Saturday, August 1, 2015

Don’t Bother Me; I’m Busy

We’ve had a number of visitors this summer.  And I don’t mean just the criminal variety.  However, they all seem to be oblivious to my schedule.  By noon, I’ve started harvesting for our weekly food pantry donation.   If you’ve ever been to the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden, you know that we have no shade of any kind.  The newly picked food sits in plastic bags in the sun.  Wilting. Believe me, I’m in a serious hurry to get all of the produce donations picked.  My own food picked.  Load of the car.  Get home to my first sugar fix in over four hours.  Wash my hands.  Weigh and record the bags.  And then over to the food pantry before everyone goes home. 

So, when people stop by to chat at noon, I’m glaring at the even the nicest people.  There’s landlord Kenny, who even offers me cold refreshments.  There’s the variety of church groups who stop by to invite me to their rallies and services.  (Every once in a while, one of those groups will offer me food or cold drinks).  Then, there’s Neal who shows up around 12:30 or 1 every week and seems oblivious to the fact I’m in a hurry every week.  He thinks that’s just how I am all of the time.  Sigh.  I’ve sent a few memos to the gardeners reminding them not to show up at noon expecting me to be their buddy and what I’m really thinking when they start chatting with me around noon.  The result:  everyone is avoiding the SACG on Saturday mornings.  Except Neal.   I've only seen Lea once since Earth Day.  I saw Tom yesterday, but haven't seen Sabrina or Zephyr since the baby was born in early June.   Not even Amy comes on Saturdays any more.  It's almost surreal.

This morning, I got there around 8:40 a.m. and didn't get out until 2.   I had been there yesterday from 8:45 until 11:20 because Ezra needed to get his WEP hours in by the end of the day and I needed to visit my father – out of town – to see how he was adjusting to being at home for the first time since Mother’s Day (when he had a severe stroke).   I harvested our food pantry potatoes this morning.   The russets were the most prolific, followed by nice-sized Yukon gold, but our red potatoes were rather puny.

I also noticed that our possum had returned.  He started off eating Rayna’s tomatoes a few weeks ago and this last week.   Yesterday morning, Frank set a trap in  Rayna’s plot.  However, by then the possum has moved to my plot.  You can see from the picture I took yesterday that he had eaten half of one of my tomatoes and bitten the other on Friday.  But this morning (Saturday), he had returned to finish the half-eaten tomato and nibbled on a zucchini.  Grrr.  He managed to avoid the trap.  Sigh.  Frank suggested that he would change the bait to tomatoes since the possum seemed to be so fond of them.

Mari’s zucchini had died from a squash borer attack.  I pulled her plant out of the ground and saw  the borer still in it squirming around.  Completely gross.  However, I took some pictures for you so that you can see the damage it causes and how to recognize it.  Two or three of my zucchini plants are dying the same death.  When Ezra came, I had him dig up the area where Mari’s zucchini plant had been to find any of the borer pupa so that we could ensure that it would not be there to hatch next Spring.    He also weeded her plot (but stepped on her pepper plant).  Then, he started watering the food pantry plots.  Yesterday, he weeded the south path.   Slowly but surely, he is developing the ability to work independently and demonstrate quality control. 

I installed a deadbolt lock on the shed.  A different landlord Ken convinced me that if we made the shed harder – and more time consuming – to break into, the thieves would probably leave us alone.  So, we’ll put on two heavy duty locks and let them know it will take twice as much time to break in.  And one of those locks will be bolt-cutter proof.    Frank inspected my handiwork and offered two suggestions of how he could improve upon it.  That’s why Frank is so invaluable. Then, he mowed the two block watch lots before heading off to his real job.  

Even though we received an inch of rain this week (which filled our big tank), I watered a little bit.  I planted some itty bitty sweet potato seedlings in the food pantry plot where the regular potatoes had been.  We’ll have to see if they survive and mature in time by the first frost.    Because we’re experiencing a significant El Nino, I’m counting on a late frost and mild Fall (unlike our last two).  So, I’m optimistic. 
Then I started harvesting.  The green beans took a while because they like to hide and have spread into the front flower bed.  Then, when I thought I had found them all, I found two more vines with beans that had snuck into the tomato trellises.   The bugs had not found those beans.   By the time I finally got to harvesting my own heirloom beans, Neal showed up carrying a large piece of wood.  I wondered what on earth he was going to put in his plot now.  Instead, he announced it was for me. 
After LeAndra had painted the rock in his plot, I suggested that she paint a sign for our neighbor plot.    We grow food in a plot outside our fence where anyone can help themselves. This includes tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, lettuce, kale, collards and broccoli.  I had also planted squash and cucumbers, but both plants died.   I publicize the plot in our Spring neighborhood newsletter and tell people about it if they stop by asking for food.   But, I often am questioned about how other people are supposed to know about it.  Most people don’t want to steal and won’t help themselves unless they are given specific permission.  So, we’ve needed a sign for this plot for six years now.

Neal asked me what the sign should say.  I hadn’t given it much thought.  I later emailed him some tongue-in-cheek suggestions.  While he and LeAndra rejected those possibilities, they started thinking of some of their own.  The sign is a lot bigger than I anticipated, but it’s very cheery.   I’m going to have to cover it in varnish to protect it from the elements.  Luckily, because I had been installing a new lock for the shed, I happened to have my drill with me today so that Neal could help me mount the sign on the bed.

Then it was back to harvesting.  By the time I got to the food pantry at 2:30, it was empty.  Even the volunteers had gone home.  Only the staff was there.  I knew that I was cutting it close.  I would have gone down to Faith Mission (which is open until 5), but Don had been so nice to me last week that I thought I owed it to him to bring more tomatoes.  According to him, no one has been donating tomatoes this year.  The rain has been hard on a lot of crops.  The corn is full of bugs and they had to discard a lot of it (as did Neal).  Tomatoes have not been fruiting or turning red.  However, I reminded him that last week was our second week of donating some tomatoes.  Maybe we weren’t donating as many as in the past, but we have had red tomatoes to donate.  I always grow about 16 different varieties every year in anticipation of every type of weather.  I grow Russian and Oregon tomatoes for cold weather.  Tomatoes for hot humid Florida weather.  Sioux tomatoes for dry and hot weather.  Ohio Belgian and other heirloom tomatoes for regular Ohio weather.  Etc.  Our roma tomatoes have loved this summer’s weather and have been completely unaffected by it.  I hear other gardens have been affected by blight, but so far the SACG has not.  

I've attached charts showing our food pantry donations through the end of July.  Today's harvest and donation is not reflected on these charts, though.

On Wednesday, Ezra was going to mow our lawn before it started raining.  I went to get the mower and found it was broken.  So, I only let him mow our little lot and emailed the handy folks about how we were going to have to fix it asap.  Help was promised.  No one showed up.  Kinda like some of the promises about trowels.  Several folks offered to help, but virtually none of it has materialized.

However, there has been something mysterious.  Last Saturday (or maybe Wednesday), a bunch of stuff showed up around our picnic table.  A strawberry planter.  A briefcase full of papers.  Some Vogue, Architectural Digest and Town and  Country magazines, pool toys and a children’s monopoly set.  No note.  No email.  Just there.   If people want to donate something, they really should let me know.   I have to leave stuff there in case the owner comes back.  Now everything is wet.  Some kids have been playing with the monopoly set, but they don’t put it away and the money is blowing around the neighborhood.  Really people.  What is a community garden going to do with a board game?  What are we going to do with pool toys?  There’s no pool within two miles of the Garden (that I know of anyway).  If they had let me know, I might have been able to find some of these things good homes.   But, when it’s just left there, I don’t have a lot of options.

Well, the last few weeks have been blissfully uneventful.  I’ve been watching the weather reports anxiously – just like old times.  The rain goes north.  It goes south.  It generally passes us by.  I curse at the weathermen who talk about 4 dry days in a row, when it was actually 10 at the SACG.  But right now, I’m good because we got our inch of rain this week and it’s not too hot or too cold. My rain barrels at home are full, too.    I just wish I had enough tomatoes to start canning.   

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