore is to similarly water and weed the neighbor plot. We're doing our best to keep those bushes alive, Mike!

Anyway, if you haven't been to Oakland Nursery lately, I highly recommend going on Mother's Day. I went there once (using a gift certificate from Iced Latte) on Mother's Day and now know where half of Columbus goes after church and Mother's Day brunch. I haven't seen that many people in a compact space since the last OSU/Michigan home game. It's definitely THE PLACE TO BE to get a jump on May planting. You never know whom you will run into, but at least it will be a gardener. My next door neighbor gets lost in there for hours every year and then she brings me over to her yard for a tour to see what she just planted.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SACG To Celebrate Grand Opening Celebration of The Cougar Group HQ

Faithful readers know how blessed we have been at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden and I am writing to tell you about another blessing: The Cougar Group. Bill Dawson, the Director of Franklin Park Conservatory's Growing to Green Community Garden program called me a few weeks ago about a company which was locating its new headquarters a hop, skip and a jump down the road from us on Alum Creek Drive. As part of the celebration for the opening of its new HQ on April 30, the company wanted to do something to help a nearby community garden which involved raffling off a lawn mower. Of course, he thought of us. He told me that the company's name was The Cougar Group – and he insisted that he was not making a reference to my age or marital statusJ I had visions of me and my hardy group of volunteers selling the tickets . . . .

I then met with Bill the company's outside public relations consultant, Kathy Wient. She explained that the company would be holding an invitation-only special event (with a live band and BBQ) and would be raffling off one of their super high-end, commercial quality push lawn mowers -- specifically a Cougar C19AL -- as a fundraiser at the event to benefit the SACG. All I had to do was show up with a picture board with lots of pretty pictures of the SACG and tell everyone there how wonderful we are (an easy task, to be sure). How great is that? I would be thrilled with $100, but Kathy is much more ambitious than that – bless her heart. Keep your fingers crossed for us on April 30.

Bill will also be attending to promote GTG and community gardening in general. Ms. Anthony also hopes to attend as a show of support.

But it gets better. Kathy and Mike Watkins – the President of The Cougar Group – were among the first volunteers to arrive to help us dig out the SACG for the beginning of the 2010 gardening season on April 10. Mike helped dig holes to plant our four new rose bushes and five new blueberry bushes. This is easier said than done when you consider the layers of brick and concrete which are only three inches below ground. Kathy helped us pick up litter and spread mulch on the pathways. Neither of them could have been any nicer.

We are very excited about our new neighbors and hope their grand opening celebration, raffle and business are very, very successful.

Monday, April 19, 2010

SACG Volunteers Moved Mountains for Earth Day

Or at least, it sometimes felt like it. On Saturday, 20 SACG volunteers (12 adults and 8 youths) gathered to commemorate Earth Day later this week by picking up litter, planting flowers, building raised beds along Cherry Street and transplanting strawberries before starting the planting in our own plots. Someone from the Franklin Park Neighborhood Association even stopped by to wish us luck before heading off to volunteer at the nearby Four Seasons Farm garden on Oak Street. This is what we got done at the SACG on Saturday:

  • Betty picked up litter and watered our new rose and blueberry bushes while I unpacked our supplies from my car;
  • Betty and Charlie assembled our new utility cart;
  • Rayna and I built two new 4x6 raised beds at the northwest corner of our lot where there used to be two compost bins (and yes, we divided the yummy compost between the two new beds);
  • Frank, Barb, Maxine, Jae, Dimon, and Joshua lugged the remaining stones and top soil and some compost over to the northeast corner and built a 4x10 raised bed for our new strawberry patch;
  • Beth, Dionte, Quiante, Daequon, Priest, Nae-Nae, & Lance filled the wheelbarrows and carts with wood chips and filled in the spaces between and around the new raised beds;
  • Beth, Dionte, Dimon and Joshua filled carts and wheelbarrows with wood chips and filled the spaces between the compost bins (where it's too narrow to mow);
  • Mari weeded our front flower beds and planted some new perennial flowers;
  • Rayna made sandwiches for all of our youthful volunteers;
  • I dug up our volunteer strawberries which had wondered away from our existing patch (next to Betty's plot);
  • Rayna transplanted our strawberries (both volunteers and the ones donated by Oakland Nursery);
  • Rayna helped the Holloway kids plant onions and lettuce in their plot; and
  • The volunteers picked out seeds from our considerable seed stache; and
  • Betty, Barb & Frank helped me pack everything back up and loaded my car.

