Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heroes of the Day: Franklin County Master Gardener Intern Volunteers

We’ve had quite a bit of excitement at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden over the last few weeks. Last Wednesday, one of our brand new sour cherry trees was intentionally killed by a three-ton backhoe – only a month after Kelly and I sweated in great heat to dig a large hole in very dry dirt where we could plant that tree, after weeks and weeks of hauling three gallons of water to it twice a week and just a few months after we received the grant funds to purchase it.  (As Cristen put it, "that is seriously messed up.").  I went home, cried, and questioned if I had just invested too much of my time and soul into this Garden when it was so callously vandalized. Maybe it is time for me to move onto do something else with my time. And right then, my cell phone pinged with an email. It was from the Franklin County Master Gardener program. Angelic Yolanda from the Weinland Park Community Garden gave them my name and suggested that I needed some volunteers to help. I cried again. The email could not have been more timely.  The gardening version of the calvary was coming to the rescue.

Tonight, eight volunteer master gardeners came to the SACG during record-setting heat to help me weed and to plant flowers so that our community garden could look cheery during this drought for the Hub Garden Tour on Sunday, July 8. (Have you noticed that the national news is just now starting to pick up the story of our serious drought and realize the effect on food prices?). They pruned and planted flowers, cleaned up the strawberry patch, weeded pernicious morning glories from our paths and fence, helped Tom to weed his overgrown plot, started weeding the food pantry and neighbor plots, and started weeding in the annex. We filled up our new tumbling compost bin (donated on Saturday by the McClellan family – along with watering cans, gloves, tomato cages and stakes) as well as our four other compost bins.  AND they brought several flats of flowers donated by Strader's Garden Centers.  AND they are coming back on Saturday morning for more of the same. God bless them!

All of the activity brought lots of kids to come to the Garden, too. Cristen -- despite her legendary aversion to weeding -- finally did a spectacular job of weeding one of the children’s group plots.  The rest of the kids helped to water in the new flowers, the corn, the childrens' group plot, the boys' plot and Ms. Glady’s bed. Other kids visited the sandbox.

Needless to say, the kids and our volunteers also got to learn something last night.  The squash bugs have returned to the SACG.  I was able to show the interns what squash bugs and their eggs look like and demonstrate our magic neem oil/soap concoction that will kill the bugs on contact.

 Then storm clouds and thunder came at 8:20 p.m. and everyone scattered.  (After Friday, no one wants to take the chance of getting caught outside in another freakish storm).  Sadly, the "storm" lasted all of ten minutes and dropped very little rain.

This is not to say that we haven't received other help, too.  Cathy Alexander beat me to the Garden on Saturday (after the freak storm on Friday).  She purchased several bags of mulch and mulched the front flower beds all by herself -- in the rain.

The Garden looks so much better than just a week ago -- with the exception as Cristen noted -- of the very dead cherry tree on our front lawn. 

And the demolition continues on the former eyesore next door. As you can see, they have made a lot of progress since knocking the building down on Friday. Now I’m getting lots of questions about what will happen to the lot. We shall see. . . . .

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