Sunday, November 10, 2013

Getting It Done

Another year.  Another beautiful closing day.  Despite 30-mph winds and a chilly morning, our volunteers got a lot done during our closing work day at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden.  I picked up donuts, apples and apple cider at 9 a.m. and then headed over to the SACG.   When I arrived and began unloading the rakes, pruners and loppers I had picked up on Thursday from the Rebuilding Together Tool Library, the Area Planning Commission was touring the BTBO site next door in connection with a zoning variance application to convert the site from a prison re-entry program to a day care.  I started to clean out the neighbor plot and transplant some kale seedlings in the empty spots. 

Sabrina, Tom and Zephyr arrived with home-made pear muffins and went to work.  Tom raked out all of the garden beds and composted the waste.    He then disconnected the smaller rain cistern from its downspout.  I turned to pruning and cutting back the middle flower bed and southeast flower bed.  Sabrina emptied the shed, cleaned all of the tools, organized the shed contents and re-filled the shed and then pulled all of the tomato stakes and cages and tarps and similarly reorganized and stacked them.  Not finished, she then pulled the bags of mulch and garden soil, and pruned back the invading raspberry bushes.  The shed area has never looked better. 

Mari arrived and finished pruning and cutting back the front flower beds and rose bushes.  She then turned to helping Rayna prune the raspberry bushes on the west side of the Garden.
Do you know what made this?
Rayna arrived with a home-made cake and was put in charge of pruning back the raspberry bushes.  Her time-proven method:  cutting back everything to the fence line and then cutting out any dead branches.  I then turned to bagging the brambles she cut out.  This was easier said than done because it was windy and difficult to get the brambles into the lawn waste bags without getting hurt.  I started to cut them down in manageable-sized pieces.  During this exercise, she came across two cocoons of mysterious origin.  We aren’t sure what bug created them or what to do with them.  Were they created by hungry praying mantises?  Protective garden spiders?  Destructive caterpillars?  Do tell if you know!

Barb then arrived and began pruning the south flower bed.  She and Frank had already removed the Garden sign earlier in the week and will be removing the gates in a few weeks.

I turned to transplanting raspberry seedlings that Rayna and Sabrina had cut out (when they left the fence line).   I filled in all of the empty places on our fence line, but still had many seedlings left over.   I filled a bucket so that any community garden may take some seedlings for their own edible fence.   Many seedlings went to the yard waste bags.   Please contact me asap if you’d like some seedlings.

Tom tried to flip our compost, but the bins were overflowing, so he tuned it a little.  He then poured the rest of the zoo compost around the flower beds.   Sabrina, Tom and Zephyr then headed out to an event at COSI, so the teen volunteers finished stacking the tomato cages and covering that space with tarps (to protect those supplies from the winter weather) and stacking our extra bags of soil and mulch.     Before they left, I gave Sabrina a picture collage of her volunteer efforts throughout the year which made her the SACG Volunteer of the Year.  In addition to our mandatory work days and performing her chores, she also came on many extra days to help me maintain the garden and single-handedly weeded the alley area and west side of the Garden.

Like last year, this is the weekend of the annual youth conference of the Church of God.  Last year, the theme was Collide.  This year, the theme was Impact – as in community impact.  Last year, we had a group of teenagers from Alliance.  Our teen volunteers this year were from Eaton.  (I’ve actually been there – near the Indiana border – because of the Neaton Auto plant).   They arrived after lunch and none too soon.

They also took over bagging Rayna’s raspberry canes and the flowers Barb had pruned while I turned to pruning the flowers that had been growing along the alley.  One of the girls joined me in making our last food pantry harvest for the season (although I might come back to harvest sage and chives since I had run out of bags). The youth adult volunteer supervisor went through the Garden to pull the plants after we finished our final harvest.   He was disappointed that our neighbors did not join us and I had to explain that most of our volunteers had been there earlier and left around lunch time.
Earlier this week, Charlie hand-sanded both of our benches.  Two of the girls then stained/weatherized them.

A larger group of teen volunteers was helping out Urban Connections.  Cathy stopped by to tell me that they completed four hours worth of projects in just two hours.  I suggested that they attack the litter in our alley, but she thought that they were burned out.  Instead, a group of young men came up and carried our 16 bags of yard waste (i.e., brambles) to the alley dumpsters for pick-up on Tuesday.

Everyone took off (pretty tired) at 2:30 (after getting some cake and donuts) and I drove directly to the LSS Food Pantry to get there before it closed.  Then it was home to rake seven more bags of leaves from my own yard before sundown.  And some vacuuming and unpacking.

This is also the time we bestow the travelling gnome trophy for the tidiest plot.  However, Neal did not show up for the work day to receive the trophy.   We put it in his lonely, but very tidy, plot.    The trophy has spent a year in Charlie’s plot and on Frank and Barb’s back porch.    It almost seems to be a curse because the tidiest plot often seems to go to the weediest plot the following year:-)

We started the day in the 30’s and ended it at 60 degrees.   That’s November.

A job well done.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Be There or Be Square for SACG's Closing Day on Saturday

2012 Closing Day
Remember how concerned I was about the weather forecast for our closing day on Saturday?  As always, no worries.  The forecast changed the next day and now we are only looking forward to blue skies and sunshine.  It will also be much warmer than today.  This is also when we give the awards for tidiest plot and volunteer of the year.

Halloween Damage
Last week, I discovered to my horror that Halloween's storm knocked some branches out of the black walnut tree above the rain cistern we have borrowed from the City and those fallen branches broke the spicket on the cistern (emptying it in the process).   When I notified the Tool Library on Monday, they assured me that they had funds in their grant to repair it -- which will be done by Rain Brothers.  Yea!

This Saturday, we have a full agenda for those of you who want to get your last piece of gardening in before it snows next week:

·        Disconnecting the smaller rain cistern from the downspout;
2011 Closing Crew

·        Pruning the black raspberry bushes;

·        Transplanting black raspberry bushes to the empty places along the exterior fence;

·        Pruning our rose bushes;

 ·        Pruning our four flower beds;

·        Mowing the lawn;
·        Tidying up the shed and cleaning off the tools;

·        Stacking and covering with a tarp our tomato stakes and cages;

2010 Closing Crew
·        Harvesting Fall produce for the food pantry/Faith Mission;

·        Picking up litter and emptying the trash cans;

·        Turning the compost/garden waste in our compost bins;
  • Staining/weatherizing a bench; 
·        Cleaning out the neighbor plots; and

·        Cleaning out the raised garden beds.
2009 Closing Day Crew
I picked up lots of tools and trash bags (donated by Home Depot) from the Tool Library. 
We need lots of help.  The morning crew will start at 9:30 and hopefully finish by lunch, when we are anticipating a crew of teenagers to help us finish up the rest of the work by 3 p.m.  (by which time I will be ready to collapse).  I'll be bringing  apple cider and donuts.
Be there or be square!