Sunday, April 26, 2015

Good News, Bad News

Well, we were going to finish off our major Earth Day projects today.  But someone forgot about the Clippers’ game.  Sigh. However, Neal recruited us another strong, burly guy to help us little old ladies with the heavy lifting.   So, we are going to regroup tomorrow, on Monday, to finally raise the rain tank.  Hopefully, we’ll also have time to weed one of the food pantry plots and plant some greens, kale, lettuce and peas.  If we’re lucky, we’ll also turn the materials in the compost bin.

Today was not a total loss.  When I arrived, Mari had already completely weeded her plot, which means that she may be planning to stay after all.   Neal emptied our overflowing trash can and finished weeding his plot.  Rayna was also already helping Giovanni and Kae-Kae prepare their raised bed and plant it with beets, cabbage, and greens, etc.  I helped fill another bed.  Shae also worked with Rayna to plant in the raised bed that she and her brother Chris will share.

Raya was super busy.  She weeded and planted in about a third of her plot, finished removing the extra fence in her plot and transplanted more raspberry seedlings. 

Amy stopped by on her bike and observed how much better the Garden looks in bright sunlight compared to our cloudy Saturday.   I couldn’t agree more.  Today, I took pictures of the projects we completed on Saturday since they didn't look so good in poor light.

Barb stopped by to report that she and Frank had planted our last cherry tree, but it needed watering.  Gio and Kae-Kae took care of that.  

Instead of turning around and going home, I gave new gardener John and his wife a tour of the SACG.  I removed raspberry bushes from a food pantry plot, hoed it and then planted potatoes, onions, beets, carrots and turnips.   While picking seeds, I was able to enjoy the convenience of having our new picnic table near the shed.  I sat at the table and looked through our seed cache.  The girls followed suit.  I also enlarged one of the blueberry turrets. When I got hungry, I realized that three hours had gone by and it was time to leave.
Even though Zion wasn't there today, I realized that I had forgotten a cute story about him.  Inside the shed, I keep a map of the Garden reflecting plot assignments and a chart reflecting chore assignments.  Zion was very upset that I only included him on the plot map and not the chore chart.  He claimed that I had renamed him (his mother's name).  He insisted that I include him on the chore chart, too.  I'm sure his mother will be very glad to hear that.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beating the Rain Drops at 2015 SACG Earth Day Celebration

Right right Now now.  I thought that this was a very strange slogan for this year’s Earth Day Columbus campaign.  However, on Wednesday, I picked up our Earth Day participation rewards from Keep Columbus Beautiful and discovered the motivation for this year’s slogan.  Apparently, there is a Beastie Boys’ song with a refrain of “right right now now.”  So, the Earth Day 2015 t-shirts say on the back:

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  The next best time is right right now now.

With that in mind, I was feeling very pessimistic all week about the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden Earth Day “celebration,” especially after all of the work we did on Wednesday to get supplies, etc.  Rain has dominated the weather forecast and the chance of rain increased as each day went by.  My labor attorney volunteers wimped out.  Even the organizer cancelled on Friday.  Sigh.

Then, Tyler from the Ohio Association of Food Banks emailed me about assigning the SACG 4 Work Experience Program (WEP) volunteers.  Whoo hoo!  Two of them contacted me Friday and were willing to come on Saturday morning to help us for four hours.  Yipee!  They asked if I could come up with another four hours of work for them by Thursday (which I did after recruiting additional SACG gardeners to supervise them).   I wasn’t sure if anyone else would come, but at least the trees would get planted.  Then, last night’s late night news reported that it might not start raining until the afternoon.  That became a sure thing with this morning’s newscast.  A little chair dancing, everyone.

I arrived at 9:30 this morning and there were a dozen cars parked in front of the Garden.  J. Jireh was building the raised beds for the community garden they are starting in the lot right next to us.  They had pretty much already built all of the raised beds by the time I arrived.  Two of their gardener volunteers, including Melinda Woda, were parked in front of me.  We chatted briefly.  As the morning progressed, their volunteers built some beautiful trellises for their beans and worked on improving the soil in front of their building so they could improve their flower garden.   They had lots of volunteers and I wondered where my volunteers would park and if any would come at all. . . .

