Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fair Weather for Gardening

We had quite a hard-working impromptu crew today at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden.  You would have thought it was opening day again from the crowd.   I had a lot planned to do, but had not planned on having so much help.  Nonetheless, I still did not leave until well after 2 p.m. and there were still gardeners there working.   I can only attribute all of the passion to the beautiful Spring day we had today.

The morning started around 9:30 with filling the new neighbor raised bed along Cherry Street.   As I was unpacking my supplies, neighbor Rose stopped by and said that she wanted to help.  So, we pulled weeds, laid newspaper down, spread bags of hummus/manure donated on Monday by Scotts Miracle-Gro and then bags of similarly donated Garden Soil.  While we worked, new gardener Greg joined us.  After filling this bed, we then moved to top off the youth raised beds inside the fence.  After those were filled, I sent Rose and Greg to reconfigure the new raised flower bed outside the southwestern part of our fence (parallel to East Main Street) and fill that bed with donated soil.  Sadly, I forgot to pack my car with the perennial flowers I purchased during DeMonye’s sale a few weeks ago.  So, the flower-planting will have to wait until next Saturday.  While they worked on that project, I planted seedlings of cabbage, broccoli, kale, and lettuce in the neighbor raised bed and planted seeds of collard greens. 

Sabrina came (sans her men – who were at COSI) and I put her to work weeding and prepping the food pantry plot to plant carrots, lettuce and potatoes.   She was the only one of us smart enough to pack a lunch for today.  (I had some refreshments, but nothing substantive).   Sabrina also did something none of us thought was humanly possible:  She broke a hoe while creating a ditch for the potoates.  I should have had her cultivate the soil first, but I didn't realize it was that compacted . . . . . She was embarassed, but we still have four other hoes in our shed . . .

Cassie came and I had her help me put a section of fence (which we repurposed from the demolished building next door) over the neighbor plot.  As you may recall, we used to have three neighbor raised beds along Cherry Street.  However, the dozen or so stray cats that hang out at the Garden had turned them into a litter box and some neighbors were not anxious to eat the food which grew out of them.  So, now those beds are now compost bins and we have constructed a new – and higher – raised bed for the neighbors.  I put this wire fence (which coincidentally fit perfectly) over the bed to keep the cats from jumping into it.  We’ll remove the fence and turn it back into a trellis once the bed is fully planted and the seedlings are big enough to deter the cats.  (The fence idea was actually suggested to me last week by Sabrina.  She suggested chicken wire, but I realized that the fence would do and was free).

Cassie then went to work on digging out our excess spearmint from the front southeast flower bed.  One of our neighbors stopped by last week to complain that her house is being overrun by mice (from the vacant houses on each side of her).  She had heard that mint plants would deter mice and asked me where she could get some.  I suggested that she get a cat, but one of her children has cat allergies.  (I still think she should start feeding one of the neighborhood’s 50 stray cats on her back porch to  deter the mice).   I don’t know about the affect of mint on mice, but I told her that she could have our spearmint, which was taking over the front flower bed.   Since Cassie offered to help, she dug up and potted the spearmint and I dropped off several pots on the neighbor’s front porch.

Neal surprised me by showing up and offering to help (after first asking for planting advice for his plot).  He’d been travelling for the past few weeks, so Sabrina hoed his plot for him.  I put him to work digging a hole for a rose bush and then transplanting one of our front yellow roses.  Last year, the drought took its toll on our yellow tea roses.  Then, they were affected by black spot disease.  Rootbarb pruned them in November and one of them has come back beautifully, but the northern one looked almost dead.  Instead of pitching it, I thought we’d give it a last shot by planting it at the southeast corner of the flower bed.  Neal dug a very deep and wide hole for it and then covered the bush with wood chips.  Time will tell if it will survive.  I then ran to Lowe’s to find a replacement (because we need a thorny rose bush by our front gate to keep n’ere-do-wells from sneaking in between the fence and the gate).   There were no yellow tea roses, but there was a yellow knock-out rose bush.  While it will not be symmetrical with the yellow tea rose bush to the south of the gate, I have become a huge fan of knock-out roses because of the two overgrown ones we have by our back gates.  At least it’s yellow.

Frank and Barb then came and hung up our front gate sign and then hoed and weeded their plot.

Orlando stopped by.  He’s going to convert our excess lumber (from old compost bins, etc.) into firewood to heat his auto garage.  He also picked up some lettuce seeds for his home garden.

Rose brought brownies for us all to share.  Then she and Greg turned to putting wood chips around the platform raised bed at the northeast corner of the Garden.  Greg had to leave for work, but will be returning to tidy up our wood chip pile.  Rose decided to garden with us and took that raised bed to plant radishes, cilantro and lettuce.

Ben, Hope, Cathy, and her mother stopped by.  Hope will be gardening with us again and picked out her raised bed.  This year, she will grow more food instead of mostly flowers.  The Urban Connections folks were busy across the street planting grass in the lot where they play with the kids over the summer (next to their basketball court).

We have an overabundance of oregano in our herb garden this year.  I need to make room for the basil which we grow for Bexley Pizza Plus (in exchange for the pizza they provide us gratis on our opening work day).  I encouraged Rose, Sabrina and Cassie to divide the plants and take some.  Otherwise, I will have to pack it up and take it to a food pantry.    Maybe Charlie will help us out (since he wants some in his plot and saved one of the oregano bushes last year from the rototiller . . . . )

I planted some more lettuce and potatoes in my plot, packed up the shed and called it a day.  Cassie was still there planting in her own plot and Sabrina was still weeding the food pantry plot when I left. Whew.   (I had to return to pick up my garden rake, which I left by mistake . .  . . )

This was a longer day than I intended.  Next week, I will be focusing almost exclusively on the front and new flower beds.  We have lots of daisies and other perennials coming up.  We need to weed it and then plant some other flowers, like cosmos and sunflowers, and the rest of the perennials I picked up at DeMonye’s.  (I usually don’t get to this until near the end of May).    As always, I could use whatever help is offered so that I can spend more time on my own plot . . . .  

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