Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kickin’ Butt and Takin’ Names at the SACG

God gave us a tremendously successful opening day at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden.  Words cannot adequately describe what beautiful weather we had.  To think that Cathy and I picked this date on January 21.  We had only two gardeners not show up after signing up (as well as three volunteers who had indicated they were coming).   We had lots to eat and lots of neighborhood kids come to visit.  And we added new gardeners who showed up for the first time today.

A.M. Photo
On Friday, Cathy texted me that the City had dropped off a truck load of wood chips for us to spread on our paths and around our fence lines.  “Your wood chips arrived,” she wrote.  That was an understatement.  The City’s Forestry Department doubted that we could use an entire truckload.  I insisted.  They turned out to be right.  This was a freakishly large truck load and is larger than my car.  However, we used over half of the chips.  Some of our neighbors and Urban Connections indicated that they could utilize the rest of them to keep down weeds.  With any luck, the entire pile will be gone by the end of the month.   Unlike last year, Zephyr wasn’t here to play king of the hill, although Curt threatened to do so if I turned my back. 
P.M. Photo

My cousin Krystle came early this morning to pick up from my back yard my wheelbarrow and table, and the wheelbarrows and extra tools which we had picked up from the Rebuilding Together Tool Library on Thursday.  (The Tool Library was concerned that only two community gardens had made reservations so far for tools for Earth Day.  They don't want to get backed up when dozens of gardens show up simultaneously to borrow tools).  Of course, Rayna was already at the SACG and digging out raspberry seedlings to transplant.  Curt and Susan were also there promptly.  Celess arrived shortly thereafter. I put Rayna to work repairing the weak areas in our fence.  The rest of our volunteers focused on spreading the wood chips.  Neal came and helped Rayna with the fence before helping spread chips.
Urban Connections also had a work day today to rehabilitate a neighborhood house.  They were there when I arrived and were still there working when I left.  They had so many volunteers show up that they sent me three strong teenage boys from the Dover, Ohio Alliance Church.  They spent most of the day spreading wood chips.  The chips are so thick around our gates that I had trouble shutting the gates.  The boys then dug out the sun flower stumps, helped clean out Mary’s bed, reinforced our platform raised beds with cement blocks and carried down excess stones from the Garden to our alley curb.  And they thanked me for putting them to work.
We had lots to eat.  Although I messed them up and ate quite a few for quality control, I made chocolate no bake cookies last night.  Rayna baked several dozen peanut butter – oatmeal – m&m cookies.  Krystle baked brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  Then, on Thursday, I picked up from the Lane Avenue Whole Foods its donation of jugs of water, juice, dozens of bananas, granola bars and cheese crackers.  I added some carrots.   At noon, Hannah and Isaiah came and put on a one-hour nutrition and cooking demonstration on our front lawn.   First, they made a kale salad (always a favorite with me).  Then, there was vegetarian stir fry.  The kids were transfixed and some neighbors even stopped by out of curiosity and listened for a while.  By the time we left for the day, every single banana had been eaten, as well as a few jugs of lemonade, a container of pineapple and all of my bottled water.  Rayna took her extra cookies to the hard-working Urban Connection volunteers on Morrison.

I dug up and transplanted raspberry bushes.  Mari and Krystle weeded the front flower beds and transplanted volunteer daisies.  Barb pruned the rose bushes.  (On Thursday, she and Frank had installed our sign, replaced the shed’s rain barrel and mowed our lawn).  Ben came and spread chips and edged our front flower bed.  He also spread peat moss in the blueberry bush turrets and around our garden plots.
This week hasn’t all been smooth.  The spicket on our main rain tank was cracked and leaked out all of the rain which we tried to collect on Tuesday.  Frank explained to me how to fix it, so off to Lowe’s I went for a replacement.  Rain Brothers fixed the spicket on our other tank on Friday and also hooked the tank up for us to boot.  Now, I have to hope that the gutters don’t get blocked before the tanks fill up on Monday.  The lock on the front gate also froze up.  I recruited a young man from the neighborhood to cut it off with my bolt cutters.  No success.  Frank thought that we’d have to get a special electric saw.  However, I borrowed the giant bolt cutters from the Tool Library.  Giant -- as in almost as tall as me -- giant.   I then recruited a neighbor guy walking down the alley to cut off the lock.  Success!  I also spent about an hour in line of traffic to pick up books donated by Half Price Books and restocked our Free Little Library.
It was almost too warm this afternoon.  Some of us were walking around in a daze and it seemed to take three times as long to pack up my car as it had taken this morning.   After I unpacked my car, I then headed back to the Garden to start preparing my plot for planting.  I also dug up volunteer coneflowers in my back yard to transplant at the SACG next week.
It was an exhausting day, but a very good start for the season.  Lots of kids came by.  They had already been through the new books in the Library and they wanted to make sure that there was space left in the Garden for them to have their own gardens this summer.   As of today, we should have the same amount of space as we had last year for the kids.
We will meet again in two weeks to finish what was not completed today.  For instance, we will need to weed the blueberry bushes, strawberry patch, and neighbor beds.  We’ll also plant some flowers and vegetable seedlings. 

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