Sunday, June 1, 2014

Full House Saturday

Although we have been tragically short of rain over the last two weeks at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden, the beautiful day yesterday and Friday brought out virtually all of our gardeners.  I was kicking myself all day for forgetting the bag of refreshments in my kitchen that I meant to bring.  They would have come in useful.

On Friday, I stopped by to cut daisies out of my plot (with the thought I would be digging them out on Saturday to make room for squash).   One of the neighbor girls stopped to water and I gave her a bouquet.  After I left, Celess and Neal stopped by to plant, weed, and water.  I now have daisies in almost every room in my house and still had enough to give a bouquet to my neighbor.

When I arrived on Saturday morning, Susan and Curt were already there weeding.   Sabrina then shortly joined us and weeded along the alley before weeding and watering her own plot.  She announced that while at DeMonye’s Garden Center, another community gardener gave her a flat of lettuce, which we distributed among the food pantry and other gardener plots.  

I spent the first few hours watering.  (We’ve only received .2 inch of rain in the past two weeks and the ground is rock solid.  This made it extremely challenging to dig and sink stakes).  Lea and Zion arrived to water and then to plant zucchini, watermelon and cantelope.   Zion finds it a bit challenging to not walk and dig in other people’s plots and finally settled on a book to occupy him while his mother weeded and watered.   Krystle arrived and apologized for not having time to water her plot.  Very little had sprouted, so we filled it with tomato, pepper, eggplant, lettuce and kale seedlings.   

Barb and Frank stopped by to water the Block Watch flower beds across the street and explain the construction project in their plot.   They are building a raised bed out of cinder blocks for their squash plot.  They can plant mint and other scented herbs and flowers in the block holes to deter squash bugs without worrying about the roots taking over.

I transplanted kale, collards, pepper and tomato seedlings into the food pantry plots.  Then, I turned to transplanting eggplant and tomatoes into raised beds next door.  Then, I started weeding my plot and planting two sweet potatoes.

Tim and Tyrese stopped by to plant watermelon.  However, there has been a change of plans.  Hope and Ben decided not to have a pumpkin patch this summer, so we will be cleaning out their bed and planting melons instead for all of the kids to share.  They watered the boys bed and moved on to basketball.  Many of the girls stopped by to slightly water their raised beds.  J'ainna has raised magnificent spinach, but her family won’t eat it.  Just more for me.
Neal joined us in the afternoon to finish planting out his plot (which is still well weeded).  However, Susan is likely to be stiff competition this year for tidiest gardener of the year.

Strawberries.  Everyone grabbed a few of our volunteer strawberries.   I will be digging out the plants in a few weeks to make room for beans.    I called around to u-pick strawberry farms this week and, so far, only Hann Farms is open for picking.  They are charging $1.79/pound.  The other farms intend to open this upcoming week.  So, we are planning our annual SACG strawberry expedition on Friday morning.  Contact me asap if you’d like to join our little caravan. So far, it will be me, Lea, Sabrina and Zephyr.

I sent daisies home with Susan and Krystle before I packed up at 2:30.  I also have volunteer “daisies” of another sort in my home garden:  chamomile.  I generally plant some every year, but have been unreliable in past years in harvesting the pretty, tiny flowers to dry and use for tea on sleepless nights.  However, this year, I’ve made a point of harvesting blooms every day.

Bexley’s Little Free Library.  We were not the only busy garden on Saturday.  The Bexley Community Garden commissioned their Little Free Library on Saturday.  Unlike our Free Little Library (which we installed last August), theirs is officially sanctioned and numbered by the charter organization (which involves a fee that is not in the SACG budget).    Their little library is a project of the Friends of the Bexley Public Library.   I imagine this will make it easier for them to keep it filled with books.  I have found that to be challenging.  Yesterday, before I went to the Garden, I hit a few yard/garage sales that my neighbors were holding.  They all had books for sale and I encouraged them to donate them to our library if they had any left at the end of the day.  I guess none of them did.  Sigh.   However, one of them was giving books away, so I took two and left her three eggplant seedlings for her backyard garden.

I love the message board at the Bexley Community Garden.  It’s so handy to share information with the gardeners.  All I can do is staple certain notices inside the shed.

Gardening Tips of the Week.   My cilantro is starting to go to seed in this heat.  One way to delay this process is to pinch the plant back every time flowers start to form.  Or, you can prune the plant back by half (and then, as I did last night, wash, pick and dry the leaves before tossing them in a freezer bag to use later).   At some point, though, you will want to let the plant go to seed.  The seed heads are the coriander spice and are helpful (if you store them) to use as cilantro seeds next Spring.

Also, if, like us, you missed out on all of last week's rain, remember that your plants are stressed.  Not only will they need water, but a little fertilizer would help them quite a bit, too.  Sabrina was administering dried organic fertilizer around her plants before watering them yesterday.  This means that you sprinkle it on the soil and scratch it in a bit (so it won't all wash away when you use your watering can).

Finally, when planting thirsty seedlings in a dry summer, it pays to build an earthen cone around the plant to trap the water and help it to go down into the earth instead of spreading horizontally along the ground.

Upcoming Projects.  Since we started planting a little later than normal (with the cooler May temperatures), we're a little behind.  I still need to clean out the herb garden area (of weeds and grossly overgrown oregano), and plant basil. There are beans to be planted in the food pantry plot, back gate roses to be weeded and fertilized, a front gate sign to varnish, additional tomato and pepper seedlings to plant, squash to be planted, the kids' melon/pumpkin patch to be cleaned out and planted, and Mari's plot to be weeded and planted (since she's under the weather and not expected to return for a month or two).  Whew!  Volunteers are welcomed!

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