As Faithful Readers may recall, we received a generous donation from Oakland Nursery just before our groundbreaking a few weeks ago. However, I have not told you the whole story.
As I usually do, at the beginning of each growing season I think about what our needs are. After Rayna brought us raspberry bushes last year, I became almost obsessed with adding blueberry bushes to compliment our raspberries and strawberries. (I bought our strawberries last year from both Oakland Nursery and DeMonye's). So, I added blueberry bushes to our website wish list and, when they did not magically appear, this year I began searching for donations of blueberry bushes. A day or so after sending a letter about our desire to Oakland Nursery, Mike called me before I had a chance to follow up on my letter. Not only was he willing to give us a couple of blueberry bushes, but he was also willing to throw in a couple of flats of vegetables. The only condition was that I had to promise to keep the bushes alive. He even volunteered to deliver them himself. How great is that?
So, on the Thursday before our groundbreaking, I drove up the road to Oakland Nursery (which took only a few minutes) and met our generous benefactor. He was so into the spirit of the moment that instead of giving us a couple of bushes, he gave us five bushes (one of every variety they sell, I think). He explained that the bushes do better when they can cross-pollinate with different varieties. (Works for me!). When I asked about any special care instructions or tips, he suggested that we add as much peat moss as possible because they prefer highly acidic soil. Then, to underscore his point, he gave us a small bag of peat moss to make sure that we followed through with his advice. Then, it was off to the vegetable area, where he loaded up a flat for us consisting of early Spring crops, like broccoli, brussel sprouts, white cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, etc. He made me promise to come back in May when he could provide us with another flat – of peppers and tomatoes. But he wasn't finished. When I mentioned in passing our plans for a new strawberry patch, he threw in a container of 20 strawberry patch roots.
We loaded up my little Jetta and I unloaded these lovely items in my backyard. The next day, as Mitch and I were unpacking our benches and stakes from Mitch's basement (where they were stored over the winter), I told Mitch about my visit to Oakland Nursery. He was amazed and asked why they would give us so much stuff for free. What's in it for them, he asked. What indeed. There's the small amount of publicity they receive from my little blog here. There's the warm fuzzy feeling they get from making the world a better place. But I loved the answer from one of my gardeners when I was explaining this story during our dig-out day: They're just good people. (They also sold me the bulbs for our pretty daffodils and tulips at sale price before the sale even started last year).
So, to keep my promise, I put volunteers right to work during our dig-out day on April 10 to keep our new blueberry bushes alive. Mike from The Cougar Group dug holes along our north fence (or at least until he ran into solid concrete). Then, Rayna and Dwain built raised circular beds around Mike's holes, filled them with the bushes and peat moss and watered them in very well. Dionte and his friends then began planting the early Spring vegetables into our neighbor/community raised bed plot along Cherry Street (where anyone passing by can help themselves if they are hungry). When Dionte was called away, Dwain finished planting the vegetables along the outside of the plot. Lawrence then watered them during our brief drought. No one wanted any of the vegetables for their own plot. Inspired by the generosity of Oakland Nursery, the group consensus was to donate all of the vegetables to our less fortunate neighbors.
Then, Rayna, Barb and Frank built the new strawberry patch along Cherry Street (with help from Joshua, Daemon and Justine) and Rayna planted the new strawberries.
All of the SACG gardeners have been assigned approximately three chores to perform over the summer. One of the chores is now to ensure that the blueberry bushes and strawberries are watered at least once each week (when it doesn't otherwise rain at least an inch that week). Another chore is to similarly water and weed the neighbor plot. We're doing our best to keep those bushes alive, Mike!
Anyway, if you haven't been to Oakland Nursery lately, I highly recommend going on Mother's Day. I went there once (using a gift certificate from Iced Latte) on Mother's Day and now know where half of Columbus goes after church and Mother's Day brunch. I haven't seen that many people in a compact space since the last OSU/Michigan home game. It's definitely THE PLACE TO BE to get a jump on May planting. You never know whom you will run into, but at least it will be a gardener. My next door neighbor gets lost in there for hours every year and then she brings me over to her yard for a tour to see what she just planted.