Friday, April 29, 2011

Boone St. Garden Update: Community Beds Built.. and Was It Sabotage?

Compost has been delivered and the community garden beds are now framed! The empty Boone Street lots are starting to look like a real garden.

All together, L & J helped bring us 40 cubic yards of compost. I can't say thank you enough! This weekend we will be spreading the compost and planting transplants. I'd like to try to get some okra, peanuts, and a companion planting of sunflowers and black-eyed peas in the ground if I can.

For those of you who want a better picture of the garden, here's a photo of some of the houses bordering the lot. The completely abandoned houses next to people's residences is pretty indicative of the area. It's Baltimore.

And what's this about sabotage?!!

Cheryl and I came to the garden Monday night to do some light weeding and check on the progress of things. We've been really excited to see peas and radishes coming up.

Imagine our shock when we found about 1/4 of the seedlings completely pulled out of the ground! There were no nibble marks and the entire plant, roots and all, were laying next to the holes where they were planted. So we knew they were definitely pulled up by human hands.

Oh no! I sort of resigned myself to the idea that someone from the neighborhood must not like us poking around and wanted to show us a lesson. Or someone got drunk or was mad and went on a rampage. Cheryl was discouraged too.

We sadly went to go check on some other seedlings and noticed that a patch of wild-growing burdock had been devastated as well. (you can kind of see in the photo below)

(By the way, I had been bad-mouthing burdock about how invasive it is and what a pain it is to remove, but the Wikipedia entry for the plant is pretty interesting! I take it back, burdock!)

So there we were, feeling down about whoever it was had wrecked the plants. And then a few young boys came up, and I recognized one of them from last Saturday when I was moving the beet seedlings into rows.

"We got some carrots and beets!" they said excitedly.

"What?" We were confused. Our carrots and beets are barely visible right now. They're little two-leaf seedlings. "From here?" Uh oh. "Tell me where you found them," we said.

We walked over to where the radishes had been pulled out of the ground. The plant's little radish root was barely showing pink. This was the "beets." Then they pointed to the burdock roots. "That's a carrot!" one said excitedly. "I took it home and washed it."

"Sorry," I said. "Carrots won't be ready until about June. Did you eat it?!" I asked tentatively. He didn't really respond, so I think he might have tried it and realized it didn't taste that great. The kid kept swearing that it was a carrot, but after a while he seemed reasonably convinced that it wasn't.

We walked around explaining a few things about garden rules, like not pulling plants out of the ground unless they are the ones you have planted, and only walking on the burlap walkways, not on the dirt.

It was cute hearing their perceptions of the plants. The "I swear, it's a carrot!" kid pointed to a puffy head of dandelion seeds and called it a wish. He told his friend that the dandelion seeds will grow a tree. "Sorry," I said. "Those seeds grow more dandelions!" and then showed them the other parts of the plant. They still had fun with the ever-enduring game of blowing apart the seed pods!

We're realizing that wrangling excited kids to prevent garden damage is going to be a bigger job than we thought, but it's a good thing that they are so excited.

We showed them the community beds (see photo above!) and told them they can plant things of their own. They immediately started naming plants they wanted, like sunflowers and carrots. I think as long as the kids have a place of their own, and maybe something to play with that isn't the garden, we can avoid accidental crop damage (I'm thinking a tire swing, or maybe I will even bring a bunny for a visit.)

Phew! It wasn't sabotage at all. Just a few kids who got really excited after I showed just one of them a beet seedling last Saturday.

If you've got experience with young kids and gardens, feel free to leave any tips or tricks, we'd love to hear them!


s_baghaii said...

I am impressed by how gracefully you dealt with the garden damage.

AlizaEss said...

Aw, thank you! I am trying to mentally prepare myself since I know that some loss is going to be inevitable. I'm pretty nervous for growing watermelons, tomatoes, and other recognizable foods. It's an interested experiment and we'll see what happens and how to resolve the issue!

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