I noticed that Frank, Rayna and Neal had been at the SACG on Friday evening.  Frank
replaced the broken spicket on the large tank and put up the sign on the front gate (with help from Barb, I’m sure).  The grass in the Block Watch lots had also been mowed.  Rayna had started to remove the fence on the west side of her plot (which is no longer necessary in light of the better J. Jireh fence and would only harbor unreachable weeds).  Neal had finished weeding the rest of his plot.

I measured off and put a stake where each fruit tree would go.  Then, I started to dig the hole for the Montmorency cherry tree would go in front of the Garden (finding a few bricks and large stones in the process) when Amy arrived.   

Amy took over digging that hole when my two new WEP volunteers arrived.  I gave them a tour of the SACG and told them about all of the projects we had lined up for them to complete today and over the next few weeks.  (In hindsight, that was probably a mistake).  They went right to work planting the peach tree and then started the nearly impossible task of planting the sweet cherry tree across the street.  However, when they mentioned that it was almost solid aggregate, I told them I would go to the Carter’s down the street to retrieve their pick-axe (which we used in 2012 when planting the two cherry trees already there).  As soon as I got to the Carter’s porch, my phone rang.  They said my name and then hung up.  I called back, but it rolled voice mail. I tried again with the same result.  When I returned to the SACG, they were gone.  I had hoped that they simply went to the Tool Library to get their own pick axe.  But no.  When I returned home, I had a message from them that it wasn’t going to work out because it had sprinkled for about 30 seconds and they thought it might make them sick.   They lasted all of 40 minutes.  At least we got a peach tree planted.    Thanks guys.

In the interim, Amy’s friend, Sarah, came and went right to work helping her plant the
cherry tree.  Much like Amy, she likes to be very busy.  They went right to work moving our five blueberry bushes from the south side of the Garden (where the greedy raspberries are hogging all of the sunlight) to the north side.   This way, we can have our wood chips dumped on the south side next year without having to worry about burying the blueberry bushes.  Methodical me had explained how I wanted the blueberry bushes (along with their stone turrets and special soil) moved one at a time, starting with the back one.   I’m not just a control freak.  I wanted to be sure that we used the correct number of stones for each turret and knew that we could get interrupted by bad weather at any moment. However, they wanted to make the most of their limited time by getting as much work done before they had to leave.    Sarah started digging out all of the bushes at once before we even had anywhere to put them.    They dug out all of the stones at once, so we ended up with extra when we were finished.    Happily, we ended up completing the entire project before the rain came, so all’s well that end well.    It was a lot of work and would’ve gone faster if we had another wheelbarrow or two.  (As previously mentioned, I had strong doubts that we would even be working this morning, so I hadn’t rounded up any extra barrows for us from Cathy or the Carters).

Sarah is also a gardener.  Amy and I tried to talk her into taking a plot.   After Neal arrived, it turned out they were friends, too.  Small world.  Neal worked on recruiting her, too, while he helped to move the blueberry bushes.     Then, Tony stopped by and said he wanted to join.   Neal knows him (and everyone else), so they chatted for a while, too.

Sabrina and Zephyr came and went to work spreading wood chips around our new picnic table.  I had given them a stack of newspaper to place under the chips and kill the grass (so it won’t grow up through the chips).  There were a lot of comic pages in there.  Zephyr couldn’t take the temptation; he grabbed the comics and read them in the car.    When they finished that, I put Sabrina to work spreading our donated soil in the Neighbor plot and planting seedlings in it (of cabbage, lettuce, collard greens and broccoli).  I’ll put some kale in there tomorrow.  Tom arrived and filled the flat tires on our cart (which apparently had been flat for several weeks).   This is made it much easier to lug the turret stones from the south side to the north side of the Garden.  Then, we developed a system where we lugged stones north and returned with wood chips to fill in the holes where the berry bushes used to be.

Lea and Zion arrived and went to work cleaning out the rest of the northeast plot.  They then helped us clean up and move blueberry bushes.     While I was raking up wood chips, I discovered a baby garden snake, to Zion’s delight.  I showed everyone and then released it in the flower bed so that it wouldn’t get hurt while we continued to work in the wood chip pile.   When Zephyr and Zion heard nature’s call, Pastor Brown graciously allowed them to make use of his facilities.

