Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bag Lady of Gardening

It’s that time of year where I basically spend my time pulling plants (my babies) out of the ground. They either go into a yard waste bag or the compost bin, depending on how thick the stems are (i.e., sunflowers and raspberry brambles), whether they have a lot of seeds which may germinate next year (i.e., tomatoes and weeds)  and whether or not they may harbor viruses and diseases (i.e., tomatoes).   Beans, I cut off just above the ground so that their roots may continue to nourish the soil.   Because the days are getting shorter, I spend less time at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden and skipped today altogether.

On Tuesday, I dropped by the Salvation Army pantry to drop off about 10 pounds of peppers and tomatoes that I had rescued from Rayna’s plot (and tomatoes from the Carter plot) on Sunday afternoon.  I have attached a picture of just some of the beautiful fruit that Rayna grew but abandoned.   She was delighted to hear where I was taking them, though, because she’s a good sport.   However, the Salvation Army staff still hadn’t returned from lunch by 1:30 and I didn’t want to wait around.  So, I was off to the Lutheran Social Services Choice food pantry on the south side.   As you can see, there were a lot of poblano peppers and chilis.  Rayna’s apparently been too busy with her new teaching job to return to the Garden, although she promises me that she will clean out her plot and show up for our final work day on Saturday, November 14 to help cut back the raspberry brambles (which is the biggest chore we will have that day).

On Wednesday, I pulled the remaining bean and tomato plants from my plot, the beans from the food pantry plot and filled another bag with tomato plants from the middle food pantry plots.  I also pulled the remaining pepper plants and salvaged more peppers from  Rayna’s abandoned plot and some beans which had gone to seed.  (It’s to the point that the pods are cracking over and re-seeding for next year).   I also tried to water the food pantry plots because Lea has apparently forgotten that this is her chore this month.  (She cleaned out most of her plot a few weeks ago and hasn’t returned since our killer freeze on Sunday morning to rescue her peppers or sweet potatoes). However, it had gotten dark by the time I finished watering the new seedlings, so I didn’t have time to water any of the existing, larger plants.   I was surprised to find yet another large sweet potato in my plot in my leek row.  Obviously, I didn’t dig around enough last week. 

I should probably admit that I still have peppers and eggplants growing in my back yard because I
covered some plants in my cold frame and threw a bed sheet over another group of plants on Friday and Saturday night to protect them from the frost. (You can see the sheet in the top picture underneath the table).  Although I lost a few leaves, most of the plants were unfazed.  I lost a lot of leaves off of the cherry tomatoes growing up my trellis fence, but they are hardier plants than most tomatoes.  I haven’t decided yet whether to pull those plants this weekend or let them mock my neighbors.  As long as the tomatoes are on the plants, one can still force them to ripen by leaving them on the vine.  Some gardeners/farmers pull an entire tomato plant out of the ground and then hang them upside down in their garages to let the tomatoes continue to ripen.  I’m not saying that the quality of the fruit (i.e., texture and taste) is the same in salads, but you can still cook with them . . . . .  the squirrels seem to still like them . . . .  I’ve also been able to harvest some saffron, although not all of the crocuses have bloomed yet. 

I returned for about 20 minutes on Friday afternoon to harvest kale, collards and broccoli for the St. Vincent de Paul pantry off Livingston Avenue.  We were only about 3 pounds from the 500 pound mark for the year for our food pantry donations, so I wanted to hit that milestone this weekend before filing our final grant report to the Columbus Foundation by the end of next week.   I also borrowed a power mulching mower from the Rebuilding Together Tool Library to shred my falling leaves on Friday in order to speed up the process in my compost bins.   This idea occurred to me too late last year (when I just borrowed a mower in November to spread shredded leaves on my lawn).  I own a reel mower, but it doesn’t do a very good job of mulching leaves . . . .   I love the Tool Library and can’t believe that not every city has one and that it’s only about two miles from my home.

Finally, we are pretty much out of books to refill our Free Little Library.  I’m hoping that someone will donate some so that I don’t have to drive to the west side and beg from Half Price Books again.   They’ve given us boxes and boxes of books in the past . . . .

I will be back at the SACG on Tuesday (around dinner time) and for Halloween morning.   In addition to harvesting lots of greens for our weekly food pantry donation, we have more tomato plants to pull out of the food pantry and neighbor plots and one of the kids’ beds. There will be trellises to put away and stakes to stack.   I'll also empty and disconnect our tall/smaller rain cistern.   If we have time, we’ll also start pruning back (and bagging) the spent flowers in the front and side beds.   Hopefully, we will not have to water because I’m hoping that Tropical Storm Patricia will be dumping a few inches of rain on the Garden next Wednesday (as predicted).  Sadly, we’ve only received two inches of rain since August.  Who would’ve thought that we’d have a cold, wet summer and a warm, dry Fall?  When I was a freshman at OSU, it rained 11 weekends in a row that Fall.   If we do not get a lot of rain this upcoming week, we’ll also have to water a lot of kale, collards, cabbage, lettuce and broccoli plants that are still growing in our food pantry plots.  If the thousands of beggars that usually stop by my home get rained out, I’ll bring leftover Halloween candy (for anyone who shows up in costume J…).

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