We started at 10 a.m and were finished by 1:30. Jeannie felt so (unnecessarily) guilty about forgetting about the work day that on Sunday she dug out all of the weeds from plots where gardeners had not yet started gardening.

Despite all of the work we've accomplished over the last two Saturdays, several members of the volunteer crew asked me for more assignments. What passion! The only other large task we have is to purchase and assemble our new shed. Hopefully, I can get it ordered and delivered this week.

Until then, we need lots of prayers and rain dances because we're an inch behind in rain for April and all of our rain barrels are bone dry. This does not bode well for watering in our new seeds or seedlings.

Funding for the soil and stones used in our new raised beds came from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Fund at The Columbus Foundation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

SACG Heroes of the Day

We're ready for our Earth Day celebration today. We will be building three raised garden beds, transplanting strawberries and planting flowers beginning at 10 a.m. and will finish around 2 p.m.

To prepare for this adventure, I borrowed BTBO's truck to pick up free compost from Kurtz Brothers, landscaping stones and topsoil. Kurtz Brothers donated the compost to any community garden participating in today's Earth Day festivities. However, this was an exhausting adventure because I had more trouble unloading the compost than anticipated. First, I couldn't get the truck's gate open and then it was more compacted than I anticipated. Then, I lost some keys in the compost pile. I never would have been able to finish if Priest hadn't come by and helped me (using a tiny snow shovel that I keep in my car for emergencies). Then, Warren came by and helped me finish.

On Thursday, Dwain and Lawrence helped me unload the landscaping stones and top soil. (Here they are standing in front of all of the stones we unloaded).

Green Columbus gave me some goodies to distribute to today's volunteers, including bottled water, coupons for free stuff at the Earth Day celebration at Franklin Park Conservatory on April 22, and tattoos that can be used for discounts at several local businesses.

See you there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SACG Has Been Blessed With Seeds and Seeks to Share Good Fortune

Four days before we broke ground for the 2010 season, I attended my monthly Knitwits meeting at Church. I was running late because I had been soliciting gardeners and volunteers for the weekend. When I arrived, the table which is usually filled with yummy goodies was instead overflowing with packages of seeds. I was speechless. Linda, one of my fellow knitters, had mentioned about six weeks ago that her cousin sold seeds and she could get some from last season for me for free for the SACG. They are organic seeds from the Botanical Interests Seed Company in Colorado (which has a very nice website). A huge number of them are heirloom varieties. She asked what I wanted: anything and everything. Boy oh boy. She and her parents took a stab at organizing them and banding them. For the edibles, I then put like things together in bags.

BISC has a great website. For example, it has lots of great tips about planting and saving seeds, etc., like this:

Can I use seeds leftover from last year?

The life span of seeds varies by variety and storage conditions. Some seeds like beets, swiss chard,gourds, squash, and tomatoes can keep for several years. Others, like onions, chives, shiso, edamame, and fennel may lose viability in less than a year. For best results in your garden, we recommend buying fresh seed every year. We pretest all of our seeds at an independent laboratory and only accept seeds from our suppliers that exceed federal standards for germination, so you can be sure that you are purchasing high quality seeds from us each season. If you do have leftover seed after planting or are unable to plant seeds that you purchased during that season, the best method for storing is to put them in an airtight container (such as a sealed Ziploc bag) in your refrigerator or a cool basement. Cool, dry air prolongs the life of seeds and hot, humid air can kill them quickly.

So we at the SACG are overflowing with blessings: two garbage bags filled with more seeds than we could plant in three years. So, with giving the SACG gardeners their first choice of the goodies this weekend and last weekend, I am opening up our good fortune to other community gardens which want to share in our bounty for the greater good of the community. I don’t want to lug these around in the hot trunk of my car indefinitely or let them go to waste in my basement. Contact me next week if you’d like to share some of our seeds.

