Monday, July 25, 2016

What Heat Dome? BUMCYF Perks at SACG.

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year, but that did not deter the very perky Bexley United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship from volunteering at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden at the hottest time of the day.  On Thursday, Keep Columbus Beautiful notified its partners, including the SACG, to only schedule beautification projects in the morning for this weekend because of the heat. I heeded this warning on Saturday and was able to get out by noon (for a delightful change of pace).   However, instead of whining or moving very slowly, the YF seemed completely oblivious to the heat and humidity on Sunday.   I purposely restricted their to-do list, but they completed it so fast that I had to add to it.  They tidied up the strawberry patch, weeded along the alley, watered the kid beds, strawberry patch, blueberry bushes, new cherry trees, flower beds and most of the food pantry plots, pulled bind weed off of the southern raspberry bushes, and then sanded and stained our picnic table.

Wednesday was our annual water gun fight (shootout at the SACG Corral)  with the neighborhood kids at the SACG.  I had warned the gardeners not to come unless they wanted to risk getting wet.  It was very hot and humid.   When I arrived, Neal was there tending his plot, and had planted new cucumber seedlings a few days earlier.  He had extra, so I put them in other plots.   Paulie from Highland Youth Garden (in the Hilltop) stopped by to drop off some cinder blocks for one of our compost bins.  I also gave him a tour of the Garden, where he admired the strawberry patch and our rain cisterns. After Neal left, I invited the neighborhood kids to a water gun fight.  Shae initially said no (because she didn’t want to mess up her new hairdo), but came back with her own gun.  Miko, Chris and Jo all borrowed guns from me (who kept my supersoaker).  Micayla came over, but hung out near her garden bed instead of joining in.   She and Jo harvested carrots from their bed and left.  After I was pretty soaked and we had each refilled twice, I withdrew to finish watering my plot, but was still able to get home early. 

On Saturday, I arrived at 8:30 and found that the squash borers had really demolished a number of our squash plants.  I was so excited that I did not have to water anything because we had received more than an inch of rain around lunchtime on Friday.  Weeding does not take nearly as much time as watering.  I found Miko across the street playing basketball and recruited him (with his uncle’s push) to come and weed his bed.  He had some blank spaces, so we filled them in with sweet potatoes and beets.    Miko’s one of those rare children that knows how to weed and can distinguish between a weed and a plant based on his prior experience of helping his grandmother with her garden.

Stan stopped by to tend his plot, harvest some summer squash and to complete the cinder block compost bin.   I told him that I wanted the BUMCYF to complete the bin on Sunday, but he had been waiting for months to finish it and would not be deterred.   I had been saving two bags of leaves to put in it, but he put the leaves in a different bin.  (Not to be deterred, I put one of the bags in the cinder block bin on Sunday).
One of our neighbors had chopped down a large tree growing near the alley on  Thursday.  I discovered on Saturday morning that there was a honey bee hive living in a hollow portion of the tree.  Excited, I found Pastor Brown's assistant and relayed that Kimball Farms should rescue that piece of the tree to start their own beehive next door.  (But the tree and the bees were still in the alley when I returned on Sunday).  We had a light food pantry harvest, but I was delighted to get home by 12:30 and be able to mow my own lawn and clean/repair the northern gutters on my garage. 
In May, the BUMC Youth Fellowship contacted me about volunteering at the end of July (at the suggestion of one of our neighborhood landlords).  I was thrilled because none of the Bexley churches has ever volunteered here.  (We’ve had churches from other suburbs, but not neighbor Bexley).   Their leader wanted to keep their normal meeting time of 5 p.m., although I told her that  most rational gardeners work during cooler morning or evening hours.   Neither of us realized that Sunday would be the hottest day of the year near the end of a regional heat dome.   Then, a half-hour before they were supposed to arrive, the weather radar revealed a large line of thunderstorms.  While I wanted the rain, I also wanted the volunteers.  But, I knew –and turned out to be correct -- that the storms would break up as the approached downtown so that the SACG ended up not getting a drop of rain.

The YF arrived on time and ready to work. I gave them a quick tour and brief history of the Garden.  Then,  I assigned two of them watering duties and showed them how to water the roots, instead of the leaves.  Plants do not absorb water through their leaves, so the spouts need to be pointed  near the ground.  The rest were tasked with weeding the strawberry patch, adding some new garden soil (that had been donated a few months ago by the Conservatory), watering the patch, spreading straw, and weeding along the alley.  I even was able to show them a creepy, crawly squash borer in the stem of another dead squash plant after I pulled and pitched it.   I thought that this would keep them busy until their 6:30 departure, but they were finished in pretty short order, so I assigned another team with sanding and staining our picnic table.    They were old hands at this kind of task from their prior mission camps (at, for instance, West Virginia earlier this summer).
They completed that task before 6:15.  Rather than let them leave early, I explained our problem with bind weed and let them pull it away from the bushes.  (I suppose that I could have loaned them my water guns to cool themselves off). Then, they were off to Johnson’s ice cream while I locked up. 
We've been very blessed to have so many great volunteer groups this summer to help with our major "extra" projects.  Our next major task is to create a new post for our sign so that we can take group pictures beneath it like we used to do.   I thought it would be too hot to do that yesterday, so it will probably be the primary task for YouthBuild when it returns in mid-August.  Of course, I reminded the YF that I'm there every Saturday morning and we don't close until mid-November . . .

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