Sunday, May 26, 2013

As Twain says, Everyone Talks About the Weather, But Never Does Anything About It

As many of you know, this was an exciting week at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. Usually, that’s a good thing, but not always. We had a good crew out working again yesterday.

I planted peppers, dill, parsley, marigolds, and nasturtium, continued to dig bricks out of my plot, watered extensively, mulched the new south flower bed, watered Antoinette’s bed, and helped two groups of boys and one of their sisters plant their beds (with watermelon, sweet potatoes, greens, tomatoes, etc.). Sabrina came, tended her plot and began weeding her second plot (which had been abandoned by another gardener). Cassie came, helped mulch flowers and tended her plot. Neal came, weeded, thinned, watered and photographed his plot. Frank and Barb had already mowed our lot and the two Block Watch lots and substantially weeded their own plot yesterday, but stopped by and waved anyway. Rose came, spread mulch under her raised bed, fed the kids, brought us drinking water, weeded her bed and planted tomatoes. We had two different people stop by asking to join, but we’re full up at this point. I sent them over to the Big Garden run by Four Seasons City Farm at Mound and Carpenter.
The Garden looks so much better than it did this time last year. All of the plots are being actively tended. The daisies, bachelor buttons and cat mint look lovely. I have several engaged volunteers. However, I’m still staying hours later than I intended each day because there is always more to do. Ugh.
The kids were mostly interested in the chocolate no-bake cookies I brought as a reward for helping out. I had promised them last week to one of our youth gardeners (because they are her favorite), but she was not here yesterday. Her uncle was shot in the chest and murdered right in front of her and a couple of other neighborhood kids on her front porch – just a few houses down and across the street from the SACG -- at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. This has been a pretty traumatic event for the neighborhood. The other three murders in the neighborhood since the Garden broke ground in 2009 have been at night. No one has been so brazen as to do something like this in broad daylight in front of lots of witnesses and with children present. Now, no one -- particularly the witnesses -- feels safe until he is caught and put behind bars.
A police officer stopped by to say hello and thank us for all of our hard work. She is new to the weekend day shift and has a garden of her own.
It was warmer than expected yesterday when the sun was shining. We haven’t had any significant rain in almost two weeks and certainly not since I hooked up our second cistern on May 17. This has required us to water a lot and caused me to be very frustrated with the local weathermen who had predicted lots of rain in the last week. If Bill Kelly and Yolanda celebrate a dry day one more time on WSYX, I’m likely to throw my shoes through my television. My only consolation is that the Memorial Golf Tournament is about to start. I think I can count on one hand how many times since I’ve lived in Central Ohio that they haven’t had to postpone play because of rain delays. If anything is a rain magnet in Central Ohio, that tournament is. And then we can look forward to at least one rain shower during the annual Arts Festival downtown. After that, who knows?
Carpenter bee on Bee Balm in 2009
There have been virtually no bees at the SACG (or my backyard) this year. I saw our first and only bee at the SACG yesterday. Like the SACG, my own backyard is full of roses, cat mint and purple salvia – which are typically bee magnets. Nonetheless, I’ve had only a couple of carpenter bees and no honey bees. My fellow knitwits said they heard there had been a 90% die-off of hives over the winter (with the cold temperatures on top of mites and other mysterious causes). OSU reported this weekthat only a 31% die-off had been reported nationally. If that’s true, there are areas in the US with lots of bees because there are none on the near-East side. I’m not sure yet how this will affect my bean, pepper, or eggplant crop, let alone our peaches and cherries . . . . . .
Tonight looks to be the last cool night of the season. That means I can finally transplant our basil seedlings into our herb garden tomorrow and my eggplant into my own plot. I’ve grown weary of having to bring them inside every night in the past week. While I sleep better on cold nights, my eggplant and basil do not. Of course, this also means that I need to substantially reduce the size of our several overgrown oregano plants. They have almost completely taken over parts of the SACG. So, if you want some fresh oregano to dry, stop by the SACG tomorrow around 10-10:30 and there will be lots of free fresh oregano available. If you’re really nice to me, I may even divide some of the plants so that you can transplant them into your own garden.
Finally, our strawberries have begun to ripen at the SACG. That means strawberry season is upon us and I will be updating our annual strawberry farm list sometime this week. Sabrina and I (and possibly Rose) will be organizing a strawberry picking expedition within the next 10 days. Email me if you’d like to join us. I usually pick around 15 pounds, freeze a bunch and then make some jam. If it gets as hot as predicted, I may even make strawberry ice cream. I promised my fellow Knitwits fresh berries for our evening dessert on June 4 and I intend to keep that promise.

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