Amy went to work on tidying up the south flower bed so that we could spread wood chips around it, too.  She also made a point of finding bugs to entertain Zion.  He walked around for about 10 minutes carrying a worm.  Boys.   Lea relocated the bags of mulch to the back food pantry plot where I’ll plant tomatoes in late May.

I gave everyone the Earth Day volunteer rewards, which included free Chipotle
burritos, a free Gateway movie, Jeni’s ice cream, etc.  I had a t-shirt, which went to Neal when Lea refused to take it.   We also had Cliff Bars to feed everyone, courtesy of Keep Columbus Beautiful.

Shortly after 1, Neal and I started to put everything back in the shed.  As we did so, it started to rain.  It wouldn’t be Earth Day at the SACG without rain.   While we were walking out to our cars, a truck pulled up and it was Kinte, Ms. Dee’s nephew.  He had left a flyer in our gate this morning about his  2 Neighbors & A Lawnmower service (which can be reached at 406-9528).  He volunteered to mow our lawn this summer whenever he was in the neighborhood, but wanted my permission to do so.  What a sweetie!  I hadn’t brought gas with me for our lawnmower, so it wasn’t going to get mowed this week.  Now, I don’t have to worry.

Frank has volunteered to plant our cherry tree, as though he doesn’t already do enough.  He’s fixed the door for our free little library and will be able to reinstall it tomorrow.   Because I want to get Tony (and hopefully Sarah) on board as soon as possible and get our big tank back in business, we’ll be re-convening tomorrow (Sunday) at 2.  I have to leave at 5 because it is my niece’s 18th birthday.   This is what we’ll be doing on Sunday:

·        Planting the cherry tree (which could easily take the entire afternoon . . . . )

·        Raising the tank with the stones donated on Wednesday by GreenScapes

·       Preparing three food pantry plots for planting.

·        Planting in the food pantry plots (if it's dry enough): potatoes, onions, beets, turnips, lettuce, peas, kale and greens

·        Picking up litter along Stoddart Avenue, and maybe

·        Turning the material in the compost bins. 

 

Whew!  Before I headed over today, I meant to fill my slow-cooker with a chicken mole recipe, but as I was filling it, I changed my mind and made coq au vin instead.  I had a nice hot meal waiting for me when I came home this afternoon.   Yummy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day and 2015 Celebration Preparations

Although we are not really celebrating Earth Day until Saturday, the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden (as were virtually all Central Ohio community gardens) was exceedingly busy today despite the frigid temperatures, biting wind and rain drops.

My cats woke me far too early this morning.  Even so, it was RAINING!  This was not a good omen (although I typically LOVE the rain).    Luckily, it stopped by 10 and did not appear that any more rain would be coming our way.

10:45 a.m.:  I rented a pick-up truck from the U-Haul on East Main Street (courtesy of a grant from the City of Columbus Health Department’s Active Living Fund at the Columbus Foundation -- aka the "grant").  When we started the Garden in 2009, this U-Haul location loaned me the truck for free.  Not today, though.  That’s ok.  The owner and I chatted about his garden in Reynoldsburg and his two-legged zucchini thieves.

11:30:  Courtesy of the same grant, I bought a Montmorency cherry tree, Black Tartarian cherry tree and Red Haven peach tree from Strader’s on East Broad Street.  Tom was very helpful in helping me pick out the trees, loading my truck and pruning the trees.  Strader’s donates lots of seedlings and spring flowering  bulbs to the Greater Columbus Growing Coalition every year.  Susan and I planted a bunch of these donated bulbs around the SACG in early December last year and everyone is enjoying their beauty this month.  Thank you Straders!  Tom tells me that these trees (which I confirmed in subsequent research) will be helpful in cross-pollinating our existing Eastern Bing cherry, Montmorency cherry and Contender peach trees that we purchased (courtesy of an earlier City grant) a few years ago.  The neighborhood kids basically eat all of our fruit before it is ripe, so we are hoping that planting more trees will improve the odds of us actually getting to eat ripe fruit some day.

