Saturday, October 31, 2015

Indian Summers, Lima Beans and Aphids

Rumor has it that next week will bring an Indian Summer to the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden – i.e., a warm snap following a frost or snow.  We had an early killing frost and next week, we will see temperatures as high as 70 degrees.   I have finally pulled out the summer plants (i.e., tomatoes, peppers, squash, basil, etc.) out of my plot and the food pantry plots.  I planned on doubling our weekly kale/greens donation, but aphids have attacked the greens and weren’t washed off by the torrential rain we received this week from Tropical  Storm Patricia.   On top of this, our fall crops are very, very puny (other than the arugula).  Therefore, I think I am going to be very disappointed in our November harvest.

As faithful readers know, I was disappointed that Rayna abandoned her plot.  Of course, her loss is
Dixie Speckled Butterpea Lima Beans
the food pantry’s gain – especially when it comes to peppers and tomatoes.  Rayna also always grows lots of lima beans.  Last year, she told me to help myself (because she was busy student teaching), but they didn’t seem mature enough.  This year, her beans went to seed and were overgrown with bindweed.  However, I decided to pull a few to save for seeds next year.  They did not look like lima beans to me and I started wondering if they were moldy.  They were not.  So, I had to get on the internet and do some research on  Did you know that there are heirloom lima beans?  I didn’t.  But now I do.  She grew regular lima beans, Christmas lima beans and Dixie Speckled Butterpea Lima Beans.   She knows that I am a bean freak, but she has been keeping this secret from me.  That Rayna.   I showed them to Mari today.

Christmas Lima Beans
I was rained out on Tuesday by TS Patricia.  We needed the rain and I looked forward to our fall crops exploding after a very dry fall.  However, I didn’t see much explosions when I arrived this morning.  I started off this morning by dropping off a mulching mower to the Tool Library.  The Tool Library is giving away free  lawn waste bags courtesy of the City of Columbus (with information about the City’s lawn waste recycling program).   I mulched my leaves at home and returned the mower before heading to the Garden.   It was cold, so I wore four layers and a ski cap.
I emptied our tall rain cistern and lowered the
water level of the big tank (which was surprisingly full even though I turned it off last week).    The Kimball Farm folks have disappeared. I hadn’t seen the tall tank since August and was concerned when I saw that the overflow pipe was aimed at the foundation of J. Jireh.  However, that was because the overflow downspout was supposed to empty into KF’s rain barrels.  Shockingly, their diverter had fallen apart and all of this week’s rain fell onto the building’s foundation (and probably into the basement).  This wouldn’t be a problem for most of the dry Fall, but it would be a disaster this week.  I reconnected our flexible downspout and hooked it up to the diverter pipe after I finished emptying the cistern.  (I also disconnected the cistern).  Then, I emptied two of KF’s rain barrels.  The third KF barrel still needs to be emptied before it freezes and cracks the barrel.  On our closing day, I need to get help in cleaning out the big tank of all of the muck that has collected on the bottom over the last seven years.  While I was busy working this morning, the J. Jireh ladies were busy stocking and assembling a clothing pantry.

I brought buckets, filled them as I emptied the cistern and emptied them into  our turning compost bin (which never gets enough water).  I was shocked to find that someone had put plastic bags in it.  WTF?  I wetted the contents and turned it to mix it up.

While I was working, I saw a little boy obsessing over an animal under a car.  I went over and he told me it was a beaver.  I checked and it was a terrified groundhog.  He went home and got his pit bull puppy and sister.  I sent them away.  Poor wood chuck.   But now I know what is chomping on the lettuce in the neighbor plot along the alley.
I also removed and stacked trellises and stakes and bagged tomato plants, cosmos flowers, zinnias, basil and sunflowers.  I planned to leave early today, but Mari came to clean out her plot.  That would make her and me the only ones who have done so.  While she worked, I tidied up the greens which were covered with aphids.  Aphids are like tribbles; they multiply quickly when you aren't looking.  

I also harvested African marigold seeds to share at the GCGC meeting this Thursday.  These marigold plants can become as big as shrubs and bees just love them.   They are drought tolerant and will grow anywhere. Both African (T. erecta) and French marigolds (T. patula) produce alpha-terthienyl, a substance that suppresses nematodes, those pesky microscopic worms that attack the roots of plants. They also suppress other disease-causing demons and repel cabbage worms.  Cornell University says that they are also deer resistant and frost tolerant.  (While frost tolerant, they are not freeze tolerant).
When I made our food pantry delivery, Gene tried to make a joke about my hat.  I had other things on my mind.  He asked about the cold snap and I explained we were expecting an Indian summer.    No come back from that.

My sister brought me a birthday cake and asked for coneflower seeds from my backyard.  After I ate a third of the cake, I raked leaves and called it a day.
Oh.  I brought candy for volunteers in costume.  I shared some with the Tool Library staff.  No one showed at the SACG in costume, so I shared it with Mari.

By the time of our GCGC meeting, we will know about Issue 3, legalizing recreational pot in Ohio.  We community gardeners have been paying close attention to this issue because most of us do not want to worry about gardeners growing pot in their plots (for their own use, of course).  We already have problems with high folks stopping by with the munchies, etc.  At the end of our first growing season, a high neighbor came by to help us clean out the Garden on our closing day.  She was high a kite, which was kinda funny, I have to admit.  She thought everything was beautiful and wanted all of the mustard greens we were salvaging.  (So much for a final food pantry donation).  She was very enthusiastic, very energetic and quite giggly.   My OSU medical resident was appalled.  Every year, we have gardeners that confirm that we can only grow legal crops because the neighbors worry about us letting folks grow pot.  So, hopefully, people will show some common sense when they vote and I don't have to worry about amending our Garden Rules next year.

We’re still out of books in our Free Little Library.  L  Its sides are starting to warp, so I need to reinforce them next week.   I’ll also work on cleaning out more of the flower beds and hopefully transplanting some more coneflowers into the center bed.

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