I’ve already planted chamomile and it’s already sprouted. Here’s what else we have:

Peas: Oregon Sugar Pod II, Green Arrow dwarf shelling pea heirloom, Wando shelling pea heirloom, Snap Pea Cascadia
Broccoli: Di Cicco heirloom
Cauliflower: Chef’s Choice Blend heirloom,
Onion: Ringmaster, Flat of Italy heirloom (red),
Beet: Gourmet Blend, Early Wonder heirloom,
Parsnip: all American heirloom,
Kohlrabi: purple & white Vienna blend
Lettuce/Greens: Nero Toscana Kale heirloom, Gef’s Gourmet Spicy Mix lettuce, mustard heirloom greens, arugula roquette heirloom, Big Seeded mache corn salad heirloom, Red Giant mustard, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard heirloom, Olesh Tres Fine Endive, Palla Rossa Shalim Radicchio, Asian Salad Mix Mesclun, Lolla Rossa lettuce heirloom, Tom Thumb lettuce butterhead heirloom, Little Gem Romaine lettuce heirloom, Rouge d’Hiver romaine lettuce heirloom (red), Broadleaf Batavian Escarole heirloom, Oak Leaf Blend lettuce heirloom, Red Sails lettuce, Great Lakes lettuce heirloom, Farmer’s Market mesclun blend, Gourmet baby greens mesclun mix heirloom, Salad Bowl blend heirloom lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson lettuce,
Cabbage: Copenhage Market heirloom, Wong Bok Chinese cabbage heirloom,
Bok Choy: White Stem heirloom, Rosette heirloom,
Turnip: Purple Top White Globe heirloom,
BEANS, BEANS AND MORE BEANS: White Dixie Butter baby lima heirloom, Windsor broad fava heirloom, Scarlet Emperor pole heirloom, Liana Yard Long pole, Romano pole heirloom, Blue Lake pole, Contender bush heirloom (my most reliable), Royal Burgundy heirloom (i.e., purple beans), Pencil Pod bush heirloom (yellow), Kentucky Wonder pole heirloom, Buttterbean (edamame/soybean), Purple Queen heirloom, Tavera bush, Blue Lake 274 bush,
Pumpkins: Big Max, Jack O’Lantern, Howden, Moon & Stars Heirloom, Sugar Pie Heirloom,
Melon: Mickylee watermelon, Melon charentais heirloom
Peppers: Cayenne Blend heirloom, Yolo Wonder heirloom, Early Jalapeno heirloom, Ancho/Poblano heirloom, Canary Bell, California Wonder heirloom, purple beauty,
Tomatoes: Celebrity, Silvery Fir Tree heirloom, San Marzano heirloom, Jelly bean red & yellow, Italian Roma heirloom, Gardener’s Delight heirloom, Rainbow blend, yellow pear, Cherry heirloom, Speckled roman heirloom, Sun Gold, Brandywine heirloom, Black Krim (Russian heirloom), Aunt Ruby’s German Green heirloom,
Corn: Spring Treat (hybrid), Delectible (hybrid), (white) Agent (hybrid), Bodacious (hybrid)
Carrots: Carnival blend, little finger heirloom, purple haze, scarlet nantes heirloom, Tonda di Parigi heirloom, Royal Chantenay heirloom,
Cucumber: Japanese Soyu Burpless heirloom, Armenian burpless, Spacemaster
Eggplant: Black beauty heirloom, Long purple – Japanese/Chinese
Squash: Vegetable Spaghetti heirloom, summer cocozelle heirloom, Early Yellow Crookneck heirloom, Early Prolific Straightneck heirloom, Burgess Buttercup heirloom, Dlicata Honey Boat winter squash, Waltham Butternut heirloom,
Herbs: Florence Finocchio Fennel heirloom, Common English Thyme heirloom, Rosemary heirloom, Broadleaf Garden Sage heirloom, Bouquet Dill heirloom, German Chamomile heirloom, Spearmint, Common Chives, and several varieties of basil (including Genovese Italian, Dolce Vita Blend, Purple Petra, Italian Large Leaf & Napoletano).

Flowers. And that’s just the edibles. Then there’s an equal amount of flowers, including sweet peas, zinnias, morning glories (which you must plant far, far away from the SACG, daisies, candytuft, nicotina, cardinal climber, cosmos, penstemon, lupines, poppies, coleus, forget-me-nots, hyacinth bean, nasturtium, black-eyed susan vine, butterf]y flower, celosia, jupiter’s beard, statice, columbine, moon flower, snapdragon, lobelia, hollyhock, four o’clock, vebascum mullein, Chinese lantern, money plant, and more!