11:55: I pulled into GreenScapes Landscaping Service.  I had emailed Bill, its owner, the day before about picking up some bricks so that we could raise the height of our rain tank (purchased with an earlier City grant) another six inches to make it easier to fill our watering cans. Bill is one of the moving forces behind Franklin Park Conservatory’s Growing to Green Program and is a huge fan and supporter of local community gardens.   I met with him later yesterday afternoon to pick out a partial pallet of remnant landscaping stones (from prior jobs he had performed).   When I arrived today, his office staff mentioned the collage of pictures I had sent them a few years ago to thank them for a prior donation of landscaping edging stones and then other staff loaded the pick-up truck with the pallet.

12:25:  I arrived at the Garden and hoped to jettison the stones over the side of the truck onto our lawn, but they were too heavy.    New gardener Amy was to have met me at 12:15, but she went to Franklin Park Conservatory, checked us in and stood in line (her little body) with the many trucks from other community gardens waiting to pick up thousands of bags of soil and mulch being donated to virtually every community garden in Central Ohio by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.  Neighbor Frank Eubanks was wondering by and offered to help me.  He was still in exercise clothes.  I welcomed his assistance, but told him that I hoped to be finished by the time he went home to change.  However, he was back in an instant and, despite his age advantage on me, was able to carry two stones at a time.  He told me he still can bench press 115 pounds, but could bench 185 when he was younger.  What an inspiration.  I tried to sign him up for a plot, but accepted that he would stop by and volunteer when he had time.

12:45:  I arrived at Franklin Park Conservatory for the main event of the day.  In the past, we have been blessed that Clean Turn (owned by City Council candidate John Rush) delivered the annual Scotts soil donation to the Garden.  I think once or twice I may have driven over on a weekend to pick it up in my Jetta.  Other gardens take a many more bags of soil than us.  It’s first come first served and trucks start queuing up as early as 9:30 a.m.  I’ve heard stories of four hour waits.  This year, Clean Turn was going to load the vehicles since no other company offered to help load.  Because of this, FPC would not have enough manpower to make deliveries.  I was not looking forward to this.   I had requested only 45 bags of soil and mulch, but was given 60.   (We are NOT complaining and will put the extra bags to very good use).   When I pulled in the drive way, I saw Amy waiving while standing between two vehicles.  I pulled into where she was standing.  Coincidentally, right behind her was Pastor Brown (who is building a community garden this weekend in the lot right next to the SACG).  He had invited her to wait in his van, but she declined (since I wouldn’t see her there).

Sadly, Amy reported that our milkweed plants had been given away to another garden.  Curses! Green Columbus had been soliciting gardens to plant milkweed plants to feed monarch butterfly caterpillars.  I asked the SACG gardeners to vote on whether we wanted to do this. They did.  I signed us up and was told to pick them up before 1 p.m. at FPC.   Amy got there in plenty of time, but they had already given away our seedlings!  I’ll remember you Julie Smiley . . . .

While I was sitting there in line, I received an email from the long-suffering, but newly hired, Katelyn, at Rebuilding Together of Central Ohio.  Oh joy!  What bliss!  The City and RTCO had very generously and thoughtfully arranged for all of the City Land Bank Community Gardens (like the SACG) to receive $250 in materials for permanent improvements to our lots from the Home Depot in Grove City.  Katelyn had placed the orders last week and I explained my fondest wish that I could pick them up while I was still in possession of the truck we were renting today.    (I really didn’t have to turn it in until tomorrow, but I need to get my car back and tires replaced).   We had ordered a picnic table that would definitely not fit in the back of my Jetta (even with the fold-down seats).   We had to give Home Depot at least 2 hours advance notice that we were coming to pick up our items.  I IMMEDIATELY called Trish (at Home Depot), gave her my purchase order number and told her I would be there in 2.5 hours.

Amy became impatient waiting in the truck listening to me prattle on.  I just love her.  She wanted to DO something.  So, she drove back to the SACG and cleaned out the neighbor plot so that we could empty our newly donated soil directly into it.     In the meantime, the truck line was making very good progress and I was out of there by 1:30.  There was an ever growing line of trucks behind me.  Pastor Brown filled a trailer and a truck and still had to make a second trip.

