Sunday, April 11, 2010

SACG Opening: Many Hands Make Light Work

Saturday was our BIG workday at the SACG and I'm still sore. I can't believe how much we got done and how blessed we were with the beautiful weather. Of course, our work yesterday did not begin yesterday.

Wright's Tree Service earlier in the week delivered two truckloads of chipped wood for us to spread along the paths and the outside of the fence line. On Friday, I picked up groceries for our lunch and refreshments, baked brownies and brewed iced tea. I then picked up the pick-up truck which BTBO loaned us to pick up supplies and drove it to Sutherland's to pick up 50 bags of top soil and back again to pick up 100 landscaping stones (after they agreed to match the price offered by Home Depot). As I was unloading the topsoil bags, some neighborhood fellows stopped by, took pity on me and finished the job – even neatly stacking all of the bags. They said they would come back to help me unload the stones when I came back, but thought better of it when they saw how many there were;) Only Kevin came and helped me unload and stack the stones. That was a giant help. But the highlight of my day was coming home and finding a package from Louisville's Bunton Seeds in my mailbox addressed to the SACG Garden Manager. Inside, was a note from my friend Mary wishing us good luck on Saturday and enclosing a package of Taylor Dwarf shelley bean seeds which I've wanted so desperately, pink half runner (aka red peanut) beans, and arugula seeds).

The next morning, Mike and I loaded the truck and drove it over the SACG and later, Barb & Frank picked up extra wheelbarrows, shovels and garden rakes from Rebuilding Together's Tool Library just north of Bexley. As we began to unload the truck and then pick up the litter which had accumulated on the lot since November, we were pleasantly surprised to be joined by the Mike W, President of The Cougar Group, and Kathy W, who is handling their PR. The Cougar Group is hosting a fundraiser for the SACG as part of the grand opening of its new headquarters at the end of April. We are extremely excited, but more on that later. If you show up at the SACG, I'll put you to work. All in all, fifteen adults and around 10 youths came to help us get the SACG ready for the 2010 growing season.

This is what we accomplished:

  • We filled at least three garbage bags of litter, etc. with the help of the two Mikes, Beth, Betty, Mari & Betty.
  • Mike and I hooked up the rain barrels, but are holding off on our rain dance until after the garden is tilled on Monday. (This is despite my ditziness because I had forgotten to pack the downspouts, hoses and baskets for the barrels and had to run back home to get them and my reel mower). I had hooked up one barrel last week (so that we would be able to water in our new rose and blueberry bushes), but I failed to notice that the faucet was on and all of the Thursday's rain flowed out of the spicket. Dinonte and his cousin then worked on converting the bricks from my failed pumpkin turrets into a new platform for one of our new rain barrels (once it's been built). This involved filling a wheelbarrow with the bricks and pushing them up the hill and then stacking them.
  • We were able to spread mulch along the paths by 11:10. Rayna and Betty spread it while Martha (our new neighbor on Morrison), her several grandchildren, Frank, Barb, & Mike filled the wheelbarrows with mulch. We didn't have enough shovels for the kids (many of whom were shorter than our shovels). I also seemed to have run out of kid-sized work gloves, but they were good sports made do with adult gloves and filled the wheelbarrows with their hands.
  • We planted four rose bushes and five blueberry bushes and five black raspberry bushes. Mike W and Beth worked on digging holes for our four new rose bushes by the front and back gates and then Mike W dug several more holes along the north fence for our new blueberry bushes (which were donated by Oakland Nursery and I picked up on Thursday). Mike W and Beth also planted the rose bushes and Quiante brought us water from her house so that we could water them in. Rayna then took charge of the Cherry Street side of the garden and marshaled the considerable number of children to help her. They picked up the fallen turrets and moved the stones down to our make-shift curb. Because the Cherry Street side of the garden is pretty much solid brick and concrete below the two inches of top soil, Dwain and Rayna took the landscaping stones and built raised beds for the blueberry bushes. She then filled them with compost (from our own compost bins, top soil and lots and lots of peat moss (some of which was donated by Oakland Nursery for just that purpose). They're very pretty and a vast improvement over the pumpkin turrets. Beth and Dwain worked on stabilizing the fences with sturdier metal stakes.
  • Mike and Jeannie then built two raised beds behind BTBO out of cedar boards (which I picked up and had cut down at Lowe's on Friday) for BTBO's Moms on the Move program and then carried up 40 bags of top soil to fill them.
  • Frank and Barb picked up and reinstalled our front and back gates as well as the signs.
  • We secured the benches and put arm rests down the middle of the benches. I started to let the kids help me saw down some boards with my handsaw to use as arm rests, but Frank pointed out that he could do it in minutes with his power saw at home. Although the kids were disappointed that I didn't let them finish, I'm all about saving effort. Then, Frank and Mike screwed the arm rests to the benches. Frank and Barb used their own post hole diggers to dig holes to bury some the bench anchors and then Frank and Mike screwed the bench to the anchors (after going home again to pick up washers since my screw initially fell through the bench holes).
  • We moved the northern two compost bins to the south side of the garden. I took one apart and stacked the lumber. Eric, Mike and Lawrence took apart the other bin and carried the wood pallets to the south side of the garden and held it while I screwed it back together. Lawrence and I then used wheelbarrows to transport the partially-decomposed compost to its new location. We had about 1 cubic yard of compost created from our first compost bin. Pity Eric. He volunteers with Urban Connections, stopped by to take Dionte and Keayante to the arts festival at Upper Arlington High School and I put him to work while he waited for them to finish their gardening tasks and clean their rooms.
  • Betty, Dinote and his cousin began planting spring vegetables (particularly cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower seedlings) which had been donated by Oakland Nursery in our community plot on Cherry Street. Dwain said that he would finish planting the rest this week.
  • We mowed the grass. Keyante started to do it with my reel mower (which is challenge on any day when grass is that high, but even more so when the mower is turned backwards). Then Lawrence gave it a try, without much better success since the blades were not correctly calibrated and it hasn't been sharpened in five years. Dwain then borrowed a power mower and gave us a nice, even cut.
  • Rayna found at least five new raspberry volunteer bushes which she and I transplanted them along the south fence.
  • Jeannie, Mari & Lawrence spread mulch along the fence. Jeannie did this by herself last year (without the benefit of a wheelbarrow) and really took charge to make sure that it was thick enough.
  • Rayna helped me feed the kids, who were more interested in the broccoli tray and bananas than the oreo cookies. However, my brownies were gone by lunch.
  • Barb planted some coneflower seedlings in the front flower bed.
  • We picked through the thousands of Botanical Interests 2009 seed packets which were donated to us via Linda (from my church Knitwits group) as well as seeds we received from Seeds of Change. More on this later.
  • Mike & I reloaded the truck around 3 p.m. and unloaded it at my house.

  • I returned the BTBO truck and harvested a four-foot row of spinach (which was in my plot, grew from seeds I planted last August and survived over the winter). Rayna had at least as much in her plot and planned to harvest hers today because, if the weather holds, the garden will be tilled on Monday.
  • I collapsed and made myself many cocktails before attacking the dandelions in my own yard. Then I posted the pictures from yesterday and watched my weekly Legend of the Seeker. I was in bed at 8 and amazed that anyone would call me at 10:30 p.m. (It was Mary wanting to know if we got anything done besides making lunch for the kids).

FOUND: One black ladies jacket was left on the BTBO truck. Email me if it is yours. I'll bring it with me to the SACG on Saturday.

Funding for our new roses, the stones for the raised blueberry bush beds, top soil and lunch came from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Fund at The Columbus Foundation.

Maxcine called today about gardening with us again this year. She had moved and I didn't know how to reach her.

We have a wait list of gardeners who want to garden with us in 2010 because most of last year's gardeners will be gardening with us again this year. Barring a pouring rain, we'll be building raised beds to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday from 10-2, transplanting strawberries (again, donated by Oakland Nursery) and planting flowers. Green Columbus gave us goodies to distribute to our volunteers. Because Martha was the only new gardener to help out on Saturday, the remaining 3-4 plots will be assigned based on who helps on Saturday, April 17, 2010.

While this is great work and all for a good cause, I was not the hero in my family this week. My sister -- the nurse -- flew to Haiti Friday night to volunteer at a medical mission for a week.

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