Miscellaneous: Corsican hard-shelled gourd, Broom Corn heirloom (for those of you wanting to make your own brooms from scratch), Cat Grass, Liquid Sunshine Wheatgrass heirloom, Goblin Eggs ornamental gourds, ornamental eggplant, etc.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SACG Hero of the Day

Every community garden is a little different from the other, but one thing binds us all together: the need to till the soil for the gardeners. There's not a lot you can do about the slope of the land, the shade caused by trees and neighboring buildings, rain or clouds, but every garden manager has to get their garden tilled each Spring. Anyone who has met me knows that I'm not big enough to till the SACG (or any other garden, for that matter). Lucky for me, I'm pathetic enough to pity.

Last year, Bill G from Canal Winchester drove to the SACG four times: First, to meet me and examine the garden; second to spray weed killer; third to till it so that we could remove the construction debris and finally to till in the compost which we spread over the Garden a year ago this upcoming weekend. He refused to tell me when he was coming, so there are no pictures; only urban legends.

This year, I was timid about asking Bill for such a big favor again. When Ms. Anthony heard that, she reached out to a quality guy she knew tilled his own large garden and he readily agreed to till the SACG for us. We had planned on last Thursday, but Elder Theodore came on Tuesday and then it rained on Thursday. So, we finally met yesterday and the sun shined on us. We picked up the rear-tined rototiller – which was loaned to us for free by Rebuilding Together's Tool Library at the corner of Fourth and Morris – just north of Bexley and just off Cassady Avenue. When I explained that I hoped that he would be done by 2:30 so that I could be on time for my meeting at the UWCO, Theodore pulled my leg and told me that he thought it would take him longer than that. I expressed surprise because, I told him, Bill did it in about two hours – even with all of that construction debris. The challenge laid down, Theodore likewise tilled our entire garden in about two hours. In addition, he cleaned up the tiller to sparkling condition so that when I returned it, the Tool Library employees extended their compliments and appreciation for a job well done.

We wouldn't be ready for planting today if it weren't for Theodore P, so he is the SACG Hero of the Day. He took the day off work from his home remodeling business to help us even though he is not gardening with us. Say hello if you see him around. We talked about what he likes to plant and he seemed fond of his butter beans and green tomatoes.

Luckily, there wasn't as much construction debris this year (since anyone who has seen our makeshift "curb" along Cherry Street can witness a lot of what we have dug out of the garden – and there's more underneath the rain barrels). However, there were still some bricks which floated to the surface during the tilling process. The kids next door thought it would be fun to tip toe through the garden and retrieved some of the bricks and stones for us. Some of these bricks and rocks are stacked near Betty's plot (in case you're curious what that stack is about). I would recommend that gardeners take advantage of the loose soil to remove the other obvious debris sticking up before the ground hardens again and you have to use a shovel.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

SACG Opening: Many Hands Make Light Work

Saturday was our BIG workday at the SACG and I'm still sore. I can't believe how much we got done and how blessed we were with the beautiful weather. Of course, our work yesterday did not begin yesterday.

Wright's Tree Service earlier in the week delivered two truckloads of chipped wood for us to spread along the paths and the outside of the fence line. On Friday, I picked up groceries for our lunch and refreshments, baked brownies and brewed iced tea. I then picked up the pick-up truck which BTBO loaned us to pick up supplies and drove it to Sutherland's to pick up 50 bags of top soil and back again to pick up 100 landscaping stones (after they agreed to match the price offered by Home Depot). As I was unloading the topsoil bags, some neighborhood fellows stopped by, took pity on me and finished the job – even neatly stacking all of the bags. They said they would come back to help me unload the stones when I came back, but thought better of it when they saw how many there were;) Only Kevin came and helped me unload and stack the stones. That was a giant help. But the highlight of my day was coming home and finding a package from Louisville's Bunton Seeds in my mailbox addressed to the SACG Garden Manager. Inside, was a note from my friend Mary wishing us good luck on Saturday and enclosing a package of Taylor Dwarf shelley bean seeds which I've wanted so desperately, pink half runner (aka red peanut) beans, and arugula seeds).

