Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rainy Days and Good Neighbors

I am NOT going to complain about the almost ceaseless rain the last few days.  We need it and every amount that we receive over an inch each week makes everything almost double in size.  Unlike some community gardens, we have great drainage at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden and so, no standing water.   But while my lettuce and kale are growing gangbusters, so are the weeds.  Therefore, you can appreciate my delight when Cathy from Urban Connections emailed me on Tuesday asking if we’d like some help on Thursday evening.  Their middle school group meets every Thursday evening for dinner, Bible study, tutoring and fun and, this week, needed to earn community service points in order to go play Laser Tag on Saturday (today).  

As I reported last week, our next door neighbors (including Isaias) spent Sunday cleaning up their side of the alley by pulling weeds and sweeping, etc.  The utility company then made a mess of their work by digging down to a gas or water line and blocking the alley for the rest of the week.  I had congratulated my neighbors on their work and encouraged them to pull the weed growing on the SACG side of the alley, but they just laughed.  So, I told Cathy that the UC kids could weed the alley.  Of course, it threatened to rain.

In the meantime, Pastor Nick from Life Church asked me to track down some discounts for soil (or “dirt” as he called it) for the raised beds that they built on Sunday.    The Conservatory was able to make a donation that might fill a bed or two.  “Sweet” says Nick.  I also called Leigh Anne at The Miracle Garden in Linden, who has her own super connections to Kurtz Brothers.  Leigh Anne was a bit tied up when I spoke to her.  She was out in the rain helping to clean up an alley.  (I’ll be right there with you, sister, Thursday evening, but I cannot believe that you’re out there in the rain.)  When I spoke to her later, she told me that she was on crutches.  That must have been some clean-up.  She wanted me to know (and to share with everyone) that the Miracle Garden will be opening a farmer’s market and has been approved for an EBT machine.   Any other community garden is welcome to sell their produce at their Farmer’s Market.  If you have a long 8x8 table, it will cost $10 and a simple card table will be $5.  (You can call her at 202-3227 to get all of the details, dates, times and place and make sure that I got the  details correct).   While I’m on the subject of earned income, GCGC President Charles Nabrit also shared that OSU is looking to purchase fresh produce (CSA style) from local urban farms.   After I spoke with Jeff, Kurtz Bros made a generous offer to Life Church as well and I’m sure that Nick is trying to figure out how to respond to all of this good will so that his flock can start planting next weekend.

On Wednesday evening, I headed over to the SACG to weed and possibly cover more food pantry plots with row covers that I purchased.  I decided to first weed the back third of Rayna’s old plot and plant another couple of rows of lettuce before it started to rain again.  While I did that, Sabrina showed up with lumber to build herself a potato box in her plot.  She decided to start, however, by weeding the rest of Rayna’s old plot to plant three rows of corn before it started raining again.  I helped a little.  Mostly, I chatted with Cathy who stopped by to report that Micayla’s family was going to move to Mississippi. OH NO!!!!  (But, I later discovered it was a false alarm because they have changed their minds).  We also debated how to plant the corn (in lateral rows or long rows).  After a couple more weeks, we’ll plant some more corn (so that it does not ripen all at once).  And we’ll interplant some pole beans (once the corn is tall enough to support it).  And then we’ll plant some squash.  Cathy and I thought that the “three sisters” involved zucchini, but Sabrina thought that it meant winter squash.  She’s in charge, so we’re leaving it to her to decide what to do.   As soon as she finished disposing of the weeds and planting, it was getting dark and we turned to building her potato box.  I’ve stripped screws before, but never a screw bit before Wednesday.  Oh well.  And, on top of everything, someone hit Sabrina’s car while driving down Stoddart.  Luckily, a neighbor knew the driver and gave me his telephone number to get Sabrina paid to repair the damage to her bumper.  Good neighbors are good to have.  '
Our daisies are starting to pop and our chives are in full flower.  I also discovered that the "annual" salvia that I planted I the south flower bed is coming back.  I don't know if I was wrong about the salvia (which makes me regret pulling any of it out at the end of the season) or whether our winter was really that mild.  I did not expect to have anything return, so this is a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, the rain slacked off a bit on Thursday evening.  I headed over early and decided to transplant some lettuce from my plot into the neighbor plot before the kids arrived (if they worked at all since it was drizzling).  They saw me from the UC House and came right over.   One crew weeded along the alley, between and behind the compost bins.  I discovered that poison ivy had returned behind one of the neighbor beds and so warned them away from that spot.  (Another thing for me to address when it gets warmer and I bring some round up over).

We set another crew on the vacant (soon to be food pantry plots) inside the fence.  This gave me the opportunity to show them how to use the stirrup hoe (which works a bit like a vacuum cleaner).  One gentleman weeded in and around the raised beds.  Chris and another young man weeded two center beds.  Then, when the alley crew finished early, they came and weeded a third vacant plot.    They were supervised by Cathy and April, who was a UC kid a decade ago and now has her four children in the program.  (There’s nothing to make you feel old than having kids that you used to mentor return with children of their own).

It’s been too cold to plant the flats of tomatoes and peppers that I started from seed in February.  I returned a flat of herbs, marigolds and eggplant to my basement growing station (shelves with hanging grow lights).  However, my remaining tomato, tomatillo and pepper seedlings are too tall to return there.  I’ve kept them in a shelves that I cover with ripped plastic, but have recently started pushing it into my garage at night when the temperatures dip into the low 40’s and high 30’s.   I had transplanted some of them into larger containers (with compost) to keep them from getting root bound.  I hope that I can get them planted next Saturday.  Today, I plan to set up my trellises to save time next week during planting. 

When I finally get there this morning, I should probably also plan on thinning the row of turnips that I planted in the first food pantry plot.  I don’t eat turnips, but they are pretty and create lots of greens.  They also sprout very, very quickly.   I planted a row of beets next to them and they grow much more slowly.   At least I will not have to water.  Because we do not have running water and have to water each plant by hand with a watering can, it takes soooo much longer to garden on watering days than on weeding days.

Urban Connections is also busy today partnering with other agencies to spruce up nearby Fairwood Elementary School.  I hope to make it a short day, which is very strange for Derby Day (traditionally one of my longest gardening days of the year).  Even if it is cold and blustery, at least it will be dry and sunny;-)

1 comment:

  1. The community garden Mountlake Terrace is organized for charitable and educational purposes to advance civic improvement, landscape design, and the fine art of gardening.