Friday, May 27, 2011

Companion Planting Workshop Planned at SACG

You  -- and your friends and co-gardeners -- are cordially invited to a FREE workshop being held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8  at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden by Franklin Park Conservatory on companion planting.  FPC Educational Coordinator, Barb Arnold, will be discussing the what and how-to's of companion planting. Learn about attractors, distracters and shared space usage.  In other words, what plants should you plant next to each other to deter bad bugs and attract good bugs.   For instance, basil is good to plant next to tomatoes, dill is good next to cabbage, but you should not plant beans and onions or garlic together, etc.

Barb will have handouts, etc.

The Stoddart Avenue Community Garden is located at 445 Stoddart Avenue (1/4 block north of East Main Street and 3/4 blocks south of Bryden) between Fairwood and Kelton Avenues.  

Although we have a couple of benches, you might want to bring a folding chair. 

Refreshments will be served.  RSVPs are appreciated, but not necessary.

As an aside, the SACG strawberries are beginning to ripen and lots of children stopped by on Wednesday to begin harvesting themJ

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interesting Gardening Classes this Weekend at Franklin Park Conservatory

Of course, the day I had set aside to plant my tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, Franklin Park Conservatory would offer three classes which I would really, really like to take. Perhaps you feel the same way. Here they are:

Companion Plants Learn the what and how-to’s of companion planting. Learn about attractors, distracters and shared space usage.
Saturday, May 21, 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
$15 Members; $20 Non-members
IPM – Integrated Pest Management Looking for a more environmentally sound approach to controlling pests in the garden? Learn how to beat the bad bugs and how to promote good bugs while caring for your plants.
Saturday, May 21, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
$15 Members; $20 Non-members, $15 for Ohio Farm Bureau Members
Pollinator Garden Design Learn the how-to’s and why’s of creating a pollinators’ (butterflies, bees and birds) garden. Learn how plants use flower shapes, fragrance and color to attract specific pollinators. Tips on keeping the plants and pollinators happy will be shared.
Saturday, May 21, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.
$15 Members; $20 Non-members
For additional information or to register, please call the registrar at 614.645.5923 or DOWNLOAD A REGISTRATION FORM HERE

Saturday, May 14, 2011

FPN Block Watch Begins Beautification Project Across from the SACG

While we at the SACG wait for the evening temperatures to reliably stay above 50 degrees so that we can plant our peppers, tomatoes and other summer seedlings, the Franklin Park Neighborhood Block Watch (FPNBW) began a beautification project across the street on Stoddart Avenue. The FPANBW has sponsored a couple of litter pick-ups along Stoddart Avenue in the last month, including this morning. Co-Chair Susan mowed grass along the median. They also licensed the lot across the street from the SACG from the City of Columbus for a beautification project. They broke ground this morning for a small bed of perennial flowers.

Watching them break the sod up with nothing but sweat and shovels, I offered them the use of the SACG roto-tiller, which had been donated to us last year by the Cougar Group. Frank went to pick it up. As pictured, Rick made good use of it to break up the sod for the new flower bed (with Co-Chair Barb waiting with a watering can and the SACG in the background).

Luckily, the tiller was available for them because I had earlier promised it for the new community garden sponsored by First English Lutheran Church further down Main Street. The First English garden is directly behind the East Main Street Police Station, along the alley. However, it because difficult for them to schedule a pick up time and they ended up passing on it just this morning. This was good news for the Block Watch.

Of course, Barb and I could not help but agree that it would be great to have a bench near those trees to have a shady place to sit when we've been working in the hot sun at the SACG. (If you've never been there, we have no shade at the SACG; it's all sun all the time).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Greater Columbus Growing Coalition: Pas Deux

Last evening was the fourth meeting of the Greater Columbus Growing Coalition at Barley's Smokehouse on Dublin Road in Grandview. There were about 30 people there, even though it was Cinqo de Mayo and we all had somewhere else to be.

Franklinton Gardens. The meeting began with a show and tell presentation by Patrick Kaufman, co-Director of the Franklinton Gardens. Franklinton current has four sites and is planning on doubling in size this summer. The first site started in 2007 as a family plot garden with plots costing $5/plot and including seeds, tutoring and tools. The next three sites are food production lots, which donates food to area pantries and shelters. With the overwhelming success of the Local Matters Vege Van, Franklinton opened its own produce market, which is staffed by volunteers six days/week and accepts food stamps. Like the Growing Power program in Milwaukee, they collect 10K pounds in food waste from area restaurants and yard waste from the City of Grandview to create their own compost. They are in the process of rehabbing a vacant property in their neighborhood which will house their unpaid interns over the summer. They also participate with Franklin County Job and Family Services as an approved worksite where recipients of government cash assistance can work between 20-35 hours/week as a condition of government assistance to develop work skills. A few generous donors have also made it possible to hire unemployed neighbors as day labors to work in the food production gardens in order to provide them with a legal source of income. Important: They are a competing in the Pepsi Refresh project. The top 10 vote-getters will receive $50K. Everyone reading this blog must vote for Franklinton Gardens once each day until the end of May. You can vote at or text 106216 to Pepsi (73774). So far, out of 400 gardens competing, they are ranked 50th.

Next Coalition Meeting. First Thursday of June; June 2 at the Florentine Restaurant at 907 West Broad Street.

Food Safety. Shari Plimpton, Ph.Ds from the Center for Innovative Food Technologies then spoke for about an hour about growing, harvesting and serving food safely. She works for a non-profit in the Toledo area which counsels farms about food safety to reduce outbreaks of salmonella and e coli, etc. From the perspective of the SACG and other urban community gardens, the primary concern Dr. Plimpton identified was a risk of salmonella from our rain barrels. Salmonella comes from bird waste. Typically, we think chickens. However, there is bird poop on the roofs and gutters of the BTBO office and that is where our rain water comes from that fills our rain barrels and rain tank. All of that poop is washed into the barrels and tank. So, we should not use that water to wash our hands, or our food. We should also be careful not to spread that water on our fruit of our plants. She suggested that we sanitize the water with chlorine or hydrogen peroxide. (2 tablespoons per 5 gallons of water). She also was not a big fan of manure, but she had a hostile audience on that pointJ She also recommended that anyone operating a produce stand take the free Serve Safe class from the Department of Health. Her employer also has a federal grant to offer free food safety training and site/GAP assessments until the end of June – so sign up if you're interested. She can be reached at


We're trying to create a logo for the Coalition. We discussed some expectations. Interested artists should contact Steering Committee members: Roger Beck, Dana Messmer, Peggy Murphy, Noreen Warmock, and Andrew Proud.

Trish from the Animals Garden at Hudson and 4th says volunteers can help every Sunday between 11 and 2ish. She'll be there even this Sunday (i.e., Mother's Day) without her kids.

Kojo is holding a workshop with some folks from Dayton.

God's Gardens is still trying to coordinate 200 church supported community gardens in time for the 200th birthday of the City of Columbus by next February 2012. Their last meeting was at Epworth United Methodist Church. Their next meeting is the First Tuesday of the month (June 7) and is tentatively being held at Christ Lutheran Church, 2314 East Main Street in Bexley (along COTA #2 line) at 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Contact Peggy Murphy for details at .

Seeds. I brought two half-paper grocery bags full of Botanical Interests seeds to share with the community gardens at the Coalition. However, the ladies from Epworth Methodist Church brought four giant plastic containers filled with Livingston seeds to share with everyone. Andrew also brought some seedlings to share with everyone.

We ran late tonight and had to postpone part of the agenda. Besides, I had to run home to make a margarita.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Few and the Mighty

Yesterday, the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden had its first dry Saturday in a month. We put the time to good use, even though only a few of our hardy volunteers showed up. Wright's Tree Service donated and delivered (as it has for the last three years) about 20 cubic yards of wood chips. Then, Beth, Mike, Charlie and I used shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows to spread them along the paths, around the fence lines and around the raised beds until there were no more chips left. This is hard work. Luckily, the weather was very pleasant and not too hot.

Afterwards, Charlie and Tom tilted the shed so that the gutter would drain better into the rain barrel. Then we created a tent area between compost bin to make a dry place to store our tomato stakes. (Bless Build a Bridge of Ohio, Org. for dumping grass clippings in our compost bin!). Finally, Tom and I picked up and delivered our last rain barrel from my house to the west side of BTBO.

Lynda from Growing Hands & Hearts Community Garden on Oak Street stopped by for some seeds. We also had some visitors stop by asking for spinach and tomatoes (even though nothing is growing quite yet).

Meanwhile, we have sold all but seven strawberry pots. So, it's not too late to get an extra pot if you want one . . . . . J