The next morning, Mike and I loaded the truck and drove it over the SACG and later, Barb & Frank picked up extra wheelbarrows, shovels and garden rakes from Rebuilding Together's Tool Library just north of Bexley. As we began to unload the truck and then pick up the litter which had accumulated on the lot since November, we were pleasantly surprised to be joined by the Mike W, President of The Cougar Group, and Kathy W, who is handling their PR. The Cougar Group is hosting a fundraiser for the SACG as part of the grand opening of its new headquarters at the end of April. We are extremely excited, but more on that later. If you show up at the SACG, I'll put you to work. All in all, fifteen adults and around 10 youths came to help us get the SACG ready for the 2010 growing season.

This is what we accomplished:

  • We filled at least three garbage bags of litter, etc. with the help of the two Mikes, Beth, Betty, Mari & Betty.
  • Mike and I hooked up the rain barrels, but are holding off on our rain dance until after the garden is tilled on Monday. (This is despite my ditziness because I had forgotten to pack the downspouts, hoses and baskets for the barrels and had to run back home to get them and my reel mower). I had hooked up one barrel last week (so that we would be able to water in our new rose and blueberry bushes), but I failed to notice that the faucet was on and all of the Thursday's rain flowed out of the spicket. Dinonte and his cousin then worked on converting the bricks from my failed pumpkin turrets into a new platform for one of our new rain barrels (once it's been built). This involved filling a wheelbarrow with the bricks and pushing them up the hill and then stacking them.
  • We were able to spread mulch along the paths by 11:10. Rayna and Betty spread it while Martha (our new neighbor on Morrison), her several grandchildren, Frank, Barb, & Mike filled the wheelbarrows with mulch. We didn't have enough shovels for the kids (many of whom were shorter than our shovels). I also seemed to have run out of kid-sized work gloves, but they were good sports made do with adult gloves and filled the wheelbarrows with their hands.
  • We planted four rose bushes and five blueberry bushes and five black raspberry bushes. Mike W and Beth worked on digging holes for our four new rose bushes by the front and back gates and then Mike W dug several more holes along the north fence for our new blueberry bushes (which were donated by Oakland Nursery and I picked up on Thursday). Mike W and Beth also planted the rose bushes and Quiante brought us water from her house so that we could water them in. Rayna then took charge of the Cherry Street side of the garden and marshaled the considerable number of children to help her. They picked up the fallen turrets and moved the stones down to our make-shift curb. Because the Cherry Street side of the garden is pretty much solid brick and concrete below the two inches of top soil, Dwain and Rayna took the landscaping stones and built raised beds for the blueberry bushes. She then filled them with compost (from our own compost bins, top soil and lots and lots of peat moss (some of which was donated by Oakland Nursery for just that purpose). They're very pretty and a vast improvement over the pumpkin turrets. Beth and Dwain worked on stabilizing the fences with sturdier metal stakes.
  • Mike and Jeannie then built two raised beds behind BTBO out of cedar boards (which I picked up and had cut down at Lowe's on Friday) for BTBO's Moms on the Move program and then carried up 40 bags of top soil to fill them.
  • Frank and Barb picked up and reinstalled our front and back gates as well as the signs.
  • We secured the benches and put arm rests down the middle of the benches. I started to let the kids help me saw down some boards with my handsaw to use as arm rests, but Frank pointed out that he could do it in minutes with his power saw at home. Although the kids were disappointed that I didn't let them finish, I'm all about saving effort. Then, Frank and Mike screwed the arm rests to the benches. Frank and Barb used their own post hole diggers to dig holes to bury some the bench anchors and then Frank and Mike screwed the bench to the anchors (after going home again to pick up washers since my screw initially fell through the bench holes).
  • We moved the northern two compost bins to the south side of the garden. I took one apart and stacked the lumber. Eric, Mike and Lawrence took apart the other bin and carried the wood pallets to the south side of the garden and held it while I screwed it back together. Lawrence and I then used wheelbarrows to transport the partially-decomposed compost to its new location. We had about 1 cubic yard of compost created from our first compost bin. Pity Eric. He volunteers with Urban Connections, stopped by to take Dionte and Keayante to the arts festival at Upper Arlington High School and I put him to work while he waited for them to finish their gardening tasks and clean their rooms.
  • Betty, Dinote and his cousin began planting spring vegetables (particularly cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower seedlings) which had been donated by Oakland Nursery in our community plot on Cherry Street. Dwain said that he would finish planting the rest this week.
  • We mowed the grass. Keyante started to do it with my reel mower (which is challenge on any day when grass is that high, but even more so when the mower is turned backwards). Then Lawrence gave it a try, without much better success since the blades were not correctly calibrated and it hasn't been sharpened in five years. Dwain then borrowed a power mower and gave us a nice, even cut.
  • Rayna found at least five new raspberry volunteer bushes which she and I transplanted them along the south fence.
  • Jeannie, Mari & Lawrence spread mulch along the fence. Jeannie did this by herself last year (without the benefit of a wheelbarrow) and really took charge to make sure that it was thick enough.
  • Rayna helped me feed the kids, who were more interested in the broccoli tray and bananas than the oreo cookies. However, my brownies were gone by lunch.
  • Barb planted some coneflower seedlings in the front flower bed.
  • We picked through the thousands of Botanical Interests 2009 seed packets which were donated to us via Linda (from my church Knitwits group) as well as seeds we received from Seeds of Change. More on this later.
  • Mike & I reloaded the truck around 3 p.m. and unloaded it at my house.

