Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Field of Daisy Dreams

We had a very productive weekend at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden (for a weekend where there was no rain).    However, everyone is talking about all of our daisies.  One of our new gardeners asked about where they came from and, believe it or not, I forgot.   The real story is that when I first bought my house in 1998, one of my neighbors behind me was growing daisies in her backyard.  I admired them, so she pulled off a few dead heads and put them in my hand with instructions to crush and sprinkle them where I wanted daisies.  I did and the next year I had tons of daisies in my back yard, too.  So, when I started the SACG, I brought over some daisy seeds to start our daisy patch.  Every June, I (and some of the girls) harvest dead daisy heads (to save seeds) in a paper wine bag.  Then, I spread them in the Fall, after our closing work day and sometimes in late February.  It’s that easy.  No planting required.

Of course, I also just toss a few dead heads in the beds during the Spring and I had a lot of volunteer daisies in my own plot this year.  We transplanted some of my volunteers into the flower beds in April (although it was touch and go for a while about whether they’d take root there until we finally started to get some rain).   The daisies in my plot will meet their end this weekend, though, because I have to dig them out to make room for my squash and cucumber patch. Nonetheless, they’ve given much joy as I use it for my personal cutting garden and filled my house (and my mother’s) with daisies.

The downside of the daisies is that they crowd out a lot of other flowers and then, when they die back in June, the flower beds look forlorn until the cosmos and sunflowers start to bloom.   I’ve tried to work in more Shasta daisies (with a later blooming schedule), coneflowers and black-eyed susans, though.  I’m also going to plant African marigolds (which I started from seed in March) where the daisies are to bring some yellow-orange color to those patches for the rest of the summer.   I’ve had great luck with those marigolds in my own plot for a few years and the plants get about 2-3 feet tall and almost as wide.

As for other happenings, Susan helped me out a lot this weekend by hoeing out the food pantry plot on Sunday.  Then, she brought a friend with her yesterday (on their holiday Vespa jaunt), who planted two rows of tomato seedlings in the food pantry plot while Susan watered her plot.  I then showed them both how to use our stirrup hoe.  Susan “pretended” to be a “new” gardener at the beginning of the season, but I have found her out.  She did an excellent job of weeding the food pantry plot and left behind all of the flowers and strawberry seedlings I asked her to leave (which means she can tell one plant from another).  Duly confronted, she admitted that she is an experienced flower gardener.   Had  I known, I would have put her in charge of our flower beds instead of assigning her a newbie chore this summer. . . . 

After Susan left, Lea and Zion stopped by to water their plot and then planted two rows of onions in our food pantry plot.

Meanwhile, yesterday morning, I watered the flower beds, my plot, the neighbor plot and the smaller food pantry plot (with the thought that we would receive a generous rain today).  Then, I finished planting tomatoes, eggplant and peppers in my plot before weeding it.  Then, I weeded the small food pantry plot and tried to transplant collards and kale, but I think it was too dry and hot for such a project and will probably have to try again tonight.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting much – if any – rain today.  I was telling Lea that – as a new gardener -- she would now begin to appreciate rain more than most people (who see rain as a black spot on a sunny day).    Lea will also begin to share our frustration with Columbus rain patterns because it will mean more work as she has to water her plot instead of letting nature do it for her.  I warned her to expect to hear my screams where she lives on Livingston as I watch rain clouds head west towards Columbus only to divide at the downtown heat island and go north and south – around the near East side – and regroup over  Reynoldsburg.    It’s become my top pet peeve.  Grumble grumble.

With all of the help I’m getting this year, I’ve had time to garden in my own yard and catch up with my own chores.  I and my neighbors thank you.

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