1:45: Amy and I unload the truck.  These bags are HEAVY from sitting in the rain.  I’m like – “just dump the stuff right inside our gate.
We’ll worry about it Saturday.”  This is the only the second year I’ve gone to the trouble of locking up our donation.  In past years, the bags have a way of walking off in the three days between their delivery and the following Saturday.  Sad, but true.  Amy, though, wanted to do MORE.  She started distributing bags among the plots.  And, she started spreading mulch around the fruit trees.  (I like to wait until the soil warms up more before mulching, but as faithful readers know, sometimes, the ants take over the mulch bags and I get literally eaten alive by the time I start spreading mulch in the flower beds and herb garden).  Barb shows up and asks that we not mulch any more trees because she and Frank are going to build us wooden enclosures for the trees.  Then, Amy had to return to work.  That slacker.

2:30.  I get home for a quick and very overdue lunch and hair-brushing.  I cannot eat enough.  I send an email updating my other volunteers about the status of my evening plans.

3:00:  I arrive at Keep Columbus Beautiful to pick up our supplies for our “celebration” of Earth Day on Saturday.  These include five litter grabbers, 15 pairs of gloves, safety vests,  energy bars, lettuce seeds and a sign to put in our lawn designating us as an official Green Columbus Earth Day worksite.  There are also supposed to be a few trash bags, but I didn’t look too closely.  We also get two t-shirts (one for me, of course, as team leader) and one that I will give away to an especially passionate volunteer.  We also get volunteer incentives, including gift certificates to Chipotle’s, bus passes, and a certificate for a free Gateway movie, and free Jeni’s ice cream, etc.  I was extremely disappointed to not see Robert Seed again or get to meet the ever efficient Danielle, Green Columbus’ most efficient volunteer ever.  However, the two folks there were very effective and helped me get on my way in a very short time.

3:45:  I arrive at the Grove City Home Depot.  Before getting Katelyn’s email, I had
initially planned to pick up 2 cubic yards of premium top soil from Kurtz Brothers that had been donated to us by the City of Columbus.  Love you Seth!  I had also arranged for wheelbarrows and volunteers to help empty and hose down the truck.   But, with the morning rain, I wasn’t looking forward to shoveling mud out of the truck.  And, I REALLY wanted to get our picnic table. 

An employee in the parking lot directed me to the Will-Call/Service desk.  This was rush hour.  There was a long line.  I couldn’t find Trish.  I tried calling her again and got a frustrated person who was standing three feet from me and said she’d get to me eventually.  Sigh.  When I was finally waited on, they couldn’t make heads or tails of my P.O. number.   Luckily, Trish happened to call them just then.   Of course, she knew exactly who I was and what I wanted.  Thing was, she was at the opposite end of the store. So, I got back in the truck and drove to the Commercial side of the store.  All of our order was there on a cart – except the picnic table.  They couldn’t find it.  I explained that the website said they had them in stock. That was met with derision.  Oops.    Colin was dispatched to find it.  I mentioned that the customer service desk knew where the tables were.  I was not wrong.  They were outside the store on display.  I had to explain to them how to load the truck (being a lawyer, and all, that doesn’t want to kill anyone while driving back north on I-71 during rush hour) and insisted that the table go in with the top on the truck bed. 

4:45: I get home and make myself a quick pesto pasta dinner (from frozen pesto I made from my SACG garden last Fall).

5:30.  I get back to the SACG and start unloading bags of soil (for the raised beds and Moo-nure) from the back of the truck.  I also start emptying the tank (with a hose I brought).   Barb arrives to help me unload the truck.  Her ankle still hurts and she cannot carry things over a distance, but she pulls bags from the truck for me to unload.  A neighbor stopped by with her cute dog, took a picture of our work and said she would post something on her Facebook page about our needing help.  Then, Rayna arrives.  She also helps to unload the truck and we carry the stones back to the front gate.  Rayna and I also carry our new picnic table over the platform raised bed that we relocated two week ago.   I take our new  chain and an old lock and tie the bed to the table (so that the table won’t walk off by itself in the middle of the night).    Barb sweeps out the truck and Rayna and I temporarily store a plastic pallet.

Pastor Brown stopped by.  I imagine someone told him about the shady characters walking in between his tall stacks of soil.  I explain that we are emptying the tank so that we can raise its height.  We briefly chat (although I’m so tired and incoherent) and then he goes inside where it’s warm.

6:30:  I go to put gas back in the truck (to avoid a $4/gallon re-fill fee while Rayna finishes putting the stones near the back gate.  