  • I returned the BTBO truck and harvested a four-foot row of spinach (which was in my plot, grew from seeds I planted last August and survived over the winter). Rayna had at least as much in her plot and planned to harvest hers today because, if the weather holds, the garden will be tilled on Monday.
  • I collapsed and made myself many cocktails before attacking the dandelions in my own yard. Then I posted the pictures from yesterday and watched my weekly Legend of the Seeker. I was in bed at 8 and amazed that anyone would call me at 10:30 p.m. (It was Mary wanting to know if we got anything done besides making lunch for the kids).

FOUND: One black ladies jacket was left on the BTBO truck. Email me if it is yours. I'll bring it with me to the SACG on Saturday.

Funding for our new roses, the stones for the raised blueberry bush beds, top soil and lunch came from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Fund at The Columbus Foundation.

Maxcine called today about gardening with us again this year. She had moved and I didn't know how to reach her.

We have a wait list of gardeners who want to garden with us in 2010 because most of last year's gardeners will be gardening with us again this year. Barring a pouring rain, we'll be building raised beds to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday from 10-2, transplanting strawberries (again, donated by Oakland Nursery) and planting flowers. Green Columbus gave us goodies to distribute to our volunteers. Because Martha was the only new gardener to help out on Saturday, the remaining 3-4 plots will be assigned based on who helps on Saturday, April 17, 2010.

While this is great work and all for a good cause, I was not the hero in my family this week. My sister -- the nurse -- flew to Haiti Friday night to volunteer at a medical mission for a week.

Friday, April 2, 2010

SACG is Making Preparations for Spring Planting and Earth Day

With only a little more than a week to go before we break ground for the 2010 planting seasons, the SACG is making preparations for our anticipated ground-breaking next Saturday, April 10, 2010. However, we still have open plots available for gardeners and will need lots of volunteers to get the work done. We plan to start at 10 a.m. Refreshments and lunch will be served.

This is what we have accomplished so far:

  • I have reserved 2 wheelbarrows, 2 garden rakes and 2 shovels for the weekend of April 10 from Rebuilding Together's Tool Library (at the corner of East Fourth and Morris) just north of Bexley. Frank and Barb have agreed to pick up the items. Like last year, I will have gloves available for volunteers (and I even washed them over the winter). Gardeners should still bring their own rakes and shovles, etc.
  • I have reserved a rear-tined rototiller for Wednesday April 8 and Ms. Anthony from BTBO has arranged for Elder Theodore Picken to till the garden for us. Mr. Picken and I will pick up the rototiller from the Tool Library around 10 a.m. and return it by 3 p.m. the same day. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate (because it is currently forecasted to rain). I'll rake away some of the mulch from the island part of the garden in order to widen the growing space and decrease the width of the path by approximately 1 foot on each side. [Editor's Note: Because of the forecasted rain, we've postponed the tilling until Monday, Apri 12.]
  • Bryan Wright from Wright's Tree Service has again agreed to donate two truckloads of wood chips (which we can spread on the paths and around the perimeter of the fence). They will be delivered before April 10.
  • Seeds of Change (from New Mexico) sent us 100 free organic seed packets, including Peppers (Purira Chile, Corno de Toro sweet pepper, Paprika alma pepper, Habanero chile heirloom, Fresno Chile, Relleno Chile), Tomatoes (Santiam, Brandywine heirloom, Roma, Wisconsin 55, Garden Peach heirloom, Peron Sprayless, Double rich, Silvery Fir Tree heirloom, and Matina), Lettuce/Greens (Little Gem Lettuce, Barcarole lettuce, Red Giant Mustard Greens, True Siberian Kale, China Choy Chinese Cabbage, Early Palla Rossa Radicchio, Wild Garden Chicory, Gourmet Salad Mix, Large Leaf Purslane, Sucrine Lettuce, Cosmo Savoy Lettuce, Red Ursa Kale Rare, Nutri-Bud Broccoli, Green Deer tongue Lettuce, Ruben's Red Romaine lettuce, Persian Garden cress), Cucumbers (Armenian heirloom, sweet marketmore), Carrots, Imperial Black Beauty Eggplant heirloom, Detroit Dark Red Beet heirloom, Red Stalk Celery, Watermelon (malali, Crimson sweet, golden honey), Small sugar pumpkin heirloom, gold nugget squash, Herbs (Bronze fennel, genovese sweet basil, perfection fennel, pacific beauty calendula medicinal, sweet majoram heirloom, valerian rare heirloom/medicinal, american skullcap medicinal, hyssop heirloom/medicinal, lemon catnip medicinal, Borage medicinal, lime basil), Hooker's Sweet Corn heirloom, and Flowers (Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Sky Pink campion, Nigella (Love in a Mist), Galilee Blue Double Larkspur, Orange Zinger Calendula, Moonlight Marigold, Shungiku edible chrysanthemum, African Marigold, Purple Queen Cleome, Deep Orange Safflower, Maximillan Sunflower, Discovery Mix Sunflowers, Feverfew heirloom/medicinal, Butterfly weed). We still paid the $15 shipping cost. We also still have some seed packets leftover from last year.
  • Oakland Nursery is giving us a few blueberry bushes (to plant along the north fence so the kids can scavenge them along with the strawberries and the raspberries along the south fence) as well as seedlings.
  • Trudeau's Fence is giving us more cedar lumber to cut down for tomato stakes.
  • I painted the back of our front sign so that it would better withstand the elements.

We do not have as much work to do this year as we did last year (since there will not be as much construction debris to remove and we already spread our compost last Fall). The primary goals for Saturday, April 10, 2010 is to accomplish the following:

  • Transport our supplies back to the SACG from Mitch's basement and my garage;
  • Spread mulch on the path and around the fence;
  • Pick up the significant amount of litter which has accumulated since November;
  • Put the gates back up;
  • Plant four rose bushes and blueberry bushes;
  • Hook up the rain barrels;
  • Stabilize and support the fence;
  • Secure the benches;
  • Weed the flower bed;
  • Mark the plots;
  • Plant spring crops in the Neighborhood Plot;
  • Start the raised beds along Cherry Street as well as building two raised beds from cedar boards behind BTBO; and
  • Move the compost bins to the south side of the Garden.

    We'll stop when we get tired or 4 p.m., whichever comes first. A few of us got pretty sun-burned last year, so remember to wear and bring extra sun-block and a hat.

The City of Columbus is also organizing Earth Day festivities for the weekend of April 17 and the SACG will be participating. Kurtz Brothers has donated a truckload of top soil and a truckload of compost to be shared by the community gardens which participate. (We can use both to build the new raised beds along Cherry Street and for the raised beds we're building for BTBO's Moms on the Move Program and its group homes). Anyone interested in helping Rayna and me celebrate Earth Day at the SACG on Saturday, April 17, 2010 can come and help us to do the following between 10 a.m. and 2: p.m.:

  • Plant flowers;
  • Build raised garden beds along Cherry Street;
  • Transplant strawberries to one of the new raised garden beds; and
  • Finish whatever was left undone from April 10.

Refreshments will be provided. More details about the City's celebration of Earth Day and how you can volunteer are available at The Franklin Park Neighbors Association is also participating and has organized a group litter pick-up to begin at 8 a.m. on April 17 only one block from the SACG -- at the corner of East Main Street and Fairwood Avenue.