Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Venting Frustrations On National Night Out

What's left of our back gate last night
This Garden Manager is in a grumbling mood this week and so I’m going to vent a little.   Despite all of our blessings and good fortune with lovely, ripening produce, we’ve had some frustrations.  First, Jym Ganahl is not perfect.  I’ve had him on a pedestal, but no more.   Second, our newly assigned WEP volunteer refused to come to the Garden, particularly on Saturdays when we do most of our work.  Third, someone severely damaged our back gate yesterday. However, the kids are doing a better job of harvesting their produce and mostly continue to water their garden beds.

We’ve had some wet weekends in July, which is a mixed blessing and a bit inconvenient because I do most of our work at the Garden on Saturday mornings and early Saturday afternoon.   Contrary to popular belief, I try to earn a living – like most of you – during weekday business hours.  That leaves my Garden duties to the evenings and weekends.  I prefer to do most of my work in the morning – when it is cooler and, thus, bearable.  I melt and become very unpleasant and uncivilized when it’s hot.  There’s also more daylight in the morning and I can find an open food pantry or shelter to deliver our donations in the afternoon (unlike at night).    We have no refrigerated place to store more than ½ pound of produce we harvest for food pantries and shelters, so our food pantry donations can only be harvested on mornings and early afternoons – and never in the evening.  Sunday mornings are out because I try to go to church then.  That leaves Saturday mornings.  (I’m tired of explaining this, but I’m exhausted from folks treating me as being inflexibly capricious about our harvest and work schedule).
Our front gate last week

So, when it looks like it might rain on Saturday, it’s very important to me to know when so that I can plan my work and get our food pantry harvest in on time to make a donation that day.  Occasionally, my work schedule permits me to visit the Garden on a Friday morning (and put my paying work off until the afternoon).  Free Friday mornings are not always possible and, in any event, I hate missing calls from my clients during business hours.   With this in mind, all of the local forecasts last week kept saying that it might rain on Saturday.  (That turned out to be a vast understatement).  So, I emailed Jym Ganahl just before 6 p.m. and asked him to be more specific during Thursday evening’s newscast.  In particular, should I harvest our produce on Saturday (preferable) or Friday (much less convenient) and did I need to water anything.  Bless his heart.  I just loved him.  He emailed me during the newscast that Saturday’s rain would be about a quarter inch and mostly in the afternoon into the evening.  Hah. 
Our back gate this time last year
I earned a living and was chained to my desk on Friday and arrived at the Garden earlier than usual on Saturday.  I watered and weeded the food pantry plots and the neighbor bed.  I also watered 75% of my plot when I started to hear thunder.   It started raining by 11:30 and I had to cut short our food pantry harvest (which I usually don’t even start until noon).   As most of you know, it rained most of the rest of the day.   Northern Columbus got almost two inches of rain, but we received a mere half inch.    So, grumble grumble.  Jym’s not perfect.
Our lawn and paths are looking shaggy.  The kids even complained to me about it last night.   The gardener assigned the tasks in July moved away and the gardener assigned the tasks in August has suffered a significant injury.  So, I really need a WEP volunteer.  I keep getting emails from the Ohio Association of Food Banks begging for more volunteer opportunities for their long list of WEP volunteers.  I keep emailing them that I need a WEP volunteer.  However, we had no volunteers show up or get assigned in July.  A new WEP volunteer finally called me this week about being assigned.  However, he refused to come on Wednesday evening and then announced that he refused to work on Saturdays.  So, I contacted OAFB and again requested another volunteer.    I’m told it will be at least another two weeks before another volunteer will be assigned.  This means that we’ll probably go without one for the month of August.  Grumble Grumble.  
Our back gate today
I often nag our gardeners about the importance of harvesting their produce when it is ripe so that it does not tempt criminals passing by to break into the Garden to steal it (and the other gardeners’ produce as well once they are inside the gates).   (Granted, in my backyard, it is the local squirrels that steal a significant number of my tomatoes and my country cousins have to deal with raccoons and deer, so we all have our crosses to bear).  With the rising temperatures this week, our tomatoes will be ripening daily.  So, I decided to make a quick stop by the Garden to retrieve my ripening tomatoes before they tempted a criminal to damage our fence or gates and get themselves stolen.  Neal arrived about the same time.  After I addressed our fallen rain barrel behind our shed, I went in the front gate and he the back gate.  However, he quickly pointed out to me that the back gate had been severely damaged.    

Frank had fixed the gap between the back gate and the fence last weekend.  Neal had been at the Garden on Sunday evening and the gate was fine.  Susan was there earlier on Monday and didn’t notice a problem.  Since Sunday evening, someone pulled off the top lattice half of the gate in order to jump the gate to gain access to the Garden.  So, instead of getting my daily exercise last night, I had to rush home, get my drill, return to the Garden and affix more fence to the top of the gate to keep someone from climbing over the gate.   Of course, because I didn’t have time to implement a good solution, everyone entering and exiting through the back gate will have to bend way over to get under the fence that I ran between the two fence posts.  Who knows when one of our volunteers will have time to create a better solution? Grumble.  Grumble.  Ironically, today is National Night Out – when neighbors are supposed to gather together to take a stand against crime. 
One of the few bright spots is that the neighborhood girls came over last night to harvest their tomatoes and beans and to water their beds.  Granted, we had to send some of them home to put on shoes . . . .  Sigh.

When the lovely rain prevented me from gardening on Saturday, I spent the time making and canning Raphael pasta sauce (from the Silver Palate cookbook), shredding and freezing zucchini, and making Lidia’s Suffocated Eggplant sauce (to freeze and serve later this winter with the Ohio State Fair lamb I hope to buy on sale at Kroger’s this week).   I’ve finally harvested enough cucumbers to make and can some kosher dill pickles this week.  I also hope to make and can some salsa.   It’s not supposed to rain significantly anytime this week, so I’ll probably spend Wednesday evening watering and watering and watering.  I guess that’s exercise . . .

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