6:45.  I return the truck, but seem to have misplaced the keys.  They were in the trunk of my car (where I put the KCB supplies).  Oops.   I drove 62 miles today.  This is not especially "green" of me, but the plants we grow this summer will put plenty of oxygen into the atmosphere and absorb lots of carbon dioxide.

7:00 p.m. Back home.  Sadly, get to read the obituary and nice local newspaper article about my Uncle Jim, -- one of two gardeners on that side of my family – who died Monday night.  It mentions his gardening, his case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Coif, time managing the OSU baseball team and belonging to Varisity O in college, and his time in the Ohio House and as a judge, etc.  I didn’t know before today that he used to practice for the U.S. Treasury and the old, old law firm of Dargusch, Saxbe and Dargusch.  He outlived many of his peers.   He could grow virtually anything, which made my father endlessly jealous.   Needless to say, my father and cousins are very, very sad right now.   My father and uncle had practiced law together (in a building my grandfather built during the Great Depression) in my home town since 1958.

So, I hope that we have help this Saturday.  Unless it is pouring down rain, this is what we have planned:

·        planting fruit trees,

·        spreading garden soil and compost in the plots,

·        preparing food pantry plots for planting,

·        planting Spring crops in the neighborhood bed (where anyone passing by can help themselves),

·        planting turnips, beets, lettuce, kale, collard greens, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, potatoes and peas,

·        spreading wood chips around our new picnic table,

·        relocating four blueberry bushes from the north side to the south side of the SACG,

·        turning material in the compost bins,

·        thinning a strawberry patch (which means that you might be able to take some free strawberry seedlings home with you),

·        picking up litter along Stoddart Avenue,  and

·        mowing grass.

 Be there or be square!  Many hands make light work.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

When the Calvary Arrives

Yesterday was another quiet and pretty morning for the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden.  Our tulips, peach and cherry trees are in bloom.  The graffiti across the street has been covered as though it were never there.

When I arrived, I saw H Dave walking around wearing all of his clothes (even though it was going to be hot today).  I weeded the herb garden and an area in my plot to put my herbs.  I then watered the rows where I have planted and weeded the southern raised flower bed. 

A couple showed up looking for Pastor Brown to pick up litter along Main Street.  I explained that they were a week late, but they were certain that there was supposed to be another litter pick-up event today.  I loaned them our litter grabbers and gave them a trash bag so that they could work on their own.  They returned our tools by noon.

Tom, Sabrina and Zephyr came to plant in their plot.   They brought lots of bagged soil and trays of seedlings and seed potatoes with them.

Two of the neighborhood girls who had helped us last week returned.  I put them to work cleaning up the northeast plot where the raised bed used to be.

I liberated a trellis from the back fence and raspberry brambles and other trellises that had been stacked on top of raised beds.  And then  I pushed brambles back into that fence area.  Then, I liberated more raspberry seedlings from the kids’ plots and tried to figure out what to do with all of them. I collected a bunch of tomato/trellis stakes left there from last year and put them by the shed (where they belong) and tried rolling up some green twine that had gotten tangled in a lot of things.    I also started to empty our large tank so that Frank can fix the broken spicket and we can move it and raise the platform by six inches.

I then turned to weeding and edging the flower bed in front of my plot.  That got
more complicated when I realized that there were some weed trees that had to be dug out. There were frequent water/iced-tea breaks.   I also brought some volunteer cone flowers from my back yard and planted them in bare spots. Of course, there were more raspberry seedlings to dig out and put in the pile by Rayna’s plot.  I also found a few praying mantis cocoons.

I finished by cleaning up the center flower bed.   I have no idea why there was so much grass growing in it.

Sabrina returned with a sushi lunch for her, Tom and Zephyr.  They sat and ate it on the path.  It will be nice to have a picnic table by this time next week.  (It is being donated by the City and Rebuilding Together of Central Ohio).  The kids are already hanging out in the location where the table will be.

Another neighbor girl stopped by and said she had claimed one of the platform raised beds.  She has dug out trenches for planting, which was very creative of her. She also removed the onions which Rayna had transplanted there in case the kids wanted them.  I’m pretty sure that she’s supposed to be sharing the corner bed with her sister, but I’ll deal with that later.
I was feeling guilty about not bringing gas to refill the lawn mower because our lawn
clearly needed to be mowed again.   Then, Frank and Barb arrived.  Our calvary.  They installed our front gate. The kids told me last week that they thought we had closed the Garden forever because we had removed the gates last Fall.  I explained that we remove the gates every year to preserve them.

