Saturday, May 12, 2012

Giddyup – Stirrup Hoe Makes Shuffling Off Weeds Way Easier

Today was a busy and long day at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. We built three raised garden beds for neighborhood kids with cedar fence boards generously donated -- AGAIN and AGAIN - by Trudeau Fence Company.   Russ and Mike are absolutely AWESOME for saving flawed cedar boards for me to use at the SACG.  These cedar boards may not be good enough for their customers, but they are extremely valuable to us at the SACG since we use them to build gates, tomato stakes, fence stakes, and raised garden beds.  We gardeners hoed, hoed and hoed some more today to stay on top of the weeds and some of us got some planting in before tomorrow’s forecasted rain.

First things first. Two years ago, we had some nifty gardening seminars at the SACG organized by the Franklin Park Conservatory.   One of them dealt with second season crops and the leader – Leslie -- strongly recommended that we buy a shuffle hoe. She demonstrated it for us. While impressive, I didn’t feel like spending the money at the time. However, new gardener James came by last Saturday with a second-hand one and I saw the light.  It made hoeing the pantry plot a breeze (after two inches of rain the day before). I bought one for the SACG yesterday and everyone (i.e., Frank, Barb, Mike, Beth, Rayna, Sandy, Kelly and me thought it was THE BOMB). It whips right throw those small weeds with ease. You just keep running it back and forth over the ground (instead of raising it up to chop like a regular hoe). If you keep it in place, it just goes deeper and deeper. Cathy came by and was very excited to see it. She called it a stirrup hoe, which makes more sense because the bottom looks like a stirrup. She’s been looking for ages to buy one. It only cost about $15 and your gardening life will not be complete without it. It makes hoeing between rows a breeze. I may never go back to using a regular hoe. Really. I cannot strongly recommend that you immediately buy one of these before you plant another seed. Really Really Really. Really.

I got there around 9:30 this morning. Charlie popped by first. After working the night shift, he had hit some yard sales and the Clintonville Farmer’s Market. He had a great poster of all things peppers. I gave him some tomato seedlings and he was on his way.

Then, new SACG gardener Kelly and her mother, Sandy, came by. Sandy planted Kelly’s plot. Then she came and helped Kelly and me build raised garden beds for our neighborhood kids. I shoveled our excess wood chips out of the way. They stayed and worked until my drill battery died. We built two beds and put them in place against the west fence.

Barb and Marvin came by to see Barb’s new elevated garden bed.

Orlando stopped by. He helped to finish the second raised bed with his personal drill after my drill battery died. I then put him to work helping me fix Barb’s raised bed. (Be sure to use deck screws on the side braces. We didn’t on her bed and the three-inch screws were not strong enough to hold up the bench). Unfortunately, one of the BTBO air conditioning units had been stolen the night before. I believe I took a picture of one of the thieves a few days earlier scoping out the unit. We spoke with the police. I also provided some seedlings for the BTBO “man garden.” Veronica stopped by and we commiserated over the theft.
Beth, Mike, Lucy and Peter came by to hoe out their plot and do ALL of their planting.   They even had nifty brass-like plant markers this year.  Lucy and Peter got bored, so Mike walked them all the way back home to the east end of Bexley. That blows my mind. Have you ever seen a plot so free of weeds in your life?  They live behind me and know this is the perfection I expect:)

Frank and Barb came by to plan the second flower bed in the Block Watch plot across the street. They agreed we could plant four fruit trees in the Block Watch plot and I volunteered my personal chain saw to clear out weed trees. Frank brought me his drill to complete another raised bed.

Then, Joey came by after volunteering at Heritage House serving meals. He hoed his plot with the stirrup/shuffle hoe and planted tomatoes. Then he helped me build another raised bed.

Rayna came by to hoe her plot and transplant raspberry seedlings. Kenaya popped over a few times, helped Mike and Beth plant, and read us (Rayna, Joey and me) a story about Franklin the Turtle who is afraid of the dark. Peanut came by and shoveled wood chips for a while and helped Rayna with the raspberry seedlings.

Cathy came by to chat. Her kids helped clean out the last raised bed where Peanut had raked up wood chips.

Ms. Gladys stopped by to talk about scheduling.

I planted 18 tomato plants, showed a few people around the garden (and tried to recruit neighborhood gardeners for our three vacant plots), planted some fennel, two rows of heirloom beans (courtesy of my sweet friend Mary) and some plants in the neighborhood plots and hoed and hoed and hoed. I also dug up some volunteer potatoes. Some of them are just babies, but one was bigger and firmer than my fist. Go figure.

Frank and Barb came back to hoe more of their plot, mow grass in the Block Watch plot and who knows what else. They were still there when I finally left after 6.

At home, I watered seedlings and made myself some Genovese Chard (i.e., sautéed in anchovies and olive oil) with swiss chard that I planted at home last Spring. I am whipped and very sunburned (on my arms).

Did I mention also that my neice Rachel scored FIVE goals this morning in soccer?  She has a tournament next weekend, so who knows how much gardening I'll get done . . . .   You go girl!!!!

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