Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another Rainy Day

And I had a day off to play outside in my own garden, shoot!
Yes, I say "shoot", I wonder where that came from?
Shoots are good things in the garden, unless they're weeds.

Anyway, it's another rainy day, and I shouldn't whine. The weather bureau says our through-April cumulative snowfall for the winter was 2 tenths of an inch short of a record which was good. The ground and the trees need recharging.
But here with my tuna can measure I've accumulated under half an inch of rain this past several weeks when we should normally have collected at least a good inch a week.
The spring flowers have been tremendous, but the leaves of the trees could use a good rainy boost right now while they're expanding.
By the way, we had our first hearty salad meal last night, the few lettuces that overwintered in my cold frame are huge, sweet and succulent, and it felt so good to bring in a bowlful of home-grown leaves! And the baby lettuces are growing so prettily for summer salads.

So I'm indoors and maybe this would be a good time to talk a little about the Home Street garden project, of which I'm a volunteer gardener along with my gardening friend Sharron, some Master Gardeners, some Applewood volunteers, and some Land Bank people.

A few weeks ago four of us canvassed the neighborhood - I think we passed out seventy or so invitations - going door to door to reintroduce ourselves to the neighbors. Unfortunately the people we talked to the longest were unable to come to our meeting for health and scheduling reasons. But we did have some good conversations. Seven of us met at the church on the corner, the minister there is welcoming and willing to work with bringing out some of his people. If all goes as discussed, we will have a foothold in the community now.

We made a calendar, but Sharron and I showed up last week to pull weeds for a couple of hours before our first scheduled work day which was yesterday. We noted that the dead tree has toppled during the winter - part of it hit the roof of the vacant house next door. Someone needs to take care of that tree!

Yesterday five of us pulled most of the straw off of the beds and did some weeding and edging and cleaning up. We have a full lawn bag with winter accumulated trash - bottles, glass, food wrappers and so on. The used straw was going in the composting corner - somebody needs to build some bins!

I had to talk to convince Phil to keep the straw on a bed a la Ruth Stout. I read her "How To Have A Green Thumb Without Having An Aching Back" and all that straw on the compost beds being piled in the corner for future composting could just as easily be left in place for mulch to supress weeds and keep the moisture from disappearing. Only weeders and waterers would choose 'beauty' over utility, and for my gardener's eye, a well mulched garden looks healthy and beautiful.

Sharron had the idea to make a new straw-only bed near the Home Street sidewalk and plant sweet potatoes in it, which is a flash of inspiration. Why didn't we have sweet potatoes in the plan! Our new trainee volunteer, Nickie, was telling us about all the mouthwatering ways she uses sweet potatoes, and for me they are the embodiment of comfort food.

And our little depressed urban neighborhood surely needs some comfort. We hear gunfire occasionally while we're working, but I'm learning the folks there live with that as background noise, like the sound of cars and buses and smells of cooking.
A man was killed by gunfire on our block in early April, and while we were standing outside of the church after that first meeting, we had our first taste of immediate gun violence, a man on a truck was firing a handgun up the street while driving north on MLK Boulevard.
Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. What is this Beirut?
No, it is a depressed, forgotten neighborhood in the middle of the United States of America, a neighborhood with good people living there who tend their own yards and talk to us strangers, and who don't deserve these abandoned houses, and slum landlord owned rental properties, and the community decay that comes with powerlessness.
But I digress.

So we are ready for another truck load of compost to be dumped and wheelbarrowed in a couple of weeks.

1 comment:

Brenda Hyde said...

I can't think of a better way to bring hope to people than a garden. To be able to nurture something and accomplish the act of growing their own food has to be a huge boost. I'm glad you are there for them.