Frank set out and mowed the Block Watch flower garden across the street with their electric mower.  He then mowed our lawn before starting on the next door lawn before he had to leave for work.  This was Barb’s first visit to the Garden for the season.  She broke her ankle around Christmas and has been unable to perform any work.  Today, she weeded the raised beds that she and Frank built in their plot last year. 

A lady stopped by and asked me for fresh produce.  I told her that we did not have any because we just opened for the season last Saturday.  She insisted that someone told her that I could give her fresh produce.  I again explained that our produce was nothing but seeds at this point because we had just started to plant.  She didn't seem to understand.  Barb thought it would give all new meaning to Miracle-Gro if we had fresh produce after only one week.
Barb and I joked about Keep Columbus Beautiful.  I was chatting with Robert Seed on Friday about picking up our Earth Day supplies. I gave him my name, but failed to mention the SACG.  He called me back and hazed me for not telling him that I was the Garden Manager.  He was disappointed that we hadn’t participated in last Saturday’s litter pick up on East Main Street.  I explained that Susan had already picked up litter and we were busy opening the Garden last week.  Besides, I saw their other volunteers and offered to feed them.  He told me that there were only about seven churches that participated.  He’s going to try and organize all of the East Main Street churches (from Life Vineyard Church at Alum Creek to down town) to hold a litter pick up on the July 4 weekend.  Good luck with that.

Robert wasn't finished and also razzed me about my picture never being on the website.  (Obviously I’m taking the pictures and avoid being on the other side of the camera because I'm rarely bathed, coiffed, or fashionably dressed when I'm at the Garden).  I explained that the Garden Manager is merely an urban legend:-)  There's apparently a bounty for a picture of me. 
As Sabrina's family was packing up, the neighbor kids began screaming about a loose dog.  The next door neighbor's german shepard was running around.  She barks a lot and I'm generally afraid of barking dogs.  However, Tom walked over to her, grabbed her collar and walked her to her front porch without any problem.  Their front door was (disturbingly) unlocked, so he put the dog in the house as instructed by the children.  Our hero.

On my way home, I ran into HD again.  He was heading to the Bexley Library, so I gave him a lift.  I gave him the weather report and offered to find a place to keep his stuff behind our shed.  He wants to use the shed, but I cannot do that because he damaged a few items a few years ago when he moved into the shed (before the police picked him up and committed him).

I returned home to mow, plant my new perennial seedlings that I picked up at the annual DeMonye’s sale on Friday, paint exterior trim on my second floor, pruned rose bushes and watered my vegetable seedlings.   I am still sore and sunburned.

There's still much left to do.  The front flower beds still need to be edged and the north flower bed still needs to be weeded.  The food pantry plots also need to be weeded.   We'll be picking up soil donations this week, which means that we'll be ready to start planting in the kids, neighbor and food pantry plots next weekend. . . . . 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Getting Down to Business

I’m still floating on a high after all of the great work we accomplished last Saturday at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden and have attached more pictures from the end of the day.  However, a gardener’s work is never done.   I was back on Sunday to plant my potatoes, snow and snap peas, onions and cabbage.  While I was there, KaeKae and Giovanni came to claim a raised bed and weed it clean.  Then, I was back again on Tuesday to plant kale, spinach, lettuce, arugula, and bok choy.  While I was there, two more groups of girls came by to claim their raised garden beds and to weed them.  Burt even stopped by to claim the relocated raised  bed for Urban Connections’ Youth program (and then returned to a very energetic kick ball game over at Urban Connections).

We’re still waiting on our grant check and donated materials.  The kids’ beds are low on soil and we’ve received funding and donations to refill them.  They really wanted to plant their carrots right away, but I’ve convinced them to hold off until we can add a few more bags of soil to their beds.    They’ll also plant kale and lettuce.  And then, next month, we’ll add cucumbers, watermelons, tomatoes, peppers, etc.

We’ve got four plots open for gardeners who are willing to put in their 3 hours of work equity this Saturday or next Saturday (weather permitting).   This is what we have planned for this Saturday, April 18:

·        Clean up the northeast plot where there was once a platform raised bed so that we can add soil next week and start planting.

