Sunday, May 20, 2012

It’s Dry Out There Folks

It's very hard to plant when the ground is bone dry for inches and inches. No matter how much we water, the moisture drains away.  Even my perennial black-eyed susan flowers are wilting in this mini-drought.  I'm glad I planted my tomatoes with my home compost.   It's time to pull out the straw mulch, folks. It's only going to get hotter and hardly any rain is in sight.  Of course, on the brighter side, this dryness is hard on weeds, too.

Yesterday, Joey, Charlie and I planted pepper, eggplant and squash seedlings. However, those seedlings were not happy campers within just a few hours.   Joey and I then turned to building another 5x5 raised bed with cedar donated by Trudeau Fencing and he unloaded all of the bags of soil from the back of my car. One of our neighbors ran into one of our platform raised beds (aka grandma bed) with his pickup truck on Friday morning and spent the rest of the day emptying and repairing it.  (There's a reason I used 5-inch deck screws on that bed and it paid off with the relatively minor damage it suffered after being moved four feet in the collision).   Joey and I then refilled it yesterday. Then Joey and I borrowed Frank and Barb's tape measure to mark the location of our new cherry trees. To get all of this done, Joey missed his nephew's play and I missed my niece's soccer tournament.  How sad, then, that I forgot to pack the no-bake cookies I made for everyone on Friday.

Barb, Susan and Frank worked across the street at the Block Watch lot to mark and prepare new flower beds.

After Joey and Charlie left, Kelly and Sandy came. Kelly and I dug four holes for our new cherry trees. What Kelly lacked in enthusiasm, she more than made up for in execution. Her two holes were wider and deeper than mine and completed in a fraction of the time. (Tree holes should be as deep as the root ball and twice as wide). She also made nice, neat piles of dirt next to the holes. We never could have completed the project without the small pick axe (aka the "chick pick") loaned by Barb and Frank. We haven't had to use it since breaking ground in 2009. The ground at the SACG was full of bricks and glass. The two holes we dug in the Block Watch lot were horrible. There is nothing but gravel and aggregate just one inch below the weedy lawn. After Kelly and Sandy left, I brought over the large bags of mulch that had been donated for this purpose by Scotts-Miracle Gro. (Why didn't I think of asking for help before they left?)

Mari came by to work in her plot. After leaving a flat of tomato seedlings for everyone, I headed home to shower and cool down. I watered other flats of seedlings. Then, it was off to Lowe's again to get more top soil for the kids' beds and tree garden soil for the new trees.

Mark from Oakland Nursery then delivered our four new cherry trees around 6 p.m. They were a lot bigger than I recalled and I had to widen and deepen our holes a bit. One of the neighbor guys helped me carry the heavy bags of garden soil (which he just threw over his shoulder). Neighbor Rose helped me get the trees out of their containers. I scored the roots, watered in the tree soil, tapped it down, covered it with the rocky soil we had dug out and then covered everything in pretty mulch. We planted two Montmorency cherry trees in front of the SACG and two Eastern Bing cherry trees in the Block Watch lot across the street. I thought it would be nice to have cherry trees near Cherry Street. (The SACG is at the corner of Stoddart Avenue and Cherry Street).

Mark did not stay for any of this. I gave Mark a quick tour of the SACG. He liked the grandma beds, made no comment about the abundance of blueberries we are growing this year from the bushes he donated to us in 2010, but fixated on one of our most popular features: our strawberry patch. He could not believe how many plants we had from the dozen crowns he donated to us in 2010. (I didn't tell him that we had actually thinned them last year and sold seedlings to raise $100). He then fled before there was any chance that I might actually ask him to help me plant the trees.

It was important to plant the trees as soon as they arrived because I cannot leave them unattended for long.  On Thursday, I spent the afternoon working to replace our shed lock because it had been damaged in another break-in attempt.  Luckily, the thief was unsuccessful in stealing our tools, but he rendered the lock unusable.  After Frank let me know, I borrowed a bolt cutter from Rebuilding Together and purchased a stronger lock.  Then, one of the kids convinced her older brother to cut our old lock (which would no longer open) off the shed (because Ms. Puniness here doesn't have the upper body strength to cut anything).  That wasn't how I thought I had planned to be spending my Thursday afternoon.
Barb and Frank then returned to do more work in the Block Watch plot and I went home at 8 p.m. for dinner.

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