·        Edge and weed the flower beds from invasive weeds and grass.

·        Pull the spent sunflower stalks out of the flower beds.

·        Empty the large rain tank and raise the platform another six inches to make it easier to fill our watering cans.

·        Cut down the wire fence next to Rayna’s plot (to save it from invasive vining weeds) now that there is a lovely chain link fence running along it.  We can use the fencing for trellises.

·        Free a trellis from the kids’ area and weave the raspberry brambles into the fence to make it safer for the kids.

·        Maybe clean out the neighbor plot along the alley

On April 22, Amy will be helping me to pick up a lot of supplies.  Scotts Miracle-Gro has generously donated to the SACG 60 bags of garden soil, hummus and mulch.  We have to pick these up from Franklin Park Conservatory (where City Council candidate, John Rush, and his business, Clean Turn, will be helping us and other community gardens load our trucks).  Then, Amy and I will unload the truck at the SACG.  By then, we will hopefully have received our grant funds from the City of Columbus so that we can rent a truck to pick up these supplies and to pick up three fruit trees (i.e., bing cherry, peach and sour cherry) to plant.  Green Columbus also wants us to pick up our litter pick-up supplies from Keep Columbus Beautiful that day, too.  On Friday, I hope to be able to pick up our new picnic table and supplies from the Grove City Home Depot which are being donated by Rebuilding Together and the City of Columbus.

On April 25, we’ll be “celebrating” Earth Day.  Green Columbus has arranged for us to give “goodies” to our volunteers, including free Chipotle burritos/tacos, a scoop of Jeni’s ice cream, a Gateway movie pass, etc.   We hope to have a few attorneys from the Ohio State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section Council help us.   We have an ambitious agenda:
·        Pick up litter along Stoddart Avenue and in the alleys.

·        Turn the materials in our compost bins and spread any compost we collect.

·        Weed and tidy the food pantry plot and neighbor bed.

·        Plant kale, cabbage and collard greens in our food pantry plot and neighbor bed.

·        Dig three holes and plant our fruit trees.

·        Relocate our four blueberry bushes to the south side of the Garden (because the raspberry bushes have crowded them and blocked the sun).

·        Spread our remaining wood chips around the picnic table.

·        Spread mulch in our flower beds and herb garden.

·        Transplant any remaining raspberry seedlings that pop up in unexpected places.

·        Thin our strawberry patch and pot the extra seedlings to sell or give away.

After this, we have only two other major projects:

               1) The City has donated two cubic yards of premium top soil from Kurtz Brothers which we need to pick up and then empty from our rented pick-up truck and distribute among our plots.

               2) The City/Columbus Foundation grant is enabling us to finally replace the make-shift “curb” along the alley on the north side of the Garden.  This 70-foot “curb” consists of all of the concrete debris which we have dug out of the Garden by hand.   There are also a number of heavy concrete chunks in the Garden.  It is virtually impossible to weed this “curb” because of the irregular shape of the pieces.  We will be loading all of this debris into the back of a rented pick-up truck and taking it to a local dump (which agreed to accept it for a mere $25 fee).  Then, GreenScapes has generously agreed to donate remnant landscaping stones which we can use to make a pretty curb that will keep the Garden from washing away in a deluge, and prevent cars from driving or parking on our lot.   We will need lots of strong volunteers for this project.  (Hopefully, we will be assigned a WEP volunteer by this time.  A girl can dream).

After this, we will just be tending our plots, weeding, watering, mowing, planting and harvesting for the rest of the season . . . . . .

Sadly, -- as you can see from the picture --  I should report that our Free Little Library was damaged before Easter -- just in time for Spring Break.  Someone or something ripped off the front door.  Fortunately, all of the pieces were left relatively intact at the foot of the Library.  So, I emptied the Library, put the books in the trunk of my car and carried the door pieces (including the plexiglass) down to Frank -- our handy, certified carpenter -- to fix.  Hopefully, he'll have the door back on by the end the of the week.    Ironically, people keep putting books in the empty library (which is very nice of them) and I keep taking the books out to keep them from getting ruined by rain.   That being said, at the end of our Opening Day, I let the kids go through the box in the trunk of my car -- just like the old days -- to get their reading grove on.

Well